Welcome to the Real World: Grim Prospects for Young Adults under Obamacare

Individual mandates cause headaches.

As the Obama Administration’s allies are gearing up to spend $125 million over the next five years to sell the health overhaul law to the public, including seniors, there has been a noticeable vacuum in the discussion over the impact on younger adults. This topic was in the spotlight at a recent event sponsored by the CATO Institute: “How Will Obamacare Affect Young Adults?”

While the President received one of the largest margins of support from 18-29 year old voters during the 2008 election, there is growing skepticism over the President’s handling of health care and the final version of the bill signed into law. Under the overhaul, Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, says that flawed policies are used to fix other flawed policies. For example, for price controls to work, an individual mandate is required; but for a mandate to work, more taxpayer subsidies are necessary. But what happens when the central planners’ calibrations are off?  Younger and poorer adults who stay in the health insurance market will be cross-subsidizing the premiums of older and wealthier Americans not yet eligible for Medicare. From the “have nots” to the “haves”—a new social policy. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Hmm... FDA seeks less use of antibiotics in animals to keep them effective for humans Network News

The Food and Drug Administration urged farmers on Monday to stop giving antibiotics to cattle, poultry, hogs and other animals to spur their growth, citing concern that drug overuse is helping to create dangerous bacteria that do not respond to medical treatment and endanger human lives. 

Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said antibiotics should be used only to protect the health of an animal and not to help it grow or improve the way it digests its feed. 

"This is an urgent public health issue," Sharfstein said during a conference call with reporters. "To preserve the effectiveness [of antibiotics], we simply must use them as judiciously as possible." 

The FDA issued a draft of its guidance, and the public has 60 days to comment on the draft. (Washington Post)

I'd be in favor of stopping MDs handing out antibiotics like candy and even of better information campaigns explaining to people why they must complete the course supplied but there's really no support for the proposition ag use promotes resistance, or that making animal proteins more expensive is a healthful option. This is actually pretty dopey.

 

Study finds body's potential universal flu defense

WASHINGTON - The human body makes rare antibodies effective against all flu viruses and these might be boosted to design a better universal flu treatment, researchers reported on Monday.

Tests on mice suggest these immune system proteins could help most people survive a normally lethal dose of flu virus, the team at the University of Wisconsin and Seattle-based Theraclone Sciences said.

"The ability of these antibodies to protect mice from highly lethal strains of influenza is encouraging," said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a flu expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Tokyo who worked on the study, said in a statement.

"Such antibodies may be especially useful during outbreaks of newly emerging, highly pathogenic influenza viruses."

H1N1 swine flu is still spreading globally, having caused the first pandemic of the 21st century. While it is a relatively mild strain, it has killed far more children and young adults than flu usually kills and could easily mutate into a more virulent form.

Regular seasonal flu does its own share of damage, killing 250,000 to 500,000 people globally in an average year, according to the World Health Organization.

And new strains could move into the human population any time - including the highly lethal but still rare H5N1 bird flu, which has killed 295 of 499 people infected since 2003. (Reuters)

 

I hate bans but this has merit: Ban homeopathy from NHS, say doctors

Members of the British Medical Association call for homeopathic remedies to be taken off pharmacy shelves designated for medicines (The Guardian)

 

Oh boy... Summer silliness in full swing: Junk food and obesity: Taking a cue from tobacco control

That means strict measures to reduce consumption of what's bad for us, and aggressive public education campaigns.

By David Lazarus
June 29, 2010

What to do about the obesity epidemic? Here's a thought: Substitute "tobacco" for "junk food." That provides a pretty clear road map about what government authorities should be doing to safeguard public health.

Unfortunately, officials are instead just reheating the same old leftovers.

Dietary guidelines issued recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture basically say Americans need to ease up on the salt, sugar and saturated fats, and instead eat more fruits and veggies. (LAT)

 

Reality Check: Food Isn’t Tobacco

Reality Check: Food Isn’t TobaccoGiven the success of the anti-smoking movement in establishing government control over tobacco, it’s no surprise that trial lawyers and other self-anointed “food cops” consistently cite the movement as the blueprint for their attacks. That’s because the agenda of these anti-food activists requires wide-ranging and invasive government controls on a completely private matter: what we eat and drink. Today the latest salvo comes from Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus, who muses: “What to do about the obesity epidemic? Here's a thought: Substitute ‘tobacco’ for ‘junk food.’” Lazarus is surprisingly honest about what this could mean down the road, writing that eventually our nation’s food zealots will seek a ban on “junk food” in all workplaces.

Hold on to your candy bowls.

What Lazarus fails to note about his approach is that the parallels between “junk food” and tobacco are pretty much limited to the Big Brother goals of activists. For one, there’s no such thing as “second-hand obesity.” You can quit smoking, but you can't quit food. And there’s no convincing evidence that food is addictive—unless tasting good is the determinant.

And just about any kind of food can be part of a healthy diet, including the occasional “sinful” indulgence. Moderation is the key. That’s why the American Dietetic Association, which represents 70,000 nutrition professionals, rejects the whole idea of a “good” food, “bad” food dichotomy. The ADA writes that “total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of a healthful eating style. All foods can fit within this pattern, if consumed in moderation.”

It’s curious to see one UCLA health sciences professor remark that the privacy-invading anti-obesity strategy “doesn't seem at all draconian” when, in fact, it calls for the government to try to make personal decisions for all of us. Considering the ultimate goal of the movement is “to make healthy eating unavoidable,” that necessarily means that the government will be taking choices away from consumers.

Are cookies and chips so hazardous to the public that you should have to show proof of ID to buy them? Let’s put the food-is-tobacco theory where it belongs: in the ash heap. (Center for Consumer Freedom)

 

Number of the month – 40,000

Think of a number

Banner headline on the front page of the Daily Telegraph:

40,000 deaths a year due to junk food, says health watchdog Nice

So hamburgers kill twenty times as many people as road vehicles. Ordinary people with no scientific expertise are openly laughing at the extravagance of the latest claim, but they do not matter: it is aimed at the ruling class of Oxford PPE graduates, who are much more credulous. At least the old-fashioned, scare-mongering, control-freakish zealots, such as the CDC and the EPA, paid us the respect of going to the trouble of developing elaborate statistical frauds to justify their assertions. This lot, arrogant on their lofty perch way above the seething masses they seek to hold inescapably in their grasp, just think up a number double it (several times) then publish it as the scary truth.

NICE is a socialist construct – a committee that is given power of life and death (and pain) over its fellow citizens. It exercises arbitrary and haphazard control over the work of skilled clinicians. Two years ago it banned drugs for certain sufferers from rheumatoid arthritis, only to reverse its decision recently. Two years of pain to no purpose.  Some think that their growing intrusions into private lives constitute mission drift or simply extending their remit, but there is also an element of displacement activity to distract attention from the general opinion that they are doing a lousy job. They are part of that insidious socialist framework of controllers, who aim to achieve command over every aspect of the citizen’s private life: and they have made great strides in this direction over the past decade. Imagine the outcry there would have been twenty years ago if snoopers were to demand control over children’s school lunch boxes. Now it is officially accepted as quite normal, though not by some parents who still hold onto the delusion that they live in a free country.

There is no such thing as junk food. Diets are either varied and balanced or they are poor. There is, however, plenty of junk statistics, especially in the world of epidemiology. Most of the food health scares come from small observational studies without controls and randomisation. The worst of them come from data dredges and a leading source for quack dietetics is the Harvard Nurses Health study. With their debased standards (particularly levels of significance) epidemiologists can produce results to order. Remember how saturated fats were the deadly enemy? Now they are almost forgotten as the diet fashionistas move on to trans-fats. The diet industry maintains momentum by creating an atmosphere of hysteria. A huge army of officials, journalists, advisors etc live off the ever changing fads and fashions. Something is arbitrarily designated a wonder food or a deadly poison by some "expert" and immediately there is an outpouring of almost identical articles across the media.

Naturally, the salt fanatics are to the fore. Despite the existence of a mass of contrary evidence compared with their own paltry efforts, they have hawked their arbitrary and totally unjustifiable “recommended limit” with such zest that the political and media establishment accepts it without demurral. 

Now here’s a funny thing. All those 2,000 odd victims of road crashes had names, addresses and post-mortem reports, yet none of the putative 40,000 victims of politically incorrect diets have any of those things. Epidemiology is strikingly successful and consistent in maintaining the anonymity of its victims.

The recent decline of the Telegraph has been dispiriting. The turgid wittering of Geoffrey Lean is given great prominence and space, while Louise Gray constantly digs up scares of past and present. There are still a couple of fine writers of the sceptical persuasion, but Christopher Booker tends to get downplayed and James Delingpole is largely confined to the blog section. Time was when scientists and journalists shared a commitment to scepticism, but both have largely abandoned this in conformity with the norms of the new establishment. Nevertheless it is astonishing that a once respected newspaper can make a front page banner feature of such self-evident twaddle, allying itself to the fascistic would-be controllers of the minutiae of everyday life of the citizenry.

A child who has an innocent bag of potato crisps in its lunch box is now likely to have it confiscated. The makers of these crisps are marketing an illusion. They sell what are basically sealed bags of air with a small amount of potato cut into very thin plates, fried and hence randomly shaped in such a way as to make the pack look full. A typical small pack contains about 35 grams of edible material. A potato tuber about the size of a tennis ball weighs of the order of 250 grams, though water content varies greatly between varieties. The second most important ingredient is sunflower oil, once a favourite of the dietary zealots, which represents about a third of the total weight. The remainder is seasoning, which comprises things like milk lactose, citric acid from sugar beet molasses, yeast extract and various (often unconvincing) flavourings. All pretty harmless, indeed beneficial, though the salt zealots will rear up in horror at the half gram of salt, which is a vital nutrient and a major contributor to pleasantness of taste (evolution’s way of ensuring that we get enough and homeostasis takes care of any surplus).

A hamburger with onions is a highly nutritional food item as part of a varied diet. Of course, if you ate nothing but hamburgers or crisps you would become ill, but the same would happen if you ate only apples or cabbage. The snoopers into children’s lunch boxes and other dietary matters are simply looking for symbolic deviations from the latest dietary fads and fancies. They are among the storm troopers of authoritarian socialism. Children, bless their hearts, simply save their eating for pleasure for after school hours, while the majority of adults, being perversely untrendy, ignore the peremptory command “You vill obey orders at all times!” and make up their own minds.

Long live the human spirit! (Number Watch)

 

Americans getting fatter, especially in the South

CHICAGO - Obesity rates climbed again last year with 28 U.S. states reporting adults are fatter now than a year ago, two advocacy groups said on Tuesday.

Obesity rates fell only in the District of Columbia, and the groups warned that dealing with the epidemic should be a vital part of reforming healthcare.

"Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region, and income," said Jeffrey Levi, director of Trust for America's Health, which sponsored the report along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Levi said the United States has taken "bold steps" to address obesity but the response has yet to translate into thinner waistlines, particularly in Southern states. (Reuters)

 

 

Paying President's 'Price On Carbon'

Energy Policy: The administration plans to use sleight-of-hand politics to sneak through an economy-killing tax on energy as necessary to save the Earth. Make no mistake: Cap-and-trade is a tax every American will pay in every aspect of his or her life. (IBD)

 

Barack Obama fails to rally support for energy bill

Standoff suggests Senate would give up on climate change law that would result in far more limited proposals

Barack Obama's hopes of leveraging public anger at the Gulf oil spill into political support for his clean energy agenda fell flat today after he failed to rally a group of Democratic and Republican senators around broad energy and climate change law.

The standoff suggests the Senate would formally give up on climate change law, and recast energy reform as a Gulf oil spill response, that would roll in far more limited proposals such as a green investment bank, or a measure to limit greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electricity companies.

Such a move would come as a personal rebuff to Obama who has put energy and climate change at the top of his agenda, and who called on the 23 senators at the White House meeting to establish a cap and trade system. (The Guardian)

 

How cap-and-trade revenues went to fix state budgets

(Source: Stateline.org) WASHINGTON _ A few weeks ago, 10 Northeastern states held an unusual sort of auction. What the states were selling was credits for carbon emissions. The buyers were electric utilities, who purchased the credits either to allow themselves to send carbon dioxide out the smokestacks of their own power plants, or to re-sell those credits to other utilities.

The auction, a quarterly feature of North America's only working cap-and-trade regime for greenhouse gases, raised $80.5 million. It was the latest installment of a windfall that the 10 states have largely committed to promoting energy efficiency.

Lately, however, a few of the cash-strapped states have had other designs on the money. The same day as the most recent auction, June 9, New Hampshire lawmakers voted to take all of the state's expected $3.1 million share of the proceeds and use it to help plug a $295 million budget hole. That move came after New York and New Jersey had staged even bigger raids on cap-and-trade funds. New York transferred $90 million out of a fund of auction proceeds and into its general fund. (iStockAnalyst) h/t Tom Nelson

 

UK will miss carbon emissions targets 'unless government takes urgent action'

Committee on Climate Change says policies required within next year to reform electricity market and home efficiency (The Guardian)

Um... so what?

 

Quangos should be burnt to fuel a green revolution, Tory report recommends

The new Government should conduct a bonfire of nine low-carbon quangos and instead hand them to a planned green investment bank if Britain is to fulfill its commitments to create a low-carbon economy and catch up with its European partners, a report yesterday urged.

The Green Investment Bank Commission also recommended the sale of "green ISAs and bonds" as a way of helping to provide financing for more renewable energy projects in the United Kingdom.

And it said the new bank should be commercially independent and thus not accountable to ministers or to Parliament for its investment or lending decisions. This would, it said, be "a prerequisite for building credibility with the markets. It also should limit direct public liabilities by placing GIB liabilities off the Government balance sheet."

The commission estimates that £550bn is needed for infrastructure and supply chains to allow the UK to meet climate change targets that call on the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost renewable energy by 2020. (The Independent)

We agree all greenie quangos should be burnt but a green investment bank? Fugeddaboudit.

 

AGW tipping point: end of world moved to 2200

The Independent has published some optimistic news yesterday:

Scientists 'expect climate tipping point' by 2200
They asked 14 climate scientists what is the length of the Chinese emperor's nose and when will the tipping point destroy the Earth. None of them had any clue but the person who asked those questions apparently thought that he gets a very accurate, scientific answer if he computes the average of the 14 answers.

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

 

Sigh... Arctic climate may be more sensitive to warming than thought, says new study

A new study shows the Arctic climate system may be more sensitive to greenhouse warming than previously thought, and that current levels of Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide may be high enough to bring about significant, irreversible shifts in Arctic ecosystems.

Led by the University of Colorado at Boulder, the international study indicated that while the mean annual temperature on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic during the Pliocene Epoch 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit, or 19 degrees Celsius, warmer than today, CO2 levels were only slightly higher than present. The vast majority of climate scientists agree Earth is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping atmospheric gases generated primarily by human activities like fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

The team used three independent methods of measuring the Pliocene temperatures on Ellesmere Island in Canada's High Arctic. They included measurements of oxygen isotopes found in the cellulose of fossil trees and mosses that reveal temperatures and precipitation levels tied to ancient water, an analysis of the distribution of lipids in soil bacteria which correlate with temperature, and an inventory of ancient Pliocene plant groups that overlap in range with contemporary vegetation.

"Our findings indicate that CO2 levels of approximately 400 parts per million are sufficient to produce mean annual temperatures in the High Arctic of approximately 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees F)," Ballantyne said. "As temperatures approach 0 degrees Celsius, it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain permanent sea and glacial ice in the Arctic. Thus current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere of approximately 390 parts per million may be approaching a tipping point for irreversible ice-free conditions in the Arctic." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

You'd think they'd notice that, with almost 20 kelvins difference but similar atmospheric carbon dioxide, the relationship between the measured variables is somewhat tenuous but no, they are determined to that similar warmth is currently merely, um... hiding.

 

Emissions scheme could cost NZ up to $5b

New Zealand's failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions has left taxpayers staring down the barrel of a Kyoto Protocol liability of at least $1 billion and possibly more than $5 billion, according to a book analysing National's emissions trading system.

The authors of The Carbon Challenge - Victoria University researcher and economist Geoff Bertram and climate-change analyst and researcher Simon Terry - also describe the Government's current ETS as "technically obsolete" and "beyond rescue" as a sustainable framework for tackling climate change.

They say the scheme will not make any inroads into cutting New Zealand's gross emissions levels. (New Zealand Herald)

 

Amazing Grace

By Steven Goddard,

The headline reads “NASA Satellites Detect Unexpected Ice Loss in East Antarctica

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2009) — Using gravity measurement data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission, a team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin has found that the East Antarctic ice sheet-home to about 90 percent of Earth’s solid fresh water and previously considered stable-may have begun to lose ice.

Better move to higher ground! NASA also reported :

“Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002” and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet).“

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Ocean Conveyor Belt Dismissed

After nearly 50 years of acceptance, the theory that a great ocean “conveyor belt” continuously circulates water around the globe in an orderly fashion has been dismissed by a leading oceanographer. According to a review article in the journal Science, a number of studies conducted over the past few years have challenged this paradigm. Oceanographers have discovered the vital role of ocean eddy currents and the wind in establishing the structure and variability of the ocean’s overturning. In light of these new discoveries, the demise of the conveyor belt model has been become the new majority opinion among the world's oceanographers. According to M. Susan Losier, of Duke University, “the conveyor-belt model no longer serves the community well.”

The idea that the ocean conveyor belt transports cold, dense water from the subpolar North Atlantic along the “lower limb” of the conveyor belt to the rest of the global ocean, where the waters are upwelled and then transported along the “upper limb” back to deepwater formation sites, has been supported by the majority of oceanographers for decades. This circulating flow was assumed to operate along western boundary currents in the deep ocean and provide a continuous supply of relatively warm surface waters to deepwater formation sites. While it was thought to be vulnerable to changes in deepwater production at high latitudes, with significant injections of fresh water capable of disrupting the smooth operation of the system, under normal conditions the conveyor belt was thought to function constantly and consistently. Now it seems that opinions within the oceanographic community have shifted, and the great ocean conveyor belt model has fallen from grace.

As detailed in an eye opening article by Dr. Losier, the conveyor belt has been found wanting and dismissed as the dominant ocean overturning paradigm. Losier is Professor of Physical Oceanography and Chair of the Earth and Ocean Sciences Division at Duke, and is an expert in large-scale ocean circulation, water mass distribution and variability. The article, “Deconstructing the Conveyor Belt,” begins with a short history of the conveyor belt theory's development. According to Losier, our modern idea of the ocean’s overturning, and our understanding of its importance to Earth's climate, developed as a result of the work of two prominent oceanographers:

Fifty years ago, Henry Stommel theorized that recently ventilated waters of high-latitude origin must be transported equatorward at depth along western-intensified boundary currents. Assuming that water masses formed via deep convection in isolated regions in the northern North Atlantic and near Antarctica essentially fill the abyssal ocean, Stommel surmised that the deep ocean exports these waters via a distributed upwelling to the surface. Furthermore, he suggested that because such upwelling produces a stretching of the water column that induces a loss of angular momentum, the deep interior waters must compensate by flowing poleward toward regions of higher angular momentum. Thus, the equatorward transport of deep water masses was confined to the western boundaries of the basins. Stommel’s theory gave the ocean’s overturning, previously amorphous in its third dimension, a structure: Deep waters are transported equatorward in a steady, continuous deep western-intensified boundary current from their formation sites at high latitudes.


The abyssal flow field, as theorized by Stommel in 1958.

The second important oceanographer was the eminent Wallace S. “Wally” Broecker, Newberry Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and a scientist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Arguably one of the world’s greatest living geoscientists, for more than half a century, Broecker has investigated the ocean’s role in climate change. He was among the pioneers in using radiocarbon and isotope dating to track historical climate change, and the influence of climate change on polar ice and ocean sediments. It was Broecker who coined the term “ocean conveyor belt.”

According to Losier, work by Broecker and colleagues suggested that the ocean’s overturning was responsible for the rapid climate fluctuations experienced during Earth’s last glacial period. “Though the importance of the ocean’s overturning to Earth’s climate had previously been understood, Broecker’s work essentially cemented the role of the conveyor belt as an agent of climate change,” states her review. “Thus, just as Stommel’s work gave spatial structure to the overturning, Broecker’s provided a temporal context.” So what has changed oceanography's mindset enough to proclaim the conveyor belt—arguably the most important discovery in the history of oceanography—an idea whose time has past?

Since its proposal, oceanographers have understood that the conveyor model is an oversimplification of the way ocean overturning actually takes place. But it was believed to be a useful simplification, capable of providing an overall model of the ocean's transportation of heat energy, if not the exact details. But now it seems that some major features of the conveyor belt have been called into question. Here is a list of recent discoveries that have shaken the foundation of the conveyor belt theory.

  • Most of the subpolar-to-subtropical exchange in the North Atlantic occurs along interior pathways.
  • The deep deep western boundary current (DWBC) breaks up into eddies at 11°S.
  • There is little meridional coherence in the overturning transport from one gyre to the next .
  • Wind forcing, rather than buoyancy forcing, can play a dominant role in changing the transport of the overturning.
  • The southward transport of deep waters at 8°S, off the Brazilian coast, was shown to be carried entirely by migrating coherent eddies.
  • Floats launched within the DWBC at 53°N do not follow a continuous boundary current, but instead take multiple paths to the subtropics, including interior pathways far removed from the DWBC.
  • Two recent studies have found unexpected pathways in the upper ocean.
  • A recent study shows that MOC transport in the subtropical North Atlantic is susceptible to variability in the "leakage" of warm and salty water into the South Atlantic.
  • Studies showing little to no coherence across gyre boundaries have prompted interest in monitoring the overturning circulation in the South Atlantic and the subpolar North Atlantic.
  • The connectivity of the overturning and, more importantly, of the meridional heat transport from one basin to the next can no longer be assumed on interannual time scales.

When all of these observations are combined, they indicate that the conventional conceptual model of ocean overturning needs revamping. As Dr. Losier put it: “In sum, the impact of eddies on our concept of a continuous lower limb for the ocean’s overturning has evolved from an understanding that eddies can detrain and entrain fluid along the DWBC to the recognition that the DWBC can, at certain locales and perhaps certain times, be a series of migrating eddies, to the realization that eddy-driven flow provides an alternate pathway for deep waters to spread globally.”

In other words, it doesn't work as simply as we thought. Losier is in a good position to make such a judgment, since it is partly due to her work that scientists are revisiting the conveyor belt model. As noted on this blog in “Conveyor Belt Model Broken,” work by Losier and Amy Bower of Wood’s Hole, using RAFOS float data, showed that there was something fundamentally wrong with how the ocean's overturning flow was being modeled.


By analyzing the divagating float paths, it was discovered that ocean currents did not behave as expected. Reported back in May of 2009, their discovery had the potential to affect both short term and long term climate change. This is because ocean currents not only redistribute surface warmth, the oceans themselves are a vast reservoir for heat and carbon dioxide. I concluded that this finding invalidated the IPCC's GCM climate model predictions, because the models were based on incorrect behavior of the ocean overturning currents.

At the time, Dr. Losier took exception to my supposition, stating in an email, “the climate models care first and foremost about the return of the surface waters and our research has no bearing in the slightest on those waters.” I disagreed, saying that the discovery of significant eddies changed the assumptions on how the deep sea currents flow, which must change the boundary conditions between different masses of water. This cannot help but alter the long term reaction of the ocean to the energy flowing through it.

More recently, variations in continuous data measurements from cable-moored instrument arrays identified large and unexpected yearly fluctuations in conveyor flow. As additional discoveries have unfolded, it was also found that there are large reservoirs of CO2 stashed away in the deep ocean, again previously unexpected. As the evidence has piled up, Dr. Losier has been forced to admit that there are implications for climate change and the way the Earth system is modeled. In her own words:

Added impetus for revamping comes from a recent study revealing a considerable reservoir of anthropogenic CO2 in the deep North Atlantic, surmised to result from the production of high-latitude water masses and their subsequent equatorward spread. Clearly, an improved understanding of the pathways of the upper and lower limbs of the ocean’s overturning will aid assessments of the ocean’s role in the uptake, transport, and storage of heat and CO2, crucial components of Earth’s climate system.

This reinforces the claim that previous climate models—which are highly dependent on the coupling between ocean and atmosphere and, hence, the ocean circulation models they contain—cannot be considered accurate reconstructions of Earth's climate system. I repeat my earlier assertion: if the conveyor belt model is wrong then none of the IPCC's model results can be taken seriously. This point is underscored by recent work that found small changes in high latitude insolation, driven by Earth's orbital cycles, can trigger significant changes in lower latitude ocean and atmospheric circulation. The circulation of Earth's oceans is now known to be much more complex and nuanced than even a decade ago, which has significant implications for climate modeling.

This spate of recent discoveries serves to underline a fundamental tenet of science—that no theory, no matter how elegant or widely believed, is sacrosanct. As the great philosopher of science, Karl Popper, stated, science progresses by moving from one false theory to another, still false theory that is nonetheless closer to the truth. There is nothing wrong with dismissing the conveyor belt model for another, more correct model. In fact, a scientist incapable of realizing that a cherished, comfortable old theory is false and must be discarded is not capable of doing good science at all. Keeping that in mind, here is Losier's summary of the case against the conveyor belt:

Though appealing in its simplicity, the ocean conveyor-belt paradigm has lost luster over the years, precisely because it has overdistilled the complexity of the ocean’s overturning. This complexity has slowly been revealed as the ocean has increasingly been observed at finer scales in space and time and in places previously only sparsely sampled. As discussed, the ocean’s eddy field, unaccounted for just decades ago and now uncovered by measures at appropriate scales, figures prominently in the dismantling of the conveyor-belt paradigm. Another player in this dismantling is the ocean’s wind field. The traditional assignation of surface ocean gyres to wind-forcing and overturning to buoyancy forcing has ignored the vital impact of winds on overturning pathways and mechanics. As the study of the modern ocean’s role in climate continues apace, the conveyor-belt model no longer serves the community well— not because it is a gross oversimplification but because it ignores crucial structure and mechanics of the ocean’s intricate global overturning.

So, after very logically and methodically making the case for dismissing the conveyor belt model, Dr. Losier claims we should not discard it because it is a gross oversimplification, but because it “no longer serves the community well.” I would call any theory that ignores the intricate mechanics and crucial structures of the thing is is attempting to describe as worse than a gross oversimplification—I would call it wrong. It seems that Dr. Losier just cannot bring herself to say the words, “this theory is false.”

Regardless, oceanography is in the process of moving on to new, hopefully less false theories. Some period of grief and denial is probably to be expected from those who literally grew up with the conveyor belt theory. Now, if climate science would only face up to the falseness of the gross oversimplification they have promoted over the past few decades—anthropogenic global warming.

The failure of anthropogenic global warming is not only tied to the recent discoveries in oceanography, but to scores of other scientific advances in biology, geology, atmospheric physics and Earth sciences. The fiction that human generated CO2 is responsible for climate change, and that our continued emission of that greenhouse gas will damage this planet's ecosystem is as gross an oversimplification as has ever been postulated.

While simplicity is generally considered a good thing, and it is no sin for a scientist to invent a theory which proves to be false, it is a great sin to refuse to recognize a theory's falseness. Only by dismissing old false theories can science move on to new, more correct ones. Climate science has damaged its credibility, and the reputation of all science, by clinging to this outdated, failed theory. It is time for the climate science community to prove that they are real scientists by openly pronouncing anthropogenic global warming a false theory.

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

 

Moonbat + Amazongate = Prize Pillock

There’s only one thing more satisfying than being right. That’s when a shrill buffoon you utterly despise dedicates an entire column in a newspaper you loathe to accusing you of being wrong, working himself up into an almost masturbatory lather of slobbering indignation, macheting himself to ever greater heights of ecstatic fervour like some Shi’ite penitent during Ashura, giggling at his jokes, crowing at his own cleverness, earning all sorts of smarmy plaudits from his coterie of sorry eco-fascist brown-nosers – and it turns out, after all that, you’re still entirely right and the buffoon – let’s call him Moonbat – has emerged looking an even bigger prat than ever.

I love you George Moonbat, no really I do. You’ve just made my weekend. (James Delingpole)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 26: 30 June 2010

Editorial:
Ocean Acidification: The "Evil Twin" of Global Warming: So reads the first subject heading of a paper recently published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, which we feel compelled to examine a little closer.

Subject Index Summary:
Ocean Acidification (Effects on Marine Plants: Phytoplankton -- Cyanobacteria): As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, how will the oceans' smallest photosynthesizing organisms respond to the enhanced "acidification" of the environment in which they live?

Journal Reviews:
The Variation of Near-Surface Wind Speed with Altitude of Land: How has it changed over the past half-century? ... and what are the ramifications of the change?

Elevated CO2 Boosts Iron's Positive Impact on Phytoplanktonic Productivity: ... and it appears to do so by "acidifying" the ocean.

CO2- and Climate-Induced Effects on Terrestrial Plant Production: What does one of the most detailed mechanistic models project for the next ninety years?

A Seven-Decade History of the Water-Use Efficiency of a Swiss Alpine Grassland: How was it obtained? ... and what did it show?

The Long-Term Response of Plant Photosynthesis to Elevated CO2: Does it decline over time?

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Creosote Bush (Clark et al., 2010), Quaking Aspen (Kets et al., 2010), Rice (Fan et al., 2010), and Tomato (Sun et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 847 individual scientists from 504 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from the Kattegat Region of North Sea. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (co2science.org)

 

BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’: Climate Alarmism as the Great Environmental Distraction (Part II)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
June 29, 2010

[Editor note: Part I in this series examined praise for BP and Enron from the Worldwatch Institute. Part III on Thursday will examine a Harvard Business Review article linking BP's 'beyond petroleum' strategy to special government favor, including drilling on government domain.]

Consumer boycotts of Shell and pressure from Greenpeace … [and] speculation that Shell might shift its position on climate change led BP CEO John Browne to look more closely at climate change. He decided to set a new company policy that would set BP apart from the competition—the product differentiation strategy.

- Gary Gardner, “Accelerating the Shift to Sustainability.” In Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2001 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), p. 101.

With great big blobs of oil washing up on the shore, it is almost comical—no, it is comical—to see some of BP’s erstwhile friends in academia and other centers of high-minded thought running for cover. To cite one example, thanks to BP sponsorship, 300 researchers in white lab coats at Berkeley are busily searching for ways to make green fuels that will reduce our dependence on oil. In 2007, BP set up the Energy Biosciences Institute, saying it would spend $500 million over the next ten years to support research into plant-based fuels at Berkeley and two other universities. This is the largest corporate donation ever for university research.

- Andrew Wilson, “Beyond Pathetic.” The Weekly Standard, June 28, 2010.

For more than a decade, Left environmentalists and trendy business ethicists have touted BP’s “beyond petroleum” mantra as an example of public-interested corporate progressivism.

For example, Joe Romm in Cool Companies: How the Best Businesses Boost Profits and Productivity by Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Island Press: 1999) devotes several pages near the end of the book to “climate leadership at British Petroleum.”

Romm refers to John Browne’s “remarkable May 1997 speech at Stanford University” (p. 206) before describing this episode:

Browne noted in a February 1998 speech that immediately after the Kyoto conference, he wrote to all 350 leaders within the BP group, the people who run BP’s business units, to get their ideas on how BP could reduce carbon emissions. Browne said, “Two weeks ago I got the response and I was stunned by it. It consisted of 200 pages of the most detailed and serious proposals…. Every single one reflected the view that we were doing the right thing in trying to tackle our own emissions and to make a positive constructive contribution to the public debate” (p. 207).

Romm continues: “One of the primary messages of this book  [is what] Browne has learned… ‘It is clear how frequently environmental logic and commercial logic coincide” (p. 207).

BP’s Misdirection

But now we know what happens when a corporation gets distracted and tries to be all things to all people. It happened to Ken Lay and Enron, and it happened to BP.

Tony Hayward cut back BP’s renewables push, which put pressure on the company’s ‘beyond petroleum’ greenwash. But evidently Hayward did not or could not do enough to reverse the unfocused corporate culture toward safety and true environmentalism. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Jon Stewart Vivisects “Energy Independence”

We live in the age of video. As a writer, particularly one who writes books, that fact is rather painful. But the reality is that television, and increasingly, video on the Internet – think YouTube, Hulu, etc. – is the dominant medium of our time. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

North Sea oil find cheers three UK explorers

While BP continues to struggle, three British oil explorers saw their shares soar after one of the biggest North Sea finds in years. (TDT)

 

Obama’s promise to bankrupt coal industry to cost 1,000 jobs in upper Midwest

During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to bankrupt any new coal-burning plants in the US through his global-warming policies.  Congress has followed suit with a cap-and-trade bill that Harry Reid keeps promising to revive.  One firm in Wisconsin shows exactly what happens when politicians intervene to attempt to conduct social engineering in the energy sector. Bucyrus just lost a $600 million project for a new coal-burning electricity plant in India, thanks to a decision by the Congressionally-funded US Export-Import Bank to deny the Wisconsin firm credit, based in part on Barack Obama’s policies:

Up to 1,000 jobs at Bucyrus International Inc. and its suppliers could be in jeopardy as the result of a decision by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, funded by Congress, to deny several hundred million dollars in loan guarantees to a coal-fired power plant and mine in India.

About 300 of those jobs are at the Bucyrus plant in South Milwaukee, where the company has 1,410 employees and its headquarters. The remaining jobs are spread across 13 states, including Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana.

On Thursday, the Export-Import Bank denied financing for Reliance Power Ltd., an Indian power plant company, effectively wiping out about $600 million in coal mining equipment sales for Bucyrus, chief executive Tim Sullivan said.

The fossil fuel project was the first to come before the government-run bank since it adopted a climate-change policy to settle a lawsuit and to meet Obama administration directives.

“President Obama has made clear his administration’s commitment to transition away from high-carbon investments and toward a cleaner-energy future,” Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said in a statement. “After careful deliberation, the Export-Import Bank board voted not to proceed with this project because of the projected adverse environmental impact.”

This decision won’t stop one carbon molecule from hitting the air.  In fact, it will likely make carbon emissions worse.  India will look for other vendors to supply the equipment, probably from neighboring Russia or China, as they will continue to build and operate the plant.  Both nations compete in the same marketplace as Bucyrus, but they don’t work as cleanly as the American company does, which means the end result will be lower efficiency and more pollution. (Hot Air)

 

Reject All Energy Subsidies, Not Just the Ones for Fossil Fuels

Wind generators

For a country that is still heavily dependent on coal power, news of a more efficient (read: lower-carbon-emitting) coal plant should be greeted with roaring applause from the environmental community. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Export-Import bank can’t see past the black and white idea that coal and other fossil fuels are the enemies of the environment, and only renewables can save it. This mentality creates double standards, as when White House denied a $250 million Ex-Imp Bank loan to a coal power plant in India equipped with exceptional carbon-cutting technology.

President Obama was right to reject the subsidy but he did so for the wrong reasons. The Obama administration should get out of the loan guarantee business altogether. These credit subsidies are little more than financing mechanisms that allow Washington to pick energy winners and losers. Instead, energy projects should compete for capital on their own merit. If the plant cannot be built without the subsidy, it should not be built. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

'£80 cost' of hidden taxes to combat climate change

Households are typically being charged more than £80 a year in hidden taxes to help combat the impact of climate change, research suggested today.

The average household pays £84 a year in hidden taxes on their energy bills and the figure looks set to rise, according to price comparison website uSwitch.com.

The group warned that mounting pressures could see these taxes double during the coming 10 years to reach £176 a year.

Environmental levies such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Renewables Obligation currently make up 7% of energy bills.

But the group said policies launched under the previous government are expected to add further taxes worth 6% of gas and electricity bills during the coming 10 years, bringing the total to £156 a year. (The Independent)

 

Goose Eigg

The Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland was hailed as the green future, when islanders installed a solar, wind and hydroelectric power solution to power their homes.

All renewables, all the time.  The green energy wet dream in action.

When Eigg won a share in a £1 million prize in January for its devotion to green, the judges declared:

Good Energy CEO Juliet is vice chair of the judging panel that decided that Eigg, which reduced its CO2 emissions by 32% in a year, deserved a share in the top prize money. Here’s why: The day-to-day life on a small Hebridean island lashed by the Atlantic Ocean may present its own challenges, but the extreme weather makes it an ideal place to harness the elements and generate renewable power.

So how’s that working out, exactly?  Not so well: Power rationed on ‘green island’ Eigg:

Weeks of what passes for heatwave conditions in the Inner Hebrides have caused water levels on the island’s three main burns to drop uncharacteristically low, cutting off the island’s hydroelectricity supply.  The normally powerful Atlantic gusts in the tiny island south of Skye have also reduced to a pleasant breeze leaving the island’s wind turbines idle for hours on end.

Green energy is great, as long as you don’t mind going without power when the weather doesn’t cooperate. If Eigg was touted as the ideal place for renewable power and it doesn’t work, what hope is there for the rest of the world’s renewables efforts?

UPDATE: The UK mainland has the same reality to deal with as energy from renewables dropped 7.5%.  Try selling more bird shredder farms on the back of that performance. (Daily Bayonet)

 

Study shows stability and utility of floating wind turbines

College Park, MD (June 29, 2010) -- Wind turbines may be one of the best renewable energy solutions, but as turbines get larger they also get noisier, become more of an eyesore, and require increasingly larger expanses of land. One solution: ocean-based wind turbines. While offshore turbines already have been constructed, they've traditionally been situated in shallow waters, where the tower extends directly into the seabed. That restricts the turbines to near-shore waters with depths no greater than 50 meters -- and precludes their use in deeper waters, where winds generally gust at higher speeds.

An alternative is placing turbines on floating platforms, says naval architect Dominique Roddier of Berkeley, California-based Marine Innovation & Technology. He and his and colleagues have published a feasibility study of one platform design -- dubbed "WindFloat" -- in the latest issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

By testing a 1:65 scale model in a wave tank, the researchers show that the three-legged floating platform, which is based on existing gas and oil offshore platform designs, is stable enough to support a 5-megawatt wind turbine, the largest turbine that currently exists. These mammoth turbines are 70 meters tall and have rotors the size of a football field. Just one, Roddier says, produces enough energy "to support a small town."

The next step, says Roddier, is building a prototype to understand the life-cycle cost of such projects and to refine the economics models. The prototype, which is being built in collaboration with electricity operator Energias de Portugal, "should be in the water by the end of summer 2012," he says. (American Institute of Physics)

 

 

The New Math Of Hillary Clintonomics

With job creation in the U.S. basically at a standstill aside from some government hiring of temporary census workers, even after a trillion-plus in stimulus spending, Hillary Clinton's answer for more growth and more jobs is to remove even more money from the people who earned it and hand it over to the federal government. (Ralph R. Reiland, IBD)

 

Study raises questions over wider use of statins

LONDON - There is no evidence that prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins to patients at risk of heart disease reduces their chances of premature death in the short term, scientists said on Monday.

The results of a study by British researchers call into question the expanded use of statins such as Pfizer's Lipitor and AstraZeneca's Crestor in patients who do not have heart disease but may develop it.

Statins are one of the most widely used drugs for the treatment and prevention of heart disease, both among people who already have it and among high-risk but healthy people. They are among the most successful drugs of all time and have been credited with preventing millions of heart attacks and strokes.

But in a meta-analysis - a study which reviews all previous published scientific evidence on a specific area - Professor Kausik Ray and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital found scant evidence that statins saved lives in the short term in groups without heart disease.

"There is little evidence that statins reduce the risk of dying from any cause in individuals without heart disease," they wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"This, along with harms caused by statins in some subgroups, have called into question the benefit of statins in primary prevention (prevention of the development of heart disease)." (Reuters)

Granted statins have been very successfully marketed but the fact is they are of dubious general efficacy.

 

Study finds childhood obesity may be declining

Tantalizing evidence that America's epidemic of childhood obesity might be starting to subside was presented Sunday by researchers who also found that the trend could be speeded up through school programs.

Several recent studies reported that rates of overweight and obese children plateaued after rising rapidly since 1980. But this is the first major study to detect a decline - of 4 percent - and it was in a national sample dominated by low-income blacks and Hispanics, the groups at highest risk.

"These are the kids you expect least to change," said Gary D. Foster, director of Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education, who chaired the study of 4,603 students in 42 middle schools around the country, including six in Philadelphia. He and others speculated that the decline might be greater in the general population. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 

?!! We've got too much on our plates says UK obesity expert

DINNER plates are growing at the same rate as Australians' bulging waistlines, according to a UK obesity expert. 

Visiting Australia to discuss rising obesity levels with governments and spruik his new "diet plate", Dr Ian Campbell said the average size of our dinner crockery had grown in diameter from 23cm (9") to 28cm (11") in the past 20 years.

Dr Campbell questioned whether the obesity crisis could be overcome by using smaller plates to better control portion sizes.

Dr Campbell is marketing his own 23cm plate - complete with a measuring tape design. (Herald Sun)

 

Malthus with a Computer

Take a model that purports to predict the future and just run it back to the past. The result are sometimes salutary. Ross McKitrick of Guelph (celebrated for his role in trashing the warmist’s Hockey Stick) has done that with a model from the Canadian Medical Association.

The model predicts a shocking loss of life from air pollution. As reported last week by Peter Shawn Taylor in Canada’s Financial Post, McKitrick put 1960s levels of air pollution into the model and found that the deaths it attributed to pollution in the Toronto area reached more than 100% of all the people who actually died. As McKitrick said, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

The story rang a bell with me, about a famous computer model of the early 1970s, which spawned the best-seller The Limits to Growth from Donella H. Meadows and her colleagues at MIT. It predicted industrial pollution growing out of control and a global population crash in the 21st Century. That may sound familiar, but four decades ago the pollution wasn’t greenhouse gases but good old-fashioned smog and poisonous wastes from industry and agriculture. (Calder's Updates)

 

MAKING GOOD SCIENCE DECISIONS, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY

CHURCHVILLE, VA—I can’t help but praise Michael Specter’s new book: Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Specter warns that we live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically-modified food grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. Fifty years ago pharmaceutical companies were regarded as vital supports for our good health and lengthening life spans; now they are seen as callous corporate enemies of health and the environment.

Specter explains why these irrational things happen: “an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”

We demonize genetically modified foods, says Specter, because of food elitism—making decisions that work against feeding the hungry in developing nations under the guise of protecting their best interests.

“In other parts of the world, a billion people go to bed hungry every night,” Specter told National Public Radio. “Those people need science to help them.” (CGFI)

 

Researchers predict larger-than-average Gulf "dead zone"; impact of oil spill unclear

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia and his colleagues say this year's Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" is expected to be larger than average, continuing a decades-long trend that threatens the health of a $659 million fishery.

The 2010 forecast, released today by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls for a Gulf dead zone of between 6,500 and 7,800 square miles, an area roughly the size of Lake Ontario.

The most likely scenario, according to Scavia, is a Gulf dead zone of 6,564 square miles, which would make it the Gulf's 10th-largest oxygen-starved, or hypoxic, region on record. The average size over the past five years was about 6,000 square miles.

It is unclear what impact, if any, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will have on the size of this year's Gulf dead zone because numerous factors are at work, the researchers say. (UMich)

 

A Bull's-Eye For The Supreme Court

Second Amendment: In the "living Constitution" era, the Supreme Court rediscovers original intent and rightly rules that the right to bear arms applies to all Americans just as the rest of the Bill of Rights does.

It's hard to conceive how the justices could have decided otherwise. But by the narrowest of margins — 5-4 — they have reaffirmed that keeping and bearing arms is an inalienable and individual right like speech and religion, and that it applies to all individuals as the Founding Fathers intended.

Why anyone thinks the Second Amendment does not apply to all Americans is a mystery to us. Governments have powers; individuals have rights. The Bill of Rights was an enumeration of those individual rights — from freedom of speech to freedom of religion to the right to bear arms — that are to be protected from the intrusion of an oppressive government.

Now the Supreme Court agrees. (IBD)

 

McDonald v. Chicago: An Exclusive Interview

After helping to strike down the Chicago handgun ban, the winners in today’s Supreme Court decision promised, in an exclusive interview with the Heritage Foundation, that more such cases would be coming in the next few weeks. Alan Gura, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, promised, “There will be future cases, I will be bringing cases in the days and weeks to come.” When asked about the decisions impact, he said, “We will see laws that serve no useful purpose other than to annoy gun owners struck down and others that are actually critically necessary for public safety upheld.”

This morning, the Court sided with Gura and his client, 76 year old Otis McDonald. Otis had pursued the lawsuit after feeling that the city’s ban left him defenseless. In our interview, Gura, McDonald and Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb shared their thoughts on the freshly minted decision and explained the impact it will have on Chicago and the rest of the country. Earlier this year, after the case was argued before the Court, Gura and Gottlieb  sat down for an interview describing their strategy and hopes for the Court’s decision. Much of their prediction came true in today’s victory.

Elsewhere on the Foundry, Heritage scholars have provided their analysis of the Court’s decision and the ramifications it should have on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (The Foundry)

 

Protecting the Second Amendment (But Just Barely)

In what is probably the most important Second Amendment case in Supreme Court history, the Court today held that the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” cannot be infringed by the states. In 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court for the first time held that the right to bear arms was an individual right. But that decision, which struck down a virtual ban on handguns and a requirement that rifles and shotguns had to be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” in the District of Columbia, applied only to the federal government because the District is a federal enclave. What had never been decided before today’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago was whether the protection of the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause to apply to state and local governments.

In a long-awaited decision on the final day of the Supreme Court’s term, a 5-4 majority of the Court in an opinion written by Justice Alito overturned the City of Chicago’s regulations on firearms. These regulations included a ban on handguns, a requirement that other guns be registered prior to their acquisition (which is impractical in many cases), a burdensome annual reregistration requirement and annual fee, and a punitive provision that would bar the reregistration of a gun once its registration expired. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Despise Guns? Change Begins At Ballot Box

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect?

Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn't be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues such as gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence. (Thomas Sowell, IBD)

 

The Next Chicago Gun Rights Case . . . And Why It Is Important to the Kagan Confirmation

Justice for John Yoo and Jay Bybee

Moments ago, the Supreme Court announced that, Yes Virginia, the Second Amendment does in fact apply to the states, and thereby struck down Chicago’s complete ban on handgun possession. But this decision (and the Court’s prior decision in Heller) raises still other questions which will likely have a substantial impact on what that Second Amendment right functionally means. For example, what constitutes a reasonable regulation on firearms under the Second Amendment?

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is wasting no time. Before the Supreme Court even issued its opinion, he said that he was poised to immediately pass legislation to regulate guns if Chicago’s ban is struck down. If anyone doubts how reasonable his regulations will be, it is apparent that he is seeking to limit guns as severely as possible, based upon his judgment that “guns don’t solve problems in homes [or] on streets. They kill people.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

The Court Restores a Fundamental Right

Posted by Ilya Shapiro

Today is a big victory for gun rights and a bigger one for liberty. The Supreme Court has correctly decided that state actions violating the right to keep and bear arms are no more valid than those taken by the federal government.

It could not have been otherwise: the Fourteenth Amendment, coming on the heels of the Civil War, says clearly that never again would the Constitution tolerate state oppressions, and that all individuals possess certain fundamental rights. It is equally clear that the right to keep and bear arms is one of those deeply rooted fundamental rights, not least because the Framers thought so highly of it as to enumerate it in the Second Amendment.

Still, Justice Alito’s plurality opinion leaves a lot to be desired, in that his ultimately correct conclusion rests on a dog’s breakfast of Substantive Due Process “incorporation” doctrine that arose only because the Privileges or Immunities Clause was strangled in its crib by an 1870s Supreme Court that refused to reconcile itself to the changes in constitutional structure wrought by the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Thomas’s response to this tortured attempt to fit a square fundamental right into a round procedural guarantee is the right one: “I cannot accept a theory of constitutional interpretation that rests on such tenuous footing.”

Only Justice Thomas grapples with the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, surveying the rich history of the terms “privileges” and “immunities” to find that the right to defend oneself is part and parcel of the inalienable rights we all possess—and indeed it is “essential to the preservation of liberty.” The Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment—the most important “Framers” in this context—plainly deemed this right “necessary to include in the minimum baseline of federal rights that the Privileges or Immunities Clause established in the wake of the War over slavery.” All arguments to the contrary lack legal, historical and even philosophical basis.

And so it is a very good thing, again for liberty, that the Court needs Thomas’s fifth vote to rule as it does: while the plurality declines to reconsider the old and discredited Privileges or Immunities precedent, Thomas’s clarion call for a libertarian originalism provides a step on which to build in future.

Finally, as we celebrate the belated recognition of a precious right—the one that allows us to protect all the others—we must be shocked and saddened to see four justices (including Sonia Sotomayor, who at her confirmation hearings suggested she would do otherwise) standing for the proposition that states can violate this right at will, checked by nothing more than the political process. This is a nation of laws, not men—a republic, not a pure democracy—and thus it is disconcerting to see, as we do time and time again with this Court, that the only thing separating us from rule by a crude majoritarian impulse is one vote. Thank God that, in this case, that vote was Justice Thomas’s. (Cato at liberty)

 

 

G20 summit drops clean-energy pledge

Toronto - The leaders of the world's 20 most powerful developed and developing states (G20) on Sunday dropped a pledge to invest in climate-friendly energy generation from their final summit statement.

Climate change topped the world agenda last year, but was eclipsed after the relative failure of a massive summit in Copenhagen in December. The G20's decision further tones down international pledges to invest in the fight against global warming.

Earlier drafts of the statement for the summit, which brought together the leaders of key states such as China, India and the United States, said that G20 members "reiterate our commitment to ... investments in clean energy."

But that phrase was left out of the final version, which instead reiterated leaders' "commitment to a green recovery and to sustainable global growth." (Earth Times)

 

U.S. Law Key Ahead Of Climate Talks: EU

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The United States would send a positive signal by passing domestic legislation to fight global warming ahead of U.N. climate talks in November, the EU's climate chief said on Monday. (Reuters)

Good! The U.S. must definitely not have one.

 

Whaddya know? Moonbat really is that stupid! It's war! - by Richard... Monday, June 28, 2010

The Moonbat responds to this - and I don't think he's consulted his lawyers - they would not allow him to be so stupid:

Dear Dr North,

Go ahead, make my day.

Yours Sincerely,

George Monbiot

It goes quiet for a little bit, while I assemble the case – he really has taken on more than he can chew this time. In the interim, I posted a short reply, telling Mr Monbiot:

I cannot say "with pleasure" ... life is too short and I have better things to do with it. But, if you insist ... and I do hope you remember that you were offered the easy way! Everything you do now, everything you say, will make it harder for yourself.
Having gone through the tedium of having to respond to PCC complaints, and likewise having dealt with more than a few libel cases (from both sides of the fence - some may recall that I was an expert witness in the MacLibel case), I know they are extremely hard work. I would not wish that on anyone, even Monbiot. But, as I have warned him, each stage up the chain that he forces the issue, the harder it gets to deal with and the more work involved. This is not a threat ... it is a simple statement of fact.

Thus, I am still minded to resolve this issue informally and to that effect am preparing a letter to send to the newspaper. This is clear enough from my posting on Monbiot's site, but to my latest post he responds: "Woohoo! I'm quivering with fear." This really needs little comment - it largely speaks for itself. This is the calibre of person we are dealing with.

Nevertheless, the plan remains as stated. I will make a formal complaint in writing to the newspaper (I will post that up when it is ready). If I don't get satisfaction from that, I will go to the PCC and from there I have to option to go to law. I am keeping that open but no one should under-estimate my determination to see this through to the bitter end.

Interestingly, Daniel Nepstad has joined the fray on the Monbiot comments section, once again demonstrating how important the Amazon is to the warmists. Needless to say, his "contribution" confuses rather than clarifies the issues.

And someone should teach him about paragraphs - it is amazing how many "scientists" do not seem to understand their value, or how to use them. Then, presentation is about thinking of the reader, and seeking to communicate ideas as clearly as possible. By their poor use of English and their lazy presentation shall we know them. (EU Referendum)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Newsweek’s retractable article

Lawrence Solomon  June 28, 2010 – 4:46 pm

“Newspapers Retract ‘Climategate’ Claims, but Damage Still Done,” reads the headline in Newsweek this weekend, in a column over the latest controversy in the global warming debate. The headline, and the article beneath it, are so inaccurate that Newsweek should retract them.

For starters, no newspaper that the column describes retracted any claims about Climategate, the scandal that hit the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last November when private emails showed, among other things, that all of the IPCC’s temperature data was suspect. The newspaper retractions – all two of them, by the UK’s Sunday Times and a much earlier change of heart by a small German daily — dealt with Amazongate, one of the many scandals that followed Climategate.

Next, the Newsweek column states that “In perhaps the biggest backpedaling, The Sunday Times of London, which led the media pack in charging that IPCC reports were full of egregious (and probably intentional) errors, retracted its central claim—namely, that the IPCC statement that up to 40% of the Amazonian rainforest could be vulnerable to climate change was ‘unsubstantiated.’ … The Times‘s criticism of the IPCC—look, its reports are full of mistakes and shoddy scholarship!—was widely picked up at the time it ran, and has been an important factor in turning British public opinion sharply against the established science of climate change.”

The Times article was hardly pivotal in turning British public opinion against the climate alarmists. For one thing, public opinion had turned against climate alarmism months earlier, even well before Climategate, so much so that the British government took out paid TV ads in 2009 in an explicit attempt to win back public opinion. For another, the retracted Times article did little to publicize Amazongate – by the time the Sunday Times article appeared, Amazongate was old news, having been covered by hundreds if not thousands of media outlets around the world. Here’s the timeline.

On January 25, the British blog site, EUReferendum broke the Amazongate story. The press coverage began the same day, with a London Telegraph headline announcing “After Climategate, Pachaurigate and Glaciergate: Amazongate.” Between then and January 31, when the Sunday Times article appeared in print, Amazongate became firmly established as an another example among many of shoddy, error-filled scientific work by the IPCC. None of the other articles published in that week have seen a need to retract. Even the Sunday Times’ retraction came only after months of litigation, indicating that some felt there was no need to retract. The basic thrust of the Amazongate stories remains valid, even if one of the many media outlets that covered Amazongate decided it had stepped over the line in its presentation of the story.

One thing the Newsweek column got right. The damage to the reputation of the IPCC has been done.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

Credo in unum tipping point - by Richard... Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Here they go again, a bevy of the so-called experts, making predictions about the climate which they cannot possibly justify.

It's all going to go belly-up by the year 2200 they tell us – in no less than 190 years, when the global climate "is more than likely to slip into an unpredictable state with unknown consequences for human societies". This is, of course, "if carbon dioxide emissions continue on their present course".

Almost all of the leading researchers who took part in a detailed analysis of their expert opinion believe that high levels of greenhouse gases will cause a fundamental shift in the global climate system – a tipping point – with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Yea, right. And next week's weather is? Er, sorry – I forgot, weather isn't climate, but they can predict neither with any confidence, much less telling us what the climate is going to be in nearly two Century's time.

Meanwhile, I have been ferreting around on the Monbiot case and just one of the little delights I have stumbled on is a claim by Daniel Nepstad (pictured) in 2005, in a publication called "Tropical Deforestation and Climate Change".

In it, Nepstad and his pals predict a reduction in "mature" Amazon forest of between 15% and 40% - the top level being, it seems, just what the IPCC was asserting. But while the IPCC was putting the decline down to a slight reduction in precipitation, Nepstad does no such thing. All the studies he looks at – he tells us - demonstrate that "fire provokes significant reductions in the total biomass".

The scale of reduction is, he says, "directly related to the intensity of logging, the intensity of drought, and the occurrence of previous fire between an unburned forest (undisturbed) and a logged and burned or just burned forest."

And this is precisely the point – that the threat to the forest is multi-factoral, that drought is only one factor and that, for drought to be significant it must be severe and prolonged. Thus, in 2005, Nepstad is not supporting the IPCC thesis.

In 2008, he is then saying that using his "deforestation model," and projected out the year 2030 using current climate patterns, he finds by the year 2030, "55 percent of the forest will be either cleared or damaged" — 31 percent cleared and 24 percent damaged by either logging or drought, with a large portion of that damaged forest catching fire.

Once again, this does not support the IPCC's 40 percent claim – or anything like it. Yet, two years later Nepstad is saying that "the IPCC statement on the Amazon was correct", and the WWF claiming that support for the thesis comes from Nepstad – in 1999.

And what does the 1999 work say? Well now, that is where it gets really interesting. I'll post on that later today, when I've put all the bits together – but it knocks Monbiot and The Sunday Times into a cocked hat, or a rather nasty little "tipping point" of our own. (EU Referendum)

 

They Loved BP and Enron: Climate Alarmism as the Great Environmental Distraction (Part I: Worldwatch Institute quotations)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
June 28, 2010

[Editor note: Part II tomorrow will examine why BP made its ill-fated “Beyond Petroleum” push. Part III on Wednesday will examine a Harvard Business Review article linking BP's climate alarmism/energy transformation strategy to special government favor, including drilling on government land.]

“A growing number of corporations are moving beyond denial to acceptance and action on climate change, some seeking competitive advantage by anticipating rather than responding to future policy changes.”

- Seth Dunn and Christopher Flavin, “Moving the Climate Change Agenda Forward.” In State of the World 2002 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), p. 25.

Just imagine if John Browne had used the time and resources BP spent on climate alarmism and ‘beyond petroleum’ on real safety and environmental issues.

BP might still have a capitalization of $150 billion and not face a potential worst-case scenario of bankruptcy and ruin. And more importantly, the U.S. Gulf would not be in an environmental crisis.

Just imagine if Enron’s Ken Lay had used the time and resources spent on climate alarmism and forced energy transformation on accounting, risk control, and the real things that promote business sustainability. (Lay was a big Christopher Flavin/Worldwatch fan too.)

Enron might still be with us today.

Diverted management attention has an opportunity cost. Left environmentalists lobbied and praised BP and Enron for putting form over substance. A few shouted ‘greenwashing’, but most applauded their coveted split within the fossil-fuel industry on climate and energy.

Enron is no longer around. Instead it has become the poster child of political capitalism run amuck. And the Deepwater Horizon accident–for which, in an effort to save about $5 million, BP will pay tens of billions of dollars–may sink BP as an independent company.

What an irony: fake environmentalism driving out real environmentalism. Climate and energy reality, anyone?

A sampling of quotations from the mainstream Left Worldwatch Institute praising BP, Enron, or both follows. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Whiter clouds could mean wetter land

Palo Alto, CA— One proposed emergency fix to halt global warming is to seed clouds over the ocean to make them more reflective, reducing the solar radiation absorbed by the Earth. But the scheme could also change global rainfall patterns, raising concerns of water shortages on land. A new study by the Carnegie Institution, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, suggests that altered atmospheric circulation under the scheme in fact could increase monsoonal rains and cause the continents to become wetter, not drier, on average.

Whitening clouds over the ocean to reflect sunlight is one of several geoengineering schemes proposed to counter global warming. The whitening would be accomplished by reducing the size of the water droplets making up the clouds. "Rain clouds, which have big droplets, tend to be grey and absorb sunlight, whereas clouds with smaller droplets tend to be white and fluffy and reflect more sunlight to space," says co-author Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology. "In practice this could be done by shooting a fine spray of seawater high into the air, where the tiny salt particles would create condensation nucleii to form small cloud droplets." (Carnegie Institution)

That's lovely, more make-believe... Pardon us for being less than excited but models assume increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide drive global mean temperature, for which we have exactly zero evidence.

 

The sole solar paper

In 2007, Ross McKitrick wrote a paper on the Fourth Assessment Report which included a short section on the IPCC's use of Judith Lean's paper:

The IPCC acknowledges that solar activity is high, and possibly exceptionally high, compared to the last 8,000 years. The two most prominent proxy-based reconstructions (from teams led by Solanki and Muescheler, respectively), differ on whether an interval in the 1700s included a spike comparable to today’s but both agree that today’s solar output is very high compared to most of the current interglacial era.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)

 

Giant Cleanup Ship Met with Puny Response from Bureaucrats

After our government claimed that we did not need or could not obtain larger ships to skim the Gulf oil spill, a giant-capacity skimming ship has arrived in U.S. waters.  Yet our government has us wondering whether it will permit the ship to join the cleanup effort.

The problem is not simply the Jones Act; it’s also that our Environmental Protection Agency may squelch the ability to use this giant ship.

The S. S. A-Whale is not like the mere 4,000-barrel-a-day vessels we’ve been using.  Its owners say this ship, a converted oil tanker, can gather 500,000 barrels a day.  By comparison, say the owners, the entire fleet our government has authorized for BP has only gathered 600,000 barrels—TOTAL—in the 70 days since the Deepwater Horizon explosion.  (NOTE:  500,000 barrels equals 21-million gallons.)

The A-Whale is the essence of an international ship—built in South Korea, modified in Portugal, owned by Taiwanese and flagged in Liberia.  And that is part of the problem.  Even if it stays farther offshore than the 3-mile limit of America’s Jones Act, it still requires approval by the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency before BP can hire the A-Whale and put it to work. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

BP And Obama Benefit From Oil Leak Continuing

When is President Obama going to deal with the real pollution? How much longer can he essentially ignore the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico? How many times can he repeat the scientific falsehood about carbon pollution causing global warming? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says CO2 is the cause not carbon. An increase in atmosphere carbon would result in cooling. Carbon from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons is called soot and that blocks sunlight. CO2 is not a pollutant but a natural gas essential to life. In a speech to Congress Obama linked the falsehood with his goal. He asked them “to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

BP and the Obama administration have no interest in stemming the oil leak because it provides opportunities for their objectives. If they consider the leak serious as they profess they would focus all efforts to stop the flow.  Direct some attention to restricting the spread of oil, but only after all effort is made to stop it at source. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Enbridge To Expand In Oil Sands, Join CO2 Project

Have your say and help us to improve the World Environment News for your chance to win a $100 Amazon Voucher. Just click here to complete a quick survey and enter the draw.
Enbridge Inc said on Monday it plans a C$400 million ($384 million) expansion of its Waupisoo oil sands pipeline system and is joining a carbon-capture project backed by power producers TransAlta Inc and Capital Power Corp. (Reuters)

Oil sands, good; carbon capture, just plain stupid.

 

From the department of wishful thinking: Natural Gas as Panacea: Dubious Path to a Green Future

Many energy experts contend natural gas is the ideal fuel as the world makes the transition to renewable energy. But since much of that gas will come from underground shale, potentially at high environmental cost, it would be far better to skip the natural gas phase and move straight to massive deployment of solar and wind power. (Daniel B. Botkin, e360)

 

Bio Jet Fuel — the Real $600 Toilet Seat?

by Marlo Lewis

Bio Jet Fuel — the Real $600 Toilet Seat? The custom-designed $600 toilet seat for P-3C Orion antisubmarine aircraft — often depicted as the epitome of government waste — is an urban legend. The “seat” was actually a plastic molding that fitted over the entire seat, tank, and toilet assembly, for which the contractor charged the Navy $100 apiece. However, in the subsidy-driven world of biofuels, government can flush lots of your tax dollars down the gurgler. DOD’s Quadrenniel Defense Review Report (QDR) crows that in 2009, the Navy “tested an F/A-18  engine on camelina-based biofuel” (pp. 87-88). Camelina is a non-edible plant in the mustard family. On Earth Day 2010, an F/A-18 taking off from the Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, became the first aircraft to ”demonstrate the performance of a 50-50 blend of camelina-based biojet fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel at supersonic speeds,” enthuses Renewable Energy World.Com. At the event, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said: “It’s important to emphasize, especially on Earth Day, the Navy’s commitment to reducing dependence on foreign oil as well as safeguarding our environment. Our Navy, alongside industry, the other services and federal agency partners, will continue to be an early adopter of alternative energy sources.” Renewable Energy World also reports that the Navy ordered 200,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel for 2009-2010 and has an option to purchase another 200,000 gallons during 2010-2012. Sounds impressive, but let’s put those numbers in perspective. In just three months in peacetime, the flight crew of a single vessel — the USS NASSAU, a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship – flew more than 2,800 hours and burned over 1 million gallons of jet fuel. Neither Renewable Energy World nor the QDR mentions how much camelina-based jet fuel costs. Hold on to your (toilet) seat! According to today’s ClimateWire (subscription required), the price is $65.00 per gallon. That’s about 30 times more expensive than commercial jet fuel. Those who wonder why government can’t just mandate a transition to a ”beyond petroleum” future should contemplate those numbers. (Cooler Heads)

 

The EU’s Solar Science Fiction

European officials are either using science fiction to divert attention away from the block’s institutional disarray or they’ve simply lost touch with reality in their Brussels bunker. [Read More] (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)

 

 

Sen. Hatch Calls for Repeal of Obamacare Mandates

“I’ve been working to dismantle Obamacare,” declared Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “We have to fight this terrible law that’s a threat to liberty itself.”

These comments came during a June 21st blogger conference call held by Sen. Hatch in which he sought to rally support for two bills aimed at representing “a strategic attack on the central tenants of Obamacare.”

The American Liberty Restoration Act (S. 3502) would strike forthcoming individual mandates from the current law, while the American Job Protection Act (S.3501) would repeal what Hatch calls, a “job-killing employer mandate.”

Individual and employer mandates represent two of the most focused-upon issues on which Americans are challenging both the effectiveness and constitutionality of the health care law, signed by President Barack Obama in March. Indeed, Hatch cited that “there are now 20 states, including Utah, challenging this which the President signed into law.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Fifth Anniversary of Kelo v. New London

Posted by Ilya Shapiro

With all the property rights news coming out of the Supreme Court and New York Court of Appeals in the last week, I almost missed Wednesday’s fifth anniversary of the dreadful Kelo v. New London decision.  Justice Stevens’s  opinion in Kelo sanctioned a transfer of private property from homeowners to a big company in the name of (promised but, as we’ve seen, never realized) job creation and increased tax revenue. 

This was a Pyrrhic victory for eminent domain abusers, however, given:

  • 9 state high courts have limited eminent domain powers;
  • 43 state legislatures have passed greater property rights reform;
  • 44 eminent domain abuse projects have been defeated by grassroots activists;
  • 88 percent of the public now believes that property rights are as important as free speech and freedom of religion.

To learn about these and other fascinating developments that turned a property rights lemon into at least some type of lemonade, see the Institute for Justice’s new report and video.

(Cato at liberty)

 

Say what? Mobiles 'too dangerous' for children

CHILDREN have been warned to text, rather than talk, on their mobile phones by the federal Government's radiation safety watchdog.

The official caution was issued last week by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, following a decade-long study into the health effects of using mobile phones.

The agency said children needed to take precautions to protect themselves from exposure to radiation because health risks from their long-term mobile phone use were still unknown.

"Children should be encouraged to limit exposure from mobile phones to their heads by reducing call time, by making calls where reception is good, by using hands-free devices or speaker options, or by texting," it said.

The agency - the Commonwealth's main advisory body on radiation protection - reviews Australian and international research and is completing an assessment to develop new recommendations and guidelines. ( Sunday Telegraph)

I think they mean: "not proven safe over long enough" since there is no data suggesting nor direct evidence of harm.

 

Early exposure to cow's milk has benefits: study

NEW YORK - A taste of cow's milk during the first two weeks of life may protect a child from later developing an allergy to the milk's protein, a new study suggests.

Cow's milk protein allergy is the most common and most dangerous among the family of dairy allergies and intolerances, with reactions including rash, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms, even shock or death.

The finding that giving cow's milk very early in life might boost tolerance came as a surprise to lead researcher Dr. Yitzhak Katz of Tel Aviv University in Israel. He and his colleagues simply set out to improve on current estimates of the number of children with the allergy, and to determine how often it is accompanied by an allergy to soy. "We weren't even looking for a risk factor," he told Reuters Health.

Of 13,000 infants studied, the team found that 66 (0.5 percent) tested positive for the milk allergy -- far fewer than would be expected based on previous population estimates of 1 to 3 percent, they note in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The researchers also found no link between cow's milk and soy allergies, despite some earlier estimates that up to 1 in 3 children with the first allergy also suffered from the second.

"Soy is a reasonable feeding alternative for children with cow's milk allergy," noted Katz.

But what his team found next most intrigued him. Infants who were first fed cow's milk at the age of 15 days or more had 19 times the risk of developing cow's milk allergy relative to those exposed earlier -- during the first two weeks of life. (Reuters Health)

 

EU regulators probe risks of blood pressure drugs

LONDON - European drugs regulators have launched an investigation into the possible increased risk of cancer in patients taking common blood pressure medicines known as angiotensin-receptor blockers or ARBs.

The European Medicines Agency said its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) was prompted to reassess the risks of ARBs by a study reviewing nine trials involving almost 95,000 patients that suggested the drugs may be linked with "a modestly increased risk of new diagnoses of cancer when compared with placebo or other heart medicines." (Reuters)

 

Teens who snack may weigh less

NEW YORK - Teenagers who have snacks throughout the day are less likely to be overweight or obese than their peers who limit themselves to larger meals, a new study suggests.

The study, of 5,800 U.S. teenagers included in a government health survey, found that rates of obesity, and abdominal obesity specifically, declined with the number of snacks kids had each day.

Of teens who said they did not snack, 39 percent were overweight or obese; that compared with rates of 30 percent, 28 percent and 22 percent among their peers who consumed two, three or four or more snacks in a day, respectively.

Similarly, the rate of abdominal obesity was 24 percent among non-snacking teens, while the lowest rate -- 11 percent -- was seen in the four-snack-a-day group. (Reuters Health)

 

Could breathing car exhaust trigger a stroke?

NEW YORK - A Danish study hints that air pollution from car exhaust might trigger strokes, although much more study is needed to confirm this, the study team notes.

In the study, short-term exposure to certain pollutants affected admission rates for mild, "ischemic" strokes at hospitals around Copenhagen, Denmark. Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, occurs when a clot disrupts blood flow to the brain.

The Danish findings, reported in the European Heart Journal, follow another recent study that showed a link between long-term exposure to traffic-related pollution and stroke death rates in the United Kingdom.

"The key observation is that the traffic-generated air pollution seems to be the primary source of the exposure," Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, told Reuters Health. (Reuters Health)

 

U.S. scientists create artificial lungs, of sorts

CHICAGO - Two U.S. teams have taken major strides in developing lab-engineered lung tissue that could be used for future transplants or testing the effects of new drugs.

In one study, a team at Yale University in Connecticut implanted engineered lung tissue into rats that worked like the real thing, helping the animals breathe and supplying their blood with fresh oxygen.

In another, a team at Harvard University in Massachusetts developed a tiny lung device from human tissue and synthetic materials to test for environmental toxins or see if new drugs work.

Both studies published on Thursday highlight advances in tissue engineering, in which researchers combine synthetic materials and human cells to work like natural organs.

"This is an early step in the regeneration of entire lungs for larger animals and, eventually, for humans," said Dr. Laura Niklason of Yale, whose study appears in the journal Science. (Reuters)

 

"Jumping genes" make each person unique: study

WASHINGTON - Stretches of DNA known as "jumping" genes are far more common than anyone thought, and almost everyone has a unique pattern of them, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

They also found an unexpectedly high number of these jumping genes, known as transposons, in lung tumors and said they may hold clues to the highly deadly cancer.

"We found that if you have a child, the child could have one or more new copies of these transposons that you don't have," Scott Devine of the University of Maryland School of Medicine said in a statement.

"From these findings, we predict that there is going to be more variation in human genomes than scientists first believed," added Devine, who led the research while at Emory University in Atlanta.

The findings could help fuel a revolution that scientists hope will lead to tailored medicine and far more targeted use of drugs and other therapies to treat and prevent disease. (Reuters)

 

Free Speech Watch

Yesterday, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, making good on the President's promise to ignore the Supreme Court's ruling and pass laws that abridge the freedom of speech. In Citizens United, the Supremes ruled that laws banning any group of citizens from engaging in political speech is unconstitutional. That includes unions, corporations, and interest groups both big and small. (Stossel)

 

In truth, misanthropists shafting honest working people: Losing the Owl, Saving the Forest

MET in person, the northern spotted owl seems an unlikely casus belli. Last Friday, the Woodland Park Zoo here allowed me a private audience with its three captive owls, a mating pair and a lone elderly female, each of whom resembled a miniature, flecked-brown overcoat of Harris tweed. Their eyes — unlike the eyes of most owls, which are bright yellow — were the color of dark chocolate. Blinking slowly, rooted to their perches, they looked more wistful than wise, dreaming, perhaps, of flying squirrels, on which they like to dine in the wild, or of extinction, which still appears their likeliest fate.

The fast-disappearing owl was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act 20 years ago last week. At the time, it was the ideal “indicator species” of the health of Northwest old-growth forest habitat — the squelchy, dank-smelling, multistory ecosystem, where the ground is strewn with rotting ancient trees, called “snags” and “nurse logs,” and the jungled undergrowth of ferns, vines, berries, moss and fungi shelters a great multitude of creatures, from bears and cougars to newts and banana slugs. It was this irreplaceable ecosystem, centuries in the making, that environmentalists were really trying to protect under the terms of the act (whose first declared purpose is to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend); and the owl was their best available legal tool.

Environmentalists saw the land as a sacred space, to be venerated and conserved in honor of what Emerson called “the occult relation between man and the vegetable.” But for the timber industry, long accustomed to clear-cutting in federal forests, it was a commodity, a renewable resource to be cut down, regrown and cut down again. There was no reconciling the two philosophies. On one side, the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks, the inviolate wilderness; on the other, people and their histories and traditions, jobs, communities, an economy based entirely on timber. (NYT)

 

Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.

Some consumer and environmental groups are likely to raise objections to approval. Even within the F.D.A., there has been a debate about whether the salmon should be labeled as genetically engineered (genetically engineered crops are not labeled).

The salmon’s approval would help open a path for companies and academic scientists developing other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.

The salmon was developed by a company called AquaBounty Technologies and would be raised in fish farms. It is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic on-switch from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon.

Normally, salmon do not make growth hormone in cold weather. But the pout’s on-switch keeps production of the hormone going year round. The result is salmon that can grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of three years, though the company says the modified salmon will not end up any bigger than a conventional fish.

“You don’t get salmon the size of the Hindenburg,” said Ronald L. Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty. “You can get to those target weights in a shorter time.”

AquaBounty, which is based in Waltham, Mass., and publicly traded in London, said last week that the F.D.A. had signed off on five of the seven sets of data required to demonstrate that the fish was safe for consumption and for the environment. It said it demonstrated, for instance, that the inserted gene did not change through multiple generations and that the genetic engineering did not harm the animals.

“Perhaps in the next few months, we expect to see a final approval,” Mr. Stotish said.

But the company has been overly optimistic before. (NYT)

 

Your Right to Own a Gun

Otis McDonald, a lead plaintiff in a Supreme Court gun case, on why he's fighting to legally own a gun in Chicago. (Stossel)

 

 

Well, the "no regrets" part is right, at least: Researchers Call for 'No-Regrets' Approach to Climate Warming

The strategy, detailed in the journal Science, prepares people for a hotter and drier Southwestern U.S. through water conservation and the continued development of ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and Earth.

Two prominent climate experts, including one from the University of Arizona, are calling for a "no-regrets" strategy for planning for a hotter and drier western North America. Their advice: use water conservatively and continue developing ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and Earth.

Jonathan Overpeck, principal investigator with the Climate Assessment for the Southwest at the UA, and Bradley Udall, director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, write in the June 25 issue of the journal Science that such an approach is necessary for coping with a wide range of projected future climate changes in the West and Southwest. (UA News)

 

Politics, scientific credibility and environmental policymaking

Over the past year, the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of climate change mitigation policy has been pretty much halted in its tracks, at least for the time being. There are two primary causes, both rooted in the complexities (or perhaps better seen as simplicities) of human behaviour. One is the failure of some governments to agree to disadvantage their own citizens for what is presented as the sake of future generations across the world. The other may best be described as scientific hubris.

Last December's climate change summit in Copenhagen was an expensive waste of time and effort. Despite being billed as the meeting where agreement on a post-2012 deal had to be reached, there was not even a face-saving compromise. The only output was the non-binding Copenhagen declaration, cobbled together by a small group of countries in a back room, at a meeting gate-crashed by President Obama. The President will have few good memories about the Danish capital from his first year in office: his first visit, in September, in support of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, saw Rio de Janeiro unexpectedly win the prize.

The talks failed mainly because major developing economies – particularly China and India – proved understandably reluctant to compromise their economic development without the rich countries paying the price. Mankind's willingness to subjugate current selfish interests for the greater good in the long term was once again shown up as a naïve illusion. Just as attempting to build a perfect socialist society has, at least so far, been possible only by ruthless cliques imposing their visions violently (and all such attempts have ultimately ended as costly failures), so it is difficult to see radical global governance of energy use coming about peacefully.

Scientific hubris is another matter. There is a natural tendency for scientists to believe in their own theorising, as for any professionals. The scientific method of constantly testing hypotheses until they fail and are replaced has advanced human knowledge enormously. But all experiments are open to interpretation, and judgements are coloured by the mindset of individuals. Scientists often split into different camps which bitterly argue with each other. (Scientific Alliance newsletter 24th June 2010)

 

Those expecting Gillard to sweep Australia into ETS are destined for disappointment: How Abbott found an unexpected ally over climate change in the Gang of Four

IN THE inner sanctum, Julia Gillard had urged that the Rudd government not honour its election commitment for an emissions trading scheme unless the opposition's Tony Abbott agreed to one.

The deputy prime minister argued strongly with her cabinet colleagues that the government should dump the scheme "because it's hurting us too much" politically, according to cabinet members.

It was a major point of disagreement with the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd and the Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, opposed her inside the so-called Gang of Four ministers which in effect ran the government.

They argued that her proposal to proceed only on condition of Liberal Party support - nicknamed the bipartisan option - would in effect hand control of Labor's climate change policy to a guy who says ''climate change is absolute crap''. (SMH)

 

Greenies left wondering if the window has been shut

Just as Rudd wanted to consult, the axe suddenly fell, writes Tom Arup.

On Monday green campaigners hit the halls of Parliament House with an air of optimism. Kevin Rudd was opening a window on climate change and they had arrived to ''consult''.

Most had been invited into the government's tent. The heads of the WWF, Australian Conservation Foundation and Climate Institute had all met Rudd's advisers and the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, several times over the past fortnight. Environment Victoria, Conservation Council WA and a community climate change group from Newtown - all under the banner of the Climate Action Network Australia - were also summoned to meet Rudd's advisers on Wednesday.

The government had been bleeding support since April when it shelved its carbon emissions trading scheme until 2013. In one opinion poll after the decision became public through leaks to Fairfax newspapers, the government shed eight primary points. In another, Rudd's approval rating fell 14 per cent.

Rudd promised new but modest policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy to fill the void. That didn't work. So Rudd, on the urging of many in the Labor caucus, decided to work up a significant cut through climate policy for the election to differentiate itself from the opposition and rebuild the government's credibility.

The WWF chief executive, Greg Bourne, says Rudd was looking for an election policy that avoided the ''great big new tax'' tag the opposition had used to tar the carbon emissions trading scheme.

Bourne was scheduled to meet the Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, on Thursday morning. He was going to give him the results of polling the WWF had conducted in four Queensland marginal seats - Ryan, Brisbane, Petrie and Bowman - showing that 70 per cent of people supported a carbon emissions trading scheme.

Instead, drama descended on Parliament House on Wednesday night. A coup was on and Rudd looked finished.

The next morning, with his meeting now cancelled, Bourne mingled with journalists in the halls of Parliament House waiting for the results of the leadership ballot.

The news came, Julia Gillard was the new Prime Minister. Was Bourne and the environment movement watching the window slam shut? (SMH)

 

Global warming fight fizzles

In December, delegates from 193 countries took part in the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen in an attempt to form an agreement on how to combat global warming beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Due to a division among industrialized countries, emerging economic powers like China and India and developing countries, the only result was the nonbinding Copenhagen Accord. It outlines actions both developed and developing nations will take to keep the average global temperature rise at or below 2 C, and was signed by nearly 120 countries.

Passion among countries to push the fight against global appears to have waned. On April 9-11, delegates from 175 countries gathered near Bonn to help lay the groundwork for the next U.N. meeting on climate change, COP16, to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from late November to early December. The meeting was followed by an informal meeting also near Bonn on May 2-4, which was attended by environment ministers from more than 40 countries. Both meetings failed to produce any tangible agreements. (Japan Times)

 

Changing The Climate In California

Regulation: An initiative to suspend California's draconian climate law has qualified for the November ballot. The people can now choose between jobs and junk science and fight hot air at the ballot box.

Thomas Jefferson once said that when people fear the government, there is tyranny, but when government fears the people, there is liberty. And right now there are politicians and bureaucrats in Sacramento who are at least very concerned. (IBD)

 

Amazongate: the missing evidence

The story of the IPCC's claims about threats to the Amazon rainforest takes another bizarre turn, says Christopher Booker
 
Last week the beleaguered global warming lobby was exulting over what it took to be the best news it has had in a long time. A serious allegation, which last January rocked the authority of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was “corrected” as untrue by The Sunday Times, the newspaper which most prominently reported it. The reputation of the IPCC, it seemed, had been triumphantly vindicated. The growing tide of scepticism over climate change had at last been reversed. But this episode leaves many questions unanswered. (TDT)

 

More Amazonian knockabout

The Amazongate story looks as though it may run for a considerable time. We have had, in rapid succession, a crowing article from George Monbiot, a fighting response from Delingpole and now articles from Booker in the Telegraph and North on EU Referendum.

It seems clear that the Sunday Times withdrew its article without a adjudication being made - it's not on the PCC's list of cases adjudicated and Monbiot says that the ST withdrew the article in order to avoid an adverse ruling. Strangely though, the case doesn't appear in the list of cases resolved - i.e. negotiated settlements - either. (Bishop Hill)

 

Judithgate: IPCC relied on one solar physicist

That's her. She's cute, isn't she? But that's not the point here.

On Thursday, Mr Vítězslav Kremlík (Czechia) discovered an interesting fact. The analyses of the influence of the Sun on the climate in the latest IPCC report relied on one solar physicist, Dr Judith Lean. He published the finding on his Czech blog, klimaskeptik.cz (and kremlik.blog.idnes.cz)

Judithgate: IPCC relied on one solar physicist (autom. transl. to EN, klimaskeptik.cz, Thursday)

Kremlík's extended version written in English (Friday)
and it went viral. Judithgate has joined the dozens of similar scandals revealing the true character of the IPCC activities. By the way, Sean Carroll has hid his head in the sand and he decided that the ClimateGate has evaporated. Congratulations to your solution to the problem, Sean, but don't get suffocated!

The situation is even more awkward because the IPCC really relied on a single paper - and Ms Lean is a co-author
Lean J., Roltmann G., Harder J., Kopp G.: Source contributions to new understanding of global change and solar variability, Sol. Phys., 230, 27-53, 2005
- to claim that the solar activity didn't rise when the global climate was heating up a little bit in the recent decades. There were no other solar physicists or astrophysicists in the IPCC.

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

 

Still running the tired old "it's worse than we thought" line: Dire climate change warning to Australia

AN international conference on the Gold Coast this week will hear Australia will be one of the hardest hit developed countries when climate change starts to bite.

Co-chair of the three-day conference, and director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Jean Palutikof, said science tells us climate change is happening faster than we thought.

Professor Palutikof warned the window to adapt and prepare is smaller than anticipated  and said it is too late to mitigate our way out of the problem.

The CSIRO's Climate Adaptation Flagship Director Doctor Andew Ansh said the conference is the first to focus solely on practical adaptation measures. (AAP)

Worse than who thought?

We

Who's "we"

Us... you know, the people who get money making up scares and trying to frighten the crap out of politicians and the populace...

 

Climate change brings back endangered butterfly

A globally endangered butterfly is making a comeback in Britain thanks to climate change.
 
The large blue butterfly went extinct in the UK in 1979 despite a prolonged campaign by conservationists to try and save the species.

It was only in the last 20 years that enough knowledge about the strange life cycle of the country’s only cannibalistic butterfly was understood, that it was possible to reintroduce the large blue back to Britain.
 
Thriving sites were set up in Somerset with more than 20 colonies. The programme was hailed as a great conservation success by Sir David Attenborough and copied around the world.

However back in England scientists were struggling to repeat their initial success. Expensive efforts backed by the National Trust, Natural England and a host of other bodies to increase the range of the large blue to other counties repeatedly failed because it was too cold.

Prof Jeremy Thomas, head of ecology at Oxford University, said it is only now that the climate is warming and suitable spots have been discovered in the Cotswolds that the species is able to start spreading across Britain once again.

“We have had a warming climate and although we have cooler years in between, it seems the Cotswolds are becoming more suitable," he said.

Next month hundreds of caterpillars will be released in two secret locations in an attempt to return the species to the Cotswolds after 50 years.

If the second phase of the reintroduction is successful, it is hoped the population of the large blue butterfly in Britain will be doubled in two years to more than 40,000. (TDT)

How interesting, the poor flutterby snuffed it because got too cold, only managing now that temperatures have recovered to those of 50 years ago... Gosh darn global warming!

 

Climate change scientists turn up the heat in Alaska

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 25, 2010 — Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are planning a large-scale, long-term ecosystem experiment to test the effects of global warming on the icy layers of arctic permafrost.

While ORNL researchers have conducted extensive studies on the impact of climate change in temperate regions like East Tennessee, less is known about the impact global warming could have on arctic regions.

"We're beginning to take these lessons learned and start applying them to sensitive and globally important ecosystems, such as the arctic," said Stan Wullschleger of the Environmental Sciences Division. "The arctic regions are important to the topic of global warming because of the large land area they occupy around the world and the layer of permanently frozen soil, known as permafrost."

Wullschleger and a team of architects, engineers and biologists from ORNL and other national laboratories design, simulate using computers and then field test large-scale manipulative experiments that purposely warm a test area in order to evaluate ecosystem response to projected climate conditions. (ORNL)

 

Aggressive action to reduce soot emissions needed to meet climate change goals

Without aggressive action to reduce soot emissions, the time table for carbon dioxide emission reductions may need to be significantly accelerated in order to achieve international climate policy goals such as those set forth in last December's Copenhagen Accord, according to "Assessing the climatic benefits of black carbon mitigation," a study published online June 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Princeton University researchers assessed the climatic contribution of "carbonaceous aerosols," fine particulates emitted into the atmosphere and commonly known as soot. Soot is produced by the incomplete combustion of organic matter and comes from a variety of sources, ranging from diesel engines and coal combustion to biomass cook stoves, crop burning and wildfires. (Princeton University, Engineering School)

Indeed soot could be quite significant, especially when considering snow packs and water management since relatively trivial discoloration from soot deposition dramatically increases snow melt. Particulates also affect cloud formation in ways we still have difficulty predicting and consequently alter precipitation patterns.

 

Answer to what ended the last ice age may be blowing in the winds, paper says

A chain of past natural events may hold lessons for the future

Scientists still puzzle over how Earth emerged from its last ice age, an event that ushered in a warmer climate and the birth of human civilization. In the geological blink of an eye, ice sheets in the northern hemisphere began to collapse and warming spread quickly to the south. Most scientists say that the trigger, at least initially, was an orbital shift that caused more sunlight to fall across Earth's northern half. But how did the south catch up so fast?

In a review paper published this week in the journal Science, a team of researchers look to a global shift in winds for the answer. They propose a chain of events that began with the melting of the large northern hemisphere ice sheets about 20,000 years ago. The melting ice sheets reconfigured the planet's wind belts, pushing warm air and seawater south, and pulling carbon dioxide from the deep ocean into the atmosphere, allowing the planet to heat even further. Their hypothesis makes use of climate data preserved in cave formations, polar ice cores and deep-sea sediments to describe how Earth finally thawed out. (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

Oddly they cling to enhanced greenhouse forcing (carbon dioxide feedback) when even their own hypothesis doesn't require it. We have no evidence changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels beyond a few tens of parts per million delivers any measurable effect on global mean temperature.

 

The Forecasting Potential of Complex Models by Antonis Christofides

We are glad to have another guest post by Antonis Christofides (see his earlier post here)

Guest Weblog Post By Antonis Christofides

If you gave me the following paper after replacing the author’s examples of econometric and energy models with climate models, I could not have told it had been written in 1981.

 Ascher, W. (1981). The forecasting potential of complex models. Policy Sciences, 13(3), 247-267. doi:10.1007/BF00138485

Here are some extracts.

On the contrast between bad performance record and large volume of research:

Unless forecasters are completely ignorant of the performance  record, or are attracted solely by the promotional advantages of  the scientific aura of modeling, they can only be attracted to its potential benefits not yet realized.

On the difficulty of retrospective evaluation of model performance when there are competing scenarios:

When no scenario is designated as most likely, the scenarios must  be regarded as exogenous factors, whose likelihoods are not at issue in the modeling exercise. The model produces a set of projections, each posited as correct if the corresponding condition or scenario were to hold, but without implying that any particular one will hold or that some are more likely than others. In this case, the retrospective evaluation of forecast accuracy must proceed by first establishing which condition actually  prevailed, and then measure the discrepancy between the projection tied to that condition and the actual level of the predicted trend. If it is still too early to evaluate a set of conditional forecasts retrospectively, the spread of conditional forecasts of the same trend for the same year can be used as one indication of  uncertainty or minimum error, but only if the conditional is the same for every forecast of the set.

 On using model consensus to judge model validity:

[E]ven the agreement across models need not be an indication of  validity; they could all be wrong. For example, all energy models predicting the 1975 levels of U.S. electricity, petroleum, and  total energy consumption projected these levels higher than they actually turned out to be. This confident consensus was no guarantee that the models were correct then; any consensus among  models’ predictions in the future may be equally misleading.

… [S]imilar models undergoing similar judgmental censorship by  modelers holding similar outlooks on the future can so easily reassure all parties that the future is seen with certainty.

On using the fact that models are physically based as an argument for model correctness:

Complex models are formulated by specifying assumptions and hypothesized relationships as explicit, usually mathematical propositions. While this procedure is often very helpful in uncovering inconsistency and vagueness in the initial ideas or verbal formulations, it cannot establish the correctness of the model’s propositions. Models express assumptions, but do not validate them. If the modeler tries to ensure the validity of the  model’s propositions by focusing on disaggregated behavior of presumably greater regularity, the problem of reaggregating these behaviors to model overall patterns becomes another potential source of error. If the modeler only includes relationships proven  by past experience, there is no guarantee they will hold in the future. There is no procedure or format of model specification that guarantees the validity of this specification.

On the effort required:

Since rigorous, elaborate analysis [of models and their outputs] is time consuming and expensive, there has been a natural tendency  for forecasters to pour their efforts into grand, once-and-for-all projects, carried out only infrequently and yet used long after  they are produced because the immense effort makes them seem definitive.

On the likelihood of modelers to reconsider:     

[A]fter the modeler has spent years developing optimization  routines, apparent violations of … assumptions are more likely  to be accommodated by patchwork modifications, or disregarded altogether as short-term aberrations, than they are to trigger the abandonment of the model altogether.

… [M]odel revision, which seems to the cynic to be an ad hoc effort to keep a fundamentally misspecified model more-or-less in line with reality, is often regarded by the model builder as the normal routine of science. 

(Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Oh... Carbon sequestration: Boon or burden

The idea to sequester carbon is gaining support as a way to avoid global warming. For example, the European Union plans to invest billions of Euros within the next ten years to develop carbon capture and storage whereby CO2 will be extracted at power plants and other combustion sites and stored underground. But how effective is this procedure and what are the long-term consequences of leakage for the oceans and climate? A Niels Bohr Institute researcher has now cast light upon these issues. This research has just been published in the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience.

Large scale use of carbon sequestration could help to avoid extreme global warming that would otherwise occur in the near future unless fossil fuel emissions are reduced significantly. But it is not clear how effective different types of sequestration are in the long run, owing to leakage of stored CO2 back out to the atmosphere. Nor is it clear what would be the long-term consequences of such leakage for the Earth's environment. (University of Copenhagen)

Without equivocation, restoring carbon previously lost to the biosphere is a good thing. Life on Earth thrives on carbon and current atmospheric levels are barely above the minimum required to sustain life. That's why commercial greenhouses try to at least double daytime levels of carbon dioxide to boost yields and our emissions boost bio productivity to the benefit of wild lands and wildlife. There is no logical reason to deny this bounty to nature and certainly no excuse to spend money doing so.

 

BP, Greenpeace & the Big Oil Jackpot

In what passes for debate about climate change one of the most tiresome allegations is that skeptics are lavishly funded by big oil. As a result of this funding, so the argument goes, the public has been confused by those who'll say anything in exchange for a paycheck.

"Follow the money" we're told and you'll discover that climate skeptics are irredeemably tainted. Ergo nothing they say can be trusted. Ergo their concerns, questions, and objections should be dismissed out of hand.

It's therefore amusing that the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now drawing attention to the close relationship between climate change activists and BP – aka British Petroleum, an entity for which the descriptor "big oil" was surely invented. (Donna Laframboise, No Consensus)

 

Judge Won’t Stay Drilling Decision

The Obama administration’s efforts to suspend deepwater oil drilling were dealt another setback in court on Thursday when the federal judge who struck down the administration’s six-month moratorium refused to delay the decision’s effects. .

The Interior Department petitioned Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court in New Orleans to grant a stay of his decision, which lifted a ban on new drilling projects and on work on the 33 rigs already in place in the Gulf.

But Judge Feldman said he was denying the delay for the same reasons he gave for his June 22 decision: that the moratorium was doing “irreparable harm” to the businesses in the gulf that depend on drilling activity and that the government had not given sufficient basis for the moratorium.

The White House imposed the moratorium in May, about a month after a fatal explosion and fire on April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which left an undersea well spewing crude oil into the gulf. The moratorium, intended to give time for improvements in rig safety measures, was “blanket, generic, indeed punitive,” the judge ruled. (NYT)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Avertible catastrophe

U.S. Coast Guard
The BP oil-rig explosion. The U.S. turned down an offer of Dutch technology that might have reduced the spill’s impact.

Lawrence Solomon  June 25, 2010 - 9:06 pm

How U.S. labour and ­environmental rules blocked Dutch spill-cleanup technology

Some are attuned to the possibility of looming catastrophe and know how to head it off. Others are unprepared for risk and even unable to get their priorities straight when risk turns to reality.

The Dutch fall into the first group. Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. “Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour,” Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship  more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.

To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn’t capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana’s marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Peter Foster: Oil statism, Obama style

Peter Foster  June 25, 2010 – 9:05 pm

Liberals look at capitalist ­enterprise as a carcass to be hacked up

A “soft-spoken” American BP executive, Bob Dudley, is to take over the political ducking stool from CEO Tony Hayward, while also attempting to deal with the Gulf oil spill. Mr. Dudley knows something about political risk. One of his previous jobs was as head of BP’s Russian joint venture, TNKBP. Mr. Dudley was forced to leave Russia under physical threat during a dispute with BP’s state-backed oligarch partners.

Another example of oil politics, Russian style, is in the news. Former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is already serving eight years for alleged tax evasion, is on trial in a glass cage in Moscow, charged — somewhat improbably — with stealing 350 million barrels of oil. His real offence was to challenge the authority of then Russian president — now Prime Minister — Vladimir Putin.

Yet another reminder of the dangerous world of multinational oil came this week from Venezuela. There the government of Hugo Chavez, whose hero is dictator Fidel Castro, announced the nationalization of 11 oil rigs belonging to a U.S. company, Helmerich & Payne. It seems that Helmerich was part of a plot to undermine the government by making extraordinary demands — such as that Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA might pay its bills.

BP too has had experience with Mr. Chavez, who three years ago nationalized the company’s operations in the Orinoco region, then “persuaded” them to be a minority partner.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

What will Gulf of Mexico spill mean for Canada’s oil sands?

From finger-pointing at the Copenhagen climate summit to a flurry of new project approvals, 2010 started with a bang for the Canadian oil sands industry.

Fast forward six months later, and the question on the lips of investors and pundits alike is: What implications will the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have for the oil sands companies? 

Canada has the second-largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia, and the country’s oil sands operations produce more than one-million barrels a day, much of which is exported to the US. 

However, the oil sands, a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen, have become something of a lodestone for environmental groups, which attack both the degradation caused by the operations themselves, and the emissions linked to consumption of their products.

To produce bitumen, oil sands operations destroy Canada’s Boreal forest, consume large volumes of water and emit more carbon than conventional oil – although that margin is narrowing, the industry argues. 

The sector has drawn increasing international criticism, an uncomfortable and unusual experience for Canada, which is not used to being vilified on the global stage. 

Now, some in the industry are hoping that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and reminders of the risks of offshore drilling will reflect their own sector in a more flattering light, and curbs on US production may result in oil-hungry America looking north to meet its energy needs. (Mining Weekly)

 

Syncrude Guilty In 1,600 Duck Deaths In Toxic Pond

A judge found Syncrude Canada Ltd, Canada's largest oil sands producer, guilty on Friday in the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic Northern Alberta tailings pond in 2008, ruling the company should have had deterrents in place.

Syncrude faces maximum penalties of C$500,000 for provincial charges and C$300,000 under federal charges in the case, which crystallized international concern about the environmental impact of developing Canada's vast oil sands, the largest crude oil source outside the Middle East.

Alberta Provincial Court Judge Ken Tjosvold ruled the company failed to take necessary steps to keep the waterfowl away from the tailings pond at its Aurora mine in April 2008.

The company had said a spring snowstorm had prevented it from having sound cannons and scarecrows, used to keep birds from the ponds that are filled with wastewater and clay loaded with heavy metals and some residual oil.

It fought the charges in a nine-week trial, saying convictions would have implications on the oil sands mining industry. (Reuters)

 

What Peak Oil?

I’ve been looking through the International Energy Agency's new forecast for medium term oil and natural gas markets, issued yesterday. In contrast to the IEA’s warnings of last summer concerning an imminent oil supply crunch, the agency now sees ample supplies to accommodate the level of demand growth it anticipates for the next five years. Yet while this scenario does not envision a peak in global oil supplies before 2015, its components offer ample cause for concern about the growing market power of OPEC and the risk of geopolitical disruptions. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Tribune)

 

Robert Bryce on Natural Gas Vehicles

by Robert Bryce (Guest Blogger)
June 26, 2010

[This excerpt from Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future is used with permission of the author. Copies of Power Hungry can be purchased here.]

Making fun of T. Boone Pickens is easy. But give him his due: he’s right about using more natural gas in the transportation sector. That concept makes economic sense for many fleet operators.

But – and it’s a big but – Pickens has grossly exaggerated the ability of the U.S. to make a quick transition to natural gas fueled vehicles. On the Pickens Plan website (PickensPlan.com), the billionaire claims that using more wind power and “increasing the use of our natural gas resources can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years.”

That’s an easy claim to make. But Pickens can’t do it. And he can’t do it even if he were somehow able to manage a 100-fold increase in the number of natural gas-fueled vehicles in the U.S. and do so in just ten years. Building a large fleet of natural gas vehicles – and more importantly, the refueling infrastructure to support them – will take decades, not years. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Study Says Natural Gas Use Likely to Double

WASHINGTON — Natural gas will provide an increasing share of America’s energy needs over the next several decades, doubling its share of the energy market to 40 percent, from 20 percent, according to a report to be released Friday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The increase, the report concluded, will come largely at the expense of coal and will be driven both by abundant supplies of natural gas — made more available by shale drilling — and by measures to restrict the carbon dioxide emissions that are linked to climate change.

In the long term, however, the future may be dimmer for natural gas if stricter regulations are put in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — a goal set by President Obama. Although lower in carbon than coal, natural gas is still too carbon-intensive to be used under such a target absent some method of carbon capture, the authors of the report concluded. (NYT)

 

Smart Meter Chaos: Maryland PSC Gets Real (consumerism, anyone?)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
June 25, 2010

“The Proposal would not, in and of itself, enhance the electricity transmission grid or the Company’s distribution ‘backbone,’ and therefore it doesn’t justify the proposed customer surcharge by BG&E.”

- Public Service Commission of Maryland, IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION BEFORE THE OF BALTIMORE GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY FOR AUTHORIZATION TO DEPLOY A SMART GRID INITIATIVE  AND TO ESTABLISH A SURCHARGE FOR THE RECOVERY OF COST CASE NO. 9208 (June 22, 2010)

The smartest guys in the electricity room believe that a path to energy efficiency and environmental goodness is to hook up so-called smart meters for us little users. The smart machines would signal (jolt?) us to use less power in peak times when the price is high and to use power more when the price is low.

But the very concept has problems aplenty. First, time-of-use pricing for residentials (versus commercial and industrial customers) is a nice ‘green’ theory, not fact. Some states like California do not want or allow such residential pricing because of equity concerns. 

Second, so-called smart meters are all about government (taxpayer) and class ratepayer subsidies, not stand-alone economics between willing buyers and sellers. 

Third, there is the hassle factor (called transaction costs) of setting up appliances with time-of-day usage. Relatedly, (in)flexibility costs are incurred.

And last but not least, smart meters are intrusive. Big Environmental Brother lurks behind each smart meter to tell you what to do and when to do it. Civil libertarians take note of this government-dependent machine. 

Smart meters as ENERGY POLICY appear to be penny-wise and pound foolish. But members of an eco-energy elite want to individually pay by the pound to impress the neighbors and save the world, let them be ‘early adopters’. And perhaps these special users should also pay the costs of utility manpower in setting up time-of-day pricing to leave nonusers whole. Such is life under public utility regulation.

Make no mistake: smart meters are not a ‘let-the-market decide’ proposition. If they were, utility customers could decide individually and on a stand-alone basis whether or not to buy and install the meters. This should be an individual demander-to-provider proposition without other ratepayers or taxpayers involvement.

One final point: the federal budget is in horrendous deficit. Smart-meter money earmarked for Maryland should not be redistributed by the Department of Energy to other states as planned. The monies should be axed from the budget, reducing the deficit on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

And by removing this component of the program, the broader Smart Grid investment concept, which has all the earmarks of a rate base perversity as explained by Robert Michaels, can be given a reality check as well.

From the PSCM Decision [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Wind Power is More Dangerous than Coal or Oil

Windmills

The recent explosions in Massey’s Upper Big Branch coal mine and on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig highlight the tragedy of workplace fatalities.  Though improvement in statistical averages do little to lessen the loss of those whose loved ones have died, the American workplace has gotten safer which means fewer will be grieving.  The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reached a record low in 2008: 3.6 per 100,000 full-time workers. Yet with the recent noted losses in the oil and coal industries, some might think that workplace fatalities could be reduced even more by moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.  The facts suggest the opposite.

The largest source of new renewable energy is wind power, which accounts for 62 percent of renewable electricity generation.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t publish accident data specifically for the wind-power industry, but the Caithness Windfarms Information Forum (CWIF) has created a list of fatalities for the wind industry worldwide.  The list is compiled from news reports and is unlikely to be comprehensive. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

 

Bogus Report Card Strikes Again

The Commonwealth Fund released yet another misleading study yesterday pretending to show that America has a worse healthcare system than six other countries, including Britain and Canada…which just happen to be the poster children of national healthcare.

“Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity.”

The sycophantic media have already churned out more than 250 articles on the “study.”  Time headlined it: "US spends more, but gets less”.  

Less?  Please.  As I wrote last time the press leaped on the silly Commonwealth Report:  What should count most when it comes to measuring healthcare is quality of care.  Commonwealth ranks the U.S. number one in “provision and receipt of preventive and patient-centered care.” But sneakily, this crucial factor is buried underneath more socialist categories like “equity” and “access.”

America has a relative free health care system.  That’s why it provides most of the world’s innovation.  But freedom brings inequity.  Of course America ranks poorly on the Commonwealth’s silly study.  

Shame on the media for giving this bogus report so much play. (John Stossel)

 

Loss Of Faith

Democracy: It's an awful thing in a country when its people no longer believe the government protects them and their rights. Yet, a new poll shows that's exactly where Americans are headed right now.

In a Rasmussen poll of 1,000 adults taken last Friday and Saturday, nearly half, or 48%, said they see government today as a threat to their rights. Just 37% disagreed. The poll also found that only one in five (21%) believe current government has the consent of the governed.

In other words, people think much of what our government does today is illegitimate — possibly even illegal.

For a democratic republic such as our own, this is extraordinarily dangerous. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created explicitly to protect Americans' rights by limiting the scope, reach and power of the federal government.

The Declaration promises "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and goes on to say that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

In short, our government was designed to protect our rights — not to serve as an all-embracing nanny state that slowly, silently strips us of our ability to act as free individuals. (IBD)

 

Oh... Nine in 10 Americans eat too much salt: CDC

CHICAGO - Nine out of 10 Americans eat too much salt with most of them getting more than twice the recommended amount, according to a survey by U.S. government researchers.

They said an estimated 77 percent of dietary sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant foods.

"Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it's difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits," said Janelle Peralez Gunn, public health analyst with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who led the study of salt consumption. (Reuters)

 

They won't like this then: More than a pinch of salt to breathe easier

NEW YORK, - When Svetlana Dushin's mother told her to take her six-year-old daughter who was suffering coughing spells to a salt room she had no hesitations.

Dushin's mother is a doctor and was familiar with salt room therapy, which has been around for hundreds of years. It is popular in Europe but relatively new in the United States.

"She has been a doctor for 35 years and she saw results in kids," said Dushin, who believes the treatment also helped her daughter Alexandra.

After 14 half-hour sessions, Dushin, a 35-year-old New Jersey mother of two, said her borderline asthmatic daughter is no longer coughing and obviously improved.

"She is better. We believe the salt room helped her. We were not looking for an instant cure and it wasn't that. We were looking for something to improve her condition."

Ron Rofe, the founder of Halo/Air Salt Rooms, in New York said salt therapy, or halotherapy, which originated in Eastern Europe, can help people with respiratory and skin ailments.

"The whole microclimate with the right air quality, humidity and salt particles is effective for cleansing the respiratory tract, the skin and the body as a whole," he explained during an interview at his salt rooms in Manhattan.

"Salt is therapeutic. It is a preventative treatment," he added. (Reuters Life!)

 

Survey suggests half of EU citizens believe scientists are 'dangerous'

According to a Eurobarometer survey, a majority of people don't trust scientists. The only way to reverse this trend is for academics to step up their efforts to communicate with the public, writes Eoin Lettice (The Guardian)

Well activist scientists certainly are. Just look at the societal misdirection caused by the gorebull warblers. Think about the terror campaigns of the anti-biotechies or the anti-vaccination loons. The media tarts and sensationalists in lab coats have done a great deal of damage, so much that people most assuredly should not trust "scientists say..."

 

Is obesity a factor in rising stroke rates in women?

NEW YORK - Stroke rates among women in their late 30s to early 50s have tripled over the past two decades and researchers suspect a parallel rise in obesity may be playing a role.

"The alarming increase in obesity among middle-aged women may point to an important modifiable reason that stroke could be on the rise," Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami, Florida, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health in an email.

In a previous analysis of U.S. stroke data from 1999 to 2004, researchers found that 45- to 54-year-old women were more than twice as likely as similarly aged men to suffer a stroke. (Reuters Health)

 

Skin condition linked to cancer risk: study

NEW YORK - People with the skin condition atopic dermatitis may be at greater risk of getting cancer than those without it, new research hints.

But it's unclear whether this increased risk is related to the medication patients take for the condition, or the condition itself, the researchers emphasize.

Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema, or skin inflammation, that arises from an allergic reaction. It affects roughly 20 percent of children, according to the National Institutes of Health, but often goes away in adulthood. It causes itchy rashes that get crusty and scaly with scratching.

There have been conflicting theories about whether these kinds of frequent rashes that drive the immune system into action would make it more or less likely for someone with atopic dermatitis to develop cancer. (Reuters Health)

 

The EPA has gone mad cow disease

EPA classifies milk as oil, forcing costly rules on farmers

Hint: Milk does not come from the ground (Image: hornytoad.com)

Monica Scott The Grand Rapids Press

Update: State Senate calls for EPA to change rule classifying cow’s milk as oil

GRAND RAPIDS — Having watched the oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico, dairy farmer Frank Konkel has a hard time seeing how spilled milk can be labeled the same kind of environmental hazard.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is classifying milk as oil because it contains a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil.
Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Rebutting Al Gore

The former VP is all over the news today.  Not just because a masseuse accused him of "unwanted sexual contact," but because he has vague plans for “sustainable capitalism.”

What the heck is “sustainable capitalism?”  This is just more enviro-social babble from the left. My friend Joe Sibilia at CSR Wire has been trying to sell me these ideas for years. I don’t buy it.  ESR is not measurable.  The assumptions are too vague.

Anyway, capitalism already is “sustainable.”  If a business is not sustainable, it goes away (unless government gives it handouts).  If business cheats customers, customers go elsewhere and the business closes.  Businesses that mistreat employees soon lose their best employees, and find that their competitors grow, while they shrink.  Capitalism takes care of its own sustainability. (John Stossel)

 

Ten years on, genomic revolution only just starting

LONDON - The 10-year-old Human Genome Project has only just begun to bring to fruition its promise to transform medicine, its founders said on Thursday.

Francis Collins, who led the U.S. component of the project and is now director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said that although it may seem that the revolution promised with the publication of the first draft in 2000 is slow in coming, many early predictions had been prematurely hyped.

Scientists have barely scratched below the surface of the possibilities opened up by having access to the whole human gene map, he said, and when they do, their results will determine the way all people are diagnosed and treated for diseases. (Reuters)

 

Oh... In the Battle to Save Forests, Activists Target Corporations

Large corporations, not small-scale farmers, are now the major forces behind the destruction of the world’s tropical forests. From the Amazon to Madagascar, activists have been directing their actions at these companies — so far with limited success. (Rhett Butler, e360)

To paraphrase another Rhett Butler: "Frankly my dear, no one should give a damn." If people convert tropical forests to more useful regions then we're good with that. During ice ages they are mostly dry savannas anyway and they are certainly not timeless and immutable. People can get better value by altering the terrain? Go for it.

 

New battle of Britain as plans for factory farm revolution looms

A battle is under way in the British countryside to fight off plans for massive factory farms that would house thousands of animals in industrialised units without access to traditional grazing or foraging.

Plans for three large-scale units in England have encountered fierce resistance from campaigners who say they would cause extra noise, smell and disruption and cause more stress and disease for animals.

Animal welfare organisations fear the proposals are signs that a new intensive system of agriculture could soon replace the UK's patchwork of small livestock farms.

In the past three months, plans have been brought forward for an 8,000-cow dairy farm at Nocton in Lincolnshire and a 3,000-cow unit at South Witham, also Lincolnshire. Both have been withdrawn following fierce opposition. (The Independent)

 

Save Lions. Eat them.

A restaurant in Mesa, Arizona is selling lion meat burgers. Enter the animal rights activists:

Dr. Grey Stafford with the World Wildlife Zoo says that serving a threatened species sends the wrong message. "Of all the plentiful things to eat in this country, for someone to request that or to offer that... I was rather stunned," says Stafford.

 ... Animal rights advocates are expected to protest outside [the restaurant].

But why?  Lions are listed as “threatened.”  The best way to save threatened and endangered species is to…eat them.

The American bison are the best example.  A hundred years ago, they were on the verge of extinction. They were hunted almost to extinction because no one owned them.  It was the Tragedy of the Commons .   No one owned the bison, so no one had an incentive to protect them.

 Then ranchers began to fence in the bison and (gasp!) farm them. Today, America has half a million bison.  We don’t have a shortage of chickens, either. (John Stossel)

 

 

The Bait-And-Switch On Cap-And-Trade

President Obama's speech to the nation last week about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico followed a predictable script. Whenever a problem confronts this administration, the president's answer is sure to include one of a trio of his 2008 campaign initiatives: health care reform, action to address climate change or education reform.

Obama claimed in 2008, for instance, that these long-term, slowly acting changes were a fix for a temporary downturn in the economy. Now, in an even greater leap of logic, he contends that the 1,427-page Waxman-Markey bill (which addresses climate change) is the proper response to the oil spill.

Obama's advocacy of this bill exemplifies the incoherence and dishonesty of our present debate about energy policy. Two distinct problems — those associated with oil imports and those associated with greenhouse gas emissions — are treated as if they were one and the same. (Richard L. Gordon, IBD)

 

Gloves Off In California Over Greenhouse Gas Law

California environmentalists opened fire on Wednesday on a measure approved for the state's November ballot that would roll back a landmark law regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Linking the measure to the historic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups lambasted the measure, noting in a statement that Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro have put money behind it.

The measure, certified by California's top elections official for the ballot on Tuesday, would suspend the law until the unemployment rate in the most populous U.S. state, currently more than 12 percent, drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. (Reuters)

 

(Bastards!) Mass Manslaughter By AGW (CO2) Obsession

The EU policy on CO2 emissions has turned into a mindless, obsessed monster that cares not about climate, people or the planet. And it is getting its hands dirty with the lives of those it refuses to save.

In fact: the EU Commission has just let everybody know that the wholly preventable, daily killing of more than 4,000 people by black carbon (soot) is not a “top priority” and “should not divert attention away from carbon dioxide“.

It gets worse.

The reason for dismissing any attempt at limiting black carbon? It’s because “more research must be carried out to ascertain its impact more accurately“. Impact on what? On global warming. Yes: because, according to Frank Raes, head of the climate change unit at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), black carbon is “‘likely’ to contribute to climate change” but “the regional impacts of black carbon may be even more significant than its global warming effect” (my emphasis). Also, “the existence of both black and white aerosols, with warming and cooling impacts, makes it less straightforward to make a case for political action on black carbon“.

Talk about choosing the wrongest path.

Reduction of black carbon emissions is by far the easiest, clearest, fastest way to solve a lot of issues, in a win-win scenario that would include Himalayan glaciers and the rescuing of little children from certain death via easily-approved legislation:

1.  Black carbon has profound health effects, contributing to around 1.6M deaths every year. According to the WHO, for under-5s it is a bigger killer than malaria.

Even the “EU policymakers speaking in Brussels” on 22 June say as much. According to EurActiv.com, “the health implications of particulate pollution make a compelling case for tackling black carbon, speakers agreed. Like other small particulates, it causes premature death and respiratory disease, they claimed“.

2. Mainstream science agrees: black carbon contributes to warming.

The IPCC AR4 reported the radiative forcing of black carbon as a total of +0.3 W/m2, not far from methane’s. And “given black carbon’s relatively short lifespan, reducing black carbon emissions would reduce warming within weeks“. Why, “tackling black carbon [may] have a beneficial impact on the climate only 5-10 years after its emissions are cut“.

3. Black carbon is also an issue that could be tackled immediately.

Seventy percent of it comes from “Open biomass burning (forest and savanna burning)“, “Residential biofuel burned with traditional technologies” and “Residential coal burned with traditional technologies“. In South-East Asia, “the majority of soot emissions [...] are due to biofuel cooking“. There isn’t anything particularly difficult preventing drastic reductions, and in fact “developed nations have reduced their black carbon emissions from fossil fuel sources by a factor of 5 or more since 1950“. Sometimes, all it takes is a new stove, and access to better fuel than dessicated cow dung.

4. By dealing with black carbon, an example of future emission-related interventions could be set.

Policy-wise, the reduction of black carbon emissions is extremely easy: there is no “black carbon skeptic”, no “black carbon is natural” blog, no “alternative consensus on black carbon” international conference. No fossil-fuel-industry lobbyst has ever pushed against limiting black carbon emissions, and anybody and everybody can be easily convinced that there is something wrong in freeing up in the atmosphere notoriously unhealthy particulates.

Black carbon should be the “motherhood and apple pie” of environmental policy, and legislation and aid organization and distribution regarding the reduction in black carbon emissions could be in place in weeks.. Have a look at this video (from here):

=====================

And still…since black carbon may contribute to regional instead of global warming (as if anybody cared about the difference), plus it might or might not have cooling impacts in the form of “white aerosols”, then the cabinet of the EU Climate Action Commissioner simply does not want “the black carbon discussion to distract from the EU’s focus on cutting CO2 emissions“.

In other words: current EU policy is to cut CO2 emissions, rather than to do anything to the climate, or the well-being of anybody on this planet.

The monster of AGW/CO2 obsession is now fully in action.

ps What if the EU ”is already dealing with the problem under its air quality legislation“? Well, so much for the global focus of climate action…also, somebody should be made aware of how far black carbon can travel from where it has been emitted…

pps Is any AGWer suggesting that black carbon emissions could be a good thing, regarding their cooling impacts, and who cares about dying children?

ppps Bastards! (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

 

Talk of consensus, but little change

JULIA Gillard has made no concrete commitment on when to put a price on carbon emissions, despite former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urging his party to try passing an emissions trading scheme after the election.

Speaking after she had toppled Mr Rudd yesterday, Ms Gillard said she would now work to build a public consensus for a carbon price ''as vigorously as I can and as long as I need to.'' (The Age)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Australia may wait forever on climate change

Lawrence Solomon  June 24, 2010 – 11:35 am

In her first speech as Australia’s new prime minister, Julia Gillard assured her nation that she will not be rushing in any climate change policies, and certainly not carbon taxes, because there is no consensus on the need for carbon taxes. Gillard is known for her strong support of unions and tepid support of action on climate change.

Gillard replaces Kevin Rudd, a fellow Labour party member and sitting prime minister who was unceremoniously bounced by his party, in part for his global warming position. The ruling Labour Party is staring at defeat against the opposition Liberal Party under Tony Abbott, who last year led a revolt against his own pro-global warming leader. As has the Australian public, the Liberal Party has turned against the conventional wisdom on global warming.

While affirming her support for renewable energy and other emerging technologies, and her belief that man contributes to climate change, Gillard shelved any notion that Australia would be seeing carbon taxes any time soon. Instead, she implied that Australia wouldn’t even argue for  carbon taxes until the global economy recovered and until Australia’s economy could afford them. At that point, she implied, her advocacy of carbon taxes would be global in scope, implying that Australia wouldn’t go it alone by adopting its own carbon scheme:

“If elected as Prime Minister, I will re-prosecute the case for a carbon price at home and abroad. I will do that as global economic conditions improve and as our economy continues to strengthen,” she explained.

How long is she prepared to wait before implementing carbon taxes? Maybe forever.

“First, we will need to establish a community consensus for action,” Gillard told reporters after her election as Labor leader. Then, she explained, she would take “as long as I need to” to win over the community.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

Frank Fenner: humans extinct by 2110

Frank Fenner is an 95-year-old Australian scientist who helped to eradicate smallpox. He wrote a 3.5-kilogram book on it, too.

However, now he claims that humans will be gone in 100 years: Google News, China People's Daily. It's an irreversible situation. Anthropocene has accelerated urbanization etc.

Who are the two main culprits?

He also believed that humanity's impact on earth is much worse than the ice age and even a comet's hitting on the planet. Without science and carbon dioxide, ancient people could live for 40 to 50 thousands of years, but current human being cannot make it any more.
You could have guessed one culprit: it's global warming (and carbon dioxide), of course, However, the other villain is science itself. Good job, Mr Fenner.

However, this conclusion indicates that there exist two things that are worse than global warming and science, namely senility and gullibility.

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

 

Defense Experts Want More Explicit Climate Models

SAN DIEGO -- Tell us what you don't know.

That's the message military and national security experts gathered here want to send to climate scientists.

While political leaders on Capitol Hill seek definitive answers about how quickly the world's climate will change, military and national security experts say they're used to making decisions with limited information.

But as they turn their attention to the geopolitical implications of climate change, they're pressing scientists to help them understand the risk and uncertainty inherent in forecasts of future environmental shifts.

"Are we going to wait for perfect data? No. Not only the Department of Defense but any successful organization doesn't wait for perfection," said Rear Adm. David Titley, who heads the Navy's Task Force Climate Change. "But we need to understand, how certain are you? And what does that mean?"

"We have to know what's plausible," said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Engel, who headed a recent National Intelligence Council assessment of the national security risks posed by climate change. ( ClimateWire)

The simple answer is climate models have no prognostic skill and we do not know whether the world is warmer or cooler than it "should be" (because we don't know what that magical figure might be).

 

Climate Change: The IPCC In The Age of Speculation

 By Dr. Tim Ball Thursday, June 24, 2010

Judge Lance Ito lost control of the O. J. Simpson trial when he allowed speculation without a shred of evidence. Defense counsel Johnny Cochrane was able to sow seeds of doubt by his speculations and it found fertile ground in the jury’s mind. The entire Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) structure and work was designed to convince the public either with no facts or falsely created ones. Once these were established the speculation of impending doom could begin.

Structure of the IPCC begins with Working Group I outlining an unproven speculation that academics call a hypothesis, which is defined as, “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.” In this case they proposed that CO2 is a gas that causes global temperature to rise and it will continue to increase in volume in the atmosphere because human activity, particularly energy production, will continue to expand.

As evidence accumulated it showed the hypothesis was not proven. Indeed, nobody has produced a record that shows a CO2 increase preceding a temperature increase.

Despite this, Working Group II assumes global warming is occurring and speculates on the impact it will have. It is a meaningless exercise and the area where much of the incorrect information was used and many of the non peer-reviewed articles are cited.

Working Group III take the speculations of Group II and propose strategies for offsetting them to achieve the goals of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is stated in the introduction of the 2007 Report as, “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” So they come full circle as they claim to have proved scientifically what was necessary to achieve their original goal. The hypothesis was not proved, nonetheless, the speculation of impact ensued and totally inappropriate recommendations presented. Policy based on speculation that is a product of speculation is frighteningly normal in this Age of Speculation. (CFP)

 

Poor ol' moonbat, screwed the pooch, again: A Moonbat too far


In rather typical style, it would seem, Moonbat has half-read and then misunderstood the recent statement by The Sunday Times on "Amazongate" (see also my comments), prompted by a Press Complaints Commission judgement which has yet to be published on the official web site.

This controversial issue, of course, is about the provenance of the IPCC claim in the 4th Assessment Report that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation", a claim which relies on a non-peer-reviewed paper published by the WWF.

Wrapped up in his own "cleverness" (a kind and overly polite way of putting it), the great warmist has visited this blog to look at this post, on the basis of which he seeks to deride my original claim that there was no reference to 40 percent of the Amazon being affected by even slight reductions in precipitation in the WWF paper.

This is the Rowell & Moore paper, and for want of what I originally thought to be a specific claim in that paper, I asserted that the IPCC claim: "seems to be a complete fabrication".

Employing deep-fried sarcasm to what he fancies is devastating effect, Moonbat triumphantly tells us that he decided to check my claim using "a cunning and recondite technique known only to experienced sleuths": typing "40%" in the search bar at the top of the page.

"This stroke of genius," proclaims Moonbat, "took all of 10 seconds to reveal the following passage: 'Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.'" Preening himself, he then asks (rhetorically, of course): "Who says investigative journalism is dead?", before going on to assert, that "None of North's suckers had bothered to carry out this complex procedure. They hadn't bothered because they didn't want to spoil a good story."

What makes this triumphalism bizarre and totally misplaced is that my original claim was reproduced in Watts Up With That and picked up by one of his commenters (Icarus), who did exactly what Moonbat asserts none had bothered to do.

From this emerged a correction. In that, posted the next day, I record having completely missed the passage which refers to 40%, thus charging wrongly that the IPCC assertion was "a fabrication, unsupported even by the reference it gives."

"With that, though," I then write, "the story gets even more interesting, as the assertion made by Rowell and his co-author Peter Moore is referenced to an article in Nature magazine," which does not support either their or the IPCC claims.

It is this which becomes the substance of "Amazongate" – the undisputed fact that the IPCC makes an assertion about the Amazon rainforest relying on "grey" (WWF) literature. This in turn references a paper which does not support the assertions made. (It is later claimed (by the WWF) that the actual reference on which the WWF authors rely had been accidentally omitted; this turns out to be non-peer-referenced as well).

As I a matter of policy, I do not remove erroneous posts (or very rarely). If I make a mistake, I correct it in a subsequent piece (if it is important enough – and this was) and then link on the original piece, notifying readers of the update. But, it would seem, so full of himself and his clever little discovery, that Moonbat has completely missed (or ignored) the link and the correction – of which he seems to be unaware despite it being at the top of the piece.

Thus fortified by his own ignorance as to the actual case which I make, Moonbat then fast-forwards to the Sunday Times retraction. He claims that the paper "has been obliged to admit that the paper's account – and by inference North's almost identical treatment – was rubbish from top to toe."

Yet, whatever the PCC may or may not think of the Sunday Times article, it has neither examined nor adjudicated on my blog. The case made there is wholly unaffected by the PCC ruling, and indeed the core is not disputed, even in the ST statement. Despite this, Moonbat stridently declares:

Now that the IPCC has been vindicated, its accusers, North first among them, are exposed for peddling inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood. Ashes to ashes, toast to toast.
And while I am very much in favour of open debate, even I tend to draw a line at being accused on the website of a national paper of "peddling inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood."

This is not debate. It is libel. Booker's advice on these things tends to be to avoid getting into a fight with a chimney sweep – for obvious reasons – but this is also a case of Moonbat going too far. And, since he is so keen on the PCC, I thought that this would be a good place to start. (Richard North, EU Referendum)

 

What's the carbon footprint of … a bushfire?

One season of Australian bushfires can cause as much CO2 as the annual emissions of 5 million Australians or 50 million Chinese people (The Guardian)

Actually not. Regrowth strips the carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere in a (relatively) short time while ash and dust from the burned areas provide essential nutrients over large areas of sea surface, encouraging plankton blooms that draw down even more CO2. Not that CO2 emissions are ever important but this piece is even worse than normal.

 

IPCC "Consensus" on Solar Influence was Only One Solar Physicist who Agreed with Her Own Paper

Klimaskeptik.cz, a Czech climate skeptic blog, has posted today an interesting article "Judithgate: The IPCC was only one Solar Physicist" (google rough translation). Her name is Judith Lean (photo at right). On the basis of this "consensus of one" solar physicist, the IPCC proclaimed solar influences upon the climate to be minimal. Objection to this was raised by the Norwegian government as shown in the AR4 second draft comments below (and essentially dismissed by the IPCC): "I would encourage the IPCC to [re-]consider having only one solar physicist on the lead author team of such an important chapter. In particular since the conclusion of this section about solar forcing hangs on one single paper in which J. Lean is a coauthor. I find that this paper, which certainly can be correct, is given too much weight"...:

Klimaskeptic.cz continues [google translation + editing]: "As I wrote elsewhere (article on pmode ACRIM), Judith Lean, along with Claus Frohlich, are responsible for the scandalous rewriting of graphs of solar activity. Satellites showed that the TSI (measured in watts) between 1986 and 96 increased by about one third. Judith Lean and Claus Frohlich (authors of the single study noted above) "manipulated" the data. People who were in charge of the satellites and created the original graphs (the world's best astrophysics: Doug Hoyt, Richard C. Willson), protested in vain against such manipulation. Wilson: "Fröhlich has made changes that are wrong ... He did not have sufficient knowledge of (satellite) Nimbus7 ... pmode composites are useful for those who argue that global warming may be primarily due to anthropogenic causes." [cautionary note English->Czech->English translation of Wilson]

...Since the appropriate questions were not asked, the IPCC knows little about the sun. While the rest of the IPCC AR4 is rich in graphics, there is not a single graph of cosmic radiation, solar cycle lengths,  or geomagnetism - which is very strange because they are important indicators of solar activity. The IPCC reports should be a comprehensive, complete summary of current scientific knowledge. It's due to the fact that these indicators say what alarmists don't want to hear. These indicators of rising solar activity 1970-1990s show global warming (in whole or in substantial part) can be explained naturally and is not the fault of humans. The IPCC deliberately hid these graphs from readers under the principle of hide the decline."

The graphs the IPCC didn't want you to see:

aa_idex.jpg
Solar Geomagnetic Activity shows increase starting in 1970's
aa2.jpg
The length of the sunspot cycle - the shorter the cycle, the greater the solar activity. compare with the graph above.

Jones2.jpg
The evolution of ground temperatures from Phil Jones (CRU) in 1986. 
Retrieved from famous Christensen study 1991
. See here and here
The rewriting of the history of 20th century temperatures, see article 
here.

aa3.jpg
Red is the original graph of satellite measurements of solar constant TSI (composite ACRIM). ACRIM measurements show that in 1996, the sun was more active than ten years before, in contrast to the "manipulated" estimates of the sole IPCC solar physicist Judith Lean (2004) (blue).

aa_cosmic.jpg
Cosmic ray counts (decreases when solar activity increases. The solar wind protects the Earth against space radiation, which in turn may increase cloud formation -see Cosmoclimatology)

irradiance.jpg

Earth temperature correlated to solar activity. The blue line is a reconstruction of solar activity. (Jones 1993). 
Black is the Northern hemisphere temperature (Jones 1993).
agung.jpg
Graph from IPCC AR4 showing global temperatures in black and modeled temperatures in blue assuming no anthropogenic forcing. The graph allegedly proves that anthropogenic greenhouse emissions must be the cause of global warming, but since the increase in solar activity 1970-1990 seen in the graph above is not taken into account, the blue model is inadequate and proves nothing. (added: The models also fail to account for the huge influences of ocean oscillations.)

Conclusion:
The IPCC conclusion about human influence on climate - and plans for reworking the entire energy economy on the basis of the carbon footprint - stands and falls with the question of how significant is the influence of solar activity. Yet the IPCC devoted only a few paragraphs to this essential topic, and based the "consensus" on a single astronomer, who agreed with herself. (The Hockey Schtick)

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Jun. 25th 2010

(The Daily Bayonet)

 

But it could get bad, honest! Sea ice in the Arctic does not recover

Researchers from German Alfred Wegener Institute and KlimaCampus present forecasts on September minimum

Bremerhaven/Hamburg, 23.06.2010. A critical minimum for Arctic sea ice can also be expected for late summer 2010. Scientists from the German "Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI)" in Bremerhaven and from "KlimaCampus" of the University of Hamburg have now published their projections in the current Sea Ice Outlook. The online publication compares the forecasts on ice cover for September 2010 prepared by around a dozen international research institutes in a scientific "competition". The ice reaches its minimum area at this time every year.

The forecast developed by the team from KlimaCampus of the University of Hamburg, i.e. 4.7 million square kilometres (km2), is more negative than that submitted by the AWI researchers, who arrived at a figure of 5.2 million km2. Nevertheless, neither of the two research groups anticipates that the record minimum of 4.3 million km2 in 2007 will be reached.

Although Arctic ice currently has an area of ten million km2, which is half a million km2 smaller than in 2007, one cannot directly conclude a new record minimum in late summer. The present ice cover is comparable to that in June 2006, a year when more ice area remained in September than in 2007. The decisive factors for the situation in late summer, such as the ice thickness in the central Arctic and further development of the weather in summer, are not yet known, however.

There is no reason for an all-clear: scientists basically assume a long-term decrease in sea ice cover for the northern polar region in the summers of the coming decades. Even though the trend in terms of area points slightly upward (2007: 4.3 million km2, 2008: 4.68 million km2, 2009: 5.36 million km2), the Arctic ice area from 1980 to 1990 was constantly greater than seven million km2. (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres)

 

Scientists Question EPA Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Anaerobic manure treatment lagoons may release more methane that current rules allow

MADISON, WI, June, 2010 – The approach the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural anaerobic lagoons that treat manure contains errors and may underestimate methane emissions by up to 65%, according to scientists from the University of Missouri.

Anaerobic lagoons treat manure on some animal feeding operations prior to application to crops as a fertilizer. Methane, one byproduct of the treatment process, has 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.
 
A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling mandated the EPA consider greenhouse gases a pollutant. This led the EPA in 2009 to approve greenhouse gas reporting requirements for any facility that annually releases 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalents to the atmosphere. The objective of these reporting requirements is to quantify emissions as a first step towards developing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas losses. (American Society of Agronomy)

 

Another "tipping point" scare story invalidated: Higher wetland methane emissions caused by climate warming 40,000 years ago

No clathrate gun

Bern/Bremerhaven, June 24th, 2010. 40,000 years ago rapid warming led to an increase in methane concentration. The culprit for this increase has now been identified. Mainly wetlands in high northern latitudes caused the methane increase, as discovered by a research team from the University of Bern and the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. This result refutes an alternative theory discussed amongst experts, the so-called "clathrate gun hypothesis". The latter assumed that large amounts of methane were released from the ocean sediment and led to higher atmospheric methane concentrations and thus to rapid climate warming. (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres)

 

Check Australian measurements - NOW

by Des Moore
June 24, 2010

Basic faults revealed in US temperature measurements 
Australia’s measurements also need checking 

Anthony Watts, who has worked for 25 years in the US as a meteorologist, is currently touring Australian cities outlining (mainly) the serious (in)accuracies in US temperature measurements. His conclusions on the US suggest there is a need for an assessment of Australian temperature measurements. The tour, which has been arranged and financed by the Climate Sceptics group headed by Leon Ashby, involves Professor Bob Carter and Mr David Archibald as active participants. (Quadrant)

 

Climate change complicates plant diseases of the future

Human-driven changes in the earth's atmospheric composition are likely to alter plant diseases of the future. Researchers predict carbon dioxide will reach levels double those of the preindustrial era by the year 2050, complicating agriculture's need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population.

University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions. (University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences)

A lot of wasted effort predicated on the output of primitive climate models of no known prognostic value.

 

Dr. Roy Spencer, One of America’s 100 Most Hated by the Left

What follows is the text of the speech I gave at Townhall Magazine’s 100 Americans Most Hated by the Left awards dinner that I attended last night in Washington, DC.

There were 96 recipients (95, actually) who spoke before me, and most were well worth listening to. I will briefly review a few of the highlights….

Glenn Beck went first, being Townhall’s pick for the coveted, #1 Most Hated spot. His was also the longest acceptance speech. Glenn could have left the blackboard at home, but I admit I did learn some American history.

Rush Limbaugh, who took the #3 spot, could not attend due to a prior commitment. The rumor was that he was flying oil-soaked pelicans, his favorite bird, in his private jet from Louisiana to his Palm Beach mansion, where he was washing them off with Dawn in the swimming pool.

And, no, Dawn is not the name of his new wife. That’s Kathryn.

Everyone was snickering as Ms. Number 5, Ann Coulter, approached the podium. Before the start of the dinner, everyone in the first row of tables was secretly given a whipped cream pie to throw at her. Just as Ann approached the mic and opened her mouth, about ten people rushed the lectern with arms raised.

Ann deftly ducked, weaved and, miraculously, every last pie missed her. “I’ve had lots of practice”, she quipped.

After 4 hours and 92 recipients later, there were only about a dozen people left in the dining hall: Numbers 98, 99, 100, myself, and eight Townhall staff. All of the magazine staff had either passed out, or simply fell asleep…I couldn’t tell which.

Those remaining perked up, though, after I announced there might be a pop quiz following my speech if they didn’t pay attention.

So, here’s how it went down…

(loud applause)

“Wow, thank you! Thank you so much!! Thank you!..(applause subsides)…I must say, this was a total surprise to me. There are so many people who are so much more deserving of being hated by the Left in this country. But Townhall has graciously included me….and I am deeply grateful…”

(more applause)

“…There are many people to whom I owe thanks for making me so despised. But I am most indebted to all of those who do not want global warming to be due to Mother Nature. They want it to be our fault. In their zeal to make energy too expensive for the poorest of the world to afford, they continually criticize my research, research which has exposed the shoddy science underpinning the theory that climate change is caused by your SUV and your incandescent light bubs.”

(still more applause)

“Yes, it has been a long road. But for those of us who dare to utter alternative hypotheses to explain climate change, we will continue to blaze a new trail for future scientists!”

(applause)

“Scientists who will no longer have to twist their research results just to get funding, or to get papers published!”

(more applause)

“Scientists who will dare to follow where the evidence leads them! Scientists who, someday, might not be pressured to stay with the herd any longer. Who can stop thinking inside the box, and who no longer have to bow to the wishes of politicians who are heavily invested in the carbon trading market!”

(still more applause)

“As I stand upon the shoulders of those scientists who came before me, who dared to change the direction of science, I will continue to suffer the slings and arrows from the Deniers of Natural Climate Change!”

(LOUD applause)

“I ACCEPT this honor which Townhall Magazine has bestowed upon me! Thank You!”

There was then a standing ovation as I smoothly and confidently strode from the podium!

(OK, so I made that part up. I tripped and almost fell.)

By the way, there is no truth to the rumor that I was overheard offering Chris Field a couple of signed books if he could get me into the Top 50 on next year’s list.

Tapes and mp3’s of all 99 presentations can be bought wherever they are sold. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Beyond Pathetic: BP’s Sorry Safety Record, A Look Back at 2005

With each passing day, as more news reports explain what happened aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the hours before the accident, it becomes ever clearer that BP’s mismanagement of the Macondo well was responsible for the disastrous blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

Why Wasn’t BP Better Prepared? The Government

One of the reoccurring questions surrounding the Gulf oil spill is why there wasn’t better technology in place to cap the leak and contain the slick. Although the rigs are equipped with a blowout preventer, which failed, many are wondering why other preventative mechanisms were not readily available. Technologies that typically take months or even years to develop were being tested and implemented within weeks. Part of the problem, unsurprisingly, was the government underestimating the environmental effects of a spill. The Wall Street Journal’s Keith Johnson and Neil King Jr. write:

BP PLC and other big oil companies based their plans for responding to a big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on U.S. government projections that gave very low odds of oil hitting shore, even in the case of a spill much larger than the current one.

The government models, which oil companies are required to use but have not been updated since 2004, assumed that most of the oil would rapidly evaporate or get broken up by waves or weather. In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank, real life has proven these models, prepared by the Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, wrong. Oil has hit 171 miles of shoreline in southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. Further, government models don’t address how oil released a mile below the surface would behave—despite years of concern among government scientists and oil companies about deep-water spills.”

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

BP Is Pursuing Alaska Drilling Some Call Risky

The future of BP’s offshore oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by the recent drilling disaster and court wrangling over a moratorium.

But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters.

All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil’s plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort.

But BP’s project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an “onshore” project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP.

The project has already received its state and federal environmental permits, but BP has yet to file its final application to federal regulators to begin drilling, which it expects to start in the fall. (NYT)

 

BREAKING: ‘Green’ Energy Company Threatens Economics Professor … with Package of Dismantled Bomb Parts

The author of a damning study about the failure of Spain's "green jobs" program — a story broken here at PJM — received the threatening package on Tuesday from solar energy company Thermotechnic.

June 24, 2010 - by Christopher Horner

Spain’s Dr. Gabriel Calzada — the author of a damning study concluding that Spain’s “green jobs” energy program has been a catastrophic economic failure — was mailed a dismantled bomb on Tuesday by solar energy company Thermotechnic.

Says Calzada:

Before opening it, I called [Thermotechnic] to know what was inside … they answered, it was their answer to my energy pieces.

Dr. Calzada contacted a terrorism expert to handle the package. The expert first performed a scan of the package, then opened it in front of a journalist, Dr. Calzada, and a private security expert.

The terrorism consultant said he had seen this before:

This time you receive unconnected pieces. Next time it can explode in your hands.

Dr. Calzada added:

[The terrorism expert] told me that this was a warning.

The bomb threat is just the latest intimidation Dr. Calzada has faced since releasing his report and following up with articles in Expansion (a Spanish paper similar to the Financial Times). A minister from Spain’s Socialist government called the rector of King Juan Carlos University — Dr. Calzada’s employer — seeking Calzada’s ouster. Calzada was not fired, but he was stripped of half of his classes at the university. The school then dropped its accreditation of a summer university program with which Calzada’s think tank — Instituto Juan de Mariana — was associated.

Additionally, the head of Spain’s renewable energy association and the head of its communist trade union wrote opinion pieces in top Spanish newspapers accusing Calzada of being “unpatriotic” — they did not charge him with being incorrect, but of undermining Spain by daring to write the report.

Their reasoning? If the skepticism that Calzada’s revelations prompted were to prevail in the U.S., Spanish industry would face collapse should U.S. subsidies and mandates dry up.

As I have previously reported at PJM (here and here), Spain’s “green jobs” program was repeatedly referenced by President Obama as a model for what he would like to implement in the United States. Following the release of Calzada’s report, Spain’s Socialist government has since acknowledged the debacle — both privately and publicly. This month, Spain’s government instituted massive reductions in subsidies to “renewable” energy sources.

Dr. Calzada is a friend of mine, kindly writing a blurb for the jacket of my latest book: Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America. My book details the Spanish “green jobs” disaster uncovered by Dr. Calzada, plus similar “green” economic calamities occurring in Germany and Denmark — also programs Obama has praised — as well as in Italy and elsewhere.

As I detail in Power Grab, they felt Spain would be in a dire position without the U.S. playing the role of sucker. With today’s revelation, now we know just how far the “green energy” lobby will go to keep the money flowing.

(Click here for coverage on this incident from Spanish media.)

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America. (PJM)

 

Wind Integration vs. Air Emission Reductions: A Primer for Policymakers

by Mary Hutzler
June 24, 2010

Many claim that wind generation is beneficial because it reduces pollution emissions and does not emit carbon dioxide.  This isn’t necessarily the case. The following article explains a phenomena called cycling where the introduction of wind power into a generation system that uses carbon technologies to back-up the wind  actually reduces the energy efficiency of the carbon technologies. Recent studies  with actual data have estimated the impact of cycling on air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy modelers evaluating the impact of legislation such as Senator Bingaman’s American Clean Energy Leadership Act and the American Power Act proposed by Senators Kerry and Lieberman should take note for their models most likely are underestimating the cost of compliance by incorrectly modeling the integration of wind power into the electricity grid.

Wind is not a new technology. It was one of our principal sources of energy, along with wood and water, prior to the carbon era. But the use of renewables in the pre-carbon age was very different from the current use of renewables. Today, people rely on energy being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of whether the sun shines, the wind blows, or there are high or low water levels.  We now have over 1,000 gigawatts of generating plants[1], and a large and elaborate electrical grid that requires great coordination among system operators to avoid disruptions.

Also, in the pre-carbon energy era, when renewables were the sole source of energy, there were no coal-fired or natural-gas fired power plants to provide back-up power. Studies have found that the efficiency of those carbon-based plants is affected by incorporating wind energy into the system. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Oh dear... UK energy secretary pledges “radical overhaul” of homes

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne will today champion the Coalition Government’s ‘Green Deal’, pledging a “radical overhaul” of the country’s homes.

In an address to the Economist UK Energy Summit today, Huhne will promise to make the Green Deal the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s flagship bill for the first session of Parliament.

“We have big plans for the Green Deal. Its aim is a radical overhaul of our existing homes to save energy, carbon and costs,” he says.

Up to 14 million homes will have the potential to benefit from improved levels of insulation under the scheme.

“We are working on the package for each home, which could unlock tens of billions of spending in the coming years,” he says. (Energy Efficiency News)

 

EU Mulls 12 Years More State Aid For Coal: Draft

The European Union is considering 12 more years of state aid for coal, a draft European Commission document showed, even as the Group of 20 prepared to discuss phasing out fossil fuel subsidies this weekend.

The current EU subsidy regime expires this year, and European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said he intends to put forth a new plan in about two weeks.

A draft seen by Reuters reveals a gradual phase-out of state aid for coal mining between the start of 2011 and the end of 2022 and cites concerns about employment. (Reuters)

 

 

Creating A Crisis

Health Care: The White House unveiled Tuesday its patients' bill of rights. It is grossly misnamed. Though some of its provisions might help a few sick Americans, conditions will be far worse for most.

Ninety days after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, President Obama issued a set of rules that he says can "finally" be considered "a true patients' bill of rights." Just where these "rights" can be found in the Constitution and how they can be granted without violating real rights — such as an individual's right not to be forced to pay for someone else's affairs — was not immediately explained.

Nevertheless, the "rights" have been decreed. But nothing about them will improve the country's health care condition. They will, in fact, make it worse. (IBD)

 

ObamaCare’s Unlimited-Coverage Mandates Will Increase Some Premiums by 7 Percent (or More)

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

Among the many ways ObamaCare will increase the cost of health insurance, it will require all Americans to purchase unlimited annual and lifetime coverage. The latter requirement takes effect this September. The former will require consumers with non-grandfathered health plans (i.e., about half of the market) to purchase coverage with an annual limit on claims of no less than $2 million by 2014, and unlimited annual coverage thereafter. (Cato at liberty)

 

Cell phone towers not linked to childhood cancer

LONDON - British scientists who conducted the largest study yet into cell phone towers and childhood cancers say that living close to one does not increase the risk of a pregnant woman's baby developing cancer.

In a study looking at almost 7,000 children and patterns of early childhood cancers across Britain, the researchers found that those who developed cancer before the age of five were no more likely to have been born close to a cell phone tower than their peers.

"These results are reassuring," said Paul Elliot, director of the center for environment and health at Imperial College London, who worked on the study.

"We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."

Use of cell phones has increased dramatically in recent years and questions have been raised about possible health effects, including whether they may be linked to brain tumors or other cancers.

Opinion polls have also shown high levels of public concern about the potential risks of living near mobile phone towers.

But Elliot, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday, said his work would add to a body of scientific research which has found no links between cell phones and cancer. (Reuters)

 

Wow! Even The Guardian published it: No link to child cancer from phone masts, finds study

Imperial College London researchers dismiss link between living near mobile phone masts while pregnant and risk of cancer among children (The Guardian)

 

Insufficient vitamin D tied to severe asthma attacks

NEW YORK - Asthmatic children with relatively low vitamin D levels in their blood may have a greater risk of suffering severe asthma attacks than those with higher levels of the vitamin, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed more than 1,000 children with asthma for four years, found those with vitamin-D "insufficiency" at the outset were more likely to have an asthma attack that required a trip to the hospital.

Over the four-year study, 38 percent of children with insufficient vitamin D levels went to the emergency room or were hospitalized for an asthma exacerbation. The same was true of 32 percent of children with sufficient levels of the vitamin. (Reuters Health)

 

The Grief Lectures 2010 – Part Two

In the previous post, I looked at the first of Martin Rees Reith Lectures. The President of the Royal Society believed that there is ‘a 50 percent chance of a setback to civilisation as bad as a nuclear war, or some consequence of 21st century technology equally serious’ occurring before this century is out. On this view, the dangers we have created for ourselves are so great that the notion of citizenship has to be rethought. Science is no longer limited to laboratories. It has transformed the human condition. It has created previously inconceivable possibilities of liberation, but also created the possibility of our annihilation. All it would take is one bad egg…

But on the other hand, concluding his second lecture, Rees finds reason to be cheerful… (Ben Pile, Climate Resistance)

 

Dethroning humans

by Bill Muehlenberg
June 23, 2010

Common sense these days has been thrown out the window, so we must reaffirm and defend basic truths. One such truth is that of human exceptionalism – humans are special and unique. But that truism is under attack today from various quarters, including the animal liberation brigade.

Those arguing for animal rights have to of course deny that there is anything special or valuable about human beings. Thus the campaign to grant animals rights is really the campaign to dethrone man and disrobe him of any unique significance.

That is the argument of an important new book by Wesley Smith (A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy. Encounter Books, 2010). He makes the distinction between animal welfare and the animal rights movement. The former is something all of us should be supportive of. This has to do with the humane treatment of animals. But the latter is something we all should be quite worried about.

What looks like a noble and worthwhile crusade is at bottom really an anti-human ideology. It is in fact “a belief system, an ideology, even a quasi religion, which both implicitly and explicitly seeks to create a moral equivalence between the value of human lives and those of animals”.

This movement is often extremist, utopian, and open to the use of violence. For those who are still trying to figure out the book title, it actually is a 1986 quote from the head of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk. She said all four are mammals – end of story.

The true believers in the animal liberation movement are not just gentle dog lovers or cat owners. They are fanatics who are quite happy to harass, vandalise and destroy anything they consider to be abusive to animals. Indeed, Smith warns us of what sort of world we would live in if these radicals had their way:

Medical research would be materially impeded. There would be no more fishing fleets, cattle ranches, leather shoes, steak barbecues, animal parks, bomb-sniffing or Seeing Eye dogs, wool coats, fish farms, horseback riding, pet stores... Millions of people would be thrown out of work, our enjoyment of life would be substantially diminished. Our welfare and prosperity reduced.

Indeed, all domestication of animals would be taboo. There goes the family pet. And there goes human uniqueness and dignity. All in the name of a fanatical ideology which will even resort to threats of murder to achieve its aims. This book carefully documents the ideology, the tactics and the fanaticism of this growing movement. (Quadrant)

 

Hickman gives Strong another free pass: Maurice Strong: Ignore Glenn Beck – I don't want to rule the world

What I do want, says the man self-labelled 'the planet's leading environmentalist', is for nations to co-operate fully on issues they cannot deal with alone (The Guardian)

What Strong actually wants is to kill off industrialized civilization: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" -- Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

 

New study links 1 in 5 deaths in Bangladesh to arsenic in the drinking water

Increased mortality is linked to chronic diseases with a 70 percent increased mortality risk among those with the highest level of exposure

June 23, 2010 – Between 33 and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to arsenic in the drinking water—a catastrophe that the World Health Organization has called "the largest mass poisoning in history." A new study published in the current issue of the medical journal The Lancet provides the most complete and detailed picture to date of the high mortality rates associated with this exposure, which began with the widespread installation of tube wells throughout the country 30 years ago—a measure intended to control water-bourne diseases. (Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health)

 

Discovery of How Coral Reefs Adapt to Global Warming Could Aid Reef Restoration

Discoveries about tropical coral reefs are expected to be invaluable in efforts to restore the corals, which are succumbing to bleaching and other diseases at an unprecedented rate as ocean temperatures rise worldwide. The research gives new insights into how the scientists can help to preserve or restore the coral reefs that protect coastlines, foster tourism, and nurture many species of fish. The research, which will be published in the journal PLoS One, was accomplished by an international team whose leaders include Iliana Baums, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University. (ScienceDaily)

Oddly enough, corals have been coping with quite radical temperature changes for hundreds of millions of years, all without human intervention...

 

 

EPW POLICY BEAT: EPA, CAP-AND-TRADE AND OIL

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that everything in the universe is merely ideal.  I observed that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it - ‘I refute it thus.'"  Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell

Dr. Johnson's famous refutation of Bishop Berkeley came to mind as we pondered the claim, tirelessly recited by advocates, that cap-and-trade will end, or materially reduce, America's dependence on oil.  Yet just as Dr. Johnson struck the stone, we point to EPA's recent analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman bill, specifically the chart on page 31, which starkly refutes the notion that cap-and-trade would make even a dent in domestic oil consumption. (Inhofe EPW Press Blog)

 

Dills: Canada To Invest Added C$400M On International Climate Change

OTTAWA--The Canadian government said Wednesday it will invest an additional C$400 million this fiscal year to help with international climate-change efforts, an announcement that comes just days before the country hosts the G-8 and G-20 Summits. 

Environment Minister Jim Prentice, who unveiled the plan, said the spending is part of Canada's commitment under last December's Copenhagen climate-change accord to help the poorest nations fight climate change. 

"It will help developing countries reduce emissions and support adaptation and capacity building," Prentice said at a news conference. He said the government will announce details of specific projects at a later date. 

Prentice, who said Cabinet has approved the spending, said the government expects to hear from other countries about their climate change commitments at the G-8 and G-20 Summits this weekend. (Dow Jones)

 

Terence Corcoran: Cap and no trade

Terence Corcoran  June 23, 2010 – 11:14 pm

Prentice’s coal plan another ­reason to think cap and trade is dead

Scrubbing Canada clean of dirty coal-powered electricity generation was Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s announced objective yesterday — all part of the Conservative government’s attempt to turn Canada into a “clean energy superpower.” To that end, Ottawa is going to use the blunt instrument of regulation. In early 2011, Environment Canada said it will issue directives to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.

For coal, that means shutting down 33 coal-fired generating units from Alberta to Nova Scotia. “Our regulation will be very clear,” said Mr. Prentice. “When each coal-burning unit reaches the end of its economic life, it will have to meet the new standards or close down.” Coal industry people say this is mostly old news, and may be more related to putting a green face on Canada in the run-up to the G8/G20 summits and to appease activists who portray Canada as a climate change policy laggard.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Oh good grief! UK emission cuts 'not radical enough', airport protest trial told

Climate scientist giving evidence for the Plane Stupid defence says 80% target will not prevent 'dangerous' climate change

Government plans to cut UK carbon emissions by 80% over the next 40 years are not radical enough to prevent "dangerous" climate change, a trial of nine climate protesters heard today.

The climate scientist Dr Alice Bows, a specialist from the Tyndall centre for climate change research, also told a jury that the growth in aviation was a "big issue" because its emissions caused particular harm at higher altitude.

Bows was giving evidence for the defence at the trial of nine members of the Plane Stupid protest group, who were facing breach of the peace and vandalism charges for occupying Aberdeen airport and disrupting flights in March last year. (The Guardian)

 

PNAS: Witchdoctors of science

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaf-citations, put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather.

Some critics are saying the survey is flawed because it uses artificial groupings. Artificial be damned — the survey is flawed because it’s a waste-of-time work of anti-science for even existing. Science is not a democracy. Natural laws don’t form because anyone says so, and the only way to find out the answer is to … look at the evidence. Doh.

This adulation of individuals and tests of character, “success”, or popularity is the anti-thesis of what the great brains-trust of science ought to do. In science all minds test their theories against the universe, and only the real world matters. The petty world of human reputations is steeped in bias and conflicts of interest with personality defects and political power grabs, not to mention the corrupting influence of money. Science achieved vast success for civilization by freeing us from exactly this cess-pool of complexity, to rise above the posturing and consider only impartial observations.

Which Doctor or Witchdoctors?

Since the dawn of time tribal witchdoctors have been forecasting storms and asking us to pay tribute to their idols. The NAS has descended into abject farce. Argument by authority is the disguise of the witchdoctor — Trust me, I am the chosen one. More » (Jo Nova)

 

Why Does Consensus Matter In Climate Science?

A new study published in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences has compared the qualifications and publication histories of climate change skeptics to those of Anthropogenic global warming proponents. 

Unsurprisingly, those espousing skepticism are in the minority, comprising only 2-3% of the 1,372 researchers the study looked at, and are typically less qualified than scientists who believe that human carbon emissions are the main cause of climate change. 

According to the authors: "The [skeptics] group comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers of the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups (Materials and Methods). This result closely agrees with expert surveys, indicating that ≈97% of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of [Anthropogenic Climate Change]."

A few thoughts came to mind as I read through this article. All of them stem from one question: why is consensus so important? (Cameron J English, Scientific Blogging)

 

Searching for Climate Patents?

A recent peer-reviewed paper "Expert credibility in climate change" was published in the PNAS, apparently demonstrating the computer illiteracy of it's authors and PNAS reviewers. Their "results" were obtained by searching Google Scholar using the search terms: "author:fi-lastname climate". By default Google Scholar is set to search both "articles and patents" yet no mention of searching only for articles is in the paper. So why were they searching for climate patents and how is a patent that contains the search word "climate" a relevant "climate publication"? (Popular Technology)

 

Oh boy... UN climate panel names new authors after criticism

GENEVA — The U.N. science body on climate change, accused of ignoring its critics and allowing glaring errors to creep into its work, announced Wednesday that a broader range of experts will write its next report on global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included more women and scientists from developing countries, but also selected authors with a wider range of backgrounds than previously — partly in response to recent criticism that earlier groups refused to address dissenting views.

"We didn't want old club members who repeat themselves from one assessment to the next," Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the group's vice premier, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The previous panel had 559 members, chosen from 2,000 nominations. This one has 861 experts, picked from 3,000 nominations. Some 60 percent of the scientists are new to the role, the IPCC said. (AP)

Until they (or someone) can answer the fundamental question of Earth's precise expected mean temperature (in all the various cycle phases) there's really no point in discussing any of the ancillary questions of drivers and attribution. This is such a stupid game...

 

Drawing conclusions from really short term trends is not very smart: Climate Change May Favor Couch-Potato Elk

Heading for the hills every spring appears worse than staying put

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Warming temperatures could help explain why migration isn’t such a hot idea anymore for some elk living in and around Yellowstone National Park.

About a third of what’s called the Clarks Fork elk herd moves at the end of winter from land around Cody, Wyo., up to grasslands at high elevations in Yellowstone, said ecologist Arthur Middleton of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. When the flush of summer greenery ends and the fierce high-elevation winter nears, these elk return to lower elevations.

Migration supposedly lets animals follow the best food of the season, Middleton said. But the migratory elk are dwindling in number, while the stay-behind part of the herd grows.

Migration is dwindling worldwide, Middleton says, and preserving some of the last large mammal migrations in North America has become a key conservation concern.

Satellite images of where the elk roam now suggest what’s gone wrong with their migration, Middleton reported June 14 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists.

Images show that the period when grasslands are thriving and green with prime nutrition for grazers shrank by 40 percent between 1989 and 2009, he said.

This premature grassland brownout fits with weather station data showing that over the past 21 years, the average July temperature in the migrants’ high-elevation summer range has risen more than 4 degrees Celsius, Middleton said. On top of that, nearly a decade of drought worse than the Dust Bowl dry-out has parched the Yellowstone region.

In contrast, satellite images show little change in the greening of vegetation at the lower elevation, Middleton said. Elk remaining there not only have a more stable summer food source, but can nip over to some scattered agricultural outfits to take advantage of irrigated vegetation. (Susan Milius, Science News)

 

Researchers discover source of essential nutrients for mid-ocean algae

For almost three decades, oceanographers have been puzzled by the ability of microscopic algae to grow in mid-ocean areas where there is very little nitrate, an essential algal nutrient. In this week's issue of Nature, MBARI chemical oceanographer Ken Johnson, along with coauthors Stephen Riser at the University of Washington and David Karl at the University of Hawaii, show that mid-ocean algae obtain nitrate from deep water, as much as 250 meters below the surface. This finding will help scientists predict how open-ocean ecosystems could respond to global warming. (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

 

PIG’s Complexity And The Misspelled Swede

What do glaciers indicate? Much more than the local (or maybe even global!) temperature trends. In fact, read what The Register reports about the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) in Antarctica:

[...] The PIG has flowed more and more rapidly into the Amundsen Sea since scientists have begun monitoring it, adding fresh water to the world’s oceans. [...] Many scientists have theorised that the PIG’s accelerating flow is due to global warming. However, recent research [indicates] that the PIG’s ice flow formerly ground its way out to sea across the top of a previously unknown rocky underwater ridge, which tended to hold it back. Many years ago, however, before the area was surveyed in much detail, the glacier’s floating outflow sheet separated from the ridge top which it had been grinding away at for millennia and so picked up speed. This also allowed relatively warm sea water to get up under the sheet and so increase melting and ease of movement. [...]

As luck has it, around three years ago I did myself some research about the Upsala glacier in Patagonia, used by The New York Review of Books to illustrate an article by Bill McKibben. The juxtaposition of photographs of Upsale taken respectively in 1928 and 2004 was captioned along the lines of “most of the glacier [has] melted“.

As usual, it didn’t take much to find out how wrong the caption was – most of the Upsala glacier has not melted at all (a correction was published by the NYRB a few weeks later).

More interestingly though, what I did find were scholarly references attributing the glacier’s retreat to mechanical rather than climatic stresses, just as now for Pine Island’s. In other words, an understanding of glaciers like of everything else can’t be confined to quick glances at photographic “evidence”. Without a proper field study, and without a complete analysis of the situation, “global warming” has becoming the ultimate refuge for the climate (scientific) scoundrels.

Let’s hope the one thing that will come out of all these years of blacklists, tricks, and less-than-sincere “peer” review is a meme about the true complexity of the planet, to be studied with care and maybe even awe instead than in order to support one’s pet political project.

Indeed: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

 

Comment On An Error In A Figure Caption In The Statement For Policymakers In The WG1 2007 IPCC Report

While there has been considerable discussion of errors in other working group reports of the 2007 IPCC assessment, there has been little discussion of errors in the WG1 report. I have documented obvious errors of omission (i.e. see) but in this post, I want to highlight a specific error in Figure caption [an e-mail exchange with Marcel Crok encouraged me to report on this]. I have identified this error in the past (e.g. see), but it is worth repeating here.

The erroneous IPCC text is in the caption to Figure SPM.2 (see);

IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

The figure caption reads [where I have highlighted the error in bold font]

Global average radiative forcing (RF) estimates and ranges in 2005 for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other important agents and mechanisms, together with the typical geographical extent (spatial scale) of the forcing and the assessed level of scientific understanding (LOSU). The net anthropogenic radiative forcing and its range are also shown. These require summing asymmetric uncertainty estimates from the component terms, and cannot be obtained by simple addition. Additional forcing factors not included here are considered to have a very low LOSU. Volcanic aerosols contribute an additional natural forcing but are not included in this figure due to their episodic nature. The range for linear contrails does not include other possible effects of aviation on cloudiness.

While the footnote corrects this error; i.e.

Radiative forcing is a measure of the influence that a factor has in altering the balance of incoming and outgoing energy in the Earth-atmosphere system and is an index of the importance of the factor as a potential climate change mechanism. Positive forcing tends to warm the surface while negative forcing tends to cool it. In this report, radiative forcing values are for 2005 relative to pre-industrial conditions defined at 1750 and are expressed in watts per square metre (W m–2)

the WG1 report leaves an erroneous impression in terms of how they present the radiative forcing estimates in figure SPM.2. Indeed, since some of the radiative forcing since 1750 presumably has equilibrated with an increase in global heat content, the actual 2005 radiative forcing must be less than the 1.6 Watts per meter squared that is presented in their figure.

I have reproduced below comments by James Annan and Gavin Schmidt on this subject that appeared in my January 4 2008 post.

This is an important issue. As James Annan stated in a reply on the weblog Stoat

“I think RP is really asking about the current radiative imbalance: while I do not think it is wrong or misleading to talk about total forcing (with a 1750 baseline) as the IPCC do, the other question is also interesting as it relates directly to warming “in the pipeline”. Of course the answer is we do not know for sure, since it directly depends on the climate sensitivity (and even the effective climate sensitivity of the current climate state, which may be slightly different again). But a rough ballpark estimate would be that a little more than half of the total forcing (IPCC terminology) remains as a current imbalance (the commitment runs in the AR4 show the future warming due to this imbalance). Of course splitting this up further into the contribution of each component would then become rather arbitrary.”

Thus, while he writes that this is a “rough ballpark estimate”, his insight that

“…. a little more than half of the total forcing (IPCC terminology) remains as a current balance”,

is the type of answer that is being requested.

Gavin Schmidt on Real Climate also added constructively to this when he responded that

“I don’t think it can be done robustly. A straight-forward apportioning based on the fractional contribution to the original forcing neglects the differing transient behaviour. For instance if one forcing agent rose quickly and stabilised, while another increased later, then the impact of each on the current imbalance should be weighted towards the latter. So that’s no good. Maybe you could do it by examining the single forcing transient runs we did for our recent paper (table 1) and looking at the year 2000-2003 (say) imbalances in Ann/Net TOA radiation. You’d need to check that the individual components do in fact add up to something close to the combined effect (not obviously true). However, different models might give quite different results, and you can only do this for forcings we’ve run. Other groups didn’t do as many single forcing experiments and so you might not be able to find another set of numbers to compare with. Attribution requires models however, and so I don’t see how you could do it any other way.”

The reason that this issue is so important is that

“if one forcing agent rose quickly and stabilised, while another increased later…”

as Gavin wrote, than the fractional contribution to the current radiative imbalance is weighted towards the more recent forcings. Since CO2 has been rising since 1750, at least part of the radiative forcing of CO2 has equilibrated. Thus the claim that CO2 is 50% (or about 30% as estimated on Climate Science based on the 2007 IPCC figure SPM.2; see) is an overstatement of its actual current radiative forcing.

A challenge for the next IPCC assessment, and for climate research in general, is what is the current (now 2010) global average radiative forcing? While there has been considerable discussion of the radiative imbalance (e.g. see) this imbalance includes both the radiative forcing and the radiative feedbacks.

This subject needs discussion in the next IPCC WG1 assessment, as well as a figure like SPM.2 but with the best estimate of the current radiative forcing. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Revisiting the Pinatubo Eruption as a Test of Climate Sensitivity


The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines on June 15, 1991 provided a natural test of the climate system to radiative forcing by producing substantial cooling of global average temperatures over a period of 1 to 2 years. There have been many papers which have studied the event in an attempt to determine the sensitivity of the climate system, so that we might reduce the (currently large) uncertainty in the future magnitude of anthropogenic global warming.

In perusing some of these papers, I find that the issue has been made unnecessarily complicated and obscure. I think part of the problem is that too many investigators have tried to approach the problem from the paradigm most of us have been misled by: believing that sensitivity can be estimated from the difference between two equilibrium climate states, say before the Pinatubo eruption, and then as the climate system responds to the Pinatubo aerosols. The trouble is that this is not possible unless the forcing remains constant, which clearly is not the case since most of the Pinatubo aerosols are gone after about 2 years.

Here I will briefly address the pertinent issues, and show what I believe to be the simplest explanation of what can — and cannot — be gleaned from the post-eruption response of the climate system. And, in the process, we will find that the climate system’s response to Pinatubo might not support the relatively high climate sensitivity that many investigators claim.

Radiative Forcing Versus Feedback
I will once again return to the simple model of the climate system’s average change in temperature from an equilibrium state. Some call it the “heat balance equation”, and it is concise, elegant, and powerful. To my knowledge, no one has shown why such a simple model can not capture the essence of the climate system’s response to an event like the Pinatubo eruption. Increased complexity does not necessarily ensure increased accuracy.

The simple model can be expressed in words as:

[system heat capacity] x[temperature change with time] = [Radiative Forcing] – [Radiative Feedback],

or with mathematical symbols as:

Cp*[dT/dt] = F – lambda*T .

Basically, this equation says that the temperature change with time [dT/dt] of a climate system with a certain heat capacity [Cp, dominated by the ocean depth over which heat is mixed] is equal to the radiative forcing [F] imposed upon the system minus any radiative feedback [lambda*T] upon the resulting temperature change. (The left side is also equivalent to the change in the heat content of the system with time.)

The feedback parameter (lambda, always a positive number if the above equation is expressed with a negative sign) is what we are interested in determining, because its reciprocal is the climate sensitivity. The net radiative feedback is what “tries” to restore the system temperature back to an equilibrium state.

Lambda represents the combined effect of all feedbacks PLUS the dominating, direct infrared (Planck) response to increasing temperature. This Planck response is estimated to be 3.3 Watts per sq. meter per degree C for the average effective radiating temperature of the Earth, 255K. Clouds, water vapor, and other feedbacks either reduce the total “restoring force” to below 3.3 (positive feedbacks dominate), or increase it above 3.3 (negative feedbacks dominate).

Note that even though the Planck effect behaves like a strong negative feedback, and is even included in the net feedback parameter, for some reason it is not included in the list of climate feedbacks. This is probably just to further confuse us.

If positive feedbacks were strong enough to cause the net feedback parameter to go negative, the climate system would potentially be unstable to temperature changes forced upon it. For reference, all 21 IPCC climate models exhibit modest positive feedbacks, with lambda ranging from 0.8 to 1.8 Watts per sq. meter per degree C, so none of them are inherently unstable.

This simple model captures the two most important processes in global-average temperature variability: (1) through energy conservation, it translates a global, top-of-atmosphere radiative energy imbalance into a temperature change of a uniformly mixed layer of water; and (2) a radiative feedback restoring forcing in response to that temperature change, the value of which depends upon the sum of all feedbacks in the climate system.


Modeling the Post-Pinatubo Temperature Response

So how do we use the above equation together with measurements of the climate system to estimate the feedback parameter, lambda? Well, let’s start with 2 important global measurements we have from satellites during that period:

1) ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment) measurements of the variations in the Earth’s radiative energy balance, and

2) the change in global average temperature with time [dT/dt] of the lower troposphere from the satellite MSU (Microwave Sounding Unit) instruments.

Importantly — and contrary to common beliefs – the ERBE measurements of radiative imbalance do NOT represent radiative forcing. They instead represent the entire right hand side of the above equation: a sum of radiative forcing AND radiative feedback, in unknown proportions.

In fact, this net radiative imbalance (forcing + feedback) is all we need to know to estimate one of the unknowns: the system net heat capacity, Cp. The following two plots show for the pre- and post-Pinatubo period (a) the ERBE radiative balance variations; and (b) the MSU tropospheric temperature variations, along with 3 model simulations using the above equation. [The ERBE radiative flux measurements are necessarily 72-day averages to match the satellite's orbit precession rate, so I have also computed 72-day temperature averages from the MSU, and run the model with a 72-day time step].

As can be seen in panel b, the MSU-observed temperature variations are consistent with a heat capacity equivalent to an ocean mixed layer depth of about 40 meters.

So, What is the Climate Model’s Sensitivity, Roy?
I think this is where confusion usually enters the picture. In running the above model, note that it was not necessary to assume a value for lambda, the net feedback parameter. In other words, the above model simulation did not depend upon climate sensitivity at all!

Again, I will emphasize: Modeling the observed temperature response of the climate system based only upon ERBE-measured radiative imbalances does not require any assumption regarding climate sensitivity. All we need to know was how much extra radiant energy the Earth was losing [or gaining], which is what the ERBE measurements represent.

Conceptually, the global-average ERBE-measured radiative imbalances measured after the Pinatubo eruption are some combination of (1) radiative forcing from the Pinatubo aerosols, and (2) net radiative feedback upon the resulting temperature changes opposing the temperature changes resulting from that forcing– but we do not know how much of each. There are an infinite number of combinations of forcing and feedback that would be able to explain the satellite observations.

Nevertheless, we do know ONE difference in how forcing and feedback are expressed over time: Temperature changes lag the radiative forcing, but radiative feedback is simultaneous with temperature change.

What we need to separate the two is another source of information to sort out how much forcing versus feedback is involved, for instance something related to the time history of the radiative forcing from the volcanic aerosols. Otherwise, we can not use satellite measurements to determine net feedback in response to radiative forcing.

Fortunately, there is a totally independent satellite estimate of the radiative forcing from Pinatubo.

SAGE Estimates of the Pinatubo Aerosols
For anyone paying attention back then, the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo produced over one year of milky skies just before sunrise and just after sunset, as the sun lit up the stratospheric aerosols, composed mainly of sulfuric acid. The following photo was taken from the Space Shuttle during this time:

There are monthly stratospheric aerosol optical depth (tau) estimates archived at GISS, which during the Pinatubo period of time come from the SAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment). The following plot shows these monthly optical depth estimates for the same period of time we have been examining.

Note in the upper panel that the aerosols dissipated to about 50% of their peak concentration by the end of 1992, which is 18 months after the eruption. But look at the ERBE radiative imbalances in the bottom panel – the radiative imbalances at the end of 1992 are close to zero.

But how could the radiative imbalance of the Earth be close to zero at the end of 1992, when the aerosol optical depth is still at 50% of its peak?

The answer is that net radiative feedback is approximately canceling out the radiative forcing by the end of 1992. Persistent forcing of the climate system leads to a lagged – and growing – temperature response. Then, the larger the temperature response, the greater the radiative feedback which is opposing the radiative forcing as the system tries to restore equilibrium. (The climate system never actually reaches equilibrium, because it is always being perturbed by internal and external forcings…but, through feedback, it is always trying).

A Simple and Direct Feedback Estimate
Previous workers (e.g. Hansen et al., 2002) have calculated that the radiative forcing from the Pinatubo aerosols can be estimated directly from the aerosol optical depths measured by SAGE: the forcing in Watts per sq. meter is simply 21 times the optical depth.

Now we have sufficient information to estimate the net feedback. We simply subtract the SAGE-based estimates of Pinatubo radiative forcings from the ERBE net radiation variations (which are a sum of forcing and feedback), which should then yield radiative feedback estimates. We then compare those to the MSU lower tropospheric temperature variations to get an estimate of the feedback parameter, lambda. The data (after I have converted the SAGE monthly data to 72 day averages), looks like this:

The slope of 3.66 Watts per sq. meter per degree corresponds to weakly negative net feedback. If this corresponded to the feedback operating in response to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, then doubling of atmosphere CO2 (2XCO2) would cause only 1 deg. C of warming. This is below the 1.5 deg. C lower limit the IPCC is 90% sure the climate sensitivity will not be below.

The Time History of Forcing and Feedback from Pinatubo
It is useful to see what two different estimates of the Pinatubo forcing looks like: (1) the direct estimate from SAGE, and (2) an indirect estimate from ERBE minus the MSU-estimated feedbacks, using our estimate of lambda = 3.66 Watts per sq. meter per deg. C. This is shown in the next plot:

Note that at the end of 1992, the Pinatubo aerosol forcing, which has decreased to about 50% of its peak value, almost exactly offsets the feedback, which has grown in proportion to the temperature anomaly. This is why the ERBE-measured radiative imbalance is close to zero…radiative feedback is canceling out the radiative forcing.

The reason why the ‘indirect’ forcing estimate looks different from the more direct SAGE-deduced forcing in the above figure is because there are other, internally-generated radiative “forcings” in the climate system measured by ERBE, probably due to natural cloud variations. In contrast, SAGE is a limb occultation instrument, which measures the aerosol loading of the cloud-free stratosphere when the instrument looks at the sun just above the Earth’s limb.

Discussion
I have shown that Earth radiation budget measurements together with global average temperatures can not be used to infer climate sensitivity (net feedback) in response to radiative forcing of the climate system. The only exception would be from the difference between two equilibrium climate states involving radiative forcing that is instantaneously imposed, and then remains constant over time. Only in this instance is all of the radiative variability due to feedback, not forcing.

Unfortunately, even though this hypothetical case has formed the basis for many investigations of climate sensitivity, this exception never happens in the real climate system

In the real world, some additional information is required regarding the time history of the forcing — preferably the forcing history itself. Otherwise, there are an infinite number of combinations of forcing and feedback which can explain a given set of satellite measurements of radiative flux variations and global temperature variations.

I currently believe the above methodology, or something similar, is the most direct way to estimate net feedback from satellite measurements of the climate system as it responds to a radiative forcing event like the Pinatubo eruption. The method is not new, as it is basically the same one used by Forster and Taylor (2006 J. of Climate) to estimate feedbacks in the IPCC AR4 climate models. Forster and Taylor took the global radiative imbalances the models produced over time (analogous to our ERBE measurements of the Earth), subtracted the radiative forcings that were imposed upon the models (usually increasing CO2), and then compared the resulting radiative feedback estimates to the corresponding temperature variations, just as I did in the scatter diagram above.

All I have done is apply the same methodology to the Pinatubo event. In fact, Forster and Gregory (also 2006 J. Climate) performed a similar analysis of the Pinatubo period, but for some reason got a feedback estimate closer to the IPCC climate models. I am using tropospheric temperatures, rather than surface temperatures as they did, but the 30+ year satellite record shows that year-to-year variations in tropospheric temperatures are larger than the surface temperatures variations. This means the feedback parameter estimated here (3.66) would be even larger if scaled to surface temperature. So, other than the fact that the ERBE data have relatively recently been recalibrated, I do not know why their results should differ so much from my results. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Obama’s BP Time (“We’re from the government and here to help you”)

by Michael Lynch
June 23, 2010

The current oil spill, like the financial crisis before it, has given ammunition to those who believe that the free market is dangerous and that deregulation leads to crises. President Obama, in his June 15, 2010, address to the nation, specifically blamed the lax oversight of BP’s operations on a “failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility — a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.”

This gets to a core debate between Left and Right[1] but overlooks the real nature of the problem. For many on the Right, government is the problem, while many on the Left see government as the solution. (This holds true in many different policy areas, from health care to industrial policy, among others.) But a major part of the problem is not government bias or objectivity, but rather government competence, which is not being addressed by most commentators.

Without a doubt, the ‘anti-government’ ideology that has been trumpeted by many on the Right is flawed. There are many things that government should not do, some of which are promoted by those on the Left. The failure of the Mineral Management Service to oversee the safe operation of the Deepwater Horizon (and other operations presumably) in an appropriate manner certainly highlights the fallacy of the belief that industry can regulate itself.

No doubt, this attitude amongst political appointees in the agency put in place by the Bush Administration played a role in creating this shortcoming, and the recent revelations about cozy relations with industry (including sex and drugs, even better than money!) have been repeatedly cited to confirm this. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

A Few Questions for President Obama

America needs decisive leaders who understand what government can (and cannot) do to stop the Gulf gusher, clean up the mess, and get business, jobs and prosperity back on track. Instead, President Obama sounds like an anti-business Community Organizer in Chief – pointing fingers, making baseless claims about ending our “addiction to oil,” and leaving no crisis unexploited to promote job-killing cap-tax-and-trade and renewable energy policies. His June 15 “vision” raised more questions than it answered. (Paul Driessen, Townhall)

 

Bureaucratic Berms

Government: After President Obama's dramatic BP address to the nation, there was reason to think federal red tape would be cut to save the Gulf Coast. Silly us. Bureaucrats are back at it, halting Louisiana's sand berms.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday shut down a critical dredging operation off the Chandelier Islands in the Louisiana Delta. The dredge pumped 50,000 cubic yards of sand used to create protective barriers between the region's islands so that crude oil from BP's April 20 oil spill washing forward would be absorbed before it could hit the coast. So far, 34.2 miles of Louisiana coastline have been dirtied and the rest is in peril.

"Please don't let them shut this dredge down — this requires your immediate attention," wrote Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser in his last-ditch letter to the White House.

The Associated Press reported that pelican nesting grounds were threatened by this dredging and the operation had to be moved two miles inland, a change that would take seven days. Nungesser asked Obama to let the emergency dredging continue to protect the coast, but all he got was ignored.

This is emblematic of the bureaucratic mind-set that's making the clean-up operations so costly and inefficient. Instead of everyone pulling together in an emergency, the petty federal fiefdom in charge of pelican nests gets absolute veto power over a community's efforts to protect an entire ecosystem (including pelican nests), in the name of business as usual.

For Plaquemines Parish, the consequences could be awful. (IBD)

 

AP Gripes at Lack of Freebies in Oil Cleanup

We need all the international help we can get to clean-up the Gulf of Mexico, but an Associated Press account seems to gripe that the help is not free.

After almost two months of delay, the U.S. last week agreed that foreign oil spill response vessels (but not other foreign ships) can join the effort. Our official government finding says, “there are an insufficient number of specialized oil skimming vessels in the U.S. to keep pace with the unprecedented levels of oil discharges in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Rather than analyzing why we took so long to allow foreign help, the AP issued a story that it headlined, “Cleanup Aid from Overseas Comes with a Price Tag,” bemoaning that the helpers expect to be paid.

Of course they do.  So do the army of American workers, boat owners, and relief vessels working in the Gulf.  And, as President Obama loves to remind us, “BP will pay.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

US administration appeals decision blocking drill ban

June 23 - The Obama administration on Wednesday appealed a court ruling that blocked its six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling after a judge said it was not adequately justified despite the crude oil spill from BP Plc's leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration also asked District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to put his ruling against the moratorium on hold pending the outcome of the appeal or until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit can consider a request for a stay.

The Justice Department said in the court filing supporting the stay that the temporary moratorium only affected 33 active deepwater drills in the Gulf of Mexico and the harm from another potential oil spill far outweighed those interests.

The "suspensions were issued to prevent the risk of more loss of life and long-term environmental and economic devastation like that arising from the Deepwater Horizon accident," the filing said. "In contrast, (the companies) have demonstrated a risk of short-term economic harm."

The appeal came after the judge issued a scathing 22-page ruling that said the initial six-month moratorium was too broad, arbitrary and did not have sufficient justification to overcome concerns that it would cause irreparable harm. (Reuters)

 

Salazar's Ban Is Soros' Bonanza

While the U.S. seeks to ban drilling in 500 feet of water, Brazil's Petrobras plans to go much deeper to tap oil and gas in a large area off the... View Enlarged Image

Energy Policy: Our interior secretary plans to reinstate the offshore drilling moratorium struck down by a federal judge. But if deep-water drilling is so unsafe, why are we helping Brazil drill nearly three times as deep?

Maybe Secretary Ken Salazar can explain why Britain and others can safely drill in the North Sea and no other nation has suspended its offshore drilling. Yet there he was Tuesday saying he'll reissue a reworded moratorium that will make it clear to dunces like U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman why offshore drilling is unsafe.

As with health care reform and other issues, the administration's position is that we didn't make it clear enough, so we will speak slower and use smaller words. But double talk is double talk no matter how you rearrange the words.

"The decision to impose a moratorium on deep-water drilling was and is the right decision," Salazar said, even after he was caught rewording a report so a team of experts he assembled would look like they supported the moratorium, when in fact, they adamantly opposed it and thought it would do more harm than the Deepwater Horizon spill itself. (IBD)

 

Energy Myths Can't Replace Fossil Fuels

"For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. ... Time and time again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor." -- President Obama, June 15 address on the BP oil spill

Just once, it would be nice if a president would level with Americans on energy. Barack Obama isn't that president.

His speech last week was about political damage control — his own. It was full of misinformation and mythology. He held out a gleaming vision of an America that would convert to the "clean" energy of, presumably, wind, solar and biomass. It isn't going to happen for many, many decades, if ever. (Robert J. Samuelson, IBD)

 

Oh... Coal plan needs a lot more work

New gas rules needed to stimulate investment

By Steve G. Snyder

TransAlta supports the need to lower emissions from Canada’s power sector. The aggressive plan for older coal plants proposed by the federal government accomplishes that goal. It’s a bold plan and as such it means there is also a lot of work yet to be done to ensure the proposal is effective and fair to consumers and investors. A critical requirement will be to maintain the reliability and affordability of our electricity infrastructure to ensure Canada — and Alberta — remain economically competitive.

Under Ottawa’s proposal, power companies would have to close their coal-fired facilities at 45 years of age, or the end of their power purchase arrangement, if that were later. Companies would be prohibited, under the “cap and close” regulation, from making investments to extend the lives of those plants unless greenhouse gas emission levels can be reduced to the equivalent of those of natural gas combined cycle plants.

The opportunity exists to replace older coal plants with natural gas generation as well as through investments in renewable and clean coal technologies. Our goal is to physically cut CO2 emissions while continuing to provide our customers with long-term reliable supply without price shocks.

Read More » (Financial Post)

There is simply no upside to attempting to limit carbon dioxide emissions -- atmospheric CO2 is a resource, an asset to be cherished, not "pollution" at all.

 

Green energy plant 'not carbon neutral for 40 years'

THE new "green energy" biomass plant proposed for Leith would take at least 40 years to become carbon neutral, according to a new study.

In the meantime, critics claim, the £360 million plant would actually set back Scotland's drive to cut carbon emissions. (The Scotsman)

 

 

Experts Demand European Action On Plastics Chemical

Scientists and international health organizations from around the world called on Europe's food safety watchdog on Wednesday to regulate against exposure to a potentially harmful chemical found in plastic containers.

In an open letter to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a group of 60 scientists and health campaigners from 15 countries said they feared exposure to the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) could damage health, particularly among vulnerable groups such as babies and pregnant women.

BPA is a mass produced chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics. It is found in plastic food and drink packaging, such as baby bottles and sports bottles, and as an epoxy resin in canned food and drinks and storage containers.

Some recent scientific studies have linked BPA exposure to higher risks of health problems such heart disease, breast cancer and diabetes.

The EFSA is expected to publish a new "scientific opinion" on the safety of Bisphenol A in food packaging next month, after it was asked by the European Commission to re-assess the risks. (Reuters)

Experts? No, just chemophobic whackos but they are persistent chemophobic whackos constantly working the media to try to create the impression there is some danger posed by useful compounds, an impression they then use to attack industry as a means of hampering human activity (because our presence and actions are an affront to Gaia, don't you know). This is a really tedious game that misanthropes have been playing quite successfully for decades.

 

New Website Offers News and Information on Atrazine by the Farmers Who Have Used it for Generations

Farmers launch AGSense.org to fight false claims and shoddy science against atrazine use 

June 22, 2010 - A group of farmers who raise corn, sorghum and other crops throughout the country have launched a new website, www.AGSense.org, to bring some common sense and straight talk to the debate about atrazine.

"Atrazine is important to keeping our food supply plentiful and affordable, and is highly effective with a remarkable track record of success-and safety-that stretches back for decades," said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and chairman of the Triazine Network, the group of farmers behind the new Web site. 

"EPA conducted a special review of atrazine in 1994 and gave it full approval in 2006, so activists who are suddenly labeling it with false claims are irresponsible, at best, and misleading, at worst," White said.

Farmers, ranchers and the people who consume their products can find information on AGSense.org about the various crops atrazine is used for, why exactly it is important for land conservation, its long history of scrutiny and approval by regulators all over the world, and highlights from the latest online content that tells the story of this critical tool - and the campaign against it - from across the Web.

"If AGSense.org helps just one person learn something about atrazine that he or she didn't know before, if it helps bring just a little bit of common sense to this critical agricultural tool, it will have been worth creating," said White. "We hope people find it useful as we fight to keep our access to atrazine alive." (1888PressRelease)

 

Obesity and diabetes: The link is not as clear as you might think

We keep hearing about the epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity. There is also a tendency to link the two. Certainly, obesity is a risk factor for type 2, but the link is nowhere near as straightforward as you might think.

My latest HND piece takes a hard look at this, and reports a few interesting things...

  • The most obese population in the world is Sumo wrestlers, yet none of them are diabetic.
  • People afflicted with Berardinelli-Seip syndrome have virtually no body fat, yet ALL of them are diabetic.

There is also a big glitch in the classical "thrifty gene" explanation of how the Pima Indians became diabetic, once they moved from Mexico to Arizona.

In short, beware of simple explanations, when applied to something as incredibly complex as human metabolism.

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

 

Software cuts CT radiation dose in half: study

CHICAGO - A new software program that enhances the quality of CT images allowed doctors to cut in half the radiation dose needed for a colon scan and still produce clear images, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

A series of recent studies has suggested that computed tomography or CT scans can increase a person's lifetime risk of cancer, especially younger people who have multiple scans.

"This new technique allows us to use far less radiation than even a typical abdominal CT scan without compromising image quality," said Dr. Daniel Johnson of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, whose study appears in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

CT scans of the colon, sometimes called a virtual colonoscopy, are meant to replace the more invasive test in which a camera is inserted into the rectum and threaded through the colon to look for signs of cancer.

The scans have been shown to be effective, but concerns about radiation exposure have scared many doctors off. (Reuters)

 

B vitamins make no difference in heart disease, cancer

NEW YORK - Despite a lot of initial excitement, B vitamins turn out not to lower the risk of a second heart attack in people who've already survived one, according to a large study that experts say closes the issue.

On the other hand, the findings also show that the vitamins -- folic acid and vitamin B12 -- don't appear to increase cancer risk, a concern voiced by some researchers. (Reuters Health)

 

Pretty silly data dredge: Coffee may cut risk of head and neck cancers

NEW YORK - Coffee might stave off more than just sleep, according to research showing that those who chug a lot of java have a lower rate of head and neck cancers.

Prior research on the link between coffee and cancer has yielded mixed results. Some studies, for example, have found lower rates of kidney and ovarian cancer among coffee drinkers, while there appears to be no effect for colon cancer.

For the new report, scientists pooled results from nine earlier studies on head and neck cancers, which also included information on coffee or tea drinking. In each study, cancer patients had been compared to either the general population or to hospital patients who didn't have cancer.

Overall, the risk of developing head and neck cancers was 12 percent lower in people who drank coffee compared with those who didn't, after accounting for a variety of factors, including cigarette smoking. (Reuters Health)

If the risk is at least doubled (or halved) you just might be looking at a real cause and effect relationship but don't bet on it.

 

Study: Older people are driving more, having fewer accidents

Here is the stereotype: White-haired senior driver poking nervously along the highway, frustrating younger drivers in a rush to get past.

Here was the concern: Experts predicted crash rates would soar as America grew older.

Here's the reality: Older people are driving more, crashing less and their fatal accident rate has dropped by 37 percent.

The biggest drop of all -- 47 percent -- came among drivers over the age of 80.

This all emerged in a study released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance industry group whose research benefits from both federal highway statistics and data collected by the companies whose policies cover the cost of accidents. (WaPo)

 

This nonsense again: Ban trans fats and cut salt, demands UK health body

LONDON - Britain's influential health cost watchdog called on Tuesday for major changes in food production and marketing and said drastic cuts in fat and salt levels were needed to halt the scourge of heart disease.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said trans fats, which do little more than prolong shelf life, should be banned from all food, saturated fat levels cut drastically and average salt intake more than halved by 2025.

If these changes were implemented, around 40,000 early deaths could be prevented each year in Britain alone and millions of people could be spared the suffering of living with the effects of heart disease and stroke, NICE said. (Reuters)

 

More evidence that secondhand smoke can kill

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who breathe in a lot of other people's tobacco smoke are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those exposed to lower levels of "secondhand" smoke, a new study suggests.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence linking secondhand smoke to cardiovascular disease, Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved with the study, told Reuters Health.

"More evidence"? We are still waiting for "some evidence". Our immediate problem is that there is no apparent difference between exposed and non-exposed when comparing adverse cardiac events between socioeconomic groups. Granted lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to be exposed to tobacco smoke but that is more a marker of socioeconomic status than it is a direct cardio risk factor. To determine this you require equivalent groups who differ only in tobacco smoke exposure -- perhaps they are very difficult groups to recruit but these are comparisons which never seem to be made and thus we are left with simple assertion. Perhaps it is true but why do they never do any useful studies? Bizarre.

 

Twaddle: Consumer group targets McDonald's Happy Meal toys

LOS ANGELES - A consumer group wants McDonald's Corp to stop using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants and has threatened to sue if the world's biggest hamburger chain does not comply within 30 days.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls the practice of using toys "unfair and deceptive marketing" and says it is illegal under consumer protection laws in states including California, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," CSPI's litigation director, Stephen Gardner, said in a statement. "It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction." (Reuters)

It doesn't matter how many cartoon stickers you put on broccoli, parsnip or brussel sprouts kids will still want what tastes good to them. Competition between fast food outlets is what motivates them to try to get kids to prefer theirs over similar offerings by adding inducements like toys but even without them kids will still prefer fries with that. Sodas and ice cream are part of the fun of the outing.

To the misnamed CSPI: Get lost, killjoys!

 

Organic pesticides not always 'greener' choice, study finds

Consumers shouldn't assume that, because a product is organic, it's also environmentally friendly.

A new University of Guelph study reveals some organic pesticides can have a higher environmental impact than conventional pesticides because the organic product may require larger doses.

Environmental sciences professor Rebecca Hallett and PhD candidate Christine Bahlai compared the effectiveness and environmental impact of organic pesticides to those of conventional and novel reduced-risk synthetic products on soybean crops.

"The consumer demand for organic products is increasing partly because of a concern for the environment," said Hallett. "But it's too simplistic to say that because it's organic it's better for the environment. Organic growers are permitted to use pesticides that are of natural origin and in some cases these organic pesticides can have higher environmental impacts than synthetic pesticides often because they have to be used in large doses."

The study, which is published today in the journal PloS One, involved testing six pesticides and comparing their environmental impact and effectiveness in killing soybean aphids – the main pest of soybean crops across North America.

The two scientists examined four synthetic pesticides: two conventional products commonly used by soybean farmers and two new, reduced-risk pesticides. They also examined a mineral oil-based organic pesticide that smothers aphids and another product containing a fungus that infects and kills insects.

The researchers used the environmental impact quotient, a database indicating impact of active ingredients based on such factors as leaching rate into soil, runoff, toxicity from skin exposure, consumer risk, toxicity to birds and fish, and duration of the chemical in the soil and on the plant.

They also conducted field tests on how well each pesticide targeted aphids while leaving their predators -- ladybugs and flower bugs -- unharmed.

"We found the mineral oil organic pesticide had the most impact on the environment because it works by smothering the aphids and therefore requires large amounts to be applied to the plants," said Hallett.

Compared to the synthetic pesticides, the mineral oil-based and fungal products were less effective, as they also killed ladybugs and flower bugs, which are important regulators of aphid population and growth.

These predator insects reduce environmental impact because they naturally protect the crop, reducing the amount of pesticides that are needed, she added.

"Ultimately, the organic products were much less effective than the novel and conventional pesticides at killing the aphids and they have a potentially higher environmental impact," she said. "In terms of making pest management decisions and trying to do what is best for the environment, it's important to look at every compound and make a selection based on the environmental impact quotient rather than if it's simply natural or synthetic. It's a simplification that just doesn't work when it comes to minimizing environmental impact."

Once the embargo lifts, the paper will be available here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011250. (University of Guelph)

 

Lots of room for activist mischief: Toxicity Pathway-Based Risk Assessment: Preparing for Paradigm Change: A Symposium Summary

In 2007, the National Research Council envisioned a new paradigm in which biologically important perturbations in key toxicity pathways would be evaluated with new methods in molecular biology, bioinformatics, computational toxicology, and a comprehensive array of in vitro tests based primarily on human biology. Although some considered the vision too optimistic with respect to the promise of the new science, no one can deny that a revolution in toxicity testing is under way. New approaches are being developed, and data are being generated. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects a large influx of data that will need to be evaluated. EPA also is faced with tens of thousands of chemicals on which toxicity information is incomplete and emerging chemicals and substances that will need risk assessment and possible regulation. Therefore, the agency asked the National Research Council to convene a symposium to stimulate discussion on the application of the new approaches and data in risk assessment.

The symposium was held on May 11-13, 2009, in Washington, DC, and included presentations and discussion sessions on pathway-based approaches for hazard identification, applications of new approaches to mode-of-action analyses, the challenges to and opportunities for risk assessment in the changing paradigm, and future directions. (NAP)

 

Another "problem" that never was: Acid rain: An environmental crisis that disappeared off the radar

You can tell an environmental problem has gone off the radar screen when Friends of the Earth don't have anybody tracking it, and that's the case with acid rain. There is currently no acid rain campaigner at FoE in London (although they will cheerfully point you in the direction of an expert). (The Independent)

Inter alia:

British acid rain helps our trees, says Norway

British acid rain is good for Norway's trees, says a Norwegian scientific study.

It wipes out damage caused by pollution from local industry and has helped the country's forests spread by a quarter in recent decades.

The report, by the state-run Norwegian forestry research institute, says that acid rain has been unfairly demonised.

Svein Solberg, of the institute, said: "After 15 years' research, it is now clear to us that, as far as forests are concerned, our fear of acid rain was totally unfounded.

"What we have found is that Norwegian forests have had a growth rate of some 25 per cent over the past 15 years and that acid rain is the reason."

The disclosure will severely embarrass the Norwegian environment ministry, which for at least 20 years has not missed an opportunity to take Britain to task over trans-border pollution. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Chinese acid rain may combat greenhouse gas emissions from rice paddies, new Open University research shows

As the world’s attention focuses on Beijing and China for the Olympic Games, criticism of the pollution levels around the city continues.

Now, new research, led by Dr Vincent Gauci of The Open University, indicates that related atmospheric pollution may have a beneficial side-effect – in combating methane emissions from rice, of which China is the world’s biggest producer.

Dr Gauci says: "We found that acid rain rates of sulfate pollution can reduce rice paddy emissions of methane - a gas that is 21 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

"It happens during the stage of the lifecycle when the rice plant is producing grain. This period is normally associated with around half of all methane emissions from rice and we found that simulated acid rain pollution reduced this emission by 25 per cent. (Environmental Research Letters)

Environmental crisis? Not even close.

 

That's not stopping the misanthropic enviroratbags having another go though: Car fumes raise spectre of 1980s revival nobody wants...acid rain

Thirty years ago it was one of the great environmental issues, along with the hole in the ozone layer and CFC chemicals. Now acid rain may be making a comeback – but this time, there's a change in the chemicals responsible.

Nitrogen emissions from motor vehicles and agricultural fertilisers, are combining with rain to produce nitric acid, and are starting to replace the sulphuric acid resulting from power-station emissions as a major source of the environmental scourge of the 1970s and 1980s, according to American experts. (The Independent)

None of the above constitute real problems. The "ozone hole" and depletion scare were a combination of poor experimental design, bad science, corporate opportunism and activist propaganda. "Acid rain" was another farce and gorebull warbling just another in a line of misanthropic campaigns. Acid rain, environmental mercury and gorebull warbling are assaults on societies' energy supplies and individual mobility and freedom while the nonsense over plastics, dioxin and pesticides are assaults on chlorine-based chemistry (basically all industrial chemistry) and plentiful crops and consumer goods. The bottom line is that the Gaia cranks don't want you to thrive and have a decent standard of living because you aren't "natural" (in their view).

 

Animal activists boycott Prince of Wales biscuits in protest at squirrel cull

Animal activists are boycotting Duchy Originals in protest at the Prince of Wales's calls to kill grey squirrels.
 
The Prince is supporting a plan to re-introduce red squirrels to Cornwall in a controversial project that will mean thousands of grey squirrels have to be culled in the area.

But Viva! and Animal Aid, two radical animal rights groups, said his "arrogant meddling with nature" was a "shocking waste of conservation money" that will harm both red and grey squirrels. (TDT)

Much as I'm never likely to agree with animal whackos it is probably true that the environment and humanity would be better off culling the prince of wails rather than a bunch of successful colonial squirrels... The idea that anyone is likely to notice the economic impact of animal nutters refusing a particular brand of organic bikkies is somewhat amusing though.

 

Bees fitted with tiny ID tags for study

Bees are being fitted with tiny radio ID tags to monitor their movements as part of research into whether pesticides could be giving the insects brain disorders, scientists said today.

The study is examining concerns that pesticides could be damaging bees' abilities to gather food, navigate and even perform their famous "waggle dance" through which they tell other bees where nectar can be found.

The research is part of a raft of studies which will look at declines in pollinators including bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths, amid fears over the impact of their falling numbers. (The Independent)

 

This would be excellent, if only The Guardian didn't confuse faith with science: Science: Beyond reason

Tomorrow's problems will not be solved by abandoning science, but by embracing it, and applying it for the good of all (Editorial, The Guardian)

Doubting catastrophic global warming is not only rational but founded precisely in observational science -- no one can calculate the "correct" expected temperature for planet Earth simply because we do not have sufficiently precise measurement of reflected solar energy. Without being able to measure how energy moves through the system we are simply not able to determine greenhouse effect, natural or possibly enhanced (if that is really possible).

Attempting to "address climate change" has as much chance of being purely detrimental as it does of doing anyone any good. Taking "action" is ill-advised when you don't know what effect you will precipitate.

 

Groan... In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but cheatgrass keeps on truckin'

Study raises concerns for agriculture

In August of 2008 Jacob Schaefer, PhD, on vacation in San Diego, picked up a copy of the Los Angeles Times.

As it happened, the newspaper was running a series on the wildfires in the western United States.

The wildfires, he read, are more frequent — they now occur every few years instead of every few decades — and they are burning larger areas.

The more intense fire cycle is fueled by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an invasive plant that is rapidly displacing native sagebrush plant communities.

Schaefer, the Charles Allen Thomas Professor of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences, was intrigued. At home in St. Louis he was studying the response of soybeans to stressful growing conditions. Soybeans, frankly, were having trouble coping.

What about cheatgrass, he wondered? The way it was mopping up the West suggested it might be running its metabolism differently from other plants.

His hunch proved to be right. His results, published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, show that cheatgrass biochemistry is better suited to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations than soybean biochemistry.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence challenging the idea that all plants will benefit from rising carbon dioxide levels. Some plants will be helped, but others will be harmed. (Washington University in St Louis)

What they have actually done is find an opportunity to greatly increase the productivity of soybeans through biotech enhancement, so why try to spin it as a handwringer?

 

Right to Carry Arms Reduces Crime?

FBN's John Stossel argues the right to carry a concealed gun would reduce crime.

 

 

Colleagues cool to Kerry on energy

John Kerry has been the most aggressive advocate of climate change legislation in the Senate this year — so aggressive that it’s rubbed some of his colleagues the wrong way. 

The Massachusetts Democrat is making his pitch with an almost religious fervor, pushing a message that’s equal parts saving the planet, national security and the economy. Many of his colleagues have been impressed by Kerry’s expertise and his passion in trying to push through caps on carbon when others would prefer to move onto a more limited, energy-only bill. 

Yet it’s that same zeal that is making some swing-vote Democrats cringe at the thought of negotiating with someone they fear is tone-deaf to the political realities of their respective states — particularly in a difficult midterm elections year. 

Kerry’s style, said Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), is akin to being “pursued by a suitor, just as boys pursue girls.” 

Rockefeller, who last week called on the Senate to ignore carbon limits, declined to say whether Kerry is the Democrats’ best messenger on climate, saying it was “sort of too direct a question” to answer. 

“Well, he’s certainly a constant,” Rockefeller said. “The question is whether that’s good.” 

“He’s so obsessed,” said one wavering Democratic senator who has been pursued by Kerry. “Clearly, it’s all climate, all the time with him.” (Politico)

 

Obama to renew push for climate change action from Senate

Barack Obama will today make a renewed push to spur the US Senate into action on climate change, saying the BP oil spill underlines the urgency for the country to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels.

The US president will host senators from both parties at the White House - including those who have proposed variations on a climate change bill - but analysts are sceptical about whether he can overcome the political impasse on a proposal that is seen as essentially a tax. (Financial Times)

 

 

Influential Senator Works To Suspend Greenhouse Gas Rule 

WASHINGTON--As U.S. Senate lawmakers attempt to determine the fate of energy legislation, an influential Democrat is boosting efforts to suspend a controversial greenhouse-gas rule passed earlier this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

After introducing a bill to impose a two-year halt on the new EPA rule, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, is now working to round up supporters for his legislation. 

"I believe that climate change--the science of it--is for real, there's no question," Rockefeller told reporters Tuesday. "I also think that very carbon-rich states like West Virginia should have a chance." 

One Democratic aide said the senator has already corralled about 52 votes for his bill and will need 60 votes to overcome a possible filibuster. 

Rockefeller is not the only lawmaker who opposes the EPA's rule, which imposes permit requirements for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska) proposed a resolution that would've overturned the EPA's "endangerment" finding, which serves as the basis for the agency's greenhouse gas rule. Murkowski's resolution failed by a vote of 47 to 53. 

Some lawmakers oppose the EPA's rule because they want to block any attempt to put a price on carbon dioxide, which is what happens under so-called cap and trade programs. Others, like Rockefeller, believe Congress should be the one to develop greenhouse gas policies, and not the EPA. (Dow Jones)

 

Bid to suspend California's global warming law qualifies for November ballot

The battle over the initiative, launched by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, will pit that industry against environmentalists and the state's clean-tech businesses.

California headed for a high-stakes battle over global warming Tuesday, as an oil industry-backed measure to suspend the state's aggressive climate-change law qualified for the November ballot.

The fight will pit the state's powerful environmental organizations and clean-tech businesses against the oil and manufacturing industries. It also arrays many conservative political leaders, including the GOP nominee for governor, Meg Whitman, against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican who regards the global warming law as a key part of his legacy. (Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times)

 

The U.K. situation has improved slightly: Osborne shuns low-carbon agenda in non-green Budget

Climate change and green economy barely mentioned as chancellor delays reform to aviation tax and skates over plans for green bank

Chancellor George Osborne has today left low-carbon businesses disappointed with arguably the least green Budget address in recent memory.

The low-carbon economy and the need to cut carbon emissions barely received a mention as the chancellor's first Budget address focused almost exclusively on the spending cuts and tax rises required to tackle the UK's budget deficit.

There were a few bright spots for green businesses as the chancellor confirmed that the coalition government would "bring forward" plans for a green investment bank, although he provided no further detail on how such a bank would operate.

He also said that the Treasury would "explore" proposals to replace Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane levy that would help to cut carbon emissions. However, a report on the proposal will not be delivered until the autumn, despite the reform being included in both the Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos. (James Murray, BusinessGreen)

 

Climate science after the ‘hockey stick’ affair

The use and abuse of a single graph to justify action on climate change shows the need for healthy scepticism.
 
From the moment it appeared in 1999, it was clear the ‘hockey stick’ graph was going to be very, very important. The graph, which appeared in a paper by US climatologist Michael Mann and others published in 1999, is a reconstruction of global temperatures over the past thousand years. Since for most of that period there were no weather stations monitoring temperature, a variety of proxy temperature measures, like tree rings, needed to be used.

Two things are striking about the graph. Firstly, the period from the year 1000 right through to the mid-nineteenth century shows relatively steady temperatures, despite the widespread belief that there was a ‘medieval warm period’ from around about 950 to 1250 AD. Secondly, that temperatures in Mann’s graph lurch sharply upwards - hence the ‘hockey stick’ nickname - particularly during the twentieth century, suggesting that the world had been getting sharply warmer and would continue to do so.

Within a week of the graph’s publication there was an article about it in the New York Times. This was pretty amazing considering Michael Mann, the lead author of the paper, had only received his PhD a few months before. A couple of years later, it turned up in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), appearing five or six times, full size, full colour. It was fairly clear that the hockey-stick graph was important. (AW Montford, spiked)

 

Judge stays Cuccinelli's U-Va. climate change subpoena, sets Aug. 20 court date

An Albermarle County judge has stayed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's civil investigative demand to the University of Virginia for documents related to a former university climate scientist, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the request.

The university faced a July 26 deadline for complying with the subpoena but Circuit Court Judge Cheryl V. Higgins stayed the demand after the university petitioned the judge asking her to set Cuccinelli's inquiry aside. Cuccinelli has said he is investigating whether former university professor Michael Mann committed fraud when he sought and spent five public grants for his research. The university is resisting the request, arguing that Cuccinelli is intruding on Mann's academic freedom.

Such a stay is common practice and was formalized as part of a scheduling order that has been in the works for some time (the judge seems to have signed it June 10) but has been circulated to lawyers just this week. The order, agreed to by both sides, also sets a schedule for the circuit court's consideration of the university's petition, culminating in the courtroom showdown of oral arguments on Aug. 20. (WaPo)

 

Sigh... Scientists 'Convinced' of Climate Consensus More Prominent Than Opponents, Says Paper

A new analysis of 1372 climate scientists who have participated in major climate science reviews or have signed statements in support or opposition to their main conclusions confirms what many researchers have said for years: Those who believe in anthropogenic climate change rank much higher on the scientific pecking order than do those who take issue with the idea. (Science Insider)

 

The Global Warming Inquisition Has Begun

A new “study” has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which has examined the credentials and publication records of climate scientists who are global warming skeptics versus those who accept the “tenets of anthropogenic climate change”.

Not surprisingly, the study finds that the skeptical scientists have fewer publications or are less credentialed than the marching army of scientists who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 20 years to find every potential connection between fossil fuel use and changes in nature.

After all, nature does not cause change by itself, you know. </SARCASM>

The study lends a pseudo-scientific air of respectability to what amounts to a black list of the minority of scientists who do not accept the premise that global warming is mostly the result of you driving your SUV and using incandescent light bulbs.

There is no question that there are very many more scientific papers which accept the mainstream view of global warming being caused by humans. And that might account for something if those papers actually independently investigated alternative, natural mechanisms that might explain most global warming in the last 30 to 50 years, and found that those natural mechanisms could not.

As just one of many alternative explanations, most of the warming we have measured in the last 30 years could have been caused by a natural, 2% decrease in cloud cover. Unfortunately, our measurements of global cloud cover over that time are nowhere near accurate enough to document such a change.

But those scientific studies did not address all of the alternative explanations. They couldn’t, because we do not have the data to investigate them. The vast majority of them simply assumed global warming was manmade.

I’m sorry, but in science a presupposition is not “evidence”.

Instead, anthropogenic climate change has become a scientific faith. The fact that the very first sentence in the PNAS article uses the phrase “tenets of anthropogenic climate change” hints at this, since the term “tenet” is most often used when referring to religious doctrine, or beliefs which cannot be proved to be true.

So, since we have no other evidence to go on, let’s pin the rap on humanity. It just so happens that’s the position politicians want, which is why politics played such a key role in the formation of the IPCC two decades ago.

The growing backlash against us skeptics makes me think of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, which started in the 12th Century. Of course, no one (I hope no one) will be tried and executed for not believing in anthropogenic climate change. But the fact that one of the five keywords or phrases attached to the new PNAS study is “climate denier” means that such divisive rhetoric is now considered to be part of our mainstream scientific lexicon by our country’s premier scientific organization, the National Academy of Sciences.

Surely, equating a belief in natural climate change to the belief that the Holocaust slaughter of millions of Jews and others by the Nazis never occurred is a new low for science as a discipline.

The new paper also implicitly adds most of the public to the black list, since surveys have shown dwindling public belief in the consensus view of climate change.

At least I have lots of company. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Black list study: heretics are successfully suppressed by the AGW cult

William R. L. Anderegg - a Stanford ecology grad student ;-) -, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider (an AGW and new ice age prophet) published a bizarre paper in PNAS,

Expert credibility in climate change (full text PDF, abstract)

Promotion of this "scientific work" by The Telegraph
The authors have reached an incredibly surprising conclusion: the climate heretics are less enthusiastically worshiped by the AGW cult than the AGW cultists! What a surprise.

For example, the average number of papers accepted for publication that were written by the AGW cultists exceeds the analogous number for the "climate deniers", which is the #2 keyword of the article, by a factor of two. (Naomi Oreskes has claimed that the ratio was infinity rather than two.)

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

 

Do Climate Black Lists Matter?

Do climate black lists matter? Or are they just tribalism at worst and fun and games on the internet at best? Surely, such lists couldn't be used to affect someone's career, could they?

With this post I'll share some personal experience to explain why I think such lists matter. Here is an email that (presumably) all University of Colorado-Boulder faculty received from the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) just before the summer break less than one month ago (emphasis added):

Dear Colleagues,

Attached is a copy of the BFA update, providing you with an opportunity to learn about what your faculty governance organization is concerned with. Please note the item about the Regents' guiding principles and their expressed preference for political and intellectual balance on the faculty. This is of great concern to the social sciences and humanities, but may also affect engineering and science faculties. The guideline could require a search committee to inquire about:

1. an individual faculty member's perspective on environment, energy and global warming,

2. an individual faculty member's perspective on creation and the origin of the universe,

3. an individual faculty member's perspective on evolution.

Please let me know your opinion of these . . .
What I understand this to mean is that a search committee for a new faculty hire could be required to ask about the candidates' views on "environment, energy and global warming" as a matter of obtaining their political views, which presumably would be factored into a hiring decision to achieve some sort of "political and intellectual balance." Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I find this to be stepping on a slippery slope. I will strongly object to any such "oaths of allegiance" as a condition of or factor in hiring faculty on our campus.

Let me also relate a related personal story (one of several that I could share). Several years ago I was invited by Republican staff to testify before a congressional committee. My general policy on such requests is that when I am invited by government to present my views I will do so regardless of those doing the asking, so long as I can present my views unaltered and directly. After all, my salary and research funds are from the public and I see it as my responsibility to participate in the political process whenever asked. I have in the past testified at the request of both Democrats and Republicans.

At the time I was invited a few liberal bloggers made a big deal about me having been invited by Republicans and posted on it on their blogs. Subsequently, a number of climate scientists contacted my Chancellor's office to complain that my association with the Republicans was unhelpful (because I am perceived to be credible) and asked if anything could be done about it.

A high-up university official (who will go unnamed but who sat in the direct chain of command between my chair and the Chancellor) asked me to lunch, told me about the messages that had been received by the Chancellor's office and warned me in no uncertain terms that I should think carefully about testifying for the Republicans because my career could suffer. The message that I heard was that I had better not testify or else my career might suffer. I took this as a direct threat from an official with influence on my career at the university and I said so on the spot. I was shocked to be in such a conversation. I immediately protested via email to my chair and institute director, invoking academic freedom and tenure. At that point the university official backed down and apologized, claiming a misunderstanding.

Did I actually feel threatened? Not really. I have tenure and a strong academic record. I was more angry with and disappointed in my university. Was the experience a window into how politicized the climate issue is in academia? You bet. Had I not had tenure, been earlier in my career with more decisions to come before higher-ups in my future or been a bit more sensitive to such things I can see how it would be enormously chilling to an academic to have such an experience.

So do black lists of people espousing certain views on climate science trouble me? Yes. It is easy to connect the dots between a university considering "loyalty oaths" -- black lists -- and a hyper-politicized academic environment to see what can result. Such lists are particularly troubling when they are advanced and endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, which is a quasi-government entity receiving considerable public funds, while my own university is debating an oath of allegiance on climate change as a possible condition of employment.

So, is invoking the specter of McCarthyism going too far? For me it is not. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

PNAS Climate Change Expert Credibility Farce

A new, purportedly scientific report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is claiming that more “top” environmental scientists believe in global warming. Moreover, the report also claims that the scientists who do believe in global warming—now re-labeled anthropogenic climate change (ACC)—have higher credibility than those who do not. All of this is based on an “extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data.” Citing such data is like saying “most of the people who write for conservative magazines are conservatives.” In other words, the study is devoid of factual significance and possibly purposely misleading. More propaganda from the sinking global warming ship. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

'Climate change sceptics have smaller members, uglier wives, dumber kids' says new study made up by warmists

Are there really no depths to which ManBearPig-worshippers will not stoop in order to shore up their intellectually, morally and scientifically bankrupt cause?
Apparently not, as we see from the latest “study” – based on a petty, spiteful, Stasi-like blacklist produced by an obscure Canadian warmist – outrageously aggrandised by being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (James Delingpole)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Google Scholar at the Academy

Lawrence Solomon  June 22, 2010 – 3:20 pm

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has utilized a non-expert to write an analysis entitled “Expert credibility in climate change.” This analysis judges the climate science credentials of scientists who have taken a position in the climate change debate, and disqualifies those who are not expert enough in climate science for its choosing.

The non-expert writer of this analysis of credibility, James W. Prall at Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, is not only not an expert in the field of climate change, he is also not an expert in electrical and computer engineering, at least not in the sense that some might assume from his University of Toronto affiliation. Mr. Prall is an administrator who looks after computers at the university, not a scientist or even a lowly researcher in the field. If it strikes you as odd that an editor at the National Academy of Sciences would accept someone with a life-long service and programming career in the computer field to judge the academic credentials of scientists, it gets odder.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

 

WSI Ups 2010 Hurricane Forecast To 20 Named Storms

Private forecaster Weather Services International (WSI) said on Tuesday its latest forecast called for a more active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

Forecasters at WSI are calling for 20 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five intense hurricanes of a category 3 or greater. The forecast adds two storms and one hurricane to a WSI prediction released in May.

The forecast is significantly above the long-term average taken between 1950-2009 which shows 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes.

Forecasters at WSI expect the coastal region from the Outer Banks of North Carolina north to Maine will be twice as likely than normal to experience a hurricane this season.

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be as active as 2005 when a record four major hurricanes hit the United States, severely disrupting U.S. oil and natural gas operations along the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are "even warmer than the freakishly active season of 2005,", said WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford in a statement. (Reuters)

 

Jones; Mann; Schmidt and; Trenberth, inter alia... all still trying to downplay natural variation: El Niño explanation for global warming flawed

About every 4 years, faltering easterly trade winds over the tropical Pacific Ocean cause warm waters to linger, generating an anomalously warm wet period in the eastern Pacific for about 6 months. During these times the western Pacific becomes cooler and drier. A few years later, a reversal of these conditions occurs when trade winds amplify, pushing warm waters even farther west, leading to unusually cool waters across a broad expanse of the equatorial Pacific.

This seesaw effect is called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Scientists know that ENSO is important to climate studies, playing a key role in determining average global temperature. But to what extent does it influence these temperatures?

A recently published paper by McLean et al. (Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D14104, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637, 2009) claimed that more than two thirds of the decadal and longer-term variation in large-scale tropospheric temperatures—including recent global warming—can be explained solely by ENSO. However, Foster et al. use a simple model to show that McLean et al. reached invalid conclusions because of inappropriate filtering of data. This caused McLean et al. to overstate the influence of ENSO in their study; in actuality, ENSO contributes less than a third of the signal. Thus the general acknowledgment that recent temperature rise is likely due to human-induced greenhouse emissions is not refuted by McLean et al.'s study.

Title: Comment on "Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature" by J. D. McLean, C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter

Authors: G. Foster: Tempo Analytics, Westbrook, Maine, USA.; J. D. Annan: Research Institute for Global Change, JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan; P. D. Jones: Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; M. E. Mann: Department of Meteorology and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.; B. Mullan and J. Renwick: Climate Variability group, NIWA, Wellington, New Zealand; J. Salinger: School of Environment, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; G. A. Schmidt: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA; K. E. Trenberth: Climate Analysis Section, NCAR, Boulder Colorado, USA.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres (JGR-D) paper 10.1029/2009JD012960, 2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2009JD012960

 

Swiss Alps: Glacier Surface Mass Balance Linked to AMO

Thirty new 100-year records of glacier surface mass balance, accumulation and melt in the Swiss Alps are presented. The time series are based on a comprehensive set of field data and distributed modeling and provide insights into the glacier-climate linkage. Considerable mass loss over the 20th century is evident for all glaciers, but rates differ strongly. Glacier mass loss shows multidecadal variations and was particularly rapid in the 1940s and since the 1980s. Mass balance is significantly anticorrelated to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index assumed to be linked to thermohaline ocean circulation. We show that North Atlantic variability had a recognizable impact on glacier changes in the Swiss Alps for at least 250 years.

Citation: Huss, M., R. Hock, A. Bauder, and M. Funk (2010), 100-year mass changes in the Swiss Alps linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L10501, doi:10.1029/2010GL042616. (Climate Research News)

 

Less warming risk from permafrost thaw?

Soil found in the Arctic stores half of the world's soil organic carbon (SOC) and twice as much carbon as is in the atmosphere. Rising temperatures in the Arctic are thawing the permafrost; some of the soil carbon then degrades into greenhouse gases that are remobilized into the carbon cycle, exerting positive feedback on global warming.

Vonk et al.'s objective was to find out what happens to terrestrial SOC after it is released from Arctic landmasses to coastal waters. The authors chose northernmost Scandinavia to conduct their study due to its sensitivity to the warming climate.

The molecular radiocarbon fingerprint of suspended particulate matter and surface sediments collected during spring flood 2005 in the Kalix River-Bothnian Bay system reveals that there are two distinct SOC pools, which exhibit different susceptibilities to degradation upon settling from the surface water to the underlying sediments. The exported SOC distributed by rivers and streams consists of a young pool that is released from recent plant material and the upper soil layers of peatlands and an older pool that originates from deeper mineral soil layers.

The data reveal that the young pool, with an inferred high degradation rate, would be expected to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, while the carbon from the older pool, which is tightly bound to mineral particles that protect it from degradation, would resettle in coastal sediments. Therefore, thaw-released mineral organic carbon may, relative to peat organic carbon, preferentially end up in coastal sediments instead of the atmosphere. The results suggest that researchers should reevaluate the assumption that there is a simple direct link between thawing of permafrost and the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Title: Selective preservation of old organic carbon fluvially released from sub-Arctic soils

Authors: Jorien E. Vonk, Bart E. van Dongen, and Örjan Gustafsson: Department of Applied Environmental Science and Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2010GL042909, 2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL042909

 

Aerosols strongly influence cloud properties

The interaction of aerosol and clouds is one significant uncertainty in studies of anthropogenic forcing of climate. To learn more about the effects of fine aerosols on cloud microphysics, Constantino and Bréon perform a multisensor analysis of the atmosphere off the coast of Namibia and Angola. The authors chose this particular area because it is often affected by smoke from burning biomass. The aerosol particles from this smoke are transported by trade winds into the atmosphere, where they come in contact with low-level stratocumulus clouds.

The authors analyze cloud droplet radii (CDR), aerosol index (AI), and vertical profiles of aerosols and clouds using measurements from three different satellites. One satellite measured CDR, a second one detected active fires in the area and allowed estimates of aerosol loads around the clouds, and a third was used to distinguish between separate layers of clouds and aerosols and mixed layers.

Previous studies have shown that the concentration of aerosol particles in a cloud affects the cloud droplet radius. Adding to those studies, the authors now report that near-simultaneous measurements from the three satellites show no specific relationship between CDR and AI for separated aerosol and cloud layers. But, when aerosol and cloud layers mix, there is a strong correlation between CDR and aerosol concentration, with higher levels of aerosols resulting in smaller cloud droplets.

The results confirm that aerosols have a strong impact on cloud microphysics. The size of cloud droplets affects the amount of solar radiation that is reflected by clouds, which influences climate.

Title: Analysis of aerosol-cloud interaction from multi-sensor satellite observations

Authors: Lorenzo Costantino and François-Marie Bréon: Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Unité Mixte de Recherche, UVSQ, CEA, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2009GL041828, 2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2009GL041828

 

From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 25: 23 June 2010

Editorial:
Acknowledging Recent Natural Cooling: It's nice to finally see the true nature of earth's recent temperature history acknowledged in the peer-reviewed literature, even though those reporting it still cling to their unproven contention that anthropogenic warming reigns supreme.

Subject Index Summary:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (Collapse and Disintegration): These two modes of ice sheet dynamism are always hyped by climate alarmists. But is there any evidence to suggest they are on the verge of occurring in West Antarctica?

Journal Reviews:
Global Tropical Storm Days: How have they varied over the past four decades?

British Coastal Temperature Anomalies of the Last Millennium: What do they suggest about the nature of late 20th-century warming?

Ischemic Heart Disease and Recent Climate Change in Canada: How has the former responded to the latter?

Tropospheric Ozone Trends Around the World: Are they positive or negative? ... and what are the implications for the CO2-induced greening of the earth phenomenon?

Woody Plant Encroachment and Groundwater Recharge: How does the former affect the latter? ... and what does the answer have to do with CO2?

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Potato (Tao et al., 2010), Rice (Fan et al., 2010), Scrub Oak Ecosystem (Seiler et al., 2009), and Tomato (Sun et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 845 individual scientists from 502 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from GISP2 Ice Core, Central Greenland. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (co2science.org)

 

Who Told Obama Offshore Drilling is 'Absolutely Safe'?

There was one particularly striking moment in President Obama's widely panned June 15 speech on the gulf oil disaster. About midway through his talk, Obama acknowledged that he had approved new offshore drilling a few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20. But Obama said he had done so only "under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe."

Absolutely safe? Even before the gulf spill, few defenders of offshore drilling would go that far. And when the president announced his drilling plan, on March 31, he said it was "not a decision that I've made lightly" and that he and his advisers had "looked at (it) closely for more than a year." Surely he was told of the possible risks.

"If you can find anything that's absolutely safe, I sure want to find out about it," says Robert Bea, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. "There is no engineering system that I am aware of that has zero likelihood of failure." (Byron York, Townhall)

 

Our Government Slowed Down the Gulf Cleanup

Our own government has quietly admitted that America needs foreign help to handle the oil spill — almost two months after pushing that help away.

Far more oil could have been intercepted before it fouled the Gulf Coast.  So why hasn’t our government apologized?

By refusing foreign assistance, we banned both the latest technology and cleanup vessels that far exceed the capacity of America’s oil spill response vessels (OSRV’s).  We rejected ships with ten times the capability of the vessels we used instead.

In a quiet announcement on June 18, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) finally agreed that we need help, describing a conclusion reached two days before:

. . . the FOSC, in coordination with other federal agencies, determined on June 16, 2010, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. §55113, that there are an insufficient number of specialized oil skimming vessels in the U.S. to keep pace with the unprecedented levels of oil discharges in the Gulf of Mexico. Based upon this determination, foreign specialized skimming vessels may be deployed to response operations.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Trend toward deep-water drilling likely to continue

Willie Sutton robbed banks because that's where the money is. And oil companies venture into deep waters for exploration because that's where the oil is.

That's why -- even though President Obama has imposed a six-month moratorium on deep-water exploration drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- the oil and gas industry is going to be back. And it's why in other countries, the deep-water search hasn't stopped.

Within five years, global deep-water production is expected to rise by two-thirds, to 10 million barrels a day, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates. That's equivalent to the amount of crude oil that the world's largest exporter, Saudi Arabia, produces. And in the United States, improved technology for extracting oil from deep water accounted for about 70 percent of the increase in the U.S. Geological Survey's estimates of recoverable U.S. oil reserves in recent years. (WaPo)

 

The Antidrilling Commission

The White House choices seem to have made up their minds.

"Under my Administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. . . To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. . . I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, and not the other way around."

—President Obama, April 27, 2009


The President has appointed a seven-person commission to take what he says will be an objective look at what caused the Gulf spill and the steps to make offshore drilling safe. But judging from the pedigree of his commissioners, we're beginning to wonder if his real goal is to turn drilling into a partisan election issue.

Mr. Obama filled out his commission last week, and the news is that there's neither an oil nor drilling expert in the bunch. Instead, he's loaded up on politicians and environmental activists. (WSJ)

 

Gulf Drilling Season Reopens

Energy: Citing serious flaws, a federal judge overturned President Obama's six-month moratorium on new deep-water drilling projects. It's a good decision, one that puts reason and the law before populist politics.

In rejecting the moratorium, New Orleans federal judge Martin Feldman said "the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium" and suggested it intentionally misled the public.

The administration's case, from the beginning, lacked either a moral or a legal basis, and the judge saw right through it. The moratorium was political pandering, pure and simple.

Not tough to see why. The president's popularity is in a nose dive that has accelerated since the Gulf oil blowout. A CBS-New York Times poll taken last week found that only 32% believe the president has a plan to deal with the disaster, vs. 59% who believe he doesn't.

Some 61% fault the White House for reacting too slowly to the Gulf spill, which has gushed 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil a day since April 20. It's been an epic PR disaster for a White House already hurt by growing charges of incompetence and inexperience.

Given the steady drip-drip of bad news for the White House — even many of Obama's most ardent liberal supporters in the media, like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, have abandoned him on this issue — the logical impulse was to do what has always seemed to work in the past: politicize the blame.

That's why the president announced the moratorium on May 26, affecting some 33 exploratory drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Early on, he vowed to kick BP's "ass," a nice bit of populist theater he followed up by compelling the oil company to fund a possibly illegal $20 billion "trust," to be administered by the White House.

He knew the extortion from BP and the even-broader industry moratorium would be popular with many voters, who are in no mood to be nice to Big Oil after BP's blowout.

We can't blame people for being mad. But the simple fact is, the moratorium was a disaster that would have made things worse. Not only did it punish oil companies that had done nothing wrong for BP's mistakes, but if carried out, it would have wreaked devastation on the Gulf region's economy — and on U.S. energy security. (IBD)

 

Moratorium One of Many Obama Oil Spill Mistakes

The order by a federal district court in Louisiana overturning President Obama’s six-month general moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates many of the mistakes the administration has made in handling this environmental disaster.  From the unjustified 24-hour ban imposed by the Coast Guard on the barges that were pumping oil out of the water to check on whether they had fire extinguishers and life vests on board to the Army Corps of Engineers’ delays in allowing Louisiana to build berms and sand barriers to protect its wetlands, the administration has acted more like the Keystone Cops than a competent and effective government.

The order by Judge Martin Feldman paints quite a stark picture of both political over-reaction and a lack of sound judgment and expertise.  The plaintiffs include several companies that provide services and equipment for deepwater explorations, everything from ships to shipyards, and they employ over 10,000 people.  They sued Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar under the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which authorizes a federal court to overturn the actions of a federal agency when they are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not otherwise in accordance with the law.”  The court concluded that, in fact, the plaintiffs established a likelihood of successfully showing that “the Administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the moratorium.”

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Legal drilling battle looms as Gulf spill spreads

SAN FRANCISCO/CHANDELEUR ISLANDS, La., June 23 - The White House stepped up its legal battle on Wednesday over a key part of its response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after a U.S. judge blocked its six-month ban on offshore drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would order a new moratorium on deepwater drilling "in the coming days" to reinstate a temporary ban aimed at ensuring offshore safety after the worst oil spill in U.S. history. (Reuters)

 

Good For You, Joe Barton

Say it's not so, Joe -- that you're actually sorry for mussing up the Obama administration over its treatment of BP.

Congressman Barton, sir, never mind what the party leaders made you say in riposte to your own verbal thrust last week. You were right the first time -- right to call out the White House for tactics extralegal at best, embarrassing to many who continue for some odd reason to look to the Oval Office for moral leadership.

The White House's behavior has the odor of a dead cow. That's the bottom line -- a more urgent matter than Barton's decision to air his dead-on appraisal in the context of an "apology" to Tony Hayward and his company.

Hayward and the BP wimps who rolled over, scrubbed their projected dividend, and acceded to the president's demand for a $20 billion escrow fund deserve a kick in the pants more they do than an expression of regret. Nor, as Texas Congressman Joseph Barton acknowledged in his public declaration to Hayward, should the company escape reproach for bad decisions.

The worst thing about Joe Barton's "apology" (coupled with his apology for the apology) is the implication abroad in political and media circles that Barton was a jerk to have "apologized" the first time. (Bill Murchison, Townhall)

 

Alaska Wary Of Sending Too Much Spill Gear To Gulf

Alaska, a significant contributor of oil spill-fighting gear to the U.S. Gulf cleanup, could be left vulnerable to its own environmental crisis if it ships away much more equipment, officials warn.

The oil-producing state, where the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill prompted a slew of safety regulations, requires oil operators to maintain a set volume of booms, skimmers and other equipment, including enough in Prince William Sound to contain 300,000 barrels of oil within 72 hours.

Now, with the BP Plc spill in its 64th day, pressure from the federal government to keep contributing equipment is intense, state officials say.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and the state are reviewing available supplies and deciding what can be safely sent away, said Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig.

"Anything that goes out decreases your readiness to a certain degree," Hartig said.

So far, there is no talk of cutting off equipment for the Gulf clean-up, but officials say there is a limit to what the state can send. They have yet to determine what that is. (Reuters)

 

Well duh! Poll Finds Deep Concern About Energy and Economy

Overwhelmingly, Americans think the nation needs a fundamental overhaul of its energy policies, and most expect alternative forms to replace oil as a major source within 25 years. Yet a majority are unwilling to pay higher gasoline prices to help develop new fuel sources.

Those are among the findings of the latest nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll, which examines the public’s reaction to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, highlights some of the complex political challenges the Obama administration faces. For instance, despite intense news coverage and widespread public concern about the economic and ecological damage from the gulf disaster, most Americans remain far more concerned about jobs and the nation’s overall economy. (NYT)

 

Expand the Presidential Commission on Deepwater Horizon

Amid the other news this week, including the President's address to the nation on the Gulf Coast oil disaster and his meeting with BP officials yesterday, the announcement on Monday of the five remaining members of the Presidential Commission to assess the ''environmental and safety precautions...to ensure an accident like this never happens again'' seems to have sunk without a trace. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Tribune)

 

America’s Gift: High Technology and Lower Prices (peak gas not!)

by Donald Hertzmark
June 22, 2010

In a raft of articles on this blog and elsewhere, the surge in U.S. gas production–due mostly to rapidly increasing output from shale formations–has been touted as a key savior of domestic drillers and consumers.

At the same time shale gas has been more than a headache for LNG exporters and pipeline monopolists, for some it threatens to become a nightmare – softening prices, competing with pipeline supplies, driving LNG demand to spot markets – generally making a pain of itself, from the viewpoint of the gas industry’s would-be GOPEC.

By providing a plentiful alternative source of supply for the world’s largest gas market, the U.S., shale gas has reduced wellhead netbacks throughout the Atlantic Basin.  International reverberations have been dramatic. Even the Russian Bear, feeling the hot breath of the market, is softening its pricing terms for international gas sales.

“A Republic, if You Can Keep It”

At the close of the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787 a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, as he was leaving what we know as Constitutional Hall: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”  Franklin replied:   “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  For natural gas, we can paraphrase Mr. Franklin – a market, if you can live with it.

In the U.S. and throughout the world the bounty of shale gas has created significant opportunities for consumers to save money on energy, and clean energy at that.  Most of these benefits are available only to countries where the market determines gas prices. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Shoddy Parts Trip Up Major North Sea Wind Farm

Germany's first offshore wind park was dealt a blow with the failure of two turbines due to inferior materials. The rough patch has energy executives scurrying to reassure Berlin and banks scrutinizing their billions in offshore wind energy investments.

Less than two months after celebrating its opening, the Alpha Ventus test wind park in the North Sea is already running into problems. Intended to be the initial thrust in a plan that foresees dozens of new offshore wind parks off the German coast, shoddy building materials have caused two turbines to overheat and fail. An additional four turbines will need to be replaced.

Each of the struggling turbines was manufactured by the French firm Areva, which is responsible for half of the 12 turbines in the four-square-kilometer park (1.5 square miles), located about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of the island of Borkum.

Areva said Friday that overheating was unforeseen and "not sufficiently considered" from the outset. As a result, the company will invest in a facility in Bremerhaven to test its turbines under full-load capacity before sending them out to sea.

The turbines, which had only been in operation for eight months, will be replaced by late summer, according to Areva. (Spiegel)

 

Surge in hydropower schemes since 2000

The growing popularity for converting old water mills and weirs back to producing electricity has led to a six fold increase in hydropower in England and Wales over the last decade. (TDT)

 

 

Supreme Court Ducks Question on Taking Property

The legal world has been focused on a constitutional property-rights case before the Supreme Court. Last week the Court handed down its decision, and disappointed those waiting for this decision by deferring the big question to a future case. So it remains unclear whether courts can take your property without compensating you. (Ken Klukowski, Townhall)

 

Wastewater upgrade filters gender-bending chemicals

WASHINGTON - Upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant in Colorado helped filter out gender-bending chemicals that were affecting fish, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

They said male fish are now taking longer to be feminized by so-called hormone disrupters in one creek in Colorado after standard improvements to a wastewater treatment plant in Boulder in 2008.

David Norris of the University of Colorado at Boulder had earlier found ethinylestradiol, a female hormone used in contraceptives, in Boulder Creek. His team also had measured bisphenol A and phthalates, which are both used in plastics and which can mimic the effects of hormones, as well as pesticides and antidepressants in the water.

Most probably came from products flushed down toilets and drains, Norris told a meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.

"We excrete natural and synthetic estrogens and use shampoos, detergents and cosmetics containing a variety of hormone disrupters that wind up in waterways," he said in a statement. (Reuters)

 

NY Times Reporter Honored for Activism Disguised as Journalism

Charles Duhigg's 'Toxic Waters' series went no deeper than an environmentalist press release. 

When journalists give an award to one of their own, you’d think they’d honor reporting that rises above that of others in journalistic quality. But that isn’t what happened when The Deadline Club, the New York branch of the Society for Professional Journalists, gave its Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting to The New York Times’ Charles Duhigg. Duhigg was the author of the series “Toxic Waters.”

Bestowing that award on Duhigg should be an affront to the memory of Daniel Pearl, who lost his life investigating Islamic terrorists in the heart of darkness. Duhigg, on the other hand, echoed the campaign of radical environmental groups seeking to scare people about the safe use of pesticides. These groups aren’t true environmentalists, but instead try to instill fear in anyone who eats produce, drinks water, or breaths air.

Duhigg’s reign of toxic terror focused on alleged dangers in drinking water. Consider the headline from the Aug. 22, 2009 installment of his series, “Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass.” The award-winning journalist allowed himself to be used as a pawn in a campaign against a long-used and important agricultural chemical, atrazine. That levels of atrazine in drinking water are barely measurable didn’t deter him. (Jeff Stier, Business & Media Institute)

 

Holy molar, those sugar-free treats can damage children's teeth, too

POPULAR sugar-free foods and drinks can be so acidic they are as likely to damage teeth as sugar-filled products, a consumer group warns.

Parents who try to protect their children's teeth by buying sugar-free do not realise high-acid foods should also be avoided, according to Choice.

"People look at products that have 'sugar-free' on the label and think they are good for your teeth," Choice's spokesman, Brad Schmitt, said. "What they don't realise is these products in some cases are just as bad". (SMH)

 

Compost Filter Socks Improve Runoff from Croplands

Grassed waterways including compost filter socks reduce soil erosion and herbicide concentrations from fields

MADISON, WI, June 21st, 2010 – Water runoff from cropped farm fields can contain large amounts of eroded soil as well as some of the fertilizer and herbicide. Expanding on existing conservation practices, a team of scientists has tested whether compost filters socks in grassed waterways would reduce sediment flow and retain dissolved chemicals in runoff. The researchers observed reduced sediment in a non-tilled field and reduced concentrations of two herbicides.

Compost filter socks are mesh tubes filled with composted bark and wood chips. These devices have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use at construction sites as an alternative to silt fences and bales of straw, but have not been tested in agricultural fields. (American Society of Agronomy)

 

Greens: Apologize to High-Yield Farmers!

Studies show that modern farming techniques — reviled by environmentalists — not only saved billions from starvation, but are tremendously more eco-friendly than "organic" farming practices. (Dennis T. Avery, PJM)

 

Plan to pump water into Dead Sea makes environmentalists see red

Activists unite with industrialists to oppose World Bank study into project to transport water from Red Sea (The Guardian)

 

 

Obama Carbon Plans May Be Scaled Back to Power Plants

President Barack Obama, who meets with lawmakers at the White House this week to discuss energy legislation, may have to abandon a pollution-reduction program for the whole U.S. economy and push instead for new laws that target the electricity-producing companies.

A plan to cap carbon-dioxide emissions from nearly every sector, favored by Obama and many Democrats, is stalled in the Senate and there isn’t enough time this year to get it passed, Eileen Claussen, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said in a telephone interview.

“The longer we keep batting around proposals that do not have much of a chance, the less likely we are to get something that does have a chance,” Claussen said. (Bloomberg)

 

Climate trial balloon proves explosive

The latest trial balloon for passing climate change legislation appears to be just as explosive as the others. 

Electric utilities are divided over the prospect of a bill that caps their heat-trapping emissions while shunning mandatory limits on transportation and heavy domestic manufacturers, like pulp and paper mills and chemical plants. 

Environmentalists also are concerned about the prospect of a more limited global warming bill than what they first envisioned, fearful it won’t come anywhere close to tackling the climate problem while still forcing Senate Democrats to make painful compromises that allow higher levels of traditional air pollutants like smog, soot and mercury. 

For now, the idea of a power plant-only bill is only in its infant stages. Senate aides are trying to count the votes for the alternative while gauging interest from downtown lobbyists and activists. 

But White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said he expects the concept to be discussed Wednesday when President Obama hosts Democratic and Republican senators at the White House. And a lead co-sponsor of the broader, economy-wide Senate climate bill said that he’d be willing to budge if Congress demonstrates it can’t go any further. (Politico)

 

 

Lawrence Solomon: Global warming strategist scores New York Times coup

Lawrence Solomon  June 21, 2010 – 1:10 pm

Stanford University’s Jon A Krosnick, a communications guru and advisor to the global warming camp, scored a coup in a New York Times oped last week that discredits polls by firms such as Gallup and Pew Research Center. The highly cited oped, entitled “The Climate Majority,” claims that these pollsters and others have it backwards and that “huge majorities of Americans still believe the earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it.” For example, Krosnick’s own poll shows, “When respondents were asked if they thought that the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74% answered affirmatively. And 75% of respondents said that human behaviour was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred.”

Krosnick, an expert in questionnaire design, produces studies geared to explaining why people answer the way they do, and how to get them to answer differently. One recent paper dealt entirely with one of the biggest embarrassments to the global warming camp, Gallup’s classic “Most Important Problem” question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Poor Leo: Why don't we trust climate scientists?

New study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals huge disparities in the 'relative scientific credibility' of the opposing sides of the climate change debate. (Leo Hickman, The Guardian)

The piece is about a farcical PNAS gatekeeping article sorting people into the ready-reckoner lists of black- and white-hats of climate hysteria. Never mind, we'll try to avoid segregation of good guys and bad guys while we explain skepticism to Leo:

 The reason is really quite simple Leo, vested interests promoting complex moneymaking derivates otherwise known as carbon indulgences (or "credits") have never managed to answer a simple question: What is the correct temperature for planet Earth? The reason they've never managed to answer that is we lack certain basic information on the amount of incoming solar radiation reflected by Earth's atmosphere (clouds and dust) and surface (ice, snow, bright deserts...) under changing conditions of complimentary and conflicting cycles (NAO, PDO, ENSO...). That's one of the reasons Kevin Trenberth writes:

Hi Tom
How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!
Kevin
[My emphasis]

When we do not know how energy moves through the system we simply can not make intelligent estimates of what drives climate or what its future states might reasonably be expected to be. Would you buy a used car from these people? How about sacrifice your living standards and the global economy on their say so?

 

A New Black List

Little did I know it, but I am intimately associated with the world's most accomplished "climate skeptic." But he is not actually a skeptic, because he believes that humans have a profound influence on the climate system and policy action is warranted. More on that in a second. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Poor Freddy: A Grim Outlook for Emissions As Climate Talks Limp Forward

In the wake of the failed Copenhagen summit, prospects for cutting global CO2 emissions are worse than they’ve been in years. With talk of mandated cuts now fading and with countries exploiting loopholes, the world appears headed toward a flawed agreement based not on science but on politics. (Fred Pearce, e360)

He still doesn't get that this has never been about science, always pure politics.

 

Bankers spread into “science”

Our CSIRO is supposed to serve the people of Australia to impartially help advise them of the risks and benefits of different actions with the latest science but oopsie, the team who picked the new Chairman clean forgot.  Instead of someone who speaks in sage tones about uncertainties, they pick a former banking Mergers and Acquisitions Chief who’s an avowed advocate and activist, and happy to admit he’s got a predetermined agenda science-wise.

Should the CSIRO ever (accidentally) discover that the climate models were all based on an error cascade and a guess that went wrong, Mr McKeon will jump up and down to see that those results are pursued, funded, promoted issued in press releases and put into education campaigns for kids and journalists, err… right? I mean, he’s our man isn’t he — making sure the Australian citizens he serves are not ripped off by trickster scientists who “can’t account for the lack of warming” and who “hide declines”.

What were they thinking? More » (Jo Nova)

 

The More Things Change

Hans von Storch files a report from an IPCC meeting on seal level rise in Malaysia, indicating that not much really has changed at the intersection of climate science and climate politics (emphasis added):

Among the interesting details were introductory talks by political officials – who welcomed the presence of the conference in the capital of Malaysia, and demonstrated the importance of the topic by pointing to the evidence of climate change, which would become obvious by all kind of extreme weather, mostly related to typhoons and flooding. It seems that also in this part of the world the view has firmly be established among politicians that all extreme weather is due to anthropogenic climate change – which would imply that "stopping" Global Warming would go along with the end of weather extremes.

This was said in public in front of, say 100 climate scientists and science administrators (incl. Dr. Pachauri) , and – of course, nobody said anything. They did not take this talking seriously – assuming that the horizon for forgetting such talk would be really short. But then, one of the co-chairs of Working Group 1, which is organizing the conference, pointed bravely and explicitly to the extra challenge that the provision of valid scientific knowledge to the public and stakeholders would have to talk place in a politically charged environment.

Seemingly, this politically charged environment had just been demonstrated minutes earlier – illustrating nicely the presence of two competing knowledge claims, the media-cultural one (according to which extreme weather is due to Global Warming) and the scientific body of knowledge.
How scientists, politicians and the media treat the issue of disasters and climate change provides an interesting bellwether, simply because the science of the issue is so straightforward and misrepresentations easy to identify. All indications are that the IPCC has not learned much and is returning to business as usual. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Tim Flannery walks away from his claims

Tim Flannery is a top Australian AGW activist. Andrew Bolt, a professional and bright journalist, has interviewed him:

How to Expose a Warmist: Andrew Bolt Interviews Australia's Al Gore
Bolt was amazingly prepared. He has read lots of articles by Flannery and stored many of the most catchy quotes. So he could present all the original sources. Throughout the years, Flannery has said and written many things about the insanely rising sea level, disappearance of ice sheets within two years, Australian cities without any water, and lots of other things.

Of course, they didn't come true. It's interesting - although expected - to observe Flannery how he denies most of his previous big claims. These people are deliberately spreading lies and extremely unlikely speculations, hoping that people would absorb them by osmosis. And some people have done so, indeed.

Whenever these people are confronted, however, they pretend that they have never said any of these things. They have either forgotten everything they said, or they're sure it had to be a collection of typos, or they must have been misunderstood, or they have other ways to argue that they were not quite serious.

Except that they're always trying to pretend that they're damn serious whenever they want others to believe all these catastrophic insanities. This is the kind of flagrant intellectual dishonesty we know from other double-faced people, such as Lee Smolin, too.
(The Reference Frame)

 

Vegetative Response to Climate Change: Celebrate, Don’t Fret

by Chip Knappenberger
June 21, 2010

A new study has concluded that shifting climate is leading to shifting vegetation patterns across the globe.

My response to this announcement was “Terrific! The biosphere was responding the way it should to changing conditions.”

To my surprise, this enthusiasm wasn’t shared by the study’s authors. In fact, lead author Patrick Gonzalez seemed downright glum:

“Globally, vegetation shifts are disrupting ecosystems, reducing habitat for endangered species, and altering the forests that supply water and other services to many people.”

A very negative spin on what should be cause for celebration.

Despite how much we, humans, have sliced and diced the landscape, natural systems are still doing their best to respond to climate changes—just like they always have.

The only way to see this in a negative light would to hold the belief that everything that humans do to the world is bad. This seems like an odd philosophy, for more than likely the holder of such a philosophy wouldn’t exist today had it not been for everything that humans have done to make the world a better place and vastly improve our health and welfare. Just 150 years ago, as the industrial revolution was set to take off, the population of the world was about 5 times less than now and the average human lifespan was about 30 years. 

I am not saying that there aren’t some negatives for some species when the climate changes. Of course there are. But what I am saying is that there are plenty of positives as well. And it takes no more imagination to come up with positives than it does for negatives. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Comments On The PNAS Article “Expert Credibility In Climate Change” By Anderegg Et Al 2010

An article has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

William R. L. Anderegg, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider:, 2010: Expert credibility in climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. June 21, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003187107.

The abstract of the paper reads

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

This paper is yet another example of the attempt to marginalize and “bin” scientists who differ from the IPCC perspective (except for those such as Jim Hansen who are more alarmist in their viewpoint) as my son has posted on in A New Black List.

There is an insightful well-balanced news article on the Anderegg et al PNAS  paper by Eli Kintisch titled

Scientists ‘Convinced’ of Climate Consensus More Prominent Than Opponents, Says Paper

I recommend readers of my weblog read Eli’s article. His news article includes an interesting statement by one of the authors of the PNAS article. It reads

Prall agrees that the system may not be perfect, but he thinks it’s good enough. “It’s conceivable that some people have formed a fixed point of view,” he says. “But the editors of journals, if they have formed a resistance to outside points of view, they have done so after years of seeing all the good, bad, and in-between papers. They know the field better than anyone else.”

I have served as Editors of several professional journals (e.g. Chief of the Monthly Weather Review; Co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Science) and can categorically state that any Editors who have “formed a resistance to outside points of view” should not serve in the capacity of an Editor. This is a clear example of the type of prejudice that needs to be avoided in order to preserve the integrity of the scientific process.

John Christy is correct in his statement in the news article that there is “black listing” and my son’s post effectively summarizes this issue.

The blacklisting occurs in the review process of papers as John and Pat Michaels describe, in proposals for funding (e.g. see) and in the IPCC and CCSP assessment process (e.g. see).  This “black listing has even occurred in surveys as we found out when Fergus Brown, James Annan and I sought to publish a survey of climate scientists in the American Geophysical Union publication EOS; see

An Obvious Double Standard Adopted By The AGU Publication EOS

Weblogs By My Coauthors Of Our Rejected EOS Forum Article

My e-mail to Eli with respect to the PNAS article reads

 My son is 100% correct that I am not a “climate skeptic”.   Indeed, the IPCC is much too conservative at examining other human climate forcings that appear to have at least as large, or even larger effect, on the weather and other climate features that affect society and the environment.

Several of my colleagues (all AGU Fellows) recently published an article in EOS on our view.

The article is

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R.
Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W.
Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,
J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate
change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases.
Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American
Geophysical Union.
http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-354.pdf

In this article we summarize evidence of three hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: Human influence on climate variability and change is of minimal importance, and natural causes dominate climate variations and changes on all time scales. In coming decades, the human influence will continue to be minimal.

Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern  during the coming decades.

Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.

Only one of these hypotheses can be true.

Much of the climate science debate so far has been between hypothesis 1 (the “skeptic view”) and hypothesis 2b (the “IPCC view”). We present evidence in our paper, however, that these two hypotheses should be rejected (and there is much more on our broader view; e.g. see the 2005 NRC report – http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309095069/html/).

We wrote in our EOS article, for example,

“In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008], the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot) [Flanner et al. 2007] and reactive nitrogen [Galloway et al., 2004]), and the role of changes in land use/land cover [e.g., Takata et al., 2009]. Among their effects is their role in altering atmospheric and ocean circulation features away from what they would be in the natural climate system [NRC, 2005]. As with CO2, the lengths of time that they affect the climate are estimated to be on multidecadal time scales and longer.”

and

“We recommend that the next assessment phase of the IPCC (and other such assessments) broaden its perspective to include all of the human climate forcings. It should also adopt a complementary and precautionary resource based assessment of the vulnerability of critical resources (those affecting water, food, energy, and human and ecosystem health) to environmental variability and change of all types. This should include, but not be limited to, the effects due to all of the natural and human caused climate variations and changes.”

Among our conclusions in the EOS article are

“The evidence predominantly suggests that humans are significantly altering the global environment, and thus climate, in a variety of diverse ways beyond the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Unfortunately, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale. It also placed too much emphasis on average global forcing from a limited set of human climate forcings. Further, it devised a mitigation strategy based on global model predictions…..Because global climate models do not accurately simulate (or even include) several of these other first order human climate forcings, policy makers must be made aware of the inability of the current generation of models to accurately forecast regional climate risks to resources on multidecadal time scales.”

There has been little discussion, unfortunately, on our broader perspective of the role of humans in the climate system, which I hope you can help change.

Best Regards

Roger Sr.

The Anderegg et al  paper is another in a set of advocacy articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see and see). This paper illustrates more generally how far we have gone from the appropriate scientific process. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Uh, no: Manufacturers appeal for simplified carbon tax

EEF says a single levy based on energy use would encourage businesses to move towards cleaner energy

Britain's manufacturers have condemned the government's climate change policy as "chaotic, overcrowded and complicated" and are calling on George Osborne to us (The Guradian)

The correct response is to leave carbon alone altogether.

 

An Oilicane?

The gulf oil spill is bad but it could become much, much worse and soon. The threat is a hurricane moving over the spill. If a hurricane’s violent winds track over the spill, we could witness a natural and economic calamity that history has never recorded anywhere or anytime. We will literally be in oil-soaked waters. We will have witnessed the first oilicane. [Read More] (Art Horn, Energy Tribune)

 

Why BP is not very slick in an emergency

When companies adhere to the rituals of risk-aversion, they lose sight of how to deal with real emergencies. Now we can see the consequences.

The most important lesson of the tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill is that the tendency today to dramatise risk creates a climate in which risk management becomes a kind of performance.

At a time when taking risks is seen as culturally unacceptable, companies and individuals tend to make a big, performative display of their concern to manage risk. Yet when company executives become preoccupied with being seen to tackle risks - rather than with actually thinking in a rational way about risk - then they often end up confusing their adherence to the rituals of risk management with actually taking real-world, effective action. Far from making the world a safer place, the transformation of risk management into impression management diminishes institutions’ capacity to respond to disasters in a sensible and resilient fashion. (Frank Furedi, spiked)

 

Jindal vs. Obama: Time to End the Drilling Moratorium

First there was Hurricane Katrina, then there was the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal now says that the newest threat to the economy of his state is President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Jindal today joined in support of oil service companies who are suing to halt the six-month ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, issued by the Minerals Management Service on May 30. A federal district court judge is hearing arguments on the lawsuit today and will rule no later than Wednesday.

In an amicus brief filed with the court, Jindal argues that the moratorium is disastrous to his state’s economy:

The State of Louisiana, more than any other public or private entity, has been most adversely affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The drilling moratorium imposed by [the government] will only compound the State’s problems, effectively turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe for the State. Every day the moratorium is in effect costs the State untold millions of dollars.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Stiffer Costs, Rules in Gulf Will Squeeze Smaller Players

The troubles of behemoth BP PLC now threaten the small oil and gas companies that helped unlock the Gulf of Mexico's deepwater business. 

Increased regulation and higher operating costs will likely follow the BP oil spill, clouding the prospects of exploration and production companies that don't have the financial clout of energy giants such as Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. 

Most immediately, deepwater exploration is temporarily frozen by a federal drilling moratorium, squeezing the smaller outfits and the oil field services companies that work in the Gulf. On Monday, a federal court in New Orleans began to hear the case of a group of small offshore service suppliers that sued the government to lift the ban. A ruling is expected by noon on Wednesday. (WSJ)

 

Obama's energy pipe dreams

"For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. . . . Time and time again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor."

-- Barack Obama, June 15 address on the BP oil spill

Just once, it would be nice if a president would level with Americans on energy. Barack Obama isn't that president. His speech the other night was about political damage control -- his own. It was full of misinformation and mythology. Obama held out a gleaming vision of an America that would convert to the "clean" energy of, presumably, wind, solar and biomass. It isn't going to happen for many, many decades, if ever.

For starters, we won't soon end our "addiction to fossil fuels." Oil, coal and natural gas supply about 85 percent of America's energy needs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects energy consumption to grow only an average of 0.5 percent annually from 2008 to 2035, but that's still a 14 percent cumulative increase. Fossil fuel usage would increase slightly in 2035 and its share would still account for 78 percent of the total.

Unless we shut down the economy, we need fossil fuels. More efficient light bulbs, energy-saving appliances, cars with higher gas mileage may all dampen energy use. But offsetting these savings will be more people (391 million vs. 305 million), more households (147 million vs. 113 million), more vehicles (297 million vs. 231 million) and a bigger economy (almost double in size). Although wind, solar and biomass are assumed to grow as much as 10 times faster than overall energy use, they provide only 11 percent of supply in 2035, up from 5 percent in 2008. (Robert J. Samuelson, WaPo)

 

 

Obama Is Wrong; Alternative Energy is Not an Alternative

Obama is using the oil spill in the Gulf as an emotional lever to push his cap and trade policy. The spill is a disaster, but exploiting it is truly despicable. It is made far worse when the alternative energies solutions don’t work. Increased costs will damage the economy and negatively impact the people he claims to represent. We’re in this predicament because of exploitation by politicians and environmental groups who deliberately ignore scientific evidence and corruption in climate science. Options were dramatically reduced by campaigns of fear against nuclear power creating legislation so that it now takes up to 14 years to construct a nuclear power plant. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Addicted to oil? What a dumb idea

The oil-addiction theorists are really disgusted by the desires of stupid, greedy, uppity consumers.

We’re addicted to oil. It’s official. The Western world is hooked on the black stuff and Americans are the biggest energy junkies of them all.

This oft-quoted, little-criticised idea has been around for years, but there has been a veritable addiction-to-oil blowout since the BP-hired drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon, sank in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April, killing 11 rig workers and depositing tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the sea on a daily basis. (Rob Lyons, spiked)

 

America's Atomic Folly

American politicians are falling over themselves to enact new energy legislation before the Gulf oil leak gets plugged. The sad fact is, the US is dragging its feet on the one proven source of reliable, emissions free power: nuclear energy. With some environmentalists likening the oil disaster to Three Mile Island—the nuclear accident that destroyed the US atomic energy industry—the Obama administration has given nuclear power little more than lip service in recent months. Now comes news that a New Mexico-based company that is doing pioneering work in miniature atomic power plants has signed a deal to manufacture small, modular nuclear reactors in China. Political indecision and agitation by green activists is once again conspiring to turn the US into a second rate technological nation. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

 

Junk Science Week: The Rubber Duckies

Financial Post Staff  June 18, 2010 – 8:35 pm

FP Comment’s 12th annual Junk Science Week comes to a triumphant close with today’s 2nd annual Rubber Duck Awards to recognize the scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians, journalists, media outlets, cranks and quacks who each year advance the principles of junk science. Junk Science occurs when scientific facts are distorted, when risk is exaggerated or discounted, when science is adapted and warped by politics and ideology to serve another agenda. The Rubber Duckies are named in honour of Rick Smith, president of Environmental Defence Canada and co-author of a remarkable piece of junk science literature, the 2009 Slow Death by Rubber Duck. In the book, Mr. Smith perpetrated a science scam over the Bisphenol A and established himself as Canada’s leading scaremonger and distorter of science. Let this year’s awards begin!

The award winners (Financial Post)

 

The Rubber Duckies: Toxic terrorism — the atrazine war

Financial Post Staff  June 18, 2010 – 8:18 pm

This year’s media Rubber Duckie goes to a swath of the American media that is in the grip of chemophobia, the unfounded fear of chemicals. CNN recently served up specials entitled Toxic America and Toxic Childhood. The New Yorker had a piece fretting about the “Plastic Panic.” The President’s Cancer Panel anguished about all the untested environmental chemicals — many designated by them as carcinogens — in our air, water and food. And there are more frightening (but scientifically baseless) chemical health scares to come.

For example, radical environmental activists now have the widely used herbicide atrazine on their radar screens. For them, new regulatory controls — or an outright ban on the herbicide — would be their dream come true. Why? Because as a May Wall Street Journal editorial put it, “if [they] can take down atrazine [they] can get the EPA to prohibit anything.”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

EPA Exposes Tyrone Hayes—Again!

The press can’t get enough of Tyrone Hayes, the Berkeley researcher who claims that his studies show that the common herbicide atrazine causes abnormalities in frogs (and by implication, in people as well). Hayes is all over the press while he tours the state legislatures of the Midwest, selling his scare stories.

This is important, because the highly profitable “non-profits” such as the NRDC that want to ban pesticides and other chemicals essential to modern society, see atrazine as their foremost target of opportunity these days. They know that if they can take out a herbicide that has been confirmed safe by every EPA since the agency’s founding as well as Canada, Britain, Australia and the WHO, they can take out any chemical the activists set their sights on.

For some time, the poster child of the anti-pesticide chemophobes has been Mr. Hayes, who has made banning atrazine a personal crusade. When Hayes released another one of his barely documented studies, the press once again lapped it up, with major scare stories running in USAToday, the Washington Post and Des Moines Register, all with nary a mention of EPA’s earlier repudiation of his work.

Now, for the second time, the EPA has publicly called out Hayes on his refusal to share data, as well as for the irreproducibility of his experiments. Will the press still continue to give Tyrone Hayes uncritical, glowing treatment? (Alex Avery, CGFI)

 

Yawn: More dioxins found in Taiwan free-range eggs

HONG KONG - A study has found that eggs from free-range chickens in industrialized Taiwan contain almost six times more cancer-causing dioxins than eggs from caged chickens.

"Because free-range hens spend most of their lives in an outside environment, they have a better chance of being exposed to contaminants from the environment," wrote researchers led by Pao-Chi Liao of the Environmental and Occupational Health department at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan.

Liao and colleagues examined eggs from free-range and caged hens and hunted specifically for the dioxins - polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) - which they said were especially prevalent in Taiwan. (Reuters)

Apart from the obligatory and misleading "cancer-causing", of which there is no evidence in humans, this is fair enough but hardly groundbreaking. Fowl raised outside controlled environments are more likely to contain contaminants and pathogens than cage-reared birds.

 

The Rubber Duckies: Rejecting the good news

Lawrence Solomon  June 18, 2010 – 8:32 pm

The Rubber Duckie for bias and missing the point of one’s own research goes to the massive Interphone cellphone study. Released earlier this year, it dismissed its own work because it failed to prove what researchers were looking for, namely, evidence of adverse effects of cellphones. Also rejected was evidence in their research that showed cellphones may reduce brain-tumour risk. As Lawrence Solomon reports below, the Interphone researchers may well have missed the real story in their work because they didn’t want to see it.

Cellphones can cause cancer and other medical problems, one whack of studies says. Cellphones are safe, says another batch.

Which is it? Both sets of studies can’t be right.

The definitive study that many expected would settle the controversy, a multi-year, 13-country effort organized by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, came out last month. To its researchers’ surprise, the data indicated that cellphones can be both safe and dangerous, and that cellphone use can even reduce the risk of cancer. It all depends on how much cellphones are used.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Untreated prostate cancer no death sentence

NEW YORK - Even without treatment, only a small minority of men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer die from the disease, Swedish researchers reported Friday.

Drawing from a national cancer register, they estimated that after 10 years prostate cancer would have killed less than three percent of these men.

"What the data is showing is that for most patients with low-risk cancer, there is no need to panic," said Grace Lu-Yao, a cancer researcher who was not involved in the new study. "Prostate cancer really is no longer a fatal disease."

With modern screening tests, said Lu-Yao, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, many prostate cancers are found that might never have developed into serious disease. In such cases, the slight reduction of risk by surgically removing the prostate or treating it with radiation may not outweigh the substantial side effects of these treatments. (Reuters Health)

 

The Rubber Duckies: Killjoy at the barbecue

Terence Corcoran  June 18, 2010 – 8:25 pm

The Junk Science Week Rubber Duckie Killjoy award goes to a radio commentary broadcast on Toronto’s 680News by restauranteur extraordinaire Rose Reisman. Based on the dubious science from the long-standing food war against fun foods such as beef — and especially barbecued steaks — Ms. Reisman issue a warning. Just as the summer grilling season is about to hit its peak, she proposed adopting cooking techniques that, if adopted, could somewhat compromise the season:

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

B vitamins linked to depression risk in older adults

NEW YORK - Older adults with relatively low intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 may have a higher risk of developing depression than those who get more of the nutrients, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 3,500 older adults they followed for up to a dozen years, the risk of developing depression symptoms declined by 2 percent for every 10-milligram (mg) increase in daily vitamin B6 from food and supplements.

The same was true for every 10-microgram (mcg) increase in vitamin B12 intake.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, do not prove that the B vitamins themselves protect against depression. But the results do echo those of some previous studies tying the vitamins -- as well as folate, another B vitamin -- to depression risk. (Reuters Health)

 

The assault on soda - and choice - continues: US obesity rates could fall if soda pop prices rise

CHICAGO - Raising the price of sugary soft drinks will likely prompt thirsty consumers to seek out cheaper, healthier beverages, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

They said raising the price of a can of soda by 35 percent cut soft drink sales in a hospital cafeteria by 26 percent, offering some evidence that adding a tax to soda pop may prod consumers into making better choices.

Obesity adds an estimated $147 billion a year in costs to the U.S. health care system and several states, including New York and California, have weighed a tax on sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of obesity-related diseases. (Reuters)

 

Demonstrating once again that advertising only influences children between different brands of things they like anyway and no amount of promotion will make brussel sprouts taste better than candy: Shrek lures kids to sugary snacks, not carrots

Children can be influenced to eat sugary snacks that carry stickers of cartoon characters such as Shrek, Scooby-Doo or Dora the Explorer, but not healthier foods like carrots with similar stickers, according to a new Yale University study. (Chicago Tribune)

 

Cops Debate Government's War on Drugs

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's Neill Franklin and Fmr. Bush Drug Czar Paul Chabot argue whether drug prohibition does more harm than good. (John Stossel)

 

That Laffer curve

Number Watch has frequently made scathing remarks about the application of elaborate mathematical equations to economic data that are too diffuse to justify them and has often been lambasted for it: see here, for example. But our adverse comments do not apply to the Laffer curve, which is highly relevant at the moment.

The Laffer curve is not just a hypothesis that can be, as some left wing commentators suggest, debunked: it is a mathematical necessity. (Number Watch)

 

World wakes to African hunger - late again?

DAKAR - In a slow-motion disaster predicted months ago by aid agencies, Africa's Sahel region is lurching towards a food crisis which the world has only weeks left to avert.

Yet even if more aid is pledged right now, the obstacles in getting succour to the most vulnerable and remote communities on the planet mean hundreds of thousands of children in Niger and Chad are already facing life-threatening hunger. (Reuters)

 

ABC Catalyst TV show warped view of SW West Australian rainfall

Quote from Catalyst: Mark Horstman: “Since the 1970s, the south-western corner of Western Australia has suffered a dramatic decline in their winter rainfall, so rapid and so extreme that it’s like, somewhere, a giant tap is being turned off.”

What utter exaggerated twaddle.

Once again the Australian media spins normal climate variations as something caused by IPCC climate change.

The entire thrust of the show is that rainfall in “..the south-western corner of Western Australia..” dropped ~15% in the 1970’s and a scientist is quoted linking this to changes in Antarctic ice cores. The scientist – Dr Tas van Ommen, Principal Research Scientist, Ice Cores and Climate, Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart – may well be right is linking the events – we will look for a peer reviewed paper on the subject.

My point is that there are many sudden rainfall change events in Australian climate history – and from larger regions than SW WA – and little attention is put into explaining these.

Lets take two examples from the BoM online “Timeseries – Australian Climate Variability and Change”.

Here is a graphic of West Australian rainfall – note the sharp increase in the 1990’s – what caused that ?

Here is a graphic of Murray Darling Basin rainfall – note the sharp increase in the 1940’s – what caused that ?

You can explore the BoM data for NSW etc and that huge increase in rain about 1950 often stands out. But it is a feature that nobody wants to explain.

Maybe because it corresponds with the period of post WWII cloud seeding experiments. Sorry – not PC.

Note my graphic of Perth dam catchment rain – steady over 35 years.

Finally a graphic of Perth rain history back to 1876 – note how the pre WWI winter rain is similar to the post 1970’s rain. Who is to say what is “normal” ? I am not aware of any “tablet of stone” which tells us whether the WWI to mid 1970’s high rain era was normal – or are the slightly dryer decades before and after more “normal”. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Stunning ignorance and lies surround Perth water supply policies

This ABC online news item from Perth caught my eye, “Water prices up 40 per cent: Labor”. With Eric Ripper the Labor opposition leader saying, “Of course in a dry climate there is pressure on water prices..”

Wrong Mr Ripper, there is no “dry climate” over Perth dam catchments – see my graphic of 35 years of May-October catchments rain which averages near 900mm. Any water shortage in Perth is artificially induced by Govts failure to do simple things such as – manage catchments – clearing the Gnangara pines – cheaply desalinate weakly brackish water wasted from Wellington Dam and other local rivers (see my 2007 downloadable report). The only reason for this crazy state of affairs that I can see – is the Govts terror of hostile reactions from Greens.

Read the rest of this entry » (Warwick Hughes)

 

 

$7-a-gallon gas?

The folly of O's oil-spill 'fix'

President Obama has a solution to the Gulf oil spill: $7-a-gallon gas.

That's a Harvard University study's estimate of the per-gallon price of the president's global-warming agenda. And Obama made clear this week that this agenda is a part of his plan for addressing the Gulf mess.

So what does global-warming legislation have to do with the oil spill?

Good question, because such measures wouldn't do a thing to clean up the oil or fix the problems that led to the leak. (Ben Lieberman, NY Post)

 

EPA report on a nearly certain catastrophe ignored by the media

The climate is always changing. Fortunately, the climate of the climate reporting is changing, too. News that would fill the front pages of all the newspapers just a year ago are ignored by the media today.

Five days ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its findings about the impact of the proposed American Power Act (APA):

EPA analysis of the APA in the 111th Congress (PDF)
The file reminds me of some of the crackpots' documents that want to revolutionize physics. They easily "prove" that the rise of temperatures by 2 °C is equivalent to the Armageddon - composed out of floods, drought, and sea level rise (you know, that's apparently how planets behave at 16.5 °C) - while any rise below 2 °C is safe.

And they "calculate" that the probability of the Armageddon is 99 percent if the APA is rejected and only 25 percent if it is approved. It's a great conclusion because it effectively identifies APA with non-Armageddon :-) and it was published by a "powerful" institution whose administrator has the right gender as well as the right race ;-) so it would surely be promoted by the media during the peak days of the AGW era.

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

 

John Christy Presentation On The IPCC Assessment Process

The InterAcademy Council (IAC) committee conducted an independent review of the procedures and processes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on June 15 at McGill University in Montreal.

John R. Christy, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Director, Earth System Science Center and Alabama State Climatologist at University of Alabama in Huntsville gave a presentation on his experience with the IPCC process.

His presentation starts with

Mr. Chairman and members of the IAC panel, thank you for inviting me to offer my views on the IPCC process. Five years ago the New York Times quoted me saying that an IPCC-like process, “… is the worst way to generate scientific information, except for all the others.” (23 Aug 2005) I now think I was a bit too generous. A fundamental problem with the entire issue here is that climate science is not a classic, experimental science. As an emerging science of a complex, chaotic climate system, it is plagued by uncertainty and ambiguity in both observations and theory. Lacking classic, laboratory results, it easily becomes hostage to opinion, groupthink, arguments-from-authority, overstatement of confidence, and even Hollywood movies. When climate scientists are placed in the limelight because this issue can generate compelling disaster scenarios, we simply don’t want to say, “We just don’t know.”

The entire presentation including John’s appendices can be read here. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

The Rubber Duckies: For services to the climate coverup

Peter Foster  June 18, 2010 – 8:21 pm

The Rubber Duck award in the climate category goes to Lord Oxburgh, who gave “peer review” a whole new meaning in rushing out the first whitewash of the Climategate scandal. He headed an inquiry into the scientific integrity of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, from which the emails emerged, and concluded in record time that there was nothing to see here. Move along please.

Lord Oxburgh’s skimpy survey — which was carried out by a group distinctly free of skeptics — found in the CRU little more than a “small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers.” His Lordship found the CRU’s “loss” of data infinitely excusable, as also was its lack of statistical sophistication, even though its field was “fundamentally statistical.”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Global warming book withdrawn

Millard Public Schools will stop using a children's book about global warming -- but only until the district can obtain copies with a factual error corrected.

A review committee, convened after parents complained, concluded that author Laurie David's book, "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," contained "a major factual error" in a graphic about rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.

Mark Feldhausen, associate superintendent for educational services, this week sent a letter to parents who complained, including the wife of U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, outlining the committee's findings.

"Although the authors have pledged to correct the graph in subsequent editions, the committee recommends that this correction be made to all MPS-owned texts before using it with students in the future," Feldhausen wrote.

Corrected versions will continue to be used in Millard's sixth-grade language arts curriculum, he wrote.

However, the district will cease to use a companion video about global warming, narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, he wrote.

The committee found the video "without merit" and recommended that it not be used. (World-Herald)

 

Oh dear! Media makes major blunder because: British Newspaper Apologizes to Climate Scientist

In 2007, the top United Nations climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the Amazon was vulnerable to drought as a result of trends linked to climate change.

The panel backed its conclusion with a report prepared for the W.W.F., an environmental group, demonstrating that around 40 percent of the Amazon rain forest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall.

That the United Nations climate body cited evidence using environmental activists as a source, rather than independent scientists, added to a storm of criticism among bloggers and in the mainstream media about the credibility of climate science.

The London newspaper The Sunday Times described the authors of the W.W.F. report as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise” in an article that appeared in January. The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the effect of human activity rather than with climate change.

This weekend, The Sunday Times published a correction of crucial elements of its article from January.

Ever since the article appeared, scientists involved in Amazon research and in the reporting of that article have sought to correct misunderstandings they said the article had created.

In February, Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, defended findings that he said backed up the W.W.F. report. (NYT's Green blog)

They actually had it right in the first place but now have apparently confused the misleadingly named greenie front & indoctrination center "Woods Hole Research Center" with the real research establishment Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

 

 

David Archibald: The Past and Future of Climate

I became the owner of a visually appealing book written by David Archibald that is endorsed by "four professors and one head of state" :-).

The head of state is, of course, Prof Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, and a photograph of the author meeting the leader appears on the back cover. You may order a copy of the book via the author's website:

DavidArchibald.INFO
The 142-page colorful book printed on a nice, resilient paper is stuffed with the hard data. There is a graph, a big table, or a relevant photograph on nearly every page. They're concerned with the climate reconstructions, the influence of CO2 and its absorption spectrum, the Sun and solar cycles, ocean cycles, production and effects of CO2, role of CO2 in the biosphere, and lots of other topics.

Recommended. (The Reference Frame)

 

What utter nonsense: Changing clocks 'would reduce carbon emissions'

Changing the clocks to give another hour of daylight throughout the year would save the same amount of energy as taking 200,000 cars off the road, according to a new survey. (TDT)

Unless Britain is lit by whale oil or tallow there is no saving involved (in fact regions that have abandoned "daylight saving" found they saved energy rather than vice versa). Lighting is a trivial part of energy use and screwing with clocks and people's sleeping patterns increases accidents. This is a really bad idea. Perhaps even worse is that its stated aim (saving carbon dioxide emissions) is a stupid idea too, having no value for planet or humans.

 

EU banned heated family houses built from 2020

The European Union has adopted a regulation that will ban the construction of ordinary family houses, starting from 2020. Only the so-called passive houses will be allowed:

iDNES.CZ (autom. transl. into EN), EU Business, EU Parliament, Euractiv, Panda.ORG, The Energy Collective;
Preliminary text of the directive (PDF)

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

 

What's wrong with the sun?

SUNSPOTS come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only for them to fade away again after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what? (New Scientist)

 

Save the world — whitewash the Andes

Painting rocks on Chalon Sombrero (Image: BBC)

File this in unrealized parody. The BBC beats the Onion.

The World Bank has awarded a Peruvian inventor $200,000 to paint rocks white. They hope if they make them the right colour the glacier will come back…

Can painting a mountain restore a glacier?

It is the first experimental step in an innovative plan to recuperate Peru’s disappearing Andean glaciers.
The World Bank clearly believes the idea – the brainchild of 55-year-old Peruvian inventor, Eduardo Gold – has merit as it was one of the 26 winners from around 1,700 submissions in the “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” competition at the end of 2009.

Although he is yet to receive the $200,000 (£135,000) awarded by the World Bank, his pilot project is already underway on the Chalon Sombrero peak, 4,756 metres above sea level, in an area some 100km west of the regional capital of Ayacucho.

There are no paint brushes, the workers use jugs to splash the whitewash onto the loose rocks around the summit.

It is a laborious process but they have whitewashed two hectares in two weeks.

“Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” says Mr Gold.

“I am hopeful that we could re-grow a glacier here because we would be recreating all the climatic conditions necessary for a glacier to form.”

If you had $200,000 to gift to Peru, a place where the GDP per capita is less than $5,000, would you spend it on a program to paint black rocks white in the hope of storing water and changing the local weather?

Reader John P points out that if you check the World Glacier Monitoring Service you will see that the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) of glaciers in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca is above 4900 m, that means that snow falling below that altitude does not remain over the whole year and melts. Even if it falls on the glacier ice, much less on whitewashed rocks.  Besides, the impact of a few hectares of rock is minimal when compared with the atmospheric circulation or the impact of surrounding terrain. More » (Jo Nova)

 

Here's Ove off with the ocean sprites again: Ocean changes may have dire impact on people

The first comprehensive synthesis on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans has found they are now changing at a rate not seen for several million years.

In an article published today in Science magazine, scientists reveal the growing atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases are driving irreversible and dramatic changes to the way the ocean functions, with potentially dire impacts for hundreds of millions of people across the planet.

The findings of the report, "The impact of climate change on the world's marine ecosystems" emerged from a synthesis of recent research on the world's oceans, carried out by two of the world's leading marine scientists, one from The University of Queensland in Australia, and one from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the USA.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and Director of The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, says the findings have enormous implications for mankind, particularly if the trend continues.

He said that the Earth's ocean, which produces half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs 30% of human-generated CO2, is equivalent to its heart and lungs. "Quite plainly, the Earth cannot do without its ocean. This study, however, shows worrying signs of ill health.

"It's as if the Earth has been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day!" (Global Change Institute)

Crikey he's a dipstick. See below for a real-world discussion of oceans and carbon:

 

Scientist links increase in greenhouse gases to changes in ocean currents

Findings released during the annual Goldschmidt Conference at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

KNOXVILLE -- By examining 800,000-year-old polar ice, scientists increasingly are learning how the climate has changed since the last ice melt and that carbon dioxide has become more abundant in the Earth's atmosphere.

For two decades, French scientist Jérôme Chappellaz has been examining ice cores collected from deep inside the polar ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. His studies on the interconnecting air spaces of old snow -- or firn air -- in the ice cores show that the roughly 40 percent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Earth's last deglaciation can be attributed in large part to changes in the circulation and biological activity of the oceanic waters surrounding Antarctica. (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)

 

Give us more money: Oceanographers Call for More Ocean-Observing in Antarctica

Rutgers’ Oscar Schofield and five colleagues from other institutions have published in Science, calling for expanded ocean-observing in the Antarctic, particularly in the Western Antarctic Peninsula, or WAP. 

This mountainous arm of the continent stretches north toward South America.

In their review paper, the co-authors, who have done research in the Antarctic, often together, argue that research in this region is imperative: The WAP's climate, they say, is changing faster than the climate in the rest of the continent, while Antarctica's climate is changing faster than anywhere else on the planet. (Rutgers University)

 

Gorebull warblers will not be happy: New research sheds light on Antarctica's melting Pine Island Glacier

New results from an investigation into Antarctica's potential contribution to sea level rise are reported this week by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Nature Geoscience

New results from an investigation into Antarctica's potential contribution to sea level rise are reported this week (Sunday 20 June) by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and the National Oceanography Centre in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Thinning ice in West Antarctica is currently contributing nearly 10 per cent of global sea level rise and scientists have identified Pine Island Glacier (PIG) as a major source. As part of a series of investigations to better understand the impact of melting ice on sea level an exciting new discovery has been made. Using Autosub (an autonomous underwater vehicle) to dive deep and travel far beneath the pine Island Glacier's floating ice shelf, scientists captured ocean and sea-floor measurements, which revealed a 300m high ridge (mountain) on the sea floor.

Pine Island Glacier was once grounded on (sitting on top of) this underwater ridge, which slowed its flow into the sea. However, in recent decades it has thinned and disconnected from the ridge, allowing the glacier to move ice more rapidly from the land into the sea. This also permitted deep warm ocean water to flow over the ridge and into a widening cavity that now extends to an area of 1000 km² under the ice shelf. The warm water, trapped under the ice, is causing the bottom of the ice shelf to melt, resulting in continuous thinning and acceleration of the glacier.

Lead author Dr Adrian Jenkins of British Antarctic Survey said, "The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge.

"We do not know what kick-started the initial retreat from the ridge, but we do know that it started some time prior to 1970. Since detailed observations of Pine Island Glacier only began in the 1990s, we now need to use other techniques such as ice core analysis and computer modelling to look much further into the glacier's history in order to understand if what we see now is part of a long term trend of ice sheet contraction. This work is vital for evaluating the risk of potential wide-spread collapse of West Antarctic glaciers." (British Antarctic Survey) [em added]

 

Antarctica 4 °C warmer 130,000 years ago



Click to zoom in

According to a new paper,

The deuterium excess records of EPICA Dome C and Dronning Maud Land ice cores (East Antarctica) (click for full text PDF)
by B. Stenni and 14 European co-authors - which was published in Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (2010) -, new high-resolution ice core data from two sites in eastern Antarctica show temperature proxies more than 4 °C higher during the last interglacial (~130,000 years ago) than the present interglacial. The high resolution data provides more accurate determination of the temperature proxies, shown at lower left of each graph above.

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

 

The threat from ocean acidification is greatly exaggerated

As part of an `interview’ with me, New Scientist published a critique by five scientists of two pages of my book The Rational Optimist. Despite its tone, this critique only confirms the accuracy of each of the statements in this section of the book. After reading their critiques, I stand even more firmly behind my conclusion that the threats to coral reefs from both man-made warming and ocean acidification are unlikely to be severe, rapid or urgent. In the case of acidification, this is underlined by a recent paper, published since my book was written, summarising the results of 372 papers and concluding that ocean acidification `may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century’. The burden of proof is on those who see an urgent threat to corals from warming and acidification. Here is what I wrote (in bold), interspersed with summaries of the scientists’ comments and my replies. (Rational Optimist)

 

Retooling the ocean conveyor belt

DURHAM, N.C. – For decades, oceanographers have embraced the idea that Earth's ocean currents operate like a giant conveyor belt, overturning to continuously transport deep, cold polar waters toward the equator and warm equatorial surface waters back toward the poles along narrow boundary currents. The model held that the conveyor belt was driven by changes in the temperature and salinity of the surface waters at high latitudes.

In a paper in the June 18 issue of Science, a Duke University oceanographer reviews the growing body of evidence that suggests it's time to rethink the conveyor belt model.

"The old model is no longer valid for the ocean's overturning, not because it's a gross simplification, but because it ignores crucial elements such as eddies and the wind field. The concept of a conveyor belt for the overturning was developed decades ago, before oceanographers had measured the eddy field of the ocean and before they understood how energy from the wind impacts the overturning," says Susan Lozier, professor of physical oceanography and chair of the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"It is important to understand that there is clear and convincing evidence that the ocean waters overturn and that this overturning impact's the Earth's climate," she says. "Recent studies, however, have cast doubt on our ability to describe this overturning as a conveyor belt. From these studies we now understand that the overturning waters are not restricted to narrow boundary currents, that the overturning may vary from one ocean basin to the next and that the winds may create variability in the amount of water that overturns and in the pathways for the upper and lower limbs of the overturning." (Duke University)

 

Global Average Sea Surface Temperatures Continue their Plunge

Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) measured by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite continue their plunge as a predicted La Nina approaches. The following plot, updated through yesterday (June 17, 2010) shows that the cooling in the Nino34 region in the tropical east Pacific is well ahead of the cooling in the global average SST, something we did not see during the 2007-08 La Nina event (click on it for the large, undistorted version):

The rate at which the Nino34 SSTs are falling is particularly striking, as seen in this plot of the SST change rate for that region:

To give some idea of what is causing the global-average SST to fall so rapidly, I came up with an estimate of the change in reflected sunlight (shortwave, or SW flux) using our AMSR-E total integrated cloud water amounts. This was done with a 7+ year comparison of those cloud water estimates to daily global-ocean SW anomalies computed from the CERES radiation budget instrument, also on Aqua:

What this shows is an unusually large increase in reflected sunlight over the last several months, probably due to an increase in low cloud cover.

At this pace of cooling, I suspect that the second half of 2010 could ruin the chances of getting a record high global temperature for this year. Oh, darn. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

FAQ #271: If Greenhouse Gases are such a Small Part of the Atmosphere, How Do They Change Its Temperature?

Some of the questions I receive from the public tend to show up repeatedly. One of those more common questions I receive arrived once again yesterday, from a airplane pilot, who asked “If greenhouse gases are such a small proportion of the atmosphere,” (only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules are CO2), “how can they heat or cool all the rest of the air?”

The answer comes from the “kinetic theory of gases”. In effect, each CO2 molecule is a tiny heater (or air conditioner) depending on whether it is absorbing more infrared photons than it is emitting, or vice versa.

When the radiatively active molecules in the atmosphere — mainly water vapor, CO2, and methane — are heated by infrared radiation, even though they are a very small fraction of the total, they are moving very fast and do not have to travel very far before they collide with other molecules of air…that’s when they transfer part of their thermal energy to another molecule. That transfer is in the form of momentum from the molecule’s mass and its speed.

That molecule then bumps into others, those bump into still more, and on and on ad infinitum.

To give some idea of how fast all this happens, consider:

1) there are 26,900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in 1 cubic meter of air at sea level.

2) at room temperature, each molecule is traveling at a very high speed, averaging 1,000 mph for heavier molecules like nitrogen, over 3,000 mph for the lightest molecule, hydrogen, etc.

3) the average distance a molecule travels before hitting another molecule (called the “mean free path”) is only 0.000067 of a millimeter

So, there are so many molecules traveling so fast, and so close to one another, that the radiatively active molecules almost instantly transfer any extra thermal energy (their velocity is proportional to the square root of their temperature) to other molecules. Or, if they happen to be cooling the air, the absorb extra momentum from the other air molecules.

From the above numbers we can compute that a single nitrogen molecule (air is mostly nitrogen) undergoes over 7 billion collisions every second.

All of this happens on extremely small scales, with gazillions of the radiatively active molecules scattered through a very small volume of air.

It is rather amazing that these relatively few “greenhouse” gases are largely responsible for the temperature structure of the atmosphere. Without them, the atmosphere would have no way of losing the heat energy that it gains from the Earth’s surface in response to solar heating.

Such an atmosphere would eventually become the same temperature throughout its depth, called an “isothermal” atmosphere. All vertical air motions would stop in such an atmosphere, which means there would be no weather either.

Now, I will have to endure the rash of e-mails I always get from those who do not believe that greenhouse gases do all of this. But that issue will have to be the subject of a later FAQ. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Excellent Summary Of The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Forecast For A La Niña Later This Summer

There is an excellent summary of NOAA CPC forecast of an pending La Niña and its interrelationship with other regional atmospheric-ocean circulation features on the website of the National Weather Service Office in Grand Forks North Dakota. It is

CPC Issues a La Nina Watch

The NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has issued a La Niña Watch for the upcoming late summer and fall season. La Niña refers to the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific that occurs every 3 to 5 years or so. La Niña represents the cool phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, and is sometimes referred to as a Pacific cold episode. La Niña originally referred to an annual cooling of ocean waters off the west coast of Peru and Ecuador. Similarly, El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate phenomenon linked to a periodic warming in sea-surface temperatures across the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the date line and 120 W). El Niño represents the warm phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, and is sometimes referred to as a Pacific warm episode. El Niño originally referred to an annual warming of sea-surface temperatures along the west coast of tropical South America.

Both El Niño or La Niña produce changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures, which affect the patterns of tropical rainfall from Indonesia to the west coast of South America. These changes in tropical rainfall affect weather patterns throughout the world. (Click to read more on how El Niño and La Niña change tropical rainfall patterns.

Typically, La Niña produces a cooler and wetter winter season across the northern plains. However, every La Niña and every El Niño interacts with other large scale atmospheric patterns including the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) as well as several others. These other climate signals can diminish or exaggerate the impact a La Niña or El Niño has on our weather. For example, the 2009/2010 El Niño reached moderate intensity, yet the overall winter season in portions of the northern plains was cooler and slightly wetter than average.

As I have emphasized many time on my weblog and in research papers, it is the regional atmospheric-ocean circulations that are a dominate influence on climate variability and change. Until the IPCC multi-decadal global climate models can skillfully predict the variations and change in these circulations on a multi-decadal time scale, policymakers and others should be very skeptical in their use as definitive skillful forecasts. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Update on the Role of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in Global Warming

UPDATE: more edits & enhancements for clarity made at 3:35 CDT, June 17, 2010.

I’ve returned to the issue of determining to what extent the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) can at least partly explain global average temperature variations, including warming, during the 20th Century. We tried publishing a paper on this over a year ago and were immediately and swiftly rejected in a matter of days by a single (!) reviewer.

Here I use a simple forcing-feedback model, combined with satellite estimates of cloud changes caused by the PDO, to demonstrate the ability of the model to explain the temperature variations. This time, though, I am going to use Jim Hansen’s (GISS) record of yearly radiative forcings of the global climate system since 1900 to demonstrate more convincingly the importance of the PDO…not only for explaining the global temperature record of the past, but for the estimation of the sensitivity of the climate system and thus project the amount of future global warming (er, I mean climate change).

What follows is not meant to be publishable in a peer-reviewed paper. It is to keep the public informed, to stimulate discussion, to provide additional support for the claims in my latest book, and to help me better understand what I know at this point in my research, what I don’t know, and what direction I should go next.

The Simple Climate Model
I’m still using a simple forcing feedback-model of temperature variations, but have found that more than a single ocean layer is required to mimic both the faster time scales (e.g. 5-year) temperature fluctuations, while allowing a slower temperature response on multi-decadal time scales as heat diffuses from the upper ocean to the deeper ocean. The following diagram shows the main components of the model.

For forcing, I am assuming the GISS record of yearly-average forcing, the values of which I have plotted for the period since 1900 in the following graph:

I will simply assume these forcings are correct, and will show what happens in the model when I use: (1) all the GISS forcings together; (2) all GISS forcings except tropospheric aerosols, and (3) all the GISS forcings, but replacing the tropospheric aerosols with the satellite-derived PDO forcings.

Internal Radiative Forcing from the PDO
As readers here are well aware, I believe that there are internal modes of climate variability which can cause “internal radiative forcing” of the climate system. These would most easily be explained as circulation-induced changes in cloud cover. My leading candidate for this mechanism continues to be the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

We have estimated the radiative forcing associated with the PDO by comparing yearly global averages of them to similar averages of CERES radiative flux variations over the Terra CERES period of record, 2000-2009. But since the CERES-measured radiative imbalances are a combination of forcing and feedback, we must remove an estimate of the feedback to get at the PDO forcing. [This step is completely consistent with, and analogous to, previous investigators removing known radiative forcings from climate model output in order to estimate feedbacks in those models].

Our new JGR paper (still awaiting publication) shows evidence that, for year-to-year climate variability at least, net feedback is about 6 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. After removal of the feedback component with our AMSU-based tropospheric temperature anomalies, the resulting relationship between yearly-running 3-year average PDO index versus radiative forcing looks like this:

This internally-generated radiative forcing is most likely due to changes in global average cloud cover associated with the PDO. If we apply this relationship to yearly estimates of the PDO index, we get the following estimate of “internal radiative forcing” from the PDO since 1900:

As can be seen, these radiative forcings – if they existed during the 20th Century– are comparable to the magnitude of the GISS forcings.

Model Simulations

The model has 7 free parameters that must be estimated to not only make a model run, but to then meaningfully compare that model run’s temperature “predictions” to the observed record of surface temperature variations. We are especially interested in what feedback parameter, when inserted in the model, best explains past temperature variations, since this determines the climate system’s sensitivity to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

Given some assumed history of radiative forcings like those shown above, these 7 model free parameters include:
1) An assumed feedback parameter
2) Total ocean depth that heat is stored/lost from.
3) Fraction of ocean depth contained in the upper ocean layer.
4) Ocean diffusion coefficient (same units as feedback parameter)
5) Initial temperature for 1st ocean layer
6) Initial temperature for 2nd ocean layer
7) Temperature offset for the observed temperature record

While the net feedback in the real climate system is likely dominated by changes in the atmosphere (clouds, water vapor, temperature profile), the model does not have an atmospheric layer per se. On the time scales we are considering here (1 to 5 years an longer), atmospheric temperature variations can be assumed to vary in virtual lock-step with the upper ocean temperature variations. So, the atmosphere can simply be considered to be a small (2 meter) part of the first ocean layer, which is the amount of water that has the same heat capacity as the entire atmosphere.

The last parameter, a temperature offset for the observed temperature record, is necessary because the model assumes some equilibrium temperature state of the climate system, a “preferred” temperature state that the model “tries” to relax to through the temperature feedback term in the model equations. This zero-point might be different from the zero-point chosen for display of observed global temperature anomalies, which the thermometer data analysts have chosen somewhat arbitrarily when compiling the HadCRUT3 dataset.

In order to sweep at least 10 values for every parameter, and run the model for all possible combinations of those parameters, there must be millions of computer simulations performed. Each simulation’s reconstructed history of temperatures can then be automatically compared to the observed temperature record to see how closely it matches.

So far, I have only run the model manually in an Excel spreadsheet, one run at a time, and have found what I believe to be the ranges over which the model free parameters provide the best match to global temperature variations since 1900. I expect that the following model fits to the observed temperature record will improve only slightly when we do full “Monte Carlo” set of millions of simulations.

All of the following simulation results use yearly running 5-year averages for the forcings for the period 1902 through 2007, with a model time step of 1 year.

CASE #1: All GISS Forcings
First let’s examine the best fit I found when I included all of the GISS forcings in the model runs. The following model best fit has a yearly RMS error of 0.0763 deg. C:

The above “best” model simulation preferred a total ocean depth of 550 meters, 10% of which (55 meters) was contained in the upper layer. (Note that since the Earth is 70% ocean, and land has negligible heat capacity, this corresponds to a real-Earth ocean depth of 550/0.7 = 786 meters).

The offset added to the HadCRUT3 temperature anomalies was very small, only -0.01 deg. C. The heat diffusion coefficient was 7 Watts per sq. meter per deg. C difference between the upper and lower ocean layers. The best initial temperatures of the first and second ocean layers at the start of the model integration were the same as the temperature observations for the first layer (0.41 deg. C below normal), and 0.48 deg. C below normal for the deeper layer.

What we are REALLY interested in, though, is the optimum net feedback parameter for the model run. In this case, it was 1.25 Watts per sq. meter per deg. C. This corresponds to about 3 deg. C of warming for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (2XCO2, based upon an assumed radiative forcing of 3.7 Watts per sq. meter for 2XCO2). This is in approximate agreement with the IPCC’s best estimate for warming from 2XCO2, and supports the realism of the simple forcing-feedback model for determining climate sensitivity.

But note that the above simulation has 2 shortcomings: 1) it does not do a very good job of mimicking the warming up to 1940 and subsequent slight cooling to the 1970s; and (2) other than the major volcanic eruptions (e.g. Pinatubo in 1991), it does not mimic the sub-decadal temperature variations.

CASE #2: All GISS Forcings except Tropospheric Aerosols
Since the tropospheric aerosols have the largest uncertainty, it is instructive to see what the previous simulation would look like if we remove all 3 tropospheric aerosol components (aerosol reflection, black carbon, and aerosol indirect effect on clouds).

In that case an extremely similar fit to Case #1 is obtained, which has only a slightly degraded RMS error of 0.0788 deg. C.

This reveals that the addition of the tropospheric aerosols in the first run improved the model fit by only 3.2% compared to the run without tropospheric aerosols. Yet, what is particularly important is that the best fit feedback has now increased from 1.25 to 3.5 Watts per sq. meter per deg. C, which then reduces the 2XCO2 climate sensitivity from 3.0 deg. C to about 1.1 deg. C! This is below the 1.5 deg. C lower limit the IPCC has ‘very confidently” placed on that warming.

This illustrates the importance of assumed tropospheric aerosol pollution to the IPCC’s global warming arguments. Since the warming during the 20th Century was not as strong as would some expected from increasing greenhouse gases, an offsetting source of cooling had to be found – which, of course, was also manmade.

But even with those aerosols, the model fit to the observations was not very good. That’s where the PDO comes in.

CASE #3: PDO plus all GISS Forcings except Tropospheric Aerosols
For our third and final case, let’s see what happens when we replace the GISS tropospheric aerosol forcings – which are highly uncertain – with our satellite-inferred record of internal radiative forcing from the PDO.

The following plot shows that more of the previously unresolved temperature variability during the 20th Century is now captured; I have also included the “all GISS forcings” model fit for comparison:

Using the satellite observed PDO forcing of 0.6 Watts per sq. meter per unit change in the PDO index, the RMS error of the model fit improves by 25.4%, to 0.0588 deg. C; this can be compared to the much smaller 3.2% improvement from adding the GISS tropospheric aerosols.

If we ask what PDO-related forcing the model “prefers” to get a best fit, the satellite-inferred value of 0.6 is bumped up to around 1 Watt per sq. meter per unit change in the PDO index, with an RMS fit improvement of over 30% (not shown).

In this last model simulation, note the smaller temperature fluctuations in the HadCRUT3 surface temperature record are now better captured during the 20th Century. This is evidence that the PDO causes its own radiative forcing of the climate system.

And of particular interest, the substitution of the PDO forcing for the tropospheric aerosols restores the low climate sensitivity, with a preferred feedback parameter of 3.6, which corresponds to a 2XCO2 climate sensitivity of only 1.0 deg. C.

If you are wondering, including BOTH the GISS tropospheric aerosols and the PDO forcing made it difficult to get the model to come close to the observed temperature record. The best fit for this combination of forcings will have to wait till the full set of Monte Carlo computer simulations are made.

Conclusions

It is clear (to me, at least) that the IPCC’s claim that the sensitivity of the climate is quite high is critically dependent upon (1) the inclusion of very uncertain aerosol cooling effects in the last half of the 20th Century, and (2) the neglect of any sources of internal radiative forcing on long time scales, such as the 30-60 year time scale of the PDO.

Since we now have satellite measurements that such natural forcings do indeed exist, it would be advisable for the IPCC to revisit the issue of climate sensitivity, taking into account these uncertainties.

It would be difficult for the IPCC to fault this model because of its simplicity. For global average temperature changes on these time scales, the surface temperature variations are controlled by (1) radiative forcings, (2) net feedbacks, and (3) heat diffusion to the deeper ocean. In addition, the simple model’s assumption of a preferred average temperature is exactly what the IPCC implicitly claims! After all, they are the ones who say climate change did not occur until humans started polluting. Think hockey stick.

Remember, in the big picture, a given amount of global warming can be explained with either (1) weak forcing of a sensitive climate system, or (2) strong forcing of an insensitive climate system. By ignoring natural sources of warming – which are understandably less well known than anthropogenic sources — the IPCC biases its conclusions toward high climate sensitivity. I have addressed only ONE potential natural source of radiative forcing — the PDO. Of course, there could be others as well. But the 3rd Case presented above is already getting pretty close to the observed temperature record, which has its own uncertainties anyway.

This source of uncertainty — and bias — regarding the role of past, natural climate variations to the magnitude of future anthropogenic global warming (arghh! I mean climate change) is something that most climate scientists (let alone policymakers) do not yet understand. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Agriculture Reduces Greenhouse Gases

Often a target for environmentalists and global warming alarmists alike, intensive modern agriculture has been demonized as the cause of many types of pollution, including those dreaded greenhouse gases. A study, soon to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals that highly productive modern agriculture actually reduces net greenhouse gas emissions when compared with using croplands less intensively. Furthermore, expansion of agriculture, needed to feed mankind's ever growing numbers, can help reduce future increases in CO2 emissions. Looks like the doomsayers got it backwards again, more intensive agricultural is a good thing for the environment. In fact, agriculture reduced total human carbon emissions from 1850 to 2005 by 34%.

Agriculture is generally considered a source of greenhouse gas emissions, not a possible tool for GHG mitigation. In recent years, fears over the impact of increasing agricultural production have centered on accelerated release of methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), as well as CO2. Even the pesky weed kudzu has been pointed to as contributing to global warming. Fortunately, kudzu is no longer planted for erosion prevention or as fodder for animals, at least in the US.

Just a year ago, the EU issued a press release that proclaimed “global greenhouse emissions are currently increasing, and agriculture accounts for between 5 and 26 per cent of EU Member States’ total emissions.” The ministers stressed the importance of reducing the impact of agriculture on the climate, both globally and at EU level. Combine feeding humanity with growing concerns about future shortages of freshwater and public concern over climate change has greatly receded. Even so, the impact of global farm activity remains a concern. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

What Obama Could Learn from FDR

If President Obama intends to use President Roosevelt’s leadership during World War II as his model for handling the BP oil spill, he has it exactly backward.

The Oval Office is a room filled with ghosts: ghosts of figures both noble and ignoble, and the shades of decisions both great and disastrous. If there was one ghost President Obama wanted at his shoulder during his recent speech on the oil spill, it was that of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The White House specifically said the speech was modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats during the Great Depression and World War II. At its climax, Obama even referenced America’s creation of the so-called Arsenal of Democracy as an example of how Americans can seize their destiny and achieve greatness.

He’s right, but Obama may regret picking that example.

On the one hand, Roosevelt is a natural role model for a president pressing the most interventionist and redistributionist agenda since the New Deal. It was FDR, after all, who broke the power of Wall Street and those he termed “the royalists of the economic order” under a welter of regulations and tax increases. And it was that big government, anti-business agenda that has made Roosevelt a Democratic Party icon ever since, even though we now know it actually deepened and extended the Great Depression.

FDR built that arsenal of democracy by working with business, not fighting against it—let alone by keeping a boot on its neck.
On the other hand, if Obama intends to use Roosevelt’s leadership during World War II as his model for handling the BP oil spill, he has it exactly backward. FDR built that arsenal of democracy by working with business, not fighting against it—let alone by keeping a boot on its neck. If Roosevelt had been speaking from the Oval Office last Tuesday, he would have announcing the creation of a presidential panel of oil executives and engineers to help BP solve the oil spill, rather than a scheme to strip BP of its profits.

This is because, in the year and a half before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt realized that the best way to mobilize a country like ours for a great task is to unleash the productivity and ingenuity of American industrial enterprise. His decision outraged some of his closest advisors and allies. It flew in the face of his own progressive instincts. But it not only helped to win World War II, it pulled the United States out of the Great Depression, and it has provided a useful model of how government needs to partner with the private sector, ever since. (Arthur Herman, The American)

 

The Obama Oval Office speech – BP oil spill

I have been watching our TV news from the US reporting on the BP oil spill – and have been surprised that so often the US seems to be whining about what BP has done without seeming to understand that oil exploration is a partnership.

When the US assigns lands for oil exploration to this or that company it puts conditions on drilling and exploration and generally there is an obligation to explore and drill. An oil company can not just sit on land indefintely. With hindsight – when BP purchased the rights to explore/drill the very deep (a mile of water) Macondo prospect – the US had the opportunity to put the case to BP that perhaps they were too near the edge of the safe capacity of their drilling technology. Once BP proceeds with work – it is surely in a partnership with the US Govt.

To hear President Obama linking outrage surrounding this industrial accident with the case to change US energy policy away from the current usage of fossil fuels – IMHO the whole thing gets into the paranormal there. As I think somebody said – “Houston .. we have an oil spill disaster” – “Oh, lets build more windmills.”

To wrap up – I was amazed to see recent video of President Obama arriving at a beach which looked clean !! What – they could not find a dirty beach for his arrival shot ? A bit later in the video we saw some minor sludge that could have been easily shovelled or scooped up – but there was no activity I could see. Just finally, has anybody cleaned that oil covered pelican yet – poor bird – I must have seen the shot 20 or 30 times over the weeks.

Sorry – but I was looking for signs the US leader was taking a realistic attitude to the entire oil spill issue – after having two months to work something out. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Drill Ban Means Hard Times for Rig Workers

In addition to the fishermen and hoteliers whose livelihoods have been devastated by BP’s hemorrhaging undersea oil well, another group of Gulf Coast residents is beginning to suffer: the tens of thousands of workers like Ronald Brown who run the equipment or serve in support roles on deepwater oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Brown, known as Rusty to his friends, is a “shakerhand.” In the rugged vernacular of offshore drilling, that means he monitors the mud flowing back from the drill hole thousands of feet below.

He works aboard the Ocean Monarch, which was idled along with 32 other oil rigs when the Obama administration ordered a six-month moratorium on all deepwater drilling after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The rig’s owner is now seeking customers in other parts of the world. If the rig moves, Mr. Brown and his fellow motormen, roughnecks and roustabouts will be left behind, jobless, with few alternatives that would pay anything close to the $3,500 to $4,000 a month typical for such jobs.

On Wednesday, President Obama and BP announced that the company had voluntarily agreed to create a $100 million fund to compensate such rig workers. That’s a modest sum, critics say, given the potential economic losses. Each rig job supports roughly four additional jobs for cooks, supply-ship operators and others servicing the industry. Together, they represent total monthly wages of at least $165 million, according to estimates by a Louisiana oil industry group.

Still, Mr. Brown is grateful for any assistance. “Every little bit is going to help until we figure out where else to go,” he said. “But I’m not looking forward to unemployment, and I don’t know how quickly we’ll be able to get some of it.” (NYT)

 

An Apology To Be Truly Sorry About

Politics: Rep. Joe Barton says what everyone knows is true and his own party threatens to kick him out of his committee seat. We expected cynical political opportunism from Democrats, but not from Republican leaders.

Where are we as a society when the truth is treated as a something that can't be uttered in public?

Barton, the Texas Republican, apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward, now relieved of his duties, during Thursday's House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing for what he characterized as a "shakedown" by the White House in forcing the company to create a $20 billion victims' compensation fund.

He also declared that he was "ashamed" of the White House's tactics, and called it "a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown."

"I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown," he said.

Naturally, the Democrats went hard after Barton. And the media were happy to aid the cause. And just as naturally, other comments by Barton have not received as much attention. Without having watched the hearing or read the transcript, how many people know that Barton said:

"There is no question ... that BP made decisions that objective people think compromise safety. There is no question that BP is liable for the damages."

Or that he told Hayward "we want to hold (BP) responsible, do what we can to make the liable parties pay for the damages."

Just as every lawmaker should, Barton simply wants the government to follow our due process system, in which "we go through hearings, in some cases court cases, litigation, and determine what those damages are and when those damages should be paid." This, by the way, protects everyone's rights. (IBD)

 

Addicted to Prosperity

Back in 2006, George W. Bush declared that the US is “addicted to oil.” Since then, that phrase has been repeated ad nauseum by politicos on both the Left and the Right. But on Tuesday night, President Obama took the addiction meme to an entirely new level of inanity by saying “For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.” [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

The real villain of the Gulf oil-spill disaster: not BP but PC

Hands up who thinks BP’s public image has been improved as a result of pumping upwards of half a million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, ravaging eco-systems, depriving fishermen of their livelihoods, incurring the pantomime wrath of President Obama and the undying hatred of half America?

Hmm. That’s not many hands.

But I suspect your crowd wisdom is quite right here. BP has spent the last decade rebranding itself as Beyond Petroleum in order to make out that it doesn’t do anything so disgusting and immoral as plundering Mother Gaia of her dwindling supplies of precious black blood. Yet I doubt all that strenuous greenwashing has been enough to offset the damage done by even a single one of those photographs of ickle pelicans smeared in oily gunk.

As Patrick Hayes argues in a brilliant article at Spiked, this is not the fault of BP’s beleaguered CEO Tony Hayward, but of his fantastically wrong-headed predecessor Lord Browne of Madingley. (James Delingpole)

 

John Browne’s 1997 Stanford University Speech: The “Beyond Petroleum” Beginning (and beginning of the end of BP?)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
June 19, 2010

“Stephen H. Schneider, a climate researcher and Stanford professor who wrote the first popular book on global warming, said [that Browne's] speech was a welcome change of direction for an industry that has, until now, denied that global warming is a problem. ‘They’re out of climate denial,’ Schneider said.”

- Quoted in Glennda Chui, “BP Official Takes Global Warming Seriously,” San Jose Mercury News, May 20, 1997, sec. A. 20.

Then BP CEO John Browne’s speech at Stanford University in May 1997 marked the beginning of the company’s “green” (or to critics, greenwashing) approach to product differentiation and corporate governance. Left environmentalists applauded heartily–and would continue to do so until the Deepwater Horizon accident of April 2010.

Browne’s speech began by begging the question and proceeded to a non sequitur. It begged the question by assuming that anthropogenic global warming was bad and it leapt to the conclusion that corporations and for governments must fight it. In Browne’s make-believe world, there was no such thing as analytic failure or government failure–just market failure.

Today, we know what John Browne did not want to know 13 years ago. We know that the climate is far too complex to pretend to ‘stabilize’ through marginal changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. We know that government mitigation policies are all pain and no gain. We know that oil, gas, and coal are the real deal–and wind and solar are pretend, press-release energies that might even be CO2 positive.

We also know that the global warming issue resulted in incalculable intellectual fraud, grotesque corporate rent-seeking, and the waste of the environmental dollar (there are real, here-and-now ecological issues that deserve the global warming buck).

We also know, painfully, that BP put form over substance and took their eye off the ball. Beyond Petroleum was a failed corporate strategy that resulted in heedless, dumb cost-cutting that put profits losses ahead of people and the environment.

Reality can be a harsh mistress. BP went after an environmental fad, basked in the glow of the Left environmental movement, and now may have destoyed itself in the process. As with Enron, another ‘progressive’ ‘green’ company, the Left environmentalists got what they deserved.

If only John Browne had given a Lee Raymond-type speech and had conducted BP’s business in the manner of its more reality-grounded brethren. The blame for the fatal attraction goes deep, and it lands at the doorstep of the mainstream environmental movement that got BP into greenwashing.

John Browne’s speech follows verbatim.

————————————————————————————

The world in which we live is no longer defined by ideology. The old spectrums of left to right and radical to conservative are still with us, but ideology is no longer the ultimate arbiter of analysis and action. Governments, corporations, and individual citizens have all had to redefine their roles in a society no longer divided by an Iron Curtain. A new age demands a fresh perspective on the nature of society and responsibility. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Deepwater Oil Exploration Realities

The FT reminds us that there is a lot of ocean out there beyond the Gulf of Mexico:

The Gulf of Mexico is still under a drilling moratorium after the BP oil spill but plans to step up deep-water exploration on the other side of the world, in the South China Sea, remain largely unchanged.

CNOOC, the Chinese state-controlled company with exclusive rights to develop China’s offshore resources, ordered safety checks on all its rigs after the BP disaster. But long-term plans still aim to step up deep-water exploration.

“Offshore and especially deep-water oil and gas discoveries have great significance for replenishing China’s and the world’s oil resources,” said Zhou ­Shouwei, CNOOC vice-president, in comments posted on the company’s website on June 10.

“We can’t cancel or stop deep-water oil and gas extraction because of the accident in the Gulf of ­Mexico.” . . .

(Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Bill Gates: Energy Visionary? (energy Manhattan project, yet again)

by Robert Michaels
June 18, 2010

“If America can put a man on the moon, why should we stay in servitude to the first and second laws of thermodynamics? What we plainly need is a Manhattan Project–like the one that gave us the atomic bomb but not like the one that narrowly missed finding a cure for cancer.”

- Paul Samuelson, “Tragicomedy of the Energy Crisis,” Newsweek, July 2, 1979, p. 62.

“A group of industry leaders, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and General Electric boss Jeff Immelt, stepped up calls for a Manhattan project for low carbon energy last week urging the US government to significantly increase investment in energy research and development.”

- Danny Bradbury, “Gates and Co Demand Manhattan Project for Energy.” BusinessGreen.com, June 14, 2010.

Just as as the polls start finding that nobody thinks global warming matters much, and just as hockey stick predictions of catastrophe fall apart in a scientific scandal, guess who turns up at the White House?

Bill Gates! And the billionaire wants your money to federally fund research on “breakthrough” energy technologies to cope with carbon, an increase between $3 billion and $16 billion a year, possibly forever. The Wall Street Journal apparently lost its secret decoder ring and quotes him: “It’s the only way you’re going to get to the goal of not driving extreme climate change without extreme pain.”

In a video clip he says that ten years of research would mean that by 2030 “we’d be in a position to change the transportation infrastructure to zero carbon,” and likewise for electricity. Red ink in Washington a problem? No problem with “a modest energy tax,” or “cutting subsidies to fossil fuels.”

Subsidies? The U.S. Energy Information Administration defines them and finds that in 2007 coal got $932 million and gas and petroleum liquids got $2.1 billion. Even if your Congressman votes to kill them totally, that’s still only $3 billion. But before even hoping for any of this recall that your Congressman is the person who put the subsidies in place. Since $3 billion is rock bottom in Bill’s wish book, we are probably talking taxes or bonds for the rest.

Meet the New Energy Experts

Bill Gates didn’t go to Washington alone. He is a member of the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), made up of: [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Exclusive: Tests delay U.S. Ruling On Ethanol Blends

U.S. environmental regulators said testing on higher ethanol blends in motor fuels will not be finished until September, a delay ethanol groups said would hurt jobs and worsen a supply glut.

The Environmental Protection Agency told Reuters that tests on boosting the blend rate of gasoline to 15 percent ethanol, or E15, on new vehicles built after 2007 would not be completed until the end of September.

Originally the EPA said testing on E15 on cars as old as 2001 models would be finished by mid-year. (Reuters)

 

Being green will not get us out of the red

Cuts announced last week to finance castings needed for nuclear reactors were deeply revealing of the Coalition’s priorities, writes Christopher Booker. 

The fact that the largest of the £2 billion public spending cuts announced last week was an £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters – to finance a 15,000-ton press for the huge castings needed for nuclear reactors – was deeply revealing of the Coalition’s priorities. It would have helped Britain to build the new generation of nuclear power stations that we desperately need (but which our “green” energy minister Chris Huhne so dislikes). It would also have made Britain a world leader, with the potential to generate billions of pounds of exports, enabling the loan to be swiftly repaid. 

Still in place, however, is a £200 million loan to Nissan (£20 million from our Government, the rest from the European Investment Bank), to enable its Sunderland plant to build thousands of Leaf electric cars, which will only be able to drive 100 miles before they need recharging – with electricity from CO2-emitting fossil fuels. 

What puts the £2 billion cuts into depressing perspective, of course, is the fact that our public debt is now rising by £3 billion a week. (Christopher Booker)

 

Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing

Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.
 
Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing.

Critics of wind farms have seized on the revelation as evidence of the unsuitability of turbines to meet the UK's energy needs in the future. They claim that the 'intermittent' nature of wind makes such farms unreliable providers of electricity. (TDT)

 

EU Sees Solar Power Imported From Sahara In 5 Years

Europe will import its first solar-generated electricity from North Africa within the next five years, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in an interview on Sunday.

The European Union is backing projects to turn the plentiful sunlight in the Sahara desert into electricity for power-hungry Europe, a scheme it hopes will help meet its target of deriving 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2020.

"I think some models starting in the next 5 years will bring some hundreds of megawatts to the European market," Oettinger told Reuters after a meeting with energy ministers from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

He said those initial volumes would come from small pilot projects, but the amount of electricity would go up into the thousands of megawatts as projects including the 400 billion euro ($495 billion) Desertec solar scheme come on stream.

"Desertec as a whole is a vision for the next 20 to 40 years with investment of hundreds of billions of euros," said Oettinger. "To integrate a bigger percentage of renewables, solar and wind, needs time."

The EU is backing the construction of new electricity cables, known as inter-connectors, under the Mediterranean Sea to carry this renewable energy from North Africa to Europe. (Reuters)

 

 

Pandemic virus enters pigs in HK, swaps genes

HONG KONG - The H1N1 swine flu virus has been spreading quietly in pigs in Hong Kong and swapping genes with other viruses, and researchers said the findings support calls for tighter disease surveillance in pigs before new bugs can emerge and infect people.

The finding, published in Science on Friday, is important as it supports the theory that flu viruses infecting swine can swap genes with other viruses that are in pigs, including more dangerous bugs like the H5N1 or H9N2 bird flu viruses.

Malik Peiris, an influenza expert who worked on the study, said the discovery underlines the importance of disease surveillance in pigs. (Reuters)

 

Junk Science Week: The devil you know

Financial Post Staff  June 16, 2010 – 8:01 pm

Getty Images
Alternatives for polycarbonate bottles are available, but have not been tested as extensively as bisphenol A.

Replacing products with low levels of bisphenol A with less-studied materials will have unknown effects

By Julie E. Goodman

There has been much concern recently that bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic bottles and metal can linings may leach into food, leading to increased health risks to pregnant women, fetuses, infants and children. This concern is not supported by the science. Levels of BPA that leach into food are far below levels that are widely considered safe, and eliminating BPA from these products will not likely lead to any health improvements. To the contrary, this action may actually lead to unintended health effects from other chemicals used in its place.

Whenever a material comes in contact with food, some level of it will migrate into the food. Be it BPA or another chemical, a few questions must be addressed to determine whether the migration will cause health risks. How much leaches into food? Is this amount sufficient to cause harm? If replaced with another chemical, will this likely result in harm?

In the case of BPA, these questions have been studied extensively. Scientists have determined the amount of BPA to which people are exposed in two ways: by estimating levels based on the amount measured in food, and by back-calculating exposures based on BPA measured in urine. Results from both types of analyses have produced similar results. Even assuming worst-case scenarios, including infants drinking from polycarbonate baby bottles, human exposures are exceedingly low, about a million-fold lower than levels shown to be without health effects in comprehensive studies in laboratory animals. These levels are also well below the safety levels set by government bodies around the world.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Peering Into Peer Review on Atrazine – industry studies are often better and more transparent

In a recent blog, I outlined some of the big money behind the activist assault on modern agricultural technology, particularly the safe and effective herbicide, atrazine. Much of that money probably flows directly from trial lawyers through activist “laundering” operations such as the Tides Foundation (specifically set up so that the billions they distribute to activists can’t be traced to its source).

I suggested that reporters, if they really want to fulfill their watchdog function, maybe ask some of these activists where their funding comes from.

This is particularly important, as the activist campaign against atrazine is based largely on discrediting the “industry based” science on which regulatory approval has been at least partially based.

So here I suggest some additional questions reporters should never fail to ask scientists who put out these flimsy studies on atrazine: Can you please name all the sources that funded your study? And if you won’t, why not? (Alex Avery, CGFI)

 

We can only hope: Homeopathy Awareness Week: Is this the homeopaths' last stand?

It's Homeopathy Awareness Week, but the alternative medicine may be about to face a final deadly assault from critics, writes Edzard Ernst (The Guardian)

 

Column - Our deadly culture of unreason

PETER Dingle had a choice when his wife, Pen, finally learned she had rectal cancer.

Would the professor push her to have the operation that would most probably cure her?

Or would he keep pushing the mad faith in alternative medicine that has since made him, as he modestly advertises, a “renowned author, juggler, media personality and Murdoch University academic”?

Ah. Tough choice.

You see, Dingle, an “environmental toxicologist” at this Perth university’s school of Health and Environment, has spent the past 20 years getting rich and kinda famous by demonising the very kind of medicine that could spare a woman like Pen from what a surgeon told a Perth coroner this week was “one of the most painful diseases you could possibly get”.

Indeed, even last month, after all that he - or rather, his wife (below) - had gone through, Dingle was still spruiking his wares that have made him a minor celebrity in this new age of unreason.

image

“Perhaps the most dreaded of all diseases is cancer,” he wrote in his newsletter.

“There is no miracle cure for cancer, nor will there ever be ... Only a few minor cancers are treated effectively with modern techniques yet we still keep doing it.”

In fact, he’s protested, “modern medicine cannot be given credit for increasing life expectancy at birth”.

Yes, I think you suspect already how this story plays out, and how ugly it gets. 

Continue reading 'Column - Our deadly culture of unreason' (Andrew Bolt)

 

Junk Science Week: This science is fishy

Terence Corcoran  June 17, 2010 – 7:09 pm

How activists, money and manipulated science hijacked the B.C. fish farm industry

There’s a national science battle underway over salmon. It is a battle over the fate of one part of the salmon industry, salmon farms, and the work of activists who claim to have scientific evidence that fish farms are killing wild salmon and are a threat to the very existence of wild salmon, ocean fisheries and ecosystems.

The science conflict, steeped in politics and green activism, has been raging for the better part of a decade. It has many facets, but it reached a climax of sorts in December, 2007, when researchers at the Centre for Mathematical Biology (CMB) at the University of Alberta published a paper that claimed sea lice from fish farms in British Columbia were contaminating wild pink salmon. In a sensational press release at the time, the University of Alberta’s public relations crew declared the coming collapse of wild salmon: “Fish Farms Drive Wild Salmon Populations Toward Extinction.” The release claimed the study — headed by fisheries ecologist Martin Krkosek and including eco-activist Alexandra Morton — proved that pink salmon populations have been rapidly declining for four years.

“The scientists expect a 99% collapse in another four years or two salmon generations, if the infestations continue.”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Hmm... Nasa warns solar flares from 'huge space storm' will cause devastation

Britain could face widespread power blackouts and be left without critical communication signals for long periods of time, after the earth is hit by a once-in-a-generation “space storm”, Nasa has warned. (TDT)

 

 

Democrats Divided on Energy Bill

Senators Wrestle With Competing Proposals After President Renews Call to Reduce Nation's Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Senate Democrats are struggling with how to move forward on energy legislation, despite President Barack Obama's assertion this week that the Gulf oil spill underscores the need to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

Some want an ambitious bill that makes using carbon more expensive, in order to discourage its use. Earlier this month Mr. Obama said this was the "only way" to move the nation to a clean-energy economy. (WSJ)

 

LISTEN: Inhofe Exposes Dems New Game Plan on Cap-and-Tax

Inhofe a Guest on the Steve Malzberg Show
June 16, 2010

Sen. Inhofe on the Steve Malzberg Radio Show 6/16/10

President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Washington have a new plan to try and pass their global warming cap-and-trade agenda, Senator Inhofe warned today on the Steve Malzberg show.

"…let me tell you what’s going to happen, Steve.  First of all, what he did say…I don’t think it was in the speech, but he said on the week of the 19th, that’s when we get back from the 4th of July, that he is going to have them pass some kind of an energy bill.  And it doesn’t matter what it is, because he’s going to take that, put it in Conference with the Waxman-Markey bill.  Now, he’ll leave it in Conference until after the November elections, then he’ll have all ten of the Democrats that we’re going to defeat…"

"The lame ducks will be there to vote for him. Now, he hasn’t counted very well, because he still can’t get there with that number. But can you imagine…and I hope all your guys, I know you have a sophisticated audience, but you’ve got to keep in mind what he’s talking about doing is deliberately forcing these people to come back afterwards, after they’ve lost the election and it’s all over, to try to pass something they were not able to pass otherwise."

 

The White House's lame-duck climate strategy

UPDATED at 6:55 p.m. with comment from White House spokesman Ben LaBolt.

By Juliet Eilperin

While President Obama made the pitch for climate and energy legislation yet again Tuesday in his Oval Office address, he did not disclose the White House's new strategy: push for a scaled-back bill in the Senate, and drag out the conference long enough to ensure a floor vote after the negotiations.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the administration continues to press for a broad Senate bill: "Last night President Obama reiterated his call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation to break our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. Next week he will be reaching out to senators on both sides of the aisle to chart a path forward."

"A number of proposals have been put forward from members on both sides of the aisle. We're open to good ideas from all sources, and will be working with senators on a comprehensive proposal," LaBolt added. "The tragedy in the gulf underscores the need to move quickly, and the president is committed to finding the votes for comprehensive energy legislation this year." 

But several sources familiar with the administration's thinking confirmed it has started pressing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring up a slimmed-down energy and climate bill next month. Such a measure would pass more easily than a comprehensive climate bill, and could still be negotiated with the broader bill the House passed a year ago.

Under this scenario, the final product of any House-Senate conference could come up for a final vote in a lame-duck session after lawmakers have faced voters in November, thereby cushioning the vote's political impact. (WaPo)

 

Former GE CEO opposes climate-energy bill

Former GE CEO Jack Welch said today on CNBC that:

1. Obama should be focusing on the gulf oil spill “not new energy plans”; and

2. Our “pretty good economy” should not be “damaged” with “carbon taxes.”

“Let’s get [the economy] going,” he said.

Ironically, GE CEO Jeff Immelt and other USCAP CEOs will be pushing the climate bill on Capitol Hill tomorrow at a luncheon prior to the Democratic caucus meeting.

Welch built GE into the largest and most valuable company in the world. Immelt, in contrast, brought GE to the verge of bankruptcy, requiring a $140 billion federal bailout.

Click to watch the three-minute CNBC clip. (Green Hell)

 

EPA’s New Analysis of Cap and Trade Same Old Faulty Logic

The Environmental Protection Agency released its economic analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman cap and trade legislation, the latest cap and trade bill to be released in the Senate. The result was nearly the same as the EPA’s analysis of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill passed in the House of Representatives last year: postage stamp per day costs. Instead of $176 per household for Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Lieberman would cost households $146 by 2050. Unfortunately for Americans, nothing substantial in the EPA analysis has changed; it is still unreasonable, faulty, and fragile. The reality remains that cap and trade is a substantial energy tax that will cause trillions of dollars in economic damage and kill jobs.

Inappropriate Use of Discounting

Most misleading in the EPA analyses of cap and trade is the use of discounting. A discount rate is an interest rate used to find present value of an amount to be paid or received in the future. In other words, present value analysis answers the question: How much would I have to have today in order to meet my financial obligations or pay certain costs in the future? Discounting is a legitimate tool in finance and for cost-benefit calculations. But discounting can give a much distorted view of costs, as is done by those misrepresenting the EPA analysis. Here’s an example to help clarify:

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

 

China advances while the West is paralyzed by weather superstition: Security Tops the Environment in China’s Energy Plan

BEIJING — When President Obama called this week for a “national mission” to expand the use of clean energy and increase American energy independence, Chinese officials might have nodded knowingly.

The government here is already far along in drafting energy legislation with similar goals for China, according to Chinese officials and executives.

Like the energy future that Mr. Obama briefly described in his Oval Office address on Tuesday, the Chinese proposal calls for more reliance on renewable energy and greater emphasis on energy conservation, two drafters of the legislation said.

But because this is China, there are big differences, too. In contrast to the Obama vision, the plan here preserves a central role for coal — the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases, but a resource that China has in abundance.

And while Mr. Obama voiced goals of addressing climate change and improving national security at the same time, the discussions in China have been focused almost entirely on security issues, people inside and outside the government said.

In other words, as China counts on more years of global leadership in economic growth, global warming remains a secondary concern. Secure sources of energy to fuel that growth are what matter most, whatever the implications for world energy markets and the global environment — not to mention foreign investors, who may or may not have a significant role to play in China’s energy industry under the draft law. (NYT)

 

Partly right: Cutting greenhouse gases will be no quick fix for our weather, scientists say

UK study predicts increased floods and droughts will continue for decades after global temperatures are stabilised (The Guardian)

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions will have no discernable effect on weather at all.

 

Lawrence Solomon: IPCC insider explains embarrassing disclosure that went viral

Lawrence Solomon  June 16, 2010 – 6:07 pm

On Sunday, I wrote a blog about an IPCC insider who stated that the IPCC had been disingenuous in claiming that 2500 scientists had endorsed the view that humans are responsible for global warming. By Monday, my blog had gone viral, appearing in thousands of locations in the blogosphere and garnering perhaps hundreds of thousands of hits. Earlier today, Hulme provided a convoluted response on his own blog site, in an attempt to counter my blog.

He should instead take his own advice, which he had given to the IPCC in his paper: Don’t be disingenuous, because it makes you vulnerable to criticism.

Let me dissect Hulme’s rebuttal (which you can see in full, here).

Hulme says: Various newspaper and internet blogs are reporting me as saying that the IPCC has ‘misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming’ whereas in fact only ‘a few dozen experts’ did so. … I did not say the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone.

Solomon responds: Hulme stated in his paper that the IPCC had been “disingenuous” in making claims “such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’” when the correct number was “only a few dozen experts.” Seems clear to me that misleading has been going on. You can read Hulme’s paper here (pages 10 and 11 have the quotes in question) and decide for yourself.

Hulme says: it is claims that are made by other commentators, such as the caricatured claim I offer in the paper, that have the potential to mislead.

Solomon responds: Hulme is correct in noting that the caricatured claims that “2500 scientists” endorsed the man-made global warming potential have the potential to mislead. Indeed, that caricature has arguably misled more people than any other claim in human history. However, the source of that caricature, which for so long so thoroughly fooled the majority of the press and public, was the IPCC itself – in the IPCC`s own public relations documents. Hulme’s paper correctly identifies the IPCC as the source of this misinformation at the top of page 11, when he identifies it and other misleading claims as coming from “IPCC reports.” To see the IPCC touting its 2500 scientists, look here.

Judging from the reactions on the blogosphere, Hulme has embarrassed himself and his climate change colleagues, leaving him with two broad choices.

To minimize further embarrassment for his colleagues, he can simply do what other scientists have done when they’ve felt the pressure of the climate change establishment: Recant.

Alternatively, to minimize further embarrassment for himself, he can stop digging himself deeper into the hole in which he finds himself.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

IPCC Disinformation

The slide above comes from the presentation of Hans von Storch to the InterAcademy Review of the IPCC, presented earlier this week in Montreal. The slide references the misrepresentation of the issue of disasters and climate change by the IPCC. von Storch is very clear in his views:

IPCC authors have decided to violate the mission of the IPCC, by presenting disinformation.
Not only did the IPCC misrepresent the science of disasters and climate change, but went so far as to issue a highly misleading press release to try to spin the issue and put an unprepared IPCC WG2 chair on the BBC to try to defend the undefensible. I was promised a response from the IPCC to my concerns, a response that has never been provided.

A former head of the IPCC, Robert Watson, says the following in the context of the 2035 glacier issue, but could be equally applied to the disaster issue:
To me the fundamental problem was that when the error was found it was handled in a totally and utterly atrocious manner.
The IAC Review of the IPCC is fully aware of this issue, and it will be interesting to see what their report says on the topic. Meantime, the IPCC is continuing its preparations for its next assessment in business-as-usual fashion. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Cuccinelli fights UVa request to end fraud case

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is fighting back against the University of Virginia’s request that a judge “set aside” the attorney general’s subpoena for documents related to the research activities of a former climate scientist.

In a court filing last month, UVa’s lawyers argued that Cuccinelli’s demand for documents and correspondence related to global warming researcher Michael Mann is unprecedented, overly broad, oversteps the attorney general’s authority and threatens the “bedrock principles” of academic freedom and the First Amendment.

Cuccinelli’s office responded this week in court filings of its own, saying that the attorney general’s inquiry is solely focused on rooting out possible fraud. Scientists and professors, the filing says, are not exempt from Virginia’s anti-fraud statute. (Daily Progress)

 

How to improve the IPCC

Code of conduct and rapid communication are key, scientists tell review panel.

A former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that the organization should adopt a code of conduct and develop a mechanism to fix errors more quickly.

On 15 June, Robert Watson, who chaired the IPCC from 1997 until 2002, testified before an independent review committee tasked with improving the credibility of the United Nations' group. (Nature News)

Why try to "fix" what should be eliminated?

 

There's still money and baubles for climate loons: UK government's environment adviser wins major international green award

Professor Bob Watson, science adviser to the environment ministry, chosen alongside Nasa's James Hansen

One of the government's leading science and environment advisers today won a prestigious international green award, the Blue Planet Prize.

Professor Bob Watson, science adviser to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was one of two people chosen for the annual award.

This year's other winner is James Hansen, director of at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, an outspoken advocate of global action to tackle climate change. (The Guardian)

 

Institute Responds to Merchants of Doubt

Today, the George C. Marshall Institute published a reply to the book, Merchants of Doubt, which attacks the integrity of the Institute and its founders. The reply is available here (.pdf, 85Kb, 9pp).

 

Column - The boring end of the world

WE humans are about to be wiped out in a few decades. The grandchildren of many of us will not live to old age.

Hear it from Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University and the man who helped eradicate smallpox.

“Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years,” he told The Australian this week.

“It’s an irreversible situation.” Blame global warming.

But here’s the odd thing. Just three paragraphs into this report announcing the - Oh My God! - end of the world, the reporter and Fenner were off talking about rabbits, Fenner’s writing habits, his bookshelves, his student days, his war service and the weight of the book he wrote on smallpox - 3.5kg, actually.

Oh, and did he ever tell how he used to study skulls with Norman Tindale?

Now, you’d think when a reporter had just been told that thousands of years of human history were about to come to a screaming halt - with their own loved ones among the dead - that rabbits and recollections of Norm would be the last thing they’d want to discuss.

Back up a bit, they’d cry. Run that by me again: you mean, all human life on this planet is going to be exterminated? My grandchildren are doomed?

But, no. So used are we to sandwich-board doom-mongering from global warmists that we hurry them on to cheerier topics, like tales of old Norm and his skulls.

It’s not that Fenner is a joke. He may now be 95, but he’s a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society. And his views on the end of the world, however boring, were still deemed serious enough to publish in The Australian’s prestigious Higher Education supplement.

This curious disconnect between prediction and reception happens relatively often now. Four years ago another warmist, Prof James Lovelock, creator of the influential Gaia theory of an interconnected Earth, was every bit as apocalyptic as Fenner.

Continue reading 'Column - The boring end of the world' (Andrew Bolt)

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Jun. 17th 2010

Lindsay Graham changes his mind about global warming science, wind farms increase CO2 emissions, hippies unwitting unleashed a molepocalypse and electric cars cannot save the planet.  It’s another busy week, handily rounded-up for you. (Daily Bayonet)

 

Why “Denier!”-Obsessed AGW Believers Are At Risk Of Ruining Science

I have always been amazed at how easy it is to find AGW believers ready to casually toss the accusation of “denier!” to everybody and anybody not following their “party line” of impending human-cause planetary doom to be avoided via some unprecedented social and economic revolution (“denier” meaning of course all sorts of nasty insults).

The more the term is spread around, the less meaningful it becomes. Still, what are the effects of such a silly behavior? (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

 

The Grief Lectures 2010 – Part One

While we were busy, the Royal Society’s diktats on climate change got the world’s oldest scientific academy into the news, again. Back when we started this blog in 2007, we found the language used by those in and around the RS to be perhaps the most peculiar expression of the confusion of science and politics in the climate debate. The RS’s erstwhile president, Robert May had declared that the society’s motto was best translated as ‘respect the facts’ – a revision of ‘on the word of no one’ that looked like a desperate inversion of its ethic. May wasn’t beyond making up his own facts, as we revealed after he accused Great Global Warming Swindle director, Martin Durkin of having produced a three-part series of films denying the link between HIV and AIDS. Roger Harrabin has recently decided to remember that May had once told him that “I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over”. (Harrabin has only now decided to recall the incident, but it would surely have been more interesting to publicly challenge his arrogance while he was president, back then.) And it wasn’t just May using the authority that science itself had bestowed on him. The RS’s then communications director, Bob Ward busied himself by speaking on behalf of science, writing open letters to anyone seemingly daring to challenge any aspect of climate change politics, and any editor of a publication that dared to host unorthodox opinion. The Royal Society is now feeling the effect of certain of its members’ aggression and contempt, and challenges to its authority now come from within. (Climate Resistance)

 

Sigh... Carbon dioxide is the missing link to past global climate changes

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Increasingly, the Earth's climate appears to be more connected than anyone would have imagined. El Nino, the weather pattern that originates in a patch of the equatorial Pacific, can spawn heat waves and droughts as far away as Africa.

Now, a research team led by Brown University has established that the climate in the tropics over at least the last 2.7 million years changed in lockstep with the cyclical spread and retreat of ice sheets thousands of miles away in the Northern Hemisphere. The findings appear to cement the link between the recent Ice Ages and temperature changes in tropical oceans. Based on that new link, the scientists conclude that carbon dioxide has played the lead role in dictating global climate patterns, beginning with the Ice Ages and continuing today.

"We think we have the simplest explanation for the link between the Ice Ages and the tropics over that time and the apparent role of carbon dioxide in the intensification of Ice Ages and corresponding changes in the tropics," said Timothy Herbert, professor of geological sciences at Brown and the lead author of the paper in Science.

"It certainly supports the idea of global sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide as the first order of control on global temperature patterns," Herbert added, "but we don't know why. The answer lies in the ocean, we're pretty sure." (Brown University)

Another day, another attempt to claim CO2 drives climate...

 

Update on the Role of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in Global Warming

UPDATE: more edits & enhancements for clarity made at 3:35 CDT, June 17, 2010.

I’ve returned to the issue of determining to what extent the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) can at least partly explain global average temperature variations, including warming, during the 20th Century. We tried publishing a paper on this over a year ago and were immediately and swiftly rejected in a matter of days by a single (!) reviewer.

Here I use a simple forcing-feedback model, combined with satellite estimates of cloud changes caused by the PDO, to demonstrate the ability of the model to explain the temperature variations. This time, though, I am going to use Jim Hansen’s (GISS) record of yearly radiative forcings of the global climate system since 1900 to demonstrate more convincingly the importance of the PDO…not only for explaining the global temperature record of the past, but for the estimation of the sensitivity of the climate system and thus project the amount of future global warming (er, I mean climate change).

What follows is not meant to be publishable in a peer-reviewed paper. It is to keep the public informed, to stimulate discussion, to provide additional support for the claims in my latest book, and to help me better understand what I know at this point in my research, what I don’t know, and what direction I should go next. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

New Paper That Documents The Role Of Regional Circulations In Climate

There is a new paper which further documents the major role of regional circulation features on weather and climate. It is

Kossin, J. P., S. J. Camargo, and M. Sitkowski, 2010: Climate modulation of North Atlantic hurricane tracks. J. Climate, 23, 3057-3076

The abstract reads

“The variability of North Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane tracks, and its relationship to climate variability, is explored. Tracks from the North Atlantic hurricane database for the period 1950–2007 are objectively separated into four groups using a cluster technique that has been previously applied to tropical cyclones in other ocean basins. The four clusters form zonal and meridional separations of the tracks. The meridional separation largely captures the separation between tropical and more baroclinic systems, while the zonal separation segregates Gulf of Mexico and Cape Verde storms. General climatologies of the seasonality, intensity, landfall probability, and historical destructiveness of each cluster are documented, and relationships between cluster membership and climate variability across a broad spectrum of time scales are identified.

Composites, with respect to cluster membership, of sea surface temperature and other environmental fields show that regional and remote modes of climate variability modulate the cluster members in substantially differing ways and further demonstrate that factors such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Atlantic meridional mode (AMM), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) have varying intrabasin influences on North Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes. Relationships with African easterly waves are also considered. The AMM and ENSO are found to most strongly modulate the deep tropical systems, while the MJO most strongly modulates Gulf of Mexico storms and the NAO most strongly modulates storms that form to the north and west of their Cape Verde counterparts and closer to the NAO centers of action.

Different clusters also contribute differently to the observed trends in North Atlantic storm frequency and may be related to intrabasin differences in sea surface temperature trends. Frequency trends are dominated by the deep tropical systems, which account for most of the major hurricanes and overall power dissipation. Contrarily, there are no discernable trends in the frequency of Gulf of Mexico storms, which account for the majority of landfalling storms. When the proportion that each cluster contributes to overall frequency is considered, there are clear shifts between the deep tropical systems and the more baroclinic systems. A shift toward proportionally more deep tropical systems began in the early to mid-1980s more than 10 years before the 1995 North Atlantic hurricane season, which is generally used to mark the beginning of the present period of heightened activity.”

The documentation of the major role that

“factors such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Atlantic meridional mode (AMM), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) have varying intrabasin influences on North Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes”

closely fits with the conclusions I have reported  in my past posts; e.g. see

What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures? (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Glacier Retreat Not All Due To Mankind

Thursday, 17 June 2010 14:25 Dr. David Whitehouse

Glaciers have been in the news a lot recently after the IPCC mistakenly claimed that those in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035.  Despite this it has often been reported in the mainstream media that the Earth’s glaciers are retreating in response to man-made global warming. A new study shows, as is often the case with such sweeping claims, that the reality is more complicated with mankind’s influence probably not the major factor.

With the possible exception of the glaciers in Scandinavia the glaciers on the Alps are the most well observed on Earth. For more than 100 years the Swiss glaciers have been observed, new topographic maps compiled, aerial photographs taken and measurements made.

According to researchers at least half of the loss of the Aletch glacier in Switzerland, which has receded by 2,000 metres in the past century, is due to natural climatic variability. The researchers, from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, say that their findings are generally true for the majority of glaciers worldwide. The research has been described as the first detailed scrutiny of the many forces that affect the behavior of glaciers.

It is possible to use historical data to make some judgment of the influence of natural variations on glacier size although such data are rather sparse compared to the measurements obtained in the last century or so. It is worth noting that during the Roman Warm Period Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps shows that 2,200 years ago the glaciers were much smaller than they are today. (GWPF)

 

Argh! Storing carbon dioxide deep underground in rock form

Findings released during the annual Goldschmidt Conference at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

KNOXVILLE -- As carbon dioxide continues to burgeon in the atmosphere causing the Earth's climate to warm, scientists are trying to find ways to remove the excess gas from the atmosphere and store it where it can cause no trouble. (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)

"Burgeon" is hardly the way we'd describe a trace gas comprising less than 0.04% of the atmosphere. Particularly since it is an essential trace gas in somewhat short supply -- the green plants supporting our food chain would be far more comfortable and productive with 2-5 times as much carbon dioxide as currently exists in our atmosphere.

 

Walruses and Wake Up Calls

I watched Tuesday's hearing on offshore drilling operations and safety by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and want to highlight a few things that stood out in the testimony of the assembled chiefs of the largest oil companies in the US. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Tribune)

 

Obama v BP: America’s justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business

FOR over a month, Barack Obama watched the oil spill spread over the Gulf of Mexico with the same powerless horror as other Americans. Finally, lampooned by his countrymen for his impotence, he was spurred into action. He attacked the only available target—BP—and, to underline the seriousness with which he takes this problem, he gave his first Oval Office address on the subject.

The address got poor reviews; the attack on BP better ones. This week the firm bowed to pressure, and announced that it was, in effect, handing over $20 billion to the government to pay for compensation and clean-up, as well as cancelling the payment of any dividends this year and setting up a fund—of a mere $100m—to compensate unemployed oil workers.

This may do Mr Obama some good. Whether it will benefit America is more doubtful. Businessmen are already gloomy, depressed by the economy and nervous of their president’s attitude towards them. This episode will not encourage them. (The Economist)

 

Obama’s Putin moment

Peter Foster  June 17, 2010 – 7:05 pm

The one narrative that won’t hunt is that BP took a calculated risk

President Obama’s forcing BP to cut its dividend and commit US$20-billion to an escrow fund for Gulf victims seems more like something Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez might have pulled off. “We will make BP pay,” said the President in his Oval office speech this week. But BP has already said very clearly that it is prepared to pay. The company’s CEO, Tony Hayward, repeated this commitment yesterday while being roasted before a House committee in Washington.

BP still has a great many questions to answer about culpability for the Gulf disaster, but the company is being made to look as if it might put shareholders ahead of victims. All this fits nicely into President Obama’s anti-Big Oil/anti-corporate/pro-Big Government agenda.

In his speech, President Obama used the Gulf spill in an attempt to kick start flagging energy legislation. His clean energy obsessions (which are rooted in the likely non-problem of man-made global warming) could prove extremely damaging for the U.S. economy (and that of Canada) although we might take some comfort in the fact that cap and trade didn’t get a mention in Tuesday’s speech.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Sheesh! Obama's TV speech undersells how energy policy must change

FROM THE Oval Office on Tuesday, President Obama argued that the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the need for America to transition from fossil fuels. But even as he attempted to rally Americans by invoking heroic American achievement in World War II and in space, the president didn't talk much about what could make such a transition happen.

The answer is that oil, gas and coal have to become more expensive to spur research into cleaner energy and encourage efficiency and switching. This could be achieved with a gradually rising tax on fossil fuels or a "cap-and-trade" system that makes utilities and others pay to pollute. The government could rebate most of the proceeds directly to Americans and invest the rest in energy research and transition assistance. When a price is placed on burning dirty fuels, market forces will drive the sort of transition Mr. Obama proposes. (WaPo)

 

Of course... Film Challenges Safety Of U.S. Shale Gas Drilling

A new documentary purporting to expose the hazards of onshore natural gas drilling illustrates its point with startling images of people setting fire to water flowing from faucets in their homes.

"GasLand," which premiers on cable's HBO on June 21, fuels the debate over shale gas and the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and diluted chemicals into shale rock, breaking it apart to free the gas.

It comes at a time of heightened environmental awareness and scrutiny of the energy industry due to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. (Reuters)

 

For Gulf, Biofuels Are Worse Than Oil Spill

Environment: Our growing addiction to alternative energy was killing aquatic life in the Gulf long before the Deepwater Horizon spill. Abandoning oil will kill more and also release more carbon dioxide into the air.

President Obama sees the oil spill as a chance to make the planet a greener place by weaning us off fossil fuels and pushing us toward alternative energy. The earth and the Gulf of Mexico have indeed been getting greener lately, thanks to agricultural runoff due to a mandated surge in biofuels such as ethanol.

Before the first gallon gushed from Deepwater Horizon, there existed an 8,500 square mile "dead zone" below the Mississippi River Delta, roughly the size of Connecticut and Delaware combined.

Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, caused by agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin varies from year to year, but it has been on an upward trend as acreage for corn destined to become ethanol increases. (IBD)

 

Too stupid for words: Gas power stations 'should have carbon capture'

Climate committee calls for measure in order to meet target to cut emissions by 80%

Britain will miss its legal target to cut emissions by 80% by the middle of the century unless action is taken to cut greenhouse pollution from gas-powered stations, influential government advisers warned today.

In a letter to Chris Huhne, the climate secretary, the climate change committee said the government's existing pledge to fit new coal power stations with expensive carbon capture and storage equipment should be extended to new gas generators as well. Such a move could see the UK be the first in the world to build such a plant and capitalise on a new "dash for gas". (The Guardian)

 

Dept. of Energy’s Cathy Zoi: Still Flouting the Law, Still Stonewalling the Investigation

Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi, ex-CEO of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, maintains major investments in "green" companies that benefit directly from her decisions. (Christopher Horner, PJM)

 

The Nuclear Power Resurgence: How Safe Are the New Reactors?

As utilities seek to build new nuclear power plants in the U.S. and around the world, the latest generation of reactors feature improvements over older technologies. But even as attention focuses on nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels, questions remain about whether the newer reactors are sufficiently foolproof to be adopted on a large scale. (Susan Q. Stranahan, e360)

 

Economics and Performance – The Primary Deficiencies of Wind Power

by Jerry Graf
June 17, 2010

[Editor’s note: Mr. Graf’s cash flow analysis of wind power projects is presented as another view of the inappropriateness of planned public policy in the electricity sector. The economics of wind power is a broad topic; previous posts at MasterResource are listed at the end of this post. For general problems of industrial wind, see here.]

There are many arguments to be made against government subsidization of industrial wind power, some objective and others subjective. We hear about noise, shadow flicker, disruption of wildlife, lack of consistent energy output (intermittency), questionable performance with respect to pollution reduction, and undesirable aesthetic appearance.

It occurs to me, however, with regard to subsidies for energy ventures and technology, three things must be kept in mind:

(1) any good investment must be made in worthwhile ventures that can show a reasonable return;

(2) arbitrarily subsidizing some ventures may cause inadvertent (or advertent) exclusion of others; and

(3) jobs cannot be created by subsidizing ventures that do not provide a viable return. We must keep our eye on the economic ball, and structure our primary arguments against government subsidies for wind power generation around the primary deficiencies of wind turbine technology: performance and return on investment (ROI).

It is obvious that any good investment must be made in worthwhile ventures that can show a reasonable return; and I believe it is fairly apparent that placement of wind turbine power generation technology in my home state of Ohio, vast areas of the eastern or mid-western United States, and indeed in most places in the continental United States, is not worthwhile.

Given the average annual wind speed limitations in most areas, and the relative inefficiency of wind turbines to transform wind into useful electrical power, the wind turbine technology we are subsidizing cannot produce enough electricity to be competitive with other more viable forms of generation, even when a generous allowance for future inflation of electricity costs is considered. The investment is being wasted; with no hope of a reasonable return, and without large subsidies from government entities to offset the investment losses and artificial increases in the cost of electricity, a viable business case for implementation of wind turbine power generation cannot be made.

To illustrate the economic shortcomings, I can point to specific high profile wind development projects I have analyzed in the past several months, including the Great Lakes Wind Energy Pilot Project in Ohio, the Highland Wind Farm expansion in Pennsylvania, and the Glacier Hills Wind Farm in Wisconsin. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

The Great Wind Farm Disaster (ctd)

Heard a great story the other day from Matt Ridley, author of the absolutely essential The Rational Optimist.

He bumped into an engineer who was hoping to land one of the lucrative contracts for the massive, insanely expensive offshore wind farm programme which Dave’s new “Greener Than Anyone” administration hopes will reduce Britain’s carbon footprint while simultaneously creating that the philosopher’s-stone-type marvel that some men do call Green Jobs.

“What’s the chance of them being built on time?” Ridley asked.

“Zero,” said the engineer.

“And once you’ve stuck these things in the sea-bed, how long do you think they’ll last?” Ridley asked.

“Oh, virtually no time at all.”

“So if these offshore wind farms are going to be impossible to put up and are going to fall down as soon as you do, why are you vying for this multi-billion pound government contract?” asked Ridley.

“Duh,” said the engineer. (James Delingpole)

 

Junk Science Week: Solar junk economics

William Watson  June 16, 2010 – 8:54 pm

The authors assume 16 indirect jobs for every solar employee

Speaking of fake lakes, do you think the federal government and Ontario should build a $2.4-billion state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar cell manufacturing plant and hand over the keys, free of charge, to a national champion producer in that industry? Does that sound maybe a little implausible? Not if you believe the cost-benefit analysis presented recently in the journal Energy Policy by two researchers in Queen’s University’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

In fairness, the cost-benefit analysis they used is typical of lots of cost-benefit analysis in this area, i.e., a little junky. What are the benefits? They don’t actually calculate the all-in social benefits and costs, which are often hard to estimate but are what should really determine the decision. Instead, they calculate the “government return,” the cash return the government makes on its $2.4-billion investment. What form does the return take? Income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes and health and environmental costs saved because the solar cells the plant produces replace polluting coal-fired electrical plants. When the Queen’s researchers estimate all these future flows of income to the government it ends up their present value at plausible interest rates exceeds the $2.4-billion investment.

OK, so what’s wrong here?

Read More »

 

Spain May Cut Income 30% for Operating Solar Plants 

June 16 -- Spain’s government will cut the revenue of most existing solar-power plants by 30 percent, a move that may bankrupt hundreds of companies that produce electricity using photovoltaic panels, a local trade group said.

The industry ministry, after negotiating with trade groups for weeks, plans to reduce the number of hours a day during which they may earn subsidized prices for clean energy, said Tomas Diaz, director of external relations at the Photovoltaic Industry Association in Madrid.

“It’s incomprehensible that the government is doing this,” Diaz said in a telephone interview after solar industry representatives met today with Deputy Industry Minister Pedro Marin. “We feel cheated.” (Bloomberg)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Nightfall on the solar industry

Lawrence Solomon  June 17, 2010 – 11:43 am

Solar may be a renewable technology but government subsidies to it aren’t, Europe’s solar industry is learning.

In Spain, under a 2007 law that guaranteed 25 years of way-above-market prices to solar power developers, industry invested $22-billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make Spain the solar showcase of the world. Now that Spain is flirting with bankruptcy, the government is planning to rescind those guarantees, the Spanish press reports.

Under the government’s expected change of mind, the revenue of most existing solar-power plants would be cut by 30% and for new ground-based photovoltaic generators by 45%. The government would rescind fewer subsidies for roof-mounted panels: 25% cuts for large roofs and 5% for small roofs. The result, according to Tomas Diaz, director of external relations at the Photovoltaic Industry Association in Madrid, would be bankruptcy for most of the country’s 600 photovoltaic operators.

In Italy, the government plans to scrap guaranteed prices paid to owners of so-called green certificates, which represent greenhouse-gas-free power. Without those guarantees, says the head of the Association of Foreign Banks in Italy, solar and wind companies that obtained some $6.8-billion in loans may be unable to make their loan payments, leading to widespread default. About two-thirds of Italy’s green loans come from outside the country. More loans to the sector are now in doubt.

In Germany, prospects have also dimmed for the renewable industry, with the government scaling back its renewable power incentives. The UK has already announced a review of renewable subsidies, leading Denmark’s Dong Energy, which accounts for a third of UK offshore wind capacity, to say future investments may dry up.

The exit of governments from the renewable subsidy field follows a collapse in public support for the theory that manmade global warming is a serious problem. Because the public no longer buys it, the politicians no longer fund it.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

The Folly of BioFuels


Posted on Jun. 17, 2010

You may never have never heard of Patricia Woertz, or Archer Daniels Midland. Woertz is the CEO of ADM, America’s 27th largest company, and it’s the largest company headed by a female in the US. The reason you ought to care is that Woertz and ADM have the power to make your life more expensive – much more expensive. And they have been aggressively exercising that power for over 30 years.

ADM is the largest primary food processor in the country – it turns corn and soybeans (among other products) into a host of consumer products: corn flakes, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn meal, popcorn, and hundreds of other items. One of those other items is ethanol. Ethanol is a pure grain alcohol that, when blended with gasoline, yields gasohol – the E10 or E85 blends. Ethanol has long been touted as a path to energy independence, the way to reduce, or even eliminate, oil imports.

More accurately, though, ethanol is the latest incarnation of snake oil. It is an inferior product in every facet, and the entire ethanol industry would disappear overnight if the federal government would perform its intended function – the service and protection of its people – and end ethanol subsidies once and for all. (Energy Tribune)

 

 

House GOP Announces First Vote to Repeal ObamaCare

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

House Republicans say they will force a vote to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which will subject nearly all Americans to fines and/or imprisonment if they do not purchase a government-designed health insurance plan.  They are soliciting public feedback on their America Speaking Out website, which explains:

We need to repeal and replace the health care law with common sense reforms that will actually lower health care costs and let Americans keep the plan they have and like. That’s why Republicans are offering a proposal to repeal the requirement forcing Americans to buy government-approved health insurance. Twenty states and the nation’s leading small business organization agree that this law is unconstitutional and that’s why they are suing to overturn it. The federal government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing you to buy health insurance and taxing you if you don’t.

I’d rather see the entire law repealed — including the price controls on health insurance, the trillions of dollars in health insurance subsidies, the CLASS Act, etc..  Why not do it all at once, just so you don’t miss anything important?

But this vote is unlikely to succeed, so I suppose there will be time for votes repealing the whole thing. (Cato at liberty)

 

Vaccine purchasing contracts: Putting the doctor and patient last

In the never-ending fiasco that started in 1965 when the Feds entered health care in earnest, you can always count on a few things:

1.     Each successive bit of regulation will further erode the doctor-patient relationship.

2.     No money will ever be saved. On the contrary, costs will only rise.

3.     Honest docs will get squeezed, crooked ones will game the system.

4.     No matter what changes are made, insurance companies and big pharma will benefit more than any other players.

5.     Patients will get increasingly dissatisfied with their care.

My latest HND piece deals with vaccine purchasing contracts, also known as "compliance contracts." On the surface, they look like a way for struggling pediatricians to control costs, but looks can be deceiving.

Instead, they reward the already federally-subsidized vaccine giants, and stifle innovation. Or, as I describe it:

The net result is predatory, monopolistic practices in an over-regulated market, where the needs of the consumer (the patient) are completely ignored. It's hard to imagine a scenario that is less free enterprise than this one!

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

 

Junk Science Week: The missing smog dead

Find the thousands of bodies allegedly left by air pollution in Toronto

Repeated claims of thousands of victims fail basic statistical tests

By Peter Shawn Taylor

Air pollution cuts a deadly but invisible swath through Canada. We know this because the Canadian Medical Association says there were 21,000 deaths from exposure to air-borne pollutants in 2008. Of these, 2,682 Canadians were instantly struck down by the acute effects of pollution. By 2031, 710,000 people will have been slain by this unseen killer.

The evidence on this epic death toll is chillingly precise. According to the Ontario Medical Association, exactly 348 people died from air pollution in Waterloo Region in 2008. In Hamilton, 445 lives were cut short. And Manitoulin Island tragically lost 14 residents due to pollutants that year.

In Toronto, the Big Smoke of Canada, the figures are appropriately larger. Calculations by Toronto Public Health claim air pollution kills 1,700 people annually and sends 6,000 to the hospital. Ten percent of all non-trauma deaths in Toronto are directly attributed to air pollution.

And the news gets worse. Consider what happens when you take Toronto’s computer model and use it to determine the death toll in previous eras, when the air was far more polluted than today. For example, average sulfur dioxide levels in downtown Toronto were more than 100 parts per billion in the mid-1960s. It’s now less than 10 ppb. No surprise then, that the death toll was much greater in the bad old days. Across the 1960s, half of all non-trauma deaths were the direct result of air pollution, according to Toronto’s model. And in February 1965, more than 100% of all deaths were due to pollution!

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Hugh Taylor is a fraud, and Yale is asleep at the switch for condoning his "research"

Never mind that literally thousands of studies have given the chemical BPA a clean bill of health. Yale "scientist" Hugh Taylor has a new angle, and this was covered by Reuters.

The way we are exposed to the chemical is via ingestion. That is, we either eat foods that have been packaged in cans lined with BPA, or drink liquids from plastic containers containing the chemical in minute amounts.

Hack scientist Fred vom Saal has made a career of studying BPA and other so-called endocrine disruptors. No one can repeat his results, but since it is apparently PC to attack chemicals, he's made this work. Let's be kind and say that vom Saal's reputation among his peers is something less than stellar.

You should know that one of the biggest research frauds in modern history, in which the once-respected journal Science published supposedly revolutionary results, only to have to retract them later, also involved endocrine disruptors.

But even vom Saal would not have done something as absurd as Taylor. One of the images in the slide show accompanying the article shows Taylor INJECTING pregnant mice with BPA. For those keeping score, this sort of incredible junk science grotesquely magnifies the exposure level when compared to ingestion, which of course must go through the digestive system.

Think of what your blood alcohol level would be if the ethyl alcohol were directly injected into your veins, instead of you drinking it in a beverage. Do you think it would be lots higher, maybe even lethal?

30 years ago, this sort of thing would have been laughed out of any journal in the world, and now it is indicative of "research" at an Ivy League School. God help us.

As an added bonus, since no article about BPA would be complete without mentioning her name, Prof. Shanna Swan, who has an even worse reputation among her peers than vom Saal, is also cited.

After World War II, the public was all starry-eyed about what science would bring us. Disease would be cured, hunger would be eliminated, and energy would be cheap and plentiful. Instead, we got napalm and Hugh Taylor. Last time I checked, the public isn't so starry-eyed anymore. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

The Big Money Behind the Environmental Scare Movement –the attack on atrazine replays the alar scare

In April, the National Resources Defense Council issued an update in its all-out campaign to demonize and ban the herbicide atrazine. The scope of its attack shows that the NRDC has learned a thing or two from the 1980s, when it ginned up a successful campaign to demonize the apple growth regulator, alar.

After the alar ban, investigative journalist Robert Bidinotto uncovered just how flimsy the science behind that scare actually was. In a recent update, he says that “many people—echoing the rock group The Who—concluded that ‘we won’t be fooled again’ by environmentalist fear-mongers.”

Well, guess what . . . A lot of people are being fooled again. (Alex Avery, CGFI)

 

Swine flu shot protects against 1918 flu: study

WASHINGTON - People who got vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus may also be protected against the strain of influenza that killed 50 million to 100 million people in 1918, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Tests on mice showed the vaccine for the still-circulating strain of H1N1 protected against the older virus, a distant cousin also called H1N1, the team at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said.

No one fears the 1918 flu will come back naturally but there are worries that someone might try to resurrect or recreate it for a biological attack. The study, published in Nature Communications, also shows the vaccine has cross-protection against related flu strains.

The old virus was reconstructed by scientists using samples dug up from the frozen bodies of victims in Alaska and using genetic sequences from preserved samples. (Reuters)

 

PC claim of the moment: Cleared forests lead to rise in malaria in Brazil

WASHINGTON - Clearing forests in the Amazon helps mosquitoes thrive and can send malaria rates soaring, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

They found a 48 percent increase in malaria cases in one county in Brazil after 4.2 percent of its tree cover was cleared.

Their findings, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, shows links between cutting down trees, a rise in the number of mosquitoes and infections of humans. (Reuters)

Absence of trees or influx of people to poorly developed region, open irrigation and drainage ditches, new aquaculture ponds, rudimentary housing and low vector control, inter alia? Their premise is that trees reduce malaria incidence...

 

Left-coast loons: San Francisco tentatively OKs cellphone radiation law

San Francisco is close to enacting a law that would require retailers to post signs stating how much radiation is emitted from cellphones.

The city's Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 on Tuesday to approve the ordinance, which would require stores to provide each phone's "specific absorption rate" — a measurement of radiation absorbed by a phone user's body tissue that each manufacturer is required to register with the Federal Communications Commission.

The law, the first of its kind in the United States, would apply only to stores in San Francisco. (Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times)

 

LSU professor uses volcanic emissions to study Earth's atmospheric past

BATON ROUGE – On March 20, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano woke from its nearly 200-year slumber to change the way the world viewed volcanoes forever. Bringing almost all transatlantic air travel to a halt for the first time in modern history, this volcano reminded humanity of the powers these forces of nature contain – and of our relative inability to understand them. Associate Professor Huiming Bao of LSU's Department of Geology & Geophysics has published research in the journal Nature about massive volcanic eruptions and their atmospheric consequences in the past in North America. (Louisiana State University)

 

Oh... Chemicals that eased one environmental problem may worsen another

Chemicals that helped solve a global environmental crisis in the 1990s — the hole in Earth's protective ozone layer — may be making another problem — acid rain — worse, scientists are reporting. Their study on the chemicals that replaced the ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) once used in aerosol spray cans, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products, appears in ACS' Journal of Physical Chemistry A, a weekly publication.

Jeffrey Gaffney, Carrie J. Christiansen, Shakeel S. Dalal, Alexander M. Mebel and Joseph S. Francisco point out that hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) emerged as CFC replacements because they do not damage the ozone layer. However, studies later suggested the need for a replacement for the replacements, showing that HCFCs act like super greenhouse gases, 4,500 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The new study adds to those concerns, raising the possibility that HCFCs may break down in the atmosphere to form oxalic acid, one of the culprits in acid rain.

They used a computer model to show how HCFCs could form oxalic acid via a series of chemical reactions high in the atmosphere. The model, they suggest, could have broader uses in helping to determine whether replacements for the replacements are as eco-friendly as they appear before manufacturers spend billions of dollars in marketing them. (ACS)

No, there was never an "ozone depletion crisis" nor has "acid rain" proven to involve any for of difficulty.

 

More Americans exercise, but they are still obese

WASHINGTON - More Americans are exercising but rates of obesity and smoking have not changed, according to the latest government data.

A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Wednesday finds obesity rates were frozen last year at around 28 percent of adults compared to 2008.

But 34.7 percent claimed in 2009 they engage in regular leisure physical activity, up from 31.9 percent in 2008.

Health experts and the U.S. government both recommend getting daily exercise -- about an hour a day of moderate exercise for most adults -- to keep weight off and prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer. (Reuters)

 

Study finds girls reaching puberty at age nine

SCIENTISTS believe obesity, junk food and increased meat consumption could be responsible for a growing number of girls reaching puberty before the age of ten.

A study of 1000 girls conducted in Denmark showed that breast development started at an average of nine years and 10 months – a year earlier than a similar study conducted in 1991. The study backs data from America which has also shown the earlier onset of puberty.

“We were very surprised that there had been such a change,” Anders Juul, head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, a world leader in the study of hormones and growth told the Sunday Times.

“If girls mature early, they run into teenage problems at an early age and they’re more prone to diseases later on. We should be worried about this regardless of what we think the underlying reasons might be. It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children, whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.” (news.com.au)

 

EU lawmakers demand stricter food-labelling rules

BRUSSELS - European Union lawmakers voted on Wednesday to strengthen controversial draft rules on food labelling that aim to fight rising levels of obesity in Europe.

The European Parliament backed a proposed requirement for companies to label the energy, sugar, salt and fat content of their foodstuffs on the front of packages, and added protein, unsaturated fats and fibre to this list.

Voting in Strasbourg, France, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) also added a requirement for country-of-origin labels on meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetables, as well as meat and fish products used in processed food -- a move that opponents called "protectionist".

But it was unclear whether the country-of-origin requirement would need a positive impact assessment before adoption, following a complex and lengthy vote.

After much industry lobbying, MEPs rejected mandatory "traffic light" labels on certain convenience foods and soft drinks, with red, amber or green colour codes showing the relative amounts of salt, sugar and fat they contain. (Reuters)

 

A big gun takes down some big myths

World class nutritionist Jo-Ann Heslin takes down some food myths by bringing some logic and right reason to the notion of "processed foods."

How's this for an opening paragraph?

The ancient Greeks processed foods by turning barely edible seeds of wheat, inedible fresh olives, and perishable grapes into bread, olive oil and wine. These "processed" foods are the foundation of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

As she notes:

Labeling all processed foods as to-be-avoided, unhealthy choices would be a serious mistake. Actually, avoiding all processed foods could result in a less-than-healthy diet.

She also puts a stake through the heart of the cliché of the "evil" food companies. After all, if people didn't buy various less-than-healthful products, they wouldn't be offered for sale, would they? Jo-Ann is too kind to say outright that if we want someone to blame, we should be looking in the mirror.

Read the complete HND article, and check out her website. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

Why we need a limit on drink-drive laws

Reducing how much we can legally drink before driving is an imposition on our freedom that makes little difference to safety.

A review of Britain’s drink-driving laws has been published today by the new transport secretary, Philip Hammond. The report, commissioned by the previous New Labour government, proposes that the legal limit for drinking before driving should be reduced to save lives. But the risks of drink driving are invariably overstated while the problems that are created by ever-greater regulation are often ignored. (spiked)

 

End the Drug War

I'm confused. When I walk around busy midtown Manhattan, I often smell marijuana. Despite the crowds, some people smoke weed in public. Usually the police leave them alone, and yet other times they act like a military force engaged in urban combat. This February, cops stormed a Columbia, Mo., home, killed the family dog and terrorized a 7-year-old boy — for what? A tiny quantity of marijuana.

Two years ago, in Prince George's County, Md., cops raided Cheye Calvo's home — all because a box of marijuana was randomly shipped to his wife as part of a smuggling operation. Only later did the police learn that Calvo was innocent — and the mayor of that town.

"When this first happened, I assumed it was just a terrible, terrible mistake," Calvo said. "But the more I looked into it, the more I realized (it was) business as usual that brought the police through our front door. This is just what they do. We just don't hear about it. The only reason people heard about my story is that I happened to be a clean-cut white mayor."

Radley Balko of Reason magazine says more than a hundred police SWAT raids are conducted every day. Does the use of illicit drugs really justify the militarization of the police, the violent disregard for our civil liberties and the overpopulation of our prisons? It seems hard to believe.

I understand that people on drugs can do terrible harm — wreck lives and hurt people. But that's true for alcohol, too. But alcohol prohibition didn't work. It created Al Capone and organized crime. Now drug prohibition funds nasty Mexican gangs and the Taliban. Is it worth it? I don't think so.

Everything can be abused, but that doesn't mean government can stop it, or should try to stop it. Government goes astray when it tries to protect us from ourselves.

Many people fear that if drugs were legal, there would be much more use and abuse. That's possible, but there is little evidence to support that assumption. In the Netherlands, marijuana has been legal for years. Yet the Dutch are actually less likely to smoke than Americans. Thirty-eight percent of American adolescents have smoked pot, while only 20 percent of Dutch teens have.

One Dutch official told me that "we've succeeded in making pot boring." (John Stossel)

 

Econ 101: The Minimum Wage Kills Jobs

Last week, George Mason University economics professor Daniel Klein wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed summarizing an study he did for Econ Journal Watch: “Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.”

Some of the questions Klein et al asked included: “1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Wild sharks, redfish harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Researchers have found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in seven species of sharks and redfish captured in waters off Belize, Florida, Louisiana and Massachusetts. Most of these wild, free-swimming fish harbored several drug-resistant bacterial strains.

The study, published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in every fish species sampled. (U Illinois)

 

The rise and rise of the Champagne Malthusians

spiked’s editor joined the population-control lobby in a posh church in London as they quaffed ‘luxury’ drinks and fretted about overbreeding.

In March 1933, the International Birth Control Movement held a Malthusian Ball in London. In the opulent surroundings of the five-star Dorchester Hotel, the great and the good gathered to discuss the problem of poor people’s breeding, the ‘Negro issue’, the best way to promote ‘family planning’, and other burning Malthusian dilemmas. All while decked out in diamonds, gowns and tuxedos, doing the foxtrot and clinking their champagne glasses as they mulled over how best to stop the lower specimens of humanity from getting knocked up with such dumb abandon.

Last week I attended a modern-day equivalent of the Malthusian Ball. It was in the luxurious crypt of St Pancras Church in Euston rather than at the Dorchester and there was no dancing this time. But we were invited to drink ‘luxury Belgian beer from champagne flutes’ and to peruse £1,500 paintings depicting ‘teeming crowds’ as we debated the ‘population problem’. The attendees were more casually dressed than their 1933 forebears - no floor-draping dresses - but once again, in between sips from champagne glasses, men and women with pronunciation far more received than mine gathered to fret over how humankind is spreading like a ‘cancer’ (their word).

Sponsored by Deus, ‘the luxury Belgian beer’, and supported by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), the posh population-control lobby, the Malthusian knees-up kicked off with a ‘debate’ inside St Pancras Church itself. It felt entirely fitting to be plonked in a pew surrounded by Christian paraphernalia while listening to angry men say things like ‘we’re doomed’ (Roger Martin of the OPT) and ‘I am disgusted and sickened’ (Aubrey Manning OBE). Just as the original population scaremonger, the Reverend Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), issued warnings about sex and procreation and too many dirt-poor people from a pulpit, so these modern-day Malthusians described human beings as ‘environment trashers’ in hallowed surroundings, too. Same shit, different church. (spiked)

 

The missing polar bears of St. Matthew Island

“We landed on St. Matthew Island early on a cold gray August morning, and judge our astonishment at finding hundreds of large polar bears . . . lazily sleeping in grassy hollows, or digging up grass and other roots, browsing like hogs.”
            
Henry Wood Elliott wrote this account for Harper’s Weekly Journal of Civilization in 1875. Elliott was a U.S. government biologist studying fur seals on the Pribilof Islands and overseeing the harvest of their skins, used to make fur coats. In 1874, he made a trip a few hundred miles north to St. Matthew Island to confirm the rumor of hundreds of polar bears that spent their summers on one of the most remote islands in the Bering Sea.
            
Elliott and his party explored the island for nine days and had polar bears in sight each minute. He estimated there were at least 250 bears on the island, and the bears seemed in excellent condition, though they were molting their winter fur. This summer, there are no polar bears on St. Matthew Island. None have spent their summers on the 32-mile long, 4-mile wide island in more than a century. In the summer of 1899, members of the Harriman Expedition visited St. Matthew and found — to their great disappointment — no polar bears.
            
What happened to the polar bears that summered on St. Matthew? A few scientists have pondered this question in a paper they will soon submit to a journal. The lead author is Dave Klein, who visited St. Matthew Island, part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, in the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, and the 2000s. (Alaska Science Forum)

 

 

Rahming Through a Lame Duck Climate Bill?

Ominous words are emanating again from the president on climate change and energy independence, this time as "a response" to the Gulf oil catastrophe. Somewhere between the war rhetoric and comparisons to the moon landing, President Obama last night (vaguely) told Congress to pass the energy legislation that’s been languishing there since last summer. 

Add that to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s speculation on June 8 that the Senate can pass it “this year” and obvious election difficulties for conservative Democrats if they vote for it, and it would appear that we’re headed toward a lame duck session in Congress. (Patrick J. Michaels, Townhall)

 

The Immutable Law Of The Potomac

Climate Bill: Sen. Joe Lieberman believes American households are "willing to pay less than $1" a day to stop global warming. The Connecticut independent needs a lesson in the history of government program costs.

Lieberman and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts introduced in May a nearly 1,000-page climate bill they say is necessary for cutting the man-made carbon dioxide emissions they believe are warming the earth. Their goal, through the legislation's cap-and-trade components, is to reduce CO2 emissions 17% below 2005 levels 10 years from now by setting prices on carbon.

A 74-page study by the Environmental Protection Agency released Tuesday said that the cap-and-trade provisions of the American Power Act would cost an average U.S. household from $80 to $150 a year. Lieberman was clearly pleased by the analysis.

But he nonetheless warned that "there'll be some people who will want to demagogue that politically" — before resorting himself to a bit of demagoguery by noting that the EPA's cost estimate is "less than $1 a day."

Lieberman should be disabused of this fantasy and shamed into telling the country the truth. The cost will be higher, much higher. A Heritage Foundation analysis of a similar cap-and-trade bill found that the legislation would by 2035 cause a total GDP loss of $9.4 trillion, reduce the average family's net worth by $40,000 and cost 2.5 million jobs.

In making his less-than-a-dollar-a-day claim, Lieberman ignores a law of the Potomac: Government programs are never as inexpensive as those who support them say they will be. Neither are the taxpayers as unmolested as the lawmakers who pile on larger loads of mandates promise they will be. It is the nature of government programs and regulations to cost more than their advertised price. (IBD)

 

Boxer Declares Climate Change as the Greatest Threat, But Opponents Slam Theory

Terrorism. Nuclear weapons. Corrupt and oppressive regimes. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer said last week that climate change -- not any of that other stuff -- will stand as the "leading cause of conflict" over the next two decades. The comment was apparently based on reports and studies over the past few years that have linked climate change to other security issues, but her colleagues -- as well as her Senate campaign opponent -- described the prediction as a big stretch. 

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Boxer's Republican counterpart on the environment committee she chairs and arguably the most outspoken global warming skeptic in Congress, decried the warning on Tuesday as a bogus ploy to win support for a sweeping energy regulation bill. 

"We know global warming alarmists frequently use scare tactics to push the U.S. to pass costly cap-and-trade legislation. But to say that carbon emissions will be the leading cause of conflict in the next 20 years represents a new low in alarmist propaganda," Inhofe, ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a written statement to FoxNews.com.

"Given the tremendous security challenges confronting our nation today -- from Iran, North Korea, Islamic extremism and much else -- Senator Boxer's statement seems a bit out of touch. I would hope that she simply misspoke." (FOXNews.com)

 

Pachauri loves climate skeptics

Four months ago, Rajendra Pachauri became our skin care & beauty adviser.

In an interview for the Financial Times, he has famously described the climate skeptics and he recommended us a talcum powder:

They are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder – I hope that they apply it to their faces every day – and people who say that the only way to deal with HIV/AIDS is to screen the population on a regular basis and isolate those who are infected.
However, the InterAcademy Council's (IAC) review of the IPCC is underway. They must have told the atrocious man the self-evident fact that his job is no longer sustainable. All of us hope that such an inevitable cosmetic change won't be the only result of the IAC's investigation.

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

 

John Christy: an excellent witness in Montreal

The InterAcademy Council is reviewing the work of the IPCC.

John Christy (on the picture) - who is the director of a climate group in Alabama - and Hans von Storch - who is the director of a climate group in Geesthacht (near Hamburg), Germany - were among the four witnesses. And they did a nice job.

The audio above is "Session 1: Stakeholder viewpoints". See also

four audio streams including this one.
Click the link above if you can't play the audio above, too. The Windows Media Player should be displayed on the separate page.

(Download WM plugin for Firefox/Chrome if you don't have it.)

John Christy

John Christy (02:11:55 - 02:43:15 in the file embedded above, 31 minutes in total; questions begin on 02:24:08) has explained how the climate scientists (and especially IPCC lead authors) have become gatekeepers and their community has become a victim of groupthink, exaggerations, Hollywood movies; how his papers and opinions were deliberately ignored by the process; how good an idea it is to listen to Steve McIntyre; how unpredictable the climate is - especially the regional one; and how cruel it may be to make electricity less accessible, especially in the third world, so you should be damn certain about your assumptions (and you should better have several reasons to implement a far-reaching policy).

There are many other cool things that have been said.

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

 

Reforming a Flawed Process: The IPCC and Its Clients (submission to the InterAcademy Council Review)

by David Henderson
June 16, 2010

[Editor note: David (P. D.) Henderson, formerly head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD, is currently Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is headed by Nigel (Lord) Lawson). This is his first post at MasterResource.]

Over the past 22 years, governments everywhere and a great many outside observers have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular.

I have come to believe that this widespread trust is unwarranted. But it is not just the IPCC process that is in question here. The basic problem of unwarranted trust goes further: it extends to the chronically biased treatment of climate change issues by responsible departments and agencies which the Panel reports to, and in nationally-based organizations which they finance.

Here is what I recently submitted to the InterAcademy Council.

Background

I am Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. On 26 May the InterAcademy Council invited the Foundation to submit written comments to the independent Review Committee. At the suggestion of the Director of the Foundation, Dr Benny Peiser, I am submitting herewith my own comments. While this submission is personal, it has been endorsed by the GWPF.

I am an economist, not a climate scientist. I became involved with climate change issues, by accident not design, towards the end of 2002. Up to that time, I had formed no considered views on the subject, and had seen no reason to question the work and role of the IPCC. I was an uninvolved spectator.

To begin with, my main involvement was limited to some economic and statistical aspects of this huge and complex array of topics. Over time, however, my interests and concerns have broadened in ways that I had neither planned nor anticipated. Increasingly, and unexpectedly, I have become critical of the way in which issues of climate change have been viewed and treated by governments across the world. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

Below is my response to a set of questions from the InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC – An evaluation of the procedures and processes of the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see)

What role(s), if any, have you played in any of the IPCC assessment processes?

I have had a long experience with the IPCC assessment process starting in about 1992.
 
As I have written on in papers and on weblog posts, which I will list some of below, the IPCC involves a top down management of the chapters. The 2007 Statement for Policymakers is a narrowly focused summary which was used to promote the perspective of climate variability and change of the organizers and leadership of the IPCC assessments.

Below I have listed some of my experiences and documentation of the IPCC process. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Junk Science Week: Climate junk hard to dump

Why would scientists allow themselves to be recruited to essentially political objectives?

The past six months has seen a series of unprecedented setbacks for the cause of catastrophic man-made climate change: the collapse of the Kyoto process; the release of incriminating Climategate emails; the discovery of the shoddy standards of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the mounting evidence that a job-creating green industrial revolution is a fantasy; and the growing suspicion by the public that it has been sold a bill of goods.

The British Royal Society recently released a statement that “Any public perception that the science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect,” thus contradicting its own former president, and true believer, Lord May. And if the science isn’t settled, there can hardly ever have been “consensus” on the issue.

A forthcoming paper by Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, from which the Climategate emails emerged, admits that the actual group involved in the “consensus” that “human activities are having a significant influence on the climate” was in fact “only a few dozen,” rather than the thousands invoked by the IPCC.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Cuccinelli tells court former U-Va. professor's academic freedom not threatened

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has told a judge that his request for documents related to the work of former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann should be granted because neither academic freedom nor the First Amendment "immunizes" a person from a fraud investigation.

The university has petitioned a judge to set aside Cuccinelli's "civil investigative demand," essentially a subpoena, in which he sought seeking emails sent to and from Mann before he left the university in 2005, as well as information about five public grants Mann received while at the school.

Cuccinelli made a lengthy response to the university's petition in an Albemarle Circuit Court on Tuesday. In his answer, a top staff attorney for Cuccinelli rejects several arguments that had been made by the university's lawyers--hired specially to handle the case, which has received national attention.

Cuccinelli notes some documents he has sought are public records that could ordinarily be released through a Freedom of Information request. He also uses Mann's own resume to indicate the grants he has asked about were awarded through the university, even though some involved federal money.

But the core of Cuccinelli's initial response is a rejection of the university's position that turning over Mann's documents would violate his academic freedom. The university had been under significant pressure from academics who believed Cuccinelli's attempt to get the documents was part of a politcally-motivated crusade scientists who have researched global warming. "Academic freedom is neither implicated nor threatened by the CIDs" Cuccinelli's lawyer wrote, arguing that academics have no shield against allegations that they have committed fraud. (WaPo)

 

The Marxist roots of the global warming scare

The late Natalie Grant Wraga once wrote, "Protection of the environment has become the principal tool for attack against the West and all it stands for. Protection of the environment may be used as a pretext to adopt a series of measures designed to undermine the industrial base of developed nations. It may also serve to introduce malaise by lowering their standard of living and implanting communist values." (Wes Vernon, Renew America)

 

EU wants to lower CO2 by 30% by 2020 unilaterally

By Hynek Fajmon, a member of the European Parliament

I have already described the European Union's fight to save the planet from "global warming" and "climate change" several times on the EU Portal blog. Right now, I have a serious reason to revisit the topic: the European Commission has recommended the EU to unilaterally pledge a 30% reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. That would increase its previous pledge of a 20% reduction by a hefty fifty percent. Do you find such a step incredible, especially after the disappearance of the Green Party from the Czech Parliament? So do I. But sadly, it is true. Fortunately, chances are slim that this nonsensical policy meant to raise the electricity prices for all the consumers in EU will pass.

Let us analyze the situation a little bit:

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

 

Australian scientists debate climate "communication charter"

Leading academics discuss how to build case for action to tackle climate change (Tom Young, BusinessGreen)

 

Climate Change Polls

To the Editor: 

The Climate Majority,” by Jon A. Krosnick (Op-Ed, June 9), could leave the impression that polls showing a decline in American concern about climate change should be ignored or are incorrect. This would be a mistake. 

A number of survey questions, conducted by several polling organizations — including Mr. Krosnick’s own recent survey — show demonstrable drops in Americans’ acknowledgment of and concern about global warming. 

The scientific focus in survey research should be the integration of existing research into broad bodies of knowledge and the development of theories about why the phenomena under study has occurred. Mr. Krosnick’s article gave the impression, on the other hand, of an attempt to dismiss certain survey trend results because they did not fit his overall thesis. 

The key point: At a time of concerted effort by those concerned about climate change to raise Americans’ consciousness about its existence and dire potential consequences, American public opinion on the issue has moved in the exact opposite direction. The scientific challenge is the effort to explain why this has occurred. 

Frank Newport
Editor in Chief, The Gallup Poll
Princeton, N.J., June 11, 2010 (NYT)

 

Climate Change Catnip

At the Washington Post's Capitol Weather Gang, Andrew Freedman grapples with how to discuss climate change in the context of flash floods over the past few weeks:

. . . the question of whether to raise climate change in discussions of flash floods (and other extreme events) constitutes more than a quibble over semantics. The media has a responsibility to report what the science says, even in the context of a breaking news story, such as a flood event or heat wave. The science has become clearer, although by no means certain, that local precipitation extremes may be connected to climate change. Yet, to date, the mainstream media has shied away from raising climate change in extreme event coverage. This is unfortunate, because it constitutes a missed opportunity to make climate change relevant to people in the here and now, rather than an abstract concept in the distant future.
In contrast, Andy Revkin who blogs at the New York Times suggests caution in making connections between a few events and larger climatic patterns.

As the graph above shows (from data of the NWS), there is no evidence for an increase in flood disasters. In fact, there has been a marked decrease. I have also shown on numerous occasions(e.g., PDF) that there is no evidence of an increase in flood disasters in terms of economic damage either, once adjusted for growing wealth at risk.

So what is the thing for journalists to say about climate change and recent flood disasters? Easy. There is presently no evidence for a signal of climate change (human-caused or otherwise) leading to an increase in flood disasters. If there is any signal, it is far too small to see and it will take many decades for such a signal to emerge.

It seems like it would be easy and straightforward to simply say what the science shows, but making climate change connections with disasters seems to be like catnip for journalists and advocates alike. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Oz report – Footy at least has rules

The Tuesday night meeting in Brisbane on the WUWT Australian tour had a bit of unexpected fireworks courtesy of Aussie reef scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. The meeting started off with some protestors outsides holding placards with the tired old messages claiming “funding by big oil”, etc.. Ove actually incited this on his blog, saying that “The Climate Shifts crew and other scientists will be there en masse to record and debunk the lies that will be told.”

The “en masse” was about 5, maybe 6 people by my count. Ove is the one at right below.

image

Andrew Bolt (left), Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (right)

I’ve never met Ove, never corresponded with him, and after watching his behavior firsthand, I’m not sure I would have wanted to. His behavior left me with the impression that he was the antithesis of a professional person. At least the lady from Oxfam and the fellow in the green shirt who came up to me afterwards had manners, even though they disagreed with me, and I thank them for that. Ove never made the effort to say hello.

Andrew Bolt and his readers explain it far better than I could:

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Oh boy... Whale poop fights global warming

Image From Popular Science Worst Jobs Article

Click here to watch the video. NOT

From the Sydney Herald

Southern Ocean sperm whales are an unexpected ally in the fight against global warming, removing the equivalent carbon emissions from 40,000 cars each year in their faeces, a study shows.

The cetaceans have been previously seen as climate culprits because they breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas.

But this is only a part of the picture, according to the paper, published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In a heroic calculation, Australian biologists estimated that about 12,000 sperm whales in the Southern Ocean each defecate around 50 tonnes of iron into the sea every year after digesting the fish and squid they hunt.

The iron is a terrific food for phytoplankton – marine plants that live near the ocean surface and which suck up CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

As a result of faecal fertilisation, the whales remove 400,000 tonnes of carbon each year, twice as much as the 200,000 tonnes of CO2 that they contribute through respiration.

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Sigh... Arctic Ocean ice retreating at 30-year record pace

File this under short term trends matter when we say they matter.

From The Montreal Gazette

Iceberg in the Hudson Strait off the coast of Baffin Island. Photograph by: Sergeant Kevin MacAulay, DN

BY RANDY BOSWELL, CANWEST NEWS SERVICE

Arctic Ocean ice cover retreated faster last month than in any previous May since satellite monitoring began more than 30 years ago, the latest sign that the polar region could be headed for another record-setting meltdown by summer’s end.

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center had already warned earlier this spring that low ice volume — the result of repeated losses of thick, multi-year ice over the past decade — meant this past winter’s ice-extent recovery was superficial, due mainly to a fragile fringe of new ice that would be vulnerable to rapid deterioration once warmer temperatures set in.

And, driven by unusually hot weather in recent weeks above the Arctic Circle, the polar ice is disappearing at an unprecedented rate, reducing overall ice extent to less than that recorded in May 2007 — the year when a record-setting retreat by mid-September alarmed climatologists and northern governments.

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

but: Scan of Arctic ice dispels melting gloom: Researcher

From The Vancouver Sun

Geophysicist Christian Haas, of the University of Alberta, and a colleague pose with the "bird" they towed along on a cable below the plane which flew 100 metres above the ice. Photograph by: Christian Haas/University of Alberta, Photo Handout Read more

An electromagnetic “bird” dispatched to the Arctic for the most detailed look yet at the thickness of the ice has turned up a reassuring picture.

The meltdown has not been as dire as some would suggest, said geophysicist Christian Haas of the University of Alberta. His international team flew across the top of the planet last year for the 2,412-kilometre survey.

They found large expanses of ice four to five metres thick, despite the record retreat in 2007.

“This is a nice demonstration that there is still hope for the ice,” said Haas.

The survey, which demonstrated that the “bird” probe tethered to a plane can measure ice thickness over large areas, uncovered plenty of resilient “old” ice from Norway to the North Pole to Alaska in April 2009.

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Arctic Albedo

by Steven Goddard

Looking at the June 14 satellite photo above, you see the view which the Sun sees of the North Pole.

Well not exactly, because the elevation of the Sun at its peak (mid-June) is actually fairly low in the sky. At the Pole, it is only 23.5º above the horizon. The video below shows what the earth would look like now, viewed from perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic. Note that the region north of 66.5º is in perpetual light. The image of the Sun is from the days when it used to have sunspots.

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Evidence of Elevated Sea Surface Temperatures Under the BP Oil Slick

(NOTE: minor edits made at 10:00 a.m. CDT, June 15, 2010)

As summer approaches, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Mexico increase in response to increased solar insolation (intensity of sunlight). Limiting the SST increase is evaporation, which increases nonlinearly with SST and approximately linearly with increased wind speed. It is important to realize that the primary heat loss mechanism by far for water bodies is evaporation.

By late summer, SSTs in the Gulf peak near 86 or 87 deg. F as these various energy gain and energy loss mechanisms approximately balance one another.

But yesterday, buoy 42040, moored about 64 nautical miles south of Dauphin Island, AL, reported a peak SST of 96 deg. F during very low wind conditions. Since the SST measurement is made about 1 meter below the sea surface, it is likely that even higher temperatures existed right at the surface…possibly in excess of 100 deg. F.

A nice global analysis of the day-night cycle in SSTs was published in 2003 by members of our NASA AMSR-E Science Team, which showed the normal range of this daytime warming, which increases at very low wind speed. But 96 deg. F is truly exceptional, especially for a measurement at 1 meter depth.

The following graph shows the last 45 days of SST measurements from this buoy, as well as buoy 42039 which is situated about 120 nautical miles to the east of buoy 42040.

The approximate locations of these buoys are shown in the following MODIS image from the Aqua satellite from 3 days ago (June 12, 2010); the oil slick areas are lighter colored patches, swirls and filaments, and can only be seen on days when the MODIS angle of view is near the point of sun glint (direct reflection of the sun’s image off the surface):

The day-night cycle in SSTs can be clearly seen on most days in the SST plot above, and it becomes stronger at lower wind speeds, as can be seen by comparing those SSTs to the measured wind speeds at these two buoys seen in the next plot:

Since buoy 42040 has been near the most persistent area of oil slick coverage seen by the MODIS instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, I think it is a fair supposition that these very high water temperatures are due to reduced evaporation from the oil film coverage on the sea surface.

OIL SLICK IMPACT ON GULF HURRICANES?
Despite the localized high SSTs, I do not believe that the oil slick will have an enhancement effect on the strength of hurricanes. The depth of water affected is probably pretty shallow, and restricted to areas with persistent oil sheen or slick that has not been disrupted by wind and wave activity.

As any hurricane approaches, higher winds will rapidly break up the oil on the surface, and mix the warmer surface layer with cooler, deeper layers. (Contrary to popular perception, the oil does not make the surface of the ocean darker and thereby absorb more sunlight…the ocean surface is already very dark and absorbs most of the sunlight that falls upon it — over 90%.)

Also, in order for any extra thermal energy to be available for a hurricane to use as fuel, it must be “converted” to more water vapor. Yes, hurricanes are on average strengthened over waters with higher SST, but only to the extent that the overlying atmosphere has its humidity enhanced by those higher SSTs. Evidence of reduced evaporation at buoy 42040 is seen in the following plot which shows the atmospheric temperature and dewpoint, as well as SST, for buoys 42040 (first plot), and 42039 (second plot).

Despite the elevated SSTs at buoy 42040 versus buoy 42039 in recent days, the dewpoint has not risen above what is being measured at buoy 42039 — if anything, it has remained lower.

Nevertheless, I suspect the issue of enhanced sea surface temperatures will be the subject of considerable future research, probably with computer modeling of the impact of such oil slicks on tropical cyclone intensity. I predict the effect will be very small. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Flower power makes tropics cooler, wetter

The world is a cooler, wetter place because of flowering plants, according to new climate simulation results published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The effect is especially pronounced in the Amazon basin, where replacing flowering plants with non–flowering varieties would result in an 80 percent decrease in the area covered by ever–wet rainforest.

The simulations demonstrate the importance of flowering–plant physiology to climate regulation in ever–wet rainforest, regions where the dry season is short or non–existent, and where biodiversity is greatest. (U Chicago)

 

Climate changes in the Atlantic can affect drought in Africa

Cyclical changes in atmospheric pressure and sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean affect drought in the Sahel region on the southern Sahara rim. This has been revealed in an international study carried out by researchers from the University of Haifa, the French National Meteorological Service, Columbia University and the University of San Diego. The study was published recently in the scientific journal Atmospheric Science Letters (Royal Meteorological Society). (University of Haifa)

 

Important New Committee Workshop On “Global Change and Extreme Hydrologic Events: Testing Conventional Wisdom”

There is finally movement by the National Academies to broaden out the assessment of the role of climate variability and change with respect to other significant risks from other environmental and social threats. This is seen in the Committee that has been assembled for

A Workshop on Global Change and Extreme Hydrologic Events: Testing Conventional Wisdom

The Workshop was held in January 2010 to discuss this broader perspective and the agenda can be read at Meeting Information.

Not all of the talks represent a broader view but others do. Some of the broader topics highlighted at this meeting were

A Process-Based “Bottom-Up” Approach for Addressing Changing Flood-Climate Relationships [Katie Hirschboeck University of Arizona]

The Ghost of Flooding Past, Present, and Future [Harry Lins U.S. Geological Survey]

Breaking the Hydro-Illogical Cycle: the Status of Drought Risk Management in the U.S. [by Mike Hayes National Center for Drought Mitigation]

The specific breakout sessions is where the broader view becomes particularly evident. The specific question posed that has this much-needed view is

To what degree do other factors beyond climatic forcings regulate the extreme nature of floods, specifically, land cover change including urbanization, the spread of impervious surfaces and loss of wetlands, and engineering works, which can both regulate (e.g., flood control dams) or amplify (e.g., stream channelization)?

Research into the above question is very much needed as we emphasized in our article

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

 

Climate change increases hazard risk in alpine regions says research led by University of Exeter

New research led by University of Exeter suggests climate change increases hazard risk in alpine regions

Climate change could cause increasing and unpredictable hazard risks in mountainous regions, according to a new study from the University of Exeter and Austrian researchers. The study analyses the effects of two extreme weather events – the 2003 heatwave and the 2005 flood – on the Eastern European Alps. It demonstrates what impact events like these, predicted to become more frequent under a changing climate, could have on alpine regions and what implications these changes might have for local communities. (University of Exeter)

 

Raining on Boreal Forest Fires

No presentation on global warming is complete without images of some major wildfire – from day one, the global warming alarmists have insisted that a warmer world will generate more wildfires thereby devastating ecosystems from sea to shining sea. It is an easy sell – higher temperatures will increase potential evapotranspiration, forests dry out, and therefore become far more susceptible to fire. Recall that the entire global warming issue became front-page news back in 1988, and 1988 was the summer Yellowstone Park and much of the western United States suffered severe forest fires. Ever since, every major fire somehow gets linked to global warming. We searched the internet for “Fires and Global Warming” and found literally thousands of websites claiming that global warming will cause more fires, fires are causing global warming, and of course, global warming leaders should be fired! (WCR)

 

Soil Fungus Soaks Up CO2

There have been arguments made for increased plant growth due to rising atmospheric CO2 levels, while others have argued against it. Now it seems that green plants and ocean algae are not the only forms of life involved. Opportunistic microorganisms are stepping in to sop up excess carbon. A new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has identified soil fungi as a major player in accelerating CO2 absorption. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have been identified as an intermediary between plants and other bacterial and fungal populations, acting as a buffer for other soil-borne communities. Existing organisms are not just working harder, new communities are developing to take advantage of increased CO2 levels, demonstrating that nature possesses self-regulation mechanisms science did not anticipate and has yet to discover. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 24: 16 June 2010

Editorial:
The Persistence of Species: They are not slip-sliding away, even slowly, into the netherworld of extinction as a result of CO2-induced global warming.

Subject Index Summary:
Ocean Acidification (Effects on Marine Plants: Phytoplankton -- Coccolithophores): How do the microscopic algae that are the most prolific shell producers of the world's oceans respond to increases in the air's CO2 concentration that are claimed by climate alarmists to lead to dramatic decreases in their ability to conduct calcification?

Journal Reviews:
American Pikas and Global Warming: Are they really as threatened by the possibility of rising temperatures as climate alarmists have made them out to be?

Breeding Birds and Wind Farms: Are the two compatible?

The Demise of the Monteverde Golden Toad: The story continues.

The Thermal Preferences of Ecuadorian Butterflies of the Amazon: They mostly like it -- relatively speaking -- hot.

Insect Herbivores, Insectivores and Detritivores in a Scrub-Oak Ecoystem: How are they all affected by atmospheric CO2 enrichment?

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Barley (Robredo et al., 2010), Rice (Fan et al., 2010), and Wheat (Fujimura et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 839 individual scientists from 498 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from Malangen Fjord, Norway. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (co2science.org)

 

Cap-And-Trick

Energy Policy: President Obama says the oil disaster proves the need to get off fossil fuels. But before we save the planet, let's save the Gulf and stop exploiting crises to deny America the energy it needs.

Saving the planet is nice, but just how do we plug the hole again? With an abundance of hand gestures, the president didn't really say in his speech Tuesday night. He did say fossil fuels were bad and green energy is good, but the people of the Gulf states don't need wind turbines right now.

Contrary to Obama's assertions, our "addiction" to foreign oil no more caused the Deepwater Horizon oil spill than any addiction to nuclear energy caused the reactor accident at Three Mile Island.

If we're addicted to anything, it's energy in all its forms. We also are addicted to jobs and economic growth, and nothing in the speech offered either. Instead we were told we have to forgo fossil fuels because they're dangerous — the same reason given after TMI to stop expanding clean and safe nuclear energy.

Never mind the dead zones for aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico caused by agricultural runoff from the accelerated farming of corn to feed the mandated use of ethanol. Never mind the rain forests cleared worldwide to grow biofuel crops. Or the birds that will never be soaked in oil because they've been sliced and diced by wind turbines.

The irony is that if the incident at Three Mile Island had not similarly been exploited by environmentalists, we might not be so dependent on fossil fuels today. We'd have electricity for all those electric cars as billions of tons of carbon dioxide never entered the atmosphere. (IBD)

 

Russia became world’s leading oil producer in 2009 ahead of Saudi Arabia

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia to become the world's leading oil producer in 2009, while global oil consumption fell the most since 1982, BP has said. According to the oil giant's latest Statistical Review of World Energy, Russia increased oil production by 1.5% in 2009, claiming a 12.9% market share. (Merco Press)

 

Captains of Subsidy

Famous CEOs plead for more energy cash from Washington.

Now the trumpet summons us again—for a green industrial policy, according to the country's best and brightest CEOs. Their report last week is an instructive case study in how, in the Age of Obama, the business class has managed to be both self-serving and naive.

Last Thursday, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Immelt of General Electric, John Doerr of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and others nabbed headlines with a call to triple government funding for energy research to $16 billion a year from about $5 billion today. Their wish list includes a cap-and-tax program as well as a board—supposedly independent from politics—that will parcel out capital investment and lead "a coordinated effort between business and government." By coincidence, this effort might also benefit the nonpolitical likes of GE and Kleiner Perkins, but let's consider the merits anyway. (WSJ)

 

Enemies of the Corn: The Ethanol Scammers Produce a Top Ten Enemies List

The Ethanol Scammers Produce a Top Ten Enemies List

Richard Nixon had an enemies list. And now, so, too, do the corn ethanol scammers.

Last week, Tom Waterman, the editor and publisher of The Ethanol Monitor, published a list of the top ten enemies of ethanol. Here’s the list:

#10: Business Week/Ed Wallace (Bloomberg)

#9: GRIST

#8: “Big Oil”

#7: Grocery Manufacturers Association

#6: David Pimentel

#5: Robert Rapier

#4: Tim Searchinger

#3: Wall Street Journal (editorial board)

#2: California Air Resources Board

#1: Time Magazine (Michael Grunwald)

Of course, Waterman can write whatever he likes, but the fact that the ethanol boosters would produce a list of enemies is indicative of just how paranoid the ethanol scammers are getting. And their nuttiness appears to be rising along with their efforts to vacuum up yet more taxpayer subsidies in the wake of the BP blowout. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

Ethanol dream evaporates: Minneapolis hedge-fund manager Redleaf wants out

CANTON, I LL . -- A mile down an unpaved road on the outskirts of Canton, Ill., population 14,500, stands a shuttered ethanol plant.

Corn farmers in the area chipped in $5,000 to $300,000 each -- some even mortgaged their farms -- to form the Central Illinois Energy Cooperative. They broke ground on the refinery in 2006, hoping that ethanol would bring higher prices for their corn and more jobs for Canton, which has been hurting since International Harvester closed its plow factory in 1983.

But the ethanol plant was a poor replacement. Central Illinois Energy, the corporation that built the plant, went bankrupt in December 2007 without producing a drop of fuel, hurt by construction delays and $40 million in cost overruns. The 260 farmers in the co-op lost every dime. (Star Tribune)

 

Clean Coal & Biofuels Will Cause Water Shortages

With the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico emboldening all the denizens of the eco-underground, some voices are once again calling for increased production of biofuels—ethanol and biodiesel—and accelerated research into clean coal. Ignoring the fact that biofuels take as much energy to produce as they provide and that they are only competitive with heavy government subsidies, biofuel boosters are again trying to sell their snake-oil to the public. But the single most damning aspect of biofuel production is the exorbitant amount of water it takes to cook-up a gallon of the stuff. Now it appears that the other great energy scam, clean coal, will also increase water usage—by a whopping 80%. With the world facing a real water crisis in the near future, the last thing any government should be doing is wasting their citizens' money on are “green” energy scams that are really just subsidies for coal companies and big agribusiness conglomerates. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

Eric Bibler to The Grassroots: Go for the Jugular, Windpower Simply Does Not Work

by John Droz Jr.
June 15, 2010

In yesterday’s post, Scientists versus Lobbyists: Looking for a Winning Strategy Against Big Wind, I promised to share with readers a citizens’ letter I received from Eric Bibler. Consider his piece, which has been condensed to meet format and space requirements, as Part II of my post. Mr. Bibler is focused on Massachusetts, but his experience and advice apply across the Northeast and across the nation where grassroots opposition to industrial wind turbines is growing apace.

——————————————-

This post summarizes a group discussion about how to counter Massachusetts’s Wind Energy Siting Bill.

Would it be more politically pragmatic (and therefore advisable) to avoid any argument against the fundamental viability of wind energy (which continues to be an article of faith held by many legislators), and instead to focus exclusively on the flaws specific to the bill?

In other words, in order to seem “reasonable” to lawmakers, should we argue against a poor implementation of the technology, rather than to question wind energy’s fundamental value?

The argument was that doing the latter may be too steep a hill to climb, plus it might lead lawmakers to reject opponents as “extremists” whose opinions were not worthy of serious consideration.

Pragmatism or Purity?

In my view, not focusing on the fundamental question of whether wind energy actually holds any promise as a solution to our energy and environmental problems is a terrible mistake for the simple reason that adopting such a “pragmatic” course makes us co-conspirators in the process of enabling a Big Lie.

While congratulating ourselves on our political acumen, we are sacrificing our credibility and our integrity. It is one thing to forgive people who support a bad idea because they don’t know any better – and most supporters of this technology admittedly have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.  But our task is to educate and persuade any of those who are willing to keep an open mind.

But we typically reserve our deepest scorn for those who DO know better, or SHOULD know better, but who nonetheless promote wind energy, sometimes quite cynically, without regard for its bad consequences or for its ultimate futility.

We do know better. And I, for one, do not want to be in the second category of knowing better, yet pretending not to, as one of the enablers of a big lie – even if I think it may be expedient for me over the short term.

The pro-wind argument proceeds directly from a host of assumptions that are demonstrably false; all of these projects, therefore, are built upon foundations of sand.  That is the truth that needs to be the basis of citizens’ responses. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

U.K. to Cut Barriers to Nuclear Power, Minister Says

June 16 -- Nuclear power can play a key role in the U.K.’s future energy mix, Minister Charles Hendry told executives from Electricite de France SA, Centrica Plc and other utilities.

While the new coalition government won’t subsidize the industry, it will remove regulatory barriers and encourage nuclear power by establishing a minimum price for carbon, the energy minister said at the Nuclear Industry Forum in London. (Bloomberg)

 

 

The Road to Price Controls

Conventional wisdom is that U.S. pharmaceutical companies made out well under the Obama health plan by bargaining with the White House. That wisdom is wrong.

Last month, the Spanish government cut what it will pay for medicines by 7.5 percent. Greece’s government reduced what it pays for drugs by up to 25 percent, prompting some companies to pull their medicines from the Greek market entirely. Even the leaders in the new British government said they might have to move away from Britain’s free pricing system for prescription medicines in favor of a scheme that pays for drugs based on how that government measures a particular medicine’s “value.”

This is what happens when governments get into budget troubles and are hard-pressed to fund bloated healthcare commitments. Medical products make easy targets, since more powerful unions protect hospitals and healthcare providers. It’s inevitable here in the United States also, owing not only to our mounting budget woes, but also the shortsighted political dealings by drug makers themselves. (Scott Gottlieb, The American)

 

Friedrich von Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

It seems every day there are more calls for government intervention to relieve us from the infliction and anguish caused by our current economic woes. Those who call for more government centralization and planning reason that doing so can dispel hardship and decline. Yet rarely do they consider that central planning doesn’t work precisely because it counters the variable paramount to guide societal and economic complexities: freedom.

In his indispensable 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek imparts his sage insight:

Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rates higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.

Continue reading...

 

Quantifying High Cost Of Caution May Speed Drug Approval Process

At the height of the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration was excoriated by AIDS activists for the plodding pace at which it reviewed new drug candidates. The sense of urgency — even panic — surrounding AIDS led to a laundry list of reforms that sped up the FDA's reviews of new drugs and helped revolutionize AIDS treatment.

It's time for a second revolution. (Tomas J. Philipson and Eric Sun, IBD)

 

Junk Science Week: Hope mongering

Terence Corcoran  June 14, 2010 – 7:53 pm

Media promotes the opposite of scare mongering

Welcome to our 12th annual Junk Science Week event, dedicated to exposing the scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians, journalists, media outlets, cranks and quacks who use junk science to achieve their objectives. Our standard definition is that junk science occurs when scientific facts are distorted, risk is exaggerated and the science adapted and warped by politics and ideology to serve another agenda.

That definition needs to be refined. It was shaped by the idea that junk science is strictly the bailiwick of scaremongers. The warped science and media coverage surrounding Bisphenol A, pesticides, smog deaths, and scores of chemicals are mostly generated by people who — for whatever reason — aim to promote political and economic interventions. The escalating focus on salt in our diets — dismissed as unsubstantiated science by Dr. David McCarron in this week’s opening contribution — fits the scare mongering definition.

But science can also be warped to promote the opposite of fear. Unscientific hope mongering may be just as prevalent as scare mongering. In some ways, the role of the media in hope mongering is more important than in scare mongering. In the hands of journalists bent on doing what they think is socially beneficial work making people aware of new developments, even good science can be twisted, distorted and exaggerated for political purposes.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Hmm... High 'good' cholesterol tied to lower cancer risk

NEW YORK - High levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol - a.k.a. "good cholesterol" -- may be linked to lower risks of cancer as well as heart attacks, new research suggests.

Dr. Richard Karas of the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute at Tufts University in Boston and his colleagues had previously found that people with low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, a.k.a. "bad" cholesterol) were actually at higher risk of cancer.

While that finding raised concerns that treating people to lower their cholesterol could be upping their cancer risk, Karas told Reuters Health, that doesn't seem to be the case. (Reuters Health)

Please don't start taking Mega-B doses on the strength of this kite flying. You need HDL as both a precursor and enabler of various required hormones and functions and you need LDL as a transporter agent for HDL.

Cholesterol, you can't live without it.

 

Junk Science Week: Salt scare lacks solid evidence

Canada should call for a trial to test the science

By David McCarron

Eat less salt. That’s been various governments’ directive for decades, and yet few individuals adhere to it. Currently the U.S. government seems to be on a mission to increase the pressure on this issue further.

Rather than moving in lockstep, Canadians should bring some reason to this process and demonstrate that public health nutrition policy must be based upon science and not political expediency.

Why the current push in the States? The view of the Obama administration’s top public health expert and the solution he proposes may provide an insight into whether the nation’s health care in the future will be based upon opinion or evidence. According to an editorial in a March issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says the problem is American’s food. He believes that it is laced with too much salt. Earlier as New York’s health commissioner, Dr. Frieden determined that if New Yorkers could not make the choice to lower salt intake on their own, he would make it for them. Dr. Frieden’s “low salt for all New Yorkers” legacy now threatens all Americans and by extension Canadians. Frieden is employing an approach he championed in New York where his office chose to use “public pressure …and publicity” rather than available science.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

3D skin is the holy grail in burns treatment

IT IS considered the holy grail in burns treatment - living, fully functioning skin grown in a lab that will transform the lives of burns victims.

Known as 3D skin, it is made of synthetic material and implanted with a person's stem cells to take on the natural properties of skin.

The discovery has been led by a team of scientists at the newly established Sydney Burns Foundation, a collaboration between Sydney University and Concord Hospital.

The new skin grows up to 1.5cm thick, deeper than grafts doctors can currently use on burns victims and it is hoped it will stretch and breathe better than grafted skin. ( Daily Telegraph) | Fully functional artificial skin being trialled by Sydney researchers (SMH)

 

Sheesh! Common blood pressure drugs may raise cancer risk

CHICAGO - A widely used class of blood pressure drugs may slightly increase the risk of cancer, U.S. researchers said on Sunday, and they are calling on U.S. regulators to take a closer look.

They said an analysis of available data on drugs in the class known as angiotensin-receptor blockers showed patients were 1.2 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a new cancer over four years than others who did not take the drugs. (Reuters)

"The increased risk of new cancer occurrence is modest but significant," Dr. Ilke Sipahi and colleagues from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and colleagues wrote in the journal Lancet Oncology. 1.2% more likely? No, actually it's RR 1.2 (7.2%:6%) but still indistinguishable from random chance. Why were these people on ARBs to begin with and what other treatments and diagnostic X-rays might they have had?

 

Sigh... Senator urges release of sunscreen chemical data

NEW YORK - A senator on Sunday called on the FDA to reveal findings on a possible link between a chemical found in most sunscreens and skin cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been reviewing data from several studies on a potential link between retinyl palmitate (RP), a common sunscreen additive and cases of skin cancer, since July 2009, but has yet to issue any rulings or guidelines, Senator Charles Schumer said.

"With the recent reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and a common chemical found in sunscreens, the FDA must act now to protect consumers," Schumer said at a news conference and in a later statement. (Reuters)

 

Eye-roller: Pesticides, genes combine to up risk of Parkinson's

LONDON - Men with certain genetic variations who were exposed to some toxic pesticides which are now largely banned run an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, French scientists said on Monday.

Researchers found that among men exposed to pesticides such as DDT, carriers of the gene variants were three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those with the normal version of the gene. (Reuters)

The only useful information is missing: what abut people with these genetic variations not heavily exposed to pesticides? What not include them or use them as a control? Do the chemicals have any influence at all? Sadly, that remains unknown because no one is looking for anything but a chemical culprit.

 

Russia registers first polio death in a decade

MOSCOW - Russia has confirmed its first death from polio in more than a decade, the country's top public health official said on Sunday, Interfax news agency reported.

A citizen of the former-Soviet Central Asian country of Uzbekistan died of polio in the Urals Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in early June, Gennady Onishchenko was quoted as saying. "Tests have confirmed this," he said.

Onishchenko's spokeswoman was unavailable to comment on the report on Sunday.

Polio was practically eradicated as a public health problem in industrialised countries in the 1960s, but remains endemic in seven countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). (Reuters)

 

Italian Green Jobs: Where’s the Spaghetti?

by Carlo Stagnaro
June 11, 2010

(with Luciano Lavecchia)

Mr Lavecchia is a fellow and Dr. Stagnaro the research and studies director at Istituto Bruno Leoni. This post follows the release of their recent analysis for Italy showing that for every ‘green’ job created by government, 4.8 ‘gray’ jobs are lost in the private sector.

Tradeoffs: if you chose this, you can’t chose that. In economics this is called opportunity cost, which is the next-best alternative to what is actually chosen.

The proverb in popular culture for this is “you can’t have the cake and eat it, too.” The Italian translation is “you can’t have a full barrel and a drunk wife.”

Apparently, politicians are less familiar with such a everyday-life concept. To some extent, they are right: they can get a full barrel and a drunk wife at the same time, provided that taxpayers and/or future generations will pay for it. Yet, even politicians are subject to constraints. That is particularly true in a period of crisis like now: shrinking public budgets and a slowing economy force even the politicians to make choices.

EU Retrenchment

This brings us to the crisis of climate politics in Europe where most EU countries are considering cuts to the green subsidies.

The Socialist government in Spain dwarfed its support to solar power, causing a collapse in investments and thousands people to lose their jobs. In Germany, the conservative chancellor Angela Merkel proposed a similar reduction and is facing a huge Parliamentary opposition.

Italy decided as well to pare green incentives. How is that possible? After all, virtually every official EU document claims  that the “green deal” will make us not just more sustainable, but also economically better off.

We will not deal with the environmental side of the issue in this post, leaving it to the wise words of Dr Gwyn Prins, for example, and perhaps a future post.

Uneconomic RES

But what about the claim that renewable energy sources (RES) are good for the economy?

There is no spaghetti on this plate. If green sources are really cheaper than fossil fuels, there is no need to subsidize them, because households and businesses would have a built-in economic incentive to rely on RES, rather than on supposedly dirty, more expensive, energies. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

New EPA Regulations Have Dairy Farmers Crying Over Spilled Milk

New EPA regulations have some Northern Michigan dairy farmers crying over spilled milk. 

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to classify milk as a hazardous waste; in the same category as oil. 

That means, farmers would have to come up with an oil spill prevention plan which could cost them thousands of dollars. 

The Senate Agricultural Committee passed a resolution today urging the EPA to take back those regulations. (9&10 News)

 

New UN science body to monitor biosphere

'IPCC for biodiversity' approved after long negotiation

Representatives from close to 90 countries gathering in Busan, Korea, this week, have approved the formation of a new organization to monitor the ecological state of the planet and its natural resources. Dubbed the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the new entity will likely meet for the first time in 2011 and operate much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (Nature News)

 

TEEB pushes fear and new taxes

The past two days I've looked at the UN's interim TEEB report and found several errors in the first chapter. I was going to write a post about how this pseudo-science spreads, but after looking at several TEEB documents I decided to write on a new topic.

The TEEB isn't a scientific body, it exists to influence policymakers. This isn't a contentious claim, they say so on their webpage:

The TEEB study aims to:

* Integrate ecological and economic knowledge to structure the evaluation of ecosystem services under different scenarios.
* Recommend appropriate valuation methodologies for different contexts.
* Examine the economic costs of biodiversity decline and the costs and benefits of actions to reduce these losses.
* Develop "toolkits" for policy makers at international, regional and local levels in order to foster sustainable development and better conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.
* Enable easy access to leading information and tools for improved biodiversity practice for the business community – from the perspective of managing risks, addressing opportunities, and measuring impacts.
* Raise public awareness of the individual’s impact on biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as identifying areas where individual action can make a positive difference.

They obtain these goals by attempting to instill fear in their audience. Once the fear is instilled, they recommend new taxes to solve the problem. (Climate Quotes)

 

High yield crops keep carbon emissions low

Palo Alto, CA— The Green Revolution of the late 20th century increased crop yields worldwide and helped feed an expanding global population. According to a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it also has helped keep greenhouse gas emissions at bay. The researchers estimate that since 1961 higher yields per acre have avoided the release of nearly 600 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. (Carnegie Institution)

Fortunately carbon dioxide emissions are irrelevant but it is really good to see some recognition of the economy and habitat protection afforded by greenie-despised industrial agriculture.

 

Does pasture irrigation increase groundwater contamination?

Research finds little to no transport of microbes from cow pastures into groundwater

MADISON, WI, June 14th, 2010 – Concern about microbial contamination of groundwater from foraging dairy cows has increased as spray irrigation practices in New Zealand have increased over the years. Bacteria capable of living in both animals and humans are commonly found in cow manure. Addressing the lack of research on the topic, a team of New Zealand researchers studied the transport of microbes from two spray irrigated dairy pastures into groundwater supplies. (American Society of Agronomy)

 

Tracking Phosphorus Runoff from Livestock Manure

Scientists develop application of rare earth elements to control phosphorus runoff from livestock manure

MADISON, WI, June 14th, 2010 – Nutrient runoff from livestock manure is a common source of agricultural pollution. Looking for an uncommon solution, a team of scientists has developed an application of rare earth elements to control and track runoff phosphorus from soils receiving livestock manure. In addition to reducing the solubility of phosphorus, this method shows particular promise for researchers interested in tracking the fate of manure nutrients in agricultural settings. (American Society of Agronomy)

 

 

Brava, Sen. Murkowski

by Marlo Lewis
14 June 2010 @ 2:03 pm

Last Thursday, by a vote of 53-47, the Senate rejected S.J.Res.26, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval to overturn EPA’s endangerment rule.

Although Sen. Murkowski fell four votes short of achieving a legislative victory, she nonetheless won an important political victory. 

During the past four-plus months, despite vicious attacks by eco-pressure groups and preemptive cringing by the subsidy dependent auto industry, Sen. Murkowksi worked patiently, calmly, and indefatigably to clarify the real issues, which are: (1) “The sweeping powers being pursued by EPA are the worst possible option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions”; (2) “politically accountable members of the House and Senate, not unelected bureaucrats, must develop our nation’s energy and climate policies”; and (3) ”those policies must be able to pass on their own merits, instead of serving as a defense against ill-considered regulations.”

All…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

Gulf fuels new energy-bill push

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies plan a major new push for a broad global warming bill, fueled in part by public outrage over the BP disaster, according to top aides.

Joel Benenson, a pollster for the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s presidential campaign, argues in a new briefing for top Capitol Hill officials that a comprehensive energy bill “could give Democrats a potent weapon to wield against Republicans in the fall.”

Read the briefing. (Politico)

 

U.S. Democrats Split in Senate Vote on Agency’s Carbon Rules

Senate Republicans failed to block the Obama administration from using existing law to regulate greenhouse gases, although they won enough votes to damage Democratic hopes of passing a bigger pollution-reduction plan this year. (Bloomberg)

 

Reid claims ‘resolve’ among Dems on energy but acknowledges differing views

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called his Thursday meeting with committee chairmen and other senior Democrats on energy legislation a “productive step” toward action on a broad energy package this year.

But lawmakers said after the meeting no clear decisions were made on the scope of Senate plans, and Reid — who hopes to bring legislation to the floor this summer — acknowledged the diversity of views. (e2wire)

 

Scammers scamming? Well, gosh! Firms abusing Kyoto carbon trading scheme: watchdog

Firms participating in a Kyoto Protocol carbon scheme are abusing it by artificially inflating their greenhouse gas emissions, thereby allowing rich nations' emissions to rise significantly, a watchdog said on Saturday. (Reuters)

 

Realpolitik Goes Mainstream

The Financial Times has a realistic and sobering article on the state on international climate negotiations:

Christiana Figueres startled delegates when she addressed the United Nations climate conference in Bonn last week: “I do not believe we will ever have a final agreement on climate change, certainly not in my lifetime,” the Costa Rican diplomat told them.

“If we ever have a final, conclusive, all-answering agreement, then we will have solved this problem. I don’t think that’s on the cards.” Addressing the issue successfully would “require the sustained effort of those who will be here for the next 20, 30, 40 years”.

Her words count, and not only because of her 15-year involvement in tackling global warming. Next month, Ms Figueres takes over from the Netherlands’ Yvo de Boer as executive secretary of the UN’s climate change secretariat, based in the former west German capital.

As Bonn’s low, heavy skies pelted delegates with rain, much of the rest of the talk during the long sessions was of technical matters such as the measurement of greenhouse gases. But in quiet conversations in the corridors, in cafes over hurried coffees or while scurrying between thunderstorms, the deeper question some officials were asking was whether there was indeed any point in continuing with this type of negotiation, which had failed for 20 years. Could the UN climate talks be reformed – or were they just too broken to fix?

The New York Times has a similarly realistic perspective on prospects for US domestic action:

Images of gushing oil and dying pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico have stirred anger and agony in Washington. But are they enough to prod the Senate to act on long-delayed clean energy and climate change legislation?

Energy, maybe. Climate, probably not. There is growing sentiment for a measure that penalizes BP, imposes higher costs and tougher regulations on offshore drillers and takes some steps toward reducing overall energy and petroleum consumption.

But despite the outrage over the spill, there appears to be limited appetite in the Senate for a broad-based effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions across the board.

The fact that the international process is going nowhere fast and the US is not going to cap emissions is not news to anyone who has been paying attention. What is news is that the FT and the NYT have adopted perspectives on the issue of climate policy that might enable alternative conceptions of climate policy to find a place in the broader discussion. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

 

Third Climategate report 'imminent' – expect a shortage of whitewash in stores this weekend

If you were planning to do a spot of DIY over the weekend you may encounter a problem – an acute shortage of whitewash in your local store, as it may have been appropriated for more urgent purposes. The estimable Bishop Hill is reporting he has heard on the grapevine that the publication of the review into the Climategate emails conducted by Sir Muir Russell is “imminent”. The prospect seems to have provoked an acute absence of hysterical excitement.

This is the third investigation into Climategate and the universal expectation is that it will be as much a snow job as the previous two, though those precedents will be hard to beat: not since Tom Sawyer manipulated his friends into whitewashing his aunt’s fence has a team worked harder than the successive establishment figures who have exonerated the Decline Hiders from any culpability. (Gerald Warner)

 

False Precision in Climate Predictions

Jonathan Baldry

On March 14, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) released a jointly-produced short report titled State of the Climate. The six-page online document was intended to provide “a snapshot of the state of the climate to update Australians about how their climate has changed and what it means”. Most of the report summarises and discusses recent Australian climatological data, but the final section (“What It Means”) goes beyond description and makes a number of statements about the future. It says that Australia will become hotter and drier, and also states, “There is greater than 90% certainty that increases in greenhouse gas emissions have caused most of the global warming since the mid-20th century.” (Quadrant)

 

Was Margaret Thatcher the first climate sceptic?

Margaret Thatcher was the first leader to warn of global warming - but also the first to see the flaws in the climate change orthodoxy (Christopher Booker)

 

Climate change loses traction for greens

What a difference a year makes. This time last year the environmental movement was gearing up for a major breakthrough at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. With a combination of "doom and gloom" soothsayers — Ban ki Moon, Al Gore, Prince Charles, James Hansen, David Suzuki — and optimistic negotiators, it was clear that Copenhagen was being positioned as "the last chance" we had to save the planet. (Stephen Murgatroyd, Troy Media)

 

Warming scam continues

by Viv Forbes
June 14, 2010

Still needed: sound empirical science 

Some people think that the global warming scam is finished, that the Ration-N-Tax Scheme is dead, and that there is no further threat to our jobs, our economy and our energy supplies. Unfortunately there is no reason to relax. Public opinion has changed but the politicians have not. (Quadrant)

 

Trying to save an outstanding fundraiser: Scientists want clear message on climate

REPRESENTATIVES of scientific organisations, including the CSIRO and the Bureau Of Meteorology, will meet today to discuss better communication of the science behind man-made climate change as the political and public consensus on global warming crumbles.

The conference in Sydney, organised by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, is part of a long-term effort to develop a ''national communication charter'' for major scientific organisations and universities to better disseminate the evidence for climate change. (SMH)

Gorebull warbling has delivered unprecedented funding and political clout to a bunch of cloistered academics and they don't want it to end.

 

The IPCC consensus on climate change was phoney, says IPCC insider

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider.  The actual number of scientists who backed that claim was “only a few dozen experts,” he states in a paper for Progress in Physical Geography, co-authored with student Martin Mahony.

“Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous,” the paper states unambiguously, adding that they rendered “the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism.”

Hulme, Professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia –  the university of Climategate fame — is the founding Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and one of the UK’s most prominent climate scientists. Among his many roles in the climate change establishment, Hulme was the IPCC’s co-ordinating Lead Author for its chapter on ‘Climate scenario development’ for its Third Assessment Report and a contributing author of several other chapters.

Hulme’s depiction of IPCC’s exaggeration of the number of scientists who backed its claim about man-made climate change can be found on pages 10 and 11 of his paper, found here.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

Rudd’s “4000” scientists turn to just “dozens”

Kevin Rudd tells yet another lie to justify his global warming policies:

And the most recent IPCC scientific conclusion in 2007 was that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and the “increase in global average temperatures since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” This is the conclusion of 4,000 scientists appointed by governments from virtually every country in the world...

Mick Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia and an IPCC’s co-ordinating Lead Author, corrects the record:

Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.

Just a few dozen scientists, not Rudd’s “4000”. The man is utterly shameless.

But this raises the question: how easy is it for such a small group to become slaves of group think - or, indeed, to become intoxicated with their enormous and flattering influence on geo-politics?

In 2006, Professor Edward Wegman raised this very fear in his report, commissioned by the United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee to examine the IPCC’s discredited “hockey stick”, devised by Michael Mann, which purported to show unprecedented warming last century:

One of the interesting questions associated with the ‚"hockey stick controversy’ are the relationships among the authors and consequently how confident one can be in the peer review process. In particular, if there is a tight relationship among the authors and there are not a large number of individuals engaged in a particular topic area, then one may suspect that the peer review process does not fully vet papers before they are published…

However, it is immediately clear that the Mann, Rutherford, Jones, Osborn, Briffa, Bradley and Hughes form a clique, each interacting with all of the others. A clique is a fully connected subgraph, meaning everyone in the clique interacts with every one else in the clique....

Michael Mann is a co-author with every one of the other 42 [in his clique]. The black squares on the diagonal [fig. 5.2] indicate that the investigators work closely within their group, but not so extensively outside of their group.

Note those names again: Michael Mann, Scott Rutherford, Phil Jones, Tim Osborn, Keith Briffa, Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes are all climate scientists implicates in the Climategate scandal.

And Rudd not only fell for it, but lied for it. (Andrew Bolt)

 

As the Far North Melts, Calls Grow for Arctic Treaty

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a warning, conservationists say, of what could happen in the Arctic as melting sea ice opens the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas drilling. Many experts argue that the time has come to adopt an Arctic Treaty similar to the one that has safeguarded Antarctica for half a century. (Ed Struzic, e360)

We hope to get increased access to open Arctic seas but the chances are very, very limited.

 

Europe, US to see snowy, cold winters: expert

Europe, North America and east Asia can expect more cold, moist and snowy winters such as the one just passed, a top scientist said Friday. (AFP)

 

Global warming's impact on Asia's rivers overblown

Freshwater flow dominated by monsoon rains rather than glacier run-off.

Richard A. Lovett

Although global warming is expected to shrink glaciers in the Himalayas and other high mountains in Central Asia, the declining ice will have less overall impact on the region's water supplies than previously believed, a study concludes.

It's an important finding, says Richard Armstrong, a climatologist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who notes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had previously predicted dire restrictions on water supplies in Asia. "There clearly were some misunderstandings," he says. (Nature News)

 

Mysterious clouds produced when aircraft inadvertently cause rain or snow

BOULDER—As turboprop and jet aircraft climb or descend under certain atmospheric conditions, they can inadvertently seed mid-level clouds and cause narrow bands of snow or rain to develop and fall to the ground, new research finds. Through this seeding process, they leave behind odd-shaped holes or channels in the clouds, which have long fascinated the public.

The key ingredient for developing these holes in the clouds: water droplets at subfreezing temperatures, below about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius). As air is cooled behind aircraft propellers or over jet wings, the water droplets freeze and drop toward Earth.

“Any time aircraft fly through these specific conditions, they are altering the clouds in a way that can result in enhanced precipitation nearby,” says Andrew Heymsfield, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and lead author of a new study into the phenomenon. “Just by flying an airplane through these clouds, you could produce as much precipitation as with seeding materials along the same path in the cloud.” (UCAR)

 

High-yield agriculture slows pace of global warming, say Stanford researchers

Advances in high-yield agriculture over the latter part of the 20th century have prevented massive amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide – according to a new study led by two Stanford Earth scientists.

The yield improvements reduced the need to convert forests to farmland, a process that typically involves burning of trees and other plants, which generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The researchers estimate that if not for increased yields, additional greenhouse gas emissions from clearing land for farming would have been equal to as much as a third of the world's total output of greenhouse gases since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in 1850. (Stanford University)

 

The deep oceans drive the atmosphere

IMAGE: Warm layer of the pacific ocean rests on cold water There are vast cubic kilometers of cold water in the depths of the ocean. The temperature transition from warm to cold is rapid.

Ever wondered how the whole planet could suddenly “get warmer” during an El Nino, and then suddenly cool again? William Kininmonth has the answer. As I read his words I’m picturing a major pool of stored “coldness” (bear with me, I know cold is just a lack of heat) which is periodically unleashed on the surface temperatures. The vast deep ocean abyss is filled with salty and near freezing water.  In years where this colder pool is kept in place we have El Ninos, and on years when the colder water rises and mixes up near the surface we have La Ninas. The satellites recording temperatures at the surface of the ocean are picking up the warmth (or lack of) on this top-most layer. That’s why it can be bitterly cold for land thermometers but at the same time the satellites are recording a higher world average temperature, due to the massive area of the Pacific.

In other words, just as you’d expect, the actual temperature of the whole planetary mass is not rising and falling within months, instead, at times the oceans swallow the heat on the surface and give up some “coldness”. At other times, the cold stays buried deep down and the heat can collect and loll about on the surface.

William Kininmonth was chief of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology from 1986 to 1998. Below, he describes how a vast pool of cold water filled the deep ocean abyss over 30 million years, and why this water and the currents that shift it have a major impact our climate. The so-called Bottom Layer is not just pockets or pools, it forms around Antarctica, then sinks and flows along the bottom all the way across the equator and into the Northern Hemisphere. Bear in mind the average depth of the ocean is around 4 kilometers, and yet almost all the water below a depth of 1000 m is around 4°C  or colder. The Antarctic Bottom Water itself is close to 0°C. The equivalent heat energy of the entire atmosphere is stored in just the top few meters of water. It gives us all some perspective on the relative importance of different factors affecting the climate. His thoughts are in response to the latest debate essay from Dr Andrew Glikson, so the figures 1 and 2 come from that article.

Kininmonth points out that small changes in the rate of the Thermohaline Circulation (also known as the Ocean’s Conveyor Belt)  makes a huge difference to all corners of the globe, and that the climate models make large assumptions about the flow of energy. Since the cold bottom layer was created by a kind of “Antarctic Refridgerator” (set into play by the circumpolar current) this colossal cold pool of water will presumably hang around until the continents shift. That’s quite a few election cycles.

Jo

More » (Jo Nova)

 

Erroneous Statement By Peter A. Stott And Peter W. Thorne In Nature Titled “How Best To Log Local Temperatures?”

An article has appeared in Nature  on May 13 2010 titled

Peter A. Stott and Peter W. Thorne, 2010: How best to log local temperatures? Nature. doi:10.1038/465158a, page 158 [thanks to Joe Daleo for alerting us to this] which perpetuates the myth that the surface temperature data sets are independent from each other.

The authors know better but have decided to mislead the Editors and readers of Nature.

They write

“In the late twentieth century scientists were faced with a very basic question: is global climate changing? They stepped up to that challenge by establishing three independent data sets of monthly global average temperatures. Those data sets, despite using different source data and methods of analysis, all agree that the world has warmed by about 0.75 °C since the start of the twentieth century (specifically, the three estimates are 0.80, 0.74 and 0.78 °C from 1901–2009).”

This is deliberately erroneous as one of the authors of this article (Peter Thorne) is an author of a CCSP report with a different conclusion. With just limited exceptions, the surface temperature data sets do not use different sources of data and are, therefore, not independent.

As I wrote in one of my posts

An Erroneous Statement Made By Phil Jones To The Media On The Independence Of The Global Surface Temperature Trend Analyses Of CRU, GISS And NCDC

In the report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.1” [a report in which Peter Thorne is one of the authors] on page 32 it is written [text from the CCSP report is in italics]

“The global surface air temperature data sets used in this report are to a large extent based on data readily exchanged internationally, e.g., through CLIMAT reports and the WMO publication Monthly Climatic Data for the World. Commercial and other considerations prevent a fuller exchange, though the United States may be better represented than many other areas. In this report, we present three global surface climate records, created from available data by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies [GISS], NOAA National Climatic Data Center [NCDC], and the cooperative project of the U.K. Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit [CRU]of the University of East Anglia (HadCRUT2v).”

These three analyses are led by Tom Karl (NCDC), Jim Hansen (GISS) and Phil Jones (CRU).

The differences between the three global surface temperatures  that occur are a result of the analysis methodology as used by each of the three groups. They are not “completely independent”. This is further explained on page  48 of the CCSP report where it is written with respect to the surface temperature data (as well as the other temperature data sets) that

“The data sets are distinguished from one another by differences in the details of their construction.”

On page 50 it is written

“Currently, there are three main groups creating global analyses of surface temperature (see Table 3.1), differing in the choice of available data that are utilized as well as the manner in which these data are synthesized.”

and

“Since the three chosen data sets utilize many of the same raw observations, there is a degree of interdependence.”

The chapter then states on page 51 that

“While there are fundamental differences in the methodology used to create the surface data sets, the differing techniques with the same data produce almost the same results (Vose et al., 2005a). The small differences in deductions about climate change derived from the surface data sets are likely to be due mostly to differences in construction methodology and global averaging procedures.”

and thus, to no surprise,  it is concluded that

“Examination of the three global surface temperature anomaly time series (TS) from 1958 to the present shown in Figure 3.1 reveals that the three time series have a very high level of agreement.”

Moreover, as we reported 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.

“The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90–95% of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003).”

Peter Stott and Peter Thorne have deliberately misled the readership of Nature in order to give the impression that three data analyses collaborate their analyzed trends, while in reality the three surface temperature data sets are closely related. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Spill Response Not About Oil, But Snake Oil

The big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough in itself. But politics can make anything worse.

Let's stop and think. Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or they don't. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right.

If they don't know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the attorney general of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits — on what charges was unspecified — and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?

Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes.

This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality. (Thomas Sowell, IBD)

 

Obama Blocked Clean Up of BP Oil Spill by Friendly Countries; International Assistance Blocked by Regulations Obama Had The Authority To Waive

by Hans Bader
14 June 2010 @ 2:16 pm

Crucial offers to help clean up BP’s oil spill “have come from Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian firms that . . . possess some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships.” But the Obama administration wouldn’t accept the help, because doing so would require it to do something past presidents have routinely done: waive rules imposed by the Jones Act, a law backed by unions.

“The BP clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico is hampered by the Jones Act. This is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation, that requires all vessels working in U.S. waters to be American-built, and American-crewed. So . . . the U.S. Coast Guard . . . can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

‘Bow down to Peak Oil!’ says BBC’s Cthulu-worshipping Newsnight

Yesterday on the BBC’s flagship news analysis programme Newsnight Britain’s gravest, most distinguished and hard-hitting political interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked the vital questions an eager world most wants to hear: Cthulu – Are we worshipping him enough? Will it be necessary to sacrifice our children to appease him? Or will he be content if we just all erect a shrine to him, perhaps involving candles and teddy bears and Jo Malone scented oils?

No, it wasn’t really Cthulu that Britain’s gravest, most distinguished and hard-hitting political interviewer was addressing but something just as warped and obsessive – and undoubtedly a lot more dangerous: the cult of Peak Oil.

Peak Oil is a scare story talked up by greenie catastrophists on every possible occasion to justify higher taxation, greater government intervention, global rule by people like the Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt and Al Gore and massive bonanzas for anyone involved in the wind farming or solar power industry. (James Delingpole)

 

A Falklands Gusher: UK Looks For An Oil Rich Payback

Two hundred million barrels of oil is a drop in the ocean compared to the reservoir that produced the voluminous gusher of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It is just 120 days’ worth of consumption in the UK or a mere 10 days of US consumption. But Rockhopper Exploration’s announcement in May that it had struck oil in the North Falklands region at the first drilled well threatens a bitter-sweet drama of its own for David’s Cameron new British administration. [Read More] (Peter C. Glover, Energy Tribune)

 

Unstoppable coal and the search for transport liquids

As the new BP Statistical Review shows, coal, which last year’s report pointed out was the fastest-growing source of energy, was the only major source of fossil fuel energy that didn’t fall last year. It remained flat, while oil and natural gas consumption fell; total primary energy consumption was down 1.1 per cent. (Financial Times)

 

In the Bizarro world of Socialists: Green and fair economic growth with more expensive fossil fuels

Why are the international climate negotiations moving so slowly? Because countries have so far been unable to define what global fairness really is, says Thomas Sterner, Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Gothenburg. Sterner and several other prominent economists including several recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics spoke at the World Bank conference on development economics in Stockholm recently.

Sterner's research shows that it is indeed possible to achieve sustainable economic growth, reduced poverty and an improved climate – if we make fossil fuels more expensive. (University of Gothenburg)

 

The looming energy disaster

by Tom Quirk
June 14, 2010

Australia, where too much wind is still never enough 

The Deakin Lectures for 2010, Brave New World – The Climate Change Challenge, were launched by Tim Flannery on June 6. The first detailed session, Future Energy Solutions followed on June 8 led by Grant King. 

Grant King the CEO of Origin Energy is a believer in man-made climate change. A man who has invested some of his shareholders’ funds in wind farms, geothermal prospecting and solar voltaics research deserved some respect. He should have been treated as a hero, or at least in the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby, seen as courageous but he had a bumpy reception at the Edge in Federation Square when he delivered his Keynote Address on Future Energy Solutions: Powering a Sustainable Tomorrow. (Quadrant)

 

Does money grow in wind farms?

Wind turbines are a poor way to harness energy - but a very good way to generate public subsidies, says Andrew Gilligan. (TDT)

 

Scientists versus Lobbyists: Looking for a Winning Strategy Against Big Wind

by John Droz Jr.
June 14, 2010

My hope as a physicist is that our representatives make energy and environmental policy decisions based on sound science. So far that has not been the case. The main reason for this is that we are engaged in an epic battle between scientists and lobbyists for those with financial or political agendas.

Right now the scientists–the group with the better case for sound public policy–are losing.

I used to think that trying hard and being right was enough. Foolish me! Everything today is really about public relations. The Internet has spawned the perfect storm. Within a few minutes we can now send messages that are read by millions of people. At the other end, recipients are in overload, due to a steady bombardment of these messages. It is very hard for almost everyone to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Tilting Against Big Wind

What this says is that properly phrasing the message and getting it to the right people is critical. Scientists are not good at this, while this is a lobbyists forte — which is a big reason why scientists are losing. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

 

Government Codes vs. Innovation

American society is addicted to safety. For some reason the country decided that the highest and best priority as a nation is to avoid the risk associated with life. Everywhere a person looks they are surrounded by innumerable safety devices to protect themselves from the evils of modernity.

From the moment one is introduced to the world as an infant, there are safety latches on cabinets and standardized cribs to keep children from dying. It follows the American through life and has created a culture entirely dependent on the mysterious illusion of the "someone" or "something" that will protect them from the evils of the world. (Mises Daily)

 

The Paralyzing Precautionary Principle

The "precautionary principle" sounds reasonable on first glance. The effect of adopting it, however, is paralysis.

On March 4, 2003, the Bay Area Working Group on the Precautionary Principle (BAWG) celebrated what they termed their first victory when San Francisco passed the “San Francisco Precautionary Principle Resolution.” Just over two years later, in June of 2005, San Francisco passed the Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance. This law requires the city to consider environmentally “safer” alternatives to everything from toilet paper to computers. Literally anything the city purchases must be examined first according to the “precautionary principle” before it can be purchased.

The precautionary principle basically says if an action or policy might cause harm to the environment, then even if there is no proof the action will cause harm the burden of proof is on those advocating the action to prove the action would not be harmful.

BAWG, incidentally, defines itself as:

A diverse collaborative of individuals and organizations who are dedicated to protecting health and the environment. We recognize that fundamental changes in decision-making need to happen in order to build healthier, more just, and sustainable communities.

The attendant article on Wikipedia states:

This principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is evidence of potential harm in the absence of complete scientific proof. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.

In the European Union, the application of this principle has been made a statutory requirement.

There are a few problems with this approach where environmental policy is concerned. First, it is impossible to prove a negative. You cannot, for example, prove that something does not exist, only that it does or that it has not been observed. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the principle is generally used to deny an action, but rarely is it used to examine the converse. That is, would more harm be caused by not taking the proposed action than would be caused by taking it? The biggest issue, of course, is that the principle is more often than not used for ideological purposes rather than actual scientific ones. (PJM)

 

Will STAR METRICS give us a handle on the benefits of government-sponsored R&D?

Well, that's the theory, anyway.

STAR METRICS is a multi-agency venture led by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Naturally, the name is an acronym, short for Science and Technology in America's Reinvestment—Measuring the Effect of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science.

Considering that the feds spend well over $100 billion annually on R&D, it might be nice to keep track of what bang we're getting for our buck.

My latest HND piece takes a look at this new program, which right now relies on the voluntary submission of data from the research contractors. Of course, they do have some incentive to comply.

The cynical side of me is reminded of countless other "metrics" and evaluations run on countless other government programs. The data is compiled, but almost no one actually reads it, and no action is ever taken on the findings.

Maybe STAR METRICS will be different.

Read the complete HND article. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

A Soda Tax Completely, Utterly, and Totally Unrelated to Individual Choice

Posted by Sallie James

An interesting article in Slate today about the social psychology of “sin taxes”  and how people in general resent being told what to do. They may, in fact, react by consuming even more of the sinning item than before the nannies intervened, just to prove a point.

Unfortunately, the point of the article seems to be how to implement sin taxes — in this case, a soda tax – without annoying people to the point where the tax is counterproductive.  Something about “refram[ing]” the tax so it doesn’t tip people off as to its real purpose. The author concludes with this gem:

If we want to implement a sweetened beverage tax and maximize its effectiveness, the best approach would be to dissociate it from the larger issue of individual choice and focus on its immediate practical benefits, such as the revenue it produces. Over time, we’ll get used to it. We might even wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.

To end on a positive note, many of the comments are striking a distinctly libertarian tone. (Cato at liberty)

 

Moms' full-time work tied to childhood obesity

NEW YORK - The growing number of full-time working moms in the past few decades could be one of the factors contributing to the concurrent rise in childhood obesity, new research hints.

In a study of more than 8,500 UK adults followed since their birth in 1958, researchers found that the study participants' young children were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than they themselves had been back in the 1960s.

When the researchers looked at factors that could be associated with the trend, they found that mothers' full-time employment, which was more common in the younger generation, appeared to be one. (Reuters Health)

 

So much for the "obesity bomb": U.S. heart attack rates declining: study

BOSTON - Heart attack rates fell 24 percent in California between 2000 and 2008, probably because of better care, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study, in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first large survey since the adoption of new treatments and medicines for preventing heart attacks. It examined more than 46,000 heart attack hospitalizations.

The decline, which reflects similar trends across the United States, follows bans on smoking in public places. Also, doctors have become better at treating high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Dr. Robert Yeh of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues said the 24 percent drop was seen even though doctors can better detect heart attacks and despite the growing rates of diabetes and obesity, both of which raise the risk of heart attack. (Reuters)

 

Scientists find gene links to vitamin D deficiency

LONDON - Scientists have found three genetic differences that affect a person's risk of being deficient in the "sunshine" vitamin D and say their work helps explain why sunlight and a good diet aren't always enough.

British and American researchers studied the genes of almost 34,000 white Europeans and found that variants of three genes involved in cholesterol synthesis, vitamin D metabolism and vitamin D transport may increase the risk of deficiency.

"Our findings establish a role for common genetic variants in regulation of circulating vitamin D concentrations," said Elina Hypponen of the University College London Institute of Child Health, who worked on the study, published in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday.

She said the presence of the variants at the three specific genes more than doubled the risk of vitamin D insufficiency. (Reuters)

 

Warning on a Go-Cart: ‘This Product Moves When Used’

Posted by Walter Olson

For the 13th year, Bob Dorigo Jones has compiled the finalists for his annual Wacky Warning Label contest. Another, on a Bluetooth unit: “use of a headset that covers both ears will impair your ability to hear other sounds.” A few years back Jones compiled some of these into an amusing book entitled Remove Child Before Folding (from a stroller warning). For many more examples, check my blog Overlawyered, including warnings on not putting birthday candles in your ears, using your cocktail napkin for navigation, and ironing clothes while you’re wearing them.

Although regulatory agencies account for some of it, the main driving force behind over-warning is the “failure to warn” branch of modern product liability law, and the uncertainty it creates through its inability to generate clear guidance on what will and will not be considered adequate warning. Rather than invite suit — with its attendant risk of encountering a paternalistic, sympathy-driven or redistributionist judge or jury — most companies would rather include a silly or overbroad warning on the product, even at the cost of numbing consumers to the occasional warnings that really do deserve their attention. (Cato at liberty)

 

The Sleazy Combination of Big Business and Big Government

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

There’s an article today in the Wall Street Journal showing how already-established companies and their union allies will use the coercive power of government to thwart competition. The article specifically discusses efforts by less competitive supermarkets to block new Wal-Mart stores. Not that Wal-Mart can complain too vociferously. After all, this is the company that endorsed a key provision of Obamacare in hopes its hurting lower-cost competitors. The moral of the story is that whenever big business and big government get in bed together, you can be sure the outcome almost always is bad for taxpayers and consumers.

A grocery chain with nine stores in the area had hired Saint Consulting Group to secretly run the antidevelopment campaign. Saint is a specialist at fighting proposed Wal-Marts, and it uses tactics it describes as “black arts.” As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has grown into the largest grocery seller in the U.S., similar battles have played out in hundreds of towns like Mundelein. Local activists and union groups have been the public face of much of the resistance. But in scores of cases, large supermarket chains including Supervalu Inc., Safeway Inc. and Ahold NV have retained Saint Consulting to block Wal-Mart, according to hundreds of pages of Saint documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with former employees. …Supermarkets that have funded campaigns to stop Wal-Mart are concerned about having to match the retailing giant’s low prices lest they lose market share. …In many cases, the pitched battles have more than doubled the amount of time it takes Wal-Mart to open a store, says a person close to the company. … For the typical anti-Wal-Mart assignment, a Saint manager will drop into town using an assumed name to create or take control of local opposition, according to former Saint employees. They flood local politicians with calls, using multiple phones to make it appear that the calls are coming from different people, the former employees say. …Former Saint workers say the union sometimes pays a portion of Saint’s fees. “The work we’ve funded Saint to do to preserve our market share and our jobs is within our First Amendment rights,” says Jill Cashen, spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Safeway declined to comment. …Mr. Saint says there is nothing illegal about a company trying to derail a competitor’s project. Companies have legal protection under the First Amendment for using a government or legal process to thwart competition, even if they do so secretly, he says.

(Cato at liberty)

 

Tobacco Taxes Finance Terrorism

Tobacco-tax-hiking politicians have created a situation in which lighting a cigarette is like igniting the fuse on a bomb.

The next terror attack on America could be a self-inflicted wound — specifically, a cigarette burn.

Politicians expand tobacco taxes to discourage smoking and to feed their own nicotine-like addiction to public spending. Like so many others, this government action smolders with unintended consequences. Tobacco taxes create a perfect arbitrage opportunity that radical Muslims exploit to collect money for terrorist groups that murder Americans and our allies. Tobacco taxes should be cut, or at least frozen, before they fuel further Islamic-extremist violence. (Deroy Murdock, NRO)

 

The Singer Not the Song

Peter Singer, writing in the New York Times, asks whether a world without people wouldn’t be a better place. His argument is simple. If nobody is alive then nobody’s human rights can be violated. “Have you ever thought about whether to have a child? … But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself.”

The ultimate act of altruism, he argues, may be a conscious choice to be the last generation on earth. In that way there would be no one left to suffer the depredations of capitalism such as climate change. “Most thoughtful people are extremely concerned about climate change. … But the people who will be most severely harmed by climate change have not yet been conceived. If there were to be no future generations, there would be much less for us to feel to guilty about.”  As a society we are terminally guilty, irrevocably condemned. And since we cannot help living, then the solution is to do away with ourselves. By far the best way to prevent anyone from feeling guilty is for no one to feel guilt. “So why don’t we make ourselves the last generation on earth? If we would all agree to have ourselves sterilized then no sacrifices would be required — we could party our way into extinction!”  The only way you’re going to eat that can of beans is you agree to off yourself after dinner. (PJM)

 

What’s Wrong with Genetic Modification?

Quite a lot, according to Friends of the Earth campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran in an interview on UK Radio 4’s Today programme this week. Her opportunity came when she was asked to comment on an interview with Professor Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury laboratory in Norwich, in which he talked about the first field trials of two genetically modified potato varieties. Each variety contains a gene from a wild South American potato species, conferring resistance to the devastating disease late blight, caused by the mould Phytophthora infestans). 

Once Professor Jones had explained the need for such trials - late blight is, after all, the disease which caused the Irish potato famine, which still results in worldwide losses worth some £3.5bn each year, with farmers in northern Europe needing to spray up to 15 times a season to control it - Ms Chandrasekaran had her opportunity to put FoE’s case. 

The reason GM crops are not grown in the UK, she claimed, was not because of opposition to them (without so much as an apology to all those activists who campaign so hard against them). Instead, they are both hugely expensive and unnecessary, because conventional breeding has achieved better results already, and the last 20 years of plant biotechnology research has failed to deliver. But, for those not convinced by these arguments, she had a further one, that GM crops in general, and these potatoes in particular, carry ‘very high risks’. 

These supposed risks are manifested in two ways: the potatoes could ‘contaminate’ other varieties, and they contain an ‘antibiotic gene’ which could pass to humans and increase resistance to a range of antibiotics. When pressed by the interviewer she confirmed that these potatoes could cause harm to humans. Such serious accusations deserve our full attention, so let’s deconstruct some of these scary arguments. (Scientific Alliance)

 

Water Is Not The New Oil

In the midst of the clamor over global warming, greenhouse gas emissions and world energy supplies another, perhaps more immediate, environmental catastrophe is gathering momentum—the world wide shortage of fresh water. Though eclipsed in America by pictures of oil-soaked pelicans and fouled coastal wetlands, this potentially more disastrous and more permanent problem has been ignored by politicians and the public for decades. Experts are warning that by 2050 fully 45% of humanity may be chronically short of water. Unlike the eventual depletion of the world's oil supplies, there is no substitute for H2O.

Water is amazing stuff, made up of molecules comprising two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, H2O has been found by astronomers in the farthest reaches of the Universe. Present on Earth since early in its formation, water is essential to the formation of granite, the rock that buoys the continents atop heavier crust and magma. It also fills the world's oceans and makes possible the planet wide infestation known as Life. The human body is about 60% water and H2O is the most important greenhouse gas, helping the atmosphere to retain enough warmth to permit living things to thrive on what would otherwise be a frozen lifeless plant.

Though we think of nature dominated by the green of photosynthesizing plants, when viewed from space the dominant color of our planet is blue mixed with swirls of constantly changing white clouds. Ours is a water planet, the surface area covered by water is 70% while land only takes up 30%. Most of this surface is ocean, over 97% of the total. So while our world possesses a tremendous amount of water, some 321,000,000 cubic miles (1,338,000,000 km3) of the stuff according to the USGS, most of it is salty.


Relative volume of the ocean and Earth. A. Nieman.

While the volume of water contained in Earth's oceans seems like a lot, and it certainly is on a human scale, both the ocean and atmosphere are merely thin shells surrounding the solid parts of our planet. If every drop of water in the world was collected in a sphere, it would be just 869 miles in diameter. The illustration above shows a comparison of the volume of water and the size of Earth. The ball of water seems shockingly small, with a volume of only 338 million cubic miles (1.41 billion km3).

A special report in the Economist, “For want of a drink,” gives the total amount of salt water as 97.5%. “Of the 2½% of water that is not salty, about 70% is frozen, either at the poles, in glaciers or in permafrost,” they report. “So all living things, except those in the sea, have about 0.75% of the total to survive on.” It is on this small amount that all Earth's land life—plants, animals and people—depend.

In the past this has been sufficient, but things are changing with the ever growing human population. The Economist report states the looming water crisis this way:

When, 60 years ago, the world’s population was about 2.5 billion, worries about water supply affected relatively few people. Both drought and hunger existed, as they have throughout history, but most people could be fed without irrigated farming. Then the green revolution, in an inspired combination of new crop breeds, fertilisers and water, made possible a huge rise in the population. The number of people on Earth rose to 6 billion in 2000, nearly 7 billion today, and is heading for 9 billion in 2050. The area under irrigation has doubled and the amount of water drawn for farming has tripled. The proportion of people living in countries chronically short of water, which stood at 8% (500m) at the turn of the 21st century, is set to rise to 45% (4 billion) by 2050. And already 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night, partly for lack of water to grow food.

Most liquid freshwater is in underground aquifers or similar formations, accessed using wells. The rest falls as rain, collecting in lakes and reservoirs or in rivers where it is eventually transported to the sea. All the H2O in freshwater aquifers, lakes and rivers must constantly be replaced by precipitation—water vapor condensing in the atmosphere to fall as rain or snow. Where this water comes from and where it goes is shown in the graphic, taken from the report, on the left.

The fact is, there is a hundred times more water in the ground than is in all the world's rivers and lakes. Surface-water sources, such as rivers, only constitute about 300 cubic miles (about 1/10,000 of one percent of Earth's total water). Moreover, that water is not evenly distributed—just nine countries account for 60% of all available fresh supplies. Among the water rich countries only Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia and Russia have an abundance. While America is relatively well off, China and India, with over a third of the world’s population between them, have less than 10% of its water.

Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption, compared with 20% for industry and 10% for domestic use. In developed nations, however, industries consume more than half of the water available for human use. Belgium, for example, uses 80% of its water for industry. World demand for freshwater is increasing by 17 trillion US Gallons (64 trillion liters) a year. Increasingly, this demand is being met by sinking wells into underground aquifers, tapping water supplies that are hundreds or thousands of years old. Freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the past 50 years.

Unfortunately, many countries are consuming underground water resources at nonrenewable rates. From the United States to India and China, the quantities being withdrawn exceed the annual recharge. In the Hai river basin in China, for example, deep-groundwater tables have dropped by up to 290 feet (90 m). In cities like Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Jakarta, aquifers are overdrawn, polluted or contaminated by salt. The 20 million inhabitants of Mexico City draw over 70% of their water from an aquifer that, at current extraction rates, will run dry in less than 200 years.

In the US, parts of the Ogallala aquifer, which covers 174,000 square miles (450,000 km2) running beneath eight states, are seriously overdrawn. The water-permeated thickness of the Ogallala aquifer, also known as the High Plains aquifer, ranges from a few feet to more than 1000 feet (300 m). The depth of the water below the surface of the land ranges from almost 400 feet (122 m) in parts of the north to between 100 to 200 feet (30 to 61 m) throughout much of the south. Present-day recharge of the aquifer with fresh water occurs at a slow rate; this implies that much of the water in the aquifer is paleowater, dating back to the time of the last ice age glacial period.

In parts of the area, farmers began using ground water for irrigation extensively in the 1930s and 1940s. Estimated irrigated acreage in the area overlying the High Plains aquifer increased rapidly from 1940 to 1980. Withdrawals from the Ogallala Aquifer for irrigation amounted to 21 million acre feet (26 km3) in 2000—slightly greater than the historical discharge rate of the Colorado River. As of 2005, the cumulative depletion totaled 253 million acre-feet (312 km3). Some estimates say the Ogallala will dry up in as little as 25 years.

It is a similar story around the world: rising populations require greater agricultural production, which demands more freshwater. In terms of water withdrawal, the US is in third place behind India and China. Remote sensing technologies are being used to track groundwater levels worldwide at both large and small scales. NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) performs large-scale, long-term analysis using changes in gravity at the earth’s surface to examine the removal of groundwater from large aquifers worldwide.


World water withdrawal.

GRACE measurements show that India’s breadbasket region may be running out of water. According to NASA satellite data, reported in Nature, groundwater levels in aquifers in northwest India have declined one foot per year over the past decade. Researchers conclude the loss is due almost entirely to groundwater pumping and consumption by human activities, such as irrigating cropland. As a result, aquifers are being drained much faster than they can be replenished by rainfall or river runoff.

Water is a finite resource but, fortunately, a constantly renewed one. Water evaporates from the world's salty seas, traveling withing the atmosphere to the far reaches of the planet to fall as rain or snow. For most of man's history, people have been dependent on nature for this supply of fresh water. Even today, large portions of the world's population depend on the Monsoon to bring water for drinking and agriculture—when the Monsoon fails, people can go hungry and even starve to death.

Earth's water is always in movement, and the water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Although the balance of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time, individual water molecules can come and go in a hurry. Since the water cycle is truly a “cycle,” there is no beginning or end. Water changes state among liquid, vapor, and ice at various places in the water cycle, with these processes happening sometimes quickly and sometimes over millions of years.


The water cycle. Image USGS.

While some have tried to tie increasing water shortages to global warming that link is weak at best. The UN's own “3rd United Nations World Water Development Report: Water in a Changing World ” (WWDR-3) puts it this way:

While climate change will create important pressures on water, it is not currently the most important driver of these pressures outside the water sector. The most important drivers – forces and processes generated by human activities – are demographics and the increasing consumption that comes with rising per capita incomes.

For all of human history, water use has risen with increasing wealth. Mankind's earliest civilizations grew up in the river valleys of the Nile, the Indus, the Yellow, and the Tigris & Euphrates. Today people tap the unseen rivers that flow beneath the surface of our planet, but even those resources are limited. Though water used in agriculture is not destroyed, as oil is when it is burned, an estimated 85% of irrigation water escapes into the atmosphere by evaporation. This water is no longer available for human use until it condenses and falls back to Earth, somewhere.

Petroleum takes about 100 million years to form and a convergence of the right biological and geological circumstances. For all intents and purposes, when we have used up the current diposites of oil stored within Earth's crust it is all gone. Happily, there are other sources of energy available—nuclear, wind and solar—but this is not the case with water. True, freshwater is renewable, but that renewal takes place at nature's own pace. In essence, nature keeps the biosphere on a strict water allowance, and that means mankind must learn to live with the finite supplies we are given.


The hay farms of Saudi Arabia won't outlast their oil. Photo by asgss1.

Though some nations make new freshwater using desalinization this is a very expensive proposition and, with the world already facing energy shortages, not a viable large-scale option. Fortunately, there is great room for improvement in how we utilize our water resources, particularly in agriculture. Many farmers in the Texas High Plains, which rely heavily on the underground source, are now turning away from irrigated agriculture, allowing underground aquifers to recover. Drip irrigation has an efficiency of up to 95% with no runoff, no erosion and little evaporation loss. With a population approaching 10 billion by 2050, humanity will have to cooperate and conserve the world's freshwater resources. Otherwise we may find ourselves in the same position as our ancient ancestors, fighting each other for access to waterholes.

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

 

Guns Save Lives, Part XXXIV

Posted by Tim Lynch

John Lee still has his life and four children still have a father because Mr. Lee  had a handgun when three criminals tried to kill him and take his money.

When John Q. Citizen takes out a gun and the criminals flee, reporters don’t consider the incident “news” (at least when there are no injuries)–so guns are typically on the evening news when they are used by criminals.  As a result of that skewed coverage, it is no wonder that many people have a negative view about firearms.

On June 17, Cato will be hosting a forum about guns, crime, and self-defense.  Speakers include John Lott, Jeff Snyder, and Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign.

For related Cato scholarship, go here. (Cato at liberty)

 

 

Senate debates stripping EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases

Washington -- The U.S. Senate engaged in a heated debate Thursday on an issue at the heart of the fight over energy reform: whether the Environmental Protection Agency should have the authority to impose clear limits on the emission of greenhouse gases.

The chamber is expected to vote on a "resolution of disapproval" drafted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would prevent the EPA from further regulation of air pollution from vehicles and industrial facilities. Murkowski has argued that new rules should be created only by Congress, not an executive agency.

"It would amount to an unprecedented power grab, ceding Congress' responsibilities to unelected bureaucrats and move a very, very important debate, a critical debate, from our open halls to behind an agency's closed doors," Murkowski argued on the Senate floor.

Murkowski's measure is vehemently opposed by environmentalists who say the EPA's decision to regulate greenhouse gases is based on scientific research. (CNN)

 

Failed EPA Votes Undermines Economy

President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

United States Senators went on record this afternoon and the result was unfortunate.  53 Senators voted against a resolution offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would have disapproved of the Environmental Protection Agency’s backdoor global warming regulations.  Today’s outcome was a victory for anti-growth environmentalists, but a devastating loss for the American people.

The EPA’s regulations will marginalize any potential economic recovery by making investment and job creation more expensive.  Why?  Because the costs of regulation are staggering.  The EPA estimates the average permit will cost applicants $125,000 and 866 hours of labor.  Some businesses will simply close.  The lucky ones will move overseas, cancel expansion plans and just lower wages.  All of those are bad options considering the American economy has lost nearly 8 million jobs over the past 30 months.

Despite the outcome of today’s vote, many liberals recognize the EPA cannot be left to its own devices, which means there will be other, more subtle efforts to limit the EPA’s regulatory dragnet. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Murkowski Amendment Fails By a 47-53 vote.

Two points as we move forward: First, candidate Obama promised bankrupt American industries and skyrocketing electricity costs (let’s not forget gasoline prices!), and he is poised to deliver. Now his administration is on the hook for the economic fallout.

Second, here are the No votes:

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

(Edward John Craig, Planet Gore)

 

Senate Defeat of Murkowski Resolution Dishonors Veterans

Just a few days after honoring war veterans who fought to preserve America's Constitutional order, Senate Democrats voted down a resolution that would prevent unelected elites from imposing costly new regulations without congressional approval. Renegade federal agencies and judicial activists now have the upper hand thanks to feckless federal office holders who willingly surrendered their own constitutionally endowed legislative authority. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) Resolution of Disapproval of the EPA's Endangerment Finding was defeated 53 to 47 this afternoon. Only six Democrats joined with 41 Republicans to vote yes. 

"Senate Democrats voted today to allow the Obama EPA to wreck America through regulation of greenhouse gases. "Americans should consider those who voted against the Murkowski resolution to be enemies of sound science and economic recovery," said JunkScience.com's Steve Milloy. 

It is difficult to overstate how much this action endangers the nation's economic outlook and the financial security of individual Americans. Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has released the following statement: 

"The Senate has just voted to affirm that the EPA should be able to arbitrarily set the nation's energy policy by imposing unilateral restrictions on carbon emissions without any vote at all in Congress," he said. "This is a vote that will assuredly lead to higher energy prices, lost jobs, lost business, and the tyrannical imposition of a radical, environmentalist agenda upon the American people." 

So long as the scientifically flawed endangerment finding remains in place there is no limit on how intrusive and expansive the EPA's new regulatory regime can become. 

For starters, the federal EPA and its state counterparts will need to accommodate an estimated 41,000 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permits annually as opposed to 280 it currently digests and over 6 million Title V operating permits per year versus 14,700. 

This means a long and copious list of previously unregulated entities such as office buildings, apartment complexes, small manufacturers and small kitchens would come under government control. To alleviate the backlog, the EPA has proposed a "tailoring rule" to restrict the new regulations to large facilities. This is problematic in that the rule may not be legal under the CAA and could be overturned in court. 

However, even if the tailoring rule withstands a legal challenge, the EPA will proceed to regulate smaller emission sources within a few years. This exercise cuts to the heart of why the Murkowski resolution was so critical. Essentially, the EPA stands poised to amend a statute without congressional consent in the name of environmentalism. 

Moreover, even if the courts uphold EPA's tailoring rule it would not offer any safeguard against what is arguably the most pernicious aspect of the endangerment finding namely the rulemaking that would set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) well below current atmospheric concentrations for greenhouse gases. 

The economic fallout would be devastating. The lowered CO2 targets favored by environmental pressure groups, which are in the neighborhood of 390 parts per million to 350 ppm, would spur a global depression. This would enable environmental activists to use the CAA as vehicle for forced deindustrialization. Murkowski's resolution would have short-circuit the grand designs of green activists. 

American freedom suffered a terrible setback today that desperately calls out for a constitutional revival. It will take forceful leadership to restore our nation's elected branches back to their proper station. As Democracy gains ground in the Middle East thanks to perseverance of U.S. soldiers, it is ironic to see it lose ground here at home. ( Kevin Mooney, American Spectator)

 

In the rubber room: Boxer: Carbon dioxide will be “leading cause of conflict” in next 20 years

Let’s see how Senator Ma’am’s priorities work in this revealing clip from her speech earlier today in the Senate. We’ve had four terrorist attacks in less than a year, two of which succeeded in killing people and another two which only failed because of the incompetence of the terrorist. Iran is a year or less away from getting a nuclear weapon. Turkey is rapidly sliding towards Islamism. North Korea is doing their best to restart the Korean War.

And what keeps Barbara Boxer awake at night? A raging case of the vapors: (Ed Morrissey, Hot Air)

 

Crank of the Week - June 7, 2010 - Ted Turner

In a multi-part interview with CNN Newsroom anchor Fredricka Whitfield, Ted Turner spoke about his own devotion and dedication to environmental causes. “I've been cutting the lights out for a long time,” stated the CNN founder. Turner went on to claim that, if people don't chose to do the right thing, mankind will soon suffer the consequences. Known for bombastic statements during his youth, the “Mouth of the South” now says the threat to humanity has risen from cannibalism to extinction.

Some people just will not slip gracefully into history and Ted Turner is one of them. The former America's Cup yachtsman and owner of the Atlanta Braves baseball team has often been in the limelight, and often for saying stupid things. Consistent to the end, he has again gone on record regarding his great concern for the environment. A couple of years back, Turner made the news when he predicted that climate change would lead to widespread cannibalism. In an interview with PBS he said this about not taking drastic action to correct global warming:

“Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state—like Somalia or Sudan—and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there’ll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide.”

Now it seems, Captain Outrageous is at it again, this time predicting that H. sapiens faces extinction if we don't start turning out lights. In a rambling interview with CNN—perhaps the only news organization the will interview him these days—Turner said he had been turning out lights for “30 years.”

“So how do you convince people, what would you say to those who say, you know what, the way I'm living right now is just fine,” said Ms. Whitfield, feeding the old boy a slow easy pitch.

“Anybody that watches CNN would know pretty well,” Turner replied. “They would already be convinced, because we've run thousands of stories about it, everything from light bulbs to saving fuel and automobiles to recycling. It's everywhere.” Note that he still uses the imperial “we” when talking about CNN.

Here is a segment of the interview on video:

For those who had trouble following Ted's rambling, mumbled replies here is the text of his central point:

It's a combination of things. There's reluctance on some people's part to cope with change very well, and want things to stay the way they were.

And really what we really have is a choice whether we want to do the right things from an energy standpoint or the wrong thing. And it's our choice.

And if enough of us choose to do the wrong thing and we don't prepare for global warming and we don't make the changes that we know we should make, then we'll be extinct. And when that happens, we'll be sorry, but it will be too late. And I'm trying to avoid that by getting the people to take action now while there's still time.

We are not exactly sure how we will be sorry after we become extinct, but the statement does show that Turner is not fully in touch with reality. Even if temperatures on Earth were to rise by 4 or 5°C, toward the upper end of the IPCC gestimations, life would not end. Humanity may be inconvenienced, but the end is definitely not nigh. What is endangered is that thankfully rare creature, the hard-drinking, self-promoting loud-mouth from the American South. So, in honor of a dying breed, this Crank of the Week is for you—Ted “The Environmentalist” Turner. (The Resilient Earth)

 

Senate Climate Bill's Boosters Try Smorgasbord Strategy in Bid for Votes

Advocates for a comprehensive energy and climate bill are scrambling to find the Senate votes they need by stitching together ideas from a variety of existing and fast-surfacing proposals.

With time running out on the legislative calendar, top Democrats and the White House have begun a piecemeal review of their options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing oil consumption as they respond to the massive BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration and its allies on Capitol Hill have settled on what is being called a "buffet strategy" to find 60 votes they need to get a bill done before a new Congress comes in next January.

"What you have is everybody right now is just throwing everything on the table," said Brian Wolff, vice president for communications and government affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). (Greenwire)

 

China's economy booms while Westerners handicap theirs: China Fossil Fuel CO2 Jumps As Global Total Falls

China could face increasing pressure in U.N. climate talks after data released on Wednesday showed the country's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel rose by 9 percent in 2009, bucking a global downtrend.

China's greenhouse gases from fuels like oil and coal grew to 7.5 billion tonnes, even though global emissions fell for the first time since 1998 as industrial output and fuel consumption dropped amid a global recession, BP data showed.

China, the first nation to emit over 7 billion tonnes of CO2 in a year, increased its lead over the United States, the second-largest emitter which it surpassed in 2008. (Reuters)

 

Well gosh, they sure are worried about carbon emissions: China’s exports soar 48.5% in May, the highest in more than six years

China’s exports jumped 48.5% in May from a year earlier, the biggest gain in more than six years. However the impact of the European crisis is still to be seen following on this week’s IMF warning that global economic risks have risen significantly. (MercoPress)

 

Chinese exports displace Brazilian goods overseas and at home

Brazil lost an estimated 12.6 billion US dollars in exports between 2004 and 2009 because of Chinese penetration in the country’s main international markets according to a report from the powerful Federation of Sao Paulo States industries, FIESP, released Wednesday. (MercoPress)

 

China attacks EU efforts to tackle aviation emissions

China has joined the US in condemning EU plans to incorporate international airlines in its emissions trading scheme (ETS) after the Civil Aviation Industry warned that charging airlines for the carbon emissions they produce would unfairly affect emerging economies.

An official from the industry body told the China Daily newspaper this week that the move could cost Chinese airlines nearly 800m yuan (£81m) in 2012, when the ETS is to be extended to cover all flights in and out of the EU, rising to more than 3bn yuan a year by 2020.

From 2012 to 2020, the Chinese aviation industry could pay a total 17.6bn yuan in carbon levies to the EU as a result of the scheme, the official said. (Tom Young, BusinessGreen)

 

Fate Of Climate Bill Uncertain As Japan Poll Nears

Japan's government could run out of time to enact a climate bill before upper-house elections expected next month, fuelling worries it might drop a plan to trade carbon emissions by setting obligatory caps on firms.

Japan is the world's fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter and a pledge to cut emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 has become a cornerstone of the government's long-term economic growth strategy.

The target is among the most ambitious of all rich nations but has also sparked nationwide debate over how to attain it without hurting the world's No.2 economy. (Reuters)

 

World to fail in deep climate cuts this decade - U.N.

The world is set to fail to make deep enough cuts in greenhouse gases in the next decade to tackle global warming, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Monday in a bleak assessment of the prospects for a U.N. deal. (Reuters)

 

They're still at it: Once more, with less feeling

Climate-change negotiations settle in for the long haul

SOME of the trappings are the same. Outside the conference venue there are still followers of Supreme Master Ching Hai urging veganism as a path to climatic salvation. Inside, the public spaces are as thronged, the piles of paper as daunting and the procedures as arcane as ever. (Trying to explain the difference between a “negotiating text” and a “text that can form the basis for negotiations” a UN official looks flummoxed that anyone should not understand such a basic distinction. “It’s like the difference between a paper and a non-paper,” he observes helpfully.) The campaigning groups are still handing out “Fossil of the Day” awards, too, to the countries they think are being least helpful, and they are still going to America, Canada and Saudi Arabia with predictable regularity.

But this is Bonn, not Copenhagen, and though the colour-coded ID badges are the same, as well, and even use the same pictures taken for security at Copenhagen and since squirreled away on computer disks, the faces above the badges are different. “Have you noticed?” asks a climate-conference veteran from Greenpeace. “Everyone looks ten years younger.”

The Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009 was pressurised and fraught. The meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn which began on May 31st is, by contrast, relaxed and rejuvenating. The clock is not ticking. The ministers, prime ministers and presidents are not stacking up over the airport desperate for any sort of closure that can be cooked up. There is a freer air to conversation, and a wider range of it too. Does this mean progress? Not noticeably. (The Economist)

 

Climate summits as dumb as G20

Let’s hope our media in future will apply the same healthy skepticism to the UN’s never-ending global gabfests on climate change as they are to the looming G8/G20 fiasco scheduled for later this month in Canada.

Because whether it’s another UN meeting on global warming of the type we saw in Copenhagen last December or the upcoming G8/G20 in Muskoka and Toronto, both are examples of pointless, wasteful globalization run amok.

Both see world leaders descend on unsuspecting cities with armies of sherpas and bureaucrats in tow, needlessly disrupting the lives of the locals in response to artificial dates set on a calendar, rather than prior negotiations producing any international agreement of substance.

Both are unnecessary, outdated dinosaurs in an age of instant global communications. (Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun)

 

Kyoto - Cap and Trade: Destructive Policies Like WW I Reparations

In a wonderful parody two Australian satirists put the current European and world financial situation in an appropriate Alice In Wonderland perspective.

It’s a simple situation compared to the larger, but just as foolish, plans underway with cap and trade to create global socialism. It’s almost trite to quote George Santayana’s “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Invariably it is bad politics that repeats. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Evidence About The 1970s Global Cooling Consensus Keeps Piling Up

Not just Damon and Kunen’s (already mentioned here)…by chance, I have found yet another Science paper (this time Broecker from August 1975) making it clear that, for a few years up to then, the general consensus among scientists had been that the world was cooling:

[...] the present cooling trend [...] the natural climatic cooling which, since 1940, has more than compensated for the carbon dioxide effect[...]

Time to repeat myself:  we have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s. Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period.

etc etc (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

 

Oh... Climate already helping disease spread north

BRUSSELS - Rising global temperatures might already be helping infectious diseases to creep north, according to a report by European scientists.

The report links warmer temperatures to the spread of dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria and even human plague in Europe.

"Fundamental influences of climate change on infectious disease can already be discerned and it is likely that new vectors and pathogens will emerge and become established in Europe within the next few years", says the report by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). (Reuters)

As if it would even be discernable given the recent variation in transport and travel.

 

Another virtual world problem: Melting Mountains Put Millions At Risk in Asia: Study

Increased melting of glaciers and snow in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau threatens the food security of millions of people in Asia, a study shows, with Pakistan likely to be among the nations hardest hit.

A team of scientists in Holland studied the impacts of climate change on five major Asian rivers on which about 1.4 billion people, roughly a fifth of humanity, depend for water to drink and to irrigate crops. (Reuters)

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Jun. 10th 2010

Greenpeace activists are headed to jail, a hippie invades Wattsworld and it has been a rough week for alternative energies wind and solar. (Daily Bayonet)

 

CO2 thermometer

10/06/2010

The Carbon Dioxide Thermometer

There’s an idea that keeps turning up like a bad penny, and I’ve had a part in it. But as I’ll explain, there’s a problem with it. The proposition is that the increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the air has little to do with human emissions and a lot to do with prevailing temperatures, perhaps especially at the sea surface.

If CO2 follows temperature rather than the other way around, then changes in CO2 become a measure of temperature, as in a thermometer.

The latest manifestation is on the Watts Up website from Lon Hocker at

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/09/a-study-the-temperature-rise-has-caused-the-co2-increase-not-the-other-way-around/

[If] For some reason this link doesn’t work, after several attempts to forge it. Try the WUWT home page http://wattsupwiththat.com/

Let me mention three previous appearances of this idea:

Cynthia Kuo et al., “Coherence established between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature”, Nature 343, pp. 709-14, 1990, which concluded: “Changes in carbon dioxide content lag those in temperature by five months.”

Nigel Calder, “The carbon dioxide thermometer”, Energy & Environment,10, pp. 1-18, 1999

Jarl Ahlbeck, “The carbon dioxide thermometer”, 2001, see http://www.john-daly.com/co2-conc/updated.htm

Since my own offering of 11 years ago, I’ve kept checking to my own satisfaction that what I suggested still works into the 21st Century. (The new story from Lon Hocker supports this.) The CO2-temperature link, with cause and effect swapped around, also looks arguable on geological timescales. Where the idea runs into difficulties is in the Holocene, since the end of the last ice age.

There have been repeated ups and downs of temperature, like that between the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the Modern Warm Period, without the strong variations in CO2 that you’d expect from this hypothesis. I’m not talking about the CO2 results from ice layers, which are suspect because CO2 is soluble in ice and variations are smoothed out. No, I mean results from leaf stomata, by Rike Wagner-Cremer and her colleagues at Utrecht, which are much more trustworthy. They’ve been a little disappointing for the hypothesis.

Here for example is the abstract of one that group’s papers:

T. B. van Hoof et al., “A role for atmospheric CO2 in preindustrial climate forcing,” PNAS, October 14, 2008; 105(41): pp. 15815 – 15818. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/41/15815.full.pdf+html

Complementary to measurements in Antarctic ice cores, stomatal frequency analysis of leaves of land plants preserved in peat and lake deposits can provide a proxy record of preindustrial atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 trends based on leaf remains of Quercus robur (English oak) from the Netherlands support the presence of significant CO2 variability during the first half of the last millennium. The amplitude of the reconstructed multidecadal fluctuations, up to 34 parts per million by volume, considerably exceeds maximum shifts measured in Antarctic ice. Inferred changes in CO2 radiative forcing are of a magnitude similar to variations ascribed to other mechanisms, particularly solar irradiance and volcanic activity, and may therefore call into question the concept of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assumes an insignificant role of CO2 as a preindustrial climate forcing factor. The stomata-based CO2 trends correlate with coeval sea-surface temperature trends in the North Atlantic Ocean, suggesting the possibility of an oceanic source/sink mechanism for the recorded CO2 changes.

At first sight, these researchers are singing much the same song as the CO2 thermometer-makers. So what’s the problem? Simply that the CO2 fluctuations reported in this and other papers are small compared with those of the past century. The period of which van Hoof et al. write includes the Medieval Warm Period when temperatures were at least as high as today. But their CO2 never got above 319 ppmv, compared with 392 at Mauna Loa for May 2010.

The implication is that the CO2 thermometer is not the whole story. Man-made emissions must have contributed to the increase of the past 100 years. How significant that has been as a driver of the temperature increase is another question entirely. (Nigel Calder)

 

BP is asking for its punishment—literally

Tim Carney has a column at the Washington Examiner detailing BP’s lobbying influence, which begs the following history lesson and first-hand account for voters, generally unaccustomed to such sleaze, to fully appreciate the game presently being played out in Washington.

President Obama announced in Pittsburgh last week that BP’s Gulf oil spill demands his wrath in the form of the Kerry-Lieberman “cap-and-trade” energy tax. Hearing this, your reaction may have been to wonder just how making energy more expensive for everyone—seniors, the poor, it’s all good—is a proper response. And the truth is that our young ideological president’s effort to make sure this crisis doesn’t go to waste is actually much worse than it seems on its face.

BP, joined by Enron, invented carbon cap-and-trade in the mid-1990s. Yeah. That cap-and-trade.

I know, because I was in the room. (Chris Horner, Daily Caller)

 

The Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Losers and Winners

The oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico provides a near perfect onshore platform for political demagoguery. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

How the White House is Making Oil Recovery Harder

Five weeks ago Escambia County officials requested permission from the Mobile Unified Command Center to use a sand skimmer, a device pulled behind a tractor that removes oil and tar from the top three feet of sand, to help clean up Pensacola’s beaches. County officials still haven’t heard anything back. Santa Rosa Island Authority Buck Lee told The Daily Caller why: “Escambia County sends a request to the Mobile, Ala., Unified Command Center. Then, it’s reviewed by BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. If they don’t like it, they don’t tell us anything.”

Keeping local governments in the dark is just one reason why the frustration of residents in the Gulf is so palpable. State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts and needs far better than the federal government does. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government has actually been playing a bigger and bigger role in running natural disaster responses. And as Heritage fellow Matt Mayer has documented, the results have gotten worse, not better.

And when the federal government isn’t sapping the initiative and expertise of local governments, it has been preventing foreign governments from helping. Just three days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Dutch government offered to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms and proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands. LA Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) supported the idea, but the Obama administration refused the help. All told, thirteen countries have offered to help us clean up the Gulf, and the Obama administration has turned them all down. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

A Ban On Truth

Energy Policy: The advisory board on offshore drilling says it never endorsed a moratorium, which was added later by the interior secretary. The only thing transparent about this administration is its lies.

Experts brought together by the Obama administration to review offshore drilling safety were asked to review recommendations in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They did not give their blessing to the six-month drilling moratorium announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and have accused him of deliberately appending their report to make it seem like they did. (IBD)

 

Well duh! Poll: Support plunges for offshore drilling; regulators blamed for Gulf spill

Just a quarter of Americans back expanding offshore drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill, and most fault federal regulators for the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Before the spill, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on drilling in U.S. coastal waters as a way to address the country's energy needs. But most Americans now want fewer offshore wells (31 percent) or the amount kept at current levels (41 percent).

Perhaps as a consequence of the spill, public support for oil and gas drilling in general is also significantly lower than it was a year ago. And as Americans have become increasingly skeptical about such exploration, some elected representatives are now questioning what the government is doing to ensure that offshore exploration can take place safely. (WaPo)

With 24/7 coverage of an oil spill people are less positive about the need for drilling and extraction -- they don't say...

 

There’s nothing greens love more than a nice, juicy oil-spill disaster

If anything is going to cause more long-term damage to the planet than the gallons of oil being spewed out by the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster, it’s the toxic clouds of posturing cant and alarmist drivel billowing forth daily from environmentalists. Most especially from their cheerleader in the White House, Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s behaviour throughout this oil crisis has been a disgrace – but not for the reasons given by all those watermelons who have taxed him with not having done enough to stop the flow or punish BP. (Yeah, he should have declared war on Britain, that’s what he should have done! And imprisoned everyone who works at BP in Gitmo! And then nuked every Big Oil company in the world just for good measure!)

Rather, his crime has been to pander to the worst excesses of the environmental left – and cynically to exploit a private Louisianan tragedy in order to advance his personal eco-socialist agenda. (James Delingpole)

 

Increase in inspectors hasn't kept pace with boom in offshore U.S. oil rigs and projects

Over the past quarter-century, oil companies have pushed the frontiers of offshore drilling, sharply stepping up the number of deep-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

However, although the number of exploration rigs soared and the number of deep-water oil-producing projects grew more than tenfold from 1988 to 2008, the number of federal inspectors working for the Minerals Management Service has increased only 13 percent since 1985.

That brings the number of inspectors for the federal waters of the entire Gulf of Mexico to 62 -- only seven more than in 1985. To visit deep-water rigs, they often make two-hour helicopter rides from shore. The same inspectors also examine dozens of rigs and thousands of production platforms in shallow water.

The shortage -- and quality -- of manpower at the MMS is coming under scrutiny as Congress looks at the causes of the oil spill that started in the gulf with the April 20 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

One key question is whether the agency could carry out the required minimum once-a-month inspections or do a thorough job in an increasingly complex area. Investigators are also looking at whether applications for changes in the well design received only cursory reviews, including one that was approved seven minutes after being filed. (WaPo)

 

BP oil spill fears hit North Sea as Norway bans drilling

Norway has banned new deepwater oil drilling in the North Sea amid in a sign that panic over BP's Gulf of Mexico spill is spreading. (Reuters)

 

Deloitte Survey: Electricity Costs Up, Ability to Pay Down

Utility regulators concerned about consumers’ pocketbooks; Nuclear power seen as more effective than renewable energy at combating climate change

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2010 — More than three-quarters (85 percent) of state energy regulators responding to an annual survey expect the cost of residential electricity to increase next year, according to the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions.

The survey, which Deloitte conducted earlier in the spring, also found a growing number of surveyed regulators fear rate increases will be financially onerous on the public. More than a third (34.3 percent) felt that consumers would not accept any rate increase at all — up from 23.3 percent one year ago. Moreover, while 53.3 percent of surveyed regulators last year said that the public would accept a five percent rate increase, this year that number dropped almost 20 percentage points to 34.3 percent.

“Our survey demonstrates that state utility regulators are increasingly cognizant of electricity costs and the burden they represent on the average consumer,” says Branko Terzic, energy and resources regulatory policy leader for Deloitte.

 

Subsidizing CO2 Emissions via Windpower: The Ultimate Irony

by Kent Hawkins
June 10, 2010

It is the irony of ironies. Taxpayer and ratepayer-forced subsidies for utility-scale windpower also subsidizes emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The same would be true under a national renewable portfolio standard as proposed in pending federal legislation.

Such is a vivid demonstration of the perils of unintended consequences and, to borrow a phrase, “an inconvenient truth” about wind power.

My recent four-part Wind Integration Realities reviewed two new studies, based on actual experience, that show fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are increased, not reduced, with the introduction of wind. Their results were compared as well as to those of my fossil fuel and CO2 emissions calculator for the same conditions. The brief summary in Part IV of the series is expanded upon here for clarity of this game-changing argument.

In general, the studies show that as wind penetration increases, the effect on fossil fuel and CO2 emissions worsens. Specifically, at wind penetrations of about 3% (as is the case in the Netherlands), the savings are zero. At 5-6% (as for Colorado and Texas) the “savings” become negative, that is, emissions actually increase due to the presence of wind power. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Biofuels From Deforested Land To Fail EU Standards

Palm oil grown on recently deforested land is unlikely to be acceptable for use in European biodiesel, a draft report from the European Commission shows.

The decision aims to curb any environmental damage from biofuels and could limit future export markets for Asian producers such as Indonesia's PT SMART, Singapore's Wilmar and Malaysia's Sime and IOI Corp. (Reuters)

 

Ethanol Boom Sharply Cuts US Corn Surplus: USDA

The resurgent U.S. ethanol industry will use an additional 250 million bushels of corn through the next 15 months, dramatically reducing the corn surplus despite record crops, said the government on Thursday.

Traders said the forecast of higher demand would boost corn prices. They had expected modest reductions in the corn stockpile instead of the Agriculture Department's large cuts. (Reuters)

 

 

Protecting Us to Death

Government continues to protect us to death.  

Today former FDA deputy commissioner Scott Gottlieb argues that,

“The time from lab to market for new drugs keeps getting shorter, but bad government policies threaten to reverse this trend ... News from this week's gathering of the American Society of Clinical Oncology … underscores how good we have become at turning new scientific principles into superior medicines.  

Bristol Myers's drug Ipilimumab, the first treatment to extend the lives of patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer, is based on science that is 30 years in the making. Pfizer's drug Crizotinib, which shrank some of the most resistant and fatal forms of lung cancer, was developed as a result of science done over the last decade.”

Given that most drug research leads to no marketable product, it’s great that a few drug companies are able to shepherd their discoveries through the torturous regulatory system.  However, my big brother warns that “pharamascolds” threaten that progress.  Gottlieb agrees,

“Like all fragile ecosystems, the critical path for translating basic scientific principles into effective medicines is susceptible to outside forces. Lately, these are policies that shrink the incentives that drive the capital investment needed to underwrite these long and risky endeavors, or growing regulation by the Food and Drug Administration that makes it harder to get treatments to market.

Most ominous, the journey from lab to treatment is at risk from activists' and regulators' growing suspicion of the collaboration between the academic researchers who uncover basic science and the drug industry that is able to design and manufacture medicines. Yet that hand-off from researcher to manufacturer was behind Ipilimumab, Crizotinib and many of our best cancer treatments. …. Now Congress is endeavoring to investigate scientists who get National Institutes of Health research grants and also collaborate with industry.”

Gottlieb claims the future will bring even quicker development of useful medicines.  However,

“Severing the links between the academic researchers that firm up basic science and the industries that craft medicines is the surest way to reverse this trend.”

(John Stossel)

 

That's the thing about scaremongers, they keep pumping out their nonsense no matter what... Waiter, there's a potential carcinogen in my soup

DOVER, N.H., June 9 - Yolande Sprague could be forgiven for feeling virtuous.

Four years ago, just after giving birth to her second child, the stay-at-home mom heard about BPA, a chemical inside some plastics that can leach into water or food slowly over time, potentially causing serious health problems like cancer. Unwilling to take any risks, she ran to Babies "R" Us, which had a program to exchange baby bottles containing BPA, and walked out with $100 in rebates.

If only life were so easy.

What Sprague didn't realize is that BPA, or bisphenol A, is ubiquitous. Simply put, just about anything you eat that comes out of a can -- from Campbell's Chicken Soup and SpaghettiOs to Diet Coke and BumbleBee Tuna -- contains the same exact chemical.

The exposure to BPA from canned food "is far more extensive" than from plastic bottles, said Shanna Swan, a professor and researcher at the University of Rochester in New York. "It's particularly concerning when it's lining infant formula cans."

BPA is the key compound in epoxy resin linings that keep food fresher longer and prevents it from interacting with metal and altering the taste. It has been linked in some studies of rats and mice to not only cancer but also obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Trade groups for chemical and can manufacturers say they stand behind the chemical, and point to some studies from governmental health agencies that deem BPA safe and effective for food contact. They also note that its use has substantially reduced deaths from food poisoning. (Reuters)

... and there is always ignorant or duplicitous media to help them spread their baseless fears.

 

But if you really want something to worry about: U.S. regulators urged to help develop antibiotics

CHICAGO - U.S. regulators need to provide a clear path for drug companies to develop new antibiotics and should consider offering financial incentives, experts told a Congressional panel on Wednesday.

They said doctors are running out of effective antibiotics, yet inconsistent regulatory guidelines at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the need to reduce the use of antibiotics has given companies little incentive to develop new drugs, experts told the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health.

Several experts acknowledged the need for more judicious use of existing antibiotics to slow the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, but virtually all agreed that several routes are needed to solve the problem.

Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at the Department of Health and Human Services, called antibiotic resistance a biodefense threat and said the federal government should provide financial incentives to encourage companies to develop new antibiotics.

He said his agency is supporting the development of new dual-purpose antibiotics that could be used to improve both public health and national security.

"The lengthy drug development process means that new classes of drugs to supplement or replace current ones are still years away at best," Robinson told the panel.

He noted that newer drugs are typically saved for the sickest patients, reducing their sales potential. (Reuters)

We are and always will be in an escalating war with pathogens and we will always need to be in front in the arms race.

 

Small problem for heart health

PARIS: Short people are 50 per cent more likely than tall people to die prematurely of heart disease, researchers reported in a major review of 3 million people.

The study showed that women less than 1.53 metres and men less than 1.65 metres are significantly more prone to cardiovascular or coronary heart problems than women and men taller than 1.66 and 1.73 metres, respectively.

The findings, published in the European Heart Journal, suggest that short stature should be added to the list of known risk factors alongside obesity, advanced age and high cholesterol levels, the researchers said.

The link between height and heart conditions has been examined in nearly 2000 studies from around the world over the past 60 years, but evidence remained contradictory.

Scientists in Finland led by Puula Paajanen, of the University of Tampere, sifted through research to see if they could find a definitive answer.

The best approach, they decided, was to compare the shortest group to the tallest group to highlight any differences that might emerge.

They focused on 52 earlier studies, examining more than 3 million people in all who met their criteria for comparability and high standards.

''The results are unequivocal: short stature is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease,'' said Jaakko Tuomilehto, a professor at the University of Helsinki.

''But the possible patho-physiological, environmental, and genetic background of this peculiar association is not known,'' he added in a commentary, also in the European Heart Journal. (Agence France-Presse)

 

Can they really not see the flaws in their "studies"? England smoking ban cut heart attacks, health cost

LONDON, June 9 - A ban on smoking in public places in England led to a swift and significant drop in the number of heart attacks, saving the health service 8.4 million pounds ($13 million) in the first year, scientists said on Wednesday.

The findings of a large British study suggest that anti-smoking legislation has the potential to save millions of lives in both the short and longer term by reducing the amount of smoking and the exposure to second-hand smoke. (Reuters)

Great, they had a slight delay in the number of cardiac-diseased patients dying in the year following imposition of smoking bans although they have not established whether this is merely the result of people not venturing out in the cold to joyless post-ban watering holes (exposure to cold air precipitates adverse coronary events). Nor can they establish that this lag in mortalities can be sustained over several years or that there will be a net decrease in health costs (fact is smokers die off with fewer twilight years in need of societal support). England has a population of 50 million so their alleged saving is £0.168/person. My guess is that the ban is a lot more costly than that to implement and police. Loss of trade in pubs and clubs and reduced employment probably took more than that out of the government revenue stream too. People who do still go to these venues probably drink more and stuff in more crisps and salty snacks to occupy their hands and mouths too, what are the long-term health consequences of that? Their claims ring awfully hollow.

 

Slightly early births linked to autism, dyslexia

LONDON, June 8 - Babies born just 1 or 2 weeks before their 40-week gestation due date are more likely to develop learning difficulties such as autism or dyslexia, according to a British study published on Tuesday.

The findings show that even babies born at 39 weeks -- the point at which many women choose to have a Caesarean section delivery -- have an increased risk of a developing a learning disability compared with babies born a week later at 40 weeks.

Scientists in Scotland, analysing the birth history of more than 400,000 schoolchildren, found that while babies born at 40 weeks have a 4 percent risk of learning difficulties, those born at 37 to 39 weeks of gestation have a 5.1 percent risk.

"There was an increasing risk of special educational needs as the gestation date fell, so as deliveries got earlier, the risk went up," said Jill Pell, an expert in public health and health policy Glasgow University, who led the study.

"Even being just a week early put the risk up."

It is already known that a baby born prematurely -- for example at 24 weeks of gestation -- is more likely to have learning difficulties. But the risks for babies born in the 24 to 40 week range had not previously been studied. (Reuters)

 

Scientists find autism has complex genetic roots

LONDON - The world's largest genetic scan of people with autism in their families has found that many patients have their own unique pattern of genetic mutations, not necessarily inherited.

The findings published in the journal Nature help confirm the strong role that genes play in autism, and also suggest that small genetic disruptions may begin in the parents' eggs and sperm.

"Our research strongly suggests that this type of rare genetic variation is important and accounts for a significant portion of the genetic basis of autism," said Tony Monaco of the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at Oxford University, who helped lead the study.

"By identifying the genetic causes of autism, we hope in the future to be able to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this condition which can affect children and their families so severely," he told reporters on a telephone briefing.

Stephen Scherer of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, said the results would "lead to a paradigm shift when it comes to understanding the root causes of autism." (Reuters)

 

Fungus-tainted corn a factor in Africa HIV spread?

NEW YORK - A new study raises the question of whether corn contaminated with a fungus-derived toxin is helping to facilitate the transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

The toxins, called fumonisins, are produced by a particular type of fungus that can grow in corn after the plant is damaged by pests such as the cornstalk borer.

Fumonisins may be harmful to human health, with some studies linking consumption of the toxins to an increased rate of cancer of the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

In the new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at whether there may be a relationship between HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and general consumption of foods prone to contamination with fumonisins or other fungus- produced toxins (known as mycotoxins).

Using data from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the researchers found that as sub-Saharan countries' per-person corn consumption rose, so did HIV transmission rates. (Reuters Health)

 

Does light drinking in pregnancy have benefits?

NEW YORK - Could a glass of wine a day early in pregnancy yield better behaved kids? Maybe, according to results of a new study.

Researchers found that the children of women who were light or moderate drinkers (2 to 6 drinks per week or one per day) early in pregnancy tended to have "more positive" behavior than the children of mothers who did not drink at all early in pregnancy.

"This positive behaviour meant that the children of light and moderate drinkers had less emotional and behavioural problems through childhood and adolescence," Dr. Monique Robinson, from Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth, Western Australia, told Reuters Health by email. (Reuters Health)

Maybe it's just that these moderate-drinking mothers are entirely more relaxed (less panicked) over the whole pregnancy and childrearing thing. After all, relaxed parents generally have a lot calmer kids simply because they are not in panic mode in exactly the same way as nervous owners have skittish animals while calm, confident owners have relaxed and amenable animals (I'll get letters but there is little practical difference in child and animal behavior).

 

Spencer Wells: 'At root, we're still hunters'

Geneticist Spencer Wells believes that when our neolithic ancestors began farming, they set us on the road to ruin. He tells Steve Connor why agriculture is fatally at odds with our biological inheritance (The Independent)

 

Problem gambling likely in the genes, says study

NEW YORK - Odds are good that if one of your parents is addicted to gambling, you might be too, a new study of Australian twins concludes.

"Previous research in men showed that gambling addiction can run in the family," study co-author Wendy Slutske, of the University of Missouri, told Reuters Health. "This study extends those finding to include women."

Scientists have found that genes play a role in a number of addictions, the study authors note in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

By studying identical (identical genetic makeup) and fraternal (some shared genes) twins, Slutske and colleagues from Australia's Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane were able to tease out the different impacts of genetic and environmental factors on addiction. (Reuters Health)

 

So far, fish appear to be healthy after fly ash spill

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 9, 2010 -- Fish exposed to fly ash at the site of the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill are faring better than some expected, researchers have learned.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with TVA has found that while small amounts of some contaminants from the December 2008 fly ash spill have been taken up by fish in the Clinch and Emory rivers, to-date, the fish collected downstream from the spill appear healthy relative to fish from unimpacted sites.

"We are looking to see if there has been an effect on overall fish health and reproductive condition, and so far, such effects have not been evident," said Mark Peterson, leader of ORNL Environmental Sciences Division's Ecological Assessment Team and the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory. (DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

 

As if we hadn't enough problems... France and Japan propose an 'IPCC for nature'

Delegates from 97 countries meet in South Korea to hear plans for an international body to monitor destruction of flora and fauna (The Guardian)

 

Follow the Money: Wealth, Population Are Key Drivers of Invasive Species

A new study of biological invasions in Europe found they were linked not so much to changes in climate or land cover, but to two dominant factors -- more money and more people.

Wealth and population density, along with an increase in international trade and commerce, were the forces most strongly associated with invasive species that can disrupt ecosystems and cause severe ecological or agricultural damage, scientists said. (ScienceDaily)

 

Hopefully EII will reign for another, oh 50 years, at least: Prince Charles blames world’s ills on ‘soulless consumerism’ and Galileo

The Prince of Wales has blamed a lack of belief in the soul for the world’s environmental problems, and said that the planet cannot sustain a population expected to reach 9 billion in 40 years.

He said he found it “baffling” that so many scientists professed a faith in God yet this had little bearing on the “damaging” way science was used to exploit the natural world.

The Prince pinned part of the blame on Galileo. Criticising the profit imperative behind much scientific research, he said: “This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.

“This is the view that continues to frame the general perception of the way the world works, and how we fit within the scheme of things. (The Times)

Really have to feel for Queen Elizabeth, ending up with such a superstitious twit as heir to the throne.

 

Free to choose

America's current struggles notwithstanding, life here is pretty good. We have a standard of living that's the envy of most of the world.

Why did that happen? Prosperity isn't the norm. Throughout history and throughout the world, poverty has been the norm. Most of the world still lives in dire poverty. Of the 6 billion people on earth, perhaps 1 billion have something close to our standard of living. Why did America prosper when most of the people of the world are still poor?

Milton Friedman taught me the answer. More than any other American, Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, clearly warned the world about the unintended consequences of big government.

"We've become increasingly dependent on government," said Friedman. "We've surrendered power to government; nobody has taken it from us. It's our doing. The results — monumental government spending, much of it wasted, little of it going to the people whom we would like to see helped."

That's from Friedman's PBS TV series "Free to Choose," which aired 30 years ago and became the basis of his No. 1 bestseller by the same name.

The title says a lot. If we are free to make our own choices, we prosper. That was a new idea to many back then. At the time — when inflation and interest rates were in double digits and unemployment approached 10 percent — people thought a wise government could ensure economic growth, guarantee full employment and eliminate poverty. Friedman explained that the opposite was true, that bigger government had brought us "burdensome taxes, high inflation, a welfare system under which neither those who receive help nor those who pay for it are satisfied. Trying to do good with other people's money simply has not worked."

No, it hasn't. So why, 30 years later, is America doing so much more of it?

Because people still have not learned Friedman's lesson. (John Stossel)

 

Interesting: Countryside 'blighted by road signs, pylons and masts'

The countryside is increasingly blighted by man-made "clutter" such as unnecessary road signs, pylons and phone masts, rural campaigners said. (TDT)

Wasn't it the BBC's Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson who began the call to reduce Britain's extraordinary clutter of unnecessary road signs? So much better than the Beeb's so called science journos, those Top Gear boys.

 

GM trials begin in Britain amid controversy

Hundreds of genetically modified potatoes have been planted behind security fences in Norfolk in a new trial of the controversial science. (TDT)

 

 

Stopping The EPA's Power Grab

Overregulation: The Senate votes on blocking a government bureaucracy from usurping power never delegated to it by Congress. This administration may put Copenhagen above the Constitution, but we the people have other plans.

The GOP's 1994 "Contract with America," a gift that keeps on giving, hopefully will rescue us once again from the clutches of an unelected bureaucracy, the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been allowed by the Supreme Court to regulate every breath we take and every machine we operate.

When cap-and-tax legislation was introduced in Congress, the Obama administration threatened that if Congress failed to act, the EPA would, using its authority under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court has said the EPA has the power, even the obligation, to impose draconian restrictions on so-called greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.

Then last week, the Senate took up Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's EPA Resolution of Disapproval. It would block the EPA's plan to impose a national cap-and-trade scheme through regulation and not legislation. The resolution has its roots in the Congressional Review Act passed as part of the Contract with America. The Review Act lets legislators veto a "major rule" by any regulatory agency within 60 days of its publication.

The resolution does not speak to the quack science of climate change but merely puts forward the idea that Congress, the elected representatives of the people, and not the EPA, should address an issue with big implications for thousands of U.S. jobs and businesses and freedom itself. Which is fine with us.

On Tuesday, the White House, which has sought to nationalize everything from health care to cars to banking, threatened a veto if the resolution passed. President Obama's officials are not interested in the weather either, only the power that an unwasted "climate-change crisis" could give them over every facet of American life.

The Senate measure has bipartisan support from 41 co-sponsors as well as from senators such as Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., with a large, coal-mining industry. "I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia's economy, our manufacturing industries and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA," he said.

The EPA's regulatory power grab is supported by energy czar Carol Browner, whose two terms as EPA administrator were marked by punitive enforcement and draconian tightening of environmental regulations.

As we have pointed out, Browner once belonged to an explicitly socialist organization, the Commission for a Sustainable World Society, that is a formal part of the Socialist International.

Current EPA administrator Lisa Jackson learned her trade working under Browner and has no less zeal for repealing the Industrial Revolution and decapitating the American economy. Jackson led the fight to get carbon dioxide, the basis for all plant and animal life on earth, declared a pollutant.

The resolution doesn't quarrel with "climate change," but we do. The EPA's "scientific" finding was based on the fraudulent analysis and manipulated data produced by entities such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Britain's Climate Research Unit. Even NASA and NOAA cooked the books, cherry-picking temperature data and closing weather stations inconveniently located in colder, rural areas and the Canadian Arctic.

As Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, related on a YouTube video: "Lisa Jackson, Obama's EPA administrator, admitted to me publicly that EPA based its action ... (issuing its finding) in good measure on the findings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. She told me that EPA accepted those findings without any serious, independent analysis to see whether they were true."

One thing is true: The Founding Fathers knew what the road to hell was paved with and that absolute power corrupted absolutely. The EPA seeks absolute power over the American people.

The Founders wrote a document that begins "We, the people" to restrict the powers of our government. It does not say "we, the EPA." It speaks of actions based on the consent of the governed, and it is becoming more obvious that the governed do not consent to this. (IBD)

 

Stopping the EPA’s CO2 Regulations

When the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill passed in the House before last year’s summer recess, Members voting for its passage heard loudly from constituents. Since then the Senate has been reluctant to move forward with a counterpart. It took Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA) nearly a year to release their cap and trade bill.

But what Congress has failed to do, the Environmental Protection Agency is willing and able. The agency has already begun the process of imposing costly and environmentally questionable CO2 cuts by using the Clean Air Act. Recognizing the severe problem with this approach, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will bring legislation to the Senate floor for debate on Thursday to stop unelected government officials at the EPA from micromanaging the economy.

Murkowski is using the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of the EPA Administrator’s endangerment finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and harmful to human health and the environment. Murkowski and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to bring the joint resolution, S.J. 26, to the floor June 10th, which will consist of up to six hours of debate before voting on a motion to proceed. If the motion is successful by 51-vote majority, the Senate would then allow for an hour debate before voting on its passage, which also requires 51 votes. The disapproval resolution is immensely important because as Ben Lieberman explains: Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Krosnick thinks you are wrong: The Climate Majority

ON Thursday, the Senate will vote on a resolution proposed by Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, that would scuttle the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to limit emissions of greenhouse gases by American businesses.

Passing the resolution might seem to be exactly what Americans want. After all, national surveys released during the last eight months have been interpreted as showing that fewer and fewer Americans believe that climate change is real, human-caused and threatening to people. (NYT)

 

Lieberman attacks possibility of climate bill as amendment

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Tuesday attacked the notion that climate legislation he authored with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) would surface as an amendment to an energy bill on the Senate floor rather than being included from the get-go.

Lieberman told reporters in the Capitol that “I sure would” oppose such a strategy. 

“If you force us to put it on as an amendment, it is like we are a step-child instead of a child. Excuse me for that because I have some step-children who I love,” Lieberman said.

“It is like we are not the main event, we are kind of a side show,” he said. “We have to be at the center of the arena.” (The Hill)

 

"So what?" of the moment: Rich nations could increase emissions under pledge loopholes, UN data shows

Analysis seen at Bonn climate talks shows rich nations could use carbon accountancy tricks to increase their emissions by up to 8% (The Guardian)

 

Green Fussing: What Do Left Environmentalists Really Want? (except to cap capitalism with cap-and-trade)

by William Griesinger
June 9, 2010

Ultra-clarifying moments of truth are sometimes possible when environmental groups and their so-called allies end up in “family” squabbles, disagreeing over implementation of their ill-conceived schemes. The disarray, aptly described in prior posts at MasterResource by economist Robert Murphy and others as a civil war on the Left,” has become commonplace with respect to cap-and-trade proposals. And this is part of what Ken Green calls the death spiral of climate alarmism.

Just maybe the Coercion Crowd should throw up their hands and just say: give peace a chance!

Gaming the Carbon Market – Say It Isn’t So!

Yet another example of this discord, reported in a recent issue of E&E News PM, Climate: Enviro group outlines 10 schemes for gaming carbon markets — 05/18/2010 — www.eenews.net (access with free trial subscr.) involves Friends of the Earth (FOE), which recently released a strongly worded critique of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill. In its guide, FOE inconveniently details how “carbon offsets are especially prone to corruption and fraud” and directly questions whether carbon markets are an appropriate mechanism to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The guide derisively attacks cap-and-trade schemes detailing the ten ways carbon markets can be scammed “at the expense of both our economy and our climate.” The scams enumerated carry such unflattering headings as, “Ponzi carbon,” “Carbon bribery,” and “Sell fake carbon offset credits,” among other derogatory descriptions. Ouch! [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Meet the green who doubts ‘The Science’

The author of Chill explains why he’s sceptical about manmade global warming — and why greens are so intolerant.

The science around climate change is not as settled as it’s presented as being. I used to think it was, until about 2003 – and then, feeling that the remedies being proposed for climate change would be more damaging to the environment than climate change itself, I took it upon myself to look at the science. (Peter Taylor, spiked)

 

Top researchers fear 'radical shift' in EU policy

Scientists at Europe's leading research universities have expressed concern over the growing trend towards linking EU funding with pre-defined outcomes. Researchers fear political priorities will curb their scope for creativity and free thinking. (EurActiv)

So what's the shift? Climate research is only funded if it delivers politicians desired scares...

 

The Climate Files

Updated on Jun 9, 2010 by Bishop Hill

Fred Pearce has new book out on Climategate and will be speaking about it at the Royal Institution on Monday. Readers will remember Pearce as the author of a detailed series of postings on the Climategate emails in the Guardian at the start of the year. The book sounds pretty interesting...

To coincide with the launch of his new book, The Climate Files, the veteran environment journalist Fred Pearce discusses how the emails raise deeply disturbing questions about the way climate science is conducted, about researchers' preparedness to block access to climate data and downplay flaws in their research."

Click to read more ...

(Bishop Hill)

Wouldn't hold my breath -- Freddy believes in AGW with an absolute passion.

 

Nasa's first ever 'field trip' to study effects of climate change on Arctic ice

Nasa has switched part of its focus from space to the ocean, after its scientists announced their first ever field study to investigate how climate change is affecting the Arctic’s ice. (TDT)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration? Pretty soon the prez is gonna have ot call for Buzz Lightyear to go to infinity and beyond because the nation's "space agency" is distinctly earthbound. What a farce: a field trip to see how -- not if but how climate change "is affecting the Arctic's ice". It'd be way too much to expect them to try to accurately figure out planetary albedo so we can calculate Earth's expected mean temperature and finally know whether it is really warmer than it "should be"...

Stupid game...

 

Yale Law Journal: Climate Debate Killing Hundreds

The climate change debate has killed hundreds if not thousands of people, according to The Dirty Climate Debate, an article published in the Yale Law Journal. The deaths, along with other health tolls and widespread environmental damage, are a consequence of a change of heart by leading environmental organizations in the U.S., as part of their strategy to win the climate