Archives - July 2009

July 31, 2009

 

Sad. Even when they get it right they get it wrong: Figuring How To Terrify Us Over Swine Flu

'U.S. health officials say swine flu could strike up to 40% of Americans over the next two years and as many as several hundred thousand could die."

So declares an Associated Press article, the writer of which you can picture trying to catch his breath as he pounds away at the keyboard. In its exclusive revelation of unpublished figures, AP says: "Those estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mean about twice the number of people who usually get sick in a normal flu season would be struck by swine flu."

No, they don't. The CDC's influenza Web site shows they're essentially the same.

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Thus, the CDC's influenza Web site states that "on average 5% to 20% of the population" will contract flu each year which, save for the hapless souls who contract it two seasons in a row, would be the same as "up to 40% of Americans over the next two years."

Yet AP's writer, still on that adrenaline rush, declares that while "in a normal flu season, about 36,000 people die," "because so many more people are expected to catch the new flu, the number of deaths over two years could range from 90,000 to several hundred thousand, the CDC calculated."

Really? Let's do our own calculations.

Of the U.S. population, 5% to 20% comes out to 15 million to 60 million people. The CDC actually provides those figures, thereby sparing the arithmetically challenged. Swine flu has infected "more than 1 million Americans, the CDC believes," AP informs us, with "302 deaths."

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Dividing "15 million to 60 million infections" into 36,000 deaths provides a seasonal flu death rate ranging from 0.006% to 0.024%. That's twice to eight times the swine flu death rate. (Michael Fumento, IBD)

Well, almost. 36,000 actually represents 0.06-0.24% of 15-60 million and not "ranging from 0.006% to 0.024%", which is how Michael correctly figures 2-8 times the Influenza A H1N1 mortality rate of 300/1,000,000 = 0.03%. Don't editors have any idea about simple arithmetic any more?

 

Chinese Workers Say Illness Is Real, Not Hysteria

JILIN CITY, China — Tian Lihua was just beginning her morning shift when she felt a wave of nausea, then numbness in her limbs and finally dizziness that gave way to unconsciousness. In the days that followed, more than 1,200 fellow employees at the textile mill where Ms. Tian works would be felled by these and other symptoms, including convulsions, breathing difficulties, vomiting and temporary paralysis.

“When I finally came to, I could hear the doctors talking but I couldn’t open my eyes,” she said weakly from a hospital bed last month. “They said I had a reaction to unknown substances.”

Ms. Tian and scores of other workers say the “unknown substances” came from a factory across the street that produces aniline, a highly toxic chemical used in the manufacture of polyurethane, rubber, herbicides and dyes.

As soon as the Jilin Connell Chemical Plant started production this spring, local hospitals began receiving stricken workers from the acrylic yarn factory 100 yards downwind from Connell’s exhaust stacks. On some days, doctors were overwhelmed and patients were put two to a bed.

A clear case of chemical contamination? Not so, say Chinese health officials who contend that the episode is a communal outbreak of psychogenic illness, also called mass hysteria. The blurry vision, muscle spasms and pounding headaches, according to a government report issued in May, were simply psychological reactions to a feared chemical exposure.

During a four-day visit, a team of public health experts from Beijing talked to doctors, looked at blood tests and then advised bedridden workers to “get a hold of their emotions,” according to patients and their families.

Western medical experts say fear of poisoning can lead people to describe symptoms that exist mainly in their minds. But outbreaks of psychogenic illnesses on the scale of what has been reported in Jilin are rare, they say. (NYT)

 

The Media and Chemical Risk (.pdf)

From baby bottles to shower curtains, iPods to lipstick, and “new car smell” to non-stick frying pans, recent media accounts have warned the American public about the hidden dangers of toxic chemicals in everyday use. CMPA’s sister organization STATS (The Statistical Assessment Service) conducted a survey of scientists specializing in toxicology (the study of the adverse effects of chemicals) to find out what the experts think about chemical risk. (Media Monitor, Volume XXIII Number 2: Summer 2009)

 

And the health crusade continues: Denny's sued over sodium-laden menu

The food gestapo at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) continued their streak of lawsuits against fast food companies earlier this week by filing suit against Denny’s. The goal according to a CSPI press release is to compel the restaurant chain “to disclose on menus the amount of sodium in each of its meals and to place a notice on its menus warning about high sodium levels.”

You see, sodium is bad, really bad, and Denny’s being the evil corporation that they are would willingly mislead their customers about the sodium content of their food if allowed to. Therefore, the CSPI has to step in and warn these ill-informed consumers of the true dangers of eating at Denny’s. (Cameron English, Examiner)

 

Do ‘Fat Taxes’ Work?

On Wednesday we talked about an interesting proposal for financing health care reform: taxes on elective medical procedures like cosmetic surgery or abortions. While an abortion tax seems very unlikely, another type of “sin tax” does seem to be gaining momentum: the so-called “fat tax,” a levy on sugary drinks and other unhealthy food products associated with obesity.

As my colleague Jackie Calmes has written, such a measure has been resisted by the bottling industry and by beet and corn farmers (whose crops are used to make sweeteners).

But it has many proponents, who cast the scheme as killing two birds with one stone: (1) raising revenue, and (2) discouraging bad consumption habits that in turn lead to higher health costs associated with obesity.

In this case, though, the two-birds proverb is really only half true — at least under the types of proposals currently being discussed. (Catherine Rampell, Economix)

 

The Thins Versus the Fats

Though the now-twinned issues of race and beer have dominated the week’s storyline, Paul Campos wants you to think about another form of discrimination — fatism. (Opinionator)

 

More on Obesity: Is the Government to Blame?

Marc Ambinder, who has done a great deal of research on the subject, takes issue with what I have written about obesity. Since he wrote carefully, I think it deserves a careful response. (Megan McArdle, The Atlantic)

 

 

Eye-roller: Recession Cuts Pollution But Also Green Investment

NEW YORK - The environment won a temporary reprieve in the recession as Americans slammed the brakes on one of their favorite pastimes: consuming stuff.

But while the austerity brought by a battered economy has cut pollution, it has also hit investment in green technology, which could damage the environment in the longer term, experts say.

"Certainly, in the short-term we are using fewer resources ... (but) I'd much rather see a healthy economy," said economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

As the downturn has made people more frugal, landfill volumes have dropped and sales of appliances like air conditioners have plummeted. (Reuters)

 

California Green Fades to Reality

California, and in particular Los Angeles, are renowned as trend setters in pop culture, economic vitality and environmental awareness. And, California has many diverse and unique environmental resources that deserve regulatory protection. The Golden State was ground zero for the American environmental movement that has prospered for over 30 years with thousands of eco-groups claiming nonprofit and nonpartisan status. While green group activism has had environmental benefits, they all inflate the costs of living and doing business in the Golden State. It has taken a deep economic recession to awaken Californians to the real costs of indulgent and untimely green initiatives – recession has reset priorities and politics. (Paul Taylor, Examiner)

 

The Amazon, Western NGOs, and the Romantic Fallacy

The Amazon’s indigenous groups regularly embrace technology, formal education, and modern healthcare. Yet Western NGOs prefer a romanticized caricature.

Whose side are you on? That question might be asked of a number of Western nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) deeply enmeshed in a political crisis unfolding in Peru, where dozens of protestors and police officers were killed in demonstrations last month organized by indigenous groups over land rights.

At the heart of the violence are competing visions for how the country should embrace free trade, privatization, and resource exploration in its Amazon region, which is rich in oil, natural gas, and timber. In early 2008, Peruvian President Alan García engineered the passage of two controversial laws that opened the way for resource extraction in parts of the country’s Amazon region, home to 400,000 people. The laws were enacted in part to meet the requirements of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement passed in 2006 with broad-based support in the U.S. Congress. Indigenous leaders maintained that the laws violated their constitutionally guaranteed rights to Amazonian land and was a threat to their way of life.

In April, indigenous groups began a two month-long protest of the controversial laws, blocking roads and engaging in violent confrontations with police. The protestors received support from international NGOs, most notably the UK nonprofit Survival International (SI), which characterized the conflict as the “Amazon’s Tiananmen” and has called for oil companies in the region to immediately halt operations. According to SI, its protests “are not only directed at governments, but at companies, banks, extremist missionaries, guerrilla armies, narrow minded conservationists or anyone else who violates tribal peoples’ rights.” A similar campaign was launched by San Francisco–based Amazon Watch, which lobbies against “mega projects” in the Amazon, such as “pipelines, power lines, roads, dams, and waterways,” many of the infrastructure projects that most economists agree are prerequisites to rural development.

The protests and campaigns have shaken the government. In response to public outrage, president García fired seven of 16 ministers from his cabinet and requested the resignation of his Prime Minister, Yehude Simon. Peru’s congress repealed the two natural resource laws, buying the country a temporary calm. Nevertheless, president García’s approval ratings have fallen below 21 percent and public frustration continues to grow over rising unemployment and diminished economic growth rates in the face a worldwide recession.

Peru’s Development Challenges and Achievements

Over the years, NGOs have proven a powerful force at the negotiating table in South America, lobbying for environmental preservation and indigenous rights. But while these activist, Western NGOs appear to represent the interests of Peru’s underprivileged groups, they may in fact inhibit the country from making the tough domestic compromises that will lead to a sustainable national development strategy—one that benefits both the urban poor in Lima and other growing cities, and the indigenous poor of the Amazon. (David Peyton, American Magazine)

 

Foreign Investors Snap Up African Farmland

Governments and investment funds are buying up farmland in Africa and Asia to grow food -- a profitable business, with a growing global population and rapidly rising prices. The high-stakes game of real-life Monopoly is leading to a modern colonialism to which many poor countries submit out of necessity. (Der Spiegel)

 

World Fisheries Collapse Can Be Averted: Study

WASHINGTON - The world's commercial fisheries, pressured by overfishing and threatened with possible collapse by mid-century, could be rebuilt with careful management, researchers reported on Thursday.

In fact, a fisheries expert who in 2006 predicted total global collapse of fish and seafood populations by 2048 is more optimistic of recovery, based on a wide-ranging two-year study by scientists in North and South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Still, 63 percent of fish stocks worldwide need to be rebuilt, the researchers said. (Reuters)

 

Fish will still be on the menu in 2048, if we are careful

There was a time when the leading marine scientists Boris Worm and Ray Hilborn were sworn enemies.

Each looked at the ocean in very different ways and when Dr Worm published a paper three years ago predicting the collapse of all fish stocks around the world by 2048, Professor Hilborn hit the roof. The way he saw it, the fish were doing fine.

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After meeting face to face, when brought together to air their differences in the studio of a National Public Radio show, they decided to collaborate. The result, the Rebuilding Global Fisheries study, published today in the journal Science, is being hailed as a landmark work by experts around the world.

“This paper marks a historical turning point,” Dr Worm told The Times. “We’ve been fishing for 10,000 years, but we’ve never been able to proactively manage it. The environment has always defined what fish we catch. What we’ve done is establish beyond doubt the ecosystem consequences of fishing, and what works to reduce those impacts.”

For two years the two scientists and 19 co-authors gathered data from the world’s fishing grounds to establish a consensus on the situation, and what should be done about it.

“The picture is much more optimistic,” said Professor Hilborn. “We’ve found that some areas have never been overfished, while others are well within their limits. There is an increasing fraction that are being overexploited, but the key thing is to understand and address the causes of that trend.” Looking simply at what fishermen catch is misleading, says Professor Hilborn, because if fishermen don’t go fishing, because of local regulations, for instance, they catch less fish. Previous assessments of world fisheries have been poles apart. The UN’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) has been consistently saying 20-30 per cent overfished, but that has been largely ignored by scientific papers claiming that 70 per cent are overexploited.” (The Times)

 

Food issues: myths and reality

The need for an assured supply of good quality food for all is something few people would question. But how this food should be produced and delivered is still the subject of heated debate. Nowhere is this truer than in the pampered European Union, where we have the luxury of choice and there is no longer a struggle merely to get enough to live on. As the saying goes, a man with enough food has many problems, but a man with too little food has only one.

It happens that in the UK this week there have been two authoritative reports published which cover two of the more contentious and political issues: so-called food miles and the supposed health benefits of organic food.

A report on the environmental impact of certain foods grown in different countries – work funded by Defra – was picked up by chance on the Cranfield university website, and has been reported on in the Independent and Farmers' Weekly. The food miles concept has been championed by those people who believe we should, as far as possible, eat food which has been produced locally, so avoiding the environmental cost of transport, whether by road, ship or plane.

But life is actually more complicated than that. For a start, much of the fruit which we take for granted in northern Europe, including grapes, oranges and peaches, cannot be grown in such a climate. Even a range of basic everyday commodities such as tea, coffee, spices, rice and non-subsidised sugar have to be imported.

More generally, people in a free society have become accustomed to the availability of a wide choice of produce outside the local growing season, and most would be loathe to give this up. And, on a broader socio-economic level, buying food from overseas will enable poor farmers to capitalise on perhaps the only comparative advantage they have in world markets.

The Cranfield report reinforces earlier work which shows that, even if you accept the environmental impact argument as the dominant one, some foods which are commonly grown in the United Kingdom can be produced using less energy in other regions. The study looked at seven commodities – tomatoes and strawberries from Spain, apples and lamb from New Zealand, potatoes from Israel and poultry and beef from Brazil.

Of these, production and transport of tomatoes, strawberries, poultry and lamb all had lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions the same products which had originated from UK farms. So, the message seems to be that the concept of food miles is a somewhat blunt instrument when making choices based on environmental impact. This is not to suggest for one moment that Brits should forgo the pleasures of fresh, locally grown strawberries, asparagus, cherries or other myriad delights when in season. But choose them for their eating quality rather than where or how they are grown. Equally, why should we not enjoy these and other foods when they are in season elsewhere?

Another message which is spread by enthusiasts is that organic food has health benefits. There has never been sufficient evidence to justify a health claim, although a combination of scientific work which shows a slightly elevated level of particular nutrients in specific foodstuffs with suggestions that, since no synthetic pesticides are used, then it must be healthier (another evidence-free assertion) have built up an image of organic food as "better". The unfortunate downside of this is that it consigns the great majority of the food eaten by most people to a second-class category.

However, a report commissioned by the Food Standards Agency has tried to address the issue by reviwing the literature for properly-conducted, peer-reviewed studies which test hypotheses on the healthiness of organic food. "Comparison of putative health effects of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs: a systematic review", by the Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found 55 relevant studies, published between 1958 and 2008. The conclusion from this admittedly limited body of work is that there is no evidence of a health benefit from consuming organic rather than conventionally-grown produce.

Enthusiasts claim that organic farming can provide food security for the world, despite repeated studies which show that yields are lower and that there is simply not enough fixed nitrogen in soils to grow sufficient food without the use of synthetic fertilisers. Claims for reduced environmental impact may be justified on a localised basis, and many of the animal welfare standards are admirable. However, many people buy organic food on the basis that it is in some way healthier. This report should make people question this belief.

Organic campaigners are, not surprisingly, disappointed. Peter Melchett, the Soil Association's policy director, relies on the usual argument that more research needs to be done to demonstrate the benefits in which he believes. He adds "Also, there is not sufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on human health". This is the other side of the coin; in the case of nutrients in organic food, too little work has been done to find health benefits, but in the case of pesticides more work is needed to show they are harmful (despite the vast body of safety testing).

Nothing can be absolutely proved in science, but evidence accumulates to support certain hypotheses which are then generally accepted. However, when people start with a set of beliefs, no amount of rational, objective study will convince them they may be wrong. Soil Association members may continue to eat organic whenever possible, but they are unlikely to be any healthier than the rest of us. (Scientific Alliance)

 

How to see for yourself the 'Global Warming' climate models are false

When I started looking into the claims of dangerous warming due to carbon dioxide, I was completely baffled, buried in details of climate models, puzzled by energy balance diagrams, and so forth. Was there a "greenhouse" blanketing the Earth, slowly frazzling us to death? The truth could have been anything. If you've followed this path too, you'll know what I mean. But one thing, one single piece of the jigsaw, cut through all the fog and answered the question. I want to show you the thing that absolutely clinched the global warming question for me. I have postgraduate training in physics, which helped, but the basic point is understandable by anyone, and in this article I want to explain what seems to me the key, conclusive fact in everyday terms. (Ron House, Peace Legacy)

 

Proving soft sciences know nothing of the real world?  The wisdom of crowds - Climate change is inherently a social problem — so why have sociologists been so slow to study it? Kerri Smith reports.

When was the last time you tried to convince your partner or a friend to do something for you? Washing the dishes, say — something you have to do, but you'd rather put off until later. The negotiation probably involved some coaxing and complementing, and then possibly some complaining or coercion. That's quite a lot of diplomacy for a situation involving two people and a minor task. Now imagine groups of hundreds of people trying to get thousands of people to do what they want them to. It's head-spinning stuff, but it's what the world is up against when it comes to dealing with climate change.

What's more, scientists who spend their time measuring the rate of ice melting in the Arctic or working out the chemistry of storing carbon underground aren't likely to solve this thorny problem. Luckily, there is a field of study that has at its heart human activity and social structure — why and how we do what we do. That discipline is sociology.

"Climate change is the ultimate collective-action problem," says Steven Brechin, a sociologist at Syracuse University in New York. "How do you get people to agree in the short term to solutions for a long-term problem?" The answer, like the problem, has to be wide-ranging and global, says Jeffrey Broadbent of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who also studies how societies affect their environments. "Its only solution lies in a level of global cooperation that humanity has never seen before." (Nature Reports Climate Change)

 

Crank of the Week - July 27, 2009 - The International Council for Science

We have all become familiar with the sloppy, bureaucracy driven science promulgated by the UN IPCC. Now a another organization, the International Council for Science (ICSU), is vying for leadership in ruining free scientific inquiry world wide. “Natural sciences should no longer dictate the Earth system research agenda,” proclaimed their manifesto, which appeared in the July 17, 2009, issue of Science. “Social sciences will be at least as important in its next phase.”

After praising how the IPCC helped move the issue of global warming from lab benches to national capitals (turning climate science into a political circus in the process) and was recognized for its efforts by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (they conspicuously didn't mention Al Gore), a troika of ICSU leaders—Walter V. Reid, chair of the ICSU Earth System Visioning Task Group, Catherine Bréchignac, president of ICSU, and Yuan Tseh Lee, president-elect of ICSU—have plainly stated their future intentions: the creation of a single research framework for the natural sciences world wide. According to them:

In the past, a small group of scientists would be charged with determining the most pressing research questions. But new communication technologies now allow the wisdom and expertise of a far broader global community of natural and social scientists, technology experts, decision-makers, and citizens to play a role.

This is socialist thinking at its finest, instead of that “small group of scientists” being allowed to determine what subjects to investigate, which questions to ask, they will be directed by the “wisdom” of the “broader global community.” A community not just made up of muzzy headed bureaucrats, masquerading as scientists, but by a whole cadre of non-scientists: social scientists, who don't know jack about the physical sciences; technology experts, who presumably have products they will want to sell; decision-makers, meaning politicians and other government functionaries; and citizens, like Al Gore, Sheryl Crow and Bono each with their own personal agendas no doubt. To give their effort a egalitarian sheen the public is invited to comment and “vote” on their website.

“There is an urgent need and a unique window of opportunity to engage, promote, and develop Earth system research for the benefit of society,” said Dr Reid. “This online consultation is the first step towards meeting that need.” According to the ICSU press release on the visioning process, “the current research structures do not provide the integrated approach required to answer the most pressing societal issues—protecting the planet and ensuring sustainable human development.” In other words, we can't let those scientists do whatever they want! No, we need to tell them what they should be working on. After all, look what a bang up job the IPCC has done with global warming.

It's easy to promote a new agenda for others when it is your ideas being promoted—but who said that your ideas are the correct ones? Or the public's opinions for that matter? This past year has seen suggestions about how to obfuscate global warming science using “common climate language” and how to shift the burden for CO2 reduction to individuals by blaming the world's “top billion polluters,” now this. Seems that the Earth systems crowd is trying to cash in before the global warming scare goes bust.

Why is it that these scientists-turned-bureaucrat and social sciences types are always trying to grab control of real working scientists' laboratories and research agendas? Sorry, but science is not an audience participation sport. If you wish to be involved in doing real, meaningful research then forget your degrees in sociology and political science. Get an education in something useful, like physics, chemistry, biology, oceanography, geology, atmospheric physics, solar physics, or paleontology (the list goes on from here). Stop attending politically motivate conferences held by agenda driven organizations and do something useful with your lives.

When will the world's bureaucratic bozos learn that science only works when inquiry is free and unfettered. You can't negotiate with nature, it is what it is, and science is driven by nature. You can tell science what your polls and organizations want it to study, but that has no bearing on what science should study. So, for trying to encumber science with your personal political prejudices, this Crank of the Week is all yours ISCU. (The Resilient Earth)

 

Number of the month – 27

At last real scientists are beginning to show some guts and are standing up to the bullies. 27 is the number of letters published on July 27th in Chemical and Engineering News in response to a typically outrageous editorial attacking doubters of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. Almost all of them are hostile to that standard ad hominem attack on those who practise the sceptical approach that has long been the characteristic and glory of the scientific method.

Perhaps British chemists will now find the courage to do something about their own “Chief Executive” Dr Richard Pike, whose pronouncements are just as politically biased. Why do they need a CE anyway? Time was when learned societies just had a secretary and were run by their members. (Number Watch)

 

Climate Money: Monopoly Science

The scientific process has become distorted. One side of a theory receives billions, but the other side is so poorly funded that auditing of that research is left as a community service project for people with expert skills, a thick skin and a passionate interest. A kind of “Adopt an Error” approach.

Can science survive the vice-like grip of politics and finance?

Despite the billions of dollars in funding, outrageous mistakes have been made. One howler in particular, rewrote history and then persisted for years before one dedicated fact checker, working for free, exposed the fraud about the Hockey Stick Graph. Meanwhile agencies like the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, can’t afford to install temperature sensors to meet its own guidelines, because the workers are poorly trained and equipped to dig trenches only with garden trowels and shovels. NOAA “adjust” the data after the fact—apparently to compensate for sensors which are too close to air conditioners or car parks, yet it begs the question: If the climate is the biggest problem we face; if billions of dollars are needed, why can’t we install thermometers properly?

How serious are they about getting the data right? Or are they only serious about getting the “right” data?

How serious are they about getting the data right? Or are they only serious about getting the “right” data?

The real total of vested interests in climate-change science is far larger than just scientists doing pure research. The $30 billion in funding to the CCSP (graphed above) does not include work on green technologies like improving solar cells, or storing a harmless gas underground. Funding for climate technologies literally doubles the amount of money involved, and provides a much larger pool of respectable-looking people with impressive scientific cachet to issue more press releases—most of which have little to do with basic atmospheric physics, but almost all of which repeat the assumption that the climate will warm due to human emissions. In other words: a 30-billion-dollar cheer squad.

Lots of one-sided honest research does not make for fair debate

The scientists funded by governments don’t need to be dishonest for science to become distorted. They just need to do their jobs. If we ask 100 people to look for lizards in the jungle, would anyone be surprised if no one sees the elephant on the plain? Few people are paid or rewarded for auditing the IPCC and associated organizations. Where is the Department of Solar Influence or the Institute of Natural Climate Change?

Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite. Throw 30 billion dollars at one question and how could bright, dedicated people not find 800 pages worth of connections, links, predictions, projections and scenarios? (What’s amazing is what they haven’t found: empirical evidence.)

And scientists are human, they have mortgages and kids. If Exxon money has any pulling power, government money must also “pull”.

I can’t say it better than Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

– Upton Sinclair, 1935

Ironically it was Al Gore himself who helped ensure there was copious funding for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) from 1993-2000. We’ve poured billions into focusing bright brains on one angle, one topic, one cause. That’s a lot of salaries.

The monopolistic funding “ratchet”

There doesn’t necessarily need to be a conspiracy. It doesn’t require any centrally coordinated deceit or covert instructions to operate. Instead it’s the lack of funding for the alternatives that leaves a vacuum and creates a systemic failure. The force of monopolistic funding works like a ratchet mechanism on science. Results can move in both directions, but the funding means that only results from one side of the equation get “traction.”
Ideas that question the role of carbon in the climate are attacked with a fine-tooth comb by large teams of paid researchers. If real flaws are found they are announced loudly and repeatedly, and if there are imagined or irrelevant flaws, these too are announced and sometimes with even more fanfare. But ideas that support the role of carbon in the climate are subject to a very different analysis. Those on Team-AGW check to see if they have underestimated the impact of carbon, or made an error so obvious it would embarrass “the Team.” Since there are few paid supporters of natural causes, or people who benefit from defending non-carbon impacts, there is no one with an a priori motive to dig deep for non-obvious mistakes. So the pro-AGW ideas may only be scrutinized briefly, and by unpaid retirees, bloggers running on donations, or government scientists working in other fields—like geologists, who have reason to be skeptical, but who are not necessarily trained in, say, atmospheric physics.

There doesn’t necessarily need to be a conspiracy. It doesn’t require any centrally coordinated deceit or covert instructions to operate. Instead it’s the lack of funding for the alternatives that leaves a vacuum and creates a systemic failure.

Normally this might not be such a problem, because the lure of fame and fortune by categorically “busting” a well-accepted idea would attract some people. In most scientific fields, if someone debunks a big Nature or Science paper, they are suddenly cited more often; are the next in line for a promotion and find it easier to get grants. They attract better PhD students to help, are invited to speak at more conferences, and placed higher in the program. Instead in climate science, the reward is the notoriety of a personal attack page on Desmog1, ExxonSecrets2 or Sourcewatch3, dedicated to listing every mistake on any topic you may have made, any connection you may have had with the fossil fuel industry, no matter how long ago or how tenuous. The attack-dog sites will also attack your religious beliefs if you have any. Roy Spencer, for example, has been repeatedly attacked for being Christian (though no one has yet come up with any reason why that could affect his satellite data).

Ironically, the “activist” websites use paid bloggers. DeSmog is a funded wing of a professional PR group Hoggan4 and Associates (who are paid to promote clients5 like David Suzuki Foundation, ethical funds, and companies that sell alternative energy sources like hydro power, hydrogen and fuel cells.) ExxonSecrets is funded by Greenpeace6 (who live off donations to “save” the planet, and presumably do better when the planet appears to need saving).

Most scientific fields are looking for answers, not looking to prove only one side of a hypothesis. There are a few researchers who are paid to disprove the hypothesis of Global Warming, and most of them are investigated and pilloried as if they were a politician running for office. This is not how science works, by ad hominem attack. The intimidation, disrespect and ostracism leveled at people who ask awkward questions acts like a form of censorship. Not many fields of science have dedicated smear sites for scientists. Money talks.

Respected MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen7 has spoken out against the pressure to conform and laments the loss of good researchers:

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

The combination of no financial reward, plus guaranteed hostile scrutiny, and threats of losing employment would be enough to discourage many from entering the contentious side of the field or speaking their mind if they question the “faith.”

Finally, volunteers and isolated researchers lack infrastructure. Even though the mainstream theory is exposed to some verification, most scientists who find flaws don’t have paid teams of public relations experts to issue multiple press releases or funding to put in the hours and months required to submit papers. So when a mistake is found, few people may hear about it outside the industry.

The monopolistic funding ratchet ensures that even insignificant or flawed analysis of factors that drive the climate can be supported longer than they should be, while real problems are belittled, ignored, and delayed. In a field as new as climate science, many things can change over ten years. Progress in understanding the planetary climate has slowed to a crawl.

Where is the motivation to prove AGW is wrong?

How many experts would go out of their way to make their own expertise and training less relevant? With funding hinged on proving that carbon controls the climate and therefore that climate science itself is critically important, it’s a self-sanctioning circle of vested interests. Yes, smart climate scientists are employable in other fields. But if voters suddenly realized carbon emissions had a minor role and humans have little influence, thousands of people would have to change something about their employment, and change is painful. In any industry, it’s impossible to argue that the specialists would prefer to have half the funding and half the status. Most of them either won’t get the next pay-rise, could lose their employment, or at least some spending power. They don’t get the upgrade of equipment they want, or they just lose status, because, well, climatology is “important”, but if we can’t change the weather, we are not inviting said experts onto our committees and to as many conferences.

We can assume most scientists are honest and hardworking, but even so, who’s kidding that they would all spend as much time and effort looking to disprove AGW as they do to prove it?

We can assume most scientists are honest and hardworking, but even so, who’s kidding that they would all spend as much time and effort looking to disprove AGW as they do to prove it? If your reputation and funding are on the line, you sweat, struggle and stay up late at night to figure out why you’re right and they’re wrong. Competition brings out the best in both sides.

Some claim that they trust the scientific process itself, and the right answers will prevail in the long run—which is probably true. But as John Maynard Keynes famously said: “In the long run we are all dead.” There are better ways than waiting for the post-mortem. Science delayed is science denied.

Science slowed is propaganda perpetuated.

References

1 Lindzen wipes hands clean of oil and gas. http://www.desmogblog.com/lindzen-wipes-hands-clean-of-oil-and-gas.

2 http://www.exxonsecrets.org.

3 http://www.sourcewatch.org.

4 http://www.hoggan.com/sustainability/desmogblog/.

5 http://www.hoggan.com/what_we_do/clients/.

6 http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets.

7 Wall St Journal “Climate Of Fear”, April 12, 2006. http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220. (JoNova)

 

Stream of New Lobbying Money Helped Climate Bill Flow Through House

Major global-warming legislation that squeaked past the finish line in the House last month attracted millions of dollars in new lobbying money.

The fresh cash came from a combination of new groups and existing companies ramping up their payments to hired advocates in the second quarter of 2009. Entities hiring climate lobbyists for the first time shelled out more than $1.5 million overall from April to June and included a new natural-gas coalition and an arm of former Vice President Al Gore's nonprofit empire. (ClimateWire)

 

Climate Bill's Still-Unanswered Questions

With the House of Representative's narrow passage of the Waxman-Markey energy bill, Congress is one step closer to passing the most consequential U.S. energy legislation in America's history.

As the Senate prepares to take up the bill, opposition is understandably focused on the bill's content and the economic fallout that will result from the bill's becoming law. But I've got some front-end questions that bill proponents have yet to answer sufficiently. Before it's too late to put on the brakes, the public deserves some straight answers. (Drew Thornley, IBD)

 

The latest in PlayStation® climatology: Governments know global climate targets unlikely, says researcher

AN international pledge to peg global warming to two degrees is a pipe dream, and most governments know it, says an Australian researcher.

World leaders gathered in Italy in July to discuss the global offensive on climate change and agreed on at least one target - to hold surface temperatures to two degrees celsius.

But, based on reduction targets set by a range of countries, including Australia, Russia and the United States, Australian National University scientist Andrew Macintosh insists it won't work.

Countries have focused on cuts in carbon emissions of between 10 and 20 per cent by 2020, ahead of an 80 per cent target for 2050.

"It's simply not enough if you want to prevent warming of more than two degrees," Mr Macintosh told AAP.

"They know this.

"But what they're trying to tell everybody is no, it's fine, we can go for moderate cuts by 2020 and still stay within the limit."

Even if a 20 per cent cut was achieved by 2020, emissions would have to fall by an additional five per cent per year in order to reach the next target, he said.

"That's just extremely unrealistic (unless) we find some magic technology." (AAP)

Actually no amount of cuts in carbon dioxide emissions will temperature change to 2 °C nor emission level short of 6xCO2 (1800 ppmv) cause that, either. For perspective that would require another 14 times the total human emissions from all sources since the Industrial Revolution (hint, there isn't that much land to clear and it may not be easy getting our hands on that much fuel to burn over the next couple of centuries either).

 

The Hypocrisy Of Our Elites Is Getting Old

Scolding Americans for our various sins is proving popular among an elite group of self-appointed moralists.

Take well-meaning environmentalists who warn us that our plush lifestyles heat up and pollute the planet. To listen to former Vice President Al Gore or New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, we must immediately curtail our carbon emissions — or face planetary destruction.

Yet these influential prophets of doom do not have lives remotely similar to the lesser folk they lecture to. From time to time, Al Gore hops on a private jet — and purchases "carbon offsets," penances for the privilege. His mansion not long ago consumed more energy in a month than the average American home does in a year. Friedman lives on a sprawling estate reminiscent of the grandees of the 18th-century English countryside.

The rest of us would find these environmental scolds more convincing if they chose to live modestly in average tract homes. That way they could limit their energy consumption, and provide living proof to us of how smaller is better for an endangered planet Earth. (Victor Davis Hanson, IBD)

 

How the Cap-and-Trade Bill Could Transform the Real Estate Sector

A heads up for real estate professionals: H.R. 2454, the cap and trade legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 26, if passed into law, would have a profound effect on the real estate sector. (GreenBiz)

 

All hot air trades are necessarily fraudulent: UK Says Responds To French Carbon Trade Tax Fraud

LONDON - The British government on Wednesday said it will make carbon emissions credits exempt from value-added tax (VAT) from Thursday in response to fraudulent trading on a French emissions exchange.

"The new law, which takes effect from midnight tonight, follows evidence that commodity trading in emissions allowances is being used by fraudsters to steal VAT revenues from the UK, and that the UK may become a major target for this activity in the coming months," the UK Treasury said in a statement.

"The threat became apparent after fraudulent trading on the BlueNext exchange prompted the French government to remove VAT from supplies of emissions allowances in France." (Reuters)

 

The thoughts of ex-chairman Porritt

Sir Jonathan Porritt, a long-time leader of the environmentalist movement, is stepping down as first chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, while making it very clear that he is deeply disappointed in government performance. His primary complaint seems to be that politicians and civil servants are in thrall to Thatcherite economics. Essentially, he is saying that conventional cost-benefit analysis should not be the basis for truly sustainable development; instead factors which affect the environment and people's wellbeing should not be discounted.

This, of course, is the very same argument used by Sir Nicholas Stern when suggesting that large expenditures are justified now for the supposed benefit of future generations rather than for any good they might do people already born. This is a highly contentious view which, unsurprisingly, has not yet been widely adopted. But it is critical to the view we and our children will have of development. If the environmentalists win the argument, the general consensus that economic growth is good and that from this other societal goods can flow will be out the window.

At the same time, Sir Jonathan predicts that China and India will overtake Europe in developing a green economy in this century. But wishing for something will not make it happen, and all the indications at present are that these countries will not sacrifice economic growth – largely driven by fossil fuel-generated energy – for the sake of environmental benefits, unless the rich West pays for it. (Scientific Alliance)

 

Sanity From the Indian Subcontinent

WASHINGTON -- Did you see the look on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's face when, during her visit to India, she visited with that country's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh? It was that frozen smile we have seen from her before, when the smiling lady is, as a matter of fact, mad as hell. You saw it during her husband's impeachment. Bill has seen it practically every day of their married life. Now we have seen it during her three-day visit to India, where, among other things, she hoped to have India at least show some respect for the Obama administration's proposed carbon limits.

Instead of respect, she got rebuff. As Minister Ramesh asseverated, "There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions." The pressure he alludes to has been coming from the United States to adopt some monstrous emissions regulation like our cap-and-trade bill now blessedly being euthanized in the Senate. "And as if this pressure was not enough," he went on, "we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours." So our cap-and-trade bill not only would impose economic costs (for Americans, $7.4 trillion in taxes, our largest tax increase ever) but also perhaps would start an international trade war by excluding imported goods from countries, such as India, that reject our environmental diktats. China and Brazil do, too. (Emmett Tyrrell, Townhall)

 

No hurry then: Emissions scheme before Copenhagen talks won't matter, says UN climate boss

IT won't matter if Australia doesn't have its emissions trading scheme finalised by December's Copenhagen climate change talks, the head of the UN's climate change agency says.

Other nations will only care that the Federal Government has made a commitment to reduce emissions targets ahead of the summit, Yvo de Boer says.

Mr de Boer is to fly to Cairns for next week's Pacific Islands forum, where he'll urge Australia's neighbours to make their voices heard on the climate talks.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has taken a very strong and constructive position on climate change, as has Climate Minister Penny Wong and the federal Opposition, he said.

"I think everybody is very happy with what Australia is doing," he told ABC radio.

But when asked whether it mattered if Australia arrived at Copenhagen in December with a scheme in place, he replied: "Quite honestly no." (Australian Associated Press)

 

Only Three Amendments are Needed: “Reject, Reject, Reject”

The Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, Mr Viv Forbes, today called for a grass roots revolt by the real workers of Australia against the green militia and their socialite supporters who are leading the country into job cuts, power blackouts and poverty.

Mr Forbes claimed that only three brave and outspoken politicians understand the real threats facing Australia, both from natural climate change (probably cold and dry) and from the stupid policies supposed to stop global warming (it has stopped).

Martin Ferguson is in touch with real people who keep the wheels turning in the mines, factories and transport fleet. He knows that none of these industries could operate without using carbon fuels which all produce harmless carbon dioxide gas. He knows we need efficient reliable power stations, not wind and solar playthings.

Barnaby Joyce represents the farmers, foresters and fishermen who produce the food, fibre and building materials we all need. He also knows that none of these essential items can be produced without producing more harmless CO2 gas.

Steve Fielding stands up for all the Australian families hoping for jobs for themselves and their kids. He knows that every job in Australia depends on our basic industries making the minerals, food, fibres and processed goods the world buys from us.

Public opinion polls show that ordinary Australians are increasingly swinging behind these leaders while Mr Rudd trips the Climate Change Stage, and Malcolm Turnbull agonises over how to make a more comfortable green noose for Australia. The only people who support such nonsense are the huge Climate Change Industry and those trying to buy green votes in the leafy suburbs.

All real work produces carbon dioxide.

The only way we can quickly reduce production of CO2 is by reducing jobs or reducing our consumption of food, fibre and minerals – the Ration-n-Tax Scheme thus offers unemployment and poverty in real industry in return for more taxes to create make-believe green jobs.

Mr Turnbull thinks nine amendments will make the RAT scheme acceptable. Only three amendments are required: “Reject, reject, reject”.

Viv Forbes
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition

 

Penny Drops - Carbon Tax Destroys Jobs

Mr Rudd has woken up that Penny’s Ration-and-Tax (RAT) Scheme will destroy jobs.

But instead of killing the RAT Scheme, he proposes a massive carbon subsidy to offset the job destruction caused by the carbon tax.

Kevin and Malcolm need to make up their minds.

If they want to cut the production of harmless carbon dioxide, it MUST cause job losses in coal, power generation, cement, steel, farming and tourism.

But if job protection is important to them, they should abandon the RAT scheme immediately and concentrate on important matters.

Fiddling with it, achieves neither goal.

As for the subsidy, Kevin needs reminding that the money we get from Canberra is the money we sent to Canberra, less handling charges both ways.

A tax and subsidy policy always replaces real jobs in regional industry with fake jobs in the money laundering departments in Canberra.

Viv Forbes
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, July 31st 2009 (Daily Bayonet)

 

Mild season in Tornado Alley frustrates scientists

DES MOINES, Iowa -- This has been an unusually mild year in Tornado Alley, which is good news, of course, for the people who live here, but a little frustrating to scientists who planned to chase twisters as part of a $10 million research project.

"You're out there to do the experiment and you're geared up every day and ready. And when there isn't anything happening, that is frustrating," said Don Burgess, a scientist at the University of Oklahoma. But he was quick to add that he is pleased the relative quiet has meant fewer injuries and less damage.

Nationwide, there were 826 tornadoes this year through June 30, compared with an average of 934 for the same period during the previous three years, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Most twisters strike in Tornado Alley, which generally extends from Texas and Oklahoma to Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

During a remarkable 17-day lull from mid-May through early June, there were no tornado watches issued anywhere in the United States. And that is typically the height of the season in Tornado Alley.

"It was very, very unusual," said Joe Schaefer, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, which, like the Severe Storms lab, operates under the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists are attributing the relative calm not to anything dire, like global warming, but to the shifts in the jet stream that happen from time to time. When the jet stream runs south to north in the spring over the central states, there are usually plenty of tornadoes. When it's more west to east, as it is this year, tornadoes are less common. (Associated Press)

 

Madhav Khandekar Has Reviewed The Book “The Asian Monsoon: Causes, History & Effects By Peter D Clift And R Allan Plumb

The following is a review of a book on the Asian monsoon by Madhav Khandekar. Since my weblog has recently posted an announcement on a very important new paper on this subject (see) and we have also published on the Asian monsoon (e.g. see), I wanted to alert readers of the availability of this publication, and the very insightful review by Madhav.

BOOK REVIEW

Book Reviewed by Madhav Khandekar: Madhav Khandekar is a former research scientist from Environment Canada. He is presently on the editorial board of the international Journal Natural Hazards and was an Expert Reviewer for the 2007 IPCC climate change documents.

View Inside  

The Asian Monsoon - Causes, History and Effects by Peter D. Clift, University of Aberdeen and R. Alan Plumb, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

“The Asian monsoon is one of the most dramatic climatic phenomena on earth today, with far-reaching environmental and societal effects. Almost two thirds of humanity live within regions influenced by the  onsoon. Monsoon strength and variability have been and will continue to be crucial to the past and future prosperity of the region”.

 The preface of this book opens with some dramatic phrases about the Asian monsoon, which indeed impacts two thirds of the world’s humanity today, or about 4 billion people living in Asia from Pakistan in the northwest to Indonesia in the southeast and from the Maldive Islands in the southwest to China in the northeast. The Asian monsoon is the largest seasonal abnormality of the global climate system and exerts a significant impact on the earth’s climate system. In the context of present debate on global warming and  limate change, it is imperative that a comprehensive understanding of this fascinating and complex climate system must be developed before any meaningful assessment of present and future climate change can be made.

The Asian Monsoon presents a primarily paleo-climatic perspective on the Asian monsoon. The authors, Clift & Plumb (both affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA), are experts in the area of monsoon climate and have presented a comprehensive account on the evolution and controls of the Asian monsoon over tectonic and orbital time-scales in the first five chapters. The authors have analyzed a large number of research publications on a variety of paleo-oceanographic data to document monsoon evolution and variability over timescales from several tens of million years BP (Before Present) to just a few thousand to a few hundred years BP. The final chapter of the book deals with the late Holocene (about 5000 y BP) monsoon and human society, which provides an interesting account of social and cultural development of human societies over Asia with particular reference to the Indus Valley civilization (~7000 y BP) over the Indian subcontinent and the Dadiwan culture (~7500 y BP) from the Yellow River valley in China. This chapter also discusses monsoon development over the last 1000 years with reference to monsoon variability and political development and changes, especially over India. The book ends with a brief discussion on future evolution of the monsoon in the context of present debate on climate change, this discussion being derived primarily from the 2001 climate change documents prepared by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The first chapter of the book presents the meteorology of the monsoons, with relevant schematics and discussions on the sub-tropical jet stream, the Hadley Cell inrelation to the tropics, the ITCZ (Inter-tropical Convergence Zone) and the impact of the Indian Ocean on monsoon circulation. It was puzzling and disappointing to find no reference to the Tropical Easterly Jet (TEJ), an important and persistent jet stream over the Peninsular India (with peak winds of up to 100 knots at about 100 hPa) which owes its existence to the reversal of north-south temperature gradient over south Asia due to presence of the Tibetan Plateau and its significant warming during summer months in relation to the ‘cooler’ Indian Ocean in the south. It is this TEJ which makes the Asian and in particular the Indian monsoon complex and a fascinating research topic today.

The next two chapters discus the controls and evolution of the Asian monsoon on tectonic time-scale, from several tens of M y BP to a few hundred years BP. Chapter 2 discusses the importance of the Tibetan Plateau together with the Himalayan mountains (highest mountain chains in the world) on the strength and intensity of monsoons. The Tibetan Plateau is now believed to have evolved at around 45 to 50 M y BP and its importance in controlling the monsoon and rainfall intensity over India, central Asia and over Loess Plateau (in central China) is discussed at length. Once again, it is disappointing to see a complete absence of any reference to TEJ, which has been shown (in many studies in the 1960s by researchers in the India Meteorological Department) to exert an important control on the monsoon circulation and intensity, over the Indian subcontinent and also over parts of northern Africa where the TEJ extends during summer months. In chapter 3, the evolution of Asian monsoon over glacial and interglacial intervals is presented. A large amount of data from ocean floors (e.g., Arabian Sea sediments), weathering histories in the Himalayas and eolian dust records are analyzed to establish monsoon variability over several M years and in particular the strengthening of the summer monsoon about 8 M y BP due to the Tibetan Plateau. In chapter 4 the evolution of monsoon over orbital time-scales (from a few thousand to hundred thousand years or more) is investigated using a variety of data, e.g. cave data, lake records, eolian data, etc. The earth’s orbit exhibits three types of long-term variations, namely eccentricity (~100,000 y), obliquity (~41000 y) and precession (~21000 y) and this also reflects in monsoon strength which varies on the 21, 40 and 100 thousand year time-scales that control periods of glacial advances and retreats. Chapter 5 discusses the erosional impact of the Asian monsoon and how this may have impacted the tectonics of the Asian mountain ranges. The chapter concludes that the monsoon circulation and intensity had a powerful influence on the erosion and weathering of Asia over long and short geological times during the Cenozoic (~70 M y ) and this erosional impact has resulted in an important coupling between the climate and the tectonic evolution of the mountains.

The last chapter discusses the late Holocene monsoon variability and how this has shaped the human society and culture over Asia. The authors employ records derived from ice cores, spelothems, lakes and peat bogs to assess monsoon strengths since about 8000 y BP to the present. The monsoon strengthening, following the very cold period of Younger Dryas (~ 11000 y BP) allowed vegetation to spread and diversify and this, according to the authors, may have led to the development of the Harappan and Mohenjodaro culture between 9000 to 6000 y BP. Extensive remains of this culture are found in the northwest parts of India (which is now part of Pakistan) along the Indus River valley and in particular along the River Saraswati, referred to many times in the Hindu scriptures, The Rig Veda, written about 6000 y BP. The Saraswati River, which was a major river then, has all but disappeared today, most certainly due to drying of the monsoonal climate after 4200 y BP. The drying of Asian monsoon after 5000 y BP is also inferred from sediment records in northeast China where the Dadiwan culture flourished between 8000-6000 y BP when the monsoon rains were abundant. The monsoon variability of the last 1000 years is discussed in conjunction with major political and historical development of Asia, with particular reference to the rise and fall of the Moghul Empire in south Asia (1500-1700 AD). The last section of this chapter deals with the possible impact of present climate change on future monsoon circulation and intensity. This discussion appears to be strongly influenced by the IPCC (2001) projections of significant melting of the Greenland Ice cap leading to an abrupt weakening of the ‘North Atlantic heat conveyer belt’ and this in turn could lead to a weakening of the Asian monsoon. Studies published in the last five years do not support such scenarios. A study by Kripalani et al (2003 Natural Hazards June 2003) shows that the Indian monsoon, and by extension the Asian monsoon, while exhibiting decadal variability with a 30-year cycle, is not influenced by global warming, and the recent 2007 IPCC documents on climate change suggest only a small change (less than 5%) in monsoon intensity over the next 25 to 30 years. Another recent study (Latif et al J of Climate September 2006) concludes that the recent observed weakening of the MOC (Meridional Overturning Circulation) in the North Atlantic is part of natural variability and not a result of global warming. Finally, there is considerable uncertainty in projections of future melting of the Greenland Ice cap with publication of several recent studies suggesting that the future warming of the earth’s climate due to a doubling of (human-added) atmospheric carbon dioxide may only be about 1°C or so.

In summary, this is a comprehensive book for someone whose interest is in the climate history of the Asian monsoon over last several million years. The Asian monsoon is perhaps the most complex feature of the earth’s climate system and per a recent paper (Shukla Science October 2007) the present climate models cannot adequately simulate the monsoon intensity and its interannual variability. The Indian and Asian Monsoon have witnessed large-scale droughts and floods in the past and will continue to do so, global warming notwithstanding. An important research area at present is the study of interannual variability of Asian monsoon and prediction of future droughts and floods. Such a study and the operational knowledge derived from it may enable many Asian countries to develop suitable adaptation measures so as to adjust to the vagaries of future monsoons. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Look out! It's getting greener! Stuff's growing better! Arctic Tundra Hotter, Boosts Global Warming: Expert

OTTAWA - Regions of Arctic tundra around the world are heating up very rapidly, releasing more greenhouse gases than predicted and boosting the process of global warming, a leading expert said on Wednesday.

Professor Greg Henry of the University of British Columbia also said higher temperatures meant larger plants were starting to spread across the tundra, which is usually covered by small shrubs, grasses and lichen. The thicker plant cover means the region is getting darker and absorbing more heat.

He said tundra covers about 15 percent of the world's surface and makes up around 30 percent of Canadian territory.

Henry, who has been working in the Arctic since the early 1980s, said he had measured "a very substantial change" in the tundra over the last three decades, citing greater emissions and plant growth. (Reuters)

 

Now Debuting: Climate Depot Arctic Fact Sheet - Get the latest peer-reviewed studies and analysis

Arctic Ice Changes in past 3 years due to 'shifting winds'

[Climate Depot is publishing a series of exclusive A-Z fact sheets on every aspect of the global warming debate. Climate Depot has already published comprehensive fact sheets on: RealClimate.org; Climate Models; Sea Level Rise; Climate Threats & Intimidation; Climate Funding; Global Warming's Global Governance; Amazon and Rainforests; Warming Activists Stuck in Polar Ice; Congressional Cap-and-Trade Bill; Record Cold Temps; Lack of Warming; Report on Obama Admin. Climate Report; Hurricanes; Climate Astrology; Gore Effect;]

Climate Depot Arctic Fact Sheet (for additional updates on the Arctic see new articles tagged Arctic) (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)

 

Senate hearings looming? Exxon Mobil profits plunge 66% - The energy company says the weak global economy and volatile oil prices hurt second-quarter results.

NEW YORK -- Exxon Mobil reported a 66% decline in second-quarter earnings Thursday as demand for energy remained weak and prices for oil and gas tumbled from last year's highs.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company said it earned $3.95 billion in the second quarter, down from $11.68 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, Exxon said it earned 81 cents, down from $2.22 in the second quarter of 2008. (CNNMoney.com)

Given political obsession with oil company profits and a love of throwing taxpayers' money into declining enterprises I assume there will be prompt action regarding this devastating result? And yes Gracie, I'm being facetious, although declining oil company profits are more of a problem for the country than rising ones simply because we need profitable oil companies to keep replacing supply of essential resources.

 

Greek Hunters Take Dim View Of Solar Energy Scheme

MEGALOPOLIS - Lignite power plants belch dust and smoke into the air above the southern Greek town of Megalopolis, but residents resistant to environmental arguments have blocked a scheme to build the country's biggest solar energy project on a nearby hillside.

Local game hunters, angry that an earlier plan to grow a forest on the site was scrapped, have gone to court to try to stop the construction of a 50-megawatt solar panel park.

"Under no conditions will we accept sacrificing even one tree ... we are not bowing to these interests," Kostas Markopoulos, president of the Hunters' Association of the Peloponnese, said on a visit to the site on a hill overlooking the small town. (Reuters)

 

How do you solve a problem like the Nimbys?

The familiar pattern of wind farm objections, Nimby protests, planning difficulties, and investment set backs have returned to the UK this week. By James Murray, from BusinessGreen.com, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Interestingly missing from the comments under this piece (basically "You're a nimby"; "are not"; "too so"...) is the real question: why put useless, noisy and unsightly junk in anyone's backyard?

 

Great Leap Forward for China’s Wind Energy

China has recently agreed to invest about $7 billion in new wind projects in Gansu, the arid northwest province with the most abundant wind resource. Nearly two dozen big Chinese power companies have committed to wind projects in Gansu, encouraged by massive low-interest loans from the state banks and various government subsidies.

Over the past few years, China’s wind sector has gotten increasing amounts of attention. In 2007, about 15% of all global wind investments occurred in China. In 2008, about $12 billion was invested in the Chinese wind power market, which by some estimates is now the world’s fastest-growing.

In 2005, China’s wind power capacity was 1.26 gigawatts. By the end of 2008, that figure had jumped to 12.21 GW, or about 1.5% of China’s total nameplate power generation capacity. By the end of 2010, China expects another 4 GW of wind capacity to come online. Since 2007, the government has raised the total wind power capacity target from the original planned 30 GW to 100 GW by 2020. In the government’s “New Energy Resource Stimulus Program” to be in place soon, the price model for the wind power from the government is very favorable to investments in wind. Multiple wind farms with a total capacity of 10 GW or more are to be built in Xinjiang, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Jiangsu, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces.

Moving even faster are the manufacturers – over 70 enterprises have started to make wind turbines and parts, more than double that in the rest of the world. To protect the domestic wind power equipment business, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has ruled that 70 percent of the equipment in any wind farm must be domestic. Imported equipment is subject to tariffs. This has been labeled by the international news media as “trade protectionism”.

Although currently there is excess electricity capacity and the power industry is losing money, and although wind electricity is more expensive than coal-fired electricity, the wind energy industry in China is still booming. Some companies put up the turbines as soon as a good wind source is located, just to occupy the spot for future development. Many local governments and power enterprises only seek the wind power capacity for political correctness without considering the availability of wind sources and the feasibility of land use. All of these are part and parcel of China’s constant desire to be liked by the rest of the world. If wind is fashionable everywhere else, one can bet it will boom in China.

But as usual there are problems. The national transmission power grid doesn’t have sufficient back up capacity to manage the intermittency of the wind. “Because wind energy is unstable, it is a pollutant and affects the safety of the power grid. The capacity of the transmission power grid is limited, not all of the wind power can be transmitted whenever a wind farm is built,” said Hu Xueha, the deputy chief engineer of China’s Power Grid Research Institute. Many wind farms are being built even though adequate transmission isn’t available. In January 2008 alone, some 300 gigawatt-hours of electricity was wasted due to insufficient transmission capacity. According to recent data from the China Power Union, only 72% (8.94 GW) of China’s total wind power capacity was connected to the grid. The result: a lot of wind turbines have been “sun bathing” -- as the Chinese call it.

China’s problems with adequate transmission and back-up generation capacity are not unique. Similar problems are occurring in the US. Thus, while wind appears to be booming, it take some time – maybe a long time – before China’s wind sector becomes a financially sound business. (Xina Xie and Michael Economides, Energy Tribune)

 

July 30, 2009

 

Another false fat-attack: Obesity not an extra risk factor in swine flu: US

ATLANTA - Obesity does not pose an extra risk of severe disease or death for people infected with the new pandemic strain of H1N1 swine flu, a U.S health official said on Wednesday.

Earlier studies had suggested that obese people might be at greater risk of severe complications from H1N1, but Dr. Anthony Fiore of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said additional study had not confirmed this.

He said 38 percent of severe flu cases were among obese people -- and about 34 percent of the U.S. population is obese.

More than half who died had medical conditions known to worsen risks from influenza, Fiore told a meeting of vaccine advisers. (Reuters)

 

Swine flu striking pregnant women hard: CDC study

CHICAGO - Pregnant women infected with the new H1N1 swine flu have a much higher risk of severe illness and death and should receive prompt treatment with antiviral drugs, U.S. government researchers said on Wednesday.

While pregnant woman have always had a higher risk of severe disease from influenza in general, the new H1N1 virus is taking an exceptionally heavy toll, the researchers said.

"We do see a fourfold increase in hospitalization rates among ill pregnant women compared to the general population," Dr. Denise Jamieson of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.

"We're also seeing a relatively large proportion of deaths among pregnant women. We report 13 percent in the paper, but that is a very unstable number based on a small number of deaths reported," said Jamieson, whose study appears in the journal Lancet. (Reuters)

 

U.S. advisers say pregnant women first for H1N1 jab

ATLANTA - Expert U.S. advisers accepted recommendations on Wednesday to put pregnant women at the front of the line for vaccines against the new H1N1 pandemic influenza virus, with relatives and caregivers for infants second.

The Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices nearly unanimously accepted advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to first protect pregnant women, infants and healthcare workers against the virus.

Healthcare workers and children at risk of serious complications should follow -- and then healthy young adults aged 19 to 24, the panel said.

Members of the panel said young adults should be a priority because they are more likely to become infected, and because they may spread the virus through society. (Reuters)

 

U.S. expert set rules for swine flu vaccines

ATLANTA - The U.S. government has taken delivery of 20 million doses of a vaccine against the new pandemic H1N1 swine flu, and should be ready to start an immunization campaign in October, officials said on Wednesday.

Vaccine advisers meeting in Atlanta may follow World Health Organization guidelines that put healthcare workers, pregnant women and patients with asthma and diabetes at the front of the line to get vaccinated.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices may also examine ways to manage a complicated U.S. flu season, with people getting seasonal influenza immunizations alongside swine flu vaccines.

Robin Robinson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the meeting the government has contracted to buy around 200 million doses of vaccine and that 20 million have been delivered.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it still was not clear when vaccination could begin. But she told the meeting, "We want people to plan as though we will be able to go in mid-October."

Data from human trials of the new vaccine, which have just begun, will not be available until late September, officials told the meeting.

H1N1 swine flu is now so widespread that the World Health Organization has stopped counting individual cases. Health experts are afraid it could worsen, especially when the Northern Hemisphere's influenza season starts in the autumn.

Five companies are making H1N1 vaccine for the U.S. market -- AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit, Australia's CSL Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA. (Reuters)

 

Warning! Don't smoke sunbeds! Sunbeds join cigarettes as top cancer threat

SYDNEY - Tanning beds have been ranked alongside cigarettes, arsenic and asbestos as posing the greatest threat of cancer to humans by an international cancer research group.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has moved ultra-violet emitting tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category and labeled them as "carcinogenic to humans" after ruling they are more dangerous than previously suggested.

The France-based agency, which is part of the World Health Organization, had previously classified sunlamps and tanning beds as "probably" carcinogenic to humans.

The research, published in the latest edition of The Lancet Oncology medical journal, found using tanning beds could increase the risk of developing cancer by 75 percent, particularly if used by children and young adults.

"The risk of skin melanoma is increased by 75 percent when use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age," the report reads. (Reuters Life!)

 

U.S. Senate may drop public healthcare option

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers on both sides of the U.S. Capitol struggled to reach a healthcare deal on Tuesday, with Senate Democrats near agreement with three Republicans on a plan that would not include a government-run insurance option backed by President Barack Obama.

After more than six hours of closed-door meetings, however, Democrats in the House of Representatives said they had not reached a deal with rebellious fiscal conservatives and it was unlikely they would vote on a healthcare overhaul before heading home for their August recess at the end of the week. (Reuters)

 

New Poll Finds Growing Unease on Health Plan

President Obama’s ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray his overhaul plan as a government takeover that could limit Americans’ ability to choose their doctors and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Americans are concerned that revamping the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills, and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatments and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy — a central argument made by Mr. Obama — has dropped over the past month.

Mr. Obama continues to benefit from strong support for the basic goal of revamping the health care system, and he is seen as far more likely than Congressional Republicans to have the best ideas to accomplish that. But reflecting a problem that has hindered efforts to bring major changes to health care for decades, Americans expressed considerable unease about what the end result would mean for them individually. (NYT)

 

 

Scientist's fertility views troubling

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried to reassure citizens in New Orleans this week that Obamacare bureaucrats will make sound medical decisions for all Americans. She failed. Under the government-run plan, she promised, a team of health care experts will recommend what should be covered: "I think it would be wise to let science guide what the best health care package is."

Gulp. It's the Obama administration's view of sound "science" that should send chills down patients' spines. Case in point: The president's prestigious science czar, John Holdren, refuses to answer questions about his radical published work on population control over the last 30 years.

Last week, I called the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to press Holdren on his views about forced abortions and mass sterilizations; his purported disavowal of "Ecoscience," the 1977 book he co-authored with population control zealots Paul and Anne Ehrlich; and his continued embrace of forced-abortion advocate and eugenics guru Harrison Brown, whom he credits with inspiring him to become a scientist.

After investigative bloggers and this column reprinted extensive excerpts from "Ecoscience," which mused openly about putting sterilants in the water supply to make women infertile and engineering society by taking away babies from undesirables and subjecting them to government-mandated abortions, the White House issued a statement from Holdren last week denying he embraced those proposals. The Ehrlichs challenged critics to read their and Holdren's more recent research and works.

I did read one of Holdren's recent works. It revealed his clingy reverence for, and allegiance to, the gurus of population control authoritarianism. He's just gotten smarter about cloaking it behind global warming hysteria. In 2007, he addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Holdren served as AAAS president; the organization posted his full slide presentation on its Web site.

In the opening slide, Holdren admitted that his "preoccupation" with apocalyptic matters such as "the rates at which people breed" was a lifelong obsession spurred by Brown's work. Holdren heaped praise on Brown's half-century-old book, "The Challenge of Man's Future," and proceeded to paint doom-and-gloom scenarios requiring drastic government interventions to control climate change.

Who is Harrison Brown? He was a "distinguished member" of the International Eugenics Society whom Holdren later worked with on a book about world population and fertility. Brown advocated the same population control-freak measures Holdren put forth in "Ecoscience." In "The Challenge of Man's Future," Brown envisioned a regime in which the "number of abortions and artificial inseminations permitted in a given year would be determined completely by the difference between the number of deaths and the number of births in the year previous."

Brown exhorted readers to accept that "we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that artificial means must be applied to limit birth rates." If we don't, Brown warned, we will face a planet "with a writhing mass of human beings." He likened the global population to a "pulsating mass of maggots."

When I pressed Holdren's office about his relationship with Brown, spokesman Rick Weiss told me he didn't know who Brown was and balked at drawing any conclusions about Holdren's views based on his homage just two years ago to his lifelong mentor, colleague and continued inspiration, Harrison Brown.

Weiss lectured me rather snippily about the need for responsible journalism (he was a Washington Post reporter for 15 years). He then told me not to expect any response from Holdren's office to my question on whether Holdren disavows his relationship with a eugenics enthusiast who referred to the world population as a "pulsating mass of maggots" and championed a scheme of abortion and artificial insemination quotas. To date the office has maintained radio silence.

If this is the kind of ghoulish "science" that guides the White House, we can only hope that Obamacare is dead on arrival. (Michelle Malkin, MBO)

 

Obama OSHA Pick Supports Junk Science in Courts and Public Policy; Senate Should Probe Links With Trial Lawyers, Radical Environmentalists

WASHINGTON, July 29 -- President Obama's nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), David Michaels, should be grilled by the U.S. Senate about his links to trial lawyers and other anti-science activist groups, JunkScience.com says.

"Michaels supports the use of junk science as a basis for public policy and court decisions, representing a threat to employers, employees, consumers and taxpayers," said Steve Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com.

Michaels runs something called the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) at the George Washington University. While its university affiliation and academic name would seem to lend it a modicum of credibility, in fact, SKAPP's origins are much more revealing. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

 

Government Tackles Obesity Anew -- But Can It Show Restraint?

The CDC is holding a three-day conference in Washington, D.C., called "Weight of the Nation." The agency has issued a slew of reports on obesity in recent weeks and just released a set of two-dozen recommendations for how communities can implement better programs and policies to slim people down. (Judson Berger, FOXNews.com)

 

Fighting Fat by Fighting Fat

How do we trim health care costs? Weighing in on the national debate, a new study in the journal Health Affairs urges: Fight fat by fighting fat.

An obese person spends $1,400 more in medical expense per year than normal-weight people, and obesity-related diseases cost this nation anywhere from $86 billion to $147 billion per year. "Real (health care) savings are more likely to be achieved through reforms that reduce the prevalence of obesity and related risk factors," the study's scholars conclude.

Addressing "poor diet and inactivity," they say, will require "policy and environmental changes that extend far beyond what can be achieved through changes in health care financing and delivery."

Federally funded fat-fighters! Congressional greengrocers in the inner city! Taxpayer-subsidized gym clubs and personal trainers! Surgeon general warnings on Twinkies! The mind boggles.

The statistics they have marshaled are impressive. The debate they have stirred so far is less so.

The problem from a public health perspective is that there is very little evidence that any of these weight-loss strategies (taxing fat, funding nutrition programs and/or exhorting fat people) work. (Maggie Gallagher, Townhall)

 

This nonsense, again: Nation's Obesity Problem Puts Strain On Health Care Costs

A new study published by the Journal of Health Affairs reports the obesity-related health spending has doubled in the last decade. Some economists worry that health care reform could become more costly if Americans don't start shedding those extra pounds. Dr. David Kessler, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, and author of the book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" explains the seriousness of America's obesity problem, and who should foot the bill. (NPR)

 

Let's let Tim Worstall explain why this assertion is so flawed: Obesity does not cost the USA $147 billion a year, it saves us money

Not only does obesity not cost the USA $147 billion a year, it does not account for 10% of all health care spending either. Yes, there has indeed been a report stating that obesity does indeed cost $147 billion a year but it has to be said that just because a paper has been published it does not mean that that paper is in fact true.

It also does not matter that John Stossel is sceptical, nor the LATimes blog not sceptical: while those are usually reasonable indicators of which way an argument is going (Stossel hesitant, LATblog overboard with enthusiasm usually meaning there is no truth in the assertion) for these, while useful indicators, are not infallible.

So, instead of indulging in a he said, she said sort of shouting match, why don't we try to gather together the facts that we have about obesity, health, health care costs and see if we can arrive at a real estimate of what obesity costs us as a nation?

Let us start with that recent paper which has received so much reporting space. It is here, Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity. We are not going to argue with anything they have said, not going to try and disagree, we are going to take their major finding and then point out what they have not in fact included in their calculations. We are, if you prefer, simply pointing to what they have left out and accepting everything that they have said.

Their main finding is this:

Across all payers, per capita medical spending for the obese is $1,429 higher per year, or roughly 42 percent higher, than for someone of normal weight.

From that they then count the number who are obese and thus reach that $147 billion number. We shall accept that as the gross number for health care spending upon the obese. However, we need to keep in mind the stricture of the French economist (for of course this is indeed all about health care economics) Frederic Bastiat and go off and look for what is hidden, not just what is in plain view.

What else do we know about obesity? Anything at all, other than simply the aesthetic point that we don't like seeing it in a bikini? Well, yes, we do in fact. We know that obesity kills people as well. This shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise either. We've got a great big report telling us that health care costs for the obese are higher than they are for those not bloated on calories, health care costs tend to be higher for those who are ill more often and those who are ill more often tend to die younger. So it's not great leap of logic to think that those who are obese are shortening their lifespans.

And indeed they are:

Another study used data on more than 3000 people aged 30 to 49 drawn from the Framingham heart study (Annals of Internal Medicine 2003;138;24-32). According to this prospective cohort study, among 40 year old non-smokers women who were classified as overweight lost 3.3 years of life expectancy compared with normal weight women. The corresponding figure for overweight men was 3.1 years. Among 40 year old non-smokers who were classified as obese, women lost 7.1 years and men lost 5.8 years.

We want just those last two numbers, for the obese, not for the overweight. And? you might say. So what if the obese die younger, serves them right for costing us all more or their health care, doesn't it? Ah, yes, but it also means that we don't have to spend on their health care for those years that they are in their graves rather than desperately searching for that jumbo corn dog. You might think that this is somewhat heartless, looking at peoples' lives in this manner, and you would be correct, it is heartless. It is also correct.

So how much do those years that the obese are not alive save us in cold hard (hearted) cash then? As no one at all is surprised to find out lost years of life tend to come from the end of a lifespan. As average lifespans are now well into the 70s for both men and women and the lost years are 6 or 7 on average, then we can take as a useful proxy what we spend on Medicare. For while there are indeed some who die before they qualify for that health care program, we are using averages all along here (and fairly rough and ready ones as well). If average lifspan is 77 years, you lose 7 of those by being obese then death comes at 70 and yes, you're 5 years into being eligible for Medicare.

As a rough and ready guide how about $8,000 per year per Medicare enrollee?

In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average.

Eyeballing this chart from 2003 gives us something similar as a guide.

Now we actually have our numbers. Someone who is obese costs (all numbers are averages remember) $1,429 per year more in medical care costs than someone who is not obese. Those people who are obese will die 6.5 years (averaging men and women) younger than someone who is not obese. Those 6.5 years of not life on Medicare save the rest of us $52,000 in health care costs. Or, another way of looking at it, 36 years worth of the higher costs that the obese impose upon us while alive.

Do not forget the usual number of caveats here. Shortened life spans are not in themselves a good thing, they are usually thought of as a loss of human wealth as we lose a human capable of enjoying this fabulous world. Nor is ill health a good thing, for the same reason. But this all started when the medics decided to only look at the cold cash element of obesity and that is exactly what we are doing here, looking only at that cash. Also please remember, these are very rough numbers, close to the truth but used more to illustrate the point than be the last word on the subject.

The gross cost of obesity, the visible gross cost, we have accepted from the original paper as being that $147 billion per annum. The nett cash cost of obesity, after we take off the cash savings on health care because the obese die young looks, well, a great deal smaller, doesn't it?

In fact, let us take the advice of the LATblog:

As evidence of this new "get-tough" strategy on obesity, they may well cite a study released today by the Urban Institute titled "Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies From the Tobacco Wars."

Let us indeed take a leaf (apologies) from the tobacco book and recall Kip Viscusi's point about those who die young. Not only do we not spend on Medicare for them, they do not collect their Social Security benefits either. People who die young, but after they retire, make a profit for the rest of us taxpayers.

Far from the obese costing the rest of us money it is far more likely that the nett cost of obesity to us, the elegantly thin and sylphlike, is negative. We make a profit on it, not a loss. (Tim Worstall, Examiner)

 

America's Moral Panic Over Obesity

With health care in the news, everyone's looking for magic bullets to save money.  Obesity seems to be a growing favorite:  wouldn't it be great if we could make everyone look like Jennifer Anniston, and be cheaper to treat?  There are a lot of holes in this theory--the morbidly obese are very sick, but die young, while lower levels of overweight/obesity aren't so well correlated with poor health.  But still, the idea's power seems to be growing every day.

This week, Health Affairs published a new study showing that--quel surprise!--obesity accounts for an ever growing share of our health care costs.  They put the number at about 10%.  So I decided to ask Paul Campos, the author of The Obesity Myth, what he thought.  The book, which everyone should read, argues that the health benefits of losing weight are largely imaginary; that we are using "health" to advance our class bias in favor of thin people, particularly thin women. (Megan McArdle, The Atlantic)

 

Obesity surgery death rates are low, study finds

Obese, but worried that surgery for it might kill you? The risk of that has dropped dramatically, and now is no greater than for having a gall bladder out, a hip replaced or most other major operations, new research shows.

The study looked at safety results for gastric bands and stomach stapling at 10 U.S. hospitals specializing in these procedures from 2005 through 2007. For every 1,000 patients, three died during or within a month of their surgery, and 43 had a major complication.

That is much better than the 20 or so deaths per 1,000 patients that studies found just a few years earlier. And it's surely lower than the longer term risk of dying of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences of lugging around more pounds than an obese person's organs can handle, experts say.

Many studies have compared those odds, and "all show a higher risk of dying if you do not have surgical treatment than if you do," said Dr. Eric DeMaria, weight loss surgery chief at Duke University Medical Center. (Associated Press)

Please be advised near-term mortality risk is but a small facet of considerations for this surgery. Might we recommend browsing through the coverage presented by Sandy on Junkfood Science for a fuller perspective (and not a few cautionary notes).

 

Hmm... Rates Of Severe Childhood Obesity Have Tripled

Rates of severe childhood obesity have tripled in the last 25 years, putting many children at risk for diabetes and heart disease, according to a report in Academic Pediatrics by an obesity expert at Brenner Children's Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (ScienceDaily)

 

Meanwhile: Obesity rates may be stabilizing among low-income children in the United States

Obesity prevalence increased from 12.4% in 1998 to 14.5% in 2003, however, it only increased to 14.6% in 2008 among children aged 2 to 4 years in low-income households, based on the CDC’s Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System data. (Endocrine Today)

 

Scientists Create Energy-burning Brown Fat In Mice

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have shown that they can engineer mouse and human cells to produce brown fat, a natural energy-burning type of fat that counteracts obesity. If such a strategy can be developed for use in people, the scientists say, it could open a novel approach to treating obesity and diabetes. (ScienceDaily)

 

Discovery May Help Treat Obesity

A new approach to treating obesity has been opened up by a discovery about how the body creates brown fat, the cells that burn white fat and turn it into body heat. (NYT)

 

Calcium rich kid diet has long term benefits

NEW YORK - A childhood diet rich in calcium may lower the risk of death from stroke in adulthood, while a diet high in dairy or calcium in childhood may lower the risk of death from any cause later in life, according to results of a study published online ahead of print in the journal Heart.

"The practice of giving extra milk to school children to encourage growth was common in Europe in the 20th century and milk consumption by children is still encouraged in many European countries and worldwide," Dr. Jolieke C. van der Pols of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues note in their report.

"Yet concern has been expressed about the possible long-term health effects of dairy consumption in relation to cancer and cardiovascular disease risk and safe intake levels are being debated," they note.

Against this backdrop, van der Pols and colleagues carried out a 65-year follow-up of a British study of family food intake conducted from 1937 to 1939. They determined causes of death between 1948 and 2005 for 4374 traced cohort members who participated in the study. (Reuters Health)

 

Further to yesterday's piece on daylight saving we are reminded of this piece: Spring Ahead, Fall Back, Roll Over, And Play Dead:  What You Might Not Know About Daylight Saving Time

Saving time

By  Michael D. Shaw
Health News Digest

While it is true that the notion of daylight saving was first conceptualized by Benjamin Franklin, it is less well known that the idea was presented quite sardonically in a 1784 essay of his entitled An Economical Project. The essay, written in Paris, implied that the good citizens of the City of Light never woke before noon, and thus were unaware that there was indeed sunlight as early as 6:00 AM.

As such, much precious daylight was being wasted, and worse, far too many candles were consumed. Better that people rearrange their schedules. He proposed a number of whimsical regulations to this effect, including:

  • A tax be laid on every window built with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.
  • Candles rationed to one pound per family per week, and the regulation enforced by the constabulary.
  • Guards posted to stop the passage of all coaches, etc. upon the streets after sunset except those of physicians, surgeons and midwives.

As it happened, though, some took Franklin's essay seriously, which brings us to the latest iteration that we experienced on March 11th. Daylight time now begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. This is a significant change from the former (1986) rule of first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October.

What is peculiar here is that unless you tend to follow this sort of thing, you likely knew nothing about the change until a week before it would take place. To be sure, Sec. 110 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which mandated this change, was publicized far less than the three previous daylight time adjustments (1966, 1972, 1986). Could this be because there is no scientific rationale for the entire business?

Indeed, the Act provides for reversion to the 1986 rules should this latest tweak prove unpopular, or if energy savings are not proven.

Report to Congress.--Not later than 9 months after the effective date stated in subsection (b), the Secretary shall report to Congress on the impact of this section on energy consumption in the United States.

Right to Revert.--Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedules once the Department study is complete.

However, those in search of scientific reality won't have to wait nine months. A definitive study from UC Berkeley—Does Extending Daylight Saving Time Save Energy?—concludes that it does not.

Common sense will tell you that any energy savings realized by increasing the number of daylight hours is simply voided because residential power consumption shifts to earlier in the day. Moreover, individuals also burn more gasoline on leisure drives during these bright spring and summer days.

Congress passed the first DST law in 1918 and repealed it the next year. President Franklin Roosevelt imposed year-round DST for three years during the Second World War. In 1966, Congress approved a uniform DST standard for the whole country. In the 1970s, President Nixon had the nation go on DST for 15 consecutive months to conserve energy.

As the oil crisis unfolded, and as the White House tried to mitigate the worst effects of the OPEC embargo (remember gas lines?), it quickly became apparent that DST neither lowered the price of oil nor encouraged citizens to expend less energy.

According to Forrester Research, the DST switch will cost the average company $50,000 in time and labor expenses; that's a total of $350 million for the 7,000 publicly traded companies in the U.S. Even Craig Stevens, press secretary for the Department of Energy, has some doubts: "The jury on the potential national energy-savings of extending daylight saving time is still out."

Yes, there are economics behind DST, but energy has little to do with it. The real proponent of DST, a lobbyist of great skill, was Abraham Lincoln Filene, namesake of the famous Filene's department store chain in New England.

As recounted by Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, urban businessmen were the leading supporters of DST in the United States. Motivated purely by self-interest, and the idea that workers would go shopping on their way home, these executives nonetheless couched their arguments in defense of yeoman farmers and the agricultural industry.

One pamphlet stated that DST would benefit the men and women who worked the land because: "[m]ost farm products are better when gathered with dew on. They are firmer, crisper, than if the sun had dried the dew off." Riiiight...

Some contend that the switch to a November fall back was done to accommodate the candy industry. After all, a brighter and longer Halloween means more kids scarfing up more treats.

Unfortunately, there are also consequences of DST. According to Stanley Coren, a sleep expert at the University of British Columbia, the number of traffic accidents and fatal industrial mishaps increase on the Black Monday following the Spring switch to DST. Apparently, for some people, the loss of one hour's sleep is enough to dampen their reflexes. Needless to say, there is no balancing heightened awareness at the Monday following fall back.

Since it is unlikely that DST will be removed completely, as it should be, enjoy those brighter barbecue summer evenings, but don't believe the political hype! (Michael D. Shaw)

 

Life Underground Critical to Earth's Ecosystems

"I wonder if I shall fall right through the Earth!" mused Alice-in-Wonderland as she tumbled down the rabbit-hole." How funny it'll seem to come out among people that walk with their heads downwards! The antipathies, I think ..."

Alice's experiences in a below-ground world, written about by Lewis Carroll in 1865 in his famed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, were fiction.

Or were they? (PhysOrg.com)

 

Watch the whackos go nuts, again: Organic food is no healthier, study finds

LONDON - Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food, according to a major study published on Wednesday.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers were paying higher prices for organic food because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007.

A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.

"A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance," said Alan Dangour, one of the report's authors.

"Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority."

The results of the research, which was commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency, were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sales of organic food have fallen in some markets, including Britain, as recession has led consumers to cut back on purchases.

The Soil Association said in April that growth in sales of organic products in Britain slowed to just 1.7 percent in 2008, well below the average annual growth rate of 26 percent over the last decade, following a plunge in demand at the end of the year. (Reuters)

Reference: Dangour AD, Dodhia SK, Hayter A, Allen E, Lock K, Uauy R. Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009 doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28041.

For the complete article, please go to the following URL: http://www.nutrition.org/media/publications/Dangour_July29.pdf

 

Organic food 'no better for health than factory-farmed food' says report

Organic food is no healthier than other produce, according to the Government’s food watchdog.

The largest ever review into the science behind organic food found that it contained no more nutritional value than factory-farmed meat or fruit and vegetables grown using chemical fertilisers. The findings challenge popular assumptions about the organic industry, worth £2 billion in the UK. Consumer groups said that shoppers may now think twice before buying organic.

The report, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, was carried out by experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who studied data collected over 50 years.

Organic groups were incensed by the findings. The Soil Association accused the FSA of ignoring up-to-date evidence and pre-empting EU research for political reasons. Lord Melchett, its policy director, said that he had urged the FSA to delay its report. “They have jumped the gun,” he said.

The FSA researchers were led by by a public health nutritionist, Dr Alan Dangour. They found that there was no significant benefit from drinking milk or eating meat, vegetables, fruit, poultry and eggs from organic sources, as opposed to the products of conventional farm systems. (The Times)

 

Green Groups Blast EU Agency Over Biotech Maize

BRUSSELS - International green groups attacked Europe's leading food safety agency on Wednesday for its views on biotech crops and foods, saying a recent opinion was flawed and had ignored studies highlighting safety concerns.

In a report analyzing last month's opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the safety of a genetically modified maize made by U.S. company Monsanto, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) said there was enough evidence to show that the maize, called MON 810, was hazardous.

EFSA's scientific opinion concluded that MON 810 maize was "as safe as its conventional counterpart with respect to potential effects on human and animal health."

It also said the maize was "unlikely to have any adverse effect on the environment in the context of its intended uses." Those intended uses include seed for cultivation.

Monsanto's insect-resistant MON 810 maize is the only GM crop that may as yet be grown commercially in the European Union. Although its original 10-year approval expired in April 2008, the maize may still be grown during the renewal process. (Reuters)

 

Calif. farmers say feds make drought worse

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — The road to Todd Allen's farm wends past irrigation canals filled with the water that California's hot Central Valley depends on to produce vegetables and fruit for the nation. Yet not a drop will make it to his barren fields.

Three years into a drought that evokes fears of a modern-day dust bowl, Allen and others here say the culprit now isn't Mother Nature so much as the federal government. Court and regulatory rulings protecting endangered fish have choked the annual flow of water from California's Sierra mountains down to its people and irrigated fields, compounding a natural dry spell.

"This is a regulatory drought, is what it is," Allen says. "It just doesn't seem fair."

For those like Allen at the end of the water-rights line, the flow has slowed to a trickle: His water district is receiving just 10% of the normal allocation of water from federal Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs. He says he's been forced to lay off all his workers and watch the crops die on his 300 acres while bills for an irrigation system he put in are due.

"My payments don't stop when they cut my water off," Allen says.

Although some farmers with more senior water rights are able to keep going, local officials say 250,000 acres has gone fallow for lack of water in Fresno County, the nation's most productive agriculture county. Statewide, the unplanted acreage is almost twice that.

Unemployment has soared into Depression-era range; it is 40% in this western Fresno County area where most everyone's job is dependent on farming. Resident laborers who for years sweated in fields to fill the nation's food baskets find themselves waiting for food handouts.

"The water's cut off," complains Robert Silva, 68, mayor of the farm community of Mendota. "Mendota is known as the cantaloupe capital of the world. Now we're the food-line capital." (William M. Welch, USA TODAY)

 

World Falling Short On Emergency Food Aid: U.N. Body

WASHINGTON - The world is falling far short in feeding its most critically hungry, pledging only $3.7 billion of the $6.7 billion needed to fund the World Food Program for 2009, the head of the United Nations relief agency said on Wednesday.

The agency has so far received only $1.8 billion and has had to cut back rations and programs to the 108 million people it serves, said Josette Sheeran, its executive director.

The cutbacks will have a "destabilizing" impact in parts of the world reeling from dramatically higher food prices and less income due to the global financial crisis, Sheeran said.

"There's nothing more basic than food. If people don't have it, one of three things happen: they revolt, they migrate or they die," Sheeran said.

More than 1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry, up from 860 million two years ago. The WFP helps feed those deemed most desperate -- about 10 percent of the total.

When food prices soared to record levels last year, prompting riots and hoarding in some countries, the WFP raised a record $5 billion in donations -- about $2 billion more than in 2007 -- to help feed 102 million people in 78 countries. (Reuters)

 

Rise of the Natural Climate Cycle Deniers

Those who promote the theory that mankind is responsible for global warming have been working for the past 20 years on a revisionist climate history. A history where climate was always in a harmonious state of balance until mankind came along and upset that balance.

The natural climate cycle deniers have tried their best to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age from climate data records by constructing the uncritically acclaimed and infamous “hockey stick” of global temperature variations (or non-variations) over the last one- to two-thousand years.

Before being largely discredited by a National Academies review panel, this ‘poster child’ for global warming was heralded as proof of the static nature of the climate system, and that only humans had the power to alter it.

While the panel was careful to point out that the hockey stick might be correct, they said that the only thing science could say for sure is that it has been warmer lately than anytime in the last 400 years. Since most of those 400 years was during the Little Ice Age, I would say this is a good thing. It’s like saying this summer has been warmer than any period since…last fall.

These deniers claim that the Medieval Warm Period was only a regional phenomenon, restricted to Europe. Same for the Little Ice Age. Yet when a killer heat wave occurred in France in 2003, they hypocritically insisted that this event had global significance, caused by anthropogenic ‘global’ warming.

The strong warming that occurred up until 1940 is similarly a thorn in the side of the natural climate cycle deniers, since atmospheric carbon dioxide increases from fossil fuel burning before 1940 were too meager to have caused it. So, the ‘experts’ are now actively working on reducing the magnitude of that event by readjusting some ship measurements of ocean temperatures from that era.

Yet, they would never dream of readjusting the more recent thermometer record, which clearly has localized urban heat island effects that have not yet been removed (e.g., see here and here). As Dick Lindzen of MIT has pointed out, it is highly improbable that every adjustment the climate revisionists ever make to the data should always just happen to be in the direction of agreeing with the climate models.

Of course, global warming has indeed occurred…just as global cooling has occurred before, too. While the global warming ‘alarmists’ claim we ‘skeptics’ have our heads stuck in the sand about the coming climate catastrophe, they don’t realize their heads are stuck in the sand about natural climate variability. Their repeated referrals to skeptic’s beliefs as “denying global warming” is evidence of either their dishonesty, or their stupidity.

The climate modelers’ predictions of the coming global warming Armageddon is of a theoretical event in the distant future, created by mathematical climate models, and promoted by scientists and politicians who have nothing to lose since it will be decades before they are proved wrong. They profess the utmost confidence in these theoretical predictions, yet close their eyes and ears to the natural rhythms exhibited by nature, both in the living and non-living realms, in the present, and in the previously recorded past.

They readily admit that cycles exist in weather, but can not (or will not) entertain the possibility that cycles might occur in climate, too. Every change the natural cycle deniers see in nature is inevitably traced to some evil deed done by humans. They predictably prognosticate such things as, “If this trend continues, the Earth will be in serious trouble”. To them behavior of nature is simple, static, always in-balance – if not sacred…in a quasi-scientific sort of way, of course.

They can not conceive of nature changing all by itself, even though evidence of that change is all around us. Like the more activist environmentalists, their romantic view of a peaceful, serene natural world ignores the stark reality that most animals on the Earth are perpetually locked in a life-or-death struggle for existence. The balances that form are nature are not harmonious, but unsteady and contentious stalemates — like the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, humans are doing just what the other animals are doing: modifying and consuming their surroundings in order to thrive. The deniers curiously assert that all other forms of life on the planet have the ‘right’ to do this – except humans.

And when the natural cycle deniers demand changes in energy policy, most of them never imagine that they might personally be inconvenienced by those policies. Like Al Gore, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Leonardo DiCaprio, they scornfully look down upon the rest of humanity for using up the natural resources that they want for themselves.

And the few who freely choose to live such a life then want to deny others the freedom to choose, by either regulating or legislating everyone else’s behavior to conform to their own behavior.

The natural climate cycle deniers’ supposedly impartial science is funded by government research dollars that would mostly dry up if the fears of manmade global warming were to evaporate. With contempt they point at the few million dollars that Exxon-Mobil spent years ago to support a few scientists who maintained a healthy skepticism about the science, while the scientific establishment continues to spent tens of billions of your tax dollars.

So, who has the vested financial interest here?

Even the IPCC in its latest (2007) report admits that most of the warming in the last 50 years might be natural in origin — although they consider it very unlikely, with (in their minds) less than 10% probability. So, where is the 10% of the global warming research budget to study that possibility? It doesn’t exist, because — as a few politicians like to remind us — “the science is settled”.

The natural climate cycle deniers claim to own the moral high ground, because they are saving future generations from the ravages of (theoretical) anthropogenic climate change. A couple of them have called for trials and even executions of scientists who happen to remain skeptical of humanity being guilty of causing climate change.

Yet the energy policies they advocate are killing living, breathing poor people around the world, today. Those who are barely surviving in poverty are being pushed over the edge by rising corn prices (because of ethanol production), and decimated economies from increasing regulation and taxation of carbon based fuels in countries governed by self-righteous elites.

But the tide is turning. As the climate system stubbornly refuses to warm as much as 95% of the climate models say it should be warming, the public is turning skeptical as well. Only time will tell whether our future is one of warming, or of cooling. But if the following average of 18 proxies for global temperatures over the last 2,000 years is any indication, it is unlikely that global temperatures will remain constant for very long.

The above graph shows an average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007, and later revised in 2008, clearly showing that natural climate variability happens with features that coincide with known events in human history.

As Australian geologist Bob Carter has been emphasizing, we shouldn’t be worrying about manmade climate change. We should instead fear that which we know occurs: natural climate change. Unfortunately, it is the natural climate cycle deniers who are now in control of the money, the advertising, the news reporting, and the politicians. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Barbecue summer? Newsnight turns up the heat on man from the Met Office

Viewers of Newsnight on Tuesday evening will have enjoyed the spectacle of Nick Robinson gently roasting Ewen McCullum, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, over his organisation's prediction earlier this year that we were 'odds-on for a barbecue summer'.

But as cool drizzle descended across the UK, Mr McCullum resolutely refused to engage in the spirit of playful chiding. 'When you're forecasting so far ahead you have to base the forecast in probabilistic terms and quite frankly I don't think the media grasped that. It tends to be very deterministic so clearly the barbecue summer and the heatwaves got the headlines,' he said.

Nick was having none of it. Producing the Met Office press release, he quoted the fateful headline 'The Coming Summer is Odds On for a Barbecue Summer', adding, 'there aren't many journalists who would have turned that into a headline that says, 'Barbecue Summer - 'Maybe, Says the Met Office.'

Quite. And this highlights the core problem with much of the debate around climate change. As many of the excellent and voluminous exchanges on Bloom blog comments will demonstrate, the devil with the science of anthropogenic global warming is in the detail - detail that is crucially lost when scientists and/or their media advisors cherrypick the tastiest findings of their research and turn it into exciting headlines.

The rationale is obvious and shares much with consumer product launches. We want people to sit up and pay attention to the stuff we've made and done, so we tease them in with a juicy tidbit. Problem is, the juicy tidbit is often the only part of the story that makes it into the public consciousness, and then only in a considerably fattened and jucified state. This doesn't matter if we're talking about a pair of trainers, but it is of considerable importance if it shapes the policies, via the electorate, that will determine the future of the planet.

An example? This is how a report entitled 'Changes in Continental Freshwater Discharge from 1948-2004' comes to be press released as 'Water Levels Dropping in Some Major Rivers as Global Climate Changes' before finally being transmogrified by the international press into 'Major rivers drying up'. As the Bloom post 'Major rivers aren't drying up (or how alarmism doesn't help)' demonstrates, the science by no means supports the sexy headline. (Blog of Bloom)

 

In the hope the world might warm: Icebreakers to map uncharted waters

A pair of red-hulled icebreakers – one Canadian, one American – will batter their way north into uncharted, ice-infested waters next week, seeking to buttress claims to the vast undersea riches at the top of the world.

“We're headed into the Beaufort Sea, as far north as the ice allows,” said Jacob Verhoef, the National Resources Canada scientist spearheading Ottawa's effort to map, and eventually claim, a vast swath of the Arctic.

Data gathered by both ships will be shared, but there's no guarantee that the two countries won't eventually be at loggerheads with overlapping claims.

“This really is uncharted territory – we have better maps of the moon,” said Captain Steve Barnum, the U.S. chief hydrographer. (Globe and Mail)

 

Climate Revolt: Major Science Group 'Startled' By Outpouring of Scientists Rejecting Man-Made Climate Fears!

Scientists seek to remove climate fear promoting editor and 'trade him to New York Times or Washington Post'

An outpouring of skeptical scientists who are members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) are revolting against the group's editor-in-chief -- with some demanding he be removed -- after an editorial appeared claiming “the science of anthropogenic climate change is becoming increasingly well established.”

The editorial claimed the "consensus" view was growing "increasingly difficult to challenge, despite the efforts of diehard climate-change deniers.” The editor now admits he is "startled" by the negative reaction from the group's scientific members.

The June 22, 2009 editorial in Chemical and Engineering News by editor in chief Rudy Baum, is facing widespread blowback and condemnation from American Chemical Society member scientists. Baum concluded his editorial by stating that “deniers” are attempting to “derail meaningful efforts to respond to global climate change.”

Dozens of letters were published on July 27, 2009 castigating Baum, with some scientists calling for his replacement as editor-in-chief.

The editorial was met with a swift, passionate and scientific rebuke from Baum's colleagues. Virtually all of the letters published on July 27 in castigated Baum's climate science views. Scientists rebuked Baum's use of the word “deniers” because of the terms “association with Holocaust deniers.” In addition, the scientists called Baum's editorial: “disgusting”; “a disgrace”; “filled with misinformation”; “unworthy of a scientific periodical” and “pap.”

One outraged ACS member wrote to Baum: "When all is said and done, and you and your kind are proven wrong (again), you will have moved on to be an unthinking urn for another rat pleading catastrophe. You will be removed. I promise."

Baum 'startled' by scientists reaction

Baum wrote on July 27, that he was "startled" and "surprised" by the "contempt" and "vehemence" of the ACS scientists to his view of the global warming "consensus."

"Some of the letters I received are not fit to print. Many of the letters we have printed are, I think it is fair to say, outraged by my position on global warming," Baum wrote. (Marc Morano, Climate depot)

 

Public opinion turning against global warming almost as quickly as science

Chapter 4 of my book, titled, "An Inconvenient Hoax," systematically exposes and confronts all the most current science fiction being shoved down our throats by the Luddite absolutists and pseudo-intellectual scam artists of the left. It is devastating. (Robert Moon, Examiner)

 

Global warming moonbattery: yeah this year is cool, but it would have been even cooler if not for GLOBAL WARMING!!!

No it's not hyperbole. It's even less than conjecture. Wishful fantasy - maybe. Probably. Whatever it is, it is not science. As most people know around the globe by simple observable experiential knowledge is that, on average, it's been a cold year the first 7 month. Very cold. (The BlogProf)

 

Breaking: Global warming scam finishes last in yet another voter poll

NPR Poll, July 22-26, 2009, 850 Likely Voters here [PDF]:


(Tom Nelson)

 

This stupidity, again? The Meat of the Problem

The debate over climate change has reached a rarefied level of policy abstraction in recent months. Carbon tax or cap-and-trade? Upstream or downstream? Should we auction permits? Head-scratching is, at this point, permitted. But at base, these policies aim to do a simple thing, in a simple way: persuade us to undertake fewer activities that are bad for the atmosphere by making those activities more expensive. Driving an SUV would become pricier. So would heating a giant house with coal and buying electricity from an inefficient power plant. But there's one activity that's not on the list and should be: eating a hamburger.

If it's any consolation, I didn't like writing that sentence any more than you liked reading it. But the evidence is strong. It's not simply that meat is a contributor to global warming; it's that it is a huge contributor. Larger, by a significant margin, than the global transportation sector.

According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Some of meat's contribution to climate change is intuitive. It's more energy efficient to grow grain and feed it to people than it is to grow grain and turn it into feed that we give to calves until they become adults that we then slaughter to feed to people. Some of the contribution is gross. "Manure lagoons," for instance, is the oddly evocative name for the acres of animal excrement that sit in the sun steaming nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. And some of it would make Bart Simpson chuckle. Cow gas -- interestingly, it's mainly burps, not farts -- is a real player.

But the result isn't funny at all: Two researchers at the University of Chicago estimated that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading in your gas guzzler for a Prius (PDF). A study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week. That prompted Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to recommend that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere. The response was quick and vicious. "How convenient for him," was the inexplicable reply from a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "He's a vegetarian."

The visceral reaction against anyone questioning our God-given right to bathe in bacon has been enough to scare many in the environmental movement away from this issue. The National Resources Defense Council has a long page of suggestions for how you, too, can "fight global warming." As you'd expect, "Drive Less" is in bold letters. There's also an endorsement for "high-mileage cars such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids." They advise that you weatherize your home, upgrade to more efficient appliances and even buy carbon offsets. The word "meat" is nowhere to be found. (Ezra Klein, Washington Post)

 

Planet Bull's Eye

The year is 2109. Celebrations continue as mankind's heroic, century-long, quintillion-dollar effort to lower the global mean temperature by 1 degree has paid off: July 2109 is just as hot as July 2009. Few can contain their jubilation.

But even as the carbon-neutral champagne corks fly, the sky darkens. A projectile of a different kind is coming our way. An asteroid streaks across the skies, giving the media just enough time to spread the word. The New York Times, now beamed directly into subscribers' brains via digital-neural networks, fulfills ancient prophecy and warns that women and minorities will be hardest hit by the incoming object.

But there's little we can do. (Jonah Goldberg, Townhall)

 

NASA now saying that a Dalton Minimum repeat is possible

Guest Post by David Archibald

NASA’s David Hathaway has adjusted his expectations of Solar Cycle 24 downwards. He is quoted in the New York Times here Specifically, he said:

” Still, something like the Dalton Minimum — two solar cycles in the early 1800s that peaked at about an average of 50 sunspots — lies in the realm of the possible.”

NASA has caught up with my prediction in early 2006 of a Dalton Minimum repeat, so for a brief, shining moment of three years, I have had a better track record in predicting solar activity than NASA.

Hathaway-NYT

The graphic above is modified from a paper I published in March, 2006.  Even based on our understanding of solar – climate relationship at the time, it was evident the range of Solar Cycle 24 amplitude predictions would result in a 2°C range in temperature.  The climate science community was oblivious to this, despite billions being spent.  To borrow a term from the leftist lexicon, the predictions above Badalyan are now discredited elements.

Let’s now examine another successful prediction of mine. In March, 2008 at the first Heartland climate conference in New York, I predicted that Solar Cycle 24 would mean that it would not be a good time to be a Canadian wheat farmer. Lo and behold, the Canadian wheat crop is down 20% this year due to a cold spring and dry fields. Story here.

The oceans are losing heat, so the Canadian wheat belt will just get colder and drier as Solar Cycle 24 progresses. As Mark Steyn recently said, anyone under the age of 29 has not experienced global warming. A Dalton Minimum repeat will mean that they will have to wait to the age of 54 odd to experience a warming trend.

Where to now? The F 10.7 flux continues to flatline. All the volatility has gone out of it. In terms of picking the month of minimum for the Solar Cycle 23/24 transition, I think the solar community will put it in the middle of the F 10.7 quiet period due to the lack of sunspots. We won’t know how long that quiet period is until solar activity ramps up again. So picking the month of minimum at the moment may just be guessing.

Dr Hathaway says that we are not in for a Maunder Minimum, and I agree with him. I have been contacted by a gentleman from the lower 48 who has a very good solar activity model. It hindcasts the 20th century almost perfectly, so I have a lot of faith in what it is predicting for the 21st century, which is a couple of very weak cycles and then back to normal as we have known it. I consider his model to be a major advance in solar science.

What I am now examining is the possibility that there will not be a solar magnetic reversal at the Solar Cycle 24 maximum. (WUWT)

 

New Paper “Effects Of Global Irrigation On The Near-Surface Climate” by Sacks Et Al 2009

There is another paper in a continuing long stream of peer reviewed contributions that document the role of the human management of the landscape on the climate system.

This new paper is

Sacks, W.J., B.I. Cook, N. Buenning, S. Levis, and J.H. Helkowski, 2009: Effects of global irrigation on the near-surface climate. Clim. Dynam., 33, 159-175, doi:10.1007/s00382-008-0445-z.

The abstract reads

“Irrigation delivers about 2,600 km3 of water to the land surface each year, or about 2% of annual precipitation over land. We investigated how this redistribution of water affects the global climate, focusing on its effects on near-surface temperatures. Using the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) coupled to the Community Land Model (CLM), we compared global simulations with and without irrigation. To approximate actual irrigation amounts and locations as closely as possible, we used national-level census data of agricultural water withdrawals, disaggregated with maps of croplands, areas equipped for irrigation, and climatic water deficits. We further investigated the sensitivity of our results to the timing and spatial extent of irrigation. We found that irrigation alters climate significantly in some regions, but has a negligible effect on global-average near-surface temperatures. Irrigation cooled the northern mid-latitudes; the central and southeast United States, portions of southeast China and portions of southern and southeast Asia cooled by ~0.5 K averaged over the year. Much of northern Canada, on the other hand, warmed by ~1 K. The cooling effect of irrigation seemed to be dominated by indirect effects like an increase in cloud cover, rather than by direct evaporative cooling. The regional effects of irrigation were as large as those seen in previous studies of land cover change, showing that changes in land management can be as important as changes in land cover in terms of their climatic effects. Our results were sensitive to the area of irrigation, but were insensitive to the details of irrigation timing and delivery.”

The conclusion includes the text

“Global patterns of irrigation alter climate significantly in some large regions of the planet. Cooling effects tend to be greatest near irrigated areas in the season of heaviest irrigation, and are generally greater in dry regions. Consequently, irrigation appears to have caused the greatest cooling in northern mid-latitude regions. The effects are generally larger during the day than at night. While direct evaporative cooling is important, at least as much cooling seems to be caused by indirect effects such as increased cloud cover. The cooling in some regions, however, is offset by warming in other regions, predominantly the northern high latitudes, at least in our model. Dynamical changes, such as a slight strengthening of the Aleutian Low, seem primarily responsible for this high-latitude warming. On the global average, therefore, irrigation has a negligible effect on the near-surface temperature”

and

“The large effects of irrigation in some regions show that changes in land management can be as important for climate as changes in land cover. These changes in land management should be given greater attention, both for modeling future climate and for understanding historical climate trends……..It is important to consider how these irrigation changes will interact with other future climatic changes.”

This study documents why landscape change must be a major focus in climate assessments. It also show why the use of a global average surface temperature is useless to diagnose these climate effects. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Africa’s real climate crisis

Life in Africa is often nasty, impoverished and short. AIDS kills 2.2 million Africans every year according to WHO (World Health Organization) reports. Lung infections cause 1.4 million deaths, malaria 1 million more, intestinal diseases 700,000. Diseases that could be prevented with simple vaccines kill an additional 600,000 annually, while war, malnutrition and life in filthy slums send countless more parents and children to early graves.

And yet, day after day, Africans are told the biggest threat we face is – global warming.

Conferences, news stories, television programs, class lectures and one-sided “dialogues” repeat the claim endlessly. We’re told using oil and petrol, even burning wood and charcoal, will dangerously overheat our planet, melt ice caps, flood coastal cities, and cause storms, droughts, disease and extinctions.

Over 700 climate scientists and 31,000 other scientists say humans and carbon dioxide have minimal effects on Earth’s temperature and climate, and there is no global warming crisis. But their views and studies are never invited or even tolerated in these “climate crisis” forums, especially at “ministerial dialogues” staged with United Nations money. Al Gore refuses to debate any of these experts, or even permit questions that he hasn’t approved ahead of time.

Instead, Africans are told climate change “threatens humanity more than HIV/AIDS.” More than 2.2 million dead Africans every year? (Fiona Kobusingye, Townhall)

 

The "climate change" excuse to cripple all development: Climate Change Clouds Fate Of Ancient Polish Woods

BIALOWIEZA, Poland - Europe's last ancient forest, home to its largest herd of bison, faces an uncertain future because of climate change, but residents worry that tougher conservation efforts will damage the local economy.

The 150,000-hectare (380,000-acre) Bialowieza Primeval Forest, which straddles the border between Poland and Belarus, is one of the largest unpopulated woodlands remaining in Europe. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

On the Polish side of the border, residents oppose plans to extend the protected zone of this unique habitat, which is under threat from rising temperatures and declining rainfall.

Encouraged by international conservation agencies, Warsaw wants to enlarge the area's national park, which occupies less than a fifth of the Polish part of the forest.

It has offered up to 100 million zlotys (20.6 million pounds) to be shared among the nine communities that would be affected by broader regulations protecting wildlife.

However, the region is among the poorest in Poland and residents of Bialowieza district (population 2,400) are sceptical, fearing it would discourage investment, cause job losses and reduce the community's tax revenues.

"You may think we are fools not willing to take the money," Mayor Albert Litwinowicz told Reuters. "But it will only go for green investments, while we need roads." (Reuters)

 

In the land of make-believe, a.k.a. PlayStation® climatology: Scientists Expect Wildfires To Increase As Climate Warms In Coming Decades

As the climate warms in the coming decades, atmospheric scientists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and their colleagues expect that the frequency of wildfires will increase in many regions. The spike in the number of fires could also adversely affect air quality due to the greater presence of smoke. (ScienceDaily)

 

In the Name of Global Warming

In the name of global warming, politicians in Washington, DC are threatening to pass so called Cap and Trade legislation that will handicap our economy and force more American jobs offshore.

Many business groups and leaders are convinced that the best way to advocate against Cap and Trade legislation is not to challenge the science of global warming. They believe that although global warming is not a fact that the "scientific debate" is over. These business elites say that only the "political science" remains. They say it's a "political reality." They also say global warming is a "religion" and that the faith of those who believe in it cannot be changed.

But say what they will, "global warming" is neither a reality nor a religion. It is instead a "superstition." A reality is something that actually exists. Global warming has not existed for at least 7 years. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's internal memos say it does not exist, and so do increasing numbers of noted scientists. A religion is a belief in a supernatural being, a system of faith or worship. Obviously, global warming does not fit this definition.

A "superstition" is a fear founded on irrational feelings and marked by credulity -- i.e. a willingness to believe in the improbable or the marvelous. It should be easy for even members of our Congress to understand that no projection of future world temperatures is a scientific reality. Even they can't be that credulous ... or can they?

What (other than extremely credulous) could you call a member of Congress who believes that by lowering the standard of living of 5% of the world's population (that includes you, me, and everyone else living in America) that the Congress -- by passing a law -- can reduce the temperature of the earth or lower sea levels? Simple common sense, not conflicted science is required to know better.

Only superstitious, credulous, and pompous politicians would even consider voting for such a bill ... sight unseen! You would have to first be irrational and have unfounded fears of something that doesn't exist; you would then have to be prone to believe in the highly improbable -- and then vain enough to believe you can change the climate system of the earth, even while most of the rest of the world is fully enjoying the benefits of carbon use. (Don Blankenship, American Thinker)

 

Global warming is the new religion of First World urban elites - Geologist Ian Plimer takes a contrary view, arguing that man-made climate change is a con trick perpetuated by environmentalists

Ian Plimer has outraged the ayatollahs of purist environmentalism, the Torquemadas of the doctrine of global warming, and he seems to relish the damnation they heap on him.

Plimer is a geologist, professor of mining geology at Adelaide University, and he may well be Australia's best-known and most notorious academic.

Plimer, you see, is an unremitting critic of "anthropogenic global warming" -- man-made climate change to you and me -- and the current environmental orthodoxy that if we change our polluting ways, global warming can be reversed.

It is, of course, not new to have a highly qualified scientist saying that global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon with many precedents in history. Many have made the argument, too, that it is rubbish to contend human behaviour is causing the current climate change. And it has often been well argued that it is totally ridiculous to suppose that changes in human behaviour -- cleaning up our act through expensive slight-of-hand taxation tricks -- can reverse the trend.

But most of these scientific and academic voices have fallen silent in the face of environmental Jacobinism. Purging humankind of its supposed sins of environmental degradation has become a religion with a fanatical and often intolerant priesthood, especially among the First World urban elites.

But Plimer shows no sign of giving way to this orthodoxy and has just published the latest of his six books and 60 academic papers on the subject of global warming. This book, Heaven and Earth -- Global Warming: The Missing Science, draws together much of his previous work. It springs especially from A Short History of Plant Earth, which was based on a decade of radio broadcasts in Australia.

That book, published in 2001, was a best-seller and won several prizes. But Plimer found it hard to find anyone willing to publish this latest book, so intimidating has the environmental lobby become. (Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun)

 

Promoting eco-imperialism: A Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions From Deforestation

As policymakers prepare for the Copenhagen conference on climate change in December, the proposed program for reducing emissions from deforestation is considered among the more promising ways to reduce atmospheric carbon. The program would allow heavily polluting nations to offset their emissions by paying developing tropical countries to store carbon in forests, providing economic incentive to stop deforestation and regenerate damaged landscapes.

The arrangement would provide an economic incentive for developing nations to promote practices beneficial to the climate over those that release carbon into the atmosphere. (Green Inc.)

Fine except there is no value for underdeveloped regions in not developing nor is there the slightest value in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, for the climate or otherwise.

 

Idiots! Natural-gas companies challenge coal industry on climate change bill

Natural-gas companies are ramping up their lobbying efforts against a House climate change bill they believe is too generous to the coal industry.

An alliance of gas producers and pipeline companies formed in March is taking out ads in Washington publications, including The Hill, and staffing up with lobbyists to tilt the Senate version of climate change legislation more in the industry’s favor.

America’s Natural Gas Alliance now has 28 members and a projected budget of $80 million, although it is starting with a smaller bank account, said alliance President and CEO Rod Lowman, a veteran lobbyist who held senior positions at the American Plastics Council, American Chemistry Council and Gulf Oil Corp.

The group has retained Wexler & Walker Public Policy Advocates to lobby on its behalf and is adding lobbyists to its own staff, Lowman said.

The industry, which includes producers, pipelines and distribution utilities, has suffered from a lack of consensus on policy issues, advocates say. The result is that natural gas is often an afterthought in political energy debates, Lowman said, a fact most evident when President Barack Obama laid out his energy plan in a speech earlier this year. (The Hill)

They need to be fighting this all the way, not fighting for a few leftover scraps falling off the table!

 

Green States To Get Few Rewards In U.S. Climate Bill

WASHINGTON - The U.S. climate bill would give states that are heavily reliant on greenhouse-gas emitting fuels, like coal, more carbon credits on a per capita basis than those that use clean fuels, according to an analysis of the legislation released on Wednesday.

States that have taken early action to cut emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet have long wondered how well they would be rewarded under federal climate regulation.

But mostly the only perks they will get under the climate bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives for investing early in clean energy, like solar and wind power, will be cheaper compliance costs, according to analysis by the Georgetown Climate Center and World Resources Institute.

States like California that have made the investments will not be given extra carbon permits that could be sold in a national carbon market. (Reuters)

 

China, U.S. Renew Commitment on Global Climate Change Treaty

China and the U.S. agreed to redouble efforts to craft a new climate change treaty, adding pressure on the two largest polluters to break a stalemate over how to curb global warming.

The nations made their pledge yesterday by signing a “memorandum of understanding,” which also calls for deeper cooperation on clean-energy technology. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the accord, saying it gives the countries “direction as we work together to support international climate negotiations.” (Bloomberg)

 

China Says Rich Nation CO2 Cuts Key To Copenhagen

BEIJING - Rich nations must agree to large, measurable cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions, if the world is to set a framework to tackle global warming at U.N.-led talks in December, a senior Chinese official said on Wednesday.

Xie Zhenhua, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission who steers climate change policy, told the official Xinhua agency that commitment from industrialized countries was crucial to a deal in Copenhagen in December.

"The Chinese side believes that in Copenhagen...the key to success is to decide large, quantifiable mid-term emission-cutting targets for the developed nations," the Xinhua article paraphrased Xie saying.

He was speaking after the United States and China signed a deal that promises more cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment without setting firm goals. (Reuters)

 

China wants climate deal this year: U.N.'s Ban

UNITED NATIONS - China's leaders told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Beijing wants to reach a new agreement on combating climate change in Copenhagen in December, Ban said on Wednesday.

"I was pleased that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao assured me that China wants to seal a deal in Copenhagen in December and that China will play an active and constructive role in the negotiations," Ban told a monthly news conference. (Reuters)

 

No change in stand on climate change: PM

NEW DELHI” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India's accepting that global temperature should not exceed two degrees celsius was a possible threshold guiding global action and is "entirely in line" with country's stated position on global warming.

"India has not changed its stand on climate change and the declaration at the Major Economic Forum (MEF) adopted at L'Aquila, Italy, is not a declaration of its climate change policy," he said in the Lok Sabha while replying to a debate.

Singh, who is under attack for stating that global temperature increase should not exceed 2ºC, argued "it was not a bilateral declaration between India and another country or a group of countries.

Instead, he pointed, "it is a declaration that represents a shared view among 17 developed and developing countries, the latter category including China, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico."

Therefore, the formulations are necessarily generally worded to reflect different approaches and positions of a fairly diverse group of countries, he contended.

Singh termed the criticism "a one-sided and misleading interpretation" and asserted that India will was in no way obliged to accept emission reduction targets.

The Prime Minister said "it is India's view, which has been consistently voiced at all forums, that global warming is taking place and that its adverse consequences will impact most heavily on developing countries like India." (Times of India)

 

U.S. Senate climate bill to have tough market controls

WASHINGTON - Senator John Kerry, a leading architect of climate change legislation being drawn up in the U.S. Senate, on Wednesday said the bill will have tough controls to stop abusive financial market speculation on pollution permits that will be traded among companies.

"There will be no derivatives, there will be no credit swaps," Kerry said in response to a question following a speech at the National Press Club that focused mainly on U.S.-China efforts to control climate change.

The details of a Senate bill are expected to be unveiled in a month or so. (Reuters)

 

On "Magical Solutions"

I have a commentary up over at Yale Environment360. Here is how I begin:
Fifty years ago, political scientist Harold Lasswell explained that some policies are all about symbolism, with little or no impact on real-world outcomes. He called such actions “magical solutions,” explaining that “political symbolization has its catharsis functions.” Climate policy is going through exactly such a phase, in which a focus on magical solutions leaves little room for the practical.
Please visit Yale e360 and read it, and then come back. You are welcome to leave comments (positive or negative) here or there. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

PS. Some of the data in the essay about Japan's climate policy proposals comes from a paper of mine just submitted. If you would like a copy, please send me an email request:

Pielke, Jr. R. A. 2009 (under review). Mamizu Climate Policy: An Evaluation of Japanese Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets, Environmental Research Letters. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Public wary of carbon capture

The new store at the Barendrecht shopping centre looks much like the neighbouring clothing shops and fast food chains, but it is much more exotic.

Like a real estate sales office, its walls feature colourful posters with diagrams of the local geology and reassuring conclusions from environmental assessments. Since April, the Dutch government and energy group Shell set up an information centre at the mall to sell to a sceptical public a promising but untested new environmental technology: carbon capture and storage.

CCS, as it is known, involves capturing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and other installations and burying them deep underground where they cannot rise into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

But the technology, which could account for a fifth of all emissions reductions from power plants and industry by 2050, has not yet been tested on a grand scale. Before its backers can launch it across Europe, they must overcome public concerns about its safety.

Nowhere is that challenge more apparent than in Barendrecht, a leafy and densely-packed town of 45,000 that has become a public testing ground for CCS. (Financial Times)

While we are usually against "don't wanna" NYMBYism we have to admit being somewhat pleased it's hampering CCS, simply because wasting such a magnificent resource as atmospheric carbon dioxide is a crime against all life.

 

Nimbies do not exist according to new study - The 'Nimby' stereotype of an older person who supports renewable energy schemes like wind farms but 'Not In My Back Yard' does not exist, a new study has found.

The idea of the Nimby first emerged in the 1990s when protest groups in small villages around England began to stand up against wind farms.

With the Government set to build thousands more onshore wind turbines in Britain over the next decade the stereotype is often referred to when protest groups emerge.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, was recently reported as saying opposing a wind farm should be as unacceptable as refusing to wear a seat belt.

However a survey of 3,000 people living near renewable energy projects like wind farms, energy from waste generators and wave or tidal projects found just two per cent fitted the "Not In My Back Yard" or Nimby stereotype of someone in favour of green power but not in their area.

Dr Patrick Devine-Wright from The University of Manchester, one of six universities taking part in the study, said the public is largely supportive of renewable energy. Where there are protests he said people have legitimate concerns about visual impact, the planning application or environment.

"Our results show that people generally support renewable energy, but that this support can be fragile, particularly for biomass and onshore wind energy. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Much-Ballyhooed Carbon Capture Plant Hasn’t Stored a Thing

coal trainWhen a small coal-fired power plant opened in northern Germany last September, it was heralded as the first example of a technology that could save us from the ravages of global warming, while allowing us to keep burning cheap and plentiful coal. The demonstration plant, built and operated by the Swedish power company Vattenfall, was designed to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and to pump them deep underground in a process called carbon capture and storage (CCS). But the project has thus far been a victim of “numbyism” – not under my backyard [The Guardian].

The plant’s managers say they’ve captured about 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide, but they haven’t been able to pipe it underground to the selected underground zone, where scientists say the atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide would instead be trapped in the rocks. Locals, apparently, aren’t so sure about the technology. “It was supposed to begin injecting by March or April of this year but we don’t have a permit. This is a result of the local public having questions about the safety of the project,” said Staffan Gortz, head of carbon capture and storage communication at Vattenfall. He said he did not expect to get a permit before next spring: “People are very, very sceptical” [The Guardian].

Many countries have pinned their hopes for mitigating the impacts of global warming on carbon capture and storage, especially as binding rules on greenhouse gas emissions seem likely in the near future. If power plants like Vattenfall’s work out, the pay-off could be vast: the International Energy Agency has estimated CCS could account for one-fifth of the emissions reductions required in the energy and industrial sectors by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Achieving those reductions without CCS would cost 70 per cent more, the IEA found [Financial Times].

But in addition to public resistance, there are numerous technical and financial hurdles to overcome. Each demonstration CCS plant is expected to cost more than $1 billion, and companies have demanded government subsidies to build them. The first CCS project in the United States, the FutureGen power plant, has been beset by delays and cost overruns. In addition, power companies will have to find cheaper and more efficient ways to process the carbon dioxide to make the operations economically viable. But if Vattenfall executive Reinhardt Hassa is correct, companies, governments and the public may have no choice but to find a way to make CCS work. “We will use fossil fuels in the coming years - not just 10 years, but 50, 60, maybe 70 years,” Mr Hassa said. “We can’t do it without CCS” [Financial Times]. (Discover Magazine)

 

Poison fears misplaced, say groups

The nightmare that opponents of carbon capture and storage conjure up is Lake Nyos in Cameroon. Tucked into the side of a volcano, the lake fills with carbon dioxide. In 1986, it released a cloud of gas, killing 1,700 people and thousands of livestock, writes Joshua Chaffin in Brussels .

Niels Peter Christensen, chief geologist at Swedish energy company Vattenfall, says he understands the public's concern about unfamiliar technologies, but believes it is misplaced when it comes to CCS.

Oil companies, particularly in the US, have injected carbon dioxide into ageing wells to enhance oil recovery. Norway's state-owned oil company, Statoil, an early leader in CCS, has also pumped millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide beneath the bed of the North Sea over the past decade without incident.

"It cannot burn. It's actually one of the best fire-extinguishers known to man," Mr Christensen said. "Once it is stored in a porous rock at one or two kilometres depth with some rock or mudstone on top of it, the risk of it leaking out is minimal."

"If you select the right places, this stuff works," said Graeme Sweeney, a Shell vice-president. "The challenge will be to show the public that that is so, as opposed to telling them that is so." (Financial Times)

No, the challenge is having a reason to do it. Enhanced oil recovery is fine but simply squandering a precious biosphere resource (at large energy expense) is not.

 

Hot air not worth much? Go figure... Farmers see prices tank for carbon credits

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Farmers enrolled in a program that rewards them for reducing greenhouse gasses are finding the market for their carbon credits has shrunk amid the recession and uncertainty about climate legislation being crafted by Congress.

Carbon dioxide credits are fetching about 60 cents a metric ton, down from a high of about $7 a year ago, according to the National Farmers Union, which runs the program.

"We're just kind of treading water at this point," said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union and former North Dakota agriculture commissioner.

Farmers, ranchers and landowners earn credits by growing grasses and trees or using no-till farming practices, in which seeds are injected into the soil to reduce the amount of dirt turned over and carbon released. Livestock producers can participate by installing systems to capture methane from manure.

The program pools the credits for sale on the Chicago Climate Exchange, a private agency that trades greenhouse gases and other pollutants just as other exchanges trade commodities such as crops and livestock. Corporations, cities and other exchange members buy the credits to help offset their emissions.

About 3,900 farmers and ranchers in 40 states are enrolled in the program, with about a quarter in North Dakota, where it began three years ago, said Dale Enerson, director of the National Farmers Union program. (Associated Press)

 

Look out! Plant food! NZ apples sent to UK generate own weight in CO2

New measurements of the "carbon footprint" of New Zealand apples sent to Europe show that 1kg of braeburn or royal gala apples will generate nearly their own weight in greenhouse gases.

Over half of the global warming potential comes from the shipping used to take them to Europe.

When the pipfruit's carbon footprint from being grown on the orchard to being delivered to the supermarket shelf is measured by the British national standard, PAS 2050, 1kg of apples produces the equivalent of 900g of carbon dioxide.

Measured according to the broader ISO 14040 standard, which also takes account of the emissions from consumers taking the fruit home, and disposing of the waste, lifts the emissions from 1kg of apples to the equivalent of 1.2kg of carbon dioxide.

Similar figures for the same fruit sent to Asia, were 700g (PAS) and 920g (ISO) and for the west coast of the United States: 700g (PAS) and 930g (ISO).

The progress of the apples through the orchard, packhouse and port contributed between 15 percent and 19 percent of the total carbon footprint, and shipping emissions accounted for 54 percent to 57 percent of the footprint. (NZPA)

 

Fielding offers climate change briefing for senators

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has written to all senators urging them to attend a briefing he has organised on climate change.

This is the second time Senator Fielding has sent a letter out to senators about climate change ahead of the vote on the Government's emissions trading scheme on August 13.

Senator Fielding has questioned whether climate change is caused by human activity because he says there is evidence which shows global temperatures are not rising in line with carbon emissions.

He wants senators to attend a briefing by Professor Bob Carter, who is well known for speaking out against the link made between human activity and climate change.

The briefing is scheduled for just one day before the Senate vote. (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

 

Call to Curb Speculators in Energy

WASHINGTON — The country’s top regulator of commodity markets said Tuesday that the government should “seriously consider” strict limits on the trades of purely financial investors in the futures markets for oil, natural gas and other energy products.

Opening the first of three hearings on proposals to curb speculative trading and reduce volatile price swings in oil and gas, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission made it clear that he favored tighter volume limits on noncommercial traders — banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions — that account for a big share of trading in energy contracts.

“The C.F.T.C. is in the best position to apply limits across different exchanges, and we are most able to strike a balance between competing interests and the responsibility to protect the American public,” the commission chairman, Gary Gensler, said. “I believe we must seriously consider setting strict position limits in the energy markets.”

Mr. Gensler, President Obama’s choice to head the agency, was sympathetic to complaints from Democratic lawmakers that purely financial traders, who typically never take physical delivery of the oil or gas, have aggravated the violent swings in energy prices in the last several years.

Big buyers of oil-based fuels, like airlines, gasoline retailers and municipal power companies, have loudly complained about the volatility in energy prices and blamed much of it on the surge in financial trading.

Much of the criticism has focused on exchange-traded index funds, which are like index mutual funds but that trade like stocks and allow investors to bet on rising energy prices. The index funds are usually passive players, but they have enjoyed explosive growth as investors have tried to ride the boom in oil prices.

“This increase in volatility has been associated with a massive increase in speculative investment in oil futures,” Ben Hirst, senior vice president at Delta Airlines, told the commission on Tuesday. Mr. Hirst estimated that the surge and subsequent plunge in oil prices over the last 18 months had added $8.4 billion to his company’s bill for jet fuel. About $1.7 billion of that extra cost, he added, came from the cost of hedging against big price changes. (NYT)

 

Saudi Burns More Crude For Power, Halts Fuel Oil Import

SINGAPORE - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is burning more crude in domestic power plants to keep new wells pumping and produce cleaner electricity, likely eliminating demand for imported fuel this summer.

The use of even more crude oil to generate electricity allows the kingdom to put to use fresh output from a major new oilfield while holding firm to its OPEC commitment to curb exports. It also helps the kingdom meet stricter environmental rules.

Estimates on how much crude it is burning differ, but the kingdom's own data show it has risen in recent years, and it could be as high as 470,000 bpd of crude this year, up 62 percent from 2008, consultancy FACTS Global Energy says.

A Saudi source familiar with the kingdom's energy sector said the maximum it could burn at power stations would be 300,000 bpd, although another 120,000 bpd could be burned to power refineries and other facilities related to upstream production.

While the rise would have little impact on global crude oil markets more focused on Saudi exports -- which Riyadh has kept in check to help drain swollen global stockpiles -- the substitution will likely curtail its traditional summer fuel oil buying binge. (Reuters)

 

Chevron Gorgon LNG Project Hits Environment Hurdles

PERTH - Chevron Corp's proposed Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) project needs to meet more stringent environmental conditions before it can obtain final approval from the Australian government.

The Western Australia environment ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Chevron needs better protection of the high-value corals adjacent to the project and the flatback turtle population on Barrow Island, a class A nature reserve where Chevron is planning to build its LNG facility.

But the tightened environmental terms are not expected to cause major delays to Chevron and its partners reaching a final investment decision, as Chevron is not required to submit a fresh proposal, said an official from the environment ministry. (Reuters)

 

Why? NJ to more than double solar power generation

NEWARK, N.J. -- Regulators approved more than $515 million in projects Wednesday that will more than double the amount of solar power generated in New Jersey and will solidify the state's No. 2 spot behind California in power produced from the sun.

The state Board of Public Utilities gave the green light to proposals from four utilities that together will yield 145 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power about 130,000 homes, and will boost the state total to 232 megawatts. (Associated Press)

$515,000,000 for 80MW? For power that is only available less than an average 6 hours per day. Why would you do that? Unlike baseload power from a coal-fired facility this will still need to be backed up with real power generation for night time, winter time (I hear it snows in Nu Joisey - that didn't work out too well for the greenies' stunt using solar powered signage when they had to use gas-powered backup generation because snow covered their solar array), and generally overcast conditions. If you did it sensibly and disallowed the whackos frivolous obstructive lawsuits you could install a half-GigaWatt coal-fired facility and have baseload power all the time for about the same money.

Guess this is their idea of "clean[ing] jobs" since someone's going to be very busy keeping 6,000,000m2 of near-useless decorations clean (any dust or mold on the collector surface reduces their efficiency from pathetic to near-non existent).

Parenthetically, at least half carbon's warming effect is supposed to come from heat absorption by black particulates, isn't it? So we are going to cool the planet by replacing tiny black particles with whopping great black panels? Oh well, I guess they can always follow Chu's advice & paint them white  ;-)

 

British Columbia Still Committed To Green Power

VANCOUVER - British Columbia is still committed to promoting clean energy projects despite taking a blow on Tuesday from its own power utility regulator, the Canadian province's energy minister said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

Blair Lekstrom, British Columbia's minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources, said his government has not decided yet how it will respond to the regulator's rejection of parts of a business plan presented by government-owned power generator B.C. Hydro, including proposals to buy clean electricity from small, independent producers.

"We are not wavering from our commitment to clean, renewable energy," Lekstrom said, acknowledging he was surprised by the ruling by the regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

The commission said parts of BC Hydro's plan to promote green energy production were "not in the public interest". (Reuters)

 

July 29, 2009

 

Hmm... Higher US speed limit linked to 12,500 more deaths

NEW YORK - Higher speed limits led to about 12,500 more deaths on US roads between 1995 and 2005, a new study in the American Journal of Public Health shows.

Earlier studies had suggested that any effects of an act of Congress that eliminated all federal controls on speed limits would be temporary. The findings debunk those claims, Dr. Lee S. Friedman of the University of Illinois in Chicago, one of the study's authors, told Reuters Health.

To date, Friedman and his team note in their report, most studies of the effects of speed limit changes on highway fatalities and injuries have looked at only a couple of years' worth of data, in only a few states. In their analysis, the researchers looked at traffic fatalities in every US state except Massachusetts and Hawaii over the decade after the change in Federal law.

The National Maximum Speed Law, passed in 1974, put a 55 mph speed limit on all interstate roads. The law was intended to cut fuel consumption in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo, but it also led to a 16.4% reduction in car crash mortality from 1973 to 1974, Friedman and his colleagues note in their report.

In 1987, Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act allowing states to lift the speed limit on rural interstates to 65 mph, which 41 states did. In 1995, Congress passed the National Highway Designation Act, which wiped out all federal speed limits.

Overall, Friedman and his team found that increased speed limits led to a 3.2% jump in road deaths. On rural interstates, car crash deaths increased 9.1%, while the increase for urban interstates was 4%. (Reuters Health)

Too high a speed limit or too much funding siphoned out of transport financing? Motorists pay an awful lot of fuel, lubricant and tire taxes, not to mention road tolls and general revenue taxes, are they getting their money's worth? After all, Germany still has no speed limit on something like half the autobahn system and yet their road fatalities are down to 6.0 per 100,000 population, in the U.S. that figure is around 15, isn't it? That's about the same as Poland, which has the highest general road speed limit in the world of 140Kmh (almost 90mph).

 

Mercury dental fillings cause no harm: FDA

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said silver-colored dental fillings that contain mercury are safe for patients, but added they are considered "moderate risk" devices.

In final regulations issued as part of an earlier legal settlement, the FDA also said the fillings must now include details about the benefits of the products as well as warnings against their use in patients with mercury allergies or in poorly ventilated areas.

"While elemental mercury has been associated with adverse health effects at high exposures, the levels released by dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients," the FDA said, citing an agency review of roughly 200 scientific studies.

The regulations come a year after the agency settled a lawsuit with several consumer advocacy groups that called on the agency to issue more specific rules.

Millions of Americans have such fillings to patch cavities in their teeth, and the FDA said it does not recommend that patients have them removed. The fillings, also known as amalgams, are a combination of other metals and mercury, which at certain levels has been linked to brain and kidney damage. (Reuters)

 

Another misguided attack on phthalates

In yet another episode of "I can't figure out a legitimate research project, so I'll pick on phthalates," a group from Germany has concluded, based on minimal data and a host of confounding factors, that infusion systems containing the phthalate DEHP increase the risk for a certain liver disease in neonates.

This work appears in the August, 2009 issue of Pediatrics (von Rettberg et al.).

Let's start off by quoting from the article:

The etiology and pathogenesis of total parenteral nutrition-associated cholestasis (TPNAC), the hepatobiliary dysfunction in children during parenteral nutrition, is not yet fully understood. Many theories have been proposed to explain the causes of this serious disease.

TPNAC is especially frequent in pre-term infants and neonates who require intensive care medicine. Many previous studies have shown birth weight, low gestational age, long duration of total parenteral nutrition, and the number of surgical interventions, as well as systemic infections, to be risk factors for the development of cholestasis.

OK, here is a disease that is not well understood, and there are at least five other risk factors in play. Yet our intrepid team thinks that exposure to phthalates could be the key. Whatever gave them that idea?

The paper cites a few references as supposed inspirations, but perhaps the authors did not read them too carefully:

In support of their statement "preterm infants and neonates are susceptible to significant cholestasis from toxic injury," they cite a review article from the April, 2004 issue of Pediatrics (Piñerior-Carrero et al.). However, this work mentions "phthalate" once, and this referred only to rodent studies, as drawn from a textbook published in 1998.

It is worth noting that virtually all attempts to match rodent responses to phthalates (typically at high doses) to what happens in human exposure to these compounds have failed.

The authors contend that "DEHP is a substance that can lead to an increase in oxidative stress and toxicity, especially in preterm infants and neonates who receive intensive care."

In support of this they cite a 2004 rodent study, and another article in Pediatrics. While the Pediatrics work (Calafat et al., May, 2004) does deal with humans, it most certainly does not conclude anything regarding oxidative stress and toxicity. Rather, it does confirm that newborns who undergo intensive therapeutic medical interventions are exposed to higher concentrations of DEHP than the general population.

Inasmuch as these neonates are connected to many DEHP-softened tubes, this is hardly surprising. In fairness, the same reference calls for more research into potential health effects, but does not posit or prove any.

Enough of the preamble. Let's look at the results.

76 patients were studied, 30 of whom utilized DEHP-containing tubing, and 46 of whom used DEHP-free products. The touted finding is that 50% of the former group contracted TPNAC, compared to 13% of the latter group. However, one of the confounding factors mentioned above—long duration of total parenteral nutrition (TPN)—was very much in play!

The authors reveal that the DEHP group was fed intravenously for 4 days longer than the free group (26 versus 22 days on average), and also received 11 units of transfusion more than the DEHP patients. They themselves admit that these two differences are "statistically significant."

Despite the severe methodological limitations, including a self-identified "wide limits of confidence" in a portion of their statistical modeling, the authors boldly conclude that:

This study shows that the DEHP load caused by polyvinylchloride infusion systems for TPN constitutes an important factor in the occurrence of cholestasis. By changing infusion systems, the incidence of cholestasis in our department has been reduced significantly.

I would characterize the results a bit differently. The authors decided to jump on the anti-phthalates bandwagon, and have drastically overreached in their conclusions. The fact that the DEHP group was on TPN for four days longer than the free group would all by itself seem to invalidate their findings.

Sadly, though, this latest effort is little different from the sort of anti-phthalate "science" we have seen in the past. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

Just a reminder about the value of pesticides... How Lice Thwarted Napoleon's Invasion of Russia

His invasion of Russia failed miserably, leaving a trail of corpses from Moscow all the way to Paris. In a new book, one historian blames not the wintry march but the spread of "war plague" -- typhus -- through Napoleon's Grand Army.

The fate of Napoleon's Grand Army was sealed long before the first shot was fired. In the spring of 1812, more than 600,000 men marched towards Russia under the command of the diminutive Corsican -- an army larger than the population of Paris at the time.

Napoleon's failed 1812 invasion of Russia has long been blamed on the weather. But a new theory argues that body lice were to blame.
The massive army was on its way to topple the Russian Czar Alexander I. Yet long before the fighting started, a few soldiers staggered out of the ranks and collapsed at the side of the road. Were the men drunk as skunks, or was something else at work?

Given the sheer numbers of soldiers underway, no one took much notice of a few derelict drunks. Not until 200 years later did it come to light that these first casualites of Napoleon's long march weren't hopeless alcoholics but rather marked the beginning of the army's downfall.

That's the claim of Stephan Talty, the American author who reconstructs the medical history of Napoleon's doomed Russian campaign in his new book "The Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon's Greatest Army." Talty carefully documents why 400,000 men never made it home. Like few historians before him, he illuminates the critical role of a tiny enemy: the louse. (Frank Thadeusz, Der Spiegel)

 

First tobacco, then obesity, what's next to be taxed?

One fact that shouldn't be lost among the debate about healthcare reform that along with responsibility comes control.

If we are going to give government the final responsibility for paying for health care, governmental control over our lifestyle choices will naturally gravitate in government's direction.

Health costs have been used as a reason for tighter controls on smoking, hence the recent ban on indoor smoking in all Nebraska bars, restaurants and work places, higher taxes on cigarettes and other moves to discourage smoking.

One doesn't have to look far to find ammunition against smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion in lost productivity.

But there's another health problem -- also directly related to behavior -- that is even more costly.

The CDC said Monday that obesity-related diseases may have created medical expenses as high as $147 billion in 2008, more than double the $74 billion they were estimated to cost in 1998.

At a Washington D.C. conference, the CDC released information that obesity rose 37 percent between 1998 and 2006, and medical costs climbed to about 9.1 percent of all U.S. medical costs. (McCook Daily Gazette)

 

Oh... US states to get "significant" obesity money

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government plans to give state and local government hundreds of millions of dollars to fight obesity, including investments in public transportation, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Tuesday.

She said healthcare reform efforts being worked out by Congress represented an opportunity to boost government funding in programs to get more fruits and vegetables into school lunches and encourage grocery stores to sell more fresh produce in poor communities.

"We finally have a plan," Sebelius told an obesity conference sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington.

She said most of $1 billion appropriated by Congress for disease prevention as part of the economic stimulus plan would go to a CDC-planned initiative to fight obesity, heart disease and other chronic conditions. (Reuters)

 

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Save the habitat, kill the turtles

When -- in the name of heaven, I demand to know -- are those responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act going to do something about remediating the habitat devastation and starting to recover the minuscule remaining population, before it has dwindled past the point of no return, of that brave and noble beast, the poodle?

What? Are you serious, Vin? There are, like, 68 million domestic pet dogs in this country, and the poodle is the seventh most numerous breed. There are millions of poodles out there.

As a matter of fact, purebred poodles are among the 4 million to 6 million dogs euthanized in America each year because homes can't be found for them. America's dog and cat problem is not species extinction; it's overpopulation.

Well, to anyone tempted to respond in that manner, let me clarify for you what the Endangered Species Act is really all about. You see, the number of poodles living in domestic captivity doesn't count. Once we have succeeded in getting the noble poodle listed as threatened or endangered -- as it most certainly is, in the traditional range of its wild habitat -- all that will matter is the number of wild, untouched acres set aside. Once you've developed a house and a yard and put two happy poodles in it, for purposes of the federal ESA, you might as well have just shot the pups, because you have destroyed wild poodle habitat, and we are going to count your poodles as "taken," meaning dead. In fact, we may have to take steps to stop you from allowing them to breed, up to and including "euthanizing" your captive slave dogs, since "Unlimited breeding of an endangered species in captivity is something the community has to look into."

You think I'm making this up? Here in Las Vegas, Clark County's Desert Conservation Program -- a well-paid division of the county Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management -- is currently going hat in hand to the appropriate chain of federal agencies, asking "permission" to amend the so-called Desert Tortoise (and 77 other critters, including bugs and mosses) Habitat Plan, with the purpose of "allowing" the county to develop an additional 215,000 acres of adjoining stinking desert in the decades to come.

The theory, you see, is that any human activity which "moves dirt" destroys tortoise habitat, and cannot be allowed unless developers obtain federal permits for the "incidental take" of tortoises (regardless of whether a single tortoise is seen or killed), including a fee or fine of $550 per acre, which is used to build "tortoise fences" to keep the turtles from crossing the road to get to water, and so forth.

Wow. Under that theory, there must be practically no tortoises left in the Las Vegas Valley, which has now been heavily developed for decades. Right? (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

 

Donations must be down -- time for some more ridiculous claims: Human activity is driving Earth's 'sixth great extinction event'

Population growth, pollution and invasive species are having a disastrous effect on species in the southern hemisphere, a major review by conservationists warns (The Guardian)

Life is tough for old-school greenies when other enviro-scam artists out-panic the populace and cream off the bulk of the funding -- maybe this lot should campaign against the gorebull warming scam?

 

Endangered dormice 'thrive on central reservation' - Endangered dormice are thriving on the central reservation of a busy road in Cornwall, and are even able to regularly cross safely to the other side, according to ecologists.

The mice, which snooze all day and hibernate for seven months of the year, usually live in quiet woodland areas or the margins of fields.

However, a year-long study, commissioned by the Highways Agency, found that a population has built up on the central reservation of the A30 at Penlan, Cornwall.

The creatures are not only thriving but appear to be able to regularly cross the busy road to forage in the surrounding area.

Leo Gubert, an ecologist who carried out the research for the Highways Agency, fitted microchips to 50 dormice.

By returning regularly to monitor the movement of the animals, he found that many were able to cross the road safely and one even managed to do it twice.

"They are not supposed to be able to walk across open spaces of grass or tarmac so this is a very surprising result. We believe that as the population increases they have been forced to disperse for breeding, or to look for food. We have suspected that they were able to cross roads but no-one has been able to prove until now."

Dormice used to be found all around Britain but numbers have decreased recently because of intensive farming methods and loss of habitat like hedgerows and woodland.

The nocturnal animals forage for insects and seeds at night and usually live in trees.

But Mr Gubert said the animals can also live by roadsides.

"The striking thing is that the population density on the central reservation is similar to what you would find in ancient woodland. They are not ideal conditions obviously, but the dormice seem to thrive. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Farmers vote to shorten daylight saving by two months

ANGRY farmers have demanded daylight saving be shortened by two months every year - and it's not because it fades the curtains or stops the cows from milking.

At the NSW Farmers Association annual conference yesterday, more than 400 farmers voted to have daylight saving from November to February, two months less than it now is, The Daily Telegraph reports.

"I think most farmers are inconvenienced and the poor kids in the outlying areas have to leave for school before daylight," said dairy farmer Ian Lindsay, who is forced to milk in darkness on his property at Huntingdon on the Mid-North Coast.

"By the time daylight saving ends, I am coming home to have my breakfast and it is still dark."

The three-day conference at Homebush will also vote on proposals to allow cattle to graze in national parks to control bushfire risks. It will also hear a proposal to legalise the shooting of flying foxes and white cockatoos. (Daily Telegraph)

Daylight saving might save candles, if that is your light source, or whale oil or whatever, but it does not save energy. If energy saving is your goal then forget daylight saving -- it doesn't work because lighting is the least of people's energy usage and having them not at work or school during daylight increases consumption of energy, particularly transport fuels.

 

Tuck into Skippy, he's off the menu in Russia

FORGET the infamous ‘‘Get some pork on your fork’’ and ‘‘Be like Sam, serve lamb’’ advertising campaigns. We could soon be urged to eat roo for Australia, as the kangaroo meat industry looks for a lifeline after its export market collapsed.

Russia, which buys 70 per cent of Australia’s kangaroo meat, primarily for sausages, has temporarily suspended buying the meat.

The ban has been a wake-up call for the $270 million kangaroo meat industry, highlighting its reliance on one market.

Already 50 workers, or 10 per cent of the industry’s full-time workforce, have lost their jobs at a processing plant in Longreach as a result of the ban.

‘‘The industry does depend substantially on exporting manufactured meat for processing in Russia,’’ Barbara Wilson, the chief executive of the food regulator Safe Food Queensland, said. ‘‘Globally it has never been tougher to keep an export market.’’

The kangaroo meat industry is working with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to try to have the ban overturned. In the meantime it is seeking ways to counteract the effect of the ban, which starts on Saturday.

At a crisis meeting in Brisbane yesterday, the industry discussed developing new markets, such as exporting to Asian countries such as the Philippines and manufacturing other processed meat products such as kangaroo salami and jerky.

Boosting local kangaroo meat sales is considered the best short-term measure, as it is the most achievable. (SMH)

 

Taking the Sun’s Pulse

There’s a new GRL ‘paper in press’ entitled: ‘Taking the pulse of the Sun during the Holocene by joint analysis of 14C and 10Be’ by Knudsen, M. F., P. Riisager, B. H. Jacobsen, R. Muscheler, I. Snowball, and M.-S. Seidenkrantz (2009), Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL039439

The Abstract states:

We have studied solar variations during the Holocene (i.e. last ~11,700 yr) by combining a new model of the Earth’s dipole moment with 14C data from the IntCal04 record and 10Be data from the GRIP ice core. Joint spectral analysis of the two nuclide records suggests that the periodic behavior of the Sun was particularly pronounced between 6000-4500 yr BP and 3000-2000 yr BP, with dominating periodicities of ~88, ~150, ~220, and ~400 years, while this rhythmic behavior faded during other time intervals. The fact that the two reconstructions, based on radionuclides with distinct geochemical properties, agree with respect to both the frequency and timing of the periodic behavior, strongly suggests that they reflect the actual behavior of the Sun. Subtle but systematic differences between the amplitude spectra may point to an interplay between the climate system and the ~220- and ~400-year solar cycles during intervals when these were particularly prominent.

In the results and Discussion the authors state:

The dominant periodicities observed in this study are ~88, ~150, ~220, ~400 years, which generally agrees with previous studies of 14C records [Stuiver and Braziunas, 1989; 1993; Damon and Sonnett, 1991]. The combined power spectrum also suggests that periodicities longer than ~1000 years exist, in particular around 3000 and 7500 yr BP (Fig. 2c), but, because the FFT (solar magnetic field: spectral analysis) approach used here is designed to localize the solar cycles in time, we cannot also discriminate reliably between solar cycles of ~1500 and ~2200 years (somewhat analogous to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle). The most likely cause for the periodicities <500 years is the varying Sun because geomagnetic field intensity variations would have been unrealistically large to cause similar high-frequency, large-amplitude changes in radionuclide production [Snowball and Muscheler, 2007]. Most interestingly, both reconstructions indicate that the amplitudes of the solar periodicities varied significantly in time. The solar cycles were particularly prominent during the time intervals 6000-4500 yr BP and 3000-2000 yr BP, whereas this periodic behavior faded during other time intervals. The Gleissberg cycle, however, which was most prominent between 4000 and 6000 yr BP, was surprisingly vague from ~3500 yr BP onwards. Hence, although it remains complicated to reconstruct the long-term Holocene solar variability (Fig. 1), our analysis of spectral power through time robustly demonstrates that the behavior of the Sun did vary on these timescales.

and:

Nevertheless, in the light of the paleoevidence for a solar influence on climate, it seems possible that the ~220- and ~400-year solar cycles influenced the climate system in particular between 6000 and 4500 yr BP and between 3000 and 2000 yr BP, but it remains difficult to resolve whether it was the 14C signal, the 10Be signal, or both, that reflect the climate response. Interestingly, both these intervals coincide with periods of significant reorganization of the ocean and atmosphere circulation in the North Atlantic region [Kaplan and Wollfe, 2006; Seidenkrantz et al., 2007]. (CRN)

 

From CO2 Science: Volume 12 Number 30: 29 July 2009

Editorial:
Evolving Ideas about Climate and Human Disease: The early idea that a warmer world would be a sicker world grows weaker and weaker by the day.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 718 individual scientists from 419 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the Northern Hemisphere. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Solar Influence on Temperature (Asia): To what extent has solar activity dictated the continent's temperature history?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice (Shimono et al., 2009), Scots Pine (Johansson et al., 2009), White Spruce (Dang et al., 2008), and White Spruce (Mycroft et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
Global Droughts of the Last Half of the 20th Century: Do their characteristics point to a connection with anthropogenic CO2 emissions?

The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age on Southampton Island, Nunavut, Canada: How different were they? ... and how does the peak warmth of the Medieval Warm Period compare with that of the Current Warm Period?

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: Will global warming lead to dramatic increases in the incidence of various infectious diseases, as climate alarmists claim it will?

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: Unfinished Business: An ecologist sets forth a list of things that need to be accomplished to better understand how infectious organisms may (or may not) respond to climate change.

Carbon Dioxide Enrichment of Iron-Stressed Tomato Plants: It's a match made in CO2 heaven. (co2science.org)

 

What Does A Global Average 2 Degrees C Increase Mean With Respect To Upper Ocean Heat Content Change? Part II

As was discussed in Part I (see), there are major biases and uncertainties with using a global average surface temperature, T’, to monitor and predict global warming.  This weblog explores ways to relate upper ocean heat content change to a temperature trend.

We could, perhaps, obtain T’ from the upper ocean heat data reported by Jim Hansen (see), where he wrote

“The Willis et al. measured heat storage of 0.62 W/m2 refers to the decadal mean for the upper 750 m of the ocean. Our simulated 1993-2003 heat storage rate was 0.6 W/m2 in the upper 750 m of the ocean. The decadal mean planetary energy imbalance, 0.75 W/m2, includes heat storage in the deeper ocean and energy used to melt ice and warm the air and land. 0.85 W/m2 is the imbalance at the end of the decade.”

The 0.62 W/m2 corresponds to 1.01 x 10**23 Joules per decade.  This rate is close to that seen in the analysis of Levitus et al (2009) [see]. As discussed on my weblog (see), this rate has not persisted since 2003, however, the value of 1.01 x 10**23 Joules per decade can be used to estimate how long different depths of the upper ocean would require at this rate to warm to a uniform temperature of 2C. While, the upper ocean does not warm uniformly in the vertical, a uniform value provides an estimate for the time required a layer of the ocean to warm to 2C at this rate [which is about 200 years].

In order to examine this issue, I contacted Josh Willis, and he graciously interacted via e-mail on this subject (I summarized my e-mails into a set questions). Below are his comments (presented with his permission):

Topic 1: What if the 2C warming was specified to be uniform to 700m (which is the depth Jim Hansen refers to in the above comment)?  [according to Josh, to warm the upper 700m of the ocean uniformly to 2C would require 2.036**24 Joules] Josh Willis’s reply

“The problem I see [this] calculation is that it assumes that there is a uniform 2C warming over the entire upper 700 m of the water column.  This does not happen.  Rather, in the global average the heat mixes downward slowly from the surface over time.  As a result, the surface usually warms much faster than at depth.  So a 2C warming at the surface is unlikely to happen at the same time as a 2C warming at 700m.  Furthermore, the decrease of temperature with depth is unlikely to be linear.  Levitus has noted in past papers that most of the heat content increase is actually contained in the upper 300 m, for instance.

Using the most recent analysis from Levitus, the highest rate of ocean warming over the past 50 years occurse near the surface and is about 0.4C. During this time, upper ocean heat content rose by about 1 x 10**23 J. Assuming the relationship between surface warming and ocean heat content holds over longer time scales (i.e., that the ocean continues to mix heat down at a similar rate as it has in the past), then it would take only 5 x 10^23 J of ocean heat content increase to get 2C warming at the surface”

Topc 2: What is the depth we should use to estimate an upper ocean T’? Should this be the layer down to the thermocline? Clearly, it should not just be the sea surface value of T’, since the layers of the ocean that are close to the surface interact at short time scales with the atmopshere through latent and sensible turbulent heat fluxes

Josh Willis’s reply

“Understanding the vertical distribution of heat is still a bit tricky, I guess.  The global mean temperature of the ocean drops from about 18C at the surface to 4C at 1000 m.  By 200m, it is about 12C, by 300 m, it is about 10C and by 500 m, it is close to 7C.  So in the globally averaged sense, the thermocline is not all that sharp.  Of course, the depth of the  varies strongly with latitude as well.

In one sense, the 300m depth might work best because we actually have good historical measurements of this layer and it does seem to include most of the signal for the upper kilometer or so of ocean heat content changes on multi-decadal time scales.

Another volume of climatic relevance, however, would be the depth of the mixed layer, something like 60 m in the global average.

My Conclusion

The use of Joules by itself is all that is needed to quantify global warming and cooling. However, if the policymakers insist on the use of a T’, this temperature can be improved over what is used now.

By determining the layer of the ocean that interacts with the atmosphere on relatively short time periods (e.g. several years), than the T’ of this layer could be used to communicate the magnitude of global warming to policymakers. The oceanographic community should recommend the depth of the ocean to compute the most appropriate value of T’, as well as compute this value of T’, and disseminate this information to the climate science community, policymakers and the public.

Since such a value of T’ is a mass weighted average, it is a more robust method than using just a T” diagnosed from the surface temperature of the ocean. The oceanographic community should propose a method to do this, and the climate modeling community should adopt it as one of their metrics. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

NOAA Explains the Global Temperature "Slowdown"

An advance copy of NOAA's Annual State of the Climate Report has been made available (as low-res PDF here). In it is a box that seeks to explain why it is that global temperatures have not increased since January 1, 1999 (pp. 23-24). The report observes:
Observations indicate that global temperature rise has slowed in the last decade (Fig. 2.8a [ed.- above, caption below]). The least squares trend for January 1999 to December 2008 calculated from the HadCRUT3 dataset (Brohan et al. 2006) is +0.07±0.07°C decade–1—much less than the 0.18°C decade–1 recorded between 1979 and 2005 and the 0.2°C decade–1 expected in the next decade (IPCC; Solomon et al. 2007). This is despite a steady increase in radiative forcing as a result of human activities and has led some to question climate predictions of substantial twenty-first century warming (Lawson 2008; Carter 2008).

El Niño–Southern Oscillation is a strong driver of interannual global mean temperature variations. ENSO and non-ENSO contributions can be separated by the method of Thompson et al. (2008) (Fig. 2.8a). The trend in the ENSO-related component for 1999–2008 is +0.08±0.07°C decade–1, fully accounting for the overall observed trend. The trend after removing ENSO (the "ENSO-adjusted" trend) is 0.00°±0.05°C decade–1, implying much greater disagreement with anticipated global temperature rise.

Caption to Figure 2.8a: Monthly global mean temperature anomalies (with respect to 1961–90 climatology) since 1975, derived from the combined land and ocean temperature dataset HadCRUT3 (gray curve). (top blue curve) The global mean after the effect of ENSO that has been subtracted is also shown, along with (bottom blue curve, offset by 0.5°C) the ENSO contribution itself. Least squares linear trends in the ENSO and ENSO-removed components for 1999–2008 and their two std dev uncertainties are shown in orange.
To explore how rare an event it is to observe no warming over a period of more than a decade the authors ran a climate model (HadCM3) and compared the statistics from those runs to the observations as follows:
Ensembles with different modifications to the physical parameters of the model (within known uncertainties) (Collins et al. 2006) are performed for several of the IPCC SRES emissions scenarios (Solomon et al. 2007). Ten of these simulations have a steady long-term rate of warming between 0.15° and 0.25ºC decade–1, close to the expected rate of 0.2ºC decade–1. ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations (Fig. 2.8b). Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.
What does this mean? It means that model realizations with a long-term trend of 0.15 to 0.25 degrees warming per decade also show periods longer than a decade with no warming. How common are such periods? NOAA answers this question as well:
The 10 model simulations (a total of 700 years of simulation) possess 17 nonoverlapping decades with trends in ENSO-adjusted global mean temperature within the uncertainty range of the observed 1999–2008 trend (−0.05° to 0.05°C decade–1).
Lets see if I can sort this out probabilistically (readers please comment on the following math). In 10 x 70 years of simulation there are potentially 610 different decades (because you can't start a decade in the final 9 years of each simulation). If we subtract from the 610 the 170 decades that would begin as a member of the set of 17, as well as the 153 decades that would begin within the 9 years that precede each of the 17 decades (thus avoiding an overlap) that leaves a total of 287, allowing 278 potential decades. So 17 non-overlapping decades out of a set of 278 + 17 = 295 total decades is 5.8%. This is indeed larger than 5% but not by very much. It is safe to say, if my math is correct. of course, that even in the HadCM3 model simulations 10 years without warming is a rare event.

NOAA concludes by explaining that this discussion is moot anyway:
These results show that climate models possess internal mechanisms of variability capable of reproducing the current slowdown in global temperature rise. Other factors, such as data biases and the effect of the solar cycle (Haigh 2003), may also have contributed, although these results show that it is not essential to invoke these explanations. The simulations also produce an average increase of 2.0°C in twenty-first century global temperature, demonstrating that recent observational trends are not sufficient to discount predictions of substantial climate change and its significant and widespread impacts. Given the likelihood that internal variability contributed to the slowing of global temperature rise in the last decade, we expect that warming will resume in the next few years, consistent with predictions from near-term climate forecasts (Smith et al. 2007; Haines et al. 2009).
Until the "slowdown" reverses you can expect that people will continue to talk about it. Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

EPA: Call In The Clowns, And Lawyers

The highly respected Washington Legal Foundation has this: “EPA “Endangerment” Finding On CO2 Could Expand Climate Change Tort Suits”:

Logically, if EPA finds that GHG emissions from new motor vehicles endanger the public health or welfare, then EPA must make the same finding as to the GHG emissions of numerous other significant sources. EPA will therefore be obligated to regulate those sources as well. Accordingly, EPA is about to embark on a course in which it will determine that most significant sources of GHG emissions throughout the economy pose a danger to public health and welfare, and must therefore be regulated.

As many are concerned, carbon-emitting activity is … well, pretty much everything we do. But one problem highlighted in this report is that “Tort lawsuits will interfere with EPA’s ability to balance the legislative factors and craft appropriate Clean Air Act regulations for GHGs.” That’s lawyer speak for: The trial sharks will come swimming like we dumped a ton of chum into the policy ocean.

Leave it to the lawyers to make a bad situation worse.

UPDATE from Shopfloor.org: Victory! Environmental Lawsuit Costs 1,000 Jobs (Chilling Effect)

 

Europe Mulls Mandating Energy Efficiency

The European Commission is mulling a rule designed to increase energy efficiency as part of its plan to cut energy demand by 20% by 2020.

The idea was raised last week during an informal gathering of European energy and environmental ministers in Sweden and it follows an EU Parliamentary report questioning the EU members’ commitments to energy efficiency, which the Commission calls “the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption while maintaining an equivalent level of economic activity.”

Sweden has said it will make energy efficiency a priority as it takes its turn as the head of the EU’s rotating presidency. But challenges are significant. Countries remain unconvinced the target should be mandated, especially because the costs of doing so would be huge and upfront. (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)

 

D'oh! Germans Hoarding Traditional Light Bulbs

The staggered phase out of energy-wasting light bulbs begins on Sept. 1 in Germany. The unpopularity of the energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs that will replace them is leading consumers and retailers to start hoarding the traditional bulbs.

As the Sept. 1 deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the EU's ban on incandescent light bulbs approaches, shoppers, retailers and even museums are hoarding the precious wares -- and helping the manufacturers make a bundle.

Germans are hoarding traditional incandescent light bulbs as their planned phase out -- in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs -- approaches.
DPA

The EU ban, adopted in March, calls for the gradual replacement of traditional light bulbs with supposedly more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). The first to go, on Sept. 1, will be 100-watt bulbs. Bulbs of other wattages will then gradually fall under the ban, which is expected to cover all such bulbs by Sept. 1, 2012 (see graphic below).

Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.

"It's unbelievable what is happening," says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). "That's enough for the next 20 years."

And hoarding doesn't seem to be just a customer phenomenon. The EU law only forbids producing and importing incandescent bulbs but does not outlaw their sale. "We've stocked up well," a spokesman for Praktiker told SPIEGEL.

And what's ironic -- in the short term, at least -- is that the companies that manufacture the climate-killing bulbs are seeing a big boost in sales. According to the GfK market research company, sales in Germany of incandescent light bulbs between January and April 20, 2009, saw a 20 percent jump over the same period a year earlier, while CFL sales shrank by 2 percent. (Der Spiegel)

 

Where are these people getting the idea that Waxman-Markey was pitched as a jobs bill?

The fantastical [alleged] falsehoods of Roger Pielke, Jr., Part 143 « Climate Progress
[Romm] Frankly, it is an insult to the public — and to members of Congress — to pretend that the overwhelming reason we are doing this bill is clean energy and jobs.
...
Nobody could possibly accuse John Kerry of pitching the climate bill only as a jobs bill — even though it is a jobs bill — nobody that is except a serial liar like Roger Pielke, Jr.
Pelosi: 'Remember These Four Words...'
[Pelosi] ...just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. Let's vote for jobs.
President Obama on Energy Bill: "Make No Mistake, This Is a Jobs Bill" - Political Punch
"Make no mistake, this is a jobs bill," Mr. Obama said (Tom Nelson)

 

Sen. Kerry on Climate Bill: ‘We’re Going to Get It Done’

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, John Kerry praises the carbon cap-and-trade legislation now being debated in the U.S. Senate, describes its importance to upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, and explains how he plans to help the landmark legislation clear the Senate and become law. (Yale environment 360)

Note further that Kerry states in this interview with Greenwire reporter Darren Samuelsohn:

"This bill is about jobs" -- seems pretty clear that's the line they are pushing.

Listen to the full interview (44 min.)

 

In the Name of Global Warming

In the name of global warming, politicians in Washington, DC are threatening to pass so called Cap and Trade legislation that will handicap our economy and force more American jobs offshore (Don Blakenship, SPPI)

 

Because Ted says so? Oregon Governor: Climate Change Laws Vital to Economy

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed into law on July 22 a series of bills comprising an aggressive climate change package that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ensure low carbon fuel, invest in green technology and jobs and increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses across the state.

The governor signed the bills at the University Of Oregon Lundquist College of Business, designated as the greenest business school in the country.

"These bills are the next step in growing our green economy, lessening our dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuel and ensuring clean air, cleaner burning fuel and energy efficient buildings and homes that save money and protect our environment," Kulongoski said. "These policies secure Oregon's position as a national leader in climate change policy while also expanding economic opportunity in clean, green jobs across the state." (EPO)

 

Pelosi The Mistrusted

Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims she has no use for polls. For her, that's a good thing, because polls now show that voters despise her. But a politician who disdains public approval should be a little disturbing.

Not every House leader has been popular, but none have reached the nadir of Pelosi. Last week, a Public Strategies/Politico poll showed she is now trusted by fewer than one out of four voters. Asked for a reaction by Politico's Glenn Thrush on Monday, Pelosi laughed it off, declaring "I don't care."

A response like that can only come from someone so securely unaccountable in power that listening to voters is unnecessary. Its starting point is in Pelosi's disregard for the mainstream.

The speaker, who represents radical-left San Francisco, is a proponent of an agenda out of tune with what the average American wants. She has a gargantuan appetite for government spending plus intrusive legislation that curtails citizen freedoms.

Witness the $787 billion stimulus, that pork-and-protectionism package she pushed through. What has it done for the average American? There's also the economically ruinous cap-and-trade legislation as well as a card-check bill that ends workers' rights to secret ballot. She's halted a job-creating free trade treaty with our ally Colombia. Now she's nationalizing U.S. health care.

Poll after poll shows these overbearing plans do not appeal to voters outside some Bay Area enclaves. But Pelosi doesn't really care.

Which brings up the second reason why she's distrusted: She doesn't even try to persuade voters. Instead of working with Congress and facilitating free and open debate, Pelosi exerts political muscle and employs sneaky legislative maneuvers to advance her agenda. Who could trust someone like that — democratic on the outside and manipulative behind the scenes?

Pelosi has blocked votes on treaties rather than allowed colleagues to stand up and be counted. In other cases, she has forced votes — the stimulus, for example — without allowing input from the opposition.

She has allowed lobbyists to draft far-reaching bills in secret, denying lawmakers even copies of the bill they had to vote on.

Is it any wonder that someone with that record would be distrusted? Or voted Congress' most partisan, as a Hill poll showed? "If you can't win on policy, then you go to process," Pelosi told PBS.

Pelosi's unpopularity is bad news not only for Republicans. It's now fracturing the Democratic Party and damaging Obama's presidency. It's a sign of a political entrenchment that answers to no voters, and more at home in Caracas than Washington. Congress better end this soon because it is not consistent with democracy. (IBD)

 

Climate Change: Profit Or Problem?

The popular agricultural press has taken the USDA to task over its position that the Climate Change legislation (HR 2454) will have little impact on agriculture. USDA’s analysis of the House-passed legislation, which is now in the US Senate for consideration, originated in the Office of the Chief Economist. The study says, “In summary, USDA’s analysis shows that the agricultural sector will have modest costs in the short-term and net benefits – perhaps significant net benefits – over the long-term.” But how did it come to that conclusion?

Summary:
Climate Change legislation pending in Congress would place a tax on energy, and cause higher production costs for agriculture, not only from fuel, but also from higher costs from fertilizers. USDA believes the change will cause some farmers to reduce production to the point that higher commodity prices will result, as well as other farmers changing their production and cropping practices to earn money from industries that emit carbon beyond their limits. (CN)

 

China's three biggest power firms emit more carbon than Britain, says report - Greenpeace report names top three polluters and calls for tax on coal to improve efficiency and encourage switch to renewables

China's three biggest power firms produced more greenhouse gas emissions last year than the whole of Britain, according to a Greenpeace report published today.

The group warned that inefficient plants and the country's heavy reliance on coal are hindering efforts to tackle climate change. While China's emissions per capita remain far below those of developed countries, the country as a whole has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest emitter.

Greenpeace said the top 10 companies, which provided almost 60% of China's total electricity last year, burned 20% of China's coal — 590m tonnes — and emitted the equivalent of 1.44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. (The Guardian)

China is feeding the biosphere while providing electricity? Good for them!

 

France Faces Internal Fight Over Carbon Tax

PARIS - France should aim to introduce a tax on carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 to help fight global climate change, a panel advising the government said on Tuesday.

The plan has already drawn fire from intensive fuel users such as farmers and fishermen, and the government pledged to offset any tax with cuts elsewhere while the head of the panel indicated the scheme might have to be delayed.

"Carbon dioxide emissions are a threat to life on the planet ... among the many necessary responses, a significant tax on carbon dioxide emissions is one the most pertinent and efficient," the panel concluded. (Reuters)

 

Iraq’s Oil Sector Inches Toward Progress

Iraq is trying to strike the right cord in its efforts to attract foreign players to its oil and gas sector. Late last month it awarded only one of eight contracts in its first bidding round in decades, a failure under just about any measure. But by doing so, it has apparently deflected internal political criticism, without diminishing international companies’ interest in the country’s lucrative and largely unexplored oil and gas wealth.

The strategy apparently seeks to set the bar both internally and externally on how hard it is willing to bargain. But it is not without risk and only its ability to raise production will determine whether it is effective. Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussain al Shahristani remains optimistic about the country’s targets of more than doubling current production of 2.4 million barrels per day to 6 million barrels per day by 2015, while almost tripling its refining capacity to 1.5 MMbbl/d by 2017. Achieving those goals will likely cost about $50 billion, he estimated recently. (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)

 

Hydrocarbons in Deep Earth?

Video Press Release
Washington, DC—
The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth’s crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle —the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core. The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and  Sweden, and is published in the July 26, advanced on-line issue of Nature Geoscience.

Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock. Both of these hydrocarbons, and others associated with fuel, are called saturated hydrocarbons because they have simple, single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen. Using a diamond anvil cell and a laser heat source, the scientists first subjected methane to pressures exceeding 20 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level  and temperatures ranging from 1,300 F° to over 2,240 F°. These conditions mimic those found 40 to 95 miles deep inside the Earth. The methane reacted and formed ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite. The scientists then subjected ethane to the same conditions and it produced methane. The transformations suggest heavier hydrocarbons could exist deep down. The reversibility implies that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is thermodynamically controlled and does not require organic matter.

The scientists ruled out the possibility that catalysts used as part of the experimental apparatus were at work, but they acknowledge that catalysts could be involved in the deep Earth with its mix of compounds.

“We were intrigued by previous experiments and theoretical predictions,” remarked Carnegie’s Alexander Goncharov a coauthor. “Experiments reported some years ago subjected methane to high pressures and temperatures and found that heavier hydrocarbons formed from methane under very similar pressure and temperature conditions. However, the molecules could not be identified and a distribution was likely. We overcame this problem with our improved laser-heating technique where we could cook larger volumes more uniformly. And we found that methane can be produced from ethane."

The hydrocarbon products did not change for many hours, but the tell-tale chemical signatures began to fade after a few days.

Professor Kutcherov, a coauthor, put the finding into context: “The notion that hydrocarbons generated in the mantle migrate into the Earth’s crust and contribute to oil-and-gas reservoirs was promoted in Russia and Ukraine many years ago. The synthesis and stability of the compounds studied here as well as heavier hydrocarbons over the full range of conditions within the Earth’s mantle now need to be explored. In addition, the extent to which this ‘reduced’ carbon survives migration into the crust needs to be established (e.g., without being oxidized to CO2). These and related questions demonstrate the need for a new experimental and theoretical program to study the fate of carbon in the deep Earth.” (Carnegie Institution)

 

Blast from the past: Fuel's Paradise

World-class contrarian Thomas Gold has a theory about life on the planet: It's pumping out of the Earth's crust - and it's swimming in oil. (Oliver Morton, Wired)

 

Accelerating Carbon Sequestration in Alberta

An advisory group in Alberta, Canada, is proposing that carbon dioxide captured from large industrial operations could be pumped into dozens of semi-depleted oil fields, with the idea of extracting billions of dollars of uneconomic crude from conventional Alberta reserves. (Green Inc.)

If it's economic to do so simply for enhanced oil recovery then go for it -- but if the business model relies on paying to remove an essential resource from the atmosphere then forget it.

 

Permitting 'log-jam' hangs over US coal sector

TORONTO – Ongoing delays in issuing permits for US coal mines, coupled with recent changes to the ways applications are evaluated, continue to have a negative effect on the nation's coal-mining industry, Patriot Coal CEO Richard Whiting said on Tuesday.

“There continues to be a logjam in the granting of mining permits by the Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act,” he told analysts and investors on a conference call.

For the most part, the delays are related to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) decision to weigh in more heavily in the Clean Water Act permitting process, and the EPA has also recently indicated it will become more involved in permitting at a state level. (miningweekly.com)

 

Walking the Land Where the Drilling Rigs Will Go

It takes a reasonably practiced eye to see the damage coal bed methane development has done. But when the infrastructure for pumping natural gas out of the Catskills has finally been put in place, there will be no mistaking its impact — no missing the gaping holes in the forest canopy, the artificial ponds full of “fracking” fluid, the industrial damage done.

The estimates of the energy trapped below ground in the Marcellus Shale are indeed staggering. But to get that energy, we will have to give up a good share of the biological integrity of the land that lies above it. To stand in a glade in the Catskills is to realize what a deeply troubling trade-off that is. (NYT)

Um... probably not to most people. Is it even mildly troubling to people who never saw the region in the past & never will in the future? Probably not, although most will happily use the energy extracted. A tiny minority of people will say, this used to be different but most will not know or care, probably rightly so, too.

 

Canada Green Power Stocks Fall On Surprise Ruling

VANCOUVER - Shares in a bunch of Canadian green energy companies slumped on Tuesday after a surprise regulatory decision created uncertainty about the future of dozens of clean power projects being developed in the West Coast province of British Columbia.

The companies, which aim to produce electricity from renewable sources such as wind, water or biomass, have been waiting for over a year for the province's power utility to announce the winners of long-term electricity contracts.

The results were expected any day now by applicants such as run-of-river hydro power producer Plutonic Power Corp and Naikun Wind Energy Group Inc. But an unexpected decision from provincial regulators now threatens to delay, change the terms of, or even scupper BC Hydro's power call. (Reuters)

 

USEC Scraps Uranium Plant, Mulls Options

NEW YORK - USEC Inc said on Tuesday it would scrap plans to build a new uranium enrichment plant and may now seek a partner or buyer after the U.S. Department of Energy denied its request for a loan guarantee, sending its stock plummeting.

USEC's planned American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, was one of four new facilities proposed that would be built to supply enriched uranium to the nuclear power sector, which industry experts believe is poised for a renaissance in the United States.

"We are shocked and disappointed by DOE's decision," USEC Chief Executive John Welch said in a statement. "We deeply regret the impact this decision will have on all those affected, but as we have stated in the past, a DOE loan guarantee was the path forward to completing financing for the project."

The company had so far sunk $1.5 billion into the ACP project, using funds from the equity and debt markets, but still needed another $2 billion. (Reuters)

 

Green technology stifled by funding woes: experts

WASHINGTON - American innovation needed to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change could be squelched if the government drags its heels in providing incentives and funding for developers, company executives told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Officials of companies involved in solar and carbon capture technologies told the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that their biggest challenge to creating new green technologies was financing, not the science.

"Using proven technology available today, we can produce electricity along with other basic commodities at market prices while sequestering 90 percent of our CO2 (carbon dioxide)," said Frank Smith, chief executive of PurGen One.

His plant chemically converts coal into a synthetic gas and then removes the pollutants and 90 percent of the carbon from the gas, leaving nearly pure hydrogen. The hydrogen is used to produce energy while demand is high, but can alternately be used to produce urea fertilizer, which is sold and adds to profits when electricity demand is minimal.

"The new technology here is in the business model," Smith said. "Everything else is off-the-shelf, proven technology." (Reuters)

Well if it's such a hot business model go see Vinod Khosla or Google -- why do you need public money?

 

Why? Why the panic and rush? U.S. Urged to Move Quickly on Energy Technology Demonstrations

The United States must accelerate its development and deployment of new energy technologies and of "evolutionary" nuclear plants to secure a future of clean, domestic power, the National Research Council says in a report released today.

"Actions taken between now and 2020 to develop and demonstrate several key technologies will largely determine options for many decades to come," the report says. "Therefore, it is imperative that the technology development and demonstration activities identified in this report be started soon, even though some will be expensive and not all will be successful."

The report urges the development of technologies to improve energy efficiency and develop carbon-dioxide capture and storage for fossil-fuel power plants, new nuclear reactors, alternative liquid fuels and electric vehicles.

Also critical, the report says, is development of a modern electrical grid to allow for large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources, such as intermittent wind and solar. (Greenwire)

Doesn't matter whether you believe the meltdown fantasies or not. If you do then there's already "unstoppable warming in the system" so panic action will make no difference (better to get it right, no?) and if you don't then no action is going affect a phantom menace. Either way there is no advantage in "urgent action" -- all that represents is a call to do stupid things before you have a chance to stop and think about them.

 

Wind farm boom flies in face of turbine factory shutdown

Britain’s countryside and coastline will be dotted with 2,700 new wind turbines by 2012 — more than double the existing total — according to an industry survey of approved wind farms.

The figures contradict claims by Vestas, owner of the country’s only significant wind turbine factory, that demand is too low to justify continuing production.

The Danish company will go to court today to seek a possession order allowing it to evict 18 members of staff who have spent the past ten days barricaded inside offices at the factory at Newport in the Isle of Wight.

They are protesting over the imminent closure of the factory with the loss of 625 jobs. Production ceased last week and the factory is due to close on Friday. Last night, Vestas sacked the 18 men for gross misconduct. They stand to lose up to £10,000 each in redundancy payments.  (The Times)

 

Wind farm complaint upheld by Advertising Standards Authority

Energy company E.On used "misleading" images to try and promote a wind farm, advertising watchdogs have ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint that the material was misleading because it showed turbines that were significantly smaller than those that could be constructed.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint that the material was misleading because it showed turbines that were significantly smaller than those that could be constructed.

The promotional material for E.ON's proposed West Ancroft wind farm, just south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, featured a wind farm on a coast line.

However the wind turbines were half the size of the eight 125m turbines planned for the new development.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint that the material was misleading because it showed turbines that were significantly smaller than those that could be constructed and did not accurately represent the visual impact of the proposed development.

The ruling read: "Because of the disparity in size between the image and the turbines proposed for the West Ancroft site, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead." (Daily Telegraph)

 

Careful what you wish for... Wind power: the silent majority must speak out, says Miliband

To tackle climate change we must end public apathy – and widen our leaders' focus beyond their pet policies (Moonbat)

If the silent majority ever do speak out green is toast and so are the damn fools who have been pushing it. I hope the majority do awaken and caste the hairy unwashed out of the society they apparently despise. Green whackos...

 

Here's some of that majority speaking up now: Latest protest leaves climate strategy twisting in the wind - From Shetland to the Isle of Wight, feelings run high as plans to transform the UK into a low-carbon economy hit further trouble

Europe's largest onshore windfarm project has been thrown in severe doubt after the RSPB and official government agencies lodged formal objections to the 150-turbine plan, it emerged today.

The setback adds to the problems facing the government's ambition to install 10,000 new turbines across the UK by 2020 as part of its plan to cut the carbon emissions causing climate change.

The proposed 550MW windfarm, sprawling across the centre of Shetland's main island, would add almost 20% to existing onshore wind capacity. But the objectors say the plans could seriously damage breeding sites for endangered birds, including a rare wader, the whimbrel, which was unexpectedly discovered by the windfarm developer's own environmental survey teams. Other species at risk include the red throated diver, golden plover and merlin.

The RSPB heavily criticised the proposal from Viking Energy after initially indicating it could support the scheme. The RSPB also claims now that installation of the turbines could release significant carbon dioxide from the peat bogs affected, undermining the turbines' potential to combat global warming. (The Guardian)

 

India To Unveil 20GW Solar Target Under Climate Plan

NEW DELHI - India will unveil its first solar power target as soon as September, pledging to boost output from near zero to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 as it firms up its national plan to fight global warming, draft documents show.

The target, which would help India close the gap on solar front-runners like China, is part of an ambitious $19 billion, 30-year scheme that could increase India's leverage in international talks for a new U.N. climate pact in December, one of several measures meant to help cut emissions. (Reuters)

India should address its baseload shortfall rather than planning to farm Western eco-guilt, which is long on rhetoric but notoriously short on third world largess.

 

India hungry for our coking coal assets

INDIA is about to embark on a program of rapid coal sector acquisitions in Australia as it looks to plug a huge annual gap between supply and demand expected in the next three years.

State-owned Coal India, the world's biggest coal producer, has called for expressions of interest from potential coal mining partners by the end of August as it looks to fill unprecedented growth in local demand.

"The gap between coal demand on Coal India and envisaged domestic coal supply potential in 2011-12 is in excess of 200 million tonnes," Coal India said in the expression of interest document obtained by The Australian.

"The emerging business environment, therefore, necessitates immediate acquisition of coal resources abroad," the company said.

Australia and the US have been targeted for coking coal investment, with Indonesia and South Africa earmarked for thermal coal. (The Australian)

 

U.S. Senator Delays Brazil Envoy Nominee Over Ethanol

WASHINGTON - A Republican senator threatened on Tuesday to delay approval of President Barack Obama's choice of ambassador to Brazil because the nominee advocated ending a U.S. tariff on ethanol imports.

"As a senator and as a presidential candidate, President Obama supported keeping the U.S. tariff on imported ethanol," Senator Charles Grassley, who comes from the major corn-producing state of Iowa, said in a statement.

"Now, the president's nominee for ambassador to Brazil says the removal of the tariff would be 'beneficial.' It's important to know whether the administration's position has changed before this nomination goes forward," Grassley said.

Grassley is one of the staunchest defenders of the ethanol tariff in the U.S. Congress. Brazil, the world's biggest exporter of ethanol and its second largest producer after the United States, wants the tariff removed. (Reuters)

 

On wood, burning questions - Critics challenge ‘green’ fuel claims

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Along the banks of the Piscataqua River, an ancient energy source is being transformed into retro chic renewable power.

Every minute, a conveyor belt dumps about a ton of matchbook-sized wood chips into a seven-story-tall boiler that generates enough electricity to power 50,000 homes and, in the process, supporters say, helps combat global warming.

Wood - or biomass as it is often called - is hailed by many environmentalists, scientists, and politicians as a renewable energy source because it can easily be replenished by planting trees - and because the new trees will, over time, absorb the greenhouse gases the power plants emit.

But with more than 10 wood-burning power plants proposed throughout New England - including three extraordinarily controversial proposals in Western Massachusetts - wood’s green credentials are coming under attack. Just like wind projects, where concerns about bird safety and aesthetics have stalled dozens of proposals, biomass is the latest alternative energy source to undergo deep public scrutiny.

More than 400 people packed a Greenfield school last month to protest a proposed biomass plant there, for example. And, sparked partly by the opposition, Massachusetts energy and environmental officials are launching an in-depth review of biomass, from how the fuel is harvested to how quickly new trees can recapture the heat-trapping gases emitted from burning wood. Biomass plants burn virtually any wood material - from stumps to whole trees to branches and treetops left over from logging.

“Everyone says it is sustainable, but how do we know it is?’’’ said Mary Booth, an ecologist and cofounder of the Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance, a research and advocacy group that opposes large wood-burning power plants. While many biomass developers promise to burn wood leftover from logging or tree-trimming operations her group fears vast tracts of forests will be heavily cut. “There is no definition . . . no rules,’’ she said.

Advocates acknowledge that biomass will never make up a huge part of US power production, maybe somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent by 2030. Today in New England, less than 3 percent of electricity comes from biomass.

Yet supporters say burning trees is important because, in the end, they don’t add any heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere that contribute to global warming. Biomass power plants do emit these gases, supporters say, but the same amount is reabsorbed by new trees planted to replace the burned ones - essentially recycling the pollutants over and over again. Fossil fuels, like coal, are extracted from deep in the earth and add extra gases to the atmosphere. Decades of burning fossil fuels has emitted so many heat-trapping gases, there is no natural way to absorb them all. (Boston Globe)

 

Joule Biotechnologies: light + CO2 + GMO = fuel

Joule Biotechnologies, with headquarters at 83 Rogers St, Cambridge, Massachusetts is a startup with USD 50 million in its pockets.

It plans to create cheaper fuel than everyone else: the price should be equivalent to less than USD 50 per barrel.

George Church, a Harvard molecular geneticist (see the picture), is among the co-founders: the type of GM organisms seems to be a top secret. It just seems like a new choice, different from other people attempting to do similar things.

Bill Sims is the newly elected CEO and president.



Click to zoom in.

It's not another biofuel company. No agricultural land or fresh water is needed. You need sunlight and (concentrated) carbon dioxide, the gas we call life, but you obtain 20,000 gallons per acre and year (18.71 liters per squared meter and year), an order of magnitude better result than typical biofuels! Because the biofuels are close to the edge of being economically meaningful, you may be sure that this order of magnitude is FTW.

A detail I liked about their website is that I didn't find any references to "climate change". (Wrong! See the fast comments.) After all, if you can get 19 liters of cheap gasoline out of CO2 from each squared meter annually, you are likely to love CO2. ;-)

See Google News.

Hydrocarbons without life

By the way, some hydrocarbons can be synthesized without the help of life, just with the pressure found inside the Earth's crust, it was recently argued. See also Wired.

Another comment. British archaeologists say that a rise in temperatures by a few degrees - global warming - is what has given the power to the Incan Empire between 550 AD and 1000 AD, after 3000 not-so-warm and not-so-friendly years. (The Reference Frame)

 

July 28, 2009

 

H1N1 flu spreads to remote corners of the world-WHO

GENEVA, July 27 - There may be no escape from H1N1 pandemic flu, which according to the latest World Health Organisation figures has spread to the most remote parts of the planet including popular island getaways.

In a snapshot published on Monday, the WHO said more than 20 countries and overseas territories had had their first lab-confirmed cases of the new virus, widely known as swine flu.

These include holiday destinations such as the Seychelles, Turks and Caicos, St. Kitts and Nevis, Netherlands Antilles, Belize and France's Reunion Island, as well as isolated spots such as Tonga and American Samoa in the Pacific and the Solomon Islands in the Indian Ocean.

H1N1 flu, which is a genetic mix of human, bird and swine viruses, has also found its way to Bhutan in the Himalayas and Andorra, an independent state tucked between Spain and France. Conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Sudan have also had their first confirmed infections in recent days. (Reuters)

 

Swine flu pandemic could fuel rise in workplace litigation

Businesses could face a spate of legal claims from employees hit by swine flu, experts warn, as concerns mount that firms are not prepared to deal with legal issues arising from affected staff.

Personal injury, health and safety, and negligence claims are all likely, according to employment lawyers, as litigation has continued to rise during the recession.

"I can absolutely see claims in personal injury being brought by employees who say they contracted swine flu at work," said Stephen Robinson, partner in employment law at Davies Arnold Cooper. (The Guardian)

 

NHS days from crisis leading surgeon warns

Swine flu and a cut in junior doctors hours means the NHS is 'just days away from a crisis', John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons has warned. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Prioritized lives

We can never be allowed to hear good news about our health. The government won’t allow it. “Such is the strength of cultural miserabilism today that even the most smile-inducing good news stories can swiftly be turned into doom-laden tales about the terrible future humanity faces,” wrote Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked.

Reporting on the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, finding that advances in science, safe food production, healthcare and prosperity have allowed people, worldwide, to live longer, healthier and wealthier lives, Brendan’s article had a much deeper message. It examined our prejudices, our compassion for others and how our society is coming to view the value of human life.

His thought-provoking article, titled “Older people are more than food for worms,” was about aging, but could just as easily have been about fat people, handicapped people and everyone deserving of our kindness. It was a reminder of our shared humanness and the need for ethical behavior. (Junkfood Science)

 

Dairy for children 'extends life'

Children who eat plenty of dairy foods such as milk and cheese can expect to live longer, a study suggests.

Some 4,374 UK children from a 1930s study were traced 65 years later by researchers in Bristol and Queensland.

They found those who had had high dairy and calcium intakes as children had been protected against stroke and other causes of death, journal Heart reports.

Despite dairy containing artery furring fat and cholesterol, high consumption did not raise the heart disease risk.

The findings appear to back the practice of giving extra milk to schoolchildren. (BBC)

 

Obesity costs US health system $147 billion: study

CHICAGO - Obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10 percent of all medical spending in the United States or an estimated $147 billion a year, U.S. researchers said on Monday. (Reuters) Also Cost of Treating Obesity Soars (WSJ)

Why? Because we've medicalized people's weight?

So, these prescription drugs accounting for much of the increase -- statins, perchance? The very same drugs (paid?) activists want the whole population taking? And the remainder wouldn't be primarily prescription weight loss drugs required by HMOs and/or employers under "managed healthcare plans"?

 

CDC Chief: Soda Tax Could Combat Obesity

While Democrats await the results of bipartisan negotiations over health care reform in the Senate Finance Committee, one of the proposals put before the committee received a nod of approval from health officials today: taxing soda.

The committee -- the last congressional panel expected to produce its own recommendations for health care reform -- listened to arguments earlier this year both for and against imposing a three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a three-cent tax would generate $24 billion over the next four years, and proponents of the tax argued before the committee that it would lower consumption of sugary drinks and improve Americans' overall health.

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Weight of the Nation" conference today, CDC chief Dr. Thomas Freiden said increasing the price of unhealthy foods "would be effective" at combating the nation's obesity problem, reports CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder. (CBS News)

 

Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare

When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation's struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off.

As evidence of this new "get-tough" strategy on obesity, they may well cite a study released today by the Urban Institute titled "Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies From the Tobacco Wars." (LA Times)

 

Maccas 'fat factory' bites into schools

AN UNHOLY row has erupted over a decision by the Catholic Church to sell off land surrounded by three schools to takeaway giant McDonald's in New South Wales.

Parents in Port Macquarie have labelled the proposed restaurant a "fat factory" and are demanding to know why the sale was rushed through during the school holidays.

Medical experts also slammed the venture, saying childhood obesity was a major health issue and building fast-food outlets on the doorstep of schools would only worsen the existing problem.

But parish priest Father Leo Donnelly came out firing, saying McDonald's had a healthy menu and children's diets were the responsibility of parents.

He said the church needed the money from the $1 million sale to extend its aged-care facility.

"If parents are worried about their kids eating there, then don't give them the money," Father Donnelly said.

"Obesity starts at the kitchen table in the home, that's where the problem is." (Daily Telegraph)

 

Trade Liberalization Linked To Obesity In Central America

Since trade liberalization between Central and North America, imports and availability of processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods have increased dramatically. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Globalization and Health link this influx of American junk food to a 'nutrition transition' in Central American countries, with a growing burden diet-related chronic disease. (ScienceDaily)

 

Agent Orange linked to heart disease, Parkinson's

WASHINGTON - Agent Orange, used by U.S. forces to strip Vietnamese and Cambodian jungles during the Vietnam War, may raise the risk of heart disease and Parkinson's disease, U.S. health advisers said on Friday.

But the evidence is only limited and far from definitive, the Institute of Medicine panel said. (Reuters)

 

Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’ Is Smaller Than Expected

The so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, where oxygen levels drop too low to support most life near the ocean’s bottom, is smaller this year than expected, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today.

The zone encompasses about 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers), less than half the size scientists had forecast last month, when they estimated it would be as large as 8,500 square miles, or about the size of the state of New Jersey, NOAA said in a release. (Bloomberg)

Translation: we still don't understand anoxic zones but we have a lot of fun and enjoy a sense of power pointing the finger of blame over them.

 

Scientists Find a Microbe Haven at Ocean’s Surface

The world’s oceans are like an alien world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that 95 percent of them remain unexplored. But the mysteries do not start a mile below the surface of the sea. They start with the surface itself.

Scientists are now discovering that the top hundredth-inch of the ocean is somewhat like a sheet of jelly. And this odd habitat, thinner than a human hair, is home to an unusual menagerie of microbes. “It’s really a distinct ecosystem of its own,” said Oliver Wurl, of Canada’s Institute of Ocean Sciences.

This so-called sea-surface microlayer is important, scientists say, in part because it influences the chemistry of the ocean and the atmosphere. “One of the most significant things that happens on our planet is the transport of gases in and out of the ocean,” said Michael Cunliffe, a marine biologist at the University of Warwick in England. The ocean stores a large fraction of the global-warming gases we produce; at the microlayer, the gases are pulled down. (NYT)

 

Are people really so ignorant of the natural world? Army of flying ants descend on Britain

The warm, wet summer may have created havoc for countless picnics, but it has created perfect conditions for Britain's flying ants, which have come out in their millions over the last few days.

People have reported seeing "swarms" of the flying insects over the weekend, coming out from under paving stones and flying into people's hair, particularly in the south of England.

However, insect experts said there is no need to panic – it is part of annual summer mating ritual for Lasius Niger, the common garden black ant. (Daily Telegraph)

Really? Expert advice there's "no need to panic" over flying ants?

 

Then again... British Ponds for British Dragonflies

Any article that includes the line

The dragonfly family has more species than any other mammal

has got to be worth a closer look. And this one, from Saturday’s Guardian, doesn’t disappoint.

Dragonflies in danger of extinction seek sanctuary at new rescue centre
Pollution, pesticides and habitat loss bring dragonflies close to the brink after 325m years

Dragonflies may have hovered and hunted across the planet for the last 325m years, but their modern relatives are staring extinction in the face.

Don’t fear: dragonflies are no more ’staring extinction in the face’ than they are warm-blooded, hirsuit creatures that bear live young and lactate. They don’t need rescuing. Indeed, there is no ‘rescue centre’.

All that has actually happened in the world to prompt the Guardian’s latest episode of extinction-porn is that the National Trust, the British Dragonfly Society and the Dragonfly Project have got together to open a visitor centre - a place for people to visit to learn about dragonflies - at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. They have issued a press release about it, and have got a TV personality to perform the opening ceremony.

Naturally, the press release contains a few facts and figures to tempt the press. And how better to tempt the press than with a few bleak-looking statistics about how three species of dragonfly have disappeared from Britain since the 1950s and how a third of the regularly-occurring UK species are under threat? (The one about dragonflies being mammals comes straight from the Guardian’s own imagination.) Also naturally, the Guardian has taken these facts and figures and distorted them beyond recognition to spin a tale about the imminent extinction of all dragonflies everywhere in the whole world. (Climate Resistance)

 

Maybe people are that ignorant: Wool industry delays end of mulesing

Manufacturers around the world will source wool elsewhere if Australia can't meet a 2010 deadline to stop mulesing sheep, an animal rights group has warned.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) two years ago introduced a two-year horizon on the controversial practice but now says it is unlikely the 2010 deadline will be met.

The industry's peak body says it's committed to ending mulesing but maintains it's still the best option as other methods were not as effective in combating the potentially deadly problem of flystrike. (AAP)

Within 50 years of sheep being introduced to Australia Lucinia Cuprina (copper blowfly) had evolved the ability to strike living sheep. These sheep die a horrible death. The fine merino wools consumers value grow on wrinkly merino sheep with a propensity to fly strike and mulesing (cutting excess skin wrinkles away from the anus and back of the legs) is a highly effective means of protecting these sheep from agonizing death. One of the reasons mulesing was introduced was to appease greenies and reduce pesticide application (the only other means of protecting sheep and lambs).

Make up your minds ya dopey blighters! You want fine wools then that means fine wool sheep must be raised in the harsh Australian environment (it is partly this harshness and privation that keeps the wool fibers so fine). One thing that must be dealt with is fly strike and that means either regular pesticide application or mulesing or both. Anti-chemical cranks and their stupid emotional campaigns caused graziers to resort to cutting strips of skin off their lambs to protect them and now their fellow travelers are trying to make sheep impossible to raise in this country.

Get real. Sheep have a right to be lamb chops but animal nutters don't have a right to cause them to be eaten alive.

 

Smart Green... Smarter Consumer

With the global recession and California’s unemployment rate above 11%, the extra costs of green living are colliding with economic reality. Environmentalists have been green-guilt baiting us for years to donate to sanctimonious eco-nonprofits and to pay extra for green products and services.

The cold realities of economic recession have chilled recent years of obsessive environmental politicking. Environmentalism is the most densely organized political movement in human history -- eco-groups grew from 2,000 to over 4,000 during the 1990s. Now, as a political “special interest,” green groups have leveraged their roughly $1.5 billion in annual nonprofit assets to drown us in a tsunami of scary scenarios of climate change and global warming. Corporate marketeers have “greened” every product, service and advertising tag line. Surveys last year of large US retailers found more than 1,700 products boasting of green credentials or environmental benefits -- most at extra cost with unproven benefits. Critically missing in this eco-emersion of fanciful ideas for green living has been the increased consumer costs involved. (Paul Taylor, Examiner)

 

Free rides aren't free? What's going on in the Big Green tent?

Some suspect foul play in the last-minute cancellation of the Big Green Gathering, but the Vestas protest might get an unexpected boost instead

News broke over the weekend that the organisers of the Big Green Gathering had finally crumbled under ceaseless pressure and demands from the local council and police, and decided not to stage the event. Bills had soared and it was deemed unfeasible for the organisation to go ahead. (The Guardian)

 

Breakthrough?

How could it happen? Is it a freak accident or a light at the end of the tunnel? How did it get past the editorial censorship? In The Times, of all places, there is an article by Antonia Senior telling it how it is about the green extremists. It is entitled Blunt warning about greens under the bed. Read it before she is banished to the journalistic gulag. (Number Watch)

 

Exploiting green superstition: Insurers Add Green Rebuilding Policies

Texas homeowners can pay a bit more for insurance in order to be able to rebuild in an eco-friendly way after a catastrophe, according to a front-page story in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle. Four insurance companies are selling such coverage for homes, and many more sell them for businesses. “While some experts wonder if the policies are worth it,” the article reported, “insurers are hoping to appeal to environmentally conscientious property owners willing to dig into their pockets for the extra coverage.” (Green Inc.)

 

Whale watching not so good for whales: Scientists examine carcass of whale hit by ship

VANCOUVER — It wasn't a pretty sight, but whale watchers on a cruise ship in Canada got more than they bargained for when they arrived at the port of Vancouver — a dead whale stuck to the bow.

The vessel apparently struck the 70-ton fin whale in the ocean and unknowingly carried it wedged to the bow from Alaskan waters to the Canadian port. The adult whale was an estimated 70 feet (21 meters) long.

The Princess Cruise Lines' Sapphire Princess was docked at the Canada Place terminal Saturday with the whale stuck to it. (AP)

 

A sustainable water supply for the future is worth the bill

In the 20 years since privatisation more than £80bn has been invested in the water and wastewater sector to deliver water quality and environmental improvements at no cost to the tax payer – clearly a UK success story and one that is the envy of the world. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Ohio Debates the Merits of Remining

Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources is looking at an unlikely method of treating water polluted by the decades of unregulated coal mining in the southeastern part of the state: Encouraging companies to remine near abandoned coal mining sites.

Coal remining gained a lot of traction in the mid-1990s, particularly in traditional coal mining states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, thanks to the 1992 Energy Policy Act, which provided incentives for remining, as did more recent amendments to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the primary regulatory mechanism for federal oversight of the coal mining industry. The surface mining act was passed in 1977.

The modifications, said Mitch Farley, the administrator of Ohio’s acid mine drainage program, made it less onerous for companies to get involved at abandoned sites with dubious environmental legacies. And under these modified limits, “if they’ll clean up most of the problem,” he said, “that’s better than not getting anything.”

“Mining is happening in Ohio,” Mr. Farley added, “and all we’re saying with remining is, we know it improves water quality and we’re going to mine coal anyway. Let’s mine it where some of this old crap is and clean it up at the same time.”

Many conservationists oppose the idea of remining. They say ecosystems damaged by a century of unregulated mining are slowly being coaxed back to health through the trial-and-error work of environmental engineers, state agency specialists and watershed coordinators. (Green Inc)

 

GM crops being grown in Britain - Genetically-modified crops are being grown in Britain for the first time in a year after controversial trials of the plants were "secretly" restarted.

Cultivation of a field of potatoes designed to be resistant to pests were abandoned over a year ago when environmental protesters ripped up the crop

But, without alerting the public as is usual when such trials begin, the project has been restarted, prompting environmental groups to warn that local farms and nearby residents could be put at risk.


The 400 plants in the field, near Tadcaster in North Yorkshire, were removed just weeks after planting in May 2008 as a result of damage caused by unidentified environmentalists.

However, the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs maintains that the original permission for the trial to begin - granted for three years - remains valid and the crops can be replanted without giving further notice.

Campaigners accused ministers of trying to "slip it under the radar" and warned the trial could affect human health.

Defra said the potatoes, that will not be used for human or animal consumption, will be grown in a safe environment where there is no risk of contamination. The potatoes will be grown next to plants that will later be destroyed and the whole area will be left fallow for some years after the trial.

Fencing, CCTV cameras and guards will protect the crops from being ripped up again. (Daily Telegraph)

 

If tenacity and enthusiasm are admirable traits, ya gotta admit these guys have them in abundance: World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns

New estimate based on the forthcoming upturn in solar activity and El Niño southern oscillation cycles is expected to silence global warming sceptics

Air temp

The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun's activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had predicted for the next five years, according to a study.

The hottest year on record was 1998, and the relatively cool years since have led to some global warming sceptics claiming that temperatures have levelled off or started to decline. But new research firmly rejects that argument.

The research, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, was carried out by Judith Lean, of the US Naval Research Laboratory, and David Rind, of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The work is the first to assess the combined impact on global temperature of four factors: human influences such as CO2 and aerosol emissions; heating from the sun; volcanic activity and the El Niño southern oscillation, the phenomenon by which the Pacific Ocean flips between warmer and cooler states every few years.

The analysis shows the relative stability in global temperatures in the last seven years is explained primarily by the decline in incoming sunlight associated with the downward phase of the 11-year solar cycle, together with a lack of strong El Niño events. These trends have masked the warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

As solar activity picks up again in the coming years, the research suggests, temperatures will shoot up at 150% of the rate predicted by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Lean and Rind's research also sheds light on the extreme average temperature in 1998. The paper confirms that the temperature spike that year was caused primarily by a very strong El Niño episode. A future episode could be expected to create a spike of equivalent magnitude on top of an even higher baseline, thus shattering the 1998 record.

The study comes within days of announcements from climatologists that the world is entering a new El Niño warm spell. This suggests that temperature rises in the next year could be even more marked than Lean and Rind's paper suggests. A particularly hot autumn and winter could add to the pressure on policy makers to reach a meaningful deal at December's climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen.

Bob Henson, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, said: "To claim that global temperatures have cooled since 1998 and therefore that man-made climate change isn't happening is a bit like saying spring has gone away when you have a mild week after a scorching Easter."

Temperature highs and lows

1998

Hottest year of the millennium

Caused by a major El Niño event. The climate phenomenon results from warming of the tropical Pacific and causes heatwaves, droughts and flooding around the world. The 1998 event caused 16% of the world's coral reefs to die.

1957

Most sunspots in a year since 1778

The sun's activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. The late 1950s saw a peak in activity and were relatively warm years for the period.

1601

Coldest year of the millennium

Ash from the huge eruption the previous year of a Peruvian volcano called Huaynaputina blocked out the sun. The volcanic winter caused Russia's worst famine, with a third of the population dying, and disrupted agriculture from China to France. (The Guardian)

ElNino.gif (26136 bytes)My goodness... Upturn in solar activity? We certainly hope so. According to our friends at solarcycle24.com the sun is in something of a funk.

El Niño? Perhaps and it might even temporarily rearrange Earth's thermal furniture (it certainly has before). Then again, a strong event appears extremely unlikely at this stage.

But predictions of Earth's future temperature? Is anyone actually making any? The IPCC does not make any such predictions, they just publish a range of "storylines".

Similarly climate models have zero demonstrated predictive skills (not that they've ever been intended for such rash enterprise anyway, they are purely process models to help us understand what is happening). In fact climate models merely churn out synthetic data streams in response to input parameters and assumptions made by people.

Funny how when things are warming and suit enhanced greenhouse hysterics' narrative then the sun is but a bit player in global mean temperature and yet, when warming fails to materialize it is because the sun is having a bit of a rest and hiding the warming people are really causing.

Funny ol' game, innit guvna?

 

Climate Fear Promoters Try to Spin Record Cold and Snow: 'Global warming made it less cool'

Switch from warning of 'climate crisis' to 'global warming made it less cool'

The year 2009 is proving to be a yet another very inconvenient year for the promoters of man-made global warming fears. As the “year without a summer” continues, the U.S. in July alone has broken over 3000 cold temperature records, and global temps have fallen .74F since Gore's film “An Inconvenient Truth” was released in 2006. In addition, meteorologists are predicting more record cold and snow this winter. (See: Brisk July portends 'heavy snowfalls and bitter cold this winter along Eastern Seaboard')

But man-made climate fear promoters have finally constructed an explanation for the recent record cold temperatures.

The explanation? According to climate activists: “Global warming made it less cool.”

It appears the global warming fear movement has gone from predictions that we face a "climate crisis" and we are all going to die to their new slogan: "Global warming made it less cool." (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)

 

Why The Cool Summer?

Climate patterns are not something that we routinely talk about during the weather portion of the news simply because there isn't enough time to go into the details that govern our climate. Scott's World of Weather is an excellent forum to do just that. In this installment, we will go over the drivers of climate that have ultimately affected our weather this summer in northern Ohio.

Talk of global warming aside, there are well-documented natural cycles in the atmosphere and oceans that have a direct impact on our weather from season to season; month to month. The PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION, the ATLANTIC MULTIDECADAL OSCILLATION, the NORTH ATLANTIC OSCILLATION and many others are terms that you probably have never heard of. In fact, most of these cycles have only been coined within the last 15 years and don't get much media attention. Many of these cycles are poorly understood while others have been well-known for centuries. The grand-daddy of them all is the ever-popular EL NINO. Back in 1997, El Nino was blamed for everything from horrible weather to the Indians losing the World Series. It became the catch-phrase for everything.

So far, this summer, temperatures have been noticeably cooler than in summers past. Rainfall is down at bit too. Is El Nino the big reason for this? Is its cousin "La Nina?" Is it something entirely different?

After a pretty harsh winter with more than 25 "Alberta Clippers" and a host of "Panhandle hooks", I thought the pattern would change somewhat. That hasn't happened. In fact, the overall upper level pattern has stayed northwesterly thus shutting off the heat that usually builds from the south. A great article from climatologist Dr. Joe D' Aleo explains how the arctic is affecting the summer temperatures across the northern US. This arctic influence is from an arctic climate cycle called the ARCTIC OSCILLATION. The Arctic Oscillation is derived from pressure centers over the arctic. Often these pressure centers fluctuate above and below normal. In winter, the AO dramatically alters the position of the westerlies (the steering currents in the atmosphere). A positive AO means pressures over the arctic are lower, the westerlies stay strong and north thus the arctic air stays away from the US. A negative AO means pressures are higher, the westerlies are weaker so colder air has a tendency to sink southward.



Since mid-June, the Arctic Oscillation has been strongly negative.



Using month-to-month Arctic Oscillation data back to 1950, I found that no other June/July period has had an AO this negative in almost 60 years! Why? Many experts have found this negative AO to be related to volcanic eruptions in higher latitudes like Mt. Redoubt in Alaska a few months ago as well as Russia's Sarychev Volcano. The aerosols that are ejected into the upper atmosphere can change the pressure tendencies in high latitudes. This change can shift the steering currents allowing colder air to push southward more frequently. Take a look at the temperatures in June across the US. Many areas were well below normal.



The trend has continued through July.



On June 12th, just as Russia's Sarychev Peak volcano was erupting for the first time in 20 years, the International Space Station flew directly overhead. Astronauts had their camera ready and snapped one of the most dramatic Earth-science photos ever taken from space:



Combine these factors with a quiet sun (See past column on sunspots) and the rest of the summer doesn't look promising if you crave a ten day period with scortching heat and tropical humidity. During the week of July 13th, more than 800 record lows were set across the US. Akron and Mansfield have already recorded their coldest July on record!



Could we see this "cooler" summer coming earlier this year? Probably not. When we attempt to come up with a seasonal trend forecast for the summer or the winter, its very difficult to weight the role each of these natural occuring cycles will play in our weather 3 to 6 months in the future. Throw in a few unpredictable volcanic eruptions which tend to drop the Arctic Oscillation negative and a forecast for the summer ahead can be a daunting task.

So if someone asks why this summer has been so "cool", tell them its the NEGATIVE ARCTIC OSCILLATION AND A COUPLE OF VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS. That'll keep their head spinning for a while.

Coming up in a few weeks, we'll talk about EL NINO again. Yes, its coming back! (Scott Sabol, Morning Meteorologist)

 

Global cooling hits Al Gore's home - Nashville, the home of leading global warming prophet Al Gore, has enjoyed the coolest July 21 on record, observes Christopher Booker.

It was delightfully appropriate that, as large parts of Argentina were swept by severe blizzards last week, on a scale never experienced before, the city of Nashville, Tennessee, should have enjoyed the coolest July 21 in its history, breaking a record established in 1877. Appropriate, because Nashville is the home of Al Gore, the man who for 20 years has been predicting that we should all by now be in the grip of runaway global warming.

His predictions have proved so wildly wrong – along with those of the Met Office's £33 million computer model which forecast that we should now be enjoying a "barbecue summer" and that 2009 would be one of "the five warmest years ever" – that the propaganda machine has had to work overtime to maintain what is threatening to become the most expensive fiction in history. (Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph)

 

Midsummer farce in the Arctic: Greenpeace flees ice "way thicker than anything we can break" (Tom Nelson)

 

Bush Hid Ice Images From People Who Can't Use Google

The global warming debate has entered the conspiracy-theory phase with this hysterical article at The Guardian: Revealed: the secret evidence of global warming Bush tried to hide.

Contrary to what the global-warming alarmists claim, however, there is scientific dispute over ice measurements.

What is not lacking, however, is satellite imagery. You see, U.S. spy satellites are not the only imaging satellites, and while spy satellites may be better at picking up a license plate number from a moving car, plenty of satellites can measure ice caps. But don't take my word for it, just do a Google search (click image right).

So how about this headline: "Bush Hid Ice Images From People Who Can't Use Google."

Added: You don't need a spy satellite to see the hypocrisy on the roof of "go green" expert Thomas L. Friedman's mansion:


UPDATE 7-27-2009: Now Think Progress has joined the propoganda effort, Obama administration reveals evidence of global warming kept secret under Bush. Not only is the spin completely absurd and contradicted by publicly available information which shows widespread ice measurements (see comments below), as Macsmind points out, the released photos only compare ice levels in 2006 (a record level of ice) with 2007, even though up to 10 years of photos were taken.  (William A. Jacobson, Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion)

 

Getting a grip on Greenland's future

There are few places in the world where the effects of global warming appear to be more dramatic than the Ilulissat ice fjord.

This is probably why green-tinged politicians and celebrities are routinely spotted posing for pictures close to the vast icebergs calved from the glacier at the head of the fjord.

"Look," they say, "the ice is melting. Unless we dramatically cut our emissions now, the Greenland Ice Sheet and our planet are in peril."

Are they right? Do scientific studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet indicate that catastrophe is around the corner?

The answer does not seem to be entirely straightforward.

The Ilulissat glacier has indeed retreated dramatically in recent years - more than 15km in the last decade alone - but plenty of evidence suggests such rapid change in the ice is not unprecedented.

In fact, over the last 10,000 years (a period of long-term warming since the end of the last Ice Age), the glaciers on Greenland's west coast have been through many periods of advance and retreat.

Four thousand years ago, the Earth was significantly warmer than it is now, and accordingly the glacier retreated; but the evidence suggests it was perhaps only 20km back from its current position.

In other words, the Ilulissat glacier may reach a point in its retreat where the dynamics of the ice sheet make further regression very difficult, and very slow. (BBC News)

 

Heard the one about …

… the Met Office? It is the joke of the year in the few remaining pubs of Britain. As soon as the black clouds appear and more cold torrential rain pours on the drowned world there is a chorus of “Here comes the barbecue summer”. Apart from the three day heat wave that had the Ministry of Panic all of a doodah, such weather has been the norm so far this summer. July morning temperatures have been down to 8C here in the mild southwest and the central heating has had more exercise than the barbecue. It’s only weather, but curiously enough something similar has been happening in North America.

In April the Met Office forecast a hot summer for the third year running, causing the media, in their usual jolly way, to announce the barbecue summer.  In May the Met Office told us that we are now going to roast because of the urban heat island effect, which up to now has been disregarded as negligible. Then in the same month they caused resorts like Bournemouth to lose millions of pounds by forecasting thundery showers on what transpired to be a completely clear, sunny day. In June they filled the media with dire warnings of disastrous global warming. Oddly enough, by this time the general populace were somewhat less receptive than the excitable journalists.

Now the Met Office is involved with a spat over the fact that they are keeping secret the sources and processing of the data that give rise to their apocalyptic pronouncements. This is because they get them from the CRU, which is denying the public access to data they paid for, apparently on the grounds that people might be tempted to criticise them. This is not only a gross perversion of science, it is also a negation of the Freedom of Information that we are all supposed to be enjoying.

O brave new world that has such people in it!

Footnote: Your bending author, sixty years late, has now begun to understand a cryptic comment occasionally made by his old granny, who was born in the nineteenth century – “If someone is hiding something, they have something to hide.” (Number Watch)

 

Now there'll be trouble... Non-existent problem harms non-existent creature: ‘Global Warming is Bad News for Bigfoot’

EcoWorldly somehow manages to report with a straight face:

Bigfoot. Sasquatch. Whatever you want to call the legendary North American biped, it is likely the elusive beast will lose a portion of its existing habitat in the coastal and lowland regions of the northwestern United States as the climate warms. (Gore Lied)

 

What comes around

Following on from my previous post noting the rotating back into view of the region formerly known as Sunspot 1024, we now have a clearer picture:

Sunspot 1024 is over, man

Sunspot 1024 is over, man

Its just a plage, the end game of a sunspot.

The Sun remains quiet. (Solar Science)

 

Is the Climate Science Debate Over? No, It’s Just Getting Very, Very Interesting (with welcome news for mankind)

How many times have you been told that the debate on the science of climate change is “over”? Probably almost as many times as Al Gore has traveled in private jets and limousines to urge audiences to repent of their fuelish ways. 

Although tirelessly intoned by politiciansmajor media, advocacy groups, academics, and even some Kyoto critics, the “debate is over” mantra is just plain false. The core issues of climate-change attribution, climate sensitivity, and even anthropogenic detection remain very much in play. (Marlo Lewis, MasterResource)

 

APS is reviewing its statements on climate change

Climate alarmism is a particularly embarrassing attitude for professional institutions that should represent disciplines with very high intellectual standards because climate alarmism is associated with extremely poor intellectual (and ethical) standards, besides other negative characteristics.

The American Physical Society (APS) was therefore embarrassed on November 18th, 2007 when its bodies approved an alarmist statement that was much more constructive and issue-oriented than the statements of many institutions outside physics but it was still a scientists' variation of the same blinded, biased, irrational hysteria.

It shouldn't be surprising that members around Will Happer, a renowned Princeton physicist, wrote an

Open Letter to the American Physical Society
where they mention that the climate has always been changing and warming and trace gases have many positive effects, according to scientific literature. The proposed new statement also discusses the unreliability of the existing climate models and urges the scientists to investigate all these effects objectively, and to study technological options related to the climate that are independent of the cause.

The petition has been signed by
more than 50 well-known past and current APS members.
Add your name if you are one, too.

Happily, Nature just published a letter from six members that informs that the APS is currently reviewing its 2007 statement:
Petitioning for a revised statement on climate change

By S. Fred Singer, Hal Lewis, Will Happer, Larry Gould, Roger Cohen & Robert H. Austin

We write in response to your issue discussing "the coming climate crunch", including the Editorial 'Time to act' (Nature 458, 10771078; 2009). We feel it is alarmist.

We are among more than 50 current and former members of the American Physical Society (APS) who have signed an open letter to the APS Council this month, calling for a reconsideration of its November 2007 policy statement on climate change (see open letter at http://tinyurl.com/lg266u; APS statement at http://tinyurl.com/56zqxr). The letter proposes an alternative statement, which the signatories believe to be a more accurate representation of the current scientific evidence. It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.

On 1 May 2009, the APS Council decided to review its current statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. We applaud this decision. It is the first such reappraisal by a major scientific professional society that we are aware of, and we hope it will lead to meaningful change that reflects a more balanced view of climate-change issues.

(The Reference Frame)

 

What Does A Global Average 2 Degrees C Increase Mean With Respect To Upper Ocean Heat Content Change? Part I

In the media, there is considerable discussion as to the serious consequences to the environment and society, if the global average surface temperature increases to and beyond 2C from its pre-industrial value; for example, see Times Online on July 9 2009 where they wrote

“For the first time, America and the other seven richest economies agreed to the goal of keeping the world’s average temperature from rising more than 2C (3.6F).”

This temperature, however, is not one that can be directly measured as a single value. Rather, as discussed on page 21 in NRC (2005),  it is a derived temperature from the relationship between the global average radiative imbalance and is defined by the equation

                                                           dH/dt = f - T’/λ     (1)

where H is the heat content in Joules of the climate system, f is the radiative forcing at the top of the tropopause, T’ is the change in surface temperature in response to a change in heat content, and λ is the climate feedback parameter [which more accurately should be called the "temperature feedback parameter" since climate is much more than what is represented by this one equation]. Equation (1) above as a thermodynamic proxy for the thermodynamic state of the Earth system, as we wrote in our 2007 JGR paper.

The concept of a 2C threshold is based on equation (1).

However, how is T’ obtained? The approach is discussed in CCSP (2006) where land and ocean surface temperature anomalies are collected and the long term trend of the interpolated global average anomaly are used to obtain a value for T’. This involves ship and bouy measurements, and sea surface temperature observations from satellite, over the ocean, and surface weather stations over land. The land observations use the mean of the maximum and minimum temperatures to contruct the anomalies.

However, to compute dH/dt [which is the actual global warming], one needs to know the magnitude of the “temperature feedback parameter” and the radiative forcing in addition to  T’.

As documented in detail, this approach has major flaws which we reported in

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

In our paper we wrote

“This paper documents various unresolved issues in using surface temperature trends as a metric for assessing global and regional climate change. A series of examples ranging from errors caused by temperature measurements at a monitoring station to the undocumented biases in the regionally and globally averaged time series are provided. The issues are poorly understood or documented and relate to micrometeorological impacts due to warm bias in nighttime minimum temperatures, poor siting of the instrumentation, effect of winds as well as surface atmospheric water vapor content on temperature trends, the quantification of uncertainties in the homogenization of surface temperature data, and the influence of land use/land cover (LULC) change on surface temperature trends.”

 We concluded that

” As reported by Pielke [2003], the assessment of climate heat system changes should be performed using the more robust metric of ocean heat content changes rather than surface temperature trends…….This paper presents reasons why the surface temperature is inadequate to determine changes in the heat content of the Earth’s climate system.”

The assessment of changes in heat content directly [H in equation (1)]  removes the need to compute a “temperature feedback parameter” (λ) and T’. The changes in H can be used to diagnose the radiative imbalance (the sum of the radiative forcings and feedbacks) as discussed in

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

Clearly. the use of T’ as a diagnostic climate metric for global warmng and cooling is a convuluted way to obtain the heating of the climate system (i.e. ”dH/dt”). The quantity “dH/dt” is the proper metric of global heat change in the units of heat added or removed (which is in units of Joules). However, scientists and policymakers insist on using T’ as the metric to discuss global warming.

Thus, if there is an insistence to limit global warming to a 2C increase, what does this translate to in terms of an increase in Joules of heat content in the ocean?

I will discuss this in Part II. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Tropical Rains Dampen Alarmist Agenda

CHURCHVILLE, VA—The Obama carbon taxes will cost the U.S. trillions of dollars and may permanently cripple our economy. They’re meant to “save the planet” from excess greenhouse gases—but new evidence from tropical rain patterns seems to further refute the claims that recent global warming has been man-made.

Satellite photos show southern areas of the Sahara Desert have been greening over the past 15–20 years—confounding the climate models’ predictions that global warming would massively expand the deserts. Farouk al-Baz of Boston University told the BBC World Service, “The desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received . . . from the sun . . . over many thousands of years.”

We know the Sahara was much wetter 10,000 years ago when Stone Age hunters drew pictures of hippos and crocodiles on Saharan cave walls while Kenya was left dryer. The Sahara was also was wetter during the Roman Warming (200 BC to 800 AD) when the Romans imported huge amounts of wheat from the then well-watered fields in North Africa. (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)

 

Cloud Study Claims Unsuspected Positive Feedback

In a stunning paper in Science, researchers claim to have reversed the impact of clouds on global climate. It has long been known that low level cloud cover creates a net cooling effect on climate. This new study, which concentrated on a restricted area of the Pacific Ocean, claims that warming oceans reduce low cloud cover letting in more sunlight that further warm the ocean and hence provide a positive feed back that adds to global warming. Based on a warming episode that started in 1978, the article claims that observational analysis showed that clouds act as a positive feedback in this region on decadal time scales. But a commentary on the article in the same issue of Science says that the analysis suggests—but falls short of proving—that clouds are strongly amplifying the warming. If it's true, then almost all climate models have got it wrong.

In a paper entitled “Observational and Model Evidence for Positive Low-Level Cloud Feedback,” authors Amy C. Clement, Robert Burgman, and Joel R. Norris claim to have found this previously unsuspected positive feedback between cloud cover and global warming by studying records for a patch of the Northeast Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and and Mexico. According to the paper:

Our principal source of data is monthly mean gridded surface-based observations of total cloud cover from the Comprehensive Ocean Atmosphere Data Set (COADS) during 1952 to 2007. We supplement this with cloud-type information from COADS that has been compiled by Hahn and Warren for the period 1952 to 1997, and in particular, we examine the category of marine stratiform clouds (comprising ordinary stratocumulus, cumulus under stratocumulus, fair-weather stratus, and bad-weather stratus). Additional independent information on total cloud amount, low-level cloud amount, and surface radiative fluxes is provided by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP)... Here we examine long-term cloud variations in independent cloud data sets and analyze meteorological data to provide a physical framework for interpreting these variations.

The results of these analyses are shown in the figure below taken from the paper. Parts A and B show the total and low-level cloud cover averaged over the NE Pacific (115° to 145°W, 15° to 25°N) respectively. Both COADS and adjusted ISCCP data sets trend toward more total cloud cover in the late 1990s, with the increase primarily in low-level cloud cover in the adjusted ISCCP data (bars, in B). The longer COADS total cloud time series indicates that a reduction in cloud cover occurred in the mid-1970s, and this earlier shift was also dominated by marine stratiform clouds (bars, A).


Cloud cover and surface temperature from Science article.

Other climate variables shown are sea surface temperature (SST, in C), sea-level pressure (SLP, in D) from the Hadley center data. As you can see, for these data the low cloud coverage appears to be in anti-phase with the variation in surface temperature. The researchers concluded that the changes in the area of the Pacific they studied are “part of a dominant mode of global cloud variability.” Taking their observations a step further they decided to evaluate cloud models for similar behavior.

“To address this question, we analyze the 20th-century climate simulation in 18 coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models with comprehensive output available from the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP’s) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) multimodel archive,” they state. After acknowledging that the cloud-meteorology correlation test alone is not a sufficient metric for global climate sensitivity, they found that the only model that passed the test simulated a reduction in cloud cover over much of the Pacific when greenhouse gases were increased. In other words, the model exhibited a positive low-level cloud feedback. “Evaluating cloud feedback with one model is, however, far from ideal,” the authors conclude. “This presents a clear challenge to develop a larger number of climate models that can pass these and other tests so that we may have greater confidence in the sign of the low-cloud feedback under future changes in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Acknowledging that low-level clouds are of great climatic importance because of their net cooling effect on the global climate the authors admit, “at present, the sign of the low-level cloud feedback in climate change is unknown.” This has not stopped a number of climate change alarmists in citing this paper as proof that global warming is even worse than previously though. As usual, the climate catastrophe crowd is ignoring the limited scope of the study—performed over selected, relatively short time spans in a restricted patch of one ocean. The researchers themselves state that “clouds act as a positive feedback in this region on decadal time scales.”

According to Richard Kerr, “During a cooling event in the late 1990s, both data sets recorded just the opposite changes—exactly what would happen if the same amplifying process were operating in reverse.” In his commentary on the paper by Clement et al., “Clouds Appear to Be Big, Bad Player in Global Warming,” Kerr quoted climate researcher David Randall of Colorado State University. “There's been a gradual recognition that this rather boring type of [low-level] cloud is important in the climate system,” said Randall. “They make a good case that in [decadal] variability there is a positive feedback. The leap is that the same feedback would operate in global climate change.” The study indicates an important role for marine low clouds in amplifying global warming, he says, but it doesn't prove it.

As a mater of course, Clement et al. attributed the warming surface waters to the effects of rising CO2 levels, something that their observational analysis does not support. Rather, the plug for CO2 as the proximate cause comes from the computer models, whose sensitivity settings all hinge on rising carbon dioxide levels. If it were true that CO2 was the cause, and since CO2 levels have continued to rise, why have the SST levels fallen and not risen monotonically? Perhaps a better explanation for the changes in sea surface temperatures is the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

A paper in the July 2009 Journal of Geophysical Research by J. D. McLean et al. states the the ENSO accounted for 81% of the variance in tropospheric temperature anomalies in the tropics. According to that study: “Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling. That mean global tropospheric temperature has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord with the SOI of 5–7 months earlier shows the potential of natural forcing mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation.” El Niño and its opposite La Niña are much more direct and influential climate forcings.


Pacific Ocean in April 2008 showing La Nina and Pacific Decadal Anomalies. NASA

Throw in the effects of the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), which affects surface waters in the Pacific Ocean, north of 20° N on a time scale of 20 to 30 years, and the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO or ID), which displays similar sea-surface temperature (SST) and sea-level pressure (SLP) patterns on a cycle of 15–30 years, and there is little need to drag CO2 into the argument at all.

What does this new result mean? It means that there are still a lot of things to be figured out about how Earth's climate system works: in this case feedbacks unsuspected or wrongly calibrated. If the paper's result holds a lot of climate models will need to be revamped. Note that this doesn't make the dreaded global warming any worse or any better, it simply changes how factors in Earth's climate system interact. In fact, this report re-emphasizes the importance of low cloud cover as a cause of cooling on climate. It also shows how foolish is is to accept the output of models as valid predictors of future climate variability.

Modelers continue to tune their software playthings to match the last century's ups and downs, all the while ignoring the fact that their models are wrong. It was recently reported that all the aerosol models have been significantly wrong for decades (see Warming Caused by Soot, Not CO2). If this new result proves to be global, another important climate regulating factor has been wrongly implemented in most every model in use. Still we are told that that model results are valid, not to worry that the model's fundamental assumptions are incorrect. As I have been trying to communicate through this blog, the new discoveries being made day by day are not, in and of themselves, a repudiation of global warming. Instead, they are indications that climate change theory is fundamentally incomplete and so flawed that its predictions cannot be trusted.

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


World low cloud cover in January 2008. NASA

 

Another ‘Sea Level Constraints’ Paper

Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change
Mark Siddall, Thomas F. Stocker & Peter U. Clark

Abstract:

It is difficult to project sea-level rise in response to warming climates by the end of the century, especially because the response of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to warming is not well understood. However, sea-level fluctuations in response to changing climate have been reconstructed for the past 22,000 years from fossil data, a period that covers the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the warm Holocene interglacial period. Here we present a simple model of the integrated sea-level response to temperature change that implicitly includes contributions from the thermal expansion and the reduction of continental ice. Our model explains much of the centennial-scale variability observed over the past 22,000 years, and estimates 4–24 cm of sea-level rise during the twentieth century, in agreement with the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1 (IPCC). In response to the minimum (1.1 °C) and maximum (6.4 °C) warming projected for AD 2100 by the IPCC models, our model predicts 7 and 82 cm of sea-level rise by the end of the twenty-first century, respectively. The range of sea-level rise is slightly larger than the estimates from the IPCC models of 18–76 cm, but is sufficiently similar to increase confidence in the projections.

Nature Geoscience
Published online: 26 July 2009 | doi:10.1038/ngeo587

Add this to the two I previously blogged here. (CRN)

 

Pacific Northwest Snow Pack - the True Story

By George Taylor

Washington Governor Gregoire recently sent a letter to the Washington House delegation in which she stated that the snow pack has declined 20% over the past 30 years: “Last month, a study released by the University of Washington shows we’ve already lost 20% of our snow pack over the last 30 years.”

Actual snow pack numbers show a 22% INCREASE in snow pack over the past 33 years across the Washington and Oregon Cascade Mountains:

image
Larger image here. See post here.

ICECAP NOTE: In this story on Sustainable Oregon, George shows how choosing start and end dates makes all the difference in trend analysis. This is true because precipitation trends in the northwest are linked to the PDO cycle of 60 or so years. In the cold phase, La Ninas and heavy snowpacks are common (like the last two years) and in the warm phase, El Ninos and drier winters (as was the case from the 1970s to late 1990s). By cherry picking his start data as 1950 at the very snowy start of the cold PDO phase from 1947 to 1977 and ending in 1997 at the end of the drier warm PDO phase from 1979 to 1998, Mote was able to extract a false signal which he attributed to man made global warming.

Arguing this point made George Taylor, state climatologist for decades in Oregon a target (he took early retirement) and cost the assistant state climatologist in Washington, Mark Albright, his job. Phil Mote, the alarmist professor and author of a discredited work on the western snowpack for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society doesn’t accept criticism lightly. He ironically was appointed to the state climatologist position George Taylor held in Oregon. It was Phil who fired Mark for challenging his findings. That is the way it is in the university climate world today, real data doesn’t matter so don’t bother to look and if you need to work with data, pick and choose carefully. Anyone who disagrees publically and risks funding need look elsewhere for employment.

George shows the 1950 to 1997 trend and the longer term trend analysis for several stations with good records showing no discernible long term trends. Mote, whose Ph.D. is from the University of Washington, surmises that Taylor is guilty of looking only at data that support his views, while discarding the rest. “You can only come to that conclusion if you handpick the climate records,” Mote says.  Willamette Week, August 24th, 2005

The story doesn’t end there as this post by Jeff ID called SNOWMEN tells, another climate schiester, Eric Steig who made the headline last year when he worked with Michael Mann, the king of data fraud to eliminate the antarctic cooling of the last several decades. Eric chimed in against Taylor and Albright defending Mote and making false or at least uninformed claims about trends. It is clear from Steig’s Real Climate post never even looked at the whole data trends. Jeff correctly notes “These plots are of specific stations, however they demonstrate that at least for the above locations the 1950-1997 trend is a cherry pick, nothing more.”

Unfortunately this bad analysis has gotten people promoted and been used by state governments to make unwise decisions like supporting the flawed and costly and totally unnecessary WCI (Western Climate Initiative), which Paul Chesser writes about in this American Spectator story here. Climate frauds like Mann, Mote and Steig and agenda driven politicians like Gregoire have a lot to answer for, if the governments measures inflict major pain on the citizens and the globe continues to cool in its natural rythym.

See Paul Chesser’s follow-up story on the Governor’s use/misuse of this faulty information to move forward her agenda despite the legislature’s opposition here. (Icecap)

 

Why regression analysis fails to capture the aftereffects of El Nino events

In a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research a paper, Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature,  researchers Chris de Freitas, John McLean, and Bob Carter find that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later.  By their analysis they have shown that natural forces related to ocean heat cycles are the dominant influence on climate. See the WUWT post on it here and the original paper here.

This guest post by Bob Tisdale is a response of interest to both critics and supporters of the paper and  illustrates how the multiyear processes of an El Nino event such as occurred in 1998 are missed. – Anthony

Regression Analyses Do Not Capture The Multiyear Aftereffects Of Significant El Nino Events

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

INTRODUCTION

This post illustrates why regression analyses do not capture the multiyear aftereffects of significant El Nino events. To emphasize this, I’ve provided a detailed explanation of the processes that take place before, during, and after those significant El Nino events, using graphics and videos from earlier posts. (WUWT)

 

SEC, CFTC Asked to Investigate Goldman Sachs' Special Privileges Ahead of Cap-and-Trade

POTOMAC, Md., July 27 -- Today Steve Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com, released a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler asking for an investigation into loopholes in the law which enable Goldman Sachs an unfair securities market advantage and a unique ability to manipulate commodities markets. It is Milloy's concern that Goldman Sachs may similarly exploit any future carbon market created by the cap and trade legislation moving through Congress. The letter may be read here: http://greenhellblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/seccftc-july-24-2009.pdf

Recent news reports have uncovered a securities market rule loophole that enables Goldman Sachs to see incoming market orders ahead of the public in order to "trade ahead" or "front-run" the market. Additionally, it has been revealed that Goldman Sachs received special - and essentially secret - permission from the CFTC to take larger positions in the commodities futures markets than otherwise permitted, which may have helped to cause the 2008 oil bubble. This permission was so secret that the CFTC felt it necessary to obtain Goldman's permission to release the details to Congress. Goldman Sachs is a major owner of the exchanges where carbon allowances would be traded and can also be expected to take significant proprietary positions in the carbon market. Since the first line of regulation in the securities and commodity markets is the self-regulatory organization that operates each particular market, is it reasonable to rely on Goldman to regulate itself?

Milloy said, "If Congress enacts carbon trading through a cap-and-trade scheme, look for Goldman Sachs to figure out how to game the market at our expense. When I was an SEC lawyer, we called this 'trading ahead' or 'front-running' and it was illegal. But apparently, Goldman Sachs and some other traders with powerful computers have obtained special permission to engage in so-called 'high-frequency trading' -- which can only be considered a euphemism for front-running. This is outrageous and it gives Goldman and the other frontrunners an unfair advantage in the market, it can only be called legalized cheating."

Milloy is the founder and publisher of JunkScience.com; a co-founder and portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund (the first conservative/libertarian mutual fund); and a long-time columnist for FoxNews.com. He is a frequent advocate for free enterprise/free market principles and policies in conjunction with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Center for Public Policy Research, both of which are supported by individuals, foundations and businesses. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

 

Inhofe Kicks Off Series of Floor Speeches Exposing Waxman-Markey Climate Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today delivered a floor speech on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. Today’s speech is the first in a series of speeches designed to expose the myriad of mandates, bureaucracies, and taxes hidden within this massive 1400 page bill. In this first installment, Inhofe focused on the central inconsistency of the bill: on the one hand, it is hailed an engine of job creation; on the other, the bill provides government payments to workers who lose their jobs because of the bill’s taxes and mandates. Moreover, Inhofe noted that Waxman-Markey results in a net loss of jobs for the American economy.

“In the coming weeks, I intend to go through every single page of this climate bill, revealing the massive amount of spending, the labyrinth of new regulations, and expansion of government agencies and programs,” Senator Inhofe said on the Senate Floor today. “I think the time is right to peel back the green veil and expose this 1,400-page monument to big government. There’s a lot in there, and at times the bill gets very complicated. But over the next several weeks, I plan to focus on some of the bill’s most damaging provisions, as well as those that reinforce the criticisms I’ve been making. Before the United States Senate moves to vote on the largest tax increase in history, the American public deserves to know exactly what is in this bill.”

Below is Senator Inhofe’s Full Speech As Prepared for Delivery: (EPW blog)

 

Joe Romm vs. John Kerry

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) explains why passing cap-and-trade is so important:
...this bill is really a bill for the transformation of the American economy. This bill is about jobs — clean energy jobs that stay here in America, that pay people decent salaries.
Joe Romm explains that Senator Kerry is insulting his peers and the American public with his pretend arguments:
Frankly, it is an insult to the public — and to members of Congress — to pretend that the overwhelming reason we are doing this bill is clean energy and jobs.
That is all the Democrats need on cap-and-trade, their loudest cheerleader calling them liars about the promise of jobs. No green jobs? Say it ain't so, Joe. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Climate Camp to return to London for annual August protest - Annual Climate Camp to target London in challenge to 'false solutions' of carbon trading and offsetting

Activists from the group Climate Camp vowed today to return to London over the August bank holiday for their annual summer protest against global warming.

Climate Camp was last in the capital in April, when they set up tents and stalls in the City of London as part of the G20 protests, in which one man died and the tactics of police officers were criticised.

The climate protests in April focused on the European Climate Exchange on Bishopsgate, the centre of carbon trading in the UK, while previous camps have been set up at Drax and Kingsnorth power stations as well as Heathrow airport.

Campaigners say they will return to the capital for a week-long camp from 27 August to 2 September, to protest against the financial and political obstacles preventing effective action on climate change.

The camp will also involve "training a new generation of climate campaigners to take direct action" in the run up to international talks aimed at securing a new deal on cutting emissions in Copenhagen in December. (Press Association)

One thing we agree on: carbon trading and limitation are really bad ideas.

 

The IPCC Wants to be an Honest Broker

The excerpt below comes from a report of an IPCC scoping meeting for AR5 held in Italy a few weeks ago (PDF at p. 18).
In the future, the IPCC should assess and communicate risks in such a way that civil society, policymakers, and business can discuss practicable and consistent alternatives and include them in the collective decision-making process. Hence, the IPCC needs to strengthen its position of an "honest broker" that presents policy-relevant alternatives without prescribing decisions for politics, civil society, and business. The exploration of available alternatives should be supported by expert workshops that would allow the business community and civil society to share their knowledge with the scientific community. However, the honest broker role is only possible if WGIII explores multiple scenarios for managing the climate problem. Instead of emphasizing one pathway to a low-carbon economy, it should emphasize to policy-makers that there are many ways. Therefore, WGIII should also internally explore self-consistent extreme scenarios (e.g. scenarios with an extreme expansion of nuclear or renewable energies) and assess their social, economic and technical implications. This seems to be a much more effective way to communicate risks to policy-makers as it encourages adequate thought surrounding distinct alternatives and variable representations of the problem. Forming a consensus about policy options is a task for policy-makers - scientists should try to explore the implications of scenarios in a consistent way.
Such a role would be a very useful step forward for the IPCC, and a marked change from the role taken by its leadership in recent years, which has been to advocate for particular policies that are not evaluated or even discussed by the IPCC. (Roger Pielke Jr)

 

More kids want to ban homework and institute a 3-day weekend than want to "address gorebull warming": Young 'would work to stop all wars'

Children would rather stop all wars than combat climate change, a survey has found.

A First News poll of around 1,000 youngsters revealed the majority would put global issues at the top of their list of priorities if they were a world leader for a day.

A third (43%) said they would stop all wars, while just over a quarter (29%) listed ending world hunger as their top priority.

Almost one in six (17%) said they would want to stop climate change.

Around one in eight (12%) said their first job would be to bring in a three-day weekend, while 8% said their top priority would be banning homework.

Nicky Cox, editor of children's newspaper First News, said: "Britain's children clearly care deeply about issues that reach beyond their own personal experience."

:: The poll questioned around 1,000 children through the First News website between July 14-21. (Press Association)

 

Oh... Obama: Cooperation with China Key to Avoid ‘Ravages’ of Climate Change

Rarely, if ever, are Yao Ming and Mencius quoted in the same speech. President Obama turned to both renowned Chinese philosophers today to kick off the big U.S.-China summit in Washington. (WSJ)

 

No campaign funding for Republican turncoats

Two Republican congressmen who voted for the Waxman-Markey bill have announced their candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Steve Milloy wrote to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn asking that NRSC-funding be denied to the congressmen and any other Republican who votes for a climate bill. (Green Hell blog)

 

Hands off India’s carbon emissions!

Hillary Clinton’s pressure on India to shrink its ‘carbon footprint’ is little more than eco-imperialism. (Sadhvi Sharma, sp!ked)

Here's some bad news for you: all carbon constraint moves are eco-imperialism as misanthropists strangle the energy supply.

 

Kevin Rudd to offer $1.5bn to big carbon emitters to protect jobs threatened by ETS

THE Rudd government is considering doubling compensation to the coal industry to $1.5 billion to protect mining jobs under a carbon emissions trading scheme as public opinion shifts definitively against Australia committing to carbon cuts before the rest of the world.

Just as Malcolm Turnbull has turned the Liberal Party towards accepting an ETS before the global climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, there has been a turnaround in public support for delaying finalisation of a carbon emissions trading scheme.

And while most people are still prepared to pay higher costs for petrol, electricity and gas to cut greenhouse gas emissions, support drops away rapidly as the expectations rise of higher costs. (The Australian)

 

UK pins climate race hopes on carbon capture pilot

RENFREW, Scotland - A pilot project in Scotland has begun testing a method of cutting the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which Britain hopes will be a leap forward in the fight against climate change.

Doosan Babcock Energy switched on its OxyFuel combustion burner, Britain's largest demonstration project for carbon capture and storage (CCS), on Friday.

More than 100 people from industry, the media and the regional and national governments were invited to witness the event, just outside the city of Glasgow. (Reuters)

 

Why? Clean coal a step nearer

Doosan Babcock has announced a major step towards making full-scale carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) a reality with the opening of the world’s largest clean combustion test facility. CCS is a vital part of the ongoing balanced energy portfolio and will play a large role in reducing UK emissions. (Engineering Capacity)

 

The carbon-capture challenge

Like a giant in winter, Schwarze Pumpe, a 160-metre-tall power plant near Berlin, breathes out a steady fog of steam and carbon dioxide, making a modest but visible contribution to global warming.

Yet in the shadow of that hulking facility, engineers from Vattenfall, the Swedish energy company, are testing a new technology that promises power without pollution.

Known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), it involves a complex tangle of pipes, valves and filters that burn coal and lignite in such a way that the carbon-dioxide exhaust can be separated in a highly purified form. That gas can then be piped away for use in soft-drinks factories and fire extinguishers, or buried underground.

The small-scale, 30-megawatt test plant has so far captured about 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide since it began operation last September. Vattenfall is hoping to build a much larger 400MW facility. “The technology will function. I’m sure. I’m absolutely sure,” said Reinhardt Hassa, the chief executive of Vattenfall Europe Generation, exuding an engineer’s confidence. (Financial Times)

Carbon forms the basis of life on Earth, what has everyone suddenly got against life?

 

It begins: Power firm sued over carbon emissions

AUSTRALIA is about to see its first legal challenge to carbon emissions from a coal-fired power plant, after a Land and Environment Court case was initiated yesterday against Macquarie Generation, a NSW Government-owned utility.

An environmental group that opposed the development of the Anvil Hill coalmine in the Hunter Valley is now targeting Bayswater power station in the Upper Hunter, one of the largest single producers of greenhouse gases in the state.

Lawyers from the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office believe the case has the potential to toughen emissions laws across the country.

In the civil court proceedings it will be alleged that the company is ‘‘negligently disposing of waste at their Bayswater power station by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a manner that has harmed or is likely to harm the environment’’, which could be a contravention of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

The court action will also seek to have the system of environmental protection licences modified. They now require that some companies monitor, but do not control, carbon emissions.

A Macquarie Generation spokesman said: ‘‘Bayswater is one of the most efficient and cleanest coal fired power stations in Australia, and it operates within its development approval and environmental operating licence.’’

The court case is being brought by Peter Gray and Naomi Hodgson, members of a group called Rising Tide.

Mr Gray said: ‘‘The reason we are doing this now is that the NSW Government is looking at expanding Bayswater as well as tripling coal exports from Newcastle coal port.’’

The matter is listed for a directions hearing on August 21. (SMH)

 

Xcel proposes "backup power" fee for solar homes

DENVER—Solar panels used to power homes in Colorado are emissions free and having access to traditional fossil-fuel generated backup electrical power is also free, for now.

Xcel Energy is seeking to change that by proposing a rate increase for solar customers that the state's largest power supplier said pays for providing electricity in case those homes need it.

Xcel is proposing a 2.6 cents per kilowatt hour fee based on the generating capacity of a home's solar panels. The proposed fee would be along with actual electricity used and a $7 to $8 service fee now charged to cover meter reading and billing. (Associated Press)

 

Big Algae?

Different types of algae are growing in the Colorado State University Engines Lab. The lab is testing this algae to see which will produce the best oil derivative. Photo by Sherri Barber: AP

Different types of algae are growing in the Colorado State University Engines Lab. The lab is testing this algae to see which will produce the best oil derivative. Photo by Sherri Barber: AP

In spare moments during the last week I've been mulling over the implications of ExxonMobil's announcement of a very large investment in research and development on producing biofuels from algae, in collaboration with a leading biotech firm, Synthetic Genomics, Inc. While the reported figure of $600 million wouldn't buy much in the way of actual deployment, it could sure pay for a heck of a lot of R&D. The joint conference call about the announcement emphasized that the companies will be pursuing several possible technological pathways, though all appear to be focused on producing biofuel from algae continuously, rather than in a batch mode more analogous to farming. That would certainly increase the attractiveness for Exxon, which after all operates some of the world's biggest continuous production processes, in the form of its oil & gas fields, refineries, and chemical plants. The timing of this announcement is also interesting, coming just a few weeks after the US House of Representatives passed the first cap & trade bill to make it through either chamber of Congress.

The fundamental question I've been pondering is "why"? Why algae, and why ExxonMobil? For all of algae's enormous potential to produce large quantities of useful fuel, skepticism that this could ever be done economically on a useful scale abounds. And until now, Exxon had made a virtue of avoiding investments in renewable energy, generally seeing them as delivering returns well below those of the large oil & gas projects that have earned Exxon a sterling reputation for capital discipline. The answer to both questions likely resides in a word that appears frequently in the press release, in news coverage of the announcement, and in the press conference: scale. Two aspects of scale are relevant, here. First, in order to contribute meaningfully to our energy and climate problems, an alternative energy technology must be capable of being scaled up rapidly to a level comparable to today's oil, gas and coal industries. Current biofuels, solar power and wind still don't come close to matching the energy delivery of conventional sources. Exxon's website indicates potential liquid yields from algae of 2,000 gallons per acre, presumably in the form of the hydrocarbon-based "biocrude" emphasized repeatedly in the press conference. Even that relatively conservative estimate--my own back-of-the-envelope upper-bound estimate was 6,000 gal./acre--is at least ten times the current US yield of corn ethanol, after adjusting for energy content. Simplistically, if the acreage currently devoted to growing corn for ethanol were devoted to oil-excreting algae, it could replace nearly 60% of our gasoline supply from crude oil, rather than the 5% or so we get from ethanol. (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Outlook)

 

Unable To See Wind's Deficiencies For Forests Of Concrete And Steel

T. Boone Pickens, Nacel Energy, Vestas Iberia and others are extolling the virtues of wind as an affordable, sustainable energy resource. What's taking hold, however, is renewable reality. (Paul Driessen, IBD)

 

Natural England will consider wind farms in national parks

Wind turbines may need to be built in national parks, according to Natural England, the Government agency in charge of protecting the country's most beautiful landscapes. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Wind farms risk becoming 'redundant symbols' warns CPRE

Wind farms risk becoming "redundant symbols" of Government efforts to combat climate change, the Campaign to Protect Rural England has warned. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Kenya to build Africa's biggest windfarm

With surging demand for power and blackouts common across the continent, Africa is looking to solar, wind and geothermal technologies to meet its energy needs (The Guardian)

 

A Quest for Batteries to Alter the Energy Equation

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — In a gleaming white factory here, Bob Peters was gently feeding sheets of chemical-coated foil one afternoon recently into a whirring machine that cut them into precise rectangles. It was an early step in building a new kind of battery, one smaller than a cereal box but with almost as much energy as the kind in a conventional automobile.

The goal of Mr. Peters, 51, and his co-workers at International Battery, a high-tech start-up, is industrial revolution. Racing against other companies around the globe, they are on the front lines of an effort to build smaller, lighter, more powerful batteries that could help transform the American energy economy by replacing gasoline in cars and making windmills and solar cells easier to integrate into the power grid.

This summer the Obama administration plans to announce how it will distribute some $2 billion in stimulus grants to companies that make such advanced batteries for hybrid or all-electric vehicles and related components. International Battery is vying for a modest chunk of it.

The hope is that the grants will spur far higher levels of experimentation and production, pushing down the costs that have prevented these batteries from entering the mass market. (NYT)

 

July 27, 2009

 

Not paying attention?

On Friday I posted, as lead article, no less, an idiotic piece from The Times of London. "Public fear mounts as swine flu cases soar" it screamed and went on to claim millions of patients were overwhelming England's National Pandemic Flu Service -- at rates that would see the entire population demand treatment for Influenza A H1N1 in just 5.5 hours.

As I commence collating Monday's edition the piece has been on display (and uncorrected by The Times) for two full days and yet just 1 reader has written to challenge the cited numbers. I admit significant surprise (I expected a lot of e-mail on that one).

Was the piece too obscure -- or too obvious? Or maybe readers just expect newspapers to publish really stupid things?

 

Swine flu: Correspondents' round-up

Swine flu has spread around the world and will almost inevitably reach every country, the World Health Organization has said. But there remains uncertainty about its threat.

Below, BBC correspondents around the world report on how some affected countries are dealing with the pandemic. (BBC News)

 

He who controls the medical profession, controls life

As hard as some are trying to make healthcare reform to be about political sides, it is really about human lives. Sadly, because the general public largely doesn’t understand what healthcare reform is really about, the very people who are most likely to be harmed by it — older, fat, disabled, poor and the most vulnerable — are the ones being most led to believe that it’s about taking care of them. Even sadder, experienced medical professionals have seen where we’re being led for well over a decade, but the information hasn’t reached patients and people.

The debate, especially the one in the media, is centered on emotional, intuitively-correct arguments and anecdotes, rather than careful examinations deeper than the headlines to understand the facts, economics, history, medical evidence and, most of all, the ethics of the issue. It’s uncomfortable and hard to think about things that are unpopular to question, including our own beliefs. (Junkfood Science)

 

Eight questions for Peter Singer

PETER SINGER is the De Camp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. Mr Singer has been called the "most influential living philosopher" by the New Yorker, and much worse by others. His utilitarian philosophy has often led to controversial opinions on things like abortion and euthanasia, animal rights and wold poverty. The latter topic is the subject of Mr Singer's latest book, "The Life You Can Save". Last week Mr Singer also entered the debate over health-care reform in America by arguing for rationing in the New York Times Magazine. Our questions for the good philosopher begin there. (The Economist)

 

Ghoulish science + Obamacare = health hazard

My syndicated column today presses again on the freaky-deaky science czar John Holdren and the implications for Obamacare. Related read: Stacy McCain sheds light on Big Money and the Culture of Death. And Matt Barber wonders: Will there be a co-pay for forced abortion under Obamacare? (Michelle Malkin, Creators Syndicate)

 

Common Allergy Drug Reduces Obesity And Diabetes In Mice

Crack open the latest medical textbook to the chapter on type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, and you'll be hard pressed to find the term "immunology" anywhere. This is because metabolic conditions and immunologic conditions are, with a few exceptions, distant cousins.

However, a group of papers appearing in Nature Medicine, two of which are from Harvard Medical School researchers, have linked type 2 diabetes with immunology in a way that might persuade leading researchers to start viewing them as siblings. (ScienceDaily)

 

Hmm... Smaller twin girls more at risk of obesity

Smaller twin girls have greater risk of obesity when they grow up, according to findings from a University of Otago study.

The results of the study of 3170 female twins aged 18 to 80, in the United Kingdom, will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

It found that twin girls with a lower weight at birth were found in later life to have higher amounts of fat compared to lean body tissue than the twins who were heavier at birth.

"A girl who is a twin, with a birth weight of 2.5kg, will have around 500 grams less fat in adulthood than a twin girl with a smaller birth weight of 1.5kg," said study leader, Paula Skidmore, of the University of Otago's Department of Human Nutrition.

The average weight for a twin girl is 2.5kg.

All the twins had their adult weight and total fat measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and were asked to recall their birth weights. (NZPA)

 

The truth shall make you thin - Restaurants across the country may have to post calorie-counts

ON JULY 1st California began enforcing a new menu-labelling law, which requires chain restaurants (ones with more than 20 branches) to post the calories in their fare on their menus. Three other states, Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts, have already passed similar regulations, as have 11 city and county governments. The trend has gathered strength quickly, mostly because of concern about the nation’s expanding waistlines. New York City was the first place to enact a menu-labelling law; it went into effect in March 2008. The next step is to deploy the practice nationally. The requirement is duly included in Senator Edward Kennedy’s version of the health-reform bill now being debated in Congress. (The Economist)

 

FDA wrong about e-cigarettes, says FDA study

Not satisfied with its efforts to ban tobacco and demonize its users, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now taking aim at a potentially healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are battery powered devices that emulate the look and feel of traditional cigarettes and deliver a vaporized nicotine solution directly to the lungs when smoked. The devices contain no tobacco and there is no combustion involved in their operation. They also contain far fewer carcinogens than other tobacco products, which may make them an excellent alternative to products like cigarettes, cigars and pipes. (Cameron English, the Examiner)

 

Researcher Condemns Conformity Among His Peers

“Academics, like teenagers, sometimes don’t have any sense regarding the degree to which they are conformists.”

So says Thomas Bouchard, the Minnesota psychologist known for his study of twins raised apart, in a retirement interview with Constance Holden in the journal Science.

Journalists, of course, are conformists too. So are most other professions. There’s a powerful human urge to belong inside the group, to think like the majority, to lick the boss’s shoes, and to win the group’s approval by trashing dissenters.

The strength of this urge to conform can silence even those who have good reason to think the majority is wrong. You’re an expert because all your peers recognize you as such. But if you start to get too far out of line with what your peers believe, they will look at you askance and start to withdraw the informal title of “expert” they have implicitly bestowed on you. Then you’ll bear the less comfortable label of “maverick,” which is only a few stops short of “scapegoat” or “pariah.” (Nicholas Wade, NYT)

 

Some wishful thinking going on here: Jupiter: Our Cosmic Protector?

Jupiter took a bullet for us last weekend.

An object, probably a comet that nobody saw coming, plowed into the giant planet’s colorful cloud tops sometime Sunday, splashing up debris and leaving a black eye the size of the Pacific Ocean. This was the second time in 15 years that this had happened. The whole world was watching when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fell apart and its pieces crashed into Jupiter in 1994, leaving Earth-size marks that persisted up to a year.

That’s Jupiter doing its cosmic job, astronomers like to say. Better it than us. Part of what makes the Earth such a nice place to live, the story goes, is that Jupiter’s overbearing gravity acts as a gravitational shield deflecting incoming space junk, mainly comets, away from the inner solar system where it could do for us what an asteroid apparently did for the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Indeed, astronomers look for similar configurations — a giant outer planet with room for smaller planets in closer to the home stars — in other planetary systems as an indication of their hospitableness to life.

Anthony Wesley, the Australian amateur astronomer who first noticed the mark on Jupiter and sounded the alarm on Sunday, paid homage to that notion when he told The Sydney Morning Herald, “If anything like that had hit the Earth it would have been curtains for us, so we can feel very happy that Jupiter is doing its vacuum-cleaner job and hoovering up all these large pieces before they come for us.” (NYT)

What makes it any more likely that Jupiter's gravity will deflect objects away from rather than toward the inner solar system?

 

'Organic' Lakes Cannot Sustain Large Fish Populations

A new comparative research has revealed the fact that the main factor creating differences between fish production levels in clear mountain lakes and brown forest lakes is light, and not access to nutrients, such as previously held. The counter-intuitive discovery was made by experts at the Climate Impacts Research Center (CIRC), led by Associate Professor Jan Karlsson, AlphaGalileo reports.

“In the brownest lakes sunlight can’t penetrate more than about two meters. In clear mountain lakes, the light can reach down to depths of 15-20 meters and lead to high production of algae on lake bottoms,” Karlsson explains the difference. One of the main reasons why low-lying lakes turn brown is the fact that organic materials constantly keep being washed into them. As they accumulate, they start preventing light from penetrating at a significant depth, adversely affecting the entire local ecosystem.

Among the most severely affected classes of organisms are the algae, which are heavily dependent on sunlight for triggering photosynthesis. Without this fundamental process, they cannot survive, and fuel the food chain that eventually reaches a complexity that allows it to sustain large fish populations. The bottom-dwelling animals that feed on algae are a favored meal for fish, but, if there is no food, both of these populations collapse in a short time frame. (Softpedia)

 

Locusts spark chemical stand-off

HUNDREDS of NSW farmers will be asked this week to make a stand against producers who say no to chemicals.

This follows a stand-off between neighbouring properties over locust spraying on a wheat farm in the state's south.

Representatives of Ardlethan district near Wagga Wagga will put a motion to the NSW Farmers Association conference in Sydney, calling for measures to ensure conventional farmers do not suffer financially because of organic neighbours.

"Conventional farmers are happy to live side by side with organic farmers but it shouldn't be at their cost," Ardlethan District Council chairman Kathy Maslin said.

Association president Jock Laurie said conflicts about use of fertilisers, spray drift and pest control occur because normal business practices on farms are "in many ways contrary" to organic methods.

The motion calls for organic status to be granted only if all neighbours are informed first, and for spray buffer zones to be located inside organic farms and not required of their conventional neighbours. The motion stems from an incident last year at Kamarah, near Ardlethan.

Bradley Richens was told by his organic farming neighbours, Helen and Laurence Taylor, that he could not spray chemicals to kill locusts that were invading his property and he should check with their registration organisation, Australian Certified Organic, before acting.

"When I rang the organic association, all they give you is guidelines - I couldn't enter their property, I couldn't spray any chemical," he said.

Mr Richens did spray the insects for two weeks. He said he had never previously been told the Taylors' farm was organic.

There have been large payouts in some cases where farms have been contaminated by neighbours' activities, leading them to lose their organic certification, the chief executive officer of Biological Farmers of Australia, Andrew Monk, said. (SMH)

Sod the loonies, spray the locusts.

 

Greenies always want government services but that's not good societally or environmentally: Lawrence Solomon: Bring back garbage’s glory days

One month into Toronto’s municipal strike marked by growing mounds of garbage, a majority of Torontonians — supported by some councillors — want the city to fire the striking garbage collectors and contract out garbage collection. Private contractors are unlikely to strike, they reason, and would also cost a lot less.

Those reasons are good and sufficient to can the striking workers, but hardly the only ones. Private service best protects the environment, best promotes an entrepreneurial economy and most contributes to the quality of life. Private service providers do so partly because they cost less, partly because they care more and entirely because they need to compete.

Garbage collection in cities ordinarily costs less than in the suburbs or rural areas because of the economies of scale that cities offer — in cities, garbage trucks have shorter distances to travel, saving time between pickup stops. By all rights, garbage collection should cost much less in Toronto. (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)

 

As usual, getting it really, really wrong: Earth system science: From heresy to orthodoxy

Earth system science is shorthand for the recognition that El Niño, climate change and the calamitous 2004 tsunami are all very complex events. El Niño is a natural cyclic blister of hot water in the Pacific that ruins the anchovy harvest off the coast of Peru. It also disturbs weather patterns to trigger floods on the western coasts of the Americas, stoke droughts and forest fires in Indonesia, and blight harvests in Africa. Human complicity in dangerous climate change is now well-established.

The Boxing Day tsunami that killed 250,000 people in the Indian Ocean began with an arbitrary, unpredictable event – a submarine earthquake – but it claimed so many victims because natural mangrove forests and coral reefs that might have absorbed some of the shock had been destroyed, to make way for ports, tourist resorts and fish farms. (The Guardian)

Whoa! Stop right there! The Guardian either misread or believed deliberate misinformation distributed by the natur über alles brigade. The kernel of truth is that there were more tsunami victims in cleared coastal regions -- purely because that's where the people were. There were fewer human victims in mangrove forests because there were fewer people in said mangrove forests, period (there were also fewer casualties behind these forests for the simple reason the terrain does not suit human exploitation, i.e., the forests are there because no one's ever bothered to clear them while the open, flat deltas where casualties were high is where people have been living for centuries, even millennia).

What can you expect following such a ridiculous lead as "Human complicity in dangerous climate change is now well-established"?

 

Blunt warning about greens under the bed

Once the lure of communism seduced the idealistic. Today’s environmental ideologues risk becoming just as dangerous

Antonia Senior

Britain is, thankfully, an ideologically barren land. The split between Right and Left is no longer ideological, but tribal. Are you a nice social liberal who believes in markets, or a nasty social liberal who believes in markets? Anthony Blunt’s memoirs, published this week, reveal a different age, one in which fascism and communism were locked in a seemingly definitive battle for souls.

Blunt talks of “the religious quality” of the enthusiasm for the Left among the students of Cambridge. There is only one ideology in today’s developed world that exercises a similar grip. If Blunt were young today, he would not be red; he would be green.

His band of angry young men would find Gore where once they found Marx. Blunt evokes a febrile atmosphere in which each student felt his own decision had the power to shape the future. Where once they raged about the fleecing of the proletariat and quaked at the march of fascism, Blunt and his circle, transposed to today’s college bar, would rage about the fleecing of the planet and quake at its imminent destruction. If you squint, red and green look disarmingly similar.

Both identify an end utopia that is difficult to dispute. The diktat “from each according to his ability, to each according to his means” sounds lovely on paper. Greens promise a world in which we actually survive a coming ecological apocalypse. A desirable outcome, undoubtedly.

But the means to these ends seem similarly insurmountable. Both routes demand an immediate suspension of human nature.

Ideologies often credit man with either more nobility or more venality than he deserves. In reality he is a mundane creature. He wants a home for himself and those he loves, stocked with food. And he wants to have the right to control his own destiny, own his own stuff, and to acquire more if he can without interference or fear of imminent death. Such low-level acquisitive desires support high concepts: property rights and the rule of law, without which there would be no foundation for democracy.

My desire to live a free, mundane life is a fundamental cog in our messy, glorious, capitalist democracy. It is built on millions of such small entrenched positions. Red-filtered, my desires are despicable and bourgeois and must be beaten out of me with indoctrination or force. Green-filtered, my small desires are despicable acts of ecological vandalism. My house is a carbon factory. My desire to travel, to own stuff, to eat meat, to procreate, to heat my house, to shower for a really, really long time; all are evil.

The word evil is used advisedly. Both the green and red positions are infused with overpowering religiosity. Dissenters from the consensus are shunned apostates. Professor Ian Pilmer, the Australian geologist and climate change sceptic, could not find a publisher for his book Heaven and Earth, which questions the orthodoxy about global warming. He is the subject of hate mail and demonstrations. It is entirely immaterial whether he is right or wrong. An environment that stifles his right to a voice is worse than one that is overheating.

Even within the convinced camp, dissent from certain party lines is frowned upon. Nuclear power is the cheapest, greenest alternative to fossil fuels that we possess, yet it is anathema to advocate its proliferation at the expense of wind and sun. Fans of nuclear are the Trotskys of the movement, subject to batterings by verbal ice pick.

The great ecological timebomb is population growth. By 2050 the United Nations’ demographers expect the world’s population to reach 9.2 billion, compared with 6.8 billion today. That’s 2.4 billion extra carbon footprints. Half measures seem futile. We all hope for some new technology to rescue us. But what if it never materialises? The logical position is to be a cheerleader for swine flu, but not in my backyard. Do we have to pray for swine flu to ravage foreign children, to save our own from frying in the future?

We are at the early stage of the green movement. A time akin to pre-Bolshevik socialism, when all believed in the destruction of the capitalist system, but were still relatively moderate about the means of getting there. We are at the stage of naive dreamers and fantasists. Russia was home to the late 19th-century Narodnik movement, in which rich sons of the aristocracy headed into the countryside to tell the peasants it was their moral imperative to become a revolutionary class. They retreated, baffled, to their riches when the patronised peasants didn’t want to revolt. Zac Goldsmith and Prince Charles look like modern Narodniks, talking glib green from the safety of their gilded lives.

Indulge me in some historical determinism. We, the peasants, are failing to rise up and embrace the need to change. We will not choose to give up modern life, with all its polluting seductions. Our intransigent refusal to choose green will be met by a new militancy from those who believe we must be saved from ourselves. Ultra-green states cannot arise without some form of forced switch to autocracy; the dictatorship of the environmentalists.

The old two-cow analogy is a useful one. You have two cows. The communist steals both your cows, and may give you some milk, if you’re not bourgeois scum. The fascist lets you keep the cows but seizes the milk and sells it back to you. Today’s Green says you can keep the cows, but should choose to give them up as their methane-rich farts will unleash hell at some unspecified point in the future. You say, sod it, I’ll keep my cows thanks. Tomorrow’s green, the Bolshevik green, shoots the cows and makes you forage for nuts.

If the choice is between ecological meltdown, or a more immediate curtailment of our freedom, where do those of us who are neither red nor green, but a recalcitrant grey, turn? Back to those small desires, and a blinkered hope that the choice never becomes so stark. If it does, I’ll take my chances with Armageddon. (The Times)

 

If you want to go green, buy Spanish strawberries - The belief that local is best when it comes to measuring the environmental impact of our food is often wrong, says new research

Millions of Britons who think they are doing their bit for the environment by choosing home-grown food over produce imported from thousands of miles away could actually be having the reverse effect, according to a startling new report.

The "food miles" philosophy that decrees anything transported over distance is worse for the environment than something closer to home is frequently flawed, according to researchers funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The reality is more complex: while some foods may well be better on grounds of transport alone, they may be less kind to the environment when it comes to the amount of energy used in producing them.

Next time they are at the supermarket, green enthusiasts may want to think twice before opting for British strawberries and tomatoes over those grown in Spain. British-grown varieties fare badly compared with Spanish imports in terms of energy use and global-warming potential. Much more energy is needed to heat greenhouses here – not an issue in sunny Spain – so there is a trade-off between the increased use of gas and electricity, and the longer transport distance and greater demands on water in Spain.

And if transport is taken out of the equation, lamb from New Zealand is a more sustainable choice than that farmed in Britain – with less energy used for farming in a climate where there is less need for feed supplements and heated farm buildings.

"The global-warming potential arising from production of tomatoes and strawberries in Spain, poultry in Brazil and lamb in New Zealand remained less than from those foods produced in the UK despite the greenhouse gas emissions that took place during transport," says the Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Food Commodities report. (The Independent)

 

Global Warming/Climate

The wannabe rulers of the world and rationers of our energy supply can see their opportunity slipping away with the world's obstinate failure to overheat and the sun's continued quiescence. Countdown timers such as the above are beginning to proliferate (you can get the html code for this one and variants here). Their purpose is of course to pressure lawmakers and politicians into rash and panicked action against the mythical beast. Ours is a little different. We think Copenhagen is where the Kyoto farce will finally crash and burn and with it the political issue of gorebull warming.

We look on our version as a clock ticking away the life of one of the most absurd scares in human history.

(Skip to news items)

JunkScience.com
August 2006

Since 1850, about the time the Industrial Revolution really got underway and when people started seriously trying to monitor and record local temperatures, atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen from about 285 parts per million (ppmv)1 to about 380 ppmv today2.

Because various attempts at determining global mean temperature have different origin dates, mileage tends to vary but the IPCC3 quantifies the increase as 0.6 ± 0.2 °C for the Twentieth Century, which is about the same as "since 1850" since temperatures are believed to have risen to the 1870s and then fallen to the early 1900s4,5,6.

It is no surprise there is significant disagreement over the amount of warming estimated -- as James Hansen and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies explain7, there is no clear definition of what we mean by absolute surface air temperature and wide variation in the estimated mean surface temperature of the planet. As a consequence of the lack of standardization and the inherent difficulties involved in gathering data from remote locations, the best we can do estimating the global mean temperature (against which we estimate change) is 14 ± 0.7 °C or between about 56 and 58 °F7 -- thus our margin of error is greater than our estimate of change.

Trends in global temperature are frequently given as "per decade" figures and there is general agreement between the GHCN-ERSST Data Set8 (1880 - 2005): Global Trend: 0.04 °C/decade and HadCRUT2v Data Set9 (1870 - 2005): Global Trend: 0.05 °C/decade, each yielding a result somewhat similar to the IPCC figure above.

Whether the high or low bound estimate is more likely to be correct is frequently hotly contested despite the relative enormity of the error margin and so we must look to other measurement methods for clues on the relative merit of the various datasets. Should we believe GHCN-ERSST10? Perhaps we should go with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies GISS Surface Temperature Analysis11 with it's estimate of warming almost twice as large? Data assembled from radiosonde balloon records12 is a pretty fair match with HadCRUT34, GHCN-ERSST8 and HadCRUT2v9, suggesting independent corroboration via alternative methodology. As a further indication, satellite-mounted Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) data13 matches lower-bound trends moderately well over the period of overlapping data, leaving the GISTEMP6 estimate looking anomalously high.

Earth's estimated rate of warming then is approximately one-half of one degree (C) per century (~0.005 °C/year). Not all of this estimated increase is necessarily real since we have been closing rural meteorological stations throughout the satellite era (for reasons of economy since weather forecasting information is available remotely via satellite there is no need to station people in remote locations to make observations) and thus there is an increasing urban bias14 in the record.

Even if all of the estimated warming is real it still cannot be solely attributed to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Estimates of net warming from increased carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution range from a relative high 0.17 °C15 down to 0.1 °C16. This is a trivial amount of warming when Earth's estimated absolute temperature is ~288 K, roughly 0.06% variation at most and certainly nothing to get excited about.

At the same time we have had observable increase in solar contribution, probably accounting for about half the estimated warming of the Twentieth Century17. We have not heard any contention regarding the coincidental cold of the Little Ice Age18 and the Maunder Minimum19, nor the increasing solar activity since20, 21, 22, 23.

We know that the warming effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide is logarithmic (meaning each additional unit has less effect than the one preceding) and estimates of warming due to increased carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution are really quite small. We know the sun is more active, possibly at its most active since the Holocene Climate Optimum23, 24. We also know the sun has been a significant contributor to our estimated warming15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23. The carbon emissions from fossil fuel use might have increased global mean temperature by about one-sixth of one degree, so what's with all the fuss about carbon dioxide?

References:

  1. Historical CO2 record derived from a spline fit (20 year cutoff) of the Law Dome DE08 and DE08-2 ice cores (CDIAC)
  2. Monthly mean carbon dioxide, Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (NOAA ESRL) See plot.
  3. IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR)
  4. http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/monthly (Hadley Centre) See plot.
  5. ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/monthly.land_and_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat (NCDC) See plot.
  6. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt (GISS) See plot.
  7. The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT) (GISS)
  8. GCAG Time Series & Trends: GHCN-ERSST Data Set (NCDC) (WARNING -- very slow loading)
  9. GCAG Time Series & Trends: HadCRUT2v Data Set (NCDC) (WARNING -- very slow loading)
  10. The merged land air and sea surface temperature anomaly analysis, based on  the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) land temperatures and the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS) of SST data. (NCDC)
  11. GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISS)
  12. HadAT: globally gridded radiosonde temperature anomalies from 1958 to present (Hadley Centre) See plot.
  13. Information from the Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama - Huntsville, USA. (UAH) See plot.
  14. Learning About Urban Heat Islands (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
  15. What Fraction of Global Warming is Due to the Radiative Forcing of Increased Atmospheric Concentrations of CO2? (Climate Science)
  16. Did Increasing Solar Activity Drive 20th-Century Global Warming? (CO2 Science)
  17. Phenomenological solar contribution to the 1900–2000 global surface warming (AGU)
  18. Little Ice Age (Wikipedia)
  19. Maunder Minimum (Wikipedia)
  20. Solar Irradiance Reconstruction (Lean, 2000) See plot.
  21. Sun more active than for a millennium (New Scientist)
  22. Sunspots more frequent now than any time for 1000 years (New Scientist)
  23. The Sun is More Active Now than Over the Last 8000 Years (Max Planck Society)
  24. Holocene Climate Optimum (Wikipedia)

 

Partly correct -- but oh so wrong in scale: We are stewing in our own oven

Michael Mucci

Illustration: Michael Mucci

You, reader, live in a primitive city. In a hundred years from now, the society we are building will look back and marvel at how little we really understood about the world we have constructed for ourselves.

We are stewing in our own juices.

Last Wednesday, a night of driving rain, I attended a seminar where more than 100 professionals, a standing room-only crowd, had gathered to learn about practical, cheap, achievable ways of stopping Sydney's pot from simmering. These were not wide-eyed utopians. In purely parochial terms, the heating of our biggest cities is even bigger than the global warming debate. Because the rise in temperature is mostly and demonstrably caused by outdated thinking.

The story starts on Observatory Hill, at the southern end of the Harbour Bridge, where weather records have been kept daily since 1860. What the observatory has recorded is a rise in the average temperature at the centre of Sydney from 20.5 degrees to 22 degrees. This is a 7.3 per cent increase over 149 years. As Sydney grows, Sydney heats.

At last Wednesday's seminar we learnt why - 27 per cent of the surface of the metropolitan area is covered by bitumen, the black tar which soaks and retains heat and thus changes the city's climate.

Nearly all the rainwater run-off on this 27 per cent of the city is lost to productive use, flowing into Sydney Harbour because it is designed that way. The city's rooftops also gather heat. Roads and pavements maximise the waste of arable land. Tree-planting is stunted for legal reasons. Topsoil is "scalped" by roadworks. The increasing use of air-conditioners is creating more energy. More heat begets more heat. (Paul Sheehan, SMH)

Sheehan believes a change in average temperature from 20.5 °C to 22 °C represents an increase of 7.3%, is he right?

Not even close. While 1.5 indeed represents 7.317% of 20.5 degrees it is not a 7% change in temperature. The correct answer is 0.51%.

Why? Because 20.5 °C is merely a difference from the freezing point of water at sea level while the absolute temperature is 273.15 K + 20.5 (old average) = 293.65. The increase in temperature is 1.5/293.65*100=0.51%. Sheehan has overstated warming by a factor of greater than 14 but he probably doesn't know it. Math and physics tend not to be strong suits of warming hysterics.

Urban heat island is a fact but the effects are nowhere near as dramatic as activists claim. Over one and one-half centuries Sydney has warmed on average 1.5 °C but who is likely to have noticed? Monthly low temperatures range from 9-20 °C and monthly highs vary 17-26 °C through the year so who could possibly have felt the 0.01 °C change in average temperature per year when there is at least 1,000 times as much change throughout any normal year anyway?

 

What goes around…

It looks as though the active region formerly known as Sunspot 1024 is still active and will be rotating back into view in the next few days.

Here’s the region as pictured by the Stereo satellites which give a view of some of the solar farside. The active region is the bright area at about 7.30 on this image:

behind_euvi_195_260709

and here is the SOHO view which is close to what is almost the terrestrial view of the Sun. The active region is the bright area on the lower left edge of the photosphere.

eit_284_260709

Apart from this one region, there’s nothing else to report. I’m going to be checking the solar flux to see whether there is any change, but I’m not optimistic.

Meanwhile Dr David Hathaway has popped up in the New York Times saying that contrary to his previous forecasts, a Dalton Minimum-like weak sunspot cycle (ramping up to only 50-70)

For example, in 2006, Dr. Hathaway looked at disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field that are caused by the Sun, and they were strong. During past cycles, strong disturbances at minimum indicated strong fields all over the Sun at maximum and a bounty of sunspots. Because the previous cycles had been shorter than average, Dr. Hathaway thought the next one would be shorter and thus solar minimum was imminent. He predicted the new solar cycle would be a ferocious one, consistent with a short cycle.

Instead, the new cycle did not arrive as quickly as Dr. Hathaway anticipated, and the disturbances weakened. His revised prediction is for a smaller-than-average maximum. Last November, it looked like the new cycle was finally getting started, with the new cycle sunspots in the middle latitudes outnumbering the old sunspots of the dying cycle that are closer to the equator.

After a minimum, solar activity usually takes off quickly, but instead the Sun returned to slumber. “There was a long lull of several months of virtually no activity, which had me worried,” Dr. Hathaway said.

Worried? Why? Because your previous forecasts were flat out wrong?

Nobody’s perfect.

Not even me. (Solar Science)

 

Wyatt: Hubris in climate change

Hubris in global climate science scares me. As a scientist, I often carry a British coin that bears Isaac Newton's statement "standing on the shoulders of giants" as a reminder of humility. I try to remember that most of what I know and understand comes from the work of others before me and a larger reservoir of existing knowledge. Considering this, and hoping knowledge leads to wisdom, it becomes very important to seek wisdom in the climate-change discussion.

Consider geology. From the recent G8 discussions, it is apparent that we are intent, as humans, to mitigate global climate change. During a recent climate-change forum, I heard a distinguished International Panel on Climate Change scientist state that "113 distinguished scientists" agreed that the earth is warming. This statement was made, rather emphatically, to a room filled with hundreds of geologists who did not react at all. The fact is that geoscientists worldwide, and possibly many archaeologists, would agree.

The earth has been warming for the past 18,000 years, since the last ice age. Climate change since the last glacial maximum and the resulting Holocene (recent geologic period) warming and sea level rise is a fundamental fact in the earth sciences. Temperatures have varied, sea levels have risen and fallen and ice sheets grown and diminished many times in the past, with evidence readily apparent in nature. Data from ice core studies, sediment analyses, locations of ancient shorelines, submerged archaeological sites and even from the oral traditions of ancient peoples all verify the Holocene sea level rise plus many more in the deep past. Most if not all of our history begins after the last glacial maximum, and in fact, modern human civilization has developed in a geologic period of increasing global temperatures.

Enter hubris. Humans tend to judge everything by the now and in terms of our own lifetimes. Events in the time of our grandparents were long ago, and anything over a few hundred years is ancient. For the earth, these are short-term concepts. However, if science indicates we have been warming since ice last covered half of North America, then we are not dealing with short-term events.

We are experiencing global phenomena that occur on geological and astronomical time scales. The earth's climate is variable, on measured and predictable time-scales, fully supported by an amazing array of data from numerous scientific disciplines. If we have such absolute proof of global climate variability in the recent and geological past, should we not be very careful in our approach to the present? Consider sea level rise alone. (Doug Wyatt, The State)

 

Climate study puts Incas’ success down to 400 years of warm weather

Supreme military organisation and a flair for agricultural invention are traditionally credited for the rise of the Incas. However, their success may have owed more to a spell of good weather — a spell that lasted for more than 400 years.

According to new research, an increase in temperature of several degrees between AD1100 and 1533 allowed vast areas of mountain land to be used for agriculture for the first time. This fuelled the territorial expansion of the Incas, which at its peak stretched from the modern Colombian border to the middle of Chile.

“Yes, they were highly organised, and they had a sophisticated hierarchical system, but it wouldn’t have counted a jot without being underpinned by the warming of the climate,” says Dr Alex Chepstow-Lusty, a palaeo-ecologist from the French Institute for Andean Studies in Lima, Peru.

As the treeline moved higher up the mountains, the Incas re-sculpted their landscape to maximise agricultural productivity. They carved terraces into the mountainsides and developed a complex system of canals to irrigate the land.

Although the climate remained dry, the gradual melting of glacial ice meant that they had a constant supply of water to nourish their crops.

The resultant surplus of maize and potatoes freed a large part of the growing population for activities outside food production, such as constructing roads and buildings, and serving in an increasingly ambitious army. (The Times)

 

Review of “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years”

It is true the earth had a slight increase in temperature during the first forty years of the 20th century. But global warming and cooling is cyclical and there has not been any proof that warming is caused by man-made CO2, which lags years behind global warming. Global warming and cooling correlates with sunspots, and the earth naturally regulates itself. (Rachel Alexander, Intellectual Conservative)

 

Is the Earth’s magnetic field a cosmic ray funnel?

In this world of rampant climate alarmism, its to be expected that theories and hypotheses which do not support the AGW theory will get the full treatment of bad analysis and character assassination. After all,  where’s the funding going to go if there’s an alternative theory that bombs the bridge in front of the gravy train?

One such is Dr Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis on the modulating effect of the solar magnetic field on the Earth’s climate. In the recent article in the New York Times on the solar cycle that I recently mentioned, we have this:

The idea that solar cycles are related to climate is hard to fit with the actual change in energy output from the sun. From solar maximum to solar minimum, the Sun’s energy output drops a minuscule 0.1 percent.

But the overlap of the Maunder Minimum with the Little Ice Age, when Europe experienced unusually cold weather, suggests that the solar cycle could have more subtle influences on climate.

One possibility proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and other scientists at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen looks to high-energy interstellar particles known as cosmic rays. When cosmic rays slam into the atmosphere, they break apart air molecules into ions and electrons, which causes water and sulfuric acid in the air to stick together in tiny droplets. These droplets are seeds that can grow into clouds, and clouds reflect sunlight, potentially lowering temperatures.

The Sun, the Danish scientists say, influences how many cosmic rays impinge on the atmosphere and thus the number of clouds. When the Sun is frenetic, the solar wind of charged particles it spews out increases. That expands the cocoon of magnetic fields around the solar system, deflecting some of the cosmic rays.

But, according to the hypothesis, when the sunspots and solar winds die down, the magnetic cocoon contracts, more cosmic rays reach Earth, more clouds form, less sunlight reaches the ground, and temperatures cool.

“I think it’s an important effect,” Dr. Svensmark said, although he agrees that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has certainly contributed to recent warming.

Dr. Svensmark and his colleagues found a correlation between the rate of incoming cosmic rays and the coverage of low-level clouds between 1984 and 2002. They have also found that cosmic ray levels, reflected in concentrations of various isotopes, correlate well with climate extending back thousands of years.

All well and good. But then there’s always someone who produces a sophisticated argument why you shouldn’t believe your own lying eyes.

But other scientists found no such pattern with higher clouds, and some other observations seem inconsistent with the hypothesis.

Terry Sloan, a cosmic ray expert at the University of Lancaster in England, said if the idea were true, one would expect the cloud-generation effect to be greatest in the polar regions where the Earth’s magnetic field tends to funnel cosmic rays.

“You’d expect clouds to be modulated in the same way,” Dr. Sloan said. “We can’t find any such behavior.”

Still, “I would think there could well be some effect,” he said, but he thought the effect was probably small. Dr. Sloan’s findings indicate that the cosmic rays could at most account for 20 percent of the warming of recent years.

Would the Earth’s magnetic field “funnel cosmic rays”? This was taken up by Stephen Ashworth in an email to Benny Peiser’s CCNet mailing list:

Dear Benny,

Kenneth Chang in the New York Times reports that some observations seem inconsistent with the solar magnetic field–cosmic ray–cloud formation hypothesis.  He wrote (CCNet 113/2009 — 21 July 2009, item 3):

Terry Sloan, a cosmic ray expert at the University of Lancaster in England, said if the idea were true, one would expect the cloud-generation effect to be greatest in the polar regions where the Earth’s magnetic field tends to funnel cosmic rays.

“You’d expect clouds to be modulated in the same way,” Dr. Sloan said. “We can’t find any such behavior.” Still, “I would think there could well be some effect,” he said, but he thought the effect was probably small. Dr. Sloan’s findings indicate that the cosmic rays could at most account for 20 percent of the warming of recent years. [sic -- he clearly means the *reduction* in cosmic ray influx to the Earth in recent decades of the more active Sun -- SA]

I am skeptical about Dr Sloan’s claim.  The reason is as follows.

A few years ago I read a suggestion that an interstellar space probe might be able to do a flyby of the star Sirius, and use its gravity to redirect itself to a subsequent flyby of Procyon, in the same way that Pioneer, Voyager and other probes have used the gravity of Jupiter to redirect themselves to Saturn and beyond.  I have a formula for the change in direction caused by a flyby of a massive body, so I was able to check this idea numerically.

It turned out that if the interstellar probe was travelling at a speed that was a significant fraction of the speed of light, say 0.1c — which it would have to if it was to reach Sirius in only a few decades flight time — then the deflection of its trajectory even on a flyby which grazed the star’s atmosphere was only in the region of one degree, totally insufficient to redirect it to Procyon.

The lesson was that the gravitational fields of planets and even stars (Sirius is more massive than our Sun) are almost imperceptible to a vehicle if it is travelling at such a high speed.

Cosmic ray particles come into the Solar System at a significant fraction of the speed of light.  I would therefore expect them to be largely immune to our local gravitational and magnetic fields.  I would not expect Earth’s magnetic field to funnel them towards the poles, as it does with the lower-energy solar particle flux.  (Presumably someone has already checked this numerically?)

It would seem that Svensmark’s cosmic ray–cloud formation hypothesis depends on the difference in strength between the Sun’s and the Earth’s magnetic fields: the Sun being strong enough to modulate the cosmic ray flux in the inner Solar System over its longer-term cycles of activity, while the Earth is too weak to redistribute incoming particles geographically during their last second or so of flight before hitting the atmosphere.

Best wishes,

Stephen Ashworth
23 July 2009

Stephen Ashworth, Oxford, U.K.
http://www.astronist.demon.co.uk/

Quite so. Cosmic rays travel at significant percentages of the speed of light and wouldn’t be deflected significantly by the Earth’s weak magnetic field.

I wonder if Terry Sloan would care to answer? Someone should ask him. (Solar Science)

 

A New Paper “A Case Study on Wintertime Inversions in Interior Alaska with WRF” by Mölders and Kramm 2009

There is a new paper which is directly related to the ability of models to skillfully simulate temperatures in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. This includes, of course, the 2m level which was discussed in several recent Climate Science weblogs (seesee and see). 

The new paper is

Mölders, N., and G. Kramm, 2009: A case study on wintertime inversions in Interior Alaska with WRF, Atmos. Res., doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.06.002, in press.

The abstract reads

“The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is run in various configurations for a five day cold weather period with multi-day inversions over Interior Alaska. Comparison of the simulations with radiosonde data and surface observations shows that WRF’s performance for these inversions strongly depends on the physical packages chosen. Simulated near-surface air temperatures as well as dew-point temperatures differ about 4 K on average depending on the physical packages used. All simulations have difficulties in capturing the full strength of the surface temperature inversion and in simulating strong variations of dew-point temperature profiles. The greatest discrepancies between simulated and observed vertical profiles of temperature and dew-point temperature occur around the levels of great wind shear. Out of the configurations tested the radiation schemes of the Community Atmosphere Model combined with the Rapid Update Cycle land surface model and modified versions of the Medium Range Forecast model’s surface layer and atmospheric boundary layer schemes capture the inversion situation best most of the time.”

This paper confirms that the accurate paramterization of the temperatures at 2m is a challenge. The abstract writes

“Simulated near-surface air temperatures as well as dew-point temperatures differ about 4 K on average depending on the physical packages used. All simulations have difficulties in capturing the full strength of the surface temperature inversion and in simulating strong variations of dew-point temperature profiles.”

The same type of inaccurate paramterizations is used in the multi-decadal global climate models that were used in the 2007 IPCC report.

Since the errors are several degrees within stable atmospheric boundary layers (which are typical at night over land almost everywhere, and in the higher latitude winters all day), there should no confidence in the ability of these IPCC modes to skillfully predict the change in 2m temperatures for these conditions decades into the future [the 2m temperatures are used in the construction of the global average surface temperature trends].

This paper further illustrates major problems with using surface temperature trends to diagnose and predict global warming and cooling, as we have discussed, for example, in

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007:Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229,

and, see also, the excellent guest weblog by Professor McNider,

In the Dark of the Night – the Problem with the Diurnal Temperature Range and Climate Change by Richard T. McNider. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action

Richard Lindzen is unarguably one of the top meteorologists in the world, with over 200 publications to his name, as well as awards, medals, prizes and is a member of the NAS, AAAS, AGU, AMS. He is The Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his work  includes major contributions to our understanding of the Hadley Circulation, small scale gravity waves on the mesosphere, as well as atmospheric tides and oscillations in the tropical stratosphere. From the beginning, he has questioned the claims that there is a crisis due to carbon dioxide emissions, pointing out that even with the poor resolution of ice cores back in the 1980’s it was still evident that there was a lag—as temperatures declined, carbon stayed high for thousands of years, something which didn’t sit well with the idea that carbon had a strong and constant force on the climate.

What follows are his thoughts on the current state of the science.

This piece was originally written for the German magazine, Numero, but after soliciting it, they decided against publishing it. Interestingly, they were originally in a great hurry to get it. Apparently their intention was to run it with an opposing piece by Schellnhuber.  Schellnhuber backed out, and then so did the magazine. They apparently forgot to mention that to Dr Lindzen until he enquired, which doesn’t seem like a polite way to treat eminent authors.

Was there a good reason for Schellnhuber to back out, or was this a case of another alarmist who won’t debate? And of course, even without Schnellnhuber, the magazine could have printed Lindzens article anyway. How often does the media hold back an alarmist story because they lack a sceptical counterpart?

JoNova

 

Climate feedbacks from measured energy flows

Let me start with a test of intelligence.



Shift-click to zoom in.

The picture above shows graphs extracted from 12 (...) climate models. Which of the models doesn't belong there? Which of them is the irrelevant fringe minority? A result of research funded by oil industry?

Yes, it is the first one because the function in the graph is increasing. The consensus of climate models proves (...) that the function is decreasing, doesn't it?

To be sure, the model that doesn't belong is not really a model. Instead, it's reality, the old denialist Ms reality. Only the remaining 11 graphs come from models.

For the convenience of RealClimate.ORG readers, I have painted the first model red so that they don't have to learn the difference between the increasing functions and decreasing functions.

Where the graph was taken from?

The graph is taken from a new paper by Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi in peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters. We have already mentioned the paper on this blog. The results were already announced in Richard Lindzen's talk about climatologists' sensibilities.

The paper is called

On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data: full paper (PDF), Anthony Watts' discussion, list of papers including this one (AGU)
What does the graph mean?

The x-axis is the change of the sea surface temperature (Delta SST). The y-axis is the outgoing radiation budget from the latest version of NASA's Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) nonscanner data.

When I debated Prof Milan Lapin, a Slovak climatologist, in Bratislava, he self-confidently told us that the energy budget is now being directly measured, so everything is just great for him.

I confirmed it was being measured but I also mentioned that the numbers that are actually measured disagree with most of his big statements. The graph above is the most convincing example of the huge problems that the hypotheses of people such as Mr Lapin face when they're compared to the experiment.

Significance of the graphs

When the sea becomes hotter, various things change in the climate system. The IPCC emphasizes the "positive feedbacks".

The greenhouse effect from water vapor is their most favorite example. Hotter oceans may emit additional water vapor to the atmosphere which absorbs the heat emitted by the Earth and helps to heat the atmosphere even more than before.

However, this is clearly not the only effect that's happening, and the important thing is the sum. Does the warming get amplified by producing additional warming, or has the sum of the secondary effects the opposite sign than the climate variation that induced them?

Lindzen's iris effect has been the canonical example of a negative feedback.

The picture at the top shows that all 11 climate models show that the function is decreasing: warmer oceans allow less heat to be emitted which adds to the original warming. That's the positive feedback that the IPCC likes to believe because without positive feedbacks, everyone can easily see that the "bare" greenhouse effect is so small that the greenhouse effect would not be worth a discussion, except for extreme scientific specialists.

However, the real measurements show that the function is increasing. Warmer oceans actually allow the system to emit more energy and cool down more efficiently. The total feedback is a negative, stabilizing one, just like you would expect from a stable system such as our hospitable planet.

That also means that the climate sensitivity i.e. the expected warming obtained from doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm (in 1800) to 560 ppm (in 2100) is actually smaller than the bare value of 1.2 °C. It could be close to 0.5 °C which would mean that no additional warming from CO2 is expected by 2100.

Lindzen and his co-author also discuss the large error margin with which the feedback coefficient is being announced by the IPCC: the factor is not really getting any more precise as tens of billions of dollars are added to climate science.

The reason is that the correct value of the factor is not even in the ballpark of the IPCC figure so you can't get to the right value by "gradual improvements" of their methodology. Their models are qualitatively wrong.

The slope of the modeled decreasing graphs actually becomes pretty much independent of the climate sensitivity if the latter exceeds 2 °C. That would make further improvements in the accuracy of climate sensitivity almost impossible. Fortunately, we seem to live in a different world with a low climate sensitivity where the graphs are increasing and viable future models compared to the reality will be able to determine the climate sensitivity much more accurately because the slope significantly depends on the climate sensitivity if the latter is low.

Greenland not exceptionally warm now

Another new paper was just published in Journal of Climate. Jason Box, Lei Yang, David Bromwich, and Le-Sheng Bai wrote an article called
Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007: abstract, full paper (PDF)
which discusses data from Greenland since 1840. No unprecedented recent warming is found. For example, they find that the 1919-1932 warming was 1.33 times greater than the 1994-2007 warming.

A subset of the authors was very kind to Lonnie Thompson from the same Ohio State University: they wrote about their insights in a very diluted way, so that Mr Thompson's AGW religious sensibilities are not hurt too much. (The Reference Frame)

 

New Study in Science Magazine: Proof of Positive Cloud Feedback?

I’m getting a lot of e-mails asking about a new study by Clement et al. published last week in Science, which shows that since the 1950s, periods of warmth over the northeastern Pacific Ocean have coincided with less cloud cover. The authors cautiously speculate that this might be evidence of positive cloud feedback.

This would be bad news for the Earth and its inhabitants since sufficiently strong positive cloud feedbacks would have the potential of amplifying the small amount of direct warming from our carbon dioxide emissions to disastrous proportions.

The authors are appropriately cautious about the interpretation of their results, which are indeed interesting. The very fact that the only 2 IPCC climate models that behaved in a manner similar to the observations were the most sensitive AND the least sensitive models shows that interpretation of the study results as proof of positive cloud feedback would be very premature.

But how could such a dichotomy exist? How could what seems to be clear evidence of positive feedback in the observations agree with both the climate model that predicts the MOST global warming for our future, as well as the model that predicts the LEAST warming for our future?

In my view, the interpretation of their results in terms of cloud feedback has the same two problems that previous studies have had. These problems have to do with (1) the regional character of the study, and (2) the issue of causation when analyzing cloud and temperature changes.

Problem #1: Interpretation of Feedbacks from a Regionally-Limited Study
Back in 1991, Ramanathan and Collins published a paper in Nature which indirectly argued for negative cloud feedbacks based upon the observation that regional warming in the deep tropics is accompanied by more convective cloud (thunderstorm) activity, which then shades the ocean from solar heating. This was the basis for what became known as the “Thermostat Hypothesis”, an unfortunate name since there are many potential thermostatic mechanisms in the climate system.

But as subsequently pointed out by other researchers, cloud feedbacks can not be deduced based upon the behavior of only one branch of vertical atmospheric circulation systems — in their case the ascending branches of the tropical and subtropical atmospheric circulation system known as the Hadley and Walker circulations. This is because a change in the ascending branch of these circulations, which occurs over the warmest waters of the deep tropics, is always accompanied by a change in the descending branch, and the two changes usually largely cancel out.

The new Clement et al. study has the same problem, but in their case they studied changes in the strength of one portion of the descending branch of an atmospheric circulation system, generally between Hawaii and Mexico, where there is little precipitation and relatively sunny conditions prevail. So, even if the regional cloud response they measured was indeed feedback in origin (the ‘causation’ issue which I address as Problem #2, below), it must be lumped in with whatever regional changes occurred elsewhere in concert with it before one can meaningfully address cloud feedbacks.

Unfortunately, further complicating feedback diagnosis is the fact that these atmospheric circulation cells are interconnected all around the world. And since cloud feedbacks are, strictly speaking, most meaningfully addressed only when the whole circulation system is included — both ascending and descending branches — we need global measurements. Except for our relatively recent satellite monitoring capabilities, though, we do not have sufficiently accurate cloud measurements over all regions of the Earth to do this over any extended period of time, such as the Clement study that used ship observations extending back to the 1950s.

But there is a bigger – and less well appreciated — problem in the inference of positive cloud feedback from studies like that of Clement et al.: that of causation.

Problem #2: The Importance of Causation in Determining Cloud Feedbacks
I am now convinced that the causation issue is at the heart of most misunderstandings over feedbacks. It is the issue that I spend most of my research time on, and we have been studying it with output from 18 of the fully coupled climate models tracked by the IPCC, a simple climate model we developed, and with satellite data.

[As an aside, as a result of reviews of our extensive paper on the subject that was submitted to the Journal of Geophysical Research, we are revamping the paper at the request of the journal editor, and working on a resubmission. So, I am hopeful that it will eventually be published in some form in JGR.]

Using the example of the new Clement et al. study (the observation that periods of unusual warmth on the northeast Pacific coincided with periods of less cloud cover)…what if most of that warming was actually caused by the decrease in clouds, rather than the decrease in clouds being caused by the warming (which would be, by definition, positive cloud feedback)? In other words, what if causation is actually working in the opposite direction to feedback?

It turns out that, when a circulation-induced change in clouds causes a temperature change, it can almost totally obscure the signature of feedback — even if the feedback is strongly negative. This is easily demonstrated with a simple forcing-feedback model, which is what one portion of our new JGR paper submission deals with. It was also demonstrated theoretically in our 2008 Journal of Climate paper.

In other words, a cloud change causing a temperature change gives the illusion of positive feedback – even if negative feedback is present.

In the case of the new Science magazine study, one of the major changes seen in temperature and cloudiness (and other weather parameters) occurred during the Great Climate Shift of 1977, an event which is known to have been accompanied by changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, such as immediate and prolonged warming in Alaska and the Arctic. And since circulation changes can cause cloud changes, this is one example of a situation where one can be fooled regarding the direction of causation.

This issue of the direction of causation is not easy to get around. While I’ve found some researchers who think this is only a matter of semantics, and who claim that all we need to know is how clouds and temperature vary together, our 2008 J. Climate paper demonstrated that this is definitely not the case.

The bottom line is that it is very difficult to infer positive cloud feedback from observations of warming accompanying a decrease in clouds, because a decrease in clouds causing warming will always “look like” positive feedback.

Based upon the few conversations I have had with other researchers in the field on this subject, the issue of causation remains a huge source of confusion among climate experts on the subject of feedbacks. Even though our 2008 Journal of Climate paper on the subject outlined the basic issue, the climate research community has still failed to grasp its significance. Hopefully, the more thorough treatment we provide in our JGR resubmission will help the community better understand the problem — if it ever gets published. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Ignoring Science

A new scientific paper says that man has had little or nothing to do with global temperature variations. Maybe the only place it's really getting hotter is in Al Gore's head.

Because he must be getting flustered now, what with his efforts to save the benighted world from global warming continually being exposed as a fraud.

The true believers will not be moved by the peer-reviewed findings of Chris de Freitas, John McLean and Bob Carter, scientists at universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Warming advocates have too much invested in perpetuating the myth. (And are probably having too much fun calling those who don't agree with them "deniers" and likening skeptics to fascists.)

But these scientists have made an important contribution to the debate that Gore says doesn't exist.

Their research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that nature, not man, has been the dominant force in climate change in the late 20th century.

"The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Nino conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Nina conditions less likely" says co-author de Freitas.

"We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis."

These findings are largely being ignored by the mainstream media. They simply don't fit the worn narrative that man is dangerously warming the Earth through his carbon dioxide emissions and a radical alteration of Western lifestyles mandated by government policy is desperately needed.

They will be ignored, as well, by the Democratic machine that is trying to ram an economy-smothering carbon cap-and-trade regime through Congress.

Despite efforts to keep the global warming scare alive, the growing evidence that humans aren't heating the planet is piercing the public consciousness and alarmists are becoming marginalized.

Sharp Americans are starting to understand H.L. Mencken's observation that "The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it." That pretty much sums up the modern environmentalist movement. (IBD)

 

Climate Money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers

Billions for “the climate” but nothing left for audits?

It’s the most “important crisis” on Earth today, and we must rely on the science, yet it’s not quite important enough for anyone to independently double check those results. And just in case you think that the peer review process does that double checking, think again. Most papers are reviewed by only 2 or 3 colleagues who may be hoping to prove the same “theory” as the authors (so not especially keen to find holes in it), and who are unpaid and anonymous. (The saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. We pay to find a crisis, and we don’t pay to check the results).

The best examples of unpaid auditing are the work of independent scientists Steve McIntyre, and Anthony Watts. The irony is that skilled workers are providing a pro bono service, normally a service to help those who can’t afford it, but in this case, to assist the largest single financial entity on the planet.

Steve McIntyre and the misleading “Hockey Stick” graph

Steve McIntyre was trained in mathematics and worked in mineral exploration for 30 years (and despite claims to the contrary has never worked for the oil industry). Below is the Hockey Stick Graph from the 2001 IPCC Assessment Report.

McIntyre became suspicious of the Hockey Stick Graph because it was described in terms that reminded him of the Bre-X fraud. He is retired, and worked at considerable personal expense and without funding.

The infamous Hockey Stick Graph (Michael Mann et al 1998)

After dogged persistence to obtain the original data, McIntyre found embarrassing, crippling flaws in the Hockey Stick graph, a graph that wiped out centuries of recorded anecdotal history, archaeological finds, and data from almost every other source except unreliable “tree rings”. (Tree rings not only grow wider in warm years, but also grow wider in wet years, as well as being affected by soil nutrients, and by the level of CO2 in the air.) McIntyre found that the graph Michael Mann had produced, which was used repeatedly through the IPCC 2001 report, was so poorly constructed statistically that it was possible to feed in random “red noise” data and it still produced a hockey stick shape. A true peer review ought to have picked this up. Instead the graph occupied center stage for three or four years until a determined skeptical individual demanded the data (which was misplaced, then inaccurate, then inconsistent) and checked the statistics.

McIntyre and Ross McKitrick went on to publish peer-reviewed papers. 5, 6, 7 Wegman, and other independent statistical experts supported McIntyre and McKitrick.8 Craig Loehl assessed the same time period using proxies other than tree rings, and the reality of the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age stands out. 9

Combining 18 series of non-tree ring data from the last 2000 years clearly shows the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, demonstrating just how blatantly misleading the “Hockey Stick” graph is.

Despite the agreement between many different data sets, and the resounding defeat of the statistics in the graph the debate about the Hockey Stick Graph goes on, with the most dubious tactics employed to revive the fraudulent inept graph.

Watts Up with That? Hundreds of volunteers do government work for free

Likewise Anthony Watts, a former television meteorologist, has amassed a group of 650 volunteers to photograph and record more than 800 temperature sensors used in the United States Historical Climatological Network (USHCN) —something NOAA itself ought to do. Despite receiving around $4 billion per annum in funding, NOAA doesn’t do large scale site checks to make sure its sensors meet required standards.

Figure 1: The majority of NOAA temperature sensors are sited near air conditioning outlets, car parks, buildings, and other artificial sources of heat.

These are not minor errors of placement that Anthony’s team of volunteers has photographed. Recording stations are placed next to outlets of air-conditioning units (see Fig 1), above asphalt in car-parks, on scorching hot concrete roof-tops, and near heated buildings. They found that 89% of all stations checked so far fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements. 13

Again, the flaws are systematic. As sensors have been upgraded to electronically report the data, they have been installed by people equipped with only pickaxes and shovels. Where old sensors were once placed in the open over grass on the far side of a car-park, the new meters are electronic and need to be connected by cable to the building. Not surprisingly they have often ended up in less than ideal places much closer to buildings. Realistically, who would dig across an asphalt car-park by hand with a shovel to make a “trench” for the cable?

The team at NOAA prefers to use “mathematical adjustments” to compensate for the “urban heat island effect” and poor placement. If they were really interested in getting the data right, wouldn’t they just rule out all the stations that aren’t sited correctly until such time that they are fixed? Wouldn’t they pay to hire excavators to dig trenches?

Read the Full Report at the Science and Public Policy Institute.

References

  1. Climate Audit, Hockey Stick Studies page, http://www.climateaudit.org/?page_id=354 .
  2. Steve McIntyre, Short Bio. http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/stevebio.doc .
  3. Steve McIntyre, comment on Climate Audit. http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=592#comment-18195 .
  4. Casper and The Jesus Paper, Bishop Hill, http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html .
  5. Corrections To The Mann Et. Al. (1998) Proxy Data Base And Northern Hemispheric Average Temperature Series, Energy and Environment, Vol 14, No 6, 2003. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.mckitrick.2003.pdf .
  6. McIntyre McKitrick, Critique of MBH98. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.ee.2005.pdf .
  7. Hockey Sticks, principal components, and spurious significance. Geophys Res Letters, Vol 32, 2005 http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.grl.2005.pdf .
  8. The Wegman Report. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/others/07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf .
  9. Craig Loehl, A 2000 year reconstruction based on non-treering proxies, Energy & Environment Vol 18 No 7+8, 2007 http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025 .
  10. About, Watts Up With That: http://wattsupwiththat.com/about/ .
  11. Surface Stations Project, http://www.surfacestations.org/ .
  12. FY Budget Highlights, NOAA. http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/nbo/FY09_Rollout_Materials/NOAA_One_Pager_FINAL.pdf .
  13. Is the US Surface Temperature Record Reliable? Anthony Watts. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf. (JoNova)

 

Source Of Man Made Warming Discovered!

Folks, after years of scientific measurement and debate we have determined global warming is indeed man made, and we have isolated the source for 100% of the man made global warming.

The reason it took years to resolve is we had to have a few decades of actual measurements to confirm global warming is a man-made phenomena and to determine the source. With decades of highly accurate, global and time correlated satellite data we have succeeded in both goals!

What we have seen in the last decade or so is a divergence between the models predictions of warming  and the actual measurements. This divergence has been getting worse up until the point the someone had to take action. And what they did proved beyond a doubt the real source of global warming:

NOAA proclaimed May 2009 to be the 4th warmest for the globe in 130 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA UAH MSU satellite assessment showed it was the 15th coldest May in the 31 years of its record. This divergence is not new and has been growing. Just a year ago, NOAA proclaimed June 2008 to be the 8th warmest for the globe in 129 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA satellites showed it was the 9th coldest June in the 30 years of its record.

So how could satellite data  - which covers the entire globe and is measured many times a day (not just once or twice) record May 2009 as the 16th warmest year in 31 years, while NOAA reports the same month as the 4th warmest in 130 years? Clearly, one set of data is clearly flawed and in error. And the fact this divergence is consistent means the error is systemic  - it repeats no matter what satellite data is used (satellite instruments are swapped out constantly as the birds end their missions and new ones take over). (AJStrata, Strata-Sphere)

 

UK Met Office and Dr. Phil Jones: “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”

For all of our UK readers, now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their country (and science). The Met Office refuses to release data and methodology for their HadCRUT global temperature dataset after being asked repeatedly. Without the data and  procedures there is no possibility of replication, and without replication the Hadley climate data is not scientifically valid. This isn’t just a skeptic issue, mind you, others have just a keen an interest in proving the data.

What is so bizarre is this. The FOI request by Steve McIntyre to the Met Office was for a copy of the data sent to Peter Webster. If the restrictions on the data hold for Steve McIntyre, why did they not prevent release of the data to Webster?

When asked by Warwick Hughes for this data, Dr. Jones famously replied:

Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

This is just wrong on so many levels. This isn’t state secrets, it is temperature data gathered from weather stations worldwide and the methodology of collating and processing it.  Much of the weather station data is available online and live via hundreds of Internet sites, so the argument that “strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released” is in my opinion, bogus. You can get a list of CRU stations. Go to: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/ and download the file: crustnsused.txt

And then look up any number of these stations on the Internet and get the data.

The fact that Hadley/Met Office repeatedly refuses to disclose the data and methodology only deepens the likelihood that there is something amiss and Hadley does not want to be caught out on it.

Dr. Jones is looking more and more like a “very bad Wizard” with each denied FOI request.

Science and scientists should demand open access to this data. If GISS can do it, why not Hadley? They share much of the same data.

Steve McIntyre tells the complete story below. My advice to UK readers, start sending an FOI request every week and complain loudly to your UK representatives and write letters to the editor.  Details are in the body of the post below. – Anthony

UK Met Office Refuses to Disclose Station Data Once Again

by Steve McIntyre on July 23rd, 2009

It must be humiliating for the UK Met Office to have to protect Phil Jones and CRU. Even a seasoned bureaucrat must have winced in order to write the following:

Some of the information was provided to Professor Jones on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released and it cannot be determined which countries or stations data were given in confidence as records were not kept.

Here is the complete text of the UK Met Office’s most recent refusal of their station data.

Our Ref: 22-06-2009-131902-003 23 July 2009
Dear Mr McIntyre

Request for Information – Information not Held and Refusal to Disclose Information
Your correspondence dated 9 June 2009 has been considered to be a request for information in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The Ministry of Defence is permitted to withhold information where exceptions are considered justifiable.

You asked “You stated that CRUTEM3 data that you held was the value added data. Pursuant to the Environmental Information Regulations Act 2004, please provide me with this data in the digital form, together with any documents that you hold describing the procedures under which the data has been quality controlled and where deemed appropriate, adjusted to account for apparent non-climatic influences”.

Your request has been assessed and this letter is to inform you that the Met Office does hold some information covered by the request. We do not hold documents describing the procedures under which the data has been quality controlled or adjusted to account for apparent non-climatic influences.

The information held by the Met Office is withheld in accordance with the following exceptions pursuant to the Environmental Information Regulations Act 2004:
• Section 12 (5) (a) Information likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and any International organisation;
• Section 12 (5) (e) Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest.
• Section 12 (5) (f) (i) (iii) The supplier was not under legal obligation to supply the information and has not consented to its disclosure.

As the above exceptions are qualified exceptions, a public interest test was undertaken by the Met Office to consider whether there are overriding reasons why disclosure of this information would not be in the public interest. The Met Office has duly considered these reasons in conjunction with the public interest in disclosing the requested information, in particular the benefits of assisting the public having information on environmental information, whereby they would hope to influence decisions from a position of knowledge rather than speculation.
Access to environmental information is particularly important as environmental issues affect
the whole population.

Consideration of Exception Regulation 12 (5) (a)
Much of the requested data comes from individual Scientists and Institutions from several countries. The Met Office received the data information from Professor Jones at the University of East Anglia on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released. If any of this information were released, scientists could be reluctant to share information and participate in scientific projects with the public sector organisations based in the UK in future. It would also damage the trust that scientists have in those scientists who happen to be employed in the public sector and could show the Met Office ignored the confidentiality in which the data information was provided.

We considered that if the public have information on environmental matters, they could hope to influence decisions from a position of knowledge rather than speculation. However, the effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between states and international organisations. This relationship of trust allows for the free and frank exchange of information on the understanding that it will be treated in confidence. If the United Kingdom does not respect such confidences, its ability to protect and promote United Kingdom interests through international relations may be hampered. Competitors/ Collaborators could be damaged by the release of information which was given to us in confidence and this will detrimentally affect the ability of the Met Office (UK) to co-operate with meteorological organisations and governments of other countries. This could also provoke a negative reaction from scientist globally if their information which they have requested remains private is disclosed.

Consideration of Exception Regulation 12 (5) (e)
The information is also withheld in accordance with the exception under regulation 12 (5) (e) because the information comprises of Station Data which are commercially sensitive for many of the data sources (particularly European and African Meteorological services) release of any data could adversely affect relationships with other Institutions and individuals, who may plan to use their data for their own commercial interests. Some of this is documented in Hulme, 1996 but this is not a globally comprehensive summary.

The Met Office are not party to information which would allow us to determine which countries and stations data can or cannot be released as records were not kept, or given to the Met Office, therefore we cannot release data where we have no authority to do so. Competitors or collaborators could be damaged by the release of information which was given to us in confidence and could affect their ability to trade.

The Met Office uses the data solely and expressly to create a gridded product that we distribute without condition.

Consideration of Exception Regulation 12 (5) (f) (i) and (iii)
The information is also withheld in accordance with the exception under regulation 12 (5) (f) (i) (iii) as Professor Jones was not legally bound to release the data to the Met Office and has not consented to the disclosure to any other party. As stated above in 12 (5) (a) Some of the information was provided to Professor Jones on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released and it cannot be determined which countries or stations data were given in confidence as records were not kept. The Met Office received the data from Professor Jones on the proviso that it would not be released to any other source and to release it without authority would seriously affect the relationship between the United Kingdom and other Countries and Institutions.

I hope this answers your enquiry.

If you are not satisfied with this response or you wish to complain about any aspect of the handling of your request, then you should contact me in the first instance. If informal resolution is not possible and you are still dissatisfied then you may apply for an independent internal review by contacting the Head of Corporate Information, 6th Floor, MOD Main Building, Whitehall, SW1A 2HB (e-mail CIO-XD@mod.uk). Please note that any request for an internal review must be made within 40 working days of the date on which the attempt to reach informal resolution has come to an end.

If you remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you may take your complaint to the Information Commissioner under the provisions of Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act. Please note that the Information Commissioner will not investigate your case until the MOD internal review process has been completed. Further details of the role and powers of the Information Commissioner can be found on the Commissioner’s website, www.ico.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,
Marion Archer
FOI Manager

Submit a Freedom of Information request to Phil Jones’ employer:

http://www.uea.ac.uk/is/foi

The FOI officers are: Met Office marion.archer [at] metoffice.gov.uk and
CRU david.palmer [at] ues.ac.uk

This is just for UK citizens.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/CRUSourceCodes/

A petition asking for CRU source code. (WUWT)

 

Do you suppose he believes it or he's just hooked on the notoriety that comes from outrageous statements like these? James Hansen on Climate Tipping Points and Political Leadership

In my opinion, it is still feasible to solve the global warming problem before we pass tipping points that would guarantee disastrous irreversible climate change. But urgent strong actions are needed.

It is clear that the required course is technically feasible, and it would have great benefits to the public in developing and developed countries. The geophysical facts practically dictate the way.

Unfortunately, knowledge and understanding of the situation are not widespread. In addition, there is a minority of people, termed “fossil interests,” who benefit from business-as-usual. These fossil interests have enormous influence on governments worldwide, far outside their fair role in democracies. (James Hansen, SolveClimate)

 

Climate change you can believe in

Further to the post below, several readers have asked why I didn't refute the case made against me. Well, the case made against me is that I'm an uneducated clod, and I agreed with that. But, if you mean the argument on "global warming", my general line is this: For the last century, we've had ever so slight warming trends and ever so slight cooling trends every 30 years or so, and I don't think either are anything worth collapsing the global economy over.

Things warmed up a bit in the decades before the late Thirties. Why? I dunno. The Versailles Treaty? The Charleston?

Then from 1940 to 1970 there was a slight cooling trend. In its wake, Lowell Ponte (who I believe is an expert climatologist and, therefore, should have been heeded) wrote his bestseller, The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?

From 1970 to 1998 there was a slight warming trend, and now there's a slight cooling trend again. And I'm not fussed about it either way. (Mark Steyn, National Review)

 

Biologist's stories warm 'Cold'

As counterintuitive as it might seem in this age of global warming, much of our melting planet is still downright chilly. As biologist Bill Streever points out in "Cold," his first attempt at a book-length piece of popular writing on icy regions, it is still the case that you don't have to travel too far without having to resort to longjohns and stocking caps.

"In the Northern Hemisphere, half the land is covered with snow, and a third of the ocean is frozen," Streever writes. "We are in the midst of a warm spell, we are worried about global warming, but the fact remains that even in summer, whole regions remain covered with snow and ice." Indeed, 80 percent of the world's freshwater is frozen.

Streever travels around his home turf of Anchorage, Alaska, and to other environs to experience our current Pleistocene Ice Age (yes, amazingly, we are living in an ice age) in all of its fluctuating temps, all the while telling of past expeditions that went horribly bad and off-the-charts cold snaps.

In January of 1888 temperatures plummeted across Middle America to deadly levels. Twenty-two thousand people perished -- too many of them boys and girls -- in what is called the Schoolchildren's Blizzard. One 17-year-old girl died standing up. Streever uses the recounting to explain in chilling detail how one dies from hypothermia. The last stage involves the delirious act of undressing, or what is called "paradoxical undressing." (Stephen J. Lyons, Star Tribune)

 

Oops! The formula - Why don’t Americans understand science better? Start with the scientists.

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science unveiled the latest embarrassing evidence of our nation’s scientific illiteracy. Only 52 percent of Americans in their survey knew why stem cells differ from other kinds of cells; just 46 percent knew that atoms are larger than electrons. On a highly contentious issue like global warming, meanwhile, the gap between scientists and the public was vast: 84 percent of scientists, but just 49 percent of Americans, think human emissions are causing global warming. (Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, Boston Globe)

Apparently the public is a lot more scientifically literate than Mooney's alleged scientists then because there remains zero evidence carbon dioxide emissions control climate.

 

Friedman’s home truths

Thomas Friedman demands support for global warming laws to make houses more green:

Yes, this bill’s goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is nowhere near what science tells us we need to mitigate climate change. But it also contains significant provisions to prevent new buildings from becoming energy hogs...

Then Friedman, feeling noble after demanding sacrifices from others, drives home to this energy hog:

image

(Thanks to reader Martin.) (Andrew Bolt blog)

 

Vilsack faces Senate on climate bill

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department’s July 22 release of an economic analysis showing that the House-passed climate change bill would have a minimum negative impact on farm costs in the short term and income and benefits over the long term seemed to tame much of the criticism of the bill when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee later the same day.

The climate change bill, which is designed to stop global warming, would set a cap on U.S. carbon emissions at a level 17 percent below 2005. The bill is expected to raise energy and fertilizers costs, but it also sets up a cap-and-trade program under which farmers and foresters who use practices that sequester carbon in the soil could get credits and sell those credits to companies that emit more carbon than they are allowed. (Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek)

The silliest part is that, despite a plethora of hysterical claims, there is not one penny's known cost even if enhanced greenhouse does contribute to net warming. The only known costs are in addressing hypothetical changes.

 

Wrong! Peterson to farmers: Lobby for change now

WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said July 21 that farmers should try to convince the Senate Agriculture Committee to fix any remaining problems with the climate change bill because it is very popular in urban America and may become law.

In a speech to the American Soybean Association, Peterson said that at a recent event in Olivia, Minn., he saw “a great big white sign” reading “Global warming is baloney.” Peterson said that sign sums up the feeling in his district, but that farmers need to be aware that 65 percent of Americans support action on global warming.

“Like many things, we’ve lost the war,” Peterson said.

Scientists, he noted, have reached consensus that global warming is a problem and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.

Peterson said the EPA already is regulating cars and that there are lawsuits lined up to force the agency to regulate other sources of emissions. Peterson said he expects EPA to go after livestock producers and, eyeing the soybean producers, said, “They’ll get to people like you.” (Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek)

Now is the time to dig in and fight!

 

Germany calls 'Carbon Tax', Eco-Imperialism

Germany called a French idea to slap "carbon tariffs" on products from countries that are not trying to cut greenhouse gases a form of "eco-imperialism" and a direct violation of WTO rules.

The issue of greenhouse tariffs has met bitter opposition from developing countries such as China and India, who count on the developed world to buy their exports as they build their economies in the face of the worst financial crisis in decades.

Matthias Machnig, Germany's State Secretary for the Environment, told a news briefing on Friday that a French push for Europe to impose carbon tariffs on imports from countries that flout rules on carbon emissions would send the wrong signal to the international community.

"There are two problems -- the WTO (World Trade Organization), and the signal would be that this is a new form of eco-imperialism," Machnig said. (MINA)

 

George Will On Climate Change Legislation

We didn’t get to this yesterday, but as always, George Will is right on the money about climate policy:

The fixers say: On to Copenhagen! There, in December, the moveable feast of climate confabulations will continue. By which time China, at its current pace, probably will have brought on line 14 more coal-fired generating plants, each of them capable of providing all the electricity needed for a city the size of San Diego. And last Sunday, India told visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that there is “no case” for U.S. pressure on India to reduce carbon emissions.

The costs of weaning the U.S. economy off much of its reliance on carbon are uncertain, but certainly large. The climatic benefits of doing so are uncertain but, given the behavior of those pesky 5 billion, almost certainly small, perhaps minuscule, even immeasurable. Fortunately, skepticism about the evidence that supposedly supports current alarmism about climate change is growing, as is evidence that, whatever the truth about the problem turns out to be, U.S. actions cannot be significantly ameliorative. (Chilling Effect)

 

Financial crisis no excuse for inaction on climate change: EU

AARE, Sweden — The global financial crisis is not a sufficient reason for inaction on tackling climate change, Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said on Friday.

His comments came at a meeting of European environment and energy ministers organised by the Swedish EU presidency in Aare, central Sweden. (AFP)

 

Wonder what planet "environment ministers" live on? EU environment ministers unite on climate change action

EU environment ministers met for a second day to discuss a common stance on tackling climate change, committing to a 30 percent reduction of carbon dioxide and financial support for developing nations. (Deutsche Welle)

 

Climate change pact 'needs' China

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said there can be no global climate change deal without China's support.

Speaking in Beijing, he also praised China's efforts so far to promote sustainable economic growth and develop renewable energy sources.

Experts say China has already committed itself to reducing carbon dioxide emissions - a driver of global warming.

World leaders hope to produce a new agreement to tackle climate change at a meeting in Copenhagen in December.

Mr Ban was speaking at a UN-backed event in Beijing to promote the use of energy-saving lamps across China. (BBC News)

 

Is this seriously their position? Act now on climate: Obama

THE Obama Administration's climate change negotiator has warned that any country that delays enacting laws will miss out on a huge wave of investment waiting for the regulatory dam to break.

Indicating the US was ready to act without India or China, Todd Stern said the Obama Administration was determined to lead on this issue. "In our view, you can become an economic winner by acting," he said in an interview with the Herald.

"Some say we should wait in terms of our domestic legislation to see what others do. The President doesn't accept that. Our Administration doesn't accept that. We totally think that the Chinese and Indians and others need to act. But it's not our view that our decision to act ought to be made contingent on them." (SMH)

 

Say 'No' at Copenhagen

During her recent visit, the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton forcefully urged India to contribute to carbon-emission reductions to combat global warming. India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh responded with equal force stating that emission caps would not cut ice in India. Widespread criticisms of this response in the western press notwithstanding, Ramesh is on a strong wicket when refusing to accept mitigation obligations. (Economic Times)

 

India widens climate rift with west

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

“Science has its limitation. You cannot substitute the knowledge that has been gained by the people living in cold deserts through everyday experience.”

Mr Ramesh was also clear that India would not take on targets to cut its emissions, even though developed countries are asking only for curbs in the growth of emissions, rather than absolute cuts.

His stance was at wide variance with that of Andreas Carlgren, his Swedish counterpart. Sweden holds the European Union’s revolving presidency until a conference in Copenhagen in December at which governments will try to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto protocol on curbing greenhouse emissions – the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

Mr Carlgren said in Are, Sweden, that developing countries such as India, China and Brazil must propose more ambitious plans to reduce emissions if they were to receive finance from wealthy nations. (Financial Times)

 

Starting to Panic

At the end of his trip to China in May, Senator Kerry was feeling positively giddy about the prospects of a deal with China at Copenhagen:

“Based on these meetings, I am very optimistic at the possibility of producing a successful outcome in Copenhagen,” said Kerry.

He described his talks in Beijing as the “most constructive and productive” climate change talks he had ever had with China.

He’s sounding down right desperate these days.  In a report released on Thursday (but apparently not yet available online) by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry chairs, we are reminded that neither the US or China “has been willing to take the dramatic actions that many experts deem necessary to achieve critical mass for a global effort. . . .Many in the United States frankly doubt China’s commitment to reduce emissions.”

It also notes that “the absence of specific emissions reduction commitments from China has stoked fears of an unfair economic advantage for China, a hobbled U.S. economy and an insufficient response to the threat of global climate change.”

Commitments from China you say?  It’s looking like Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-WI) formed the clearest perception of China’s climate change position after his own trip here in May.  At the news conference which ended his visit (as part of a Congressional delegation headed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi), he stated that from his perspective:

It’s business as usual for China. The message that I received was that China was going to do it their way regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen.

The Congressman’s motives for such statements may be suspect (he voted against Waxman-Markey, for instance), but he seems to have been quite prescient.  Were the authors of yesterday’s opinion piece in the Shanghai Daily entitled “China fights climate change in its own way” determined to prove the Wisconsin Congressman correct? Here’s the essence of the article:

Vice Premier Li Keqiang, told Secretary Chu, a Nobel laureate who is a strong promoter of clean energy, that China adhered to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” as it actively responds to global climate change.

“Common but differentiated responsibilities” refers to the responsibilities of both developed and developing countries in reducing their carbon footprints respective to their developmental abilities.

This language is, of course, climate change code for “we don’t have the slightest intention of signing up at Copenhagen for any absolute carbon caps or carbon growth limit reductions.”

Senator Kerry is right to feel a little panicky. (China Environmental Law)

 

Brown upsets Porritt? Might be better than I thought... PM criticised over climate change

Gordon Brown's outgoing adviser on sustainable development has accused him of "hindering" work on climate change.

Sir Jonathon Porritt told the Independent the PM did not find the environment any more important now than when he was chancellor.

Sir Jonathon also said Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had to "change his ways" on environmental issues.

Sir Jonathon was appointed Sustainable Development Commission chairman by Tony Blair's government in 2000.

Sir Jonathon said Mr Brown's support for a third runway at Heathrow Airport was a "ludicrous decision, with no serious intellectual, economic rationale".

He said the Prime Minister had "some incredibly fixed ideas about some of these things". (BBC News)

 

Idiot! Turnbull pledges conditional support for ETS

MALCOLM TURNBULL has put his authority on the line over climate change by pledging to deliver Coalition support for the emissions trading scheme - but only if the Government accepts a fresh set of demands.

Following an emergency meeting of the shadow cabinet yesterday to stem the chaos tearing apart the Coalition, Mr Turnbull furnished a list of nine changes. "If the Government amends its ETS to put in place these crucial improvements, I will seek, and am confident of obtaining, the support of the Coalition party room for the amended scheme," Mr Turnbull said. "The ball is now in [Kevin] Rudd's court."

While the offer will be controversial among the Liberal backbenchers and Nationals who are hostile to any deal this year, if at all, the amendments are unlikely to be accepted by the Government.

This makes it likely the Coalition will oppose the scheme on August 13 when the Senate is scheduled to vote.

That will buy Mr Turnbull time and leaves open the possibility of the Coalition still backing the scheme by November, assuming the Government reintroduces the legislation then in the bid to get a trigger for an early, double dissolution election. (SMH)

No way, no how, not ever! That should be the Coalition position. So what if K.Rudd successfully triggers a double dissolution election and [gasp!] wins? Let the watermelons own the recession and associated unemployment. forget ETS -- Kyoto II's dead anyway, since the most populous nations cannot limit CO2 emissions even if they were so foolish as to want to do so.

 

Modern Madness

More than 3,000 record low temperatures set across the US this month. Just the right time for scientists to review their previous positions on warming:

We are among more than 50 current and former members of the American Physical Society who have signed an open letter to the APS Council this month, calling for a reconsideration of its November 2007 policy statement on climate change. The letter proposes an alternative statement, which the signatories believe to be a more accurate representation of the current scientific evidence. It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.

On 1 May 2009, the APS Council decided to review its current statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. We applaud this decision. It is the first such reappraisal by a major scientific professional society that we are aware of, and we hope it will lead to meaningful change that reflects a more balanced view of climate-change issues.

Which you won’t get in New Zealand, which contributes practically nothing to global carbon output, but will nevertheless pay a mighty toll:

Thirty dollars a week for every man, woman and child looks likely to be the price Kiwis will have to pay to do their bit to fight global warming.

And all that money won’t achieve anything. It can’t possibly achieve anything. Yet Australia is headed down the same path:

Malcolm Turnbull has upbraided climate change sceptics in his own party as he flagged the Coalition making a deal on the emissions trading scheme before the end of the year.

Turnbull can afford an ETS. It’ll make him feel happy. But there are many Australians who won’t cop it – among them some who might otherwise have voted for him. (Tim Blair blog)

 

Marginally better: Emissions stoush: Turnbull rebuffs Abbott

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has rebuffed a call from his frontbench colleague Tony Abbott to pass Labor's emissions trading scheme to avoid a double dissolution election.

Although Mr Abbott believes an emissions trading scheme (ETS) won't cut global carbon emissions and will cost jobs, he said opposing the scheme would expose the coalition to a fight it can't win.

Mr Turnbull says the coalition will block Labor's legislation in August unless it meets the opposition's nine key demands.

He rejected Mr Abbott's call, made in The Australian newspaper on Friday, to back the scheme to avoid a double dissolution election.

"That's undoubtedly Tony's view, but I'm the leader of the party and I will make my recommendations to the party room on how we vote on the legislation, assuming it comes back in November, based on its content and the circumstances of the time," Mr Turnbull told ABC Television today.

A Senate vote on an ETS is due on August 13 but the government can call a double dissolution if the opposition rejects the same legislation twice in three months. (AAP)

 

Naturally the Climate Destitute thinks otherwise: Turnbull too soft on polluters: Climate Institute

The Climate Institute says the Opposition Leader's suggested changes to the emissions trading scheme are not tough enough on polluters.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says the Coalition will support the emissions trading scheme if the government agrees to nine changes.

Those include bringing the system closer to the US model and providing greater compensation for the coal and electricity sectors.

But Climate Institute chief executive John Connor says agreeing to those changes would be a mistake.

"Australia's got one of the most inefficient and polluting economies and we desperately need emissions trading, energy efficiency and renewable energy policies to get going," he said.

"We welcome the Coalition coming to the table, but we shouldn't be giving any more assistance to the big polluters it's just going to make the burden heavier for the rest of the economy.

"The time is now for the Senate to stop squabbling, take action to grow a clean energy economy and to grow tens and hundreds of thousands of jobs that can grow with that." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

 

Meanwhile K.Rudd & co. play politics as usual: Kevin Rudd accused of playing games on emissions trading scheme

KEVIN Rudd has been accused of playing base political games after spurning Malcolm Turnbull's offer of negotiations over Labor's proposed emissions trading scheme.

Opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb said last night that the Prime Minister was insincere after the government launched a series of attacks on the Opposition Leader despite his offer of a compromise.

His comments came as Labor backbencher Jennie George echoed one of Mr Turnbull's "log of claims" by insisting Australian workers had the same protection as American workers in the scheme before the US congress.

On Friday, Mr Turnbull said the opposition was prepared to consider supporting ETS legislation to go to parliament next month, reversing the shadow cabinet's position that the Coalition would not vote for the legislation before the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

But yesterday Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner scoffed at the offer of talks, telling the Ten Network's Meet the Press that Mr Turnbull should propose legislative amendments rather than vague talking points. And he questioned whether Mr Turnbull could guarantee he spoke for his colleagues after encountering opposition to the ETS from Coalition conservatives. Last night, Mr Robb said Mr Tanner's comments, and a similar attack on Mr Turnbull's "platitudes" by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong on Saturday, showed the government was not interested in genuine progress on its plan to begin emissions trading in 2011.

"This is just a smokescreen," Mr Robb said. "They have been playing politics all along on this.

"Kevin Rudd should say, for example, whether he agrees that the jobs of Australian workers should get as much protection under our scheme as American workers would get under the proposed American scheme.

"It's not a difficult question." (The Australian)

 

The world will not notice even if we die

Tell me again, Prime Minister, that our sacrifices in Australia will make a difference to the world’s temperatures:

IT’S hard to comprehend, Martin Ferguson said last week. The federal Minister for Resources and Energy was referring to the fact that, in the next decade, China will bring on line about 1000 average-sized coal-fired power stations, equivalent to 34 times Australia’s present coal-burning generation capacity.

Which helps to explain why even if Australia switches off every light, heater, factory and ignition switch that the world’s emissions will keep soaring as other economies scream ahead:

Ferguson’s government and others in the developed world...have been repeatedly warned by the International Energy Agency that, even if the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030, they cannot put the world on track to achieve stablisation of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million… Non-OECD countries are heading towards a collective volume of emissions of more than 25 billion tonnes a year by 2030, compared by then with less than 15 billion tonnes for the OECD nations. In the vanguard, of course, is China...

In this piece, Keith Orchison says China is still waving the green flag, but note where most of its green power actually comes from:

By 2020 China aims to have installed 300,000MW of hydro power (equal to 80 Snowy Mountains schemes), 30,000MW of plants fuelled by agricultural waste, 1800MW of solar power and more than 50,000MW of wind farms (about four times what will be needed here to meet the Rudd renewable energy target).

Which green here thinks hydro power - and the new dams to produce it - are what we need? In fact, Greens leader Bob Brown vehemently objected to China’s biggest hydro scheme, the vast Three Gorges project.

You really are being fed the most deceitful of dreams. (Andrew Bolt blog)

 

D'oh! Ministers accused of blocking energy greening

THE state and federal energy ministers, led by Labor's Martin Ferguson, are being accused of undermining the Rudd Government's climate change policies in light of a report which finds the national electricity market they oversee is discouraging energy efficiency and new renewable energy.

"Energy ministers are rewarding polluting energy and blocking efficiency and clean alternatives", said Jane Castle of the NSW Total Environment Centre which commissioned one of the leading energy consultancy firms, McLennan Magasanik Associates, to report on the role of the National Electricity Market in climate change.

The report finds that under Australia's current electricity system both generators and electricity retailers are encouraged to increase energy sales and have little incentive to curb the spiralling demand for power. This occurs even though the energy ministers say they are committed to climate change policies to cut Australia's greenhouse emissions. (SMH)

 

The ever-more outrageous claims needed to get media attention (and donor funds): Climate change to force 75 million Pacific Islanders from their homes

More than 75 million people living on Pacific islands will have to relocate by 2050 because of the effects of climate change, Oxfam has warned. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Not all bad though. His fake problem is coming back to bite him: Rudd snubs Pacific climate issue

The Rudd government has been accused of running incoherent policy by refusing to assist Pacific nations in dealing with the dire consequences of climate change.

Two reports published on Monday are scathing about Australia's attitude towards neighbours who face the dislocation of millions of people by 2050 as global warming causes sea levels to rise.

Aid organisation Oxfam Australia says Australia and New Zealand need to contribute more money - up to $668 million - to help island nations adapt to climate change.

And it agrees with The Australia Institute that Australia needs to develop immigration policies which support those Pacific island communities forced from their homes.

The institute was especially critical of Labor's record since 2007, saying the failure to match pre-election rhetoric and early promises in government had failed to secure a more hopeful outlook for Pacific islanders.

Adaptation assistance had been inadequate and the government was refusing to discuss climate-induced migration, the think-tank said. (Sky News)

 

Climate Change Needs Government Push in Global Investors’ Poll

Global investors say climate change is a threat and want government action to combat it, even as a plurality says the effort will hurt corporate profits.

Dissenting from a consensus in Asia and Europe, almost two- thirds of U.S. investors say climate change is a minor danger or “no real threat,” according to the first Quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll. In Asia, 61 percent say higher global temperatures are a major problem, and 56 percent in Europe agree.

The differences underscore tensions surfacing as almost 200 countries consider climate policies and work to craft a treaty to control greenhouse-gas emissions. The negotiations will culminate in a December gathering in Copenhagen.

“Perhaps the most worrying element is the sheer unpredictability of this,” said Heath Dacre, who works for an investment bank in Hong Kong. “We all know that markets do not react well to uncertainty.”

Nations must react to the threat, Dacre said. “The cost, both economic and in human terms, will be devastating” otherwise, he said.

In contrast, U.S. investors such as Ted Madaj of Schaumburg, Illinois, expressed doubts about the need for action and concern about the impact on earnings.

“We have had the coolest summer in my life so far this year, and we have to rush?” said Madaj, 54, a portfolio manager. “Someone in government ought to take a step back and think. What government action helps corporate profits?” (Bloomberg)

 

Oh... An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up

XINGU NATIONAL PARK, Brazil — As the naked, painted young men of the Kamayurá tribe prepare for the ritualized war games of a festival, they end their haunting fireside chant with a blowing sound — “whoosh, whoosh” — a symbolic attempt to eliminate the scent of fish so they will not be detected by enemies. For centuries, fish from jungle lakes and rivers have been a staple of the Kamayurá diet, the tribe’s primary source of protein.

But fish smells are not a problem for the warriors anymore. Deforestation and, some scientists contend, global climate change are making the Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish stocks in this area and imperiling the Kamayurá’s very existence. Like other small indigenous cultures around the world with little money or capacity to move, they are struggling to adapt to the changes. (NYT)

Drought is not particularly unusual in the Amazon Basin, nor is there any evidence of any significant temperature change in the region.

 

Experts baffled by high East Coast tides

RALEIGH, N.C., July 25 -- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers say they are trying to learn why high tide along the Eastern United States is deeper than normal.

Mike Szabados, head of a NOAA tide and current program in Silver Spring, Md., said the deeper high tide during the last few weeks has been reported all along the East Coast from Florida to Maine, The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer said Saturday.

"Right now we're trying to get a better understanding of what's the cause," Szabados said of tide increases of up to 2 feet reported since June.

The sudden rise in the high tide has allowed scientists to reject global warming as a possible cause.

Szabados said the cause could be the North Atlantic oscillation, an atmospheric pressure change in the North Atlantic Ocean between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High atmospheric pressure centers.

The NOAA researcher told the News & Observer that ocean circulation could be impacted by wind velocities and directions that have been altered by such atmospheric pressure changes. (UPI)

 

Climate change: New study backs UN panel on ocean rise

PARIS — The UN's climate panel has been backed over a key question as to how far global warming will drive up sea levels this century, a study published on Sunday says.

The UN experts are right that the oceans are unlikely to rise by an order of metres (many feet) by 2100, as some scientists have feared, it says.

But, its authors caution, low-lying countries and delta areas could still face potentially catastrophic flooding if the upper range of the new estimate proves right.

In a landmark report in 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted oceans would rise by 18-59 centimetres (7.2 and 23.6 inches) by 2100.

The increase would depend on warming, estimated at between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius (1.98-11.52 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, which in turn depends on how much man-made greenhouse gas is poured into the atmosphere.

It based the calculation on thermal expansion of the seas -- when a liquid is warmed, it grows in volume.

Harder to calculate, the IPCC admitted, was how far meltwater from glaciers and icesheets on land would boost sea levels.

It ventured a provisional calculation, suggesting contributions from those sources could push the upper limit to 76 cms (30.4 inches).

The new paper, led by Mark Siddall of Britain's University of Bristol, used data from fossilised coral and from ice-core measurements to reconstruct sea-level fluctuations over the past 22,000 years, from the height of the last Ice Age to the balmy era of today.

This century, they calculate, the seas will rise by between seven and 82 cms, all sources included, on the basis of a 1.1-6.4 C (1.98-11.52 F) warming -- an estimated increase that is in the same ballpark as the IPCC's.

The study appears in the journal Nature Geoscience. (AFP)

 

Hard to imagine how gorebull warming got a run here considering this has happened in the 1860s... Scientists plot and prepare for Noah's Ark-like floods - California may be caught in the throes of a years-long drought, but crisis experts are now planning for a 200-to-500-year flood.

First come the wildfires. Then the extended cloudbursts. Then the furies of mud, rock and debris that roar out of the San Gabriel foothills.

And in the floods' wake, every few decades, rage death and destruction across Southern California.

"The debris flows, reported as mud slides, pick up speed like a waterborne avalanche coming down off the mountains — moving at 40 miles per hour picking up boulders like minivans and sweeping into the city," said Lucy Jones, chief scientist for the Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project at the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena.

"In (1934 and) 1978 it happened in La Crescenta...and it'll happen again."

California may be caught in the throes of a years-long drought, but Jones and other crisis experts are now planning for a flood of Noah's Ark proportions.

Worried about the long-term effects of climate change, the USGS and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are co-creating a scenario for a cataclysmic flood across the Golden State.

Last year, a USGS-led team of 300 scientists created a detailed scenario for a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Southern California, followed by a "ShakeOut" drill of 5.4million residents, a disaster preparedness record.

Many of the same scientists are now fashioning a hypothetical scenario similar to the mother of all known California floods — the Great Flood of 1861-62.

That flood, occurring during 45 days of rain, turned California into an inland sea. It also forced Gov. Leland Stanford to take a rowboat to his inauguration, wiped out a third of taxable land, and virtually bankrupted the state.

Despite more than a century of flood channels, debris dams and levees built since, such a flood could wreak $25 billion in damage to the state capitol alone, according to the Geological Survey. (Dana Bartholomew, Daily News)

 

Comment: Why people don't act on climate change

AT A recent dinner at the University of Oxford, a senior researcher in atmospheric physics was telling me about his coming holiday in Thailand. I asked him whether he was concerned that his trip would make a contribution to climate change - we had, after all, just sat through a two-hour presentation on the topic. "Of course," he said blithely. "And I'm sure the government will make long-haul flights illegal at some point."

I had deliberately steered our conversation this way as part of an informal research project that I am conducting - one you are welcome to join. My participants so far include a senior adviser to a leading UK climate policy expert who flies regularly to South Africa ("my offsets help set a price in the carbon market"), a member of the British Antarctic Survey who makes several long-haul skiing trips a year ("my job is stressful"), a national media environment correspondent who took his family to Sri Lanka ("I can't see much hope") and a Greenpeace climate campaigner just back from scuba diving in the Pacific ("it was a great trip!").

Intriguing as their dissonance may be, what is especially revealing is that each has a career predicated on the assumption that information is sufficient to generate change. It is an assumption that a moment's introspection would show them was deeply flawed.

It is now 44 years since US president Lyndon Johnson's scientific advisory council warned that our greenhouse gas emissions could generate "marked changes in climate". That's 44 years of research costing, by one estimate, $3 billion per year, symposia, conferences, documentaries, articles and now 80 million references on the internet. Despite all this information, opinion polls over the years have shown that 40 per cent of people in the UK and over 50 per cent in the US resolutely refuse to accept that our emissions are changing the climate. Scarcely 10 per cent of Britons regard climate change as a major problem.

I do not accept that this continuing rejection of the science is a reflection of media distortion or scientific illiteracy. Rather, I see it as proof of our society's failure to construct a shared belief in climate change. (George Marshall, New Scientist)

 

Begley -- beyond description: Climate-Change Calculus - Why it's even worse than we feared.

Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: "that really shocked us," "we had no idea how bad it was," and "reality is well ahead of the climate models." Yet in speaking to researchers who focus on the Arctic, you hear comments like these so regularly they begin to sound like the thumping refrain from Jaws: annoying harbingers of something that you really, really wish would go away. (Sharon Begley, NEWSWEEK)

 

A fraud based on a fraud: The Political History of Cap and Trade

How an unlikely mix of environmentalists and free-market conservatives hammered out the strategy known as cap-and-trade (Richard Conniff, Smithsonian magazine)

 

Digging a Cap-and-Trade Hole for America

Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens’s last minute opposition to the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, announced just prior to the House of Representatives’ vote, was reminiscent of Senator John Kerry’s infamous statement “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

While Kerry’s embarrassing comment only hurt his presidential prospects, Owens’s promotion of global warming legislation has far-reaching consequences: the potential to cause irreparable harm to his company, customers, employees and our economy.

After years of supporting a national law to limit carbon dioxide emissions through participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) – a lobbying coalition pushing cap-and-trade legislation – Owens realized the final bill would harm his company. According to Energy & Environment News, the day before the House vote, Owens wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), saying, “We cannot endorse this bill in its current form.”

Owens’s flip-flop serves as a case study of the ignorance and arrogance that plagues many CEOs. Too many chief executives exaggerate their political influence only to discover that the “seat at the table” rationale for supporting regulation greatly overstates their ability to steer it. (Tom Borelli, Townhall)

 

House Climate Bill Dangles Cash to Lure CCS 'First Movers'

The sweeping House-passed climate and energy bill has a message for companies trying to develop and use "clean coal" technology: If you snooze, you lose.

The legislation lays out billions of dollars in incentives to entice owners of coal-fired power plants to try carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), technology considered vital to keeping the abundant fossil fuel in play as an energy source while curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The measure sponsored by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts makes the first 6,000 megawatts of new or retrofitted power plants eligible for up to $90 in allowances for every ton of carbon dioxide that they capture and store. Such bonus allowances for "first movers" far exceed most predictions of what carbon will cost on the open market if a climate bill becomes law. It is more than triple the $24-per-ton price that was U.S. EPA's top-line estimate in a May report to Congress.

"Lawmakers are realizing that a $30-per-ton allowance price will not induce commercial-scale CCS projects," said Paul Bledsoe, spokesman for the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy. "The incentive structure for CCS deployment included in the House bill, and now contemplated by the Senate, would give utilities strong motivation to get this critical technology up and running."

In addition to bonus allowances being offered to early CCS users, the House legislation would make additional allowances available for the next 66,000 megawatts from plants with CCS by way of a reverse auction that would allow qualifying developers to bid for bonus permits.

And that is not all. The bill also makes power companies that dive into CCS eligible to raise $1.1 billion a year from electricity customers for the proposed Carbon Storage Research Corp. that would fund CCS research and development projects.

The Waxman-Markey proposals follow passage of the economic stimulus law that provides $2.4 billion for CCS research and development. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that cash would "position the United States to lead the world in CCS technologies, which will be in increasing demand in the years ahead."

But some environmental groups are decrying the CCS incentives, calling them crutches for the coal industry that will cost taxpayers as much as $160 billion. Even if CCS proves effective, they say, the incentives will merely perpetuate use of an unsustainable fuel source whose production and combustion harms the environment and public health. The money would be better used, they say, to promote development of renewable energy sources. (Greenwire)

 

On the stormy seas of carbon reduction

BARACK OBAMA went into the White House determined to lead the world on climate change, but he is facing a very rough passage.

His administration is trying to navigate a flimsy vessel through an impossibly narrow channel between two rocky shoals.

The President's rickety boat? A preliminary piece of legislation.

The US House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill that proposes to cut American carbon output by 15 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050. Obama has lashed himself to the mast.

The dangerous shoals? Looming on one side are the forthcoming negotiations with the rest of the world. Other major countries generally want the US to do more to cut carbon output, while the big developing countries are offering to do very little themselves. And threatening on the other side is the US Senate, which, on balance, would like the US to do less.

Obama needs the support of both sides if he is to make any impression on the Earth's climate. But if his negotiator, Todd Stern, favours one side too much, he will lose the support of the other. (SMH)

 

Gov’ts should pony up billions for carbon capture: report

Graphic showing the workings of a carbon capture and storage plant. The Alberta and the federal governments will have to provide as much as $3 billion a year for an undetermined length of time for carbon capture to succeed as a climate change strategy, says a provincial report released today.

Graphic showing the workings of a carbon capture and storage plant. The Alberta and the federal governments will have to provide as much as $3 billion a year for an undetermined length of time for carbon capture to succeed as a climate change strategy, says a provincial report released today.

Photograph by: Handout, Alberta Geological Survey

EDMONTON — The provincial and federal governments will need to contribute $1 billion to $3 billion annually to remove the “financial disadvantage” companies would face to use carbon capture and storage technology, says a report to government from an advisory council.

At the same time the report notes enhanced oil production generated by injecting this carbon dioxide into older oilfields could generate $105 billion in revenues, with $11 billion to $25 billion in additional provincial royalties and taxes.

“We will all share in this economic benefit,” says the report written by the Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council. The council, which consists of industry, government and university representatives, is headed by Jim Carter, former president of Syncrude. The report is dated March 4, 2009 but wasn’t released until Friday.

The council says there is a business case for the Alberta government to continue to support carbon capture beyond the current $2-billion fund. “Alberta can significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while securing markets for our oilsands products, extracting value and a dependable supply of electricity from our coal resource, enhancing our value-added opportunities and increasing enhanced oil recovery and wealth for all Albertans and Canadians,” they write. (Edmonton Journal)

 

Enter the regulators: CCSReg Project Policy Brief Summaries (.pdf)

The Carbon Capture and Sequestration Regulatory Project (CCSReg) is developing recommendations for regulation of deep geological sequestration of carbon dioxide in the United States. The project is funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and anchored at Carnegie Mellon University with collaborators at the University of Minnesota, Vermont Law School, and the law firm of Van Ness Feldman.

In January of 2009, the project released an interim report titled "Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Framing the Issues for Regulation." The interim report identifies a number of regulatory and legal barriers to the large-scale deployment of CCS technology and various options to remove them. The next stage of our work is to prepare policy briefs that recommend specific options to address these issues. The list below enumerates the policy briefs, providing a brief description and the anticipated release date for each brief.

 Comprehensive Regulation of Geologic Sequestration (available from http://www.ccsreg.org)
 Governing Access to and Use of Pore Space for Deep Geological Sequestration (available from http://www.ccsreg.org)
 Compensation, Liability and Long-Term Stewardship for CCS (available from http://www.ccsreg.org)
 A Framework for Regulating Carbon Dioxide Pipelines for the Purpose of Transporting Carbon Dioxide to Geologic Sequestration Sites (available from http://www.ccsreg.org)
 Learning and Adaptation in GS Regulations (7/2009)
 Managing the transition from EOR to Geologic Sequestration (8/2009)
 Incorporating CCS into Carbon Trading Schemes (8/2009)
 Criteria for Permitting and Closure of Sequestration Sites (8/2009)
 Examination of Early-Build Incentives (8/2009)
 Removing Barriers to Commercial Deployment of CCS Technology (8/2009)

While drafts of these briefs will be available in full in the near future, the following pages summarize the key points from each of the first five briefs. (CCSReg Project)

 

Industry stands to win over €5 billion from ETS

Industries participating in the EU's emissions trading scheme will likely end up with surplus allowances worth almost 400 million tonnes of CO2 in the period 2008-2012, undermining the objectives of the scheme, a climate campaign group said this week.

A new report by Sandbag released on 20 July argued that the EU ETS is failing to follow the 'polluter pays' principle, and is in fact subsidising polluters by giving them a large number of free emission allowances instead.

The report estimated that the industries included in the scheme - except those in the power sector - are likely to earn as much as €5.4 billion by selling surplus credits accumulated during the second trading period, 2008-2012. The new entrants' reserve, set aside for those installations entering the ETS scheme, could hold another 300 million surplus permits by 2012, the report added.

The windfall profits result from firms selling their extra allowances to power companies, which by and large have to pay for all their emissions. (EurActiv)

 

More on PNG’s “carbon cowboys”

For several weeks, Papua New Guinea has been embroiled in a forest carbon trading scandal. Kevin Conrad, talks about “carbon cowboys” descending on PNG.

Ilya Gridneff, a journalist with the Australian Associated Press, has been digging deeper into PNG’s carbon trading mess. It seems that not all of the “carbon cowboys” came from outside PNG (although some of them did). None of what Gridneff has found bodes well for the idea of financing REDD through carbon trading. (REDD-Monitor)

 

Energy firms help pay for Calif. regulators' far-flung trips

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — State officials who lead California's war on global warming often travel abroad on trips supported by the major greenhouse gas polluters they regulate, a Bee investigation has found. Industry lobbyists and executives routinely join them.

Since 2006, more than two dozen top state officials have fanned out across the globe on such trips, bound for a climate change policy tour in Europe, meetings with high-level government officials across South America and China, even a safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa – all on someone else's dime.

They have logged more than 700,000 air miles and touched down in 17 nations, on trips collectively costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the process, their air travel alone emitted 275,000 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (Tom Knudson, The Sacramento Bee)

 

She's started a fight -- good! What Palin Got Wrong About Energy

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin put the global warming debate front and center last week with a plea to avoid the "personality-driven political gossip of the day" and focus more "on the gravity of . . . challenges" facing our country.

We share her hopes for a substantive dialogue. But we want to put facts ahead of fiction and real debate ahead of rhetorical bomb-throwing.

Palin argues that "the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!" The truth is, clean energy legislation doesn't make energy scarcer or more expensive; it works to find alternative solutions to our costly dependence on foreign oil and provides powerful incentives to pursue cutting-edge clean energy technologies.

Palin asserts that job losses are "certain." Wrong. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and American Clean Energy and Security legislation will create significant employment opportunities across the country in a broad array of sectors linked to the clean energy economy. Studies at the federal level and by states have demonstrated clean energy job creation. A report by the Center for American Progress calculated that $150 billion in clean energy investments would create more than 1.7 million domestic and community-based jobs that can't be shipped overseas.

Palin seems nostalgic for the campaign rally chant of "drill, baby, drill." But she ignores the fact that the United States has only 3 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, while we are responsible for 25 percent of the world's oil consumption.

In fact, the governor's new refrain against global warming action reminds us of every naysayer who has spoken out against progress in cleaning up pollution.

Whether it was the debate over the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Superfund law or any other landmark environmental law, one pattern has always been clear: Time and again, pessimists -- often affiliated with polluting industries -- predicted job losses and great costs to taxpayers. Each time, our environmental laws have cleaned the water we drink, the air we breathe and the communities we live in at far lower cost than initially expected.

Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, but electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent from 1990 to 2006. Naysayers said the cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, but health and other benefits outweighed the costs 40 to 1. Naysayers predicted it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In fact, the United States added 20 million jobs from 1993 to 2000, as the U.S. economy grew 64 percent.

The carefully crafted clean energy bill that we will present to the Senate, building on the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the House, will jump-start our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global climate change and ensure that the United States -- not China or India -- will be the leading economic power in this century.

By creating powerful incentives for clean energy, it will create millions of jobs in America -- building wind turbines, installing solar panels on homes and producing a new fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles.

It will also help make America more secure. A May report by retired U.S. generals and admirals found, "Our dependence on foreign oil reduces our international leverage, places our troops in dangerous global regions, funds nations and individuals who wish us harm, and weakens our economy; our dependency and inefficient use of oil also puts our troops at risk."

We do not charge that Palin wants to keep sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas annually to import oil from countries that, in many cases, are working to harm Americans and American interests around the world -- or that she wants another nation to lead the way to the innovative clean energy solutions that will be eagerly gobbled up by the rest of the world. But those would be the tragic results of the do-nothing policies she has espoused. Our nation's approach to energy must be balanced and must provide incentives for all the available clean energy sources to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

We are already working every day in the Senate to pass legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create millions of clean energy jobs and protect our children from pollution. We respectfully invite Gov. Palin to join that reality-based debate -- one that relies on facts, science, tested economics and steely-eyed national security interests. Our country needs nothing less, and our planet depends on it. (Barbara Boxer and John F. Kerry, Washington Post)

Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. John F. Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Gov. Sarah Palin's op-ed, "A 'Cap and Tax' Dead End," was published in The Post on July 14.

 

The Crone and the perpetual mercury myth: Mercury and Power Plants

When it comes to the environment, Washington’s attention is fixed these days on the Congressional battle over legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions. But there are other pollutants — so-called ground level pollutants, as opposed to those that rise into the atmosphere — that also need urgent attention, starting with toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

For various reasons — mainly heavy industry lobbying — these emissions have escaped federal regulation, whereas mercury emissions from other sources like incinerators and cement kilns have not. But the prospects for regulating power plant emissions have greatly improved since President Obama came to town.

Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, has begun a rule-making process that could require some power plants to reduce mercury emissions by as much as 90 percent. The Government Accountability Office has just produced a report showing that such reductions are not only technologically possible but affordable — refuting industry’s longstanding claim that mercury controls would be too expensive. (NYT)

What the senile publication has never figured out is that the mercury scare has everything to do with eco-cranks' attack on energy and industry and nothing to do with health or the environment. There has been an inordinate amount of really bad legislation stemming from absurd activist claims -- remember the "one thermometer could poison a 20-acre lake" farce?

 

Miners Boycott Tenn. Over Alexander's Bill - It Would Ban Mountaintop Removal

The lush, rolling contours of the Great Smoky Mountains are Tennessee's pride and joy, and a major source of tourism revenue. But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says he is afraid of seeing those mountains transformed by the region's coal industry -- their tops blasted off for mining, rivers clogged with debris and majestic forests cloaked in smog from coal-burning power plants instead of the Smokies' famous mists.

Alexander has introduced legislation with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) to ban the controversial practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining. He said he hopes to stop the shearing of mountaintops in West Virginia and Kentucky and prevent a resurgence of the practice in Tennessee, which has relatively little mining but was the site of mountaintop removal in decades past.

But miners in neighboring states are striking back, boycotting tourism in Tennessee in an attempt to punish a politician they say is threatening their jobs while his state relies on coal from elsewhere for the majority of its electric power. Tennessee produced 2.3 million tons of coal last year, compared with 158 million tons in West Virginia and 120 million tons in Kentucky.

"This is nothing against the people of Tennessee, but we will not spend money in Tennessee as long as they have an individual like Lamar Alexander who is not looking at the whole picture of how what he does affects other people," said Roger Horton, a West Virginia miner. He hatched the boycott idea with fellow miners on a bus returning from a June 25 Senate committee hearing on the Alexander-Cardin Appalachian Restoration Act. (Washington Post)

 

The Slaughter of Migratory Bats by Wind Turbines

With wind power booming around the world—in Germany alone, nearly 20,000 wind-energy installations have been built since 1990—researchers are seeing a marked increase in dead bats. The turbines simply rotate their blades too quickly for the winged mammals to avoid. The deaths have led to a flurry of research on migratory bats and their behavior. Indeed, at a January conference in Berlin on migratory bats, wind farms were a dominant theme. Scientists are racing to figure out what brings the bats in contact with wind turbines, and what can be done to save them. There are no easy answers, in part because little is known about migratory bats. And without concrete data, persuading government regulators and energy companies to relocate proposed wind farms, let alone change the operations of existing turbines or shut them down, is difficult.

Deadly Flights

Science 24 July 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5939, pp. 386 – 387
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_386 (CRN)

 

Windfarm Britain means (very) expensive electricity - Renewable energy at normal prices 'is a myth'

A recent industry study into the UK energy sector of 2030 - which according to government plans will use a hugely increased amount of wind power - suggests that massive electricity price rises will be required, and some form of additional government action in order to avoid power cuts. This could have a negative impact on plans for electrification of transport and domestic energy use.

The study is called Impact of Intermittency, and was carried out by consulting group Pöyry for various industry players such as the National Grid and Centrica at a cost of more than £1m. Pöyry modelled the likely effects on the UK electricity market of a large windpower base of the sort needed to meet government carbon targets - assuming no major change in the amount of nuclear power available. (Lewis Page, The Register)

 

A price too high even for politicians to pay

How deceitful is Labor is claiming we can slash our emissions easily by going green? How quiet is the party on the true costs? Judge from this Senate estimates questioning of the secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services on the electricity used by politicians:

Senator BERNARDI— ...The new electricity contract which you have just signed, is that using green electricity?

Mr Thompson—It is 10 per cent green electricity.

Senator BERNARDI—Why only 10 per cent?

Mr Thompson—In an ideal world we would like it to be 100 per cent, but there are some stark cost implications there…

Senator BERNARDI—There was a promise by the government to power Parliament House and all MPs’ electorate premises with renewable and clean energy. Clearly that is not taking place…

Mr Thompson—All we are doing is seeking a good price for electricity for this building. I think there has been a brief discussion with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet about green energy but, as we explained to them, there is a significant budget cost...

That’s a cost this Government will increasingly foist on private businesses, who must inevitably wonder how they are to pay it without sacking people or going out of business.

What sort of costs are we talking about? Again judge from this - the estimate of how much more Parliament House alone will have to pay for its power under Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme:

Senator BERNARDI—By way of clarification, Mr Kenny, specifically I am interested in what you are expecting as an increase in electricity costs as a result of the ETS or if any increase has been built in there…

Answer...

2 Treasury modelling reported via the Department of Climate Change fact sheet (December 2008) predicted a cost of $23 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) for energy producers.

3 Parliament House is responsible for the production of approximately 20,000 tonnes of CO2 through the consumption of electricity. At $23/t, this would add around $460,000 to our electricity costs when based on 2007–08 consumption.

Think about that cost - neary $500,000 more for just Parliament House’s electricity bill. Taxpayers will have to pay that, and similar costs for countless other government facilities. But who will pay the extra for all the big private businesses that face such big cost increases, too? How many workers will then lose their jobs, thanks to a tax on power that will actually do nothing to stop a warming that seems to have stopped by itself, anyway?

UPDATE 1

Here’s what Kiwis must now pay for a scheme that will have zero effect on the world’s climate:

Thirty dollars a week for every man, woman and child looks likely to be the price Kiwis will have to pay to do their bit to fight global warming.

In fact, even the Government admits New Zealanders would actually be better off doing nothing at all about a presumed warming they couldn’t stop anyway:

According to the report if we do nothing about climate change, the average income per person will be $49,000 by 2020. Cutting emissions by 40% cuts that income back to $46,000. 

No wonder the Indian Government refuses to pay, too, saying the science is dodgy, anyway. In fact, members of the American Physical Society are now petitioning their organisation to reconsider its support for claims that man is heating the world to hell. (Andrew Bolt blog)

 

Climate change: $26pp a week

Battling climate change will cost each Kiwi about $26 a week by 2020, a report shows.

The figure is based on a 15 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 a figure that looks increasingly likely as the Government dismisses deeper cuts urged by groups including Greenpeace as causing too much hardship.

A 40 per cent cut - Greenpeace's target - is tipped to cost about $57 each a week, or $3000 a year, at a cost to the country of $15 billion a year, according to the report by the NZ Institute of Economic Research. The cost to each household would be even steeper.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said the report highlighted that getting too far ahead of other countries raised the cost to New Zealand. But doing nothing was not an option either: "If we slip too far behind international efforts we damage our clean, green reputation and may put our export market access at risk." (Dominion Post)

 

Big Brother may flick the switch on household appliances

The use of household appliances including dishwashers and washing machines could soon be under the control of power companies under plans designed to curb peak period energy consumption.

Queensland distributor Energex has revealed plans for wider use of "controlled-load tariffs" in a submission to the Queensland Competition Authority's (QCA) review of the state's power prices and tariffs.

However, the power supplier has been quick to refute suggestions it will play Big Brother in a possible takeover of a wide range of "energy intensive" appliances at peak times.

"People can opt in...it's not compulsory by any means," Energex spokesman Michael Swanston told ABC Radio this morning.

While similar controls have been exercised over hot water systems for decades, volunteer households on Brisbane's northside are currently trialling the takeover system on air conditioners and pool pumps.

Under the current trial, air-conditioners are fitted with a device that switches off the unit's compressor during the afternoon and early evening.

"We've offered the ability for dishwashers to be on a night-rate tariff for many years with a fairly small take up. For a significant saving in energy price people can opt in and say, 'well I won't start the dishwasher until 9pm'," Mr Swanston said.

However, those households must outlay several hundred dollars to hard-wire select appliances into the property's circuit board so they could be remote-controlled. (Brisbane Times)

 

July 24, 2009

 

Well, they've certainly managed to frighten people: Public fear mounts as swine flu cases soar

Millions of patients overwhelmed a new telephone and online service yesterday to obtain swine flu treatment without seeing a doctor as the number of cases doubled in a week.

The National Pandemic Flu Service, which offers callers or internet users a prescription code for antiviral drugs if they have symptoms, was experiencing “unprecedented demand”, with 9.3 million hits every hour.

The website crashed within minutes of going live at 3pm but was later restored. By 5pm it was receiving the equivalent of 2,600 hits per second. The Government said that it was increasing capacity for the site. (The Times)

 

Is that medical device safe and effective? Who knows?

In the wake of the ObTape mess—more on that later—people are finally beginning to take a hard look at just how the FDA approves medical devices.

Most consumers and many health care workers are unaware that there is a big difference in the approval process between drugs and devices. To market a new drug, the manufacturer must go through a lengthy and expensive process, generally involving clinical trials. Even that process is not always sufficient to spot dangerous side effects of the drugs, which may not appear for years.

Device approval is completely different. Medical devices are classified (Classes I, II, and III) based on the level of control necessary to assure the safety and effectiveness of the device—Class III being the most stringent. The FDA maintains an extensive database to determine which Class a device would fall into. Here are some typical examples:

  • Class I - tongue depressors, bedpans, elastic bandages
  • Class II - x-ray machines, powered wheelchairs, infusion pumps, surgical needles and suture material
  • Class III - heart valves, silicone gel-filled breast implants, implantable pacemaker pulse generators

Many Class I devices are exempt, and do not require so-called premarket review. In such cases, the manufacturer need only register its facility with the FDA. All other devices are subject to one of two types of FDA premarket review before they may be legally marketed in the United States.

Premarket approval [PMA]: The manufacturer must submit evidence, typically including clinical data, providing reasonable assurance that the new device is safe and effective. A successful submission results in FDA approval.

Premarket notification [510(k)—Based on section 510(k) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act]: The manufacturer must demonstrate to FDA that the new device is substantially equivalent to a device already legally on the market that does not require a PMA. A successful submission results in FDA clearance.

"Substantially equivalent" means that the device has the same intended use as another legally marketed device (the "predicate device") and the same technological characteristics, or different technological characteristics and submitted information demonstrates that the device is as safe and effective as the legally marketed device and does not raise different questions of safety or effectiveness.

Notably, it is not legal to advertise a 510(k) cleared device as "FDA-approved." Rather, it is "FDA-cleared."

For PMA, the device review user fee is $200,725 or $50,181 for a small business. For 510(k), the device review user fee is $3693 or $1847 for a small business. A "small business" has annual gross sales and revenues of $100 million or less. The PMA fee is waived for the first premarket application from firms with less than $30 million gross receipts or sales.

Not surprisingly, far more devices are cleared than approved. In the period 2003-2007 (based on FDA's fiscal year) 14,999 devices were cleared and 1001 were approved. Thus, it is true that most medical devices are not specifically tested for safety and effectiveness.

The key here is determining the validity of substantial equivalence in each case. Even then, the procedure can be gamed, if a device is in fact substantially equivalent, but will be marketed for other purposes. For example, several quack devices said to measure skin resistance are accompanied by software that fabricates diagnoses and recommends products.

Given the public's demand for more and better health care, the 510(k) process can streamline getting devices into the marketplace. But, as the old joke says: "There's low price, high quality, and quick delivery. Which two do you want?"

Regarding ObTape Vaginal Sling, until taken off the market, this was a medical device meant to stop the uncontrollable flow of urine as a result of urinary stress incontinence, a medical condition affecting about two million American women. FDA clearance was granted based on substantial equivalence to the urethral support tape products manufactured and marketed by Johnson & Johnson, 510(k) No: K974098 and American Medical Systems, 510(k) K013355.

As it happens, clearance for the Johnson & Johnson device was based on the Protegen sling, which was forced off the market, based on FDA findings that it was "adulterated and misbranded." Since proving substantial equivalency is all that is required for a 510(k) clearance, the clearance is not affected if some problem occurs with a predicate device.

Numerous adverse incident reports came into the FDA on the ObTape, starting in 2004. While adverse incidents do not necessarily mean that the product is defective—and the manufacturer still defends ObTape—in 2006, the product was withdrawn. Through litigation, expert opinion suggests that there were substantial differences between the ObTape and its predicate device, including being made of much more dense material, not porous enough to allow tissue and capillaries to grow through it so it is fully incorporated in the body, rather than becoming encapsulated and expelled.

Moreover, once clearance was granted, the manufacturer of ObTape began to promote its unique features, sufficient enough to get it patented! In other words, ObTape was substantially equivalent enough to be cleared, but substantially unique enough to earn a patent.

Beyond the equivalence issue is good old political pressure. Media sources have documented this sort of thing recently. In one case, a PMA was granted to a certain mammography device even though scientists at the agency recommended against approval, charging that the company had not sufficiently tested the device. In another, clearance was granted to a knee implant, that many felt should have gone through the PMA process instead.

Inasmuch as the FDA is a government agency, politics cannot be kept out of the equation. But it is clear that device clearance and approval has to be reformed. A first step would be much tighter guidelines on equivalency. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

How McDonalds fought off charges of promoting obesity

In 1948, Dick and Mac Mcdonald effectively invented the modern fast-food industry in a small diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. With their creation of the “Speedee Service System” , the brothers changed the way Americans, and eventually, restaurant-goers all over the world, looked at their food. Slinging burgers and fries in the billions, McDonald’s triumphed by quick-cooking products that raised many a doctor’s eyebrow .

Consumers were ‘lovin it’ . The ubiquitous golden arches came to represent more than a diet-breaking indulgence; McDonald’s had quickly become the world’s largest restaurant chain, a symbol of globalisation. But in 2004, all was not well in the land of the Big Mac.

The growing obesity epidemic had exploded into a crisis. Rapidly expanding American waistlines had rendered over 60% of the population overweight or obese, with children weighing in at 24%. Doctors, nutritionists, politicians and consumers were up in arms, and McDonalds, the original fast-food icon, was a natural target. (Economic Times)

 

We're living longer, but even that is worrying us

This week the US Census Bureau announced that, within 10 years and for the first time in history, old people will outnumber children under five across the globe. It was careful not to be too judgmental about this - there being so little we can do about it anyway - and concentrated not on consequent problems but on the "challenges to policymakers".

And yet whenever this demographic shift comes up, it is presented in terms of a crisis on one hand and a burden on the other. Pensions are always in turmoil and dependency ratios, particularly in developed economies, are always dangerously skewed. Various newspapers talked about the bureau having "sounded the alarm" about the "burden on carers and social services" and "intense pressures on individuals and families". These are the terms of any discussion about an ageing population - that it represents a calamity.

But what if it is a good thing? To start with, there is no sweet spot with life expectancy. The orthodoxy is: the higher, the better. In Zimbabwe a combination of HIV/AIDS, starvation, bad sanitation and the wellspring of these ills, poor governance, has cut life expectancy at birth to 40 years. In Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy, you can look to live to 82. Nowhere in any census or policy document will you see anyone saying: "Some kind of midpoint would be nice … 61?" This is for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that people tend not to want to die.

The rise in the number of the old is a massive human success story: life expectancy increases because of better education, greater wealth, lower infant mortality, better healthcare, less disease, the reduction of armed conflict, and the development of technology and its application in pursuit of good. It is, frankly, insane to look at an ageing population and not rejoice. Why do we even have a concept of public health, of co-operation, of sharing knowledge, if not to extend life, wherever we find it? (Zoe Williams, SMH)

 

Congressional Hype about Bottled Water

The news is depressing these days as people fear losing their homes or jobs and worry about family members deployed in military operations overseas. So what are members of Congress worried about? They fear the “grave” threats posed by--bottled water. Now that’s crazy.

Supposedly consumers are at risk from, or are being duped about, bottled water quality. Lawmakers think the solution is more detailed labeling mandates that include listing the traces of chemicals that water might contain.

We don’t ask other food producers to list every possible contaminant in their products. In fact, FDA regulations actually allow a certain level of impurities including rodent hairs, cockroach parts, and fly wings in foods like flour.

You don’t read that on the label. Why? Because absolute purity is impossible and unnecessary from a public health perspective.

And when you are talking about trace level chemicals in bottle water, it’s even more irrelevant. These contaminants exist at such low levels that they pose negligible risks, which is why FDA does not fuss over them. (Angela Logomasini, Townhall)

 

The Crone not just allowing animal libber front (and largely science-free zone) UCS to spout their bile and nonsense but actively promoting it: Farms and Antibiotics

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals. These animals do not receive these drugs the way humans do — as discrete short-term doses. Agricultural antibiotics are a regular feed supplement intended to increase growth and lessen the chance of infection in crowded, industrial farms. (NYT)

 

The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming

Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global WarmingThe Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming offers succinct replies to questions about climate change.  The Cocktail Guide is a handy reference for anyone following the efforts of the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to construct domestic and global restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions (and the energy producing those emissions).

When climate alarmists publicly state that the threats of global warming should be exaggerated to motivate regulation, it is hard for the public to know what the truth about climate change really is.  The Cocktail Guide considers 8 basic questions about the scientific basis for global warming. 

The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming"Every American should understand these central issues to the global warming debate," Marshall Institute President Jeff Kueter said.  "President Obama and the Congress have set the U.S. on a precarious path based on assumptions and preconceptions, not documented facts.  Our Guide will help the public become better informed about the uncertainties in the scientific evidence used to justify severe constraints on energy use and intrusions into day-to-day lives of the American people."

Please contact the Marshall Institute at 202-296-9655 or info@marshall.org for details on how to obtain your "Cocktail Party Pak" (15 copies of the Guide, cocktails napkins and drink swizzles), everything you would need to host your own climate change cocktail party!   

Full Text of "The Cocktail Conversation Guide to Global Warming" (PDF, 1117 KB)
You must have Adobe Acrobat installed to view this document.

 

New paper from Lindzen demonstrates low climate sensitivity with observational data

“…ERBE data appear to demonstrate a climate sensitivity of about 0.5°C which is easily distinguished from sensitivities given by models.”

Lindzen_ERBE_models

figure 3 - click for larger image

On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data

Richard S. Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi
Revised on July 14, 2009 for publication to Geophysical Research Letters

Abstract
Climate feedbacks are estimated from fluctuations in the outgoing radiation budget from the latest version of Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) nonscanner data. It appears, for the entire tropics, the observed outgoing radiation fluxes increase with the increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The observed behavior of radiation fluxes implies negative feedback processes associated with relatively low climate sensitivity. This is the opposite of the behavior of 11 atmospheric models forced by the same SSTs. Therefore, the models display much higher climate sensitivity than is inferred from ERBE, though it is difficult to pin down such high sensitivities with any precision. Results also show, the feedback in ERBE is mostly from shortwave radiation while the feedback in the models is mostly from longwave radiation. Although such a test does not distinguish the mechanisms, this is important since the inconsistency of climate feedbacks constitutes a very fundamental problem in climate prediction.

Introduction
The purpose of the present note is to inquire whether observations of the earth’s radiation imbalance can be used to infer feedbacks and climate sensitivity. Such an approach has, as we will see, some difficulties, but it appears that they can be overcome. This is important since most current estimates of climate sensitivity are based on global climate model (GCM) results, and these obviously need observational testing.

To see what one particular difficulty is, consider the following conceptual situation:

We instantaneously double CO2. This will cause the characteristic emission level to rise to a colder level with an associated diminution of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR). The resulting radiative imbalance is what is generally referred to as radiative forcing. However, the resulting warming will eventually eliminate the radiative imbalance as the system approaches equilibrium. The actual amount of warming associated with equilibration as well as the response time will depend on the climate feedbacks in the system. These feedbacks arise from the dependence of radiatively important substances like water vapor (which is a powerful greenhouse gas) and clouds (which are important for both infrared and visible radiation) on the temperature. If the feedbacks are positive, then both the equilibrium warming and the response time will increase; if they are negative, both will decrease. Simple calculations as well as GCM results suggest response times on the order of decades for positive feedbacks and years or less for negative feedbacks [Lindzen and Giannitsis, 1998, and references therein].

The main point of this example is to illustrate that the climate system tends to eliminate radiative imbalances with characteristic response times.

Now, in 2002–2004 several papers noted that there was interdecadal change in the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative balance associated with a warming between the 1980’s and 1990’s [Chen et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2002; Wielicki et al., 2002a, b; Cess and Udelhofen, 2003; Hatzidimitriou et al., 2004; Lin et al., 2004]. Chou and Lindzen [2005] inferred from the interdecadal changes in OLR and temperature that there was a strong negative feedback. However, this result was internally inconsistent since the persistence of the imbalance over a decade implied a positive feedback. A subsequent correction to the satellite data eliminated much of the decadal variation in the radiative balance [Wong et al., 2006].

However, it also made clear that one could not readily use decadal variability in surface temperature to infer feedbacks from ERBE data. Rather one needs to look at temperature variations that are long compared to the time scales associated with the feedback processes, but short compared to the response time over which the system equilibrates. This is also important so as to unambiguously observe changes in the radiative budget that are responses to fluctuations in SST as opposed to changes in SST resulting from changes in the radiative budget; the latter will occur on the response time of the system. The primary feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds occur on time scales of days [Lindzen et al., 2001; Rodwell and Palmer, 2007], while response times for relatively strong negative feedbacks remain on the order of a year [Lindzen and Giannitsis, 1998, and references therein]. That said, it is evident that, because the system attempts to restore equilibrium, there will be a tendency to underestimate negative feedbacks relative to positive feedbacks that are associated with longer response times.

Concluding Remarks

In Figure 3, we show 3 panels. We see that ERBE and model results differ substantially. In panels a and b, we evaluate Equation (3) using ΔFlux for only OLR and only SWR. The curves are for the condition assuming no SW feedback and assuming no LW feedback in panels a and b, respectively. In panel a, model results fall on the curve given by Equation (3), because the model average of SW feedbacks is almost zero. In panel b, models with smaller LW feedbacks are closer to the curve for no LW feedback; the model results would lie on the curve assuming positive LW feedback. When in panel c we consider the total flux (i.e., LW + SW), model results do lie on the theoretically expected curve.

Looking at Figure 3, we note several important features:

1) The models display much higher climate sensitivity than is inferred from ERBE.

2) The (negative) feedback in ERBE is mostly from SW while the (positive) feedback in the models is mostly from OLR.

3) The theoretical relation between ΔF/ΔT and sensitivity is very flat for sensitivities greater than 2°C. Thus, the data does not readily pin down such sensitivities. This was the basis for the assertion by Roe and Baker [2007] that determination of climate sensitivity was almost impossible [Allen and Frame, 2007]. However, this assertion assumes a large positive feedback.

Indeed, Fig. 3c suggests that models should have a range of sensitivities extending from about 1.5°C to infinite sensitivity (rather than 5°C as commonly asserted), given the presence of spurious positive feedback. However, response time increases with increasing sensitivity [Lindzen and Giannitsis,1998], and models were probably not run sufficiently long to realize their full sensitivity. For sensitivities less than 2°C, the data readily distinguish different sensitivities, and ERBE data appear to demonstrate a climate sensitivity of about 0.5°C which is easily distinguished from sensitivities given by models.

Note that while TOA flux data from ERBE are sufficient to determine feedback factors, this data do not specifically identify mechanisms. Thus, the small OLR feedback from ERBE might represent the absence of any OLR feedback; it might also result from the cancellation of a possible positive water vapor feedback due to increased water vapor in the upper troposphere [Soden et al., 2005] and a possible negative iris cloud feedback involving reduced upper level cirrus clouds [Lindzen et al., 2001]. With respect to SW feedbacks, it is currently claimed that model SW feedbacks are largely associated with the behavior of low level clouds [Bony et al., 2006, and references therein]. Whether this is the case in nature cannot be determined from ERBE TOA observations.

However, more recent data from CALIOP do offer height resolution, and we are currently studying such data to resolve the issue of what, in fact, is determining SW feedbacks. Finally, it should be noted that our analysis has only considered the tropics. Following Lindzen et al. [2001], allowing for sharing this tropical feedback with neutral higher latitudes could reduce the negative feedback factor by about a factor of two. This would lead to an equilibrium sensitivity that is 2/3 rather than 1/2 of the non-feedback value. This, of course, is still a small sensitivity.

see the full paper here (PDF) (WUWT)

 

New Scientist: science is now inadequate

Olda K. has pointed out the following article in Nude Socialist to me,

George Marshall: Comment: Why people don't act on climate change.
The author, a boss of a climate pressure group "COIN" in Oxford, is conducting an "informal research project". It means that he's asking various people the annoying question how they could dare to fly to long-haul destinations.

Of course, needless to say, all the people whom he has interviewed and who flew to unnecessarily distant airports - for skiing trips, holidays in Sri Lanka, or scuba diving in the Pacific - were Greenpeace or British Antarctic Survey officials, leading climate policy experts, and similar green material.

So this not-so-gentle man asks why people don't "act" on climate change. And indeed, the obvious answer - that such an "action" would mean an economic suicide with no detectable positive effects - must remain a taboo. If he's not allowed to consider the possibility that his belief system is wrong, what other culprits can he find?

You shouldn't be surprised by the result. Media distortions and scientific illiteracy turn out to be innocent. The true villain is nothing else than science itself.
I do not accept that this continuing rejection of the science is a reflection of media distortion or scientific illiteracy. Rather, I see it as proof of our society's failure to construct a shared belief in climate change.
Marshall admits that even Ms Pope who is the holy mother of the Hadley Center for Climate Change thinks that climate science should build on scientific evidence. But Mr Marshall "could not disagree more". What matters is "shared belief".

Mr Marshall continues by discussing the possible methods how to construct such a "shared belief" that doesn't exist so far: only 10% of the people count "climate change" as a major problem. His conclusion is that the bulk of the society agrees with the skeptics not because they're right but because the "maverick" skeptics are better in trustworthiness, honesty, confidence, charm, humour and outspokenness.

Well, again, Mr Marshall has missed the obvious explanation, namely that the "ordinary" people are actually able to compare the impacts of a few tenths of a degree of possible warming on one side and the unavailability of energy on the other side.

By the way, I disagree with the "maverick" label for most of the climate realists. We're defending the status quo, the pillars of the scientific and industrial civilization that have been in place for centuries. It's the climate activists like him who are unhinged mavericks and hippies. Today, there are many of them but that can't change the fact that they're still hippies.

Instead of investigating whether his beliefs are actually correct or wrong, he wants to bring artists and writers to science because science has failed, he thinks. "Collective imagination" should replace it because:
It is clear that the cautious language of science is now inadequate to inspire concerted change, even among scientists. We need a fundamentally different approach. Only then will scientists be in a position to throw down the ultimate challenge to the public: "We've done the work, we believe the results, now when the hell will you wake up?"
Well, religious bigots have always needed a fundamentally different approach than science to achieve their goals, and Mr Marshall is surely not the first example in the human history. In fact, science is literally threatening to the core values that people like Mr Marshall worship, such as blind beliefs, unlimited fear, irrationality, and brainwashing of whole nations. Science has always been their enemy, whether they were potent in inspiring a new large religious awakening or as impotent as Mr Marshall.

I am also amused by Marshall's comment that "they" have done the work. Google Scholar shows that Mr Marshall has only written two papers. Each of them has earned 3 citations and they're called:
The psychology of denial

Sleepwalking into disaster; are we in a state of denial about climate change. :-)
Well, it doesn't look like Mr Marshall has done any work in his life. Instead, as Prof Richard Lindzen has explained (go e.g. to 21:00 and especially 33:45), Mr Marshall is a typical example of the mentally ungifted people who find the "shared belief" in catastrophic global warming to be a good tool to imagine themselves as something that they are surely not - namely thinkers - and to place themselves above others even though they are actually below them, from any objective viewpoint.

I just wonder how it's possible that a journal with the word "scientist" in its official title, and Nude Socialist is surely one of them, can be printing this garbage written by similar people who have nothing sensible to say.

And that's the memo. (The Reference Frame)

 

Argh! A New Fight Over Pollution Curbs Takes Root - Energy-Intensive Companies Hope to Counter Emissions by Preserving Trees That Might Not Have Been at Risk of Destruction

How much pollution can a tree absorb? The question is at the center of a high-stakes fight over how much it will cost to curb climate change -- and who will foot the bill.

Trees are nature's antidote to smokestacks and tailpipes. Factories and cars cough out carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced when fossil fuel is burned. Trees inhale it. They store the carbon in their roots, trunks and leaves, and they send the oxygen back into the air.

But when a tree is destroyed, its carbon wafts back up into the atmosphere. Globally, according to the United Nations, nearly 20% of man-made greenhouse-gas emissions come from deforestation: trees cut and burned by humans, or mowed down by forest fire, or rotted away by disease. That is more carbon dioxide than comes from all the world's cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships, combined.

Now, some of the world's biggest polluters are turning into tree-huggers. Facing impending government orders to help curb climate change, energy-intensive companies argue that if they help prevent a forest from being destroyed, they will be keeping carbon dioxide out of the air. So they are proposing that they pay forest owners to keep their trees alive, and in exchange they receive carbon credits that reduce their obligation to make costlier emission cuts at their own factories. In short, they want to harness photosynthesis for the benefit of their bottom line.

It is relatively easy to measure how much carbon dioxide trees soak up. But there are major questions about claiming an existing forest as environmental cover for, say, building a new coal-burning power plant or producing a fleet of SUVs. (Jeffrey Ball, WSJ)

Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution... Carbon dioxide is not pollution...

 

Johanns says climate change bill won't pass Senate

OMAHA, Neb. -- U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns says the climate change bill passed by the House in June will not pass in the Senate.

At the heart of the bill is a proposal known as cap-and-trade, which would cap carbon emissions for various industries. Industries that would need to exceed the cap would buy credits from other industries that emit less than the allowance.

Johanns, a Republican and former U.S. Agriculture Secretary, criticized the House for passing the bill without first looking at how it might affect agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture presented an analysis Wednesday that concluded farmers stand to make more money than they will lose under the bill.

But Johanns says the analysis is inadequate, noting it did not look at the bill's impact on the meat industry or specialty crops. (Associated Press)

 

U.N. Seeks $10 Billion Aid As Good Start To Climate Pact

OSLO - Aid of $10 billion from rich nations would be a "good beginning" to launch a U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December, the United Nations' top climate official said on Thursday.

Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, also told the BBC World Service in an interview that rich countries needed to pledge deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and the poor had to slow the rise in their emissions.

But cash was needed to kick-start a deal.

"If we can get in Copenhagen something like 10 billion euros or dollars on the table that will allow developing countries to begin preparing national plans to limit their emissions and adapt to climate change, then that would be a good beginning," he said. (Reuters)

 

U.S. must move faster on climate change: Sweden

ARE, Sweden - Sweden, which currently holds the European Union presidency, urged the United States on Thursday to move faster to tackle climate change ahead of a major environmental summit in Copenhagen later this year.

Andreas Carlgren, Environment Minister for Sweden, told journalists at a meeting of EU energy and environment ministers that he welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to fight global warming but called on the United States to do even more.

"We welcome that the ambitions have changed dramatically compared to the previous administration, but still we expect more and we need more," he told reporters at a mountainside meeting held in central Sweden.

Sweden took over the six-month presidency of the European Union earlier this month and is helping to pave the way for tough talks on a major climate deal in Copenhagen this December which would replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012.

The French government last month criticized the United States and Canada for being too slow, saying they needed to do more to tackle greenhouse gases. (Reuters)

 

Is Time Running Out To Seal Post-Kyoto Climate Pact?

SINGAPORE - Negotiators face a mammoth task to try to agree by the end of the year on the outlines of broader climate pact to replace the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol.

Key issues such as financing climate change adaptation programs in developing nations, transfer of clean-energy technology and disagreements over rich nations' targets to cut planet-warming emissions still need to be resolved.

Following are responses from Howard Bamsey, Australia's special envoy on climate change, on how the negotiations are proceeding as nations step up the momentum to try to seal the pact during a U.N. gathering in Copenhagen in December. (Reuters)

 

Cold Shoulder to Climate 'Urgency'

WASHINGTON -- Unfortunately, China's president had to dash home to suppress ethnic riots. Had he stayed in Italy at the recent G-8 summit, he could have continued the Herculean task of disabusing Barack Obama of his amazingly durable belief, shared by the U.S. Congress, that China -- and India, Brazil, Mexico and other developing nations -- will sacrifice their modernization on the altar of climate change. China has a more pressing agenda, and not even suppressing riots tops the list.

China made this clear in June, when its vice premier said, opaquely, that China will "actively" participate in climate change talks on a basis of "common but differentiated responsibility." The meaning of that was made clear three days later, at a climate change conference in Bonn, where a Chinese spokesman reiterated that his country's priority is economic growth: "Given that, it is natural for China to have some increase in its emissions, so it is not possible for China in that context to accept a binding or compulsory target." That was redundant: In January, China announced that its continuing reliance on coal as its primary source of energy will require increasing coal production 30 percent in the next six years. (George Will, Townhall)

 

Bruce Parry on 1 minute to save the world - 'Anyone can deliver a short but powerful message to the world about the most important issue of the day,' says the Tribe presenter

The climate crisis that's facing all of us means that it's time for all hands on deck. For too long we've been bombarded with short films in the form of adverts that tell us it's cool to consume; cool to replace barely worn out goods with newer ones; cool to travel as far and as fast as possible. Personally, I think it's time to fight back; time to fight fire with fire; time to counter the messages that infinite growth and consumption are good using the same weapon with which they've been delivered to us. Film.

That is why 1 minute to save the world is being launched. The idea behind it is to enable anyone, anywhere, to deliver a short but powerful message to the world on the most important issue of our day – climate change. The winning films will be sent around the world in November as an online campaign to raise awareness of the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, where all the world's leaders will be gathered to thrash out an agreement on the future of our planet. (The Guardian)

 

U.K. Falls Behind Canada in Carbon Capture, Industry Group Says

U.K. efforts to capture and store carbon dioxide from power plants, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, have fallen behind Canada and other nations because of funding delays, the head of an industry lobby group said.

E.ON AG, RWE AG, and Iberdrola SA are competing for U.K. government funding to build the country’s first commercial-scale Carbon Capture and Storage project at a power station, by 2014. Britain, which gets 37 percent of its electricity from coal, is counting on the CCS technology to trap and bury greenhouse gases.

“The U.K. has gone from a leading position in CCS to gradually slipping well behind other countries in the world,” Jeff Chapman, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said in a July 22 telephone interview. Canada, where the province of Alberta chose three CCS projects for funding in June, is now a clear leader, he said. (Bloomberg)

Good because no one should be wasting such a precious resource.

 

Just fuggedaboudit will ya? Carnegie Mellon Team Leads National Project Recommending Regulations for Safe Capture and Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

PITTSBURGH, July 23 -- Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, which captures carbon dioxide from power plants and safely disposes of it deep underground, will not meet its full potential in the United States without new federal regulations that create a uniform regulatory environment.

This is the conclusion of a set of four policy briefs just released by the CSSReg project led by M. Granger Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

"At the moment, there is a patchwork of different rules across the U.S. and a great deal of legal uncertainty," Morgan said. "We need a clear way for CCS projects to obtain the right to inject carbon dioxide into appropriate geological formations and a strategy for safely addressing long- term stewardship once an injection project ends. (AScribe Newswire)

 

"Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture"

Discussion Paper

July 2009

Authors: Mohammed Al-Juaied, Mohammed Al-Juaied, Former Visiting Scholar, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2008-2009, Adam Whitmore

Belfer Center Discussion Papers

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Science, Technology, and Public Policy

ABSTRACT: There is a growing interest in carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a means of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However there are substantial uncertainties about the costs of CCS.  Costs for pre-combustion capture with compression (i.e. excluding costs of transport and storage and any revenue from EOR associated with storage) are examined in this discussion paper for First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) plant and for more mature technologies, or Nth-of-a-Kind plant (NOAK).

For FOAK plant using solid fuels the levelised cost of electricity on a 2008 basis is approximately 10¢/kWh higher with capture than for conventional plants (with a range of 8-12 ¢/kWh). Costs of abatement are found typically to be approximately $150/tCO2 avoided (with a range of $120-180/tCO2 avoided). For NOAK plants the additional cost of electricity with capture is approximately 2-5¢/kWh, with costs of the range of $35-70/tCO2 avoided.  Costs of abatement with carbon capture for other fuels and technologies are also estimated for NOAK plants. The costs of abatement are calculated with reference to conventional SCPC plant for both emissions and costs of electricity.

Estimates for both FOAK and NOAK are mainly based on cost data from 2008, which was at the end of a period of sustained escalation in the costs of power generation plant and other large capital projects. There are now indications of costs falling from these levels.  This may reduce the costs of abatement and costs presented here may be "peak of the market" estimates.

If general cost levels return, for example, to those prevailing in 2005 to 2006 (by which time significant cost escalation had already occurred from previous levels), then costs of capture and compression for FOAK plants are expected to be $110/tCO2 avoided (with a range of $90-135/tCO2 avoided).  For NOAK plants costs are expected to be $25-50/tCO2.

Based on these considerations a likely representative range of costs of abatement from CCS excluding transport and storage costs appears to be $100-150/tCO2 for first-of-a-kind plants and perhaps $30-50/tCO2 for nth-of-a-kind plants.

The estimates for FOAK and NOAK costs appear to be broadly consistent in the light of estimates of the potential for cost reductions with increased experience. Cost reductions are expected from increasing scale, learning on individual components, and technological innovation including improved plant integration.  Innovation and integration can both lower costs and increase net output with a given cost base. These factors are expected to reduce abatement costs by approximately 65% by 2030.

The range of estimated costs for NOAK plants is within the range of plausible future carbon prices, implying that mature technology would be competitive with conventional fossil fuel plants at prevailing carbon prices.

2009_AlJuaied_Whitmore_Realistic_Costs_of_Carbon_Capture_web.pdf (454K PDF)

 

No! Turnbull is right, the Coalition can't win this fight

IN the light of public sentiment, the opposition has to accept political reality on climate change, at least for the moment.

LAST week, Peter Garrett was in trouble for approving a uranium mine against his personal better judgment. This week, Malcolm Turnbull is in trouble over responding to a version of the emissions trading scheme that he supported when he was in government. The deeper issue is how much consistency should be demanded of politicians, and when politicians and parties should be expected to stand up for principle or respond to public clamour.

"It depends" is the only answer to this conundrum; it depends on the depth of their personal conviction, the strength of their party's view and a political judgment of the public's likely response to dying for a good cause v living to fight another day. Turnbull's dilemma is the harder one because, as party leader, he is expected to speak for himself as well as to speak for all his colleagues even on the most contentious issues. Despite this being a near-impossible challenge, he is managing it rather well.

There is as much disagreement on climate change and how to deal with it inside the government as there is inside the opposition. The difference is that government ministers can't endlessly debate policy because they have demanding portfolios to run. Governments have to make decisions and stick with them. Opposition, by contrast, tends to be a permanent debating society because even the most final decisions can sometimes be revisited in office.

This allows new ideas into the polity, so it is not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes party management more important and much harder in opposition than in government.

Grapes grew in Britain in Roman times, crops grew in Greenland during the Middle Ages and the River Thames regularly froze in the 1600s, so climate change certainly takes place. The problem, at least for politicians who prefer rational debate to following fads, is the public's perception that climate change is uniquely dangerous and particularly associated with man-made carbon dioxide emissions. (Tony Abbott , The Australian)

Abbott is wrong, we must win this fight! More importantly for the Coalition you must fight! The big mistake of the Coalition Government was to yield on gorebull warming but now you have the chance to correct that. You must offer voters a rational alternative, not vote as a mere extension of the government. Why should anyone vote for the opposition if they deliver exactly the same disastrous policies as the government? No ETS. Not now, not ever.

 

Libs need to keep cool head to weather heat

THE ETS will destroy Turnbull's leadership unless he can master the policy dividing his party.

MALCOLM Turnbull faces a true test of his leadership in the next 20 days and it's not just because of Kevin Rudd's clever metronome politics or Wilson Tuckey's inchoate expression of Liberal frustration of an emissions trading scheme and the Opposition Leader's arrogance. It's about a failure of courage, commitment, co-operation and policy development during the past year.

The Prime Minister has certainly jammed the Coalition on the vote for an ETS and engineered mounting political pressure on Turnbull.

The irascible Tuckey, belittled and sidelined by Joe Hockey's characterisation of him as a "wild uncle at a wedding", certainly voiced widespread concerns -- and the truth -- when he said Turnbull was arrogant and inexperienced. (The first is self-confessed, the second self-evident.)

But the nub of the Liberals' problem -- the issue at the heart of the waking trance that has mesmerised them into political paralysis -- is the lack of definition about what the Coalition stands for.

Despite more than half Turnbull's front bench having long-term senior ministerial experience -- compared with just two on Rudd's front bench -- policy development has lagged. The Coalition has pursued a totally negative agenda based on economic difficulties, rising unemployment, debt and budget deficits without having an alternative positive policy narrative it can call its own.

In this atmosphere -- or vacuum -- how best to handle the policy and politics of an ETS has become the defining and dividing issue for the Liberals. It is likely to determine the party's effectiveness in the national climate change debate during the crucial next six months. (Dennis Shanahan, The Australian)

 

Climate Change Could Have Negative Effects On Stream And Forest Ecosystems

A rare April freeze in 2007 provided researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory with further evidence that climate change could have negative effects on stream and forest ecosystems. (ScienceDaily)

You're wrong! They are looking at a cold event.

 

New Paper “Surface Temperature Variations In East Africa And Possible Causes” By Christy Et Al. 2009

As posted on Watts Up With That, ICECAP and Climate Audit, there is an excellent new paper on the issue of surface temperature trends. The paper is

Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, and R.T. McNider, 2009: Surface Temperature Variations in East Africa and Possible Causes. J. Climate, 22, 3342–3356.

The abstract reads

“Surface temperatures have been observed in East Africa for more than 100 yr, but heretofore have not been subject to a rigorous climate analysis. To pursue this goal monthly averages of maximum (TMax), minimum (TMin), and mean (TMean) temperatures were obtained for Kenya and Tanzania from several sources. After the data were organized into time series for specific sites (60 in Kenya and 58 in Tanzania), the series were adjusted for break points and merged into individual gridcell squares of 1.25°, 2.5°, and 5.0°.

Results for the most data-rich 5° cell, which includes Nairobi, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount Kenya, indicate that since 1905, and even recently, the trend of TMax is not significantly different from zero. However, TMin results suggest an accelerating temperature rise.

Uncertainty estimates indicate that the trend of the difference time series (TMax - TMin) is significantly less than zero for 1946-2004, the period with the highest density of observations. This trend difference continues in the most recent period (1979-2004), in contrast with findings in recent periods for global datasets, which generally have sparse coverage of East Africa.

The differences between TMax and TMin trends, especially recently, may reflect a response to complex changes in the boundary layer dynamics; TMax represents the significantly greater daytime vertical connection to the deep atmosphere, whereas TMin often represents only a shallow layer whose temperature is more dependent on the turbulent state than on the temperature aloft.

Because the turbulent state in the stable boundary layer is highly dependent on local land use and perhaps locally produced aerosols, the significant human development of the surface may be responsible for the rising TMin while having little impact on TMax in East Africa. This indicates that time series of TMax and TMin should become separate variables in the study of long-term changes.”

This an excellent research contribution and adds to the concern with respect to using the surface temperature trends as the climate metric to monitor and predict global average warming and cooling that we overviewed 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 (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Pacific shift behind 70% of recent warming

In this weekly dose of peer-reviewed denialist literature on the climate, we look into Journal of Geophysical Research. J.D. McLean, C.R. de Freitas, and R.M. Carter, in their

Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature (abstract),
have compared the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and global tropospheric temperature anomalies (GTTA).

By looking at the derivatives of both functions, they argue that the Pacific events are responsible for roughly 70% of the tropospheric temperature changes in the last 30-50 years, a dominant contribution. When we consider the tropical troposphere only, the percentage increases to 81%.

If true, that leaves less than 1/3 of the changes to man-made factors - because there may be additional natural factors, too (volcanoes are the partially isolated factor in their paper). The alleged Pacific cause was extracted from a correlation that included a 6-month lag.

It's very nice but I guess that one should still be very careful about the difference between the correlation and causation. The correlation may still be due to a) accidents and b) common causes behind both correlated quantities. (The Reference Frame)

 

Strong Evidence That Cloud Changes May Exacerbate Global Warming Shown From New Study

The role of clouds in climate change has been a major question for decades. As the earth warms under increasing greenhouse gases, it is not known whether clouds will dissipate, letting in more of the sun's heat energy and making the earth warm even faster, or whether cloud cover will increase, blocking the Sun's rays and actually slowing down global warming.

In a study published in the July 24 issue of Science, researchers Amy Clement and Robert Burgman from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Joel Norris from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego begin to unravel this mystery. Using observational data collected over the last 50 years and complex climate models, the team has established that low-level stratiform clouds appear to dissipate as the ocean warms, indicating that changes in these clouds may enhance the warming of the planet. (ScienceDaily)

Or they are observing some of Lindzen's "Iris Effect" in action, in which case it's a cooling effect.

 

Climate insurance: what kind of deal can be made in Copenhagen?

One key challenge on the climate change agenda is a fairer system to protect the world's poorest farmers from failing crops and extreme weather variations. From Climate Feedback part of Guardian Environment Network

What has Copenhagen to do with development and/or farming improvements?

 

Oil sands less dirty than thought, Alberta study finds

CALGARY -- The Alberta government shot back at international oil sands critics Thursday, releasing two reports that argue crude produced from the sticky sands in the northern part of the province is not as devastating to the environment as previously believed.

The reports, commissioned by the Alberta Energy Research Institute, show direct greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta’s oil sands are on average about 10% higher than emissions from other sources of crude refined in the United States. Other studies have put this number closer to 40%. (Calgary Herald)

CO2 emission is a plain dumb metric. The great wonder is how they managed to have colorless, odorless and essential carbon dioxide thought of as "dirty".

 

Humanity can't power progress with green faith

ENVIRONMENTALISTS who oppose everything except renewable energy are condemning billions to poverty.

THE federal government's support for a liquefied natural gas development in the Kimberley and the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia has generated heated opposition from people who say they are true environmentalists.

The same people oppose the government's $2.4 billion commitment to accelerate low-emission coal technologies. And, despite a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020 and more than $2bn also being spent to accelerate and commercialise renewable technologies, they don't like biomass even though it is proven and often the most affordable, efficient and practical of the renewable technologies on offer today. Some also oppose geothermal energy.

Such opposition demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of where our electricity comes from, how much it costs, who pays for it and what the future global energy landscape looks like.

There are 1.6 billion people in the world with no access to electricity. They are the poorest people on the planet. As the developing world continues to modernise and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development economies continue to grow, global energy consumption is set to nearly double in the next 20 years. (Martin Ferguson, The Australian)

 

Gas from coal

Last week's newsletter included a mention of the work of Craig Venter in discovering bacteria which can convert coal to methane, and his collaboration with BP to commercialise the technology. However, a reader has pointed out that this is not a completely new approach to the use of coal reserves. Luca Technologies, based in Denver, already has pilot wells in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming which have generated in total a billion cubic feet of gas.

The company's founder was the first to prove that the methane commonly associated with coal seams is generated in real time by the action of naturally occurring populations of anaerobic micro-organisms, whose productivity can be increased by supplying appropriate nutrients, or stopped if oxygen is allowed in. The company suggests that the amount of gas extracted from the Powder River Basin could be increased several-fold using their technology, assuming only a 1% conversion rate of coal to methane.

This approach of cultivating what Luca terms "geobioreactors" can in principle also be extended to other carbon sources such as partially-depleted oil wells or oil shales. Competition with Dr Venter's company is likely to be beneficial for both approaches. Given the enormous reserves, coal could well continue to be one of our primary sources of energy for many years to come, but not necessarily through conventional mining. (Scientific Alliance)

 

An Interview with Kirk R. Smith On Indoor Air Pollution and Why the Rural Poor Need Propane and Butane

Kirk R. Smith is among the world’s leading authorities on the problem of indoor air pollution. In 2007, the World Health Organization found that indoor air pollution was killing about 500,000 people in India every year, most of them women and children. The agency found that pollution levels in some kitchens in rural India were some 30 times higher than recommended and that the pollution was six times as bad as that found in New Delhi. Globally, more than 1.6 million people per year die premature deaths due to indoor air pollution caused by burning biomass – wood, dung, roots, straw, etc.

A professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley. Smith has been researching the problem of indoor air pollution since 1981 and he has been working hard to publicize the problem. In 2002, Smith wrote a piece for Science magazine titled “In Praise of Petroleum?” in which he argued that increased use of hydrocarbons, particularly propane and butane, would be an effective – and relatively inexpensive -- way to reduce the numbers of these deaths. Smith earned his doctoral degree from UC Berkeley in biomedical and environmental health in 1977. He has been a member of National Academy of Sciences since 1997. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

They don't say... Motoring taxes 'tarnished eco image'

Motorists mistrust the Government's road user tax measures, a report from MPs said today.

The Government has been inconsistent in the way it has justified motoring taxes, added the report from the House of Commons Transport Committee.

Road users remained "an important source of revenue" but needed to be treated "fairly and with openness", the MPs said.

The committee's chairman, Louise Ellman (Labour, Liverpool Riverside), said: "The Government handled a phased set of increases to Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) so badly they tarnished the image of environmental taxes."

The report said: "The Government has been inconsistent in the way that it has justified motoring taxes. Fuel duty has been presented, at different times, as a tool to reduce carbon emissions, a source of general revenue, and a means to fund transport investment.

"We are concerned that motorists are mistrustful of the Government regarding taxes. The Government needs to improve the consistency and transparency in the way it justifies taxes on road users." (The Independent)

 

A lot of trouble just to dump junk in the countryside: Slow, Costly and Often Dangerous Road to Wind Power

BELFAST, Me. — On America’s highways, wind turbines may be the ultimate oversize load.

Trucks carrying silvery blades nearly half a football field long have been lumbering through this placid coastal town all summer, backing up traffic as they slowly exit the roadway. Huge, tubular chunks of tower also pass through. Tall pieces of machinery looking somewhat like jet engines travel at night because they require special routing to avoid overpasses.

As demand for clean energy grows, towns around the country are finding their traffic patterns roiled as convoys carrying disassembled towers that will reach more than 250 feet in height, as well as motors, blades and other parts roll through. Escorted by patrol cars and gawked at by pedestrians, the equipment must often travel hundreds of miles from ports or factories to the remote, windy destinations where the turbines are erected. In Belfast, officials have worked hard to keep the nuisance to a minimum, but about 200 trucks are passing through this year on their way to western Maine, carrying parts that have been shipped from Denmark and Vietnam. (NYT)

 

Renewables sector 'a cottage industry'

The nation's nuclear science chief has described the renewable energy sector as "a cottage industry", saying it can't generate enough power to meet national baseload requirements.

Nuclear energy was the only real alternative to use of fossil fuels if Australia wanted to meet planned emissions reduction targets, Dr Ziggy Switkowski said.

The head of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) says nuclear power is a crucial global response to climate change.

Nations seeking to meet very aggressive reduction targets were reaching the conclusion that only nuclear power could provide baseload electricity supplies, he said.

"There is no other alternative but to go nuclear," Dr Switkowski told ABC Radio on Friday.

Aspirations for contributions from intermittent sources, such as solar and wind, were "laudable".

Dr Switkowski said he was concerned Australia was trying to replace an industrial strength, very efficient energy infrastructure in Australia with "a cottage industry made up of windmills and solar hot water services". (AAP)

 

Wind and solar are not enough, says Resources Minister Martin Ferguson

RESOURCES Minister Martin Ferguson has savaged environmentalists for demonising nuclear, gas and coal-fired energy despite knowing solar and wind energy are not viable on current technology.

Mr Ferguson yesterday challenged the green lobby to embrace a "rational, science-based pathway" to energy generation, saying its blanket rejection of traditional energy sources is politically motivated.

The comments drew a sharp response from Greens leader Bob Brown, who labelled Mr Ferguson "a lackey of the mining industry" who was unwilling to embrace the future.

They also came as the Labor Party prepared to dump a 2007 national conference resolution requiring the Rudd government to renounce its legislative right to impose a nuclear waste dump on the Northern Territory.

A platform to be considered by next week's national conference excludes the 2007 resolution demanding the repeal of the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005.

Mining giant Rio Tinto this week appealed to the government to reverse its ban on nuclear energy in Australia. (Matthew Franklin, The Australian)

 

Business and reduced carbon intensity

It seems that companies everywhere are jumping on the carbon emissions reduction bandwagon. Since the business of business is to maximise profits over the foreseeable future, this does not (by and large) represent altruism, but what is best described as enlightened self interest (although some campaigners would question the "enlightened").

Some have embraced the concept with more enthusiasm than others. The FT this week carries an interview with Keith Clarke, chief executive of the UK-based engineering consultancy W S Atkins, in which he talks of climate change mitigation as a "moral imperative" which will also be a "staggering opportunity" for the economy (by which he presumably means a large positive opportunity, rather than one which might cause the economy to stagger).

To quote from the article: "Mr Clarke's road to Damascus moment came only recently: he cites the Stern review, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the influence of his daughter Jo, 25, who works for Otesha, a sustainable lifestyle charity. "She made me think about it far more than the general nice middle-class awareness about being green. If we materially miss these targets we're into scenarios that are so bad you just don't want to think about them. Your children certainly won't need a pension. They'll need a shotgun." Which just goes to show that not all the enthusiasm for radical measures necessarily comes from the anti-capitalist end of the political spectrum.

He is not alone. The Daily Telegraph carries an interview (sponsored by the Carbon Trust) with Gerald Corbett, chairman of Britvic (makers of soft drinks) and SSL (Durex condoms and Dr Scholl footcare products). He emphasises how important the issue is to the businesses he chairs and believes that all companies should have "teams of people devoted to carbon".

He talks of the 45% reduction in energy use per unit of production at Britvic in the last ten years. "Mr Corbett says the changes - which include new in-house bottling technologies, recyclable plastics and a pledge that no waste will end up in landfill by 2015 - are 'win-win' as they lower both the company's carbon footprint and its costs. In fact he regrets Britvic did not get round to it earlier." So, whatever the driver of these changes, some businesses are taking the opportunity to lower their costs and become more efficient.

This, of course, is simply good business sense, although many companies will also see positive PR opportunities from the low-carbon message. However, this is more important for some businesses than others. As he rather delicately expresses it "The shopping mission for a condom tends to be rather less focused on environmental issues than the shopping mission for a bottle of squash."

Mr Corbett is another senior businessman who seems wholly convinced on the need for climate change mitigation policies. "In my vision of a low-carbon world, all public transport will be excellent and there will only be electric cars. I'd like all food to be produced locally and for there to be no packaging at all. In terms of energy, the Severn barrage will have been built and there will be windmills producing clean energy spread right across the world. Hopefully, it will be a world we can be proud to hand over to our grandchildren."

Not that this philosophy necessarily applies to every aspect of his life. Although he and his wife grow some of their own food and have a flock of organic sheep on their small farm near St Albans, Mr Corbett drives a Range Rover and takes about 20 flights a year.

Other businesses are less committed to the "moral imperative" of climate change mitigation, but are equally willing to profit from the opportunities offered. BP famously went "beyond petroleum", but has recently made the return trip. Not that it ever moved far from its core business of oil exploration and extraction, but it is clear now that the company will only invest in opportunities for which it sees a reasonable chance of making an economic return. This does not preclude less conventional technologies, as their joint work with Craig Venter on the gas from coal project illustrates.

Rivals ExxonMobil have always taken a more hard-headed approach to their core business, and have been criticised for this by campaigners, particularly when they had the temerity to fund organisations which questioned the received wisdom of climate change. Nevertheless, the company has flourished, and remains the world's most successful oil company.

But their innate conservatism does not blind them to opportunities in the renewables field. They have now entered into a joint venture with Synthetic Genomics – run by the seemingly-ubiquitous Craig Venter – in which they will invest $600 million over five years to develop a viable process to produce fuel from algae. Green algae have numerous advantages over other sources of bio-fuel (including second-generation fuels from biomass). In particular, they can yield about eight times as much fuel per hectare as conventional crops, even at the current stage of development, and they can be grown in brackish water, so taking pressure off both farmland and fresh water.

Of course, there are many challenges to overcome for the potential to be realised, otherwise algal bio-fuel would already be a reality. And, even if successful, this project is not going to transform the market in the short term. Exxon sees only about 3% of the transport fuel market coming from biofuels by 2030. Nevertheless, for a major oil company to invest in such a strategic project shows that there are real business opportunities in unconventional and renewable energy technologies. The future surely lies in those opportunities which are viable without public subsidy. Profitable businesses have driven the enormous increase in prosperity in the post-war years, and there is no reason why they should not lead the way in a transition away from fossil fuel dependence, for sound business reasons. (Scientific Alliance)

 

July 23, 2009

 

<GUFFAW!> Cancer Risk Prompts Hot Dog Fraud Lawsuit Against Nathan’s Famous, Sara Lee, and Kraft/Oscar Mayer - Three New Jersey Residents Seek Warning Labels on Hot Dog Packages

WASHINGTON—Three New Jersey residents are suing Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Con Agra Foods, and Marathon Enterprises for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the danger of colorectal cancer. The action comes in the wake of landmark scientific studies linking hot dogs and similar meats to colon cancer.

The class-action consumer fraud lawsuit, which is being filed July 22 in Superior Court in Essex County, seeks to compel all five companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. The labels would read "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."

The nonprofit Cancer Project is filing the suit on behalf of John O’Donnell, Ruthann Hilland, and Michele DeScisciolo, who purchased hot dogs made by the companies without being made aware that processed meat products are a cause of colorectal cancer.

 

WARNING: Animal Rights Activism May Result in Frivolous Lawsuits

WARNING: Animal Rights Activism May Result in Frivolous Lawsuits

As if money-hungry trial lawyers and the Center for Science in the Public Interest weren’t enough. This morning, the phony Cancer Project filed a lawsuit asking the court to require a cancer-risk warning label on all hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. There’s no beef to its cancer claims, of course, as the Associated Press and other media outlets pointed out during last year’s hot dog scare campaign. But just in case, we’re offering reporters a little reminder today.

As we’re telling the media, the Cancer Project is a deceptive spinoff of the woefully misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – a group that is 96 percent free of actual doctors. And together they’re phonier than a tofu dog. 

From its creepy commercials to last year’s tasteless attempt to capitalize on the death of a former White House Press Secretary, PCRM and the Cancer Project will stop at nothing to scare Americans into a PETA-approved diet. Even if it means using our legal system as a tool for its fringe goals – and wasting taxpayers’ money in the process. (Center For Consumer Freedom)

 

AMI wants hot dog 'nuisance' lawsuit dismissed

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today urged dismissal of a nuisance lawsuit filed through the pro-vegetarian, animal rights group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and its 'Cancer Project.'

"We hope the court will move quickly to review the science affirming the safety of hot dogs and processed meats and dismiss this lawsuit, recognizing it for the nuisance that it is," said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "Meat products are regulated and inspected by USDA and bear the federal government's seal of inspection , showing they are wholesome and nutritious. While PCRM argues for warning labels on our safe products, the labels would be more appropriately placed on PCRM's web sites and press releases to alert consumers to their true agenda."

Boyle said that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines affirm that processed meat and poultry products - including hot dogs -- can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. They are also among America's most popular and beloved foods.

PCRM has been widely criticized for its alarmist campaign against hot dogs and processed meats. Ron Kleinman, M.D., a leading medical expert on childhood nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital and former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has called PCRM's ad featuring child actors claiming they have cancer from processed meats 'outrageous,' and he chastised the group for exploiting children to achieve its political agenda. (Feedstuffs)

 

Credit where credit is due: LA Times not doing a bad job of its coverage: Maybe hot dogs aren't the point, in diet or in publicity

Hotdogs The Cancer Project has turned to the courts in an attempt to have this dire notice placed on packages of hot dogs: "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."

Here's today's story in the L.A. Times.

Neal Barnard, president of the Cancer Project, is quoted as saying: "Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer.... Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information."

Ignoring the fact for a moment that consumers don't seem to read what's already on their food labels, it's worth pointing out that the data on processed meat and colon cancer are not quite as conclusive as the smoking-and-lung-cancer connection.

Someone whose diet includes hot dogs with marked frequency might have a broader problem than the hot dogs themselves.  

(And just to emphasize the fact that few foods are inherently good or bad, here's an earlier Times story, from then-Times columnist Susan Bowerman, then assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Are nitrite's and nitrate's bad reps undeserved?: "Found in fruits, vegetables and cured meats, the chemicals may reduce risk of heart disease, a study finds.")

If it's colon cancer that worries you, here's an online booklet from the National Cancer Institute: "What You Need to Know About Cancer of the Colon and Rectum."

Here's what it says about diet: "Studies suggest that diets high in fat (especially animal fat) and low in calcium, folate, and fiber may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Also, some studies suggest that people who eat a diet very low in fruits and vegetables may have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. However, results from diet studies do not always agree, and more research is needed to better understand how diet affects the risk of colorectal cancer."

So when it comes to cancer risk, hot dogs might in fact be a marker of a bad diet, not the definition of one. If you're eating a whole lot of hot dogs -- or nachos or burgers or deep-fried food -- the hot dogs themselves might not be the core problem. You're also not eating a lot of more nutritious food.

Whether the group will succeed is anyone's guess, but then maybe that's not the point either. More people are now aware of the potential dangers of hot dogs, and as the story observes: "The Cancer Project is a branch of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that lobbies against animal research and pitches the adoption of meat-free diets."

It's hard to deny the suit is an effective publicity move. After all, there was a story -- and a blog -- in the L.A. Times.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: When eating hot dogs, most people would advise moderation. Perhaps not Takeru Kobayashi, former champion of the Nathan's Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest.  

Credit: Associated Press (LA Times blog)

 

Consumer Group Exposes 'Cancer Project' as Stealth Animal Rights Group

Center for Consumer Freedom Cautions That Activists Behind Hot Dog Lawsuit Are Animal Rights Zealots in Disguise

WASHINGTON, July 22 -- The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom is warning consumers and the media that a lawsuit filed in New Jersey this morning is an animal rights initiative in disguise. The Cancer Project, a radical organization with ties to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is suing hot dog producers and asking the court to require a cancer-risk warning label on all hot dog packages sold in New Jersey.

"Last summer the Cancer Project used Tony Snow's death as an occasion to lecture Americans about their 'pepperoni addiction,' and this year they're clogging up the courts with hot dog lawsuits," said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. "It's all part of the same desperate ploy to scare Americans into veganism."

The Cancer Project is a branch of the equally misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group whose place at the center of the animal rights movement has been exposed in Newsweek and The New York Times. PCRM derives more than two-thirds of its budget from Nanci Alexander, the wealthy founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. PETA has steered an additional $1.3 million to the organization.

"The membership in this so-called Physicians Committee is 96 percent free of actual doctors, and its Cancer Project spinoff is just a vehicle to create fear over food that's not PETA-approved," said Martosko. "Together, they're phonier than a tofu dog."

Mainstream nutritionists have questioned any link between meat and colon cancer diagnoses, and a 2004 Harvard University study - the largest of its kind - found no such link at all. This confirms the view of the American Dietetic Association that "no single food or type of food is necessarily detrimental to health."

Martosko continued: "Legitimate experts are going to come in and tell the judge that there's no proven link between hot dogs and cancer. This is going to be a giant waste of the court's time and taxpayers' money."

For further information or to arrange an interview please call Allison Miller at 202-463-7112.

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

 

Big Fears, Little Risk

In memory of the iconic American newsman Walter Cronkite, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) recently rereleased and posted on You Tube a three-part video it produced some years ago featuring Cronkite exploring the impact of chemicals in the environment on human health. The video features a number of prominent scientists and is very well done. I encourage you to take the time to watch the three segments, which are 10 minutes long each, and pass it along to others.

 

Analysis Finds Toxic Substances in Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes contain traces of toxic substances and carcinogens, according to a preliminary analysis of the products by the Food and Drug Administration.

The findings, which were announced on Wednesday, contradict claims by electronic cigarette manufacturers that their products are safe alternatives to tobacco and contain little more than water vapor, nicotine and propylene glycol, which is used to create artificial smoke in theatrical productions. When heated, the liquid produces a vapor that users inhale through the battery-powered device.

“We’re concerned about them because of what we know is in them and what we don’t know about how they affect the human body,” said Joshua Sharfstein, the F.D.A.’s principal commissioner.

The agency analyzed 19 varieties of cartridges, which hold the liquid, and two cigarettes, one manufactured by NJoy and another by Smoking Everywhere.

The analysis found that several of the cartridges contained detectable levels of nitrosamines, tobacco-specific compounds known to cause cancer. One Smoking Everywhere cartridge was found to contain diethlyene glycol, a common ingredient in antifreeze that counterfeiters have substituted for glycerin in toothpaste, killing hundreds worldwide.

Dr. Sharfstein said the agency was “not sure” what type of effect the diethlyene glycol and other carcinogens have on the human body when inhaled through electronic cigarettes. (NYT)

 

Following on from yesterday's UN radon scare piece, here's a recycle from the ever-reliable Michael D. Shaw

Radon: The Silent Killer...Or Maybe NotRadon test kit

By  Michael D. Shaw

Long a staple of cheesy horror flicks, whereby its effects would create monsters like Godzilla (1956), giant ants in Them! (1954), generate a huge, buxom lady in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), or even make a poor guy smaller in The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), radiation, and anything related to it—such as radon—has been scaring people for years.

Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. As such, radon is a form of ionizing radiation and is condemned everywhere as a proven carcinogen, with lung cancer being its only known effect on human health. Government agencies, at least in this country, are unashamed of stirring up a virtual hysteria over the issue, and a Google search on "radon" will reveal thousands of links to remediation contractors, dubious certification organizations, and fear-mongering websites of all descriptions.

But, just how dangerous is radon, anyway? Supposedly, if you had the exposure of the uranium prospectors, that sprouted up right after World War II, many of whom became instant millionaires, it was extremely dangerous. However, radon wasn't all that these miners were exposed to. In their unregulated and unventilated "dog holes," these get-rich-quick artists, most of whom smoked, were also exposed to clouds of dust containing uranium and other nasty chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and simply miserable working conditions, that were damaging to health in numerous ways. Yet, historical data on uranium miners, far from reliable and limited in scope, is the cornerstone of most of the "science" that followed.

The US EPA's assault on household radon is based largely on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VI Report, entitled "The Health Effects of Exposure to Indoor Radon," produced by the National Academy of Sciences in 1998. Recognizing that the data they had to work with was spotty, and that their models were controversial, the report did state: "In summary, a number of sources of uncertainty may substantially affect the committee's risk projections; the magnitude of uncertainty associated with each of these sources cannot readily be quantified. Accordingly the committee acknowledges that the total uncertainty in its risk projection is large."

About all you really could conclude from this report is that given high exposure to radon, cigarette smokers will experience a greater incidence of lung cancer. Note that these large exposures are orders of magnitude higher than one might encounter in even the worst household radon situation. As for non-smokers, there was essentially no meaningful data.

What, you might well ask, does this have to do with the contemporary homeowner? The glib answer is nothing at all, but let's do the math...

Nearly 500 years ago, Paracelsus (1493-1541), a scientific genius of his era, wrote: "Dosis facit venenum"— "The dose makes the poison." This is still the fundamental precept in toxicology, even if it has been forgotten by our current crop of experts. You see, they are applying the notion of linear, no-threshold extrapolation. Implicit here is that if massive doses of a carcinogen cause a tumor, then even small doses can, as well.

Put another way, it boils down to this: If one person swallows 100 sleeping pills and successfully commits suicide, then in a cohort of 100 people each taking one pill, at least one person will also die. Absurd? Of course, but that, believe it or not, is the basis for the radon scare, and many others. Add to this the statistical trick of conflating smokers and non-smokers, and creating artificial groupings of results to show supposed significance, a "scientific" case can be made. Needless to say, the linear no-threshold extrapolation model has NEVER been proven to be true.

By slicing and dicing the data and ignoring the smoking factor, to achieve the results it wants, EPA can then conclude that radon is the "second biggest cause" of lung cancer. To add to the noise, there are always "new" studies being released that merely reapply the BEIR VI report methodology to some other locality.

Studies by radiation physicists Ralph Lapp and Bernard Cohen, along with work by several other researchers, have consistently demonstrated no correlation between radon exposure and lung cancer, once the smoking factor is removed. So why does EPA cling to its present radon policy?

Cohen and a co-author, Harvard Professor of Medicine Graham Colditz, stated in a 1991 paper, "A great deal more than radon is at stake here. If the linear no-threshold theory fails for radon, it must surely fail for all other types of radiation, and very probably also for chemical carcinogens." Considering that radon is touted as one of the "best documented" carcinogens, where would this put all the other myriad hazards we are warned about constantly? Where would it finally put these irresponsible agencies?

Let your heart not be troubled. Even if I'm completely wrong about all this, it's fairly easy to get rid of radon, just by ventilating your house. When it comes to indoor air quality, the solution to pollution is dilution. If you're worried about lung cancer, don't smoke.

Take a deep breath...and relax. (Health Digest News)

 

Obesity Levels Off; Complacency Threatens to Reach Alarming Levels

Last year I noted that the prevalence of obesity among children and teenagers, after tripling between the '70s and the '90s, has leveled off at around 16 percent since 1999. Today The Wall Street Journal's "Numbers Guy," Carl Bialik, points out [below] that similar trends have been documented in Australia, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and New Zealand: (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

 

The Slimming Figures of Childhood Obesity - Studies Suggest That Rates Are No Longer Rising, but Researchers Lament the Paucity of Data and Spar Over Methodologies

Evidence for the expanding epidemic of childhood obesity is thinning.

Nutritionists, health advocates and media reports have been sounding the alarm about a rise in childhood obesity, which could lead to diabetes, heart disease and other problems. But a series of studies from half a dozen countries suggest that rates have held steady over the past five to 10 years, albeit at levels much higher than in the 1960s and 1970s.

The reasons behind the leveling off in childhood obesity in the U.S., Australia, France, Switzerland, Sweden and New Zealand remain shrouded in mystery.

Obesity rates could have hit a plateau, some scientists propose, if only a certain percentage of children are genetically predisposed to obesity, and that share has gotten fat already. Timothy Olds, a professor of health sciences at the University of South Australia, believes genetics could play a role, but he also points to "all the little things people are doing to encourage healthy weight."

Some researchers argue the data used to produce these conclusions are flawed. And other scientists say that while the methodology of the recent batch of studies appears sound, the findings aren't definitive. Future surveys using different methodologies, they say, could show obesity rates on the move again. (The Numbers Guy, WSJ)

 

Getting Fat? Maybe It’s Your Health Insurance

A new N.B.E.R. working paper finds a link between health insurance and obesity, and suggests that the better insured you are, the fatter you’re likely to be. We already knew that people with health insurance consume more healthcare resources than the uninsured; it appears they’re consuming more calories, too. (Freakonomics)

 

From the cognitive disconnect pages

Our thoughts go out to our friends across the pond today and to parents with sick children there. The King's Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies released a new analysis of National Health Services and found healthcare spending in England has more than doubled in real terms just since 1999/2000. “Our analysis shows that the NHS is facing the most significant financial challenge in its history,” said John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund.

Yet, even with these realities, stories on other pages of the papers today demonstrate that government often has nonsensical spending priorities.

The King's Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on the financial prospects for the NHS from 2011 to 2017, examined the government’s plausible options and the consequences of each, stating that the “prospects for future funding now look bleak.” (Junkfood Science)

 

Obama Wants to Redistribute Health, Too

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," then-candidate Barack Obama famously told Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher when campaigning in Ohio last fall.

At about the same time Obama was revealing this redistributionist vision for wealth, he was also presenting a redistributionist vision for health and health care -- but with far less publicity.

Today, Obama's belief that health itself needs redistributing has become a guiding force behind the health-care reform bills recently approved by committees in the House and Senate.

These bills are saturated with the concept that there is an unjust distribution of health among Americans that can and should be adjusted by government policies. (Terry Jeffrey, Townhall)

 

 

Arrogance

It's crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It's even crazier to do it by August.

Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, "to reinvent the nation's health care system".

Let that sink in. A handful of people who probably never even ran a small business actually think they can reinvent the health care system.

Politicians and bureaucrats clearly have no idea how complicated markets are. Every day people make countless tradeoffs, in all areas of life, based on subjective value judgments and personal information as they delicately balance their interests, needs and wants. Who is in a better position than they to tailor those choices to best serve their purposes? Yet the politicians believe they can plan the medical market the way you plan a birthday party. (John Stossel, Townhall)

 

A War on Science Policy?

Chris Mooney has a commentary up at The Huffington Post that is full of information that is just wrong. First, he gets budget figures wrong by a factor of about 50: (Roger Pielke, Jr.)

 

Dumb move of the day: Nike won't use leather from Amazon-bred cattle

SAO PAULO - Sportswear giant Nike Inc. announced Wednesday that it will stop using leather from cattle raised in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, saying the move is part of the company's commitment to curbing the region's deforestation.

In a statement, Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike said its Brazilian leather suppliers have until next July 1 to "create an ongoing, traceable and transparent system to provide credible assurances that leather used for Nike products is from cattle raised outside of the Amazon Biome."

"We understand how important rainforests are to the health of the planet and the implications deforestation has on climate change and global warming" the statement added. (Associated Press)

So, Nike buys up non Amazonian leather supplies (not helpful for Brazilians trying to earn a living, by the way), thus forcing other leather users to source alternate supplies (from the now-cheaper Amazon suppliers denied previous markets). So, what are the chances Amazonian leather suppliers, denied lucrative Nike market outlets, will be engaging in environmental improvements and upgrading their environmentally-friendly practices in the near future?

 

Fools: Relief for the Owl

The bald eagle aside, few birds have wielded as much influence on public policy as the northern spotted owl, once famously called “that little furry-feathery guy” by the first President Bush. Formally listed as an endangered species in 1990, the owl triggered a series of court cases that persuaded President Bill Clinton in 1994 to protect much of the old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest — the bird’s habitat — from timber companies.

Though the Clinton plan allowed some logging, it was considerably more favorable to the owl and its habitat than it was to industry. Bowing to industry pressure, the Bush administration decided last year to double the allowable logging on 2.6 million acres of prime owl habitat in Oregon and to rescind other protections.

On Thursday, the interior secretary, Ken Salazar, announced that he would reverse those decisions, reaffirming the Clinton plan. This is an important victory for the owl and for the irreplaceable old-growth forests where it lives, which is partly what this fight has been about from the beginning. It is also a victory for the Endangered Species Act. The Bush administration repeatedly sought to ignore or undermine that law, but never so obviously as when it refused to consult its own scientists about the impact of increased logging on the owl as well as other imperiled species, like salmon.

Having rescued the Clinton plan, Mr. Salazar has now promised to update it to see whether modest logging can go forward without imperiling the owl, whose habitat has been further threatened by competition from a more aggressive cousin, the barred owl. The interior secretary has pledged to listen to his scientists at every step of the way. This will be a welcome change.

It was never about the damn owls but rather stopping people using resources. So, is NYT printed on fiber-free paper now? If they can't do that then The Crone should practice what it preaches and stop issuing editions immediately, for the sake of the [insert favored critter, habitat or other nonsense reason here].

 

Farmers furious over water auction as first drop goes to spring baths

THE first water auctioned out of the great artesian basin in NSW will be used to fill the hot spring baths of Moree -- much to the chagrin of farmers.

Moree Plains Council this week became the main buyer at the NSW government's auction of water from the vast underground basin, which went ahead despite protests from farmers and scientists.

The Moree Shire Council purchased 250 megalitres of the 1200ML auctioned for their Hot Artesian Spa Baths.

The spa and its two pools have highly mineralised water that comes out of the ground at 44C and is reputed to having healing benefits. The baths are one of the town's main attractions.

Farmers from western NSW and around the NSW town of Coonamble objected to the sale.

Anne Kennedy from the Great Artesian Basin Protection Group said protesters were angry that farmers had paid to cap and pipe bores and save the water in the basin, only to see the government selling the water saved.

She said farmers were rethinking their investment in the program. "Everyone said, 'I will never cap and pipe ever again'," she said.

Ms Kennedy said the science of the basin -- how the water is replaced or recharged -- was not well understood.

"It is all about money as it was with the rivers (of the Murray-Darling Basin). What terrifies us is the rivers were visible and yet this Great Artesian Basin is underground," she said.

The basin lies under one-fifth of the country, under Queensland, NSW, the Northern Territory and South Australia. It holds a huge volume of water, some of which is believed to be millions of years old. (The Australian)

 

Oh my... Bill Gates in bid to tame hurricanes

The world’s richest man has joined the battle against the world’s most destructive weather. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is backing inventors and climate scientists who claim to have devised a technique for diminishing the power of hurricanes.

Gates was named last week among a group of weather experts who have applied for patents on a system for lowering ocean temperatures. Using a fleet of barges equipped with pumps, Gates and his team believe a hurricane can be slowed by cooling the tropical waters that fuel its progress.

American scientists agreed last week that the system was theoretically feasible but several noted that its backers had yet to prove it could be managed on a scale that would have any serious effect.

“Is it plausible? Yes,” said Frank Marks, director of hurricane research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Is it possible? Maybe. Realistic? I just can’t answer that.”

The plan calls for a line of barges to be scattered along the coastline of the United States, ready to be deployed in a hurricane’s path. Each barge would have a pair of tubes that thrust warmer surface waters to cooler depths while sucking up colder water.

Hurricanes gain momentum from the heat energy released by warm, humid air evaporating on the water’s surface, so the idea is that the hurricane’s force would be reduced.

“The bottom line here is that if enough pumps are deployed it is reasonable to expect some diminution of hurricane power,” said Kerry Emanuel, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He estimated that a hurricane might be stopped in its tracks if the ocean could be cooled by 4.5C. (Sunday Times)

 

Over the last few weeks we have looked at radiative forcing calculators and Earth's calculated expected temperature under varied assumptions. Let's try something a little different. Let's assume claims of Earth's net temperature change and atmospheric carbon dioxide are accurate. According to the IPCC Earth has warmed roughly three-fourths of one degree (0.74 °C) over the century to 2005, which is the same as saying "since the 1850s" because it is believed that decade was virtually identical to the first decade of the 20th Century. At the same time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels had increased almost exactly 100 ppmv. This graphic is from their Fourth Assessment Report:

Let's further (wrongly) assume:

  • CO2 increase is the only cause of the warming we think we have detected and;
  • CO2 increase has a linear effect (each added molecule has an effect equal to the one added before).

The increase of 100 ppmv CO2 (roughly 280 -> 380 ppmv) from pre-Industrial Revolution levels to 2006 then means each increase of 1 ppmv yields 0.74/100 or 0.0074 °C.

You can already see where this is going: 280 ppmv = 0 °C increase from 1850 temperatures; 380 ppmv yields 0.75 °C increase; 480: 1.5 °C; 580 ppmv: up 2.25 °C...

IPCC estimates differ from expectations derived from CO2's physical properties due to hypothetical positive feedback from increased atmospheric water vapor, which means rather than an anticipated +1.2 °C warming from 2xCO2 a range of fudge factors are applied to inflate the modeled outcome. The IPCC's "median guesstimate" of +3 °C (relative to 1850) from 2xCO2 actually doesn't occur in the above apparent Earth response series until 120 ppmv "late" even under these wildly inflated steps (680 rather than 2x280 = 560). Note also that the panicked "limit to +2 °C" warming since pre-IR levels wouldn't occur until 550 ppmv rather than the absurd 450 and even 350 "targets" promoted by notorious greenhouse hysterics.

Of course, temperatures have been declining in the short term despite atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continuing to rise. This does not prove atmospheric CO2 does not increase planetary mean temperature but it does mean Earth will have to heat at pretty extreme rates to achieve the IPCC's somewhat hysterical "storylines".

From the above "back of an envelope" calculations we have to disagree with the IPCC's claims of increasing carbon dioxide's global warming impact. Even though we ignored all other potential warming influences such as changed land use, urbanization, increases in other greenhouse gases, black carbon, snowfield discoloration etc., calling all change carbon dioxide-induced and we accepted estimates of warming as real (although some or all of which may in reality be measurement artifact) we still did not find near the claimed warming potential. Significantly, we failed to derive such warming despite knowingly inflating potential response by treating enhanced greenhouse from increasing atmospheric CO2 linearly while the response actually diminishes with concentration (each added molecule has less effect than the molecule added before).

Are estimates of Earth's potential warming from increasing CO2 reasonable? Apparently not.

 

Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature

Time series for the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and global tropospheric temperature anomalies (GTTA) are compared for the 1958−2008 period. GTTA are represented by data from satellite microwave sensing units (MSU) for the period 1980–2008 and from radiosondes (RATPAC) for 1958–2008. After the removal from the data set of short periods of temperature perturbation that relate to near-equator volcanic eruption, we use derivatives to document the presence of a 5- to 7-month delayed close relationship between SOI and GTTA. Change in SOI accounts for 72% of the variance in GTTA for the 29-year-long MSU record and 68% of the variance in GTTA for the longer 50-year RATPAC record. Because El Niño−Southern Oscillation is known to exercise a particularly strong influence in the tropics, we also compared the SOI with tropical temperature anomalies between 20°S and 20°N. The results showed that SOI accounted for 81% of the variance in tropospheric temperature anomalies in the tropics. Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling. That mean global tropospheric temperature has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord with the SOI of 5–7 months earlier shows the potential of natural forcing mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation. (JGR)

 

Ocean Temperatures: The New Bluff in Climate Temperatures

"The alarmists claim the world is still warming, that heat is building up in the oceans, and that the ocean temperature is rising and rising fast. These claims implicitly depend on a time period to say what a "trend" is, because temperatures fluctuate. The alarmists provide the context by showing trends of 20 to 50 years. This is a clever trick to reframe the debate, and essential to their case." (David Evans, SPPI)

 

Sea Level Rise: An Update Shows a Slowdown

Of all the potential woes bandied about with regards to “global warming,” the only one which really is in uncharted territory is a large and rapid rise in sea level. Otherwise we are rather routinely exposed to all nature of weather extremes as they are a part of the natural climate. Droughts, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. have impacted human societies in the past and they will continue to do so into the future—with or without “global warming.” (WCR)

 

Vancouver Underwater?

First Boston, now Vancouver.  According to the Times Colonist in Victoria, Canada, the folks in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island are in dire danger of sea level rise catastrophe.  They report:

“The spectre of rising sea levels and ecological change from climate disruption show land-use plans for Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast will need to be revisited and recalibrated to account for rapid and unabated climate change.”

“‘Once set in motion, sea-level rise is impossible to stop. The only chance we have to limit sea-level rise to manageable levels is to reduce emissions very quickly, early in this century. Later it will be too late to do much,’ says senior NASA scientist Stefan Rahmstorf in a recent article for the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

Really?  Here is 100 years worth of sea level rise data from the B.C. capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island (Click on graphs to see full graph in its original context): (Climate Sanity)

 

New Paper “How Will Earth’s Surface Temperature Change in Future Decades?” By Lean and Rind 2009

There is a new paper that examines (and forecasts) the role of solar forcing in climate system warming and cooling.

 It is

Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind (2009): How Will Earth’s Surface Temperature Change in Future Decades?,
Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL038932, in press. (accepted 9 July 2009).

the abstract reads

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

in their paper, with respect to their forecasts, they write

“The major assumption associated with our forecasts is that ‘past is prologue’; climate will continue to respond in the future to the same factors that have influenced it in the recent past and the response will continue to be linear over the next several decades.”

I have worked with Judith Lean and respect her scientific credentials. I respect also that she has placed her forecast in print and it is not for decades into the future, but is for a reasonably short enough time in the future to verify. I would have preferred, of course, that she use upper ocean heat content in Joules rather than the global surface temperature trend, which is a very poor metric to quantify regional and global warming and cooling (e.g. see). Nonetheless,  all of us should follow the skill she achieves in the coming years.

Their new paper conflicts with the new paper which concludes that solar warming has been negligible since 1980.

Benestad, R. E., and G. A. Schmidt (2009), Solar trends and global warming, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D14101, doi:10.1029/ 2008JD011639.

 whose abstract reads

“We use a suite of global climate model simulations for the 20th century to assess the contribution of solar forcing to the past trends in the global mean temperature. In particular, we examine how robust different published methodologies are at detecting and attributing solar-related climate change in the presence of intrinsic climate variability and multiple forcings. We demonstrate that naive application of linear analytical methods such as regression gives nonrobust results. We also demonstrate that the methodologies used by Scafetta and West (2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2007, 2008) are not robust to these same factors and that their error bars are significantly larger than reported. Our analysis shows that the most likely contribution from solar forcing a global warming is 7 ± 1% for the 20th century and is negligible for warming since 1980.”

The Benestad, R. E., and G. A. Schmidt 2009 and Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind 2009 cannot both be correct in their conclusion regarding the magnitude of solar forcing on the Earth’s climate. They could both even be wrong based on such studies as

How Do Climate Models Work? by Roy Spencer

and

Compo,G.P., and P.D. Sardeshmukh, 2008: Oceanic influences on recent continental warming. Climate Dynamics.

with respect to the role of circulation changes in the magnitude of global warming and cooling.

Finally, both Benestad, R. E., and G. A. Schmidt 2009 and Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind 2009 used the global average surface temperature trend to discuss the issue of global warming. They more appropriately should use the accumulation of Joules in the upper ocean as the diagnostic (e.g. see which the GISS group continues to ignore). (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Global warming is all in the timescales

Which of these statements is true?

* The earth's temperatures have risen significantly since 1975
* The earth's temperatures have not risen much at all since 2000
* The earth's temperatures have stayed within a fairly narrow band for the past 10,000 years, including present temperatures
* It has been warmer and colder in the past 1,000 years than it is today
* Variations in both temperature and CO2 levels were much more dramatic in the distant past

The answer, of course, is all of them are true. This will not settle any arguments about global warming, and it isn't intended to. I don't offer this as 'evidence' that one side is right or wrong.

However, it's time to put this into perspective. What is happening to our planet has happened before, and historians have written about it both when it was happening and afterwards. (Thomas Fuller, Examiner)

 

Modeling Ice Age's End Lessens Climate Change Worries

Two articles in the July 17 edition of Science describe efforts to model Earth's rapidly changing climate at the end of the last glacial period, between 21 and 11 thousand years years ago (ka). After a year and a half of number crunching on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer, the first results indicate that climate experienced cooling 17 ka, during the Heinrich Event 1 (H1), followed by an abrupt warming at the onset of the Bølling-Allerød Warming 14.5 ka. These abrupt climate changes were accompanied by large changes in the “ocean conveyor belt”: the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The results suggest that this transition can be viewed simply as the North Atlantic climate response to rapidly changing glacial meltwater flow. The findings call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of abrupt climate change and weakens the threat of “irreversible tipping points” so popular with climate change extremists.

The time from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ~21 ka) until the Holocine warming had firmly taken control of Earth's climate (~11 ka) is the most recent period of rapid climate change in the long history of the Pleistocene Ice Age. A general observation, made by many researchers, is that glacial periods tend to end abruptly with a rapid transition from cold to warm. Scientists hope to understand more about what triggers sudden climate swings by studying the end of this most recent glacial period. Glacial termination did not take place as a single event—there were several wild swings in climate as the frozen Earth changed to the more temperate climate we now enjoy. Two major events during the transition were the Bølling-Allerød Warming (BA) and the subsequent Little Dryas cooling. To many, these events suggest that Earth's climate is a bi-stable system that can switch between stable warm and cold modes. This latest climate simulation suggests that the bi-stable “tipping point” hypothesis is not true.

In a second article in the same issue of Science, Axel Timmermann and Laurie Menviel of the University of Hawaii's International Pacific Research Center ask the question “What Drives Climate Flip-Flops?” Quoting from their perspective on Liu et al's report:

Around 14,600 years ago, the atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic region flipped within just a few years to another state; also, Greenland temperatures skyrocketed by >10°C over several decades, terminating a cold phase known as Heinrich Event 1. The global impacts of this Bølling-Allerød transition have been well documented with climate proxy records such as sediment cores and ice cores, but the physical conditions that triggered the transition remain controversial. The temperature evolution from the Heinrich Event 1 to the Bølling-Allerød and the subsequent Younger Dryas cold phase (see the figure) is strikingly similar to the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles that dominated Northern Hemispheric climate between 60,000 and 30,000 years ago. Hence, unraveling the processes that triggered the Bølling-Allerød transition may also help to elucidate the mysterious, tantalizingly regular Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles.


A. Timmermann et al., Science July 17, 2009.

Previously, long transient simulations have not been carried out using coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (CGCM), which include the most advanced climate physics and are currently being used for future climate projections. In the paper “Transient Simulation of Last Deglaciation with a New Mechanism for Bølling-Allerød Warming,” Z. Liu of the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology,et al. report on their analysis of data from extraordinarily detailed modeling runs using a state-of-art CGCM: the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate System Model version 3 (NCAR CCSM3). Their results suggest a causal linkage between rapid climate change and heat transport by the AMOC.

Heinrich events were first described by marine geologist Hartmut Heinrich. During these events, huge armadas of icebergs broke off from glaciers and drifted across the North Atlantic. Scientists know this because they have found “ice rafted debris” in ocean floor sediments. Glacial icebergs contain rocks and dirt scraped up off the land the glaciers move over. As they melt, this rock debris is dropped onto the sea floor. Scientists studying marine sediments have found six distinct debris layers in cores of mud retrieved from the sea floor. These layers indicate six distinct events, which are labeled H1-H6. The last such event, at the onset of the Holocene warming, is called H1 or Heinrich Event 1.


Heinrich events. Figure by Leland McInnes.

In the simulation, a Northern Hemispheric freshwater forcing scenario was created in which the discharge of meltwater from the retreating glacial ice sheets during H1 suddenly stops. Thus, Liu et al. are able to simulate an abrupt recovery of the AMOC that triggers the transition from H1 conditions to the Bølling-Allerød. The results are in good agreement with paleoclimate reconstructions based on climate proxy records. The rapid AMOC recovery described by Liu et al. also involves an overshooting effect (see the figure above) that was noted in previous climate model simulations. To investigate the possibility that meltwater flux (MWF) was responsible for the change the researchers devised the following set of modeling scenarios:

The MWF was then reduced in two scenarios: a linear decrease to zero at 14.2 ka (DGL-B) and a constant flux (of 15 m/ky) until a sudden shut-off at 14.67 ka (DGL-A). Because the meltwater termination scenarios DGL-B and DGL-A represent the slowest and fastest possible MWFs, the two corresponding experiments represent two end members for simulations under more realistic MWF.

Though the recovery time was different in the two scenarios, the AMOC in both experiments peaked at ~19 sverdrup at the onset of the BA, or ~6 sverdrup greater than the glacial-state transport (~13 sverdrup). The sverdrup, named in honor of the oceanographer Harald Sverdrup, is a unit of measure of volume transport where 1 sverdrup = 106 m3/s. It is the equivalent of approximately 264 million US gallons per second. To comprehend the magnitude of water flow being described here consider that the total input of fresh water into the ocean from all the world's rivers is equal to about 1 sverdrup. Overall, the resulting AMOC is characterized by a deeper and stronger circulation, which is comparable with that during the Holocene.


Figure 2 from Liu et al., Science July 17, 2009.

Results from experiment DGL-B (in °C) are shown in Fig. 2 from the paper above. AMOC at (A) GLA, (B) H1, and (C) BA. Temperature at (D) GLA and temperature changes from the glacial state for (E) H1-GLA and (F) BA-GLA. Along with these changes in AMOC flow, a seesaw effect in surface temperature was predicted up until H1, followed by global warming peaking at the BA. The BA warming was dominated by a maximum warming at northern high latitudes while the warming from H1 to BA was global, with the maximum warming relative to H1 exceeding 20°C in the North Atlantic and Arctic. The final conclusions of the modelers are:

In contrast to previous mechanisms that invoke AMOC multiple equilibrium and Southern Hemisphere climate forcing, we propose that the BA transition is caused by the superposition of climatic responses to the transient CO2 forcing, the AMOC recovery from Heinrich Event 1, and an AMOC overshoot.

In other words, the change wasn't the AMOC suddenly jumping to a new climate equilibrium, it was a number of different factors acting in concert to perturb the system, causing several wild swings as Earth's climate transitioned to a warmer state. The listing of CO2 first among the causes of these ancient swings in temperature is misleading. Certainly the 40 parts per million by volume increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide that accompanied Heinrich Event 1 was a contributor to the Bølling-Allerød warming and further accelerated the deglaciation. The important point is that it was not the trigger for the event, nor did the increase in carbon dioxide prevent a return to colder conditions during the Younger Dryas. In fact, where the increase in CO2 came from is uncertain. “Its origin remains a mystery,” state Timmermann and Menviel.

According to previous work (see “Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations over the Last Glacial Termination , in Science 5 January, 2001) by Eric Monnin et al., “sudden CO2 increase could have been caused by changes in thermohaline circulation.” Other possible sources are from the increase in methane during the BA warming, which would rapidly react in the atmosphere to produce more CO2. Again according to Monnin et al., the increase in methane “is thought to have been caused by an intensified hydrological cycle during the B/A warm phase, which led to an expansion of wetlands in the tropics and northern latitudes.” Certainly this fits with recent findings that changes in sea-level drive changes in CO2, not the other way around (see “Ice Ages & CO2, Part II – Rising Sea-levels in Tahiti”). Once again, CO2 only plays a supporting role in climate change.

An hypothesis has been advanced by a number of scientists describing how a megaflood from the Laurentian inland ice could have been responsible for the Bølling-Allerød warming. Cold fresh water from a glacial lake under the Laurentian ice sheet entered the Gulf of Mexico, forcing warm surface water into the Gulf Stream, which restarted the AMOC in the North Atlantic. This in turn caused the BA warm phase. Many of the events required for this scenario to play out have support in geological data. Such an occurrence is not incompatible with the modeling study's results, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there is no way to test this hypothesis directly since North America is no longer buried under glacial ice. Deglaciation events during the last glacial are shown in the figure below. The bold line marks the ice margin at the end of each time interval. Arrows mark meltwater routes.



(a) 16.1 – 15.35 ka, (b) 14.7 – 13.85 ka, (c) 11.4 – 10.85 ka.

Regardless of its source, it seems likely that large changes in MWF are needed to trigger abrupt changes like the Heinrich Event, the Bølling-Allerød warming and the Younger Dryas. More importantly from a modern point of view, the conditions necessary for a sudden shift in climate no longer seem to be present and the risk of a catastrophic “tipping point” event seems remote. Previous work with simplified models had suggested that gradual changes in MWF could trigger a state change in the AMOC: the infamous tipping point hypothesis. This new result using more a more complex model—and a heck of a lot of computer cycles—seems to indicate otherwise. According to Liu et al.: “Our results suggest that the current generation of CGCMs, like CCSM3, may not be able to induce an abrupt onset of BA warming under a gradual forcing. Is the current generation of CGCMs deficient in generating the abruptness of climate changes? Is the AMOC hysteresis a fundamental feature of the real-world AMOC as suggested in intermediate models, or not essential as suggested in current CGCMs?” The bottom line, as stated by the modelers themselves: “Current observations are insufficient to address these questions unambiguously.”

Are scientists any closer to being able to accurately model Earth's climate? Not really, at least not at the precision and time scales required for IPCC like predictions and certainly not any time soon. According to Timmermann and Menviel: “Even completing the CCSM3 simulation by running it into the present will require another 2 to 3 million CPU hours on the Jaguar supercomputer.” In other words, to bring the computation up to the present would require more than 340 years of continuous supercomputer time at ORNL. Currently even the most complex models are not up to the job of making accurate short term predictions, predictions on a scale of decades or even a few hundred years. Liu et al. are using climate models properly, to provide insight as to what mechanisms are at work and how they might interact. The results from their model are in no way a minute by minute recreation of how the last glacial period actually ended.

As Timmermann and Menviel say at the end of their perspective, “Ultimately, breakthroughs in our understanding of Earth's climate evolution will come from close interactions between paleoproxy experts, paleoclimate modelers, and climate dynamicists. It is time to train a new generation of scientists familiar with all these fields.” Perhaps that is also the solution to the global warming debacle, the arrival of a new generation of better trained, more widely knowledgeable climate scientists. A new generation of climate scientist who understand that climate models provide insight not proof.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

(Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

Ralph Alexander: Global warming false alarm

(*****) Warm and revealing book about the great distortion of climate science

You might think that there are already many books about climate change on the market. But Ralph Alexander's book is special and unusually appropriate for both beginners and experts in the field because of its balanced attitude to the problem.

That doesn't mean that Dr Alexander ends up with a "mixed" answer to the basic question. Just like a majority of books on the subject, Dr Alexander makes the readers understand that the global warming alarm is almost completely an artifact of manipulation with the human psychology and with the data. But unlike the case of many other books, you will see that Dr Alexander is actually a mainstream scientist (and an applied scientist in the environmental sector) who cares about the good name and functioning of science. Years ago, he was inclined to believe the "general wisdom" about the problem. His diametrically opposite conclusions are a result of his long research of the problem. And his pride of a scientist has been hurt. Climatology has become an ugly example of a scientific discipline that has largely ceased to be scientific.

Dr Alexander determines that the "ring" and the international character of the IPCC, the climate panel of the United Nations, are the main drivers of the hysteria so the IPCC, its process, and its reports are the main players investigated by this text. He analyzes the history and structure of the IPCC and finds out that this panel is just a particular and heavily funded group of loud partisans and activists that is meant to defend a predetermined conclusion and that doesn't reflect the scientific opinion of the world's scientific community, at least its financially and otherwise unbiased part, and certainly not the available body of data. Lots of numbers about the percentages of the scientist who agree and disagree with various statements are included.

The following chapters are dedicated to the standard topics in this debate: an introduction to the enhanced greenhouse effect and why it cannot account for most of the climate variability; computer models as the main basis underlying the alarm and their flaws; the CO2 and temperature records and reconstructions, their comparisons, and their flaws (including the urban heat effect); cherry-picking in various "concerned" studies; the interactions with politics (in both directions); corruption of the conventional peer review process; the biased IPCC evaluation of the climate sensitivity (warming from CO2 doubling); the lag in the correlation showing that the temperature is a driver, not an effect, of trace gas concentrations; solar, oceanic, cosmic, and other natural drivers that have to be crucial (even though the author honestly says that science doesn't yet understand their precise and separate effects); the high possibility of a cooling in the 21st century.

A significant portion of the text is also concerned with the economic consequences of the alarm; the failures of the cap-and-trade systems in the past, the differences between various countries; and the false hopes in green, luxurious sources of energy.

The book contains many wise stories and analogies from the history, useful data from the present, some jokes, and black-and-white pages that summarize the IPCC claims and their flaws in various sections. Two appendices discuss the feedbacks and the effect of Pacific Decadal Oscillation. And indeed, Dr Alexander had to include some equations, too. The book has a short glossary, 30 pages of technical endnotes (including many references that don't disturb you in the main text), and an index. At any rate, it is quite an amazing piece of work that is fun to read - because of its detailed data, its convincing case, and warm style - and I wholeheartedly recommend you to buy it and read it. (The Reference Frame)

 

Boundary Layer Clouds: Another Instance of IPCC Authors Reviewing Their Own Work

As we’ve discussed before (and is well known), clouds are the greatest source of uncertainty in climate sensitivity. Low-level (”boundary layer”) tropical clouds have been shown to be the largest source of inter-model difference among Global Climate Models (GCMs). Clouds have been known to be problematic for GCMs since at least the Charney Report in 1979. Given the importance of the topic for GCMs, one would have thought that AR4 would have devoted at least a chapter to the single of issue of clouds, with perhaps one-third of that chapter devoted to the apparently thorny issue of boundary layer tropical clouds.

This is what an engineering study would do – identify the most critical areas of uncertainty and closely examine all the issues related to the critical uncertainty. Unfortunately, that’s not how IPCC does things. Instead, clouds are treated in one subsection of chapter 8 and boundary layer clouds in one paragraph.

Interestingly, the language in IPCC AR4 is (using the terminology of climate science) “remarkably similar” to Bony et al (J Clim 2006) url, with the differences as interesting as the similarities. It seems to me that each language change from Bony to IPCC had the effect of papering over or softening the appearance of problems or contradictions, rather than clearly drawing the issues to the attention of the public. (Note – Bony was a lead author of the chapter – another instance of IPCC authors reviewing their own work.)

Read the entire Climate Audit post: ‘Boundary Layer Clouds: IPCC Bowdlerizes Bony

CRN comment: Reviewer Richard Allen made sensible scientific comments only to see them rejected by the lead authors. (Climate Research News)

 

Second generation look at global warming

Before I even start I want to remind everyone that, as far as I can tell (and remember) what's happening in the debate over global warming is what always happens with new scientific theories. Lots of fighting, lots of egos being bruised, lots of genteel namecalling.

What's different is that this caterwauling is happening in public view, perhaps for the first time, thanks to the Internet. Can you imagine what it would have looked like if the plate tectonics dustup had happened live on YouTube?

We are now seeing the inevitable pushback against the 'conventional wisdom' on global warming. The 'new' theory (which in fact is more than 150 years old) took wing around 1975 and became the conventional wisdom starting around the mid-80s. It is only now that some holes are being poked in the CW, due mostly (in my opinion) to incredibly sloppy data gathering and analysis. (Thomas Fuller, Examiner)

 

The Climate Industry: $79 billion so far - Trillions to come

For the first time, the numbers from government documents have been compiled in one place. It’s time to start talking of “Monopolistic Science”. It’s time to expose the lie that those who claim “to save the planet” are the underdogs. And it’s time to get serious about auditing science, especially when it comes to pronouncements that are used to justify giant government programs and massive movements of money. Who audits the IPCC?

 

The Summary

  • The US government has provided over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, foreign aid, and tax breaks.
  • Despite the billions: “audits” of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of the theory and compete with a well funded highly organized climate monopoly. They have exposed major errors.
  • Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon-trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 - $10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity traded.
  • Meanwhile in a distracting sideshow, Exxon-Mobil Corp is repeatedly attacked for paying a grand total of $23 million to skeptics—less than a thousandth of what the US government has put in, and less than one five-thousandth of the value of carbon trading in just the single year of 2008.
  • The large expenditure in search of a connection between carbon and climate creates enormous momentum and a powerful set of vested interests. By pouring so much money into one theory, have we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophesy instead of an unbiased investigation?

Read the Full Report at the Science and Public Policy Institute.

There doesn’t necessarily need to be a conspiracy. It doesn’t require any centrally coordinated deceit or covert instructions to operate. Instead it’s the lack of funding for the alternatives that leaves a vacuum and creates a systemic failure. The force of monopolistic funding works like a ratchet mechanism on science. Results can move in both directions, but the funding means that only results from one side of the equation get “traction”.

Billions in the Name of “Climate”

In total, over the last 20 years, by the end of fiscal year 2009, the US government will have poured in $32 billion for climate research—and another $36 billion for development of climate-related technologies. These are actual dollars, obtained from government reports, and not adjusted for inflation. It does not include funding from other governments. The real total can only grow.

In 1989, the first specific US climate-related agency was created with an annual budget of $134 million. Today in various forms the funding has leapt to over $7,000 million per annum, around 50 fold higher. Tax concessions add to this. (See below for details and sources.)

..after spending $30 billion on pure science research no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence…

This tally is climbing precipitously. With enormous tax breaks and rescue funds now in play, it’s difficult to know just how far over the $7 billion mark the final total will stand for fiscal year 2009. For example, additional funding for carbon sequestration experiments alone amounted to $3.4 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (not included in the $7 billion total above).

The most telling point is that after spending $30 billion on pure science research no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence that man-made carbon dioxide has a significant effect on the global climate.

If carbon is a minor player in the global climate as the lack of evidence suggests, the
“Climate Change Science Program” (CCSP), “Climate Change Technology Program” (CCTP), and some of the green incentives and tax breaks would have less, little, or no reason to exist. While forecasting the weather and climate is critical, and there are other good reasons to develop alternative energy sources—no one can argue that the thousands of players who received these billions of dollars have any real incentive to “announce” the discovery of the insignificance of carbon’s role.


Click on the graph for a larger image.

“Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite. Throw 30 billion dollars at one question and how could bright, dedicated people not find 800 pages worth of connections, links, predictions, projections and scenarios? (What’s amazing is what they haven’t found: empirical evidence.)”

By setting up trading networks, tax concessions, and international bureaucracies before the evidence was in, have we ensured that our understanding of the role of carbon in climate science would be sped up, but that our knowledge of every other aspect of climate science would be slowed down to an equal and opposite extent?

Monopolistic funding creates a ratchet effect where pro-AGW findings are reported and repeated, while anti-AGW results lie unstudied and ignored.

Monopolistic funding creates a ratchet effect where even the most insignificant pro-AGW findings are reported, repeated, trumpeted and asserted, while any anti-AGW results lie unstudied, ignored and delayed. Auditing AGW research is so underfunded that for the most part it is left to unpaid bloggers who collect donations from concerned citizens online. These auditors, often retired scientists, are providing a valuable free service to society, and yet, in return they are attacked, abused, and insulted.

The truth will come out in the end, but how much damage will accrue while we wait for volunteers to audit the claims of the financially well-fed?

The stealthy mass entry of bankers and traders into the background of the scientific “debate” poses grave threats to the scientific process. The promise of “trillions of dollars” on commodity markets—with all of that potential money hinging on finding that human emissions of carbon dioxide have a significant role in the climate—surely acts like blanket of mud over open dispassionate analysis.

All of this means we must be extra diligent in only focusing on just the evidence, the science, the empirical data. Illogic and unreason cloud a debate already loaded with bias. When there are so many incentives encouraging unclarity and overcomplexity, the simple truths need help to rise to the top. But who funds the counter-PR campaign—now that even Exxon has been howled out of the theater of science. There is hardly any money promoting Natural Causes of Climate Change, while billions upon trillions promote Unnatural Forces.

In this scientific debate, one side is gagged while the other side has a government-funded media campaign.

The bottom line

Even if monopolistic funding has affected science, the total amount of money paid to each side won’t tell us whether The Planet’s climate is warming or whether that warming is due to carbon-dioxide. The point of this report is to show how the process of science can be distorted (like any human endeavor) by a massive one-sided input of money. What use would money be, if it didn’t have some impact?

The massive amounts of money involved only makes it more imperative that we look hard at the empirical evidence.

by Joanne Nova
Science and Public Policy Institute

U.S. Government Funding for Climate Change Related Activities 1989-2009

. Fiscal Year . Climate Science . Climate Technology . Foreign Assistance . Tax Breaks . Annual Total .
1989 134 $134
1990 659 $659
1991 954 $954
1992 1,110 $1,110
1993 1,326 845 201 $2,372
1994 1,444 1,038 186 $2,668
1995 1,760 1,283 228 $3,271
1996 1,654 1,106 192 $2,952
1997 1,656 1,056 164 $2,876
1998 1,677 1,251 186 $3,114
1999 1,657 1,694 325 $3,676
2000 1,687 1,793 177 $3,657
2001 1,728 1,675 218 $3,621
2002 1,667 1,637 224 $3,528
2003 1,766 2,533 270 580 $4,569
2004 1,975 2,870 252 500 $5,097
2005 1,865 2,808 234 369 $4,907
2006 1,691 2,789 249 1160 $4,729
2007 1,825 3,441 188 1730 $5,454
2008 1,832 3,917 212 * 1420 * $5,961
2009 2,441 * 4,400 * 579 * 1160 * $7,420
TOTAL $32,508 $36,136 $3,506 $6,919 $79,069
*Estimate or Request.………..Annual Spending Totals do not include Tax breaks.

References:

  1. Climate Change Science Program, Annual Report to Congress: Our Changing Planet http://downloads.climatescience.gov/ocp/ocp2009/ocpfy2009-8.pdf
  2. Analytical Perspectives Budget of the US Government, Fiscal Year 2010. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/spec.pdf
  3. 1993-2005 GAO, Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should be Clearer and More Complete http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05461.pdf Appendix II page 34.
  4. OMB, Fiscal Year 2008. Report to Congress on Federal Climate Change Expenditures, Table 8. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/fy08_climate_change.pdf
  5. Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Change Programs in the FY 2009 Budget, p 1. AAAS. http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/09pch15.pdf

The full report is 4400 word document so I will post the separate major themes over the next week.

Coming Soon   PARTS 2, 3, & 4.

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

3. How the monopolistic funding ratchet slows scientific progress.

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

 

Global warming: religion or science?

If we have seen it once, we have seen it a thousand times: somebody writes an editorial claiming that man-made global warming is a irrefutable scientific fact, and the rest of us who are stubbornly skeptical might as well be charter members of the flat earth society.

But there are numerous problems with taking this sort of approach to any issue. As a non-scientist, it is far too easy to become psychologically bullied by those who would argue that I have no expert standing to dispute this issue. But all of us who think for ourselves have the right to philosophically cross-examine any claim its for logical cogency.

First of all, using the phrase "scientific fact" to describe conclusions about the global warming phenomenon seems to place science on the dogmatic pedestal with religious revelation, but that is not the scaffolding on which true which scientific inquiry is built. If one observes a physics textbook from a century ago, for example, they will discover that much of what was accepted as "truth" then, has been modified or even disproved. That is because science derives many conclusions through inductive methods, which can produce weak, tentative conclusions. To claim that "the science is settled," is in principle a desperate act, much like the preacher who is advised to pound the pulpit to strengthen a weak point in his sermon. Such posturing disregards any contrary evidence without consideration. How is that scientific investigation?

A second problem is what I call "the appeal to expertise." It goes something like this: A consensus of credentialed scientists all believe a certain thing, therefore it is true. This reasoning assumes that someone must be objective in the same proportion that they are an expert, or said another way, an expert can never be biased or affected by groupthink.

Suppose you go in for a dental examination, and while examining your mouth, your dentist says "have you considered taking out a loan?" Now are you dealing with a oral hygiene expert speaking objectively, or a businessperson speaking out of self-interest? You have to use your own judgment to discern the difference. In that case you have no difficulty seeing how bias can work contrary to knowledge. The appeal to expertise is not as strong an argument as it would appear to be, because specialized knowledge does not connote objectivity. (Robert Meyer, Renew America)

 

Hands off—Earth’s climate can manage on its own

The solutions to the supposedly impending climate crisis are limitless. Not only are there armies of environmentalists gaming the political process in order to protect mother earth, but now some scientists are proposing that we attempt to alter the earth’s climate system in order to partially fend off the effects of global warming. The hope is that combined with emissions reduction efforts, such as cap and trade, toying with the climate will do enough to cool the planet down.

At a recent conference in London, sponsored by the Royal Society, several scientists delivered lectures to an interested public detailing some of the methods that could be used to manipulate the earth’s climate. The speakers discussed popular possibilities such as increasing the amount of sunlight clouds reflect back into space by spraying droplets of seawater into the atmosphere, launching sunshades into space and placing them directly between the Earth and the Sun and stimulating phytoplankton growth in the oceans as a means to sequester oceanic carbon dioxide.

While certainly more creative than forcing everyone to live in eco-friendly apartments and consume less energy, it’s seems exceptionally odd to propose potentially earth altering projects without first considering whether or not there are natural mechanisms in place to mitigate climate change.

As it turns out, one such mechanism has been proposed by former NASA climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer—natural variability in cloud cover. We have briefly discussed Spencer’s work before, but since people actually want to pay scientists to do what the climate system already does on its own it might be useful to go into a little more detail. (Cameron English, El Dorado County Conservative Examiner)

 

Drivel of the day: Climate clock is ticking

For most people, news of the ice melt was little more than a distant curiosity. But for climate scientists it was the scariest thing they had seen yet, and what’s more it had caught them completely by surprise.

In the summer of 2007, a large portion of Arctic Sea ice – about 40 per cent – simply vanished. That wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not yet. As recent as 2004, scientists had predicted it would take another 50 to 100 years for that much ice to melt. Yet here it was happening today.

It raised the question: Had global warming suddenly pressed the gas pedal to the floor? If so, the world was in for quite a climate ride – dramatic, jarring changes in climate much sooner than expected. Climate scientists were deeply worried.

“It really caught the scientific community by surprise,” Professor James Ford, a McGill University geographer and Arctic expert recalled. “The Arctic system is close to crossing the threshold beyond which we will get dramatic changes in climate.” (William Marsden, The Gazette)

According to NASA it was simply a reversal in wind direction: NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007. This has all been covered before and the media should know better than run the above nonsense.

 

They wish... Ah, the olive groves of balmy England

SUBTROPICAL crops such as dates, figs and rice could become staples of British agriculture within 20 years, according to government forecasts.

The assessment, produced by officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), outlines future possibilities for British food production based on recent climate data.

The forecasts highlight some of the unexpected benefits of a warmer climate. It means the British diet will in future be able to include produce currently imported from as far away as China and the Philippines, without incurring massive food miles. (Sunday Times)

 

The Left’s Civil War on Cap-and-Trade: Who Likes Political Capitalism?

Some environmental leaders have said that I am naïve to think that there is an alternative to cap-and-trade, and they suggest that I should stick to climate modeling. Their contention is that it is better to pass any bill now and improve it later. Their belief that they, as opposed to the fossil interests, have more effect on the bill’s eventual shape seems to be the pinnacle of naïveté.

- James Hansen, “Strategies to Address Global Warming,” July 2009.

Welcome to the science of politics, Dr. Hansen–and welcome to a tradition in political economy that is more than a century old. “I see no force in modern society which can cope with the power of capital handled by talent,” stated William Graham Summer in 1905, “and I cannot doubt that the greatest force will control the other forces.” And said George Will in our time: “The world is divided between those who do and do not understand that activist, interventionist, regulating, subsidizing government is generally a servant of the strong and entrenched against the weak and aspiring.”

The political hijacking of climate legislation is why the Left is now embarrassingly split on the issue. And just maybe this is the opening wedge to get the Left to reconsider climate alarmism in its wider dimensions. After all, higher energy costs disproportionately affect the poor and slow the drive to mass-electrify the developing world. And the climate crusade is  resurrecting (uneconomic) nuclear power–a Left no-no. And geoengineering–that too is an unwanted stepchild of climate exaggeration.

And there is even the spectre of Big Brotherism in this energy road to serfdom. Remember Jimmy Carter’s winter/summer thermostat regulations? Perhaps civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, now with the Cato Institute, will start to worry about the carbon police in a no-holds-barred carbon-constrained world.

There are good reasons for the Left to oppose the Waxman-Markey climate bill that is now in debate in the U.S. Senate.

  1. HR 2454 does virtually nothing to reverse out the human influence on climate.
  2. The political attempt to deal with the issue has been hijacked by, in Hansen’s words, “people in alligator shoes.”
  3. Climate progressivism, led by cap-and-trade, is a throwback to Ken Lay’s Enron.
  4. Carbon-code regulation for its own sake is dumb, vindictive, and elitist–an affront to the “little guy” rhetoric of the party in power.

(Robert Bradley, MasterResource)

 

Forum editorial: Cap and trade bill loses Democrats

he cap and trade provision of climate change legislation making its way through Congress is a deal breaker. Prominent Democrats, most notably Midwest and farm-state Democrats, will not support the bill in its current form. Most Republicans are against it. It’s been rolled out by at least one House committee, but its ultimate fate in the House and Senate is anything but certain.

There are good reasons for derailing the bill. As a product of mostly East and West Coast lawmakers, it seems to reward states in those areas at the expense of the rest of the nation, including energy-producing states like North Dakota.

The California cabal led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman appears all too eager to punish states where traditional forms of energy generation provide the lion’s share of the nation’s electricity. It’s no wonder members of Congress from energy states, regardless of political party, are balking. (InForum)

 

Climate Loopholes

The House’s approval of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill earlier this month was a remarkable political achievement and an important beginning to the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in all the last-minute wheeling and dealing, the House bill acquired two big loopholes that the Senate must close. (NYT)

No, what is required is for the Senate to kill the stupid thing altogether.

 

Of course they do: India leads demands for £120bn climate change fund paid for by the West

India has demanded that the West pay developing countries £120 billion a year in exchange for their help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Daily Telegraph)

 

 

<chuckle> U.S. Top Greenhouse Gas Emitter, Counting Imports

OSLO - The United States is by far the biggest greenhouse gas emitter ahead of China if consumers in rich nations are given responsibility for energy used to make imported goods, a researcher said on Wednesday.

Greenhouse gases, including by factories making goods such as cars or televisions for export, usually count toward the total of the country where they are made. Such data indicate that China has overtaken the United States as top emitter.

But adjusting emissions according to the country where consumers of goods live swells emissions by developed nations, said Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environment Research in Oslo (CICERO).

"The ranking makes a lot of rich countries look worse and a lot of poor countries look better," he told Reuters.

So, Australia's resource exports count against importing countries then? Like all that coal and iron ore imported by... China? Guess our already trivial contribution to the world's carbon emission budget just become invisibly small then...

 

U.S. business warns Congress of "green trade war"

WASHINGTON - Leading U.S. business groups warned Congress Wednesday it could start a "green trade war" by passing a climate change bill that threatens other countries with tariffs on energy-intensive goods.

"We urge the Senate to refrain from including provisions that could negatively impact U.S. relations with key trading partners and disrupt the global trading systems," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council and two other groups said in a letter to Senate leaders.

"Climate change is a global problem that calls for international cooperation, not unilateral ultimatums."

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at reducing U.S. carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

The bill includes a "border adjustment" program that, beginning in 2020, would allow additional tariffs on carbon-intensive goods such as steel, cement, paper and glass from countries the United States believes are not doing enough to reduce the heat-trapping emissions.

Developing countries such as China and India have objected strongly to the provision, saying that the United States and other developed countries are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases already in the air. (Reuters)

 

UN climate expert warns against carbon tariffs

WASHINGTON — The head of a U.N. panel on the science of climate change says trade tariffs in a House-passed bill to limit heat-trapping pollution have only served to irritate international negotiations and could undermine U.S. efforts to persuade developing countries to enter into a new global warming treaty.

Rajendra Pachauri, whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007, told The Associated Press that lawmakers should remove the tariff provision, which in 2020 would impose a "border adjustment" on goods from countries that do not limit the gases linked to global warming.

He warned that developing countries could in turn tax U.S. exports, which are probably some of the most carbon-intensive in the world.

"This is a dangerous thing, and I think people in Congress must understand this," said Pachauri, who spoke with the AP after he addressed the National Press Club. "Please don't use this weapon."

"I'm afraid that those that have been pushing these provisions probably don't realize that all of this can cause a major negative reaction," Pachauri added. "The United States has always stood for a free market system. ... Legislation to move away from that principle is clearly counterproductive." (Associated Press)

 

They said this with a straight face? Climate Bill A Farm Income Boost, USDA Estimates

WASHINGTON - U.S. farmers and foresters could earn more money from carbon contracts than they pay in higher costs from legislation to control greenhouse gases, the Agriculture Department estimated on Wednesday.

In the near term, most of the money would go to people who plant trees to lock carbon in the soil or enroll woodlands as carbon sinks. Relatively small amounts would be generated by changes in tillage or crops.

USDA's "preliminary analysis" was one of the first attempts at a broad-spectrum examination of the House-passed climate bill. Most of its 13 pages were devoted to grains, cotton and soybeans. Limited space went to livestock and none to fruits and vegetables.

Skeptics like the American Farm Bureau Federation say climate legislation will drive up sharply the cost of farm fuel, fertilizer and pesticides. A carbon offset market will not benefit all farmers or all parts of the country, it says.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the House climate bill would increase farm expenses by $700 million, or 0.3 percent, from 2012-18. That would be offset by revenue from a carbon offset market, estimated by USDA at $1 billion a year in the near term and $15 billion in 2040. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said offsets would be worth nearly $3 billion a year in 2020 for farms, ranches and forests.

"In the short term, the economic benefits to agriculture from cap and trade legislation will likely outweigh the costs," said Vilsack. "In the long term, the economic benefits from offsets markets easily trump increased input costs from cap and trade legislation." (Reuters)

 

Malcolm Turnbull retreats on emissions

MALCOLM Turnbull has backed off suggestions that the Coalition would wave through Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme in the Senate next month after angry Coalition MPs hit out at the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.

Rejecting the carbon trading scheme next month is the first step towards giving the Rudd government the grounds to call an early election for both houses of parliament before the next budget based on the highly charged issue of climate change.

Yesterday, West Australian Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey angrily emailed Liberal MPs to ask that something "be done" about Mr Turnbull's "arrogance and political inexperience". (The Australian)

 

'Wild uncle' Tuckey sparks emissions war with Turnbull

A BITTER email war has broken out within the Liberal Party after Wilson Tuckey accused Malcolm Turnbull of arrogance, further undermining the Opposition Leader's authority and widening divisions over an emissions trading scheme.

Liberal MPs yesterday accused the former Howard government minister and West Australian maverick of being ill-tempered, endangering the seats of fellow Liberals, creating disunity, endangering Mr Turnbull's position, and being a belligerent "wild uncle".

But a defiant Mr Tuckey told The Australian that Mr Turnbull's refusal to defend the Coalition's opposition to Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme and to foreshadow passing it was "either arrogance or inexperience or both".

A furious exchange of emails, copied to all Liberal MPs, yesterday followed Mr Tuckey's email declaration to all Coalition MPs that: "The issue of the arrogance and inexperience of our leader on the issue of the emission trading scheme has to be addressed."

Yesterday, Mr Tuckey stood by his remarks and said the "only person who talks about a double-dissolution election is Malcolm Turnbull". (The Australian)

 

Joyce rules out ever supporting govt ETS

Fearing the day a beef roast costs $150 a pop, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has categorically ruled out ever supporting the government's emissions trading scheme (ETS).

In its current form, the ETS would strip Australians of jobs, decimate regional economies while also having zero effect on reducing climate change, he said.

Senator Joyce rejected outright previous comments from his party leader Warren Truss that the scheme would be considered given substantial changes.

"I firmly believe that the changes that would be required would be so immense that it would no longer be an emissions trading scheme," he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

There were only two considerations Australians needed to take into account - its lack of impact on global warming and the very real impact on jobs.

"That's all the questions you need to ask."

As an example, the scheme would lump cattle farmers with massive costs, equating to an extra $75 per beast and "that's the end of our beef industry".

"Do you want to pay $150 for a roast and think that was an effective place for Australia to go, even though it did nothing for the global climate?

"If we're going to be voting for a gesture, why don't we have a tax for world peace?" (AAP)

 

Without control, carbon market will bubble

CARBON is set to be the next bubble, one that could make the US housing market crash look like a picnic.

One reason the US market collapsed was that no one was minding the store when companies were trading exotic and little understood derivatives, such as the credit default swaps that almost destroyed American International Group.

Carbon credits are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by selling carbon as futures or forward contracts at a certain quantity and price.

They are derivatives - bets on the future.

Commissioner Bart Chilton from the US Commodities Future Trading Commission told The Financial Times last year that carbon could be the world's biggest derivatives market in five years. Experts estimate it to be worth between $2 trillion and $3.5 trillion.

But that market is being created from a standing start. Little thought is being put into developing safety mechanisms in the public interest. But then, politicians only respond with tough laws after a crisis. (Stock & Land)

 

Forests of concrete and steel

Boone Pickens, Nacel Energy and Vestas Iberia have been issuing statements and placing print, radio and television ads, extolling the virtues of wind as an affordable, sustainable energy resource. Renewable energy reality is slowly taking hold, however.

Spain did increase its installed wind power capacity to 10% of its total electricity, although actual energy output is 10-30% of this, or 1-3% of total electricity, because the wind is intermittent and unreliable. However, Spain spent $3.7 billion on the program in 2007 alone, according to King Juan Carlos University economics professor Gabriel Calzada.

It created 50,000 jobs, mostly installing wind turbines, at $73,000 in annual subsidies per job – and 10,000 of these jobs have already been terminated. Spain’s economic problems have slashed the subsidies and put the remaining 40,000 jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, soaring prices for subsidized wind energy and carbon dioxide emission permits raised electricity prices for other businesses – causing 2.2 jobs to be lost for every “green” job created, says Calzada. Spain’s unemployment rate is now 17% and rising. That’s hardly the “success” story so often cited by Congress and the Obama Administration.

Across the Channel, Britain’s biggest wind-energy projects are in trouble. Just as the UK government announced its goal of creating 400,000 eco-jobs by 2015, a major green energy employers is ending production. All 7,000 turbines that Downing Street just committed to installing over the next decade will be manufactured – not in Britain, but in Germany, Denmark and China.

For businesses, existing global warming policies have added 21% to industrial electricity bills since 2001, and this will rise to 55% by 2020, the UK government admits. Its latest renewable energy strategy will add another 15% – meaning the total impact on British industry will likely be a prohibitive 70% cost increase over two decades. This is the result of the government’s plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions 34% below 1990 levels by 2020, and increase the share of renewables, especially wind, from 6% to 31% of Britain’s electricity.

These cost hikes could make British manufacturers uncompetitive, and send thousands more jobs overseas, the Energy Intensive Users Group reports. English steel mills could become “unable to compete globally, even at current domestic energy prices,” says British journalist Dominic Lawson; “but deliberately to make them uncompetitive is industrial vandalism – and even madness … a futile gesture ... and immoral.” (Paul Driessen, Townhall)

 

Big electricity generators plead for $20bn ETS aid

ELECTRICITY generators are pleading for between $5 billion and $20bn in extra assistance from the Rudd government to avoid an "industry crisis" under the emissions trading scheme, with some suggesting the compensation could be tied to new investments in renewable power.

The government is yet to be convinced of the generators' claims, but after lobbying last month it commissioned investment bank Morgan Stanley to examine the impact of the ETS on privately owned brown coal generators in the La Trobe Valley and power stations in Queensland and South Australia.

The La Trobe Valley generators included Loy Yang A (owned by AGL and Tokyo Electric Power), International Power's Loy Yang B and Hazelwood, TRUenergy's Yallourn station.

The government is already offering the generators 130 million free permits worth at least $3.5bn over the first five years of the ETS. However, the generators - which provide more than 20 per cent of Australia's east coast power - claim that will not be enough to stop a looming financial crisis and possible future disruptions to power supplies.

Industry sources told The Australian this week the generators were claiming at least 300 million free permits would be necessary to avoid their asset value falling below debt levels, and some were claiming the industry needed as many as 700 million.

The government rejects the argument that generators should be fully compensated for a lost asset value, but it is examining the claims that some could be rendered technically insolvent, whether financiers have reassessed risk since the global financial crisis and whether this could pose any risk to energy security. (The Australian)

 

Green Obsessions: Demon Carbon

Environmental activists are promoting an irrational demonization of carbon on our planet of carbon-based ecosystems. All life on earth would end without carbon in the form of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. With the new Obama administration, the US EPA has concluded that carbon dioxide is linked to climate change, and therefore, is a danger to public health and welfare. Low-carbon renewable energy is all the rage. (Paul Taylor, LA Ecopolitics Examiner)

 

The ‘Green Energy Revolution’: Spinning Failure as Success

The UK government recently gave its ‘low carbon transition plan’ an airing. At the launch of the plan, the unelected Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills who has been forced, twice, to resign from previous roles within the government for his involvement in scandals, Lord Peter Mandelson said: (Climate Resistance)

 

Go Belcha! Meet Belcha – Europe's biggest carbon polluter (and it's about to get even bigger)

The biggest single producer of carbon emissions in the European Union has been named – and it is about to get even bigger. The appropriately titled Elektrownia Belchatow – a massive coal-fired power station – belched out 30,862,792 tonnes of CO2 last year and by 2010 the whole generating facility will have grown by 20%.

The Polish energy giant was named as climate change enemy number one in a report by the London-based Sandbag Climate Campaign and its greenhouse gas output dwarfed the 22m tonnes of annual carbon produced by the Drax power station in North Yorkshire and a host of equally dirty German plants.

Sandbag said the expansion of Belchatow and the planned construction of 50 coal-fired plants across the European mainland demonstrated that policies such as the EU's European Trading Scheme (ETS) were not working.

Bryony Worthington, founder of Sandbag, said the price of pollution allowances in the ETS was too low to deter companies from choosing coal over clean energy, noting that six of the 10 most polluting plants are in Germany despite generous government subsidies for solar and other clean technologies. (The Guardian)

Carbon dioxide is not an atmospheric pollutant and is actually in short supply. There is no known downside to feeding the biosphere.

 

Horrendous waste of energy: Study considers Surat carbon capture scheme

Carbon Energy says it hopes to be storing emissions from its power plant and gas fields in the Surat Basin, in Queensland's southern inland, within 18 months.

It has begun studies to see if carbon from its Bloodwood Creek site can be trucked to central Queensland - where Zerogen is building a large storage facility and coal-gas power station.

The emissions would be stored two kilometres underground. (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

 

Big member states seek control over CCS projects

Germany, France and the UK want say over spending, but CCS advocates fear set-back for technology.

The EU's bigger member states are seeking to wrest control over demonstration carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects worth billions of euros away from the European Commission.

The EU has already decided that it wants 12 CCS demonstration plants up and running by 2015 as part of its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. EU leaders earmarked €1.05 billion for CCS under the EU's economic recovery plan and agreed that the proceeds from selling allowances for 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the emissions trading scheme will be available for CCS and ‘innovative' renewable energy projects – although it is acknowledged more funding will be needed.

But diplomats from the EU's three biggest countries are pressing for a bigger say over how the EU money is spent.

In September, members of the climate change committee, a group of experts from the national administrations, will vote on Commission-proposed rules governing how the EU money is used. (European Voice)

 

Back in the virtual realm... A new method to cleaner and more efficient CO2 capture

Separating carbon dioxide from its polluting source, such as the flue gas from a coal-fired power plant, may soon become cleaner and more efficient.

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher has developed a screening method that would use ionic liquids - a special type of molten salt that becomes liquid under the boiling point of water (100 degrees Celsius) - to separate carbon dioxide from its source, making it a cleaner, more viable and stable method than what is currently available. (PhysOrg.com)

His modeling process may even work and be more than a cool toy but we do not want to remove carbon dioxide from the emissions stream! How hard is it to get people to remember that carbon dioxide supports most of the world's food web by enabling photosynthesis by green plants? Atmospheric carbon dioxide, good. Schemes to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide, bad.

 

In Pursuit of Natural Gas, Companies Inch Ever Closer to a Nuclear Blast Site

On Sept. 10, 1969, the Atomic Energy Commission lowered a 43-kiloton nuclear device – roughly three times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima – into an 8,400-foot hole bored into a flat-topped mountain near Grand Junction, Colo.

Then it was detonated. The blast carved out an egg-shaped underground pocket, 150 feet in diameter.

The effort, known as Project Rulison, was part of the Atomic Energy Commission’s “Project Plowshare,” which sought “peaceful” – mostly excavational – uses for the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Between 1961 and 1973, 27 such devices were tested, most of them in Nevada.

The goal of the Rulison detonation was to unlock natural gas deposits deep underground. The bomb succeeded in doing just that, but there was a catch: The gas released from underground was too radioactive to sell, prompting the Energy Department to ban drilling below 6,000 feet on the 40-acre site.

The Colorado State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission enacted wider restrictions, requiring a hearing when an application is received to drill within a three-mile radius of ground zero.

Forty years after the blast, the natural gas industry has proliferated in Colorado’s gas rich Piceance Basin, and dozens of gas wells are located within three miles of the site.

Last month, amid community concerns and a surge in drilling permit requests in the area, the Energy Department released a draft report outlining a “staged” approach to drilling that “allows gas reserves near the Rulison site to be recovered in a manner that minimizes the likelihood of encountering contamination.” (Green Inc.)

 

Gas Could Power Britain Well Into Winter

LONDON - Weak prices and sagging demand could see gas supply most of Britain's electricity well into winter, sidelining coal plants and cutting Britain's carbon emissions as a welcome side effect.

Gas is usually favored for round-the-clock power generation in summer when low demand for heating keeps the fuel price low, swelling gas-fired power plant profits, known as spark spreads.

Coal-fired power profits usually become more attractive in mid winter when heating demand for gas is strong, making coal the main baseload power supplier and pushing gas to a marginal role.

But global gas demand has fallen sharply in 2009, while liquefied natural gas (LNG) production has surged, leading to oversupply and a fall in British gas prices -- something which could keep coal on the margins into December.

"The UK is going to be very comfortably off for gas this winter. There should be plenty of LNG cargoes out there available at reasonable prices," Graham Freedman, senior power and gas analyst at Wood Mackenzie in London, said.

"There is a certain weakness in the market and come winter time you might find there is quite a lot of gas out there on the market." (Reuters)

 

Airlines cut flights in tax-hike protest - Aviation and tourism chiefs unite to demand review of 'bonkers' duty

Britain's largest low-cost airline is to cut almost a third of its flights from Stansted this winter, blaming "unfair" passenger taxes for making the routes uneconomical.

Ryanair, which currently runs 40 aircraft from Stansted, its main London hub, will run just 24 planes from October, leading to a 30 per cent reduction in the number of weekly flights.

It is the latest airline to cut its schedules, increasing the pressure from the aviation and tourist industries on the Chancellor to review the controversial air passenger duty (APD).

Belgium, Holland, Greece and Spain have all reduced or scrapped similar taxes to boost tourism during the recession. Yesterday Ryanair's arch-rival easyJet joined in the attack, branding the tax "certifiably bonkers".

The British Air Transport Association (Bata) has already approached the Government over the issue as many of its members have warned the measure could have a disastrous impact on an industry already suffering heavily from the effects of the recession. An industry analyst, Rigas Doganis, said that the decline of the aviation industry had been "absolutely frightening".

However, industry sources believe that while a £1 rise in the tax in November appears to be a "fait accompli", they are concentrating their efforts on stopping a doubling of the tax, due to come in next year.

APD first came into effect in 1994 but was overhauled in the pre-Budget report last November. The tax is in four bands, dependent on how far the passenger flies. In Europe, there is currently a flat £10 fee for passengers on shorthaul economy flights, rising to £40 to fly further. This will rise to £22 and £90 from November next year.

The Government introduced it as a green tax, which easyJet rejected yesterday. "As an environmental tax it is stupidity itself as it is a flat rate. A passenger flying on the most environmentally friendly plane will pay the same as one on a dirty old banger."

Virgin Atlantic also came out against the tax, and has started printing anti-APD messages on its e-tickets. Sir Richard Branson called it "one of the most unjust taxes out there" on a website launched railing against APD. He said there was "not a shred of evidence to suggest the £2bn-plus currently raised is going towards environmental or sustainable projects". (The Independent)

 

A host of bad ideas: Of Congress, Coal Plants and Biomass

The potential market for second-generation liquid biofuels has gained growing public and investor attention lately, including a lengthy feature on “grassoline” in the latest issue of Scientific American.

But the less glamorous pellet industry has grown in large part because of surging demand from Europe.

The United States is fashioning its own climate legislation and renewable energy policy, which would, among other things, compel utilities to turn to renewable energy sources for a growing portion (6 percent in 2012, rising to 20 percent by 2020) of the electricity they sell.

The historic legislation would allocate billions of dollars for the long-term development of carbon capture and storage for coal- and natural gas-fired generators.

But could Congressional legislators push utilities even further by requiring them to co-fire a mandated proportion of biomass pellets in coal plants — in effect, establishing a renewable solid-fuel standard to mirror biofuel content rules for gasoline? (Green Inc.)

 

Green Baptists Preach Salvation by Breaking Car Windows

Who could possibly claim that buying up drivable used cars at prices far in excess of their market value, for the express purpose of destroying them, will be beneficial for the economy or the planet? You guessed it: a combination of economy-saving politicians and earth-saving green activists are peddling the wonders of a new government program popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers." The Consumer Assistance Recycle and Save Act of 2009 has the two ostensible goals of jump-starting the stalled automobile industry and combating global warming (or climate change, or whatever they're calling it these days) by replacing old, gas-guzzling smog machines with new, more fuel-efficient, cleaner cars. (Mises Daily by Tyler A. Watts)

 

North Carolina to Ban Mountaintop Wind?

A furious battle over the aesthetics of wind energy has erupted in North Carolina, where lawmakers are weighing a bill that would bar giant turbines from the state’s scenic western ridgelines.

The big machines would “destroy our crown jewel,” said Martin Nesbitt, a state senator who supports the ban, according to a report in The Winston-Salem Journal.

As it currently stands, the bill would ban turbines more than 100 feet tall from the mountaintops. Residential-scale turbines (typically 50 to 120 feet high) could still go up, but the industrial-scale turbines that can produce 500 times as much power or more would be effectively ruled out. The legislation appeared likely to pass the state Senate last week, but got sent back to committee. (Green Inc.)

 

Wind power plan blown off course - Closure of turbine factory undermines Government's green pledges

The Government was facing a growing credibility gap over green jobs last night as environmental campaigners and trade unionists united to fight the closure of Britain's sole major wind turbine plant.

Only last week, ministers proclaimed a green employment future for the UK involving 400,000 jobs in environmental industries such as renewable energy – yet this week they are declining to intervene over the forthcoming closure of the Vestas Wind Systems plant on the Isle of Wight, with nearly 600 redundancies.

Workers at the Newport factory, which makes wind turbine blades, were last night staging their third night of occupation of the plant in an attempt to prevent the closure which is scheduled for 31 July. In an alliance not seen before, they were being helped by climate-change campaigners who have set up an ad hoc camp outside the factory and yesterday helped to get food to the occupiers.

Vestas, a Danish company which is the world's biggest wind energy group, announced in April it was pulling out of the UK, citing the difficulties of getting wind farms built in Britain in the face of local "Nimby" opposition campaigns and the slowness of the planning system. (The Independent)

 

July 22, 2009

 

Lessons Learned, City Prepares for a Resurgence of Swine Flu

As New York City braces for a second wave of swine flu this fall, health officials are making plans to carve space out of hospitals, clinics and other buildings to screen people before they can overwhelm emergency rooms.

Hospital and city officials said in interviews that the biggest surprise from the swine flu that swept the city last spring was the surge of visits to emergency rooms by people, especially children, sick with the flu and by a far larger number of people fearing they had it.

A major focus of planning for the fall, officials say, is to avoid being swamped by a similar, possibly bigger, demand for emergency room services. Some hospital officials are advocating putting out daily swine flu bulletins — modeled after announcements on alternate-side parking or lottery numbers — about issues like when to seek treatment.

“I think we were a little surprised at how many people were coming to emergency rooms,” said the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley. “And the emergency rooms handled them — it wasn’t a major problem, but it was a problem.”

In planning for the spring outbreak — part of what the World Health Organization called a global pandemic — the city’s experts thought a lot about providing beds and equipment like ventilators for severely ill patients admitted to hospitals, Dr. Farley said. Still, he added, “the thought that there would be large numbers of people in emergency rooms hadn’t been well thought through, so that’s one thing we need to address.” (NYT)

Hmm... suppose the hysterical coverage had anything to do with the number of people frightened into emergency room visits?

 

'A Whole Industry Is Waiting For A Pandemic'

The world has been gripped with fears of swine flu in recent weeks. In an interview with SPIEGEL, epidemiologist Tom Jefferson speaks about dangerous fear-mongering, misguided, money-driven research and why we should all be washing our hands a lot more often. (Der Spiegel)

 

Not mates of Charlie then: British Scientists Denounce Homeopathic Treatment for HIV and TB

A group of British scientists have appealed to the World Health Organisation to publicly condemn homeopathy as treatment for serious diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria.

They called on the WHO to act amid fears that vulnerable patients are dying after turning to homeopathic preparations instead of effective medicines.


In the letter, early career medics and researchers from the Voice of Young Science network highlight homeopathy projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and Botswana that all offer to treat patients with HIV, malaria, diarrhoea or the flu.

Homeopathy practitioners have opened clinics throughout Asian and sub-Saharan Africa and offer to treat patients with HIV, malaria, influenza and childhood diarrhoea, none of which have been shown to respond to homeopathy. Many patients are told that conventional drugs work only temporarily and that homeopathic preparations are cheap and effective alternatives with fewer side effects.

"Those of us working with the most rural and impoverished people of the world already struggle to deliver the medical help that is needed. When homeopathy stands in place of effective treatment, lives are lost," the scientists write in an open letter to the organisation. (MedIndia)

 

A report about not having a report to report: U.S. Withheld Data on Risks of Distracted Driving

In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel.

They sought the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways.

But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, decided not to make public hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers — in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.

On Tuesday, the full body of research is being made public for the first time by two consumer advocacy groups, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the documents. The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen provided a copy to The New York Times, which is publishing the documents on its Web site.

In interviews, the officials who withheld the research offered their fullest explanation to date. (NYT)

There was no such study, is no research, just a collection of speculation and muses but still The Crone publishes the breathless claims of these "advocacy groups"...

 

How small is "small risk"? Is there a dose-response curve? Hmm... UN report pinpoints cancer risk from radon in homes

VIENNA - New studies have found direct evidence of a lung cancer risk from the presence of colourless, odourless radon gas in many homes, a United Nations committee said in a report released on Tuesday. Officials on the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said the finding provided the first quantifiable evidence of the risk in homes from radon, long seen as a potential health risk.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other agencies were revising recommendations on maximum levels of radon in homes and workplaces based on the 20 studies involving tens of thousands of lung cancer patients in North America, Europe and China.

"(Up to now) radon has been a typical health risk no one wants to accept or take note of," Wolfgang Weiss, UNSCEAR's vice chairman, told a news conference.

He said the report was significant because previous estimates of radon risks to the public were extrapolated from studies of uranium miners exposed to high levels of the gas.

"In the meantime we've done 20 studies in homes where concentrations are very low, and there we can see a risk, it is small, but it is certainly there," said Weiss. (Reuters)

 

Many doctors feel negatively about obese patients

NEW YORK - In at least one large New York City healthcare network, more than 40 percent of doctors have a "negative reaction" to obese patients, according to a new study. And most physicians feel that treating obese patients was "very frustrating." (Reuters Health)

 

In Health Reform, As Elsewhere, You Will Get What You Pay For

Why does America rank first in health expenditures per person, but 25th to 35th in health quality and status? Why do we get low value for our health care dollar?

While the debate rages over public vs. private payers, the real issue is what the insurance pays for. And the answer lies in how we pay physicians, who largely determine health care spending.

Our current fee-for-service system rewards physicians for expensive procedures and pays little for basic doctoring. As typified by Medicare's Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS), which specifies fee-for-service payments and is the national template for physician pay, procedures are rewarded at several times that for "cognitive" services.

A 30-minute procedure pays up to five times that for the same time performing a detailed history and physical examination, making a diagnosis, planning and coordinating treatment, or counseling a patient and family.

The net result: high volumes of expensive procedures, contributing to cost inflation and the estimated 30% waste in expenditures, and too little doctoring. Fundamental payment reform is needed, especially for primary care.

Where comprehensive primary care is available, per capita expenditures are significantly lower, yet outcomes are better and disparities fewer.

The best health systems have one primary care physician per specialist. In the U.S., the ratio is 1:3 and heading toward 1:5, as medical school graduates flock to high-paying specialties and shun primary care, where income is a fraction of that for specialists.

Even patients with insurance have difficulty finding a primary care physician and getting an appointment. When they see the doctor, the visit is likely rushed and unsatisfactory, because of the low price set by RBRVS for the office visit.

The "hamster wheel" practice environment engendered by low pay for cognitive services discourages my medical students and primary care colleagues, half of whom think about leaving the field.

It's not the money driving students and colleagues away; many view primary care as a calling and don't talk about money. Rather, it's the lack of finances to properly staff and equip a practice. This leaves them overwhelmed and unable to give patients the time for good care. (Allan H. Goroll, IBD)

 

Still Not An Option

Last week we said the reform plan moving through the House essentially outlaws the private individual medical insurance market. Critics said we were being dishonest. But we're standing by our story.

IBD Exclusive Series: Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure

When we received a copy of the House's 1,018-page health care reform legislation, it didn't take us long to find a passage that made us wince. On Page 16, the language indicated to us that once the bill became law, insurers would no longer be permitted to sell new private individual coverage. While we were expecting the worst out of this legislation, we really didn't anticipate anything quite so radical. Had we simply misread the bill?

Not fully trusting our own interpretation, we asked for confirmation from the House Ways and Means Committee. Sources there agreed: The bill would indeed shut down the individual private health care insurance market.

Our impression was further confirmed Monday when Rep. Dave Camp, the ranking member on Ways and Means, told us that "any existing plan will not be able to enroll members." There will be "a prohibition," the Michigan Republican said, "on enrolling individuals in private health plans" after the bill becomes law in 2013. (IBD)

 

 

Shooting Down The Raptor

The TARP bailout may hit $24 trillion, but the Senate says the F-22 is too expensive to build and maintain. So why are the Japanese so desperate to buy this "unnecessary" Cold War weapon?

Read More: Military & Defense

By a vote of 58-40, the Senate on Tuesday voted to remove $1.75 billion set aside in a defense bill to build seven more F-22 Raptors, adding to the 187 stealth technology fighters already in the pipeline.

After some hope the production lines would be kept open, the Senate succumbed to arguments by the administration and others that the fighter was too expensive, too hard to maintain and not built for the wars America is fighting these days.

President Obama welcomed the Senate vote, saying he rejected the notion that the country has to "waste billions of taxpayers dollars" on outdated defense projects.

Well, the inspector general in charge of overseeing the Treasury Department's bank-bailout program now says the massive endeavor could end up costing taxpayers almost $24 trillion in a worst-case scenario. Yet we can't afford to build just seven more F-22s?

Keeping the F-22 production lines open would be a real stimulus saving real jobs. Lockheed Martin, the main contractor, says 25,000 people are directly employed in building the plane, and another 70,000 have indirect links, particularly in Georgia, Texas and California. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a supporter of the program, says there are 1,000 suppliers in 44 states. That's wasteful? (IBD)

 

Plain stupidity from The Crone: 137 Years Later

It’s hard to believe that the 1872 mining law is still with us. Signed by Ulysses S. Grant four years before the invention of the telephone, the law sets the rules for mining hardrock minerals like gold and copper. Useful in the days of westward expansion, it is a disaster now. It demands no royalties from the mining companies and provides minimal environmental protections.

Its legacy, if it can be called that, is a battered landscape of abandoned mines and poisoned streams.

Republican and Democratic presidents alike have urged Congress to reform the law. Yet it survives, thanks largely to Congressional inertia and friends in high places. At the moment, that friend is Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader who resists reform because mining is big business in his home state of Nevada.

Still there is hope for change. In 2007, the House passed a good bill that would require mining companies to pay royalties, just like oil and coal producers do. The money would help pay for cleanups of abandoned mines. The bill would also strengthen environmental safeguards and allow the secretary of the interior to block mines that pose a clear danger to the environment. (NYT)

While there is a clear case for preventing mining operations poisoning people's water supplies, for example, there are already more than ample means of so doing.

With regard to "protecting the environment" it's long past time that old crock was flushed. "Protect the environment" is simply "resist all change and progress" in a snazzy sound-bite suit but actually means nothing good or even interesting. Your environment is whatever surrounds you and that is most likely a built environment if you have any luck at all. Is there a mine in the environment? Cool, that means work, services and resources. No mine? Bad luck, you'll have to look for some other resource to exploit or reason for your community to exist.

Maintaining pretty parks and areas purely for aesthetics is possible only for societies generating a societal surplus, i.e., societies generating sufficient wealth they can support all their citizens and still afford to view regions as unrequired resources, kind of like baubles on a Christmas tree. We need the resource and industrial base to afford purely decorative pursuits like the nature-worshipping eco-theism of modern environmentalism.

The aging and now rather senile NYT has lost all connection with reality. Ultra liberal New York is built of iron, stone and aggregate hard-won from the ground, in mines. Without the transport, industry, mines and ranches The Crone so despises the city will fail for want of water and food, then slowly crumble and decay.

People and their industry make up our environment and the mines, transport, industry and agriculture are all part of that environment, celebrate them. Without them even environmentalists will be out there eating and burning the environment in a scramble to survive.

 

What Lurks Beneath - Germany's Technophobia is Holding it Back

In the 1960s and 1970s, German companies and laboratories churned out futuristic technologies, from novel types of nuclear reactors to the world's first magnetic-levitation train. In the early 1980s, Germany was one of the first countries to develop a national plan for genetics research, setting up labs in Munich, Cologne, and Heidelberg. Per capita, German scientists applied for more biotech patents than Americans did.

Yet only a few years later, German pharmaceutical companies like BASF and Bayer postponed production plans and moved much of their research abroad. Germany lost its spot at the cutting edge of biotech. One reason was the pull of a powerful new startup culture that had developed around American universities in the 1980s. But there was a more sinister reason as well: a powerful coalition of environmental activists, church leaders, politicians, and journalists mobilized fears against medical biotechnology as a dangerous meddling with nature, an attack on human dignity reminiscent of Nazi eugenics. With much of the public behind them, lawmakers tightened regulations, bureaucrats refused to grant permits, and even academic research facilities became targets of righteous protest. Today, most Germans once again accept medical biotech, but most of the industry's leading companies are found in the U.S.

Germany, though, doesn't seem to have learned from this experience. The same fears of out-of-control technology continue to hold back German companies and scientists. Germany is the only leading economy to have banned nuclear power despite a world-beating safety record, and in the process killed off a once thriving civilian nuclear industry. Now Germany has become one of the leaders among major countries in opposing agricultural biotech, banning even genetically engineered crops that are permitted by the EU and rolling back research at its labs and universities. Already, environmental activists are gearing up for new fights—which could come in nanotechnology, a fast-emerging industry where German companies are among the global leaders, but where opponents fear invisible particles that could contaminate food and the air. At a nuke-industry confab earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany must take care not to "weaken our industrial base" by opting out of high-tech sectors. Merkel's worry: at a time when every rich nation is searching for competitive advantage in a crisis-stricken global economy, Germans' techno-skepticism threatens to block the country's access to some of the most promising emerging industries.

Green technophobia is by no means just a German phenomenon. Much of Europe is on a crusade against biotech crops, seen as a dangerous contamination of the human food supply. The Swiss have gone even further than the Germans, writing the dignity of plants into their Constitution. (In theory, genetically engineered pest resistance should raise the dignity of plants, but that's not how Swiss legislators see it.) In America, born-again politicians helped place severe restrictions on stem-cell research that were rolled back only this year by the new administration. Countries like Sweden and Italy also legislated against nuclear power. Since then, however, they have reversed course. Worried about energy dependence and global warming, they no longer believe they can afford the luxury of abandoning an emissions-free power source. (Stefan Theil, Newsweek)

 

This is a surprise to anyone? BBC executive says corporation should foster 'left-of-centre thinking'

A senior BBC executive has claimed that the corporation should foster "left-of-centre thinking", leading to accusations of political bias from the Conservatives. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Why ruin a potentially useful study by throwing in "climate change"? Future Of Western U.S. Water Supply Threatened By Climate Change

As the West warms, a drier Colorado River system could see as much as a one-in-two chance of fully depleting all of its reservoir storage by mid-century assuming current management practices continue on course, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

The study, in press in the American Geophysical Union journal, Water Resources Research, looked at the effects of a range of reductions in Colorado River stream flow on future reservoir levels and the implications of different management strategies. Roughly 30 million people depend on the Colorado River -- which hosts more than a dozen dams along its 1,450 journey from Colorado's Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California -- for drinking and irrigation water. (ScienceDaily)

We have no idea what the climate is going to do, probably never will be able to predict that which is inherently unpredictable...

 

Final Report from the NRC Committee on the Review of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) draft final technical report in March, 2009. In response to federal legislation, the Corps had to analyze hurricane protection, and design and present a full range of measures to protect against a storm equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. The request included measures for flood control, coastal restoration, and hurricane protection, and stipulated close coordination with the State of Louisiana and its appropriate agencies.

This is the second and final report from the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Review of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program. The committee was charged to review two draft reports from the LACPR team and to assess the hurricane risk reduction framework, alternatives for flood control, storm protection, coastal restoration, and risk analysis. This report presents this committee's review and advice for improvements of the LACPR March 2009 draft final technical report. (NAP)

 

Nutrient Control Actions for Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico

A large area of coastal waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico experiences seasonal conditions of low levels of dissolved oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Excess discharge of nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers causes nutrient overenrichment in the gulf's coastal waters and stimulates the growth of large algae blooms. When these algae die, the process of decomposition depletes dissolved oxygen from the water column and creates hypoxic conditions.

In considering how to implement provisions of the Clean Water Act to strengthen nutrient reduction objectives across the Mississippi River basin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested advice from the National Research Council. This book represents the results of the committee's investigations and deliberations, and recommends that the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture should jointly establish a Nutrient Control Implementation Initiative to learn more about the effectiveness of actions meant to improve water quality throughout the Mississippi River basin and into the northern Gulf of Mexico. Other recommendations include how to move forward on the larger process of allocating nutrient loading caps -- which entails delegating responsibilities for reducing nutrient pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus -- across the basin. (NAP)

 

Letter Report Assessing the WATERS Network Science Plan

In 2006, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requested that the National Research Council's (NRC's) Water Science and Technology Board review and assess the adequacy of the conceptual design and planning process for NSF's proposed Water and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network. In response, the NRC formed a committee that first issued an interim report evaluating the Draft Science, Education, and Design Strategy for the WATERS Network. Subsequently, in response to requests from NSF, the statement of task for the committee was modified towards reviewing a vision-level Science Plan, and the NRC and committee agreed to provide quick advice on part two of the statement of task.

This letter report summarizes the committee's assessment of whether the Science Plan 'sets forth a vision of what could be accomplished with an observing network to transform water science and engineering research and education' and 'whether the Science Plan makes a compelling case for establishing the WATERS Network with Major Research and Facilities Construction (MREFC) funding.' These two questions are addressed individually and as part of an overall assessment as well. (NAP)

 

Globe's warmest days in a decade

The record cold temperatures are often covered on this blog. But I have no bias so you can learn about the record hot temperatures, too.



According to the satellite methodology

UAH AMSU-A temperatures (Java graph generator),
July 12th, 2009 was already the globe's near-surface record-breaking warmest day at least since 1998. This particular algorithm ended up with a "very hot" result, -13.73 °C, which was warmer than the previous record, -13.78 °C, on July 2nd, 2007, followed by July 21th-July 24th, 2005 when the temperature was stuck at -13.79 °C. There were many periods during the last decade when the temperature was close to -13.9 °C.

We're interested in "absolute temperatures" and not anomalies, so we should realize the following: only the days in July, perhaps the last week(s) of June, and the first week(s) of August are a priori eligible to produce the absolute hottest days because the Northern Hemisphere landmass, the largest contributor to the temperature variations, is hottest in July. The oceanic temperatures don't vary as much, and there is smaller land area on the Southern Hemisphere than on the Northern Hemisphere.

You shouldn't be quite certain that these were the hottest days on their record because the temperature may occasionally jump for a few days, even during Julies of cold years. (But yes, additional graphs indicate that the days were warmest in 20 and probably 30 years.) However, it is somewhat unlikely that a warmer day occurred on years that were 0.5 °C cooler than 2009 or even more. So chances are high that the day would be the warmest one, according to the same definition of the global mean temperature, since 1945 if not 1400 if not 6000 BC if not 125,000 BC, right after an interglacial when a warmer day had occurred almost certainly. ;-)

You can be relatively certain that the days we are just enjoying will remain the hottest ones after some small corrections are made at the end of the month. Why?

A sequence of records

Because the new record from July 12th, -13.73 °C, was improved on July 13th, then again on July 14th-15th (the same temperature), then again on July 17th, and then again on July 18th-19th when the temperature was -13.58 °C which is already 0.2 °C warmer than the previous record from 2007. That's a pretty large improvement that is unlikely to be "fixed away". The continuity of the temperature and long-term persistence make it reasonably likely that a record may be rewritten 5 times a week.

There is no law that will prevent the temperature from increasing for a few days. The chances exceed 50% that the July 18th record will be rewritten again in a few days simply because the short-term behavior of the graph resembles the Brownian motion.

I am sure ;-) that you had to notice such an unprecedented shocking global heat wave. Did you survive the catastrophe and how? Today, every kid knows that the UAH-AMSU-A global temperature of -13.58 °C is a horrible fever that urges the kids to shoot their fathers in SUVs. Tell us about your experiences from the judgment days.

In Pilsen, the hottest days July 18th-19th were rainy, with temperature stuck around 10 °C: Ewa Farna's concert on the Pond of Bolevec was somewhat decimated by the bad weather. But the skies have become more pleasant afterwards. :-) I am also not asking Al Gore about his frying experience from the record hot days because Nashville, Tennessee broke the 1877 record cold temperature today. ;-)

Causes, statistics of records

The rapidly strengthening El Nino conditions and random noise are the two primary drivers to get credit for the globally warm days.

The probability that a particular Northern summer brings a hotter day than the 10 previous years is equal to 0.1 or greater. It's because with white noise, each year in the period has the same 10% probability to include the record-breaker. On the other hand, long-term persistence "reddens" the noise and makes the temperature more likely to increase or decrease quasi-uniformly which raises the odds that the extremum (or extrema) are found at the end(s) of the 10-year period.

If very low-frequency signals were completely dominating the evolution of temperatures, the probability that the latest summer has the hottest day would gradually approach 50%: the same chances of quasi-uniform cooling and warming. If the annual temperature step were completely dominated by an underlying warming trend, the odds would approach 100%, of course. (The Reference Frame)

 

Some (climate) models aren't worth the flirt, new research shows

Climate change scientists have models coming out of their ears. (Not the leggy variety, alas, but complex mathematical equations which try to project future temperature change.)

So how does a boffin decide which ones to use? Many scientists place their trust in models which accurately mimic past climate change, in the hope that they will continue to 'tell the truth' in the future.

But a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that this trust could be misplaced. The ability of a model to faithfully simulate past climate change is 'no guarantee of future skill', according to research by Catherine Reifen and Ralf Toumi at Imperial College .

Reifen and Toumi played around with the models of temperature change in the 20th century. To their surprise, they found that models which painted a faithful picture of climate change between 1900 and 1919 failed miserably between 1920 and 1939. The same applied between 1901-1920 and 1921-1940, and so on up until 1999.

Why's that? Simply put, models aren't very good at multi-tasking. A model may be very good at simulating the effect of El Nino on temperatures in the tropics, but isn't as good at everything else. But because El Nino and other 'strengths' like sea-ice come and go, no single model can consistently hit the nail on the head all the time.

That's why it's important that we include as many models as possible in our climate change projections, the study concludes. 'We do not know which feedbacks will dominate in the future', warn Reifen and Toumi, 'and the inclusion of the largest possible number of models could increase the range of predictions.'

So where does this leave us? You'll be glad to hear that the IPCC hasn't fallen into the trap flagged up by this report: it gives equal weighting to all models.

Less pleasing is its own admission of fallibility on the subject of models. 'What does the accuracy of a climate model's simulation of past or contemporary climate say about the accuracy of its projections of climate change?' mulls the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment. 'This question is just beginning to be addressed...' (Blog of Bloom)

 

Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products

During the 1990s, a government program brought together environmental scientists and members of the intelligence community to consider how classified assets and data could be applied to further the understanding of environmental change. As part of the Medea program, collection of overhead classified imagery of sea ice at four sites around the Arctic basin was initiated in 1999, and two additional sites were added in 2005. Collection of images during the summer months at these six locations has continued until the present day. Several hundred unclassified images with a nominal resolution of 1 meter have been derived from the classified images collected at the 6 Arctic sites.

To assist in the process of making the unclassified derived imagery more widely useful, the National Research Council reviewed the derived images and considered their potential uses for scientific research. In this book, we explore the importance of sea ice in the Arctic and illustrate the types of information--often unique in its detail--that the derived images could contribute to the scientific discussion. (NAP)

 

My experience with Rahmstorf’s non-linear trend line

One of the original impetuses for me to start blogging was my experience with Stefan Rahmstorf concerning his 2007 paper “A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise” (Science, 315, 2007). I posted a several part critique on my old blogspot site, which I later ported over to this wordpress site.

But this was only part of the story. I have decided to tell the rest of the story after reading “The Secret of the Rahmstorf ‘Non-Linear Trend Line’“ at Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit. (ClimateSanity)

 

Amazingly the MSM still treats Rahmstorf as a serious analysis though:  Climate change calls for land-use plan rethink

The spectre of rising sea levels and ecological change from climate disruption show land-use plans for Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast will need to be revisited and recalibrated to account for rapid and unabated climate change.

As reported in the journal Science in March, sustained atmospheric warming projected for the coming centuries could ultimately produce a worldwide rise in sea level of 12 metres compared with today's levels. (Chris Genovali, Times Colonist)

 

Comedy Synthesis Report

The revision of the Copenhagen Synthesis Report was advertised at the ANU Climate Change Institute, directed by Prof. Will Steffen. But they just can’t seem to get it right. The ANU web site refers to Stefan Rahmstorf as Stefan Rahmonstorf.

Ian Castles on the July 5th, 2009 compiled the list of amendments of errors. Below is an update of the current situation. (David Stockwell, Niche Modeling)

 

Climate Money: The Climate Industry: $77 billion so far – trillions to come

The US government has spent over $77 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks. Despite the billions: “audits” of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of the theory and compete with a well funded highly organized climate monopoly. They have exposed major errors. (Joanne Nova, SPPI)

 

I call "Bullshit!" Montreal Protocol Eyed as Weapon in Fight Against Climate Change

UNITED NATIONS -- There's growing momentum for amending the Montreal Protocol, the landmark treaty credited with rescuing the earth's ozone layer, for use in a global battle against climate change.

Widely regarded as the most successful environmental treaty of all time, the Montreal Protocol is credited with eliminating 97 percent of gases used in refrigerant and cooling systems that were eating away at the atmospheric layer that protects life from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Now, some officials are confident the treaty can be employed to fight climate change, as well, by reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The move is controversial, as HFCs do not harm ozone and are widely used as a safer substitute for chlorofluorcarbons (CFCs), with the protocol mentioning HFCs as an attractive alternative coolant.

HFC use is already loosely regulated under existing climate-change conventions. Though much less of a contributor to global warming than carbon dioxide, HFCs are known to have a heat-trapping effect thousands of times more powerful than CO2, and their climate impact is expected to grow as developing nations turn to HFCs for air conditioning and refrigeration. (Greenwire)

The Montreal Protocol was never anything more than a DuPont patent protection scheme, there was never an "ozone crisis" (Gore has said its value was establishing a precedent for global governance). Now, let's see, could it be that Dupont's exclusivity on HFCs is expiring, so now we need a new round of expensive chemicals to replace them?

 

Gore: U.S. Climate Bill Will Help Bring About 'Global Governance'

Former Vice President Al Gore declared that the Congressional climate bill will help bring about “global governance.” “I bring you good news from the U.S., “Gore said on July 7, 2009 in Oxford at the Smith SchoolWorld Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by UK Times. “Just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill,” Gore said, noting it was “very much a step in the right direction.” President Obama has pushed for the passage of the bill in the Senate. Gore touted the climate bill, claiming it “will dramatically increase the prospects for success” in combating what he sees as the “crisis” of man-made global warming. “But it is the awareness itself that will drive the change and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global governance and global agreements.” (Marc Morano, SPPI)

 

Global Warming’s Missing Link: EPA Whistleblower Exposes Agenda’s Fatal Flaw

The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing the greatest regulatory intervention in US history, seeking to declare that carbon dioxide poses an “endangerment” under the Clean Air Act, threatening human health and the environment. To hear the EPA tell it, CO2 – which nonetheless remains indispensible to life on earth and without which plants die, more of which produces higher crop yields, etc. – will kill us all.

This proposal is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s attempt to bring the energy sector of the economy under state control just as it seeks to do with health care, essentially ruining something in order to take it over in the name of cleaning up capitalism’s mess. It’s an old play, which the statists have run for decades, certain that every now and then it will break for a big gain. But an inconvenient EPA career professional just doing his job assessed the premise and informed his superiors, in the sole substantive report presented in the Agency’s internal deliberations, that upon scrutiny CO2 clearly does not drive temperatures or climate but oddly enough, the sun and oceans do. His boss told him to shut up, that nothing good could come to their office by injecting this analysis into the process, as the decision had been made.

One problem with that, of course, is that the decision is not allowed to be made before the process has run its course. That is the entire purpose of an internal debate which, internal documents now prove, was truncated and in fact illusory. (Chris Horner, Energy Tribune)

 

Climate Economics 101 and Policy Activism

In this month’s article at EconLib, I provide an introduction to the economics of climate change, and discuss some of its major controversies. Follow the above link for the full story, but in a nutshell here are the main issues: (Robert Murphy, MasterResource)

 

A Natural Limit to Anthropogenic Global Warming

"The concept of dangerous climate change, although central to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol to restrict CO2 emissions, has never been formally defined. A general understanding has evolved within scientific and political discussions on the issue that global warming exceeding 2oC would indeed be dangerous. Some scientists go so far as to suggest that 2oC represents a ‘tipping point’ beyond which ‘runaway global warming’ is likely. The evidence, however, is speculative and linked to the projections of computer models." (William Kininmonth, SPPI)

 

Please, no... Kerry panel looks at climate change and national security

WASHINGTON -- Massive crop devastation, melting glaciers, water shortages, millions of displaced people -- all of these will drag the US military into conflict if global climate change goes unchecked, a Senate panel was warned today.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, convened by Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, focused on what so far has received only modest attention in the climate change debate: the effect it is bound to have on national defense.

"Addressing the consequences of changes in the Earth's climate is not simply about saving polar bears or preserving the beauty of mountain glaciers," retired Navy Vice Adm. Lee F. Gunn, president of the American Security Project, told the panel. "Climate change is a threat to our national security."

Gunn and other military specialists said that climate change could have broad effects on how the US military operates. It will likely expand the number of humanitarian missions the Pentagon will have to undertake, they said, and even change how it deploys its fighting forces.

For example, they warned that rising sea levels could swamp critical US military bases in the Indian Ocean and even the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., which could be under water after just a one-meter rise in the ocean level. (Boston Globe)

Climate models are process models, they are not designed for prediction, nor is there the slightest evidence they can be adapted for the purpose. We really don't want to fall into the trap of making defense policy decisions on the strength of PlayStation® climatology. Unfounded fear of climate change is a threat to our national security.

 

Policy Peril: The Truth About Global Warming

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis explains why we have more to fear from global warming policies than from global warming itself.

 

Peacocks and Passions in Senate Climate Debate

NEW YORK — With the U.S. House of Representatives having narrowly approved a climate change bill late last month, attention has now moved to the Senate, which is busy debating just how to craft a version of its own.

Setting aside leaders like James M. Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who has referred to global warming as “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” the chief concern surrounding any potential climate legislation in the United States is this: How will it affect the ability of American industry to compete around the globe?

It is a fair question, particularly as rapidly industrializing nations — chiefly China — continue to resist the idea of implementing their own emission caps. (Green Inc.)

 

Senate Democrats Prep Team Girds for Climate Battle

When the Senate debated climate change legislation earlier this decade, it generally was understood the bill had no chance of becoming law.

Floor debates in 2003 and 2005 came about after high-profile senators forced votes to score political points and embarrass the George W. Bush administration. Just one committee wrote last year's cap-and-trade bill, which crashed on the floor and became a political liability for Senate Democrats.

This time around, Senate Democrats are trying another approach. They have set out to work as a team, with six separate committees trying to write language that can build ownership among influential swing votes well before the floor debate begins.

"To me, the more committees that are involved, the happier I am, because you get more and more colleagues that get to understand it, that get to be part of it," Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters last week. "The more colleagues that play a role, the better."

It was Boxer's committee alone that approved the climate bill before last year's floor debate. The process was not smooth, and moderate Democrats howled in protest that she had not conducted enough outreach on such a momentous piece of legislation.

This year, the EPW Committee is working alongside other powerful panels: Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, and Foreign Relations. For vote counters, that means any number of fence-sitters -- such as Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) -- will have a crack at the climate bill in its earliest stages.

"There are issues that the senators are going to want to work through on their own, and this process allows that," said Mark MacLeod, special projects director with the Environmental Defense Fund. (ClimateWire)

 

NAACP Seeks to Impede Black Advancement By Endorsing Climate-Based Regulation - Directionless Group Pushes Plan Opposed by Majority of Constituency

Washington, DC - Contending with political realities such as the election of the first black president, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is understandably struggling to justify its continued existence. At its centennial convention, it clearly moved in the wrong direction by allying with environmental lobbyists to promote economically devastating climate policy opposed by the majority of black Americans.

"I'm all in favor of the nation's oldest civil rights group redefining its mission and agenda; however this indicates that the NAACP continues to struggle with current realities that face the nation's black communities by promoting policies they are opposed to," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks, who is also a PajamasTV commentator. "If this group simply wants to be defined as another left-wing organization touting the weak science on climate change, then it is destined to face ever-growing irrelevancy."

Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli added: "It's outrageous for the NAACP to place liberal ideology over the welfare of the nation. By aligning with the environmental activist lobby, the NAACP is now an official member of 'Club Green' - the exclusive club of elites waging war against fossil fuels. Tragically, the cover charge for their membership - job losses, reduced standard of living and high energy costs - will be borne disproportionately by the very people the NAACP claims to represent." (Press Release)

 

IPCC Chief Raps G-8, Calls for Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts After 2015

UNITED NATIONS -- The chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change criticized the Group of Eight summit participants for ignoring the IPCC's scientific findings and the declaration that emerged from the 2007 U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in which leaders agreed to work toward a new treaty limiting average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

Though simultaneously praising the 2-degree commitment as "clearly a big step forward" in international talks, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters here yesterday that G-8 leaders failed to heed warnings that global greenhouse gas emissions levels must peak by 2015. Nations must also start to come up with concrete plans for rapidly slashing emissions afterward, Pachauri said.

"They have clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with," he said. "If the G-8 leaders agreed on this 2-degree increase as being the limit they will be accepting, then I think they should have also accepted the attendant requirement of global emissions peaking by 2015." (ClimateWire)

 

Friends we didn't know we had? Activists reveal plan to storm Copenhagen climate summit - Anti-globalisation group Climate Justice action talks of plans to mobilise up to 15,000 protesters to storm Copenhagen summit in December

A network of radical green groups is planning to disrupt the international climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December by invading the conference centre and occupying it for a day, it has emerged.

The anti-globalisation group Climate Justice Action has said it hopes to mobilise up to 15,000 protesters to storm the climate summit, and a large carbon dioxide emitter nearby, while negotiators try to thrash out a replacement for the Kyoto protocol.

"We want to take over the summit space to set the global agenda away from false, market-based solutions, towards an agenda of social justice," said Tadzio Müller, a 32-year-old German activist who is part of the group organising the protest. "Real emission cuts will not be achieved by initiatives like carbon trading...It is (the pursuit of) economic growth that is driving us into climate chaos."

But other green groups have condemned the plan. WWF said the action would be "counter-productive". It is "very concerned" that the proposed protest will put off its own supporters.

"If you want to help fight against climate change, you don't storm the building," said Rasmus Helveg Petersen from WWF Denmark. "I don't see the point of this protest."

"We are afraid it might affect our ability to mobilise people during the conference. If there is a sense that there could be violence, people will stay at home." (The Guardian)

For the most part I think anti-globalists are complete bloody idiots but if they contribute to the failure of Kyoto W (Kyoto-Worse) then they are useful idiots.

 

No! Dig the coal, bury the carbon - New coal-fired power plants will capture CO2 and inject it into the earth.

On the back roads near Edwardsport, Ind., jutting from a hillside carpeted with corn, a steel tower conveyer belt lifts from a mine below a black stream that spills out to become a growing mountain of coal.

Corn used for ethanol may be renewable, but coal is still king of energy crops in the boot tip of the Hoosier State. Yet if coal is to keep its crown, the phrase “clean coal” will need to be more than a slogan.

Power utilities, coal producers, and coal-rich states are racing to preserve coal’s viability as a fuel, as Washington pushes to cap carbon emissions. This region is also working to establish itself as a hub for storing greenhouse gases deep underground permanently. To do that, however, will require technology that can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal power plants at moderate cost.

While many environmentalists decry any further deployment of coal-based power technologies, some people say that because coal is cheap, it will continue to be used for power generation worldwide and therefore carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is critical to curbing global warming.

“We have to show ourselves and others how to do this – how to slow these emissions – or it’s going to be game over,” says John Thompson, director of the Coal Transition Project of the Clean Air Task Force, a national environmental group. (Christian Science Monitor)

Mine the carbon, oxidize it to recover some of the energy bound when it was originally split from atmospheric carbon dioxide and return it to the atmosphere from when it came (and was subsequently lost from the natural cycle due to inadvertent sequestration).

We do not want to waste the biosphere resource, let alone the massive amount of hard-won energy required to deny it life on Earth.

 

Analysis of Alarmism: Ocean acidification

As public awareness grows that human caused warming is false the extent and degree of attempts to scare the public increases. The scare preference is for remote geographic areas such as the Arctic or Antarctic or complex obscure topics ideally with global implications, which the public knows little about. The latest scare story is ocean acidification, which combines these traits with the advantage of a word with negative connotations and used before in acid rain. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Fishy sheep tales: Climate change: Bye-bye, black sheep? - Another clue has been found in the Case of the Shrinking Sheep. -AFP

PARIS - Another clue has been found in the Case of the Shrinking Sheep, an animal mystery in which climate change features as the principal culprit.

The tale of scientific sleuthing is unfolding on two Scottish islands, Soay and Hirta, in the remote Outer Hebrides.

Milder winters in recent decades have enabled smaller lambs, which otherwise would have died after birth, to survive into adulthood and then reproduce, they said.

The climate whodunnit has now been backed by a trio of Australian experts, who have matched weather and population records with the colour of the sheep's coats.

The smaller sheep that now dominate the flock are also lighter-haired ones, a link that has been proven by gene analysis. Bigger sheep tend to be darker. (AFP)

And how did they determine these last few decades to be different due to global warming as opposed the normal multi-decadal cycles afflicting these isles? Stupid game...

 

Oh... Warmer Waters Shrinking European Fish

A new study has found that Europe's fish are smaller than they have been in decades and the researchers believe global warming may be to blame. They warn that smaller fish could eventually have a domino effect on the food chain.

European fish are getting smaller. Over the past two to three decades some varieties have lost almost half of their body weight. And while smaller fish now make up a greater percentage of all fish species, European fish stocks have also shrunk -- by around 60 percent. (Der Spiegel)

Funny, not so long ago it was selective fishing pressure making fish smaller and earlier breeders, now it's gorebull warming. Guess what? Protecting fisheries from overfishing will likely have the desired effect, attempting to protect them from the phantom menace will not.

 

Biased Criticism of Anthony Watts For His Report “Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?”

There is a You Tube video by Peter Sinclar titled “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” which ridicules the important contribution of Anthony Watts in identifying poor siting issues with the US Historical Climate Network (see his report). The video is clearly a biased presentation of what Anthony has accomplished, even resorting to the absurd connection of climate to how the health issues of tobacco were reported.  The video fails to recognize that the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) invited Anthony to present his work in Asheville, and recently, one of the NCDC scientists invited him to co-author a research paper with him.

I will report if NCDC refutes this personal attack against a well respected colleague who has provided a much needed analysis to the climate science community. Stay tuned also for at least two peer reviewed papers which are quantitatively analyzing, using Anthony’s data, the impact of the poor sitings of the HCN sites on the long term surface temperature trends and anomalies. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 29

Editorial:
Dynamics of Infectious Diseases: The climate-alarmist contention that global warming will enhance the spread of infectious diseases is simply too simple to be of any worth. In fact, it could actually be counterproductive ... and even morally indefensible.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 716 individual scientists from 417 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Dosenmoor Bog, Northern Germany. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary
Range Expansions (Animals - Other): Numerous and diverse animal species have expanded their ranges throughout the post-Little Ice Age warming of the earth.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Big Bluestem (Stamenkovic and Gustin, 2009), Blackeyed Susan (Stamenkovic and Gustin, 2009), Indiangrass (Stamenkovic and Gustin, 2009), and Rice (Shimono et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
Aerosol Properties of the Global Atmosphere As Input Data to Climate Models: Are the aerosol properties sufficiently well known?

The Fire History of California's Lake Tahoe Basin: It suggests that the region's current mean annual temperature is nowhere near as high as it was during the Medieval Warm Period.

Amazon Forest Dynamics: In what ways have they changed over the past quarter-century? ... and why?

Methane: Can It Be Produced by Plants?: The question has been pretty much settled: it can't. But plants can help to move it around.

The Rooting of Woody Plant Cuttings: How is it impacted by atmospheric CO2 enrichment?

 

Could if but might maybe: Climate change could put the heat on California crops

Fruit and nut orchards in the Central Valley rely on winter chilling hours, but those cold chills are on a decline, according to a UC Davis study. (LA Times)

 

Possibly too late, misanthropists have spent billions over the last decades getting us into this mess: Millions spent to lobby climate bill

Energy companies and industry groups with a major stake in climate change legislation are spending millions of dollars more on lobbying this year.

The two biggest consumers of coal, for example, each reported increases in lobbying expenditures as lawmakers considered a climate bill, which could reshape the nation’s energy fuel mix by capping carbon dioxide.

American Electric Power (AEP) and Southern Co. have spent $4.6 million and $6.3 million, respectively, to lobby Congress this year. AEP had spent around $3.3 million to lobby Congress at this point last year. Southern, meanwhile, had spent $5.6 million to lobby during the first six months of 2008.

Burning coal to produce electricity is the single largest greenhouse gas emitter of any human activity. A climate bill would likely curb coal use, although coal lobbyists did convince Congress to also direct hundreds of millions of dollars to research efforts to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants.

Major oil companies like Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil also reported big increases in lobbying expenditures this year. (The Hill)

 

From the Enron corner: Cap-and-trade legislation deserves industry support

The House has passed, and the Senate will take up, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. It's easily the best bill I've seen, even if it's not perfect. The energy industry should support this bill because it's a good start, and because we can make it better in the Senate. (Houston Chronicle)

 

Coal giant offers cash for biggest clean rival - TransAlta hopes to green up its holdings through hostile bid for largest wind farmer

Canada's biggest generator of dirty power has launched a $1.5 billion hostile bid for the country's leading developer of clean power, including the two largest wind farms in Ontario.

Analysts say TransAlta Corp.'s proposed acquisition of Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. could be the first of many moves in an energy sector that sees big polluters trying to green up their assets, partly to limit their exposure to carbon-emission penalties once a national cap-and-trade system is introduced. (Toronto Star)

 

PM Kevin Rudd told nuclear is best hope by Rio Tinto

MINING giant Rio Tinto has urged Kevin Rudd to immediately begin work on a regulatory regime allowing use of nuclear energy in Australia, arguing the viability of energy alternatives has been dramatically overstated.

The company has advised the government to consider "every option" for power generation because its pledges on reducing carbon emissions and using renewable energy will expose industry and consumers to huge increases in their power bills.

And it says that overly optimistic assumptions on the viability of alternatives such as wind and geothermal power, as well as so-called clean coal technologies, have created a "false optimism" which the government must challenge by commissioning new research.

The arguments come in a Rio Tinto Australia submission to the government's review of energy policy obtained by The Australian last night.

It emerged just hours after Resources Minister Martin Ferguson emphatically rejected the need for nuclear power generation in Australia, insisting that the nation had ample resources of cheap coal and gas to meet its energy needs. (The Australian)

 

Automakers Worry About More Ethanol In U.S. Gasoline

WASHINGTON - Major automakers asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to approve higher blends of ethanol in gasoline until the agency has adequate test results showing the fuel would not damage vehicles.

Ethanol is now approved to make up 10 percent of U.S. gasoline in cars and trucks. Ethanol producers want the government to allow higher ethanol blend levels up to 15 percent, or E15, as more ethanol will be required each year under federal law.

However, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said increasing the blend rate to beyond 10 percent ethanol, or E10, would affect vehicle emissions, performance and durability.

"We urge EPA to delay any decision on blends higher than E10 for the existing fleet until adequate testing results are available," the group said in a comment letter sent to the agency on Monday. (Reuters)

 

Mini reactors could bring jobs to Ontario - Cambridge plant in running to build units

Go big or go ... small?

Industrial energy giant Babcock & Wilcox Co. is bucking a trend among nuclear technology suppliers that has seen reactor sizes swell and their price tags balloon.

As the Ontario government recently learned, buying a two-reactor nuclear plant that generates at least 2,400 megawatts now costs more than $20 billion.

Babcock has designed a more bite-sized reactor that can be built in a factory and shipped by railcar, and its Canadian subsidiary in Cambridge is in the running to help engineer and make the mini nukes.

Called the mPower, the 125-megawatt reactor has a tenth of the power output of most next-generation reactor designs. Measuring five by 25 metres and weighing about 400 tonnes, it would be entombed underground and would require refuelling of enriched uranium every five years over a 60-year life.

"Right now nuclear is so big that only the very largest utilities can afford them," said Chris Mowry, chief executive of B&W Modular Nuclear Energy LLC, the company set up to bring the mPower to market. (Toronto Star)

 

Who’s afraid of electric vehicles?

Green opposition even to eco-friendly electric cars shows that what environmentalists really dislike is travel itself. (James Woudhuysen, sp!ked)

 

Capitalist Coal versus Socialist Electricity

Last month, Chinese media outlets reported that over 3 million tons of coal had been piled up in the port at Guangzhou, while some 6 million tons of coal sat at the port of Qinhuangdao in the north east.

Coal is piling up in the ports and coal exports have dropped because of the global economic crisis. However, China’s five biggest power generators -- Huaneng Group, Guodian Corp., China Datang Corp., China Huadian Corp. and China Power Investment Corp. -- have been importing coal to feed their power plants. The China Power network reported that between January and April 2009 the net import of coal was 22.7 million tons, and in April alone 9.16 million tons of coal was imported. In May another 9.4 million tons of coal was imported.

Despite all this coal, power plants in Shanxi, the province that produces 70 percent of China’s coal, is short of fuel. Currently more than half of the power plants in Shanxi only have enough coal to last a week or so and some power plants are in danger of being shut down due to lack of fuel.

So what gives here? Why do Chinese power plants shop for coal around the world instead of using the local coal? And why are power plants built on top of coal mines short of coal? (Xina Xie, Energy Tribune)

 

July 21, 2009

 

Closing schools won't stop pandemics: study

WASHINGTON - Closing schools at the first sign of a new pandemic might delay the worst so health officials can prepare, but cannot prevent the spread of the disease, British researchers said on Monday.

And while closing schools might spread out demands on hospitals, it could disrupt healthcare services and the rest of the economy in other ways, Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London and colleagues said.

Writing in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, they said governments need to come up with plans for when and how to close schools if the pandemic of H1N1 swine flu worsens.

"The H1N1 pandemic could become more severe, and so the current cautious approach of not necessarily recommending school closure in Europe and North America might need reappraisal in the autumn," they wrote. (Reuters)

 

Hmm... Salt may be culprit for uncontrolled blood pressure

NEW YORK - People with high blood pressure that isn't controlled by multiple medications are likely eating too much salt, new findings in the journal Hypertension show.

Individuals with so-called resistant hypertension showed sharp reductions in their blood pressure when they dramatically cut their salt intake, Dr. Eduardo Pimenta of the University of Queensland School of Medicine in Brisbane, Australia and his colleagues found. (Reuters Health)

... perhaps sodium interferes with the combination of 3.4 hypertensive medications (average) each of these patients were taking but that's a long way from sodium intake causing hypertension. Very dubious.

 

Support for Obama on healthcare slips: poll

WASHINGTON - Public support for President Barack Obama's handling of healthcare reform, the pillar of his legislative agenda, has fallen below 50 percent for the first time, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday said.

Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have run into stiff opposition this month as they try to pass legislation to restructure the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry through the creation of a government-run health insurance program.

Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats argue the plan, with an estimated cost of more than $1 trillion, could hurt small businesses, add to budget deficits and reduce the quality of medical care for many Americans.

Those concerns may be having an impact on the public, according to the poll, which showed 49 percent of respondents approving of Obama's stand on the issue compared to 57 percent in April. (Reuters)

Could also be that people are figuring out that socialized medicine is an unmitigated disaster, never to be implemented.

 

UK health plans to squeeze other spending-report

LONDON - A pledge by Britain's two main political parties to protect the state-run health service means other departments will face sharp spending cuts, an influential fiscal report said on Monday.

With an election less than a year away, both the ruling Labour and opposition Conservative parties have promised to 'ring-fence' health spending, despite a recession that has pushed the public deficit to a record post-war high.

The pledge will require either sizeable tax rises or hefty cuts to other areas, such as defence and education, after 2011, say researchers at the King's Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. (Reuters)

 

Eating fewer calories may not increase lifespan

NEW YORK - Don't pay too much attention to the buzz around extending your life by eating less: New research with fruit flies suggests that, contrary to previous reports, diet restriction may not increase lifespan.

Recent research has shown that eating fewer calories lengthened the lives of fruit flies and mice. Earlier this month, a study in Science found that to be true for rhesus monkeys, moving the work closer to humans.

In the current study, reported in the journal PLoS-Biology, Dr. David S. Schneider and Dr. Janelle S. Ayres, from Stanford University, California, examined how loss of appetite, which is brought on by most infections, affects the ability of Drosophila to fight various bugs.

Eating fewer calories had a "complicated" effect on the immune system, Schneider told Reuters Health. It helped fight off some bugs, but made the flies more vulnerable to others.

The results indicate that diet restriction is not a "panacea" for longer survival, Dr. Schneider pointed out. Nonetheless, further research is needed to determine if these findings from fruit flies also extend to other animals, including humans, he added. (Reuters Health)

 

When Weight Is the Issue, Doctors Struggle Too

The mother came out of the exam room to intercept me: she knew I would probably have to talk to her daughter about how she was gaining weight, she said, but please don’t use the word “fat,” or even “overweight.” Don’t make her feel bad about herself.

The girl was about 8, and when I plotted her growth chart, it was clear some balance had shifted over the past year, and her weight was increasing much too fast relative to her height. It was worth talking about.

But I was as conscious of my own body as I was of hers. How on earth, I was thinking, am I supposed to give sound nutritional advice when all they have to do is look at me to see that I don’t follow it very well myself? How to reconcile that with her mother’s reasonable request: Don’t make her feel bad about herself? And taking it all together, how am I supposed to help stem the so-called epidemic of childhood obesity when not a week goes by that I don’t break my own resolutions? What price the not-skinny doctor?

“The advice we’re supposed to give in pediatric clinic, it boils down to ‘Eat less, exercise more,’ ” said Dr. Julie C. Lumeng, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School and an expert in childhood obesity. “This is such blasphemy, but when I deliver this advice to families, my heart’s not in it, because I just feel like so often the families are just glazing over, and when that advice is delivered to me, I glaze over, too.” (NYT)

 

S.C. case looks on child obesity as child abuse. But is it?

Jerri Gray was doing all she could to help her son lose weight, her attorney says. But something had gone terribly wrong for the boy to hit the 555-pound mark by age 14.

Authorities in South Carolina say that what went wrong was Gray's care and feeding of her son, Alexander Draper. Gray, 49, of Travelers Rest, S.C., was arrested in June and charged with criminal neglect. Alexander is now in foster care.

The case has attracted national attention. With childhood obesity on the rise across the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gray's attorney says it could open the door to more criminal action against parents whose children have become dangerously overweight.

"If she's found guilty on those criminal charges, you have set a precedent that opens Pandora's box," Grant Varner says. "Where do you go next?"

State courts in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Indiana and California have grappled with the question in recent years, according to a 2008 report published by the Child Welfare League of America.

In all of those cases, except the one in California, courts expanded their state's legal definition of medical neglect to include morbid obesity and ruled that the children were victims of neglect, the report says. Criminal charges were filed only in the California and Indiana cases, but the parents weren't sentenced to jail time in either. (USA TODAY)

 

Obesity Much Much Worse Than Swine Flu

The world’s health authorities are in a state of alert regarding the emergence of the H1N1 swine influenza virus and have been issuing advice and medical recommendations to anyone who will listen to them. It dawned on us in the Ukmedix Newsroom however that when the situation is looked at objectively the threat to humanity from the swine influenza virus is nothing when compared to the threat of obesity.

The fact is that the swine influenza virus is unlikely to kill as many individuals as obesity will (and already has) and that if organisations like the World Health Organisation were interested in saving lives and improving the health of the planet they should be investing far more in obesity reducing initiatives, obesity research and weight loss medications than in Tamiflu and Relenza tablets.

We do not mean to belittle the dangers of swine influenza and we are aware of the fact that this pandemic could turn into something far more serious especially if the virus mutates into more deadly such as the H5N1 avian influenza virus, however when health statistics are looked at objectively it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle weight problems. (UKmedix)

Seriously overstating obesity risk -- then again, Influenza A H1N1 risk tends to be seriously overstated, too.

 

Drugs expose many premature babies to chemicals

NEW YORK - Premature babies are often exposed to additives in their medications that could put them at risk of brain and lung damage, according to a new study.

"Many liquid medications contain additives," co-author Dr. Hitesh C. Pandya, of the University of Leicester, UK told Reuters Health. "Some of these are necessary to produce the medicine but many are not."

"Some of these are thought to be toxic to small infants even in small quantities," he added. "Furthermore, when small infants are given several drugs a day, there is a potential that they may be given quite large doses of a specific additive as a consequence of treatment."

The researchers looked at the medication records of 38 preterm infants in a single hospital. The infants were born between June 2005 and July 2006, and were less than 30 weeks' gestation and 1500 grams at birth.

During their in-patient stays, seven infants who had chronic lung disease were exposed to more than 20 additives, including ethanol and propylene glycol, which are both associated with brain damage.

Exposure to these toxins was higher in infants with chronic lung disease. Preterm infants were also exposed to high concentrations of sorbitol. Some infants were exposed to levels of sorbitol that were in excess of recommended maximum exposure in adults.

Still, while Pandya called on the EU "to legislate to allow people to access information in relation to the specific contents of a medicine," the authors note in their report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition that "it is important to stress that no clinical link between (additive) exposure and outcomes has been made as a result of this investigation." (Reuters Health)

 

Senate takes up concealed weapons measure

WASHINGTON — A measure taken up by the Senate Monday would give people the right to carry concealed weapons across state lines as long as they obey the concealed gun laws of the state they are visiting.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said his proposal would reduce crime by providing reciprocity to carry concealed firearms. "My legislation enables citizens to protect themselves while respecting individual state firearms laws," he said.

Thune's bill was offered as an amendment to a $680 billion defense spending policy bill and has further slowed completion of that must-pass legislation. A vote was scheduled for Wednesday, with 60 votes needed for approval. (Associated Press)

 

Changes in Litigation Windfalls for Environmental Advocacy Groups

A number of environmental groups appear to have used ‘citizen suit’ provisions of key environmental statutes to obtain revenues rather than to improve environmental quality. This would not be allowed with the Waxman-Markey bill to restrict carbon dioxide emissions which recently squeaked through the House of Representatives by a 219-212 vote. The estimated cost in the next decade alone for emissions allowances according to the Congressional Budget office is a whopping $846 billion. (1) Hopefully the bill, which is nothing more than an energy tax in disguise, will find tougher sailing in the Senate, since the only encouraging thing about it at present is the elimination of the citizen suit provision.

So what are citizen suits which are included in almost every major federal environmental statute? As Bruce Benson reports, “Any person can sue alleged violators for failing to comply with the statute or with the regulations issued by the agency enforcing the statute. Although these actions are called citizen suits, most of them are not brought by individuals alarmed about the failure to protect the environment. A large majority are brought by environmental organizations.” (2)

Joel Schwartz and Steven Hayward add, “Research on activists’ choices of litigation targets suggests that the decision by these groups regarding the allocation of their litigation resources is driven more by the cost of the action, the ease of victory, and the likely payoff, rather than by the severity of the [environmental] harm or absence of public enforcement.” (3)

In an expose of costly lawsuits, Tom Knudson of The Sacramento Bee notes, “”Suing the government has long been a favorite tactic of the environmental movement—used to score key victories for clean air, and endangered species. But today, many court cases are yielding an uncertain bounty for the land and sowing doubt even among the faithful. The crush of cases is prompting some lawyers and government officials to speculate that the suits could be motivated, at least in part, by money. During the 1990s, the government paid out $31.6 million in attorney fees for 434 environmental cases brought against federal agencies. The average award per case was more than $70,000. One long-running lawsuit in Texas involving an endangered salamander netted lawyers for the Sierra Club and other plaintiffs more than $3.5 million in taxpayers funds. Attorneys for environmental groups are not shy about asking for money. They earn $150 to $350 an hour, and sometimes get accused of trying to gouge the government.” (4) (Jack Dini, Hawaii Reporter)

 

Interior calls for 2-year hold on mining claims near Grand Canyon - The freeze reverses a Bush-era ruling that opened the land to uranium mining. The Interior Department plans to study the environmental impact.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today called for a two-year "timeout" on new mining claims on nearly 1 million acres near Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona.

The move reverses a decision by the George W. Bush administration to open the land flanking the park for hard-rock mining. That ruling, which opened the way for lucrative mining of uranium ore, was opposed by some in Congress and within the National Park Service over concerns about the toxic heavy metal's potential effects on the park's watershed, wildlife, and cultural and archeological resources.

The Interior Department says it is placing a two-year hold on leasing on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land -- mostly on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and much of it within miles of the park -- while it studies the environmental effects of hard-rock exploration and mining.

The department could extend the mining ban for up to 20 years. The land remains open to leasing for the mining of other minerals and for geothermal projects, according to a notice in today's Federal Register.

National Mining Assn. spokesman Luke Popovich blasted the decision as a "de-facto ban on mining."

"We can't see how a sweeping ban for up to 20 years for all mining is justified," he said. "Particularly when we are at a time when we are trying to strengthen our nation's energy security." (LA Times)

 

Oh... The end is near

IT USED TO BE that apocalyptic warnings about the approaching end of time came from sign-holding religious nutcases. Now they come from hard scientists. Most discussion of the threat of global warming is conducted in measured tones, with even dire projections offered with the necessary proviso that the future is uncertain. But as governments fail to act strenuously enough against the villainous carbon emissions, and as the broad public continues in a state of environmental quietude, if not indifference, scientific voices are sharpening the alarm.

E.O. Wilson, in his book “The Creation,’’ used the word Armageddon to describe the rapid shrinking of Earth’s biodiversity. James Lovelock has foreseen a small remnant of the human population in retreat to the Arctic by the end of this century. Less extreme, but still pointed, is this assessment from Jagadish Shukla, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “The potential for catastrophic climate change that can adversely affect the habitability of the entire planet is quite real.’’ Bill McKibben declares that the time to mitigate disaster is upon us: “2009 may well turn out to be the decisive year in the human relationship with our home planet.’’ (James Carroll, Boston Globe)

 

Is the Sun Missing Its Spots?

The Sun is still blank (mostly).

Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun’s activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.

Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century — 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.

“It’s been as dead as a doornail,” David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said a couple of months ago.

The Sun perked up in June and July, with a sizeable clump of 20 sunspots earlier this month.

Now it is blank again, consistent with expectations that this solar cycle will be smaller and calmer, and the maximum of activity, expected to arrive in May 2013 will not be all that maximum. (NYT)

 

China Dust Cloud Circled Globe in 13 Days

HONG KONG - Dust clouds generated by a huge dust storm in China's Taklimakan desert in 2007 made more than one full circle around the globe in just 13 days, a Japanese study using a NASA satellite has found.

When the cloud reached the Pacific Ocean the second time, it descended and deposited some of its dust into the sea, showing how a natural phenomenon can impact the environment far away.

"Asian dust is usually deposited near the Yellow Sea, around the Japan area, while Sahara dust ends up around the Atlantic Ocean and coast of Africa," said Itsushi Uno of Kyushu University's Research Institute for Applied Mechanics.

"But this study shows that China dust can be deposited into the (Pacific Ocean)," he told Reuters by telephone. "Dust clouds contain 5 percent iron, that is important for the ocean." (Reuters)

 

Article On Arctic Sea Ice In The NASA Publication “The Earth Observer”

There is a useful update of Arctic sea ice on pages 19-20 in the May-June 2009 issue of the NASA publication “The Earth Observer”  by Walt Meir and Stephanie Renfrow  titled “Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis: Arctic Sea Ice Younger, Thinner as Melt Season Begins”.

This informative article includes the text

“How vulnerable is the ice cover as we go into the summer melt season? To answer this question, scientists also need information about ice thickness. Indications of winter ice thickness, commonly derived from ice age estimates, reveal that the ice is thinner than average, suggesting that it is more susceptible to melting away during the coming summer.”

“While ice older than two years reached record lows, the fraction of second-year sea ice increased compared to last winter. Some of this second-year ice will survive the summer melt season to replenish the Arctic’s store of older ice; however, in recent years less young ice has made it through the summer. To restore the amount of older ice to pre-2000 levels, large amounts of this young ice would need to endure through summer for several years in a row.

But conditions may not always favor the survival of second-year and older ice. Each winter, winds and ocean currents move some sea ice out of the Arctic ocean. This winter, some second-year ice survived the 2008 melt season only to be pushed out of the Arctic by strong winter winds. Since the end of September 2008, 150,000 mi2 (390,000 km2) of second-year ice and 73,000 mi2 (190,000 km2) of older (more than two years old) ice moved out of the Arctic (Maslanik et al., 2007; Fowler et al., 2004).”

The entire article is worth reading. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Which global mean temperature is relevant?

Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts have promoted a paper about East African temperatures by John Christy et al. in Journal of Climate. I would bet it's a very careful paper but I can't really say because I haven't studied it in detail. Here is the full paper:

Surface temperature variations in East Africa and possible causes (PDF)
After having digitized the old data and after a few subtle statistical manipulations, one of their conclusions is that the airport in Nairobi, Kenya gives the dominant warming signal in the most well-known surface temperature datasets. This confirms the familiar warming influence of tarmac and other urban achievements.



Kenya's main airport...

We're often amused by the fact that the surface temperature records are "contaminated" by various effects of urbanization because it seemingly makes them irrelevant. On the other hand, should we be joking about them? Shouldn't these things legitimately influence the beast called global mean temperature?

Well, it depends on your definition of the "global mean temperature". Teams behind products such as UAH, RSS, HadCRUT3, and GISS have measured very different rates of the change of the global mean temperature. For example, UAH sees the trend of 0.4 °C per century since 1979 in the mid troposphere and 1.2 °C in the low troposphere while the GISS figure is much higher. Is the whole difference due to an "error" of some of them - or all of them?

Well, it's not. At least the scientists wouldn't agree that all the causes are "errors". The different teams simply measure different things. All of them may be marketed under the vague term "global mean temperature" but it demonstrably does matter where you measure it and how. It matters how you compute the average, too. There's no unique answer.

Imagine for a while that you care about the humans. As of today, there are about 6.772 billion people in the world. Measure the temperature near each of them and take the average: we will call it the anthropocentric global mean temperature, in analogy with the anthropogenic global warming.

Now, it's important what temperatures we associate with each human. We must avoid the body temperature and we probably want to avoid the temperature in the houses where the people spend much of their time. The very fact that we want to remove such things already means that the final result for the temperature won't be too relevant for the people because they do live in the buildings, after all.

Fine, so let's take the temperature at the nearest point outside any "house", with a suitable definition of a house. The result averaged over humans who are alive at time "t" will resemble the surface temperature records but it will be weighted by the population density. The cities and large towns will influence the result a lot. The oceans' effects will become negligible. As a result, the faster land warming and urban heat effects will lead to a much faster warming trend.

It may be around 2 °C per 20th century or more. People have survived this change easily. Obviously, they could survive 15 °C, too - at least as far as the direct influence of the temperature on their lives goes. Most of this warming is demonstrably due to other drivers than the carbon dioxide: CO2 spreads quickly and is only able to warm the Earth pretty much uniformly and we know that this warming has been very small so far.

In fact, the warming seen in the anthropocentric global mean temperature could be much bigger. Not only it is dominated by the cities: but the percentage of the people who live in the cities has been increasing, too. Because cities are a few degrees warmer than the countryside that surrounds them, a significant portion of this difference has imprinted itself into the anthropocentric global mean temperature. Because cities may be 3 °C warmer than the countryside and 1/3 of the people have moved to the cities during the last century or so, our anthropocentric global mean temperature could have received a boost of 1 °C from these transfers.

Migration to different countries and different rates of population increases will matter a lot, too. However, these two effects will tend to cancel because the countries where the population tends to expand quickly are usually the countries that many people tend to leave.

Still, Europe's contribution to the world population has dropped from 25% in 1900 to 12% now and such changes may have had a profound impact on the temperature index we consider - although I am not sure about the sign in this case. Africa's share has risen from 2% in 1800 to 7% in 1950 - and I am sure which way this dynamics has pushed the anthropocentric global temperature. This population change has increased it by roughly 5% of the bonus 20 °C or so that Africa offers relatively to the averaged rest of the world: the growth in Africa gave us another Celsius degree into the anthropocentric global temperature by itself.

At any rate, if you think about all these effects, you will see quite many terms that are equal to 1 °C or greater. And they do matter. Even if the 21st century greenhouse warming were above 1 °C which I consider unlikely, it would be just one term of this magnitude among many. Most of the considerations above had something to do with the human homes. But there are many natural effects that integrate to something close to 1 °C per century, too.

Humans are not that special. If you prefer cats and puppies, their averaged temperature would probably behave similarly to the anthropocentric one although it would not be quite the same thing. But the trends of the anthropocentric temperature may differ from the trends measured by UAH or GISS by a lot.

These are elementary facts that the alarmists usually fail to realize. They are imagining that there is only one global temperature which is both well-defined, scientifically robust, as well as directly relevant for our lives. But no concept of this sort exists. There exist many different kinds of global temperatures. Their trends may differ by a factor of 5 or more, they are relevant for different things, and they are caused by different major drivers. The more directly a realization of "global mean temperature" is linked to Nature, the less directly it is relevant for our civilization. And even if you pick any of them, it still evolves in a very complicated way, being affected by many well-known drivers as well as uncontrollable random "noise".

The world is simply not as simple as some people suggest, and even if the CO2 climate sensitivity were 3+ times as large as it is and if it matched the IPCC fantasies, the carbon dioxide would still be largely irrelevant relatively to numerous other things that influence the temperature of the places where we and our pets spend their lives. (The Reference Frame)

 

Wildlife ‘keeping up’ with climate change

CHURCHVILLE, VA—Global warming alarmists say at least a million wildlife species will ultimately be lost because the plants, trees and animals won’t be able to “keep up” with the rapid pace of man-made global warming. Laying aside the fact that global temperatures are currently declining instead of warming, how can the wild species hopefully adapt to further warming?

In Australia, biologists are closely studying the noxious alien cane toad. Bufo marinus was introduced from Southeast Asia in the 1930s to eat two species of beetles that were destroying the sugarcane fields. Unfortunately, the cane toads couldn’t jump high enough to catch many of the cane beetles. Instead, the nine-pound toads have thrived on birds’ eggs, native frogs, and any handy vegetation. Poisonous to eat, they’re also taking a toll on Australia’s natural predators.

From the species-survival standpoint, the cane toads have demonstrated remarkable changes over the decades since they were introduced. In a region where the toads have been living for more than 50 years, the researchers found the toads seldom moved very far, and meandered slowly through the cane fields. But in regions newly invaded by the toads they behaved far differently. (Dennis Avery, CFP)

 

Will climate change disorientate fish?

Humans are regularly lost at sea but what about fish? New research suggests that climate change could disorientate fish by enlarging their ear bones, which they use to navigate.

seabass.jpg

Previous studies found that seawater rich in carbon dioxide (CO2) shrinks the shells of corals and shellfish by reducing the availability of the bio-mineral aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate and key constituent of shells.

The ear bones (otoliths) of fish are made of aragonite, too. David Checkley at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and his colleagues therefore expected the otoliths of fish reared in CO2-rich seawater to shrink.

To their surprise, the opposite happened. The more carbon dioxide they added to the water, the larger the fishes ear bones grew.

Checkley's team reared the young of white sea bass in seawater containing three levels of CO2: low (380 uatm), medium (993 uatm) and high (2559 utam).

The medium concentration here is approximately 2.5 times the current CO2 concentration, and is likely to occur in the atmosphere by the year 2100, the study notes.

The weight of ear bones rose by 10-14% in fish reared at the medium concentration of CO2, and by as much as 26% at the highest level.

It is hard to overstate the importance of ear bones: when small but perfectly formed, in humans as in fish they help us navigate, stay upright and survive. And studies show that fish with asymmetrical ear bones have difficulty navigating and are less likely to survive than normal fish.

Will fish with larger ear bones suffer a similar fate? It's too soon to tell, but right now there's no conclusive evidence that fish with larger ear bones fare worse than normal fish. (Blog of Bloom)

All this tells us is that the fish otoliths grew faster in the 7-8 days they were alive. Would the effect persist? Unknown at this time. Would this happen with mere changes in atmospheric CO2 or must these levels be achieved in sea water? Would it matter even if it did? Again, no one knows and this is all speculative.

 

Replacing one pretend problem with another: Chemicals That Eased One Woe Worsen Another

This is not the funny kind of irony: Scientists say the chemicals that helped solve the last global environmental crisis -- the hole in the ozone layer -- are making the current one worse.

The chemicals, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were introduced widely in the 1990s to replace ozone-depleting gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foam.

They worked: The earth's protective shield seems to be recovering.

But researchers say what's good for ozone is bad for climate change. In the atmosphere, these replacement chemicals act like "super" greenhouse gases, with a heat-trapping power that can be 4,470 times that of carbon dioxide.

Now, scientists say, the world must find replacements for the replacements -- or these super-emissions could cancel out other efforts to stop global warming.

"Whatever targets you thought you were going to make," said David Fahey, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "it will be undermined by the fact that you have . . . additional emissions that you hadn't planned on."

The colorless, odorless replacement chemicals enter the atmosphere in tiny amounts, often leaking out of refrigerators and air conditioners, or escaping when those machines break and are improperly dumped. They now account for about 2 percent of the climate-warming power of U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (Washington Post)

The great ozone depletion scare was the previously biggest problem that never was (until gorebull warming). By the way -- the world isn't warming (although we are likely to wish it was).

 

UN panel to study impact of climate change on poor countries - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined to increase understanding of regional effects of warming

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body of scientists drawn from around the world, will use its next assessment due in 2014 to look at how the impact of global warming is falling unequally on the poorest developing countries.

Two hundred key members of the IPCC met in Venice last week to begin scoping out its fifth assessment. Rajendra Pachauri, the body's chairman, told reporters at the UN building in New York today that the panel was determined to increase its understanding of local and regional impacts of rising temperatures.

There was an awareness, he said, that in Africa in particular there was insufficient scientific and modelling fire-power to be able to predict in any detail what was likely to happen under global warming. "It's critically important that we create the capacity in Africa to be able to assess the impact of climate change." (The Guardian)

No modeling is capable of predicting climate or its effects anywhere on the planet.

 

They might want to stop what they are doing with words before they go blind... Normative Order and homo oecologicus

The impact of Climate Change challenges not only to the institutional design of the European Union but also the normative pluralism of public and private actors in its functional involvement to resolve the social patterns of Climate Change. Impressed by a global crisis of deregulated markets the political complacency weakens the European capacity of ecological problem solving: The extension of industrial competition policy usurps the acuteness of restrictive emissions policies in the European Union and shelves the claim of environmental sustainability for nature and civil society.

Within the European Multilevel arrangement, specified by the historically structured antagonism of limitative environmental protection and boundless industrial policy, the coherent need of stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as intended by the Kyoto-Protocol and adopted by the European Community requires the translation of societal relevant “risk problems or ecological problems” (Niklas Luhmann) into the legal and political framework of an emerging European Climate Governance.

Just as climate change does not describe a singular ecologic phenomenon but the sum of the transcultural destruction of resources by an economic world society, the normative determinants of sustainable politics have to take moreover into account an important subject of resources adaptiveness and energy efficiency: the individual.

Only a corporate culture of responsibilities in Climate Change issues between private and public actors may institutionalize a deliberative setting of Climate Governance, determined by the global plurality of concerns, interests and habits. The increasing complexity of transnational social interaction – initiated by multipolar effects of Climate Change as urbanization, resource-related conflicts, desertification and climate-induced migration – requires the sensibilization of the environmental awareness and climate consciousness of the individual.

The contextualization of ecologic rationalities by emphasizing the change of lifestyle and consumption due to the transformative power of Climate Change leads to procedural paradigms of efficient European Climate Change policy: The adaptiveness of individuals as a cross-linked homo oecologicus within multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations and public institutions requires to become the initial Referenzpunkt in legislation and politics of environmental protection in order to develop a systematic recognition of ecological needs for action.

The effectiveness of innovative concepts of fiscal, development and industrial policies in European Climate Governance therefore demands for both: On the hand the integration of varied modes of (self-)regulation in the range of new institutionalized forms of supranational coexistence between public and private actors on horizontal and vertical scales of European Union’s environmental protection and, on the other hand, a framework of common strategies of corporations and consumers dealing with the impact of Climate Change by introducing new technologies and products that are characterized by higher energy efficiency, recyclability but also new values that aim for sustainability and future justice. (Cultural Paradigms of Climate Change)

Gotta love "homo oecologicus" -- they take themselves so seriously, even if they are totally insane :-)

 

With friends like these... An Interview With Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling, Part Two - Conor Clarke

...And what I don't know is whether Americans are really willing to understand that and do anything for the benefit of the unborn Chinese.

It's a tough sell. And probably you have to find ways to exaggerate the threat. And you can in fact find ways to make the threat serious.
...
But I tend to be rather pessimistic. I sometimes wish that we could have, over the next five or ten years, a lot of horrid things happening -- you know, like tornadoes in the Midwest and so forth -- that would get people very concerned about climate change. But I don't think that's going to happen. (Tom Nelson)

 

Shriek! IPCC chief: Benefits of tackling climate change will balance cost of action - The cost of tackling climate change will be paid for by benefits that would come from better energy security, employment and health, Rajendra Pachauri says ahead of major announcement on 2013 reports

Measures needed to tackle global warming could save economies more money than they cost, the world's top climate change expert said today.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Guardian: "The cost could undoubtedly be negative overall." This is because of the additional benefits that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could bring, beyond limiting temperature rises.

Until now, estimates of the price of preventing dangerous climate change have all indicated significant costs. The most authoritative study, the 2006 Stern report, concluded that 1% of global GDP would be required, and he has since said 2% is now more likely.

Pachauri's comments came ahead of a press announcement in New York today about the IPCC's plans for its next series of reports in 2013. He said these would include a greater emphasis on the economics, as well as ethical and humanitarian concerns. (The Guardian)

Isn't it marvelous? The only known costs of enhanced greenhouse is that of "addressing gorebull warming". That cost is easy to avoid -- just don't do it.

 

Bill Maher Shocked - Leading Dem Governor Doesn't Buy Democrats Global Warming Plan

Bill Maher received quite a shock on his show last Friday when his guest, Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), said cap-and-trade was "the wrong approach."

Schweitzer, who heads the Democratic Governors Association, explained that cap-and-trade, "says to the biggest utilities in America we are going to add a trillion dollars to your bottom line we are going to franchise you and only you to be the producers of CO2. I think it's the wrong approach."

Maher was clearly shocked that the Governor wouldn't go along and endorse cap-and-trade. Maher was exasperated, and asked, "But isn't it the Democrat approach?"

Schweitzer responded by saying "It might be some of the Democrats approach, but I think if you want to get to the root of the problem you establish a price of the cost of that pollution to the rest of society..." (EPW)

 

Climate change bill could push farm costs up

Climate change is not just going to make you hot under the collar — if legislation now working its way through Congress becomes law, you’re likely to be paying more to farm, says Tara Smith, congressional relations, American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Our economists say this would have a significant impact on agriculture,” she said at a joint meeting of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Cotton Policy Committee. The 1,200-page bill, which narrowly passed the House on a 219-212 vote, could bring input cost increases of a minimum 9 percent, according to Farm Bureau calculations, she says.

“For corn, that could mean an additional $33 to $78 per acre; for soybeans, $8 to $20 per acre; cotton, $24 to $48 per acre; and rice $38 to $153 per acre.

“Increased costs would be primarily for fertilizer and diesel. Fertilizer industry leaders have told us if this legislation becomes final, within 5 years it could wipe out the domestic fertilizer industry.” (Farm Press)

 

European look at 'cap and trade'

Many around the world believe the environment can be protected through regulation. Even the United States is going down this path now. Before it acts too swiftly, the United States might want to consider some of the lessons that we have learned the hard way in Europe.

As a member of the European Parliament, I have worked on environmental protection for years, particularly as rapporteur for the European Union's Air Quality Directive that was successfully implemented last year.

This experience has taught me two key things:

(1) Economic growth is the base for the political and technological capacity necessary to make a clean environment possible. A dynamic economy is not inimical to a healthy environment; it is a prerequisite.

(2) Political leaders can achieve real results for the environment when they take a no-nonsense, pragmatic approach and work together.

Coming from East Germany, I saw firsthand how heavy-handed bureaucracy led to both poor economic performance and a poor environment. For decades, East Germany had among the worst environmental protection records in all of Europe.

Indeed, we are still paying a high environmental toll for the years of eschewing market forces while permitting the political class to make economic choices for the nation. Poverty is the planet's real environmental crisis. So policymakers who care about a clean and healthy environment need to support policies that promote economic growth. (Holger Krahmer, Washington Times)

 

In Provo, a call to action against federal climate bill

The U.S. effort to counteract climate change is poised to not only destroy the U.S. economy, but dramatically increase global carbon dioxide levels.

That was the message, on Thursday, from Tom Tripp, a magnesium specialist from Utah who gave a 45-minute keynote address in Provo at the Utah Farm Bureau Midyear Conference.

Beyond magnesium, Tripp has one other distinction to his name -- he is one of 2,000 members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who share half a Nobel Prize, the other half owned by former vice president Al Gore.

But though Tripp and Gore may share the same Nobel honor, Tripp's message on climate change is Gore's polar opposite.

The public, Tripp said, should be warned that the climate bill that just passed the House and is headed for the Senate could bring America to its knees.

Tripp started on Thursday by addressing his one-two thousandth share of half a Nobel Prize.

"It was pretty nice," he said. "It was split 2,000 ways. I got no money, and I got no medal. I did get this attractive certificate." On an overhead, he showed a picture of the document.

In his address, titled "Climate Change and What We Are Doing About It and Is It Worth It?", Tripp said ozone depletion used to be the big scary global crisis, "but that is largely solved and there is some question whether it ever existed. They don't talk about it anymore."

Now global warming is the world's existential crisis of the day, but even that has changed. Since 2002, data proves the world has actually been in a cooling phase, defying expert predictions.

To get around that, the moniker "global warming" has quietly been dropped in favor of "climate change," Tripp said. "Global cooling. When was the last time you heard that in the press?"

"Despite what you may have heard in the media, there is nothing like a consensus of scientific opinion that this is a problem," he said. "Because there is natural variability in the weather, you cannot statistically know for another 150 years. ... There are indications, there are options, but if you are looking for hard scientific facts, you are still a long ways away."

What most people focus on is data showing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing over time. Toward the end of his lecture, however, Tripp dismissed this, saying worrying about these statistics was akin to worrying that five people had been added to a group of 30,000 people -- the effect is negligible, in other words. (Daily Herald)

 

CO2 Caps Central to Climate Fight: UK

LONDON - A dual system of both national emissions caps and carbon trading schemes should play a central role in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions, a report commissioned by the British government said on Monday.

At the government level, national caps on emissions should ensure countries take responsibility for limiting their own greenhouse gases. At the individual emitter level, trading schemes should cap emissions and allow trade in carbon permits, the report said.

"The current framework for international carbon trading needs reform," said Mark Lazarowicz, the Prime Minister's representative for global carbon trading. (Reuters)

 

China must 'pay' to cut greenhouse gases - U.S.

WASHINGTON, July 20 - China and other developing nations must help "pay" for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Monday, backing off a recent statement that put a greater burden on the United States.

As the United States and other developed countries make costly commitments to address climate change, "developing countries like China must do the same," Locke told members of the Manufacturing Council, a private sector advisory group.

"They've got to step up. They've got to pay for the cost of complying with global climate change. They've got to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, but also very definitive steps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Locke said.

The comment followed Locke's statement last week in China that U.S. consumers should pay for the carbon content of goods they consume from countries around the world. (Reuters)

 

China Knows Climate Deals Are Ruinous

What in the world is happening? Almost one year to the day after the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicted "China's economy will surpass that of the United States by 2035 and be twice its size by midcentury," three ominous events may have been largely missed by the American people after the Independence Day holiday.

At a July 7 Senate hearing on the effect cap-and-trade would have on global carbon output without cooperation from China and India, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared, "U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels."

On July 9, the Sierra Club issued a statement celebrating that 100 planned American coal power plants have been "defeated or abandoned."

And then, on July 8, Fortune magazine released its annual ranking of the world's 500 largest companies. The number of American companies on that list dropped to its lowest level since Fortune began its review.

The U.S. had 153 companies in 2008, but just 140 this year.

China increased its share of companies from 29 in 2008 to 37 in '09. A Chinese firm even cracked the top 10 for the first time.

Obviously the global warming alarmists are focused on raising the cost of affordable energy for every American family and small businesses.

Administrator Jackson, one of the environmental movement's biggest advocates, admits that India and China's opposition to mandatory emission controls means U.S. action will have no effect on global carbon dioxide levels.

But the environmental special-interest groups continue to push a cap-and-trade scheme. The plan is designed to drive up the cost of coal, oil and natural gas, which account for 85% of the energy that fuels our economy and way of life.

With more Americans out of work than we've seen in decades, and with families losing their homes, is now the time — if ever — to increase energy costs across the board?

The Sierra Club thinks so. Its six-year assault on new, affordable electricity generation has successfully destroyed 100 planned or proposed coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and the thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars worth of economic development they would have created. (George Allen, IBD)

 

Rudd picks Howard minister for emissions job

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has appointed former Coalition environment minister Robert Hill to head a key element of the Government's emissions trading scheme.

Mr Hill will chair the Australian Carbon Trust, a $75 million initiative that will promote energy efficiency in homes and small businesses, and allow individuals to feel they are making a difference by letting them buy carbon permits.

Mr Hill held the environment portfolio in the Howard government and his appointment has the potential to embarrass Malcolm Turnbull, also an environment minister under John Howard.

Mr Turnbull is grappling with trying to achieve a consensus in the Coalition on climate change. (SMH)

A lot of Australians still don't think much of Bob Hill but, at a time when Al Gore sold Americans down the river signing on to emission reductions at Kyoto, Hill negotiated Australia's position as an 8% increase -- clearly the best negotiator at the table.

 

Idiot! Malcolm Turnbull angers MPs as Coalition torn over climate

CLIMATE change is looming as a major challenge for Malcolm Turnbull's leadership after he angered some senior colleagues yesterday by publicly floating a new strategy despite failing to get shadow cabinet support for it.

With Mr Turnbull's leadership severely weakened by the disastrous "utegate" affair, sources said deep Coalition divisions over emissions trading presented a significant difficulty for the Opposition Leader as he pursued a political strategy of trying to defuse the issue while others believed the Coalition should "dig in".

Coalition policy is to vote the Rudd government's emissions trading laws down in the Senate next month, but reconsider that position before a second vote in November, when the final stance of the US is clearer and a second Senate rejection would provide a trigger for a double-dissolution election.

Senior Coalition sources have told The Australian Mr Turnbull asked shadow cabinet to consider the strategic shift of presenting the opposition's amendments when parliament resumes next month, saying business supported the idea and it would deprive the government of the chance to mount an attack on the Coalition as climate change spoilers. (The Australian)

The only hope for the Coalition (and Australia) is to make sure emissions trading never becomes a realistic possibility, much less a reality.

 

Turnbull feels the heat on climate

ANY attempt by Malcolm Turnbull to compromise over climate change and pass the Government's emissions trading scheme next month will put the Opposition Leader on a collision course with his party.

Mr Turnbull, who is fearful of giving Labor a trigger for an early election, hinted yesterday at moving amendments to Labor's emissions trading scheme when the Senate voted on it next month, rather than opposing it outright, as is the Coalition's current intention.

The Nationals would oppose any such move and senior Liberals cautioned it would worsen the split in their ranks. (SMH)

 

Businesses outed as climate sinners

AUSTRALIAN businesses have been outed as climate sinners – most of them are not doing anything to reduce their carbon footprints. (AAP)

 

We agree with them, kind of... a little: Green Party of Pennsylvania says no to Carbon Sequestration

This week, the Green Party of Pennsylvania spoke out against a plan by Governor Rendell to bury waste from power plants in the ground. Known as "carbon sequestration," the technique is believed to be more environmentally friendly than releasing toxics into the air.

However, the Green Party believes that injecting toxics into the ground is no solution to the problem noting that sequestered toxins can leak into groundwater and cause other disastrous environmental effects. Carbon sequestration will require capturing carbon dioxide, compressing into a liquid, transporting it through pipelines to a sequestration site and injecting it beneath the earth's surface. (GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA)

Carbon sequestration is a patently stupid idea. Not because it is toxic in the free atmosphere (where it's actually an essential trace gas) but because it is a marvelous resource we don't want to waste.

Perhaps more importantly, sequestered carbon dioxide could be a toxic hazard in the event of significant leakage of this odorless, colorless, heavier-than-air gas should that occur close to human habitation, much as occurred near Lake Nyos, Cameroon. Although toxic in very high concentration the major problem was simply that this gas cloud displaced all available oxygen, leaving people and animals to suffocate.

 

Clean Coal Is Expensive

A new analysis from Harvard researchers shows investing in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), or "clean coal" makes coal as expensive as any alternative energy.

Building a "first of its kind" CCS plant will cost $150 per ton of CO2 captured, which equates to a 10 cents per kilowatt hour increase in electricity prices. The national average for electricity is 10 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the EIA. As more plants are built, the cost of the carbon sequestration will drop to about $50 per ton of CO2, or 2-5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Interestingly, this indicates to us that it's going to be cheaper to pollute and buy carbon credits under cap and trade than it is to build carbon capture coal plants. The CBO's analysis of cap and trade indicated that the price of carbon would be $28 per carbon credit. According this estimate, if credits cost less than $50 per ton, then it doesn't provide an impetus to use CCS technology.

Another problem for CCS: Time. The analysis says it won't reach its lower cost for almost 20 years. A lot can change in 20 years. We could have a better energy storage technology, solar power could be cheaper, or heck, global warming could be disproved. In the interim we might blow billions on clean coal, and get jacked up electric bills.

The report only accounts for the costs. There are possible benefits to carbon capture. The carbon can be used for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). The benefits from that could make carbon capture a less costly proposition. (Business Insider)

 

Clean Coal: Competitive Someday, Just Not Today

As if Big Coal’s protests weren’t enough, here’s another reality check for “clean coal.” Harvard’s Belfer Center just released an analysis of the costs of carbon capture and storage for coal-fired plants.

coal2_art_257_20090720142338.jpg
The cavalry’s coming–maybe

The good news? Clean coal could become an economically viable alternative source of energy down the road. The bad news? It’s a long road—and the short term isn’t pretty.

“The Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture,” which examined the economics of trapping carbon emissions from coal-fired plants now and in the future, concludes that making coal plants “clean” will be an expensive undertaking until the technology is mature. Actually storing the stuff underground might cost more money, or might be a source of revenue, depending whether it’s used to juice tired oil fields or just stuck in caves.

How much will clean coal cost? The first generation of plants will be able to capture 90% of their carbon emissions at a cost of between $100 and $150 a ton. In layman’s terms, that would add between 8 and 12 cents per kilowatt hour to the cost of coal plants (the national average electricity price is about 9 cents per kilowatt hour).

Once the technology is mature and more efficient plants are up and running, the economics look better: It will cost between $30 and $50 per ton of carbon, or an extra 2 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. To quote the report: “The range of estimated costs for [future] plants is within the range of plausible future carbon prices, implying that mature technology would be competitive with conventional fossil fuel plants at prevailing carbon prices.”

The problem is determining just when clean coal leaves behind its gawky adolescence and enters adulthood. It’s not a question of getting a couple of demonstration plants up and running; rather the world needs to make a huge, concerted push to enjoy economies of scale and the like. Harvard figures that “maturity” means between 50 and 100 gigawatts of clean coal plants in operation. Right now, there are four demonstration plants in the world, not including FutureGen.

One interesting tidbit: Less is not more. That is, “clean coal” doesn’t get any cheaper by capturing fewer of the plant’s emissions (as the reborn FutureGen seeks to do). To wit: “Indeed for the benchmark of a conventional coal plant…costs decrease markedly with increasing capture rates… There do not seem to be any grounds based on unit cost of abatement to prefer lower capture rates” for advanced coal plants. (Keith Johnson, WSJ)

 

Riding a Wave of Culture Change, DOD Strives to Trim Energy Demand

Capt. John Hickey was on a mission.

The commanding officer at Honolulu's U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command was determined to save energy on his base when the data server manager bluntly refused, saying he would not slow his machines until the last drop of oil was extracted from Alaska's protected lands.

"I said to him, 'OK, we're at war,'" recounted Hickey, who called supervisors in Washington to eventually override the man's intransigence.

The episode illustrates some of how far the U.S. military, the nation's single largest energy consumer -- at more than 1 percent of the U.S. total -- has come in recognizing and reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. But experts say it also indicates just how far the military still has to go. In 2006 alone, the Pentagon bought 110 million barrels of oil and 3.8 billion kilowatts of electricity. To put that in perspective, it's about what the entire world uses each day.

Experts say making strides will require changing the culture of an institution accustomed to having everything it needs to get its job done. (ClimateWire)

Why should we change the culture of an institution accustomed to having everything it needs to get its job done? We expect it to get its job done, no matter what. Shouldn't they have everything they need to do just that?

 

Stimulus Helps Bring Calif. Petcoke Plant Closer to Reality

A proposed power plant in Southern California that would turn coal and waste petroleum into cleaner-burning gas has garnered support from the state and stimulus funds from the federal government.

Hydrogen Energy International LLC -- a partnership of BP Alternative Energy and Australian miner Rio Tinto Hydrogen -- is proposing the plant for Kern County near Bakersfield. The 250-megawatt facility is designed to filter out 90 percent of its carbon dioxide for permanent underground storage in an adjacent oil field. An additional 100 megawatts would be available for peak-hour generation to help integrate more intermittent wind and solar power into the California grid. (Greenwire)

 

When wind power blows, jobs will fall

You may recall the Beyond the Fringe sketch in which Squadron Leader Peter Cook tells Jonathan Miller, the doleful pilot, that he must set out on a doomed mission because “we need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war”.

I was irresistibly reminded of this by Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, in his launch of plans to cut carbon emissions by switching to “renewables” for more than 30% of our energy use. This, he claimed, would “rise to the moral challenge of climate change”.

Miliband is of the generation of politicians struggling to find a great moral cause. Earlier in the Labour administration Tony Blair thought he had found it with wars of choice far from home, but that has, to put it mildly, lost its lustre. Now it is the “war against climate change”, given additional moral potency by the notion that the greatest concentration of sufferers from global rising temperatures would be among the world’s poorest. (Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times)

 

Weaknesses In Chinese Wind Power

Seeking to rein in its emissions of greenhouse gases, China is on an ambitious spending spree in wind power. The government is working on plans to shell out 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) to build seven massive wind farms with a combined capacity of more than 120 gigawatts, roughly equal to the world's total installed wind power plants last year.

The world's largest producer of carbon emissions has been doubling its wind power capacity every year since 2006; it was the world's second-largest buyer of wind turbines in 2008. Yet, about 30% of its wind power assets are not in use--much of that not even connected to the transmission grid--a result of Chinese power companies turning to wind as the cheapest, easiest way to satisfy on paper government requirements to boost renewable energy capacity. Whether the massive new building push will be any more efficient is an open question, given that much of it is slated for out of the way places, mainly in the north, making it uneconomical to build the lengthy extensions to China's grid that would be required to transmit the power to distant population centers.

China has been actively developing wind energy over the past three years. The country added 6.3 gW of capacity in 2008, doubling its total wind power capacity to 12.2 gW, in the process becoming the world's second-biggest wind turbine buyer behind the U.S. and the world's fourth-biggest producer of wind power after the U.S., Germany and Spain, according to the annual report of the World Wind Energy Association.

In July, the government of the arid northwestern province of Gansu began construction of a wind power station in the former Silk Road outpost of Jiuquan, the first of seven 10-gW wind power bases planned by provincial authorities around the country. The other six have yet to receive the green light from the country's top planning authority, the National Development and Reform Commission.

Citigroup estimates China's wind power capacity could easily grow to 130 gW by 2020. "Yet, the most important question is whether wind energy in China is efficient," said Pierre Lau, Head of Asia-Pacific Utilities Research with Citi.

So far, the answer has been "no."

While the rapid growth in China's wind power capacity looks impressive on paper, it is less so in reality. China's total electricity production capacity reached 792.4 gW at the end of 2008; the 12 gW of wind capacity accounted for about 1.5% of that. However, in terms of actual power production, wind turbines generated 13 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, only about 0.4% of China's total energy supply, based on Citigroup data.

A considerable proportion of China's wind plants are unproductive. According to Morgan Stanley research, about 3.5 gW of installed wind capacity in China may be lying idle, or 29%. Citigroup also estimated about 30% of wind power capacity in 2008 was not connected to the electrical grid. (Forbes)

 

July 20, 2009

 

Good news on phthalates--from an EPA guy!

EPA researcher Dr. Robert Benson somehow found the hours to publish—on his own time, and independent of the Agency—a breakthrough human risk assessment on phthalates. Benson examined human exposure in the US and Germany to all the phthalates that have been implicated in bad rodent effects, to see how this stacks up with current EPA guidelines—replete with their enormous built-in safety factors.

Specifically, Benson looked at dibutyl phthalate, diisobutyl phthalate, butylbenzyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate, dipentyl phthalate, and diisononyl phthalate. Those that recognize the names of these chemicals know that Benson's list is comprehensive.

His conclusion: It is unlikely that humans are suffering adverse developmental effects from current environmental exposure to these phthalate esters. In other words, average daily human exposure to all the measured phthalates combined, does not even reach the most stringent safety level set by the EPA.

This mirrors the Canadian government's recent pronouncement on BPA.

My latest HND piece covers this, along with a portion of the saga on endocrine disruptors (ED), including the tale of notorious scientific fraudster Steven Arnold. Arnold was such a true believer in the nonsensical theory of ED synergism, that he completely fabricated data in support of this hypothesis in a paper published in Science (1996). Not only was the paper retracted in August, 1997, but Arnold was banned from government sponsored research for five years. Many thought he should have been banned for life.

Don't feel bad if you never heard of Arnold's misdeeds. Given the non-PC nature of the story, the mainstream media largely took a pass.

Of course, Arnold's results not being replicated is hardly unique in ED work. It's just that his findings were so important, and so vital to the ED cause, that numerous researchers were compelled to jump into the fray. And, yes, he got caught. But, what about dozens of other efforts that purport to link ED exposure to all kinds of health effects, based largely on questionnaires and data cherry-picking? Such studies may not be Arnold type fraud, in that data exists, yet they are still unworthy of being published in once-reputable journals.

Considering that the EPA alone has spent more than $80 million on endocrine research since 1999, not to mention untold amounts on testing and regulation inspired largely by Arnold's fraudulent paper, isn't it time for Congress to investigate this entire matter?

Or are you OK with major scientific research and regulatory budgets being controlled by feckless chemophobes? (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

In Push for Cancer Screening, Limited Benefits

“Don’t forget to check your neck,” says an advertising campaign encouraging people to visit doctors for exams to detect thyroid cancer.

In another cancer awareness effort, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, has more than 350 House co-sponsors for her bill to promote the early detection of breast cancer in young women, teaching them about screening methods like self-exams and genetic testing.

Meanwhile, the foundation of the American Urological Association has a prostate cancer awareness campaign starring Hall of Fame football players. “Get screened,” Len Dawson, a former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, says in a public service television spot. “Don’t let prostate cancer take you out of the game.”

Nearly every body part susceptible to cancer now has an advocacy group, politician or athlete with a public awareness campaign to promote routine screening tests — even though it is well established that many of these exams offer little benefit for the general public.

An upshot of the decades-long war on cancer is the popular belief that healthy people should regularly examine their bodies or undergo screening because early detection saves lives. But in fact, except for a few types of cancer, routine screening has not been proven to reduce the death toll from cancer for people without specific symptoms or risk factors — like a breast lump or a family history of cancer — and could even lead to harm, many experts on health say.

That is why the continued rollout of screening campaigns, and even the introduction of a Congressional bill, worries some health experts. And these experts say such efforts add to the large number of expensive and unnecessary treatments each year that help drive up the nation’s health care bill. Rather than heed mass-market calls for screening, these experts urge people without symptoms or special risks to talk to their own doctors about what cancer tests, if any, might be appropriate for them.

Blanket screenings do come with medical risks. A recent European study on prostate cancer screening indicated that saving one man’s life from the disease would require screening about 1,400 men. But among those 1,400, 48 others would undergo treatments like surgery or radiation procedures that would not improve their health because the cancer was not life-threatening to begin with or because it was too far along. And those treatments could lead to complications including impotence, urinary incontinence and bowel problems. (NYT)

 

Benefits of breastfeeding 'being oversold by the NHS'

NHS claims about benefits of breastfeeding are false and oversold, as there is little evidence that mother’s milk protects babies against illness or allergies, says a leading experts.

Michael Kramer, a professor of paediatrics who has advised the World Health Organisation and Unicef, said that much of the evidence used to persuade mothers to breastfeed was either wrong or out of date. (The Times)

 

Today’s changing medical ethics — where it’s taking us

Last week, the Massachusetts’ state commission proposed a radical restructuring of how doctors, hospitals and healthcare providers will be paid in an effort to keep the state’s model universal coverage program from bankruptcy. Their proposals give us even more disturbing insights on what is being envisioned for all of us with health care reform.

If you are older (or think you might get older sometime), have a disability or any condition that needs medical care (or think you might ever need medical care), or have a lifestyle that the government doesn’t think is healthful, you will want to know what is being planned. You’ve just been thrown under the bus. (Junkfood Science)

 

OK only if the "the other guys" pay for it? Democrats' New Worry: Their Own Rich Voters

A group of Democrats elected in recent years from some of the country's richest congressional districts have emerged as a stumbling block to raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for President Barack Obama's ambitious health-care overhaul just as the plan has begun to meet increasing resistance over its cost.

Friday, two freshmen representatives -- Dina Titus, from suburban Las Vegas, and Colorado's Jared Polis, representing Boulder, Vail and some of the tonier suburbs of Denver -- joined Republicans to vote against Mr. Obama's top-priority health-care overhaul when it faced a vote in their House Education and Labor Committee. One reason was a one-percentage point-surtax on couples earning between $350,000 and $500,000 -- gradually increasing to 5.4 percentage points on earnings more than $1 million -- to pay for it.

The bill passed the committee anyway, but if the number of Democratic defectors grows it could pose a serious obstacle to the president. (WSJ)

 

Governors Fear Medicaid Costs in Health Plan

BILOXI, Miss. — The nation’s governors, Democrats as well as Republicans, voiced deep concern Sunday about the shape of the health care plan emerging from Congress, fearing that Washington was about to hand them expensive new Medicaid obligations without money to pay for them.

The role of the states in a restructured health care system dominated the summer meeting of the National Governors Association here this weekend — with bipartisan animosity voiced against the plan during a closed-door luncheon on Saturday and in a private meeting on Sunday with the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

“I think the governors would all agree that what we don’t want from the federal government is unfunded mandates,” said Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont, a Republican, the group’s incoming chairman. “We can’t have the Congress impose requirements that we are forced to absorb beyond our capacity to do so.” (NYT)

 

White House Less Firm on Date for Health Care Bill

President Obama’s budget director on Sunday appeared to soften on the administration’s insistence that a health care reform bill be delivered by August.

“It’s still the goal,” Mr. Orszag said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” after he was asked if the president still wanted a bill on his desk before the summer recess. “We think we can make that.” (NYT)

 

Oh goody! A public panic pact: New Pact to Let European Public Track Pollutants

GENEVA - European citizens will be able to find out what dangerous substances are emitted in their neighborhoods under an environmental treaty to go into effect in 17 countries in October, the United Nations said on Friday.

Participating states will have to issue public inventories of major pollutants that their industries, traffic, agriculture and enterprises spew into the air, soil and water, including greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Some 86 categories of substances -- ranging from mercury and other heavy metals, benzine, asbestos, pesticides including DDT, and dioxins -- are covered under the pact. (Reuters)

And what is the value of putting information in the face of people who cannot use it and certainly don't understand it? People are enormously tolerant of dioxins, for example, with the only known effect being chloracne. DDT is not a human hazard either, despite all the activist nonsense repeated in the press. There is really no upside to publicizing panic-inducing information but a great potential for anti-industrial, anti-corporate, anti-capitalist mischief. Presumably that's why greenies keep pushing for this nonsense.

 

This herbicide can also make corn more nutritious

My latest HND piece takes a look at an unexpected benefit coming from the herbicide mesotrione, used on corn. Ag scientists have found that corn treated with this chemical shows increased carotenoid levels.

The article also tries to make some sense of the term "sustainable agriculture," while exposing the fraud who coined it.

We quote the researcher who came up with the herbicide finding:

"The exact mechanisms of these increases are still unclear and warrant further study. However, results further emphasize the ability to enhance valuable phytochemicals in crop plants through careful management of cultural growing practices." (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

Galileo in the wrong again

More great strides have been made by modern scientists, who prove that Galileo (and, for that matter, Newton and Einstein) got it all wrong about gravity. No wonder he was put under house arrest! The crucial sentence in a remarkable scientific report on athletes was:

The engineers discovered that the laws of locomotion mean that they fall to the ground more quickly between each running stride or swimming stroke and therefore can outperform lighter competitors. 

So the old boy was wasting his time dropping things off the Tower of Pisa. It is now known that heavier bodies fall faster than light ones. Fortunately, our scientific correspondent was on the ball not to miss this one. Naturally, extraneous factors such as leg length and musculature (or even global warming) have nothing to do with it. (Number Watch)

 

Simplistic but not exactly wrong: In the fight against childhood obesity, playgrounds should be a frontline defense

Childhood obesity rates are on the rise. Recent data indicates that they have risen to between 12.4% and 17.6%, depending on the age range. Aside from the teasing and other social stigmas that go along with being overweight as a child, there are serious health risks for obese children that may not show up for several years. Asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are all possible consequences of carrying too much weight during childhood.

Many people look at the typical diet of an American child and point to the fast food, refined sugars, white bread, and soda that kids love to eat as the main culprit behind the increase in overweight kids that have been seen in the past few years. While these foods certainly do play a large role in this devastating trend, possibly just as large a contributing factor is the lack of physical activity kids get these days. Between the video games, movies, increased homework loads, computer social sites, and TV programs, children not only are moving less but usually they are eating or drinking sugary drinks while they are engaged in these activities too. So, on top of reduced calorie output they have increased calorie input which inevitably will lead to weight gain.

What can be done to help our children? Insist that they do some sort of physical activity everyday. Whether it is playing an active game on the Wii, going for a walk with you, playing tag with the neighborhood kids, or participating in an organized activity like soccer or baseball, make sure that they are getting some exercise everyday. For younger children, setting up good habits, like playing outside everyday (as weather will permit), will help later on in their life. Going to the playground not only can help kids get the activity they need but can also foster social connections with other children. (Examiner)

Encouraging play and physical activity is good, including "risky" competitive play, contact sports and all the self-testing tree climbing, rope swinging, abrasion (and occasional broken bone) -inducing things kids used to do but are now prevented by nanny society. We didn't have a lot of ADHD or drugged-to-docility kids when each hour or two's learning was separated by periods of frenetic childhood activity. The way Western society is going we are going to "protect" our kids into early graves.

 

Unhealthy appetite: Is 'Fatsploitation' fuelling the obesity crisis?

Fed by weekly magazines and reality TV, hunger for stories about the seriously overweight is insatiable. Is the coverage given to obesity helping to raise awareness – or is it fuelling the problem? (The Independent)

 

Freedom Fries or Social Justice: Agriculture and Obesity

The agriculture industry has and will continue to come under attach for contributing to obesity. These attacks are based on narrow special interests and ideology, but they will be used to justify more regulation and an attack on the personal liberties of millions of Americans. It will be done in the name of protecting the poor from themselves and the greed of agribusiness, as well as combating climate change. The end result will be forcing us to 'eat for social justice.' (Matt Bogard, AgWeb)

 

El Nino threat blows commodity prices higher - With the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the horizon and concerns over food shortages, crops are locked in a bull market.

In 1798 Reverend Thomas Malthus published a pamphlet entitled An Essay on the Principle of Population. In it, he argued that population growth would eventually be stopped by a widespread and catastrophic famine as the world could no longer feed all the mouths it contained. It was an apocalyptic doomsday scenario.

The United Nations expects that the world population will hit 7bn in early 2012 – and rise above 9bn by 2050. Despite the technical innovations of the so-called "green revolution" after the Second World War which increased crop yields through fertilisers and large-scale farming, worries still persist that population growth is putting the global food chain under too much pressure. The possibility of a Malthusian catastrophe is once again being discussed.

The most vital factor in food production is the weather. If the sun doesn't shine or the rains don't come then it can spell disaster. Over the last two weeks, meteorologists worldwide have been predicting just that. A weather event that happens once every three to seven years is under way – and weather patterns across the southern hemisphere could be sent into turmoil over the next six months. This has price implications for commodities, but it could be disastrous for people in the poorer parts of the world.

Across the southern hemisphere farmers are preparing for El Niño. Properly known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation – and often shortened to ENSO – this involves a warming of the oceans in the Pacific that sets off a chain of events that cause droughts in Australia and floods in South America. It is likely that crops will fail.

It's not only the hungry who need to watch its development, but businesses all over the world must also keep an eye on events as ENSO has the potential to substantially alter cost drivers. Supply chains can be disrupted, input costs can soar and logistics for global operations become a nightmare. Add in the social and political turmoil that this can bring, it is clear that global businesses ignore EN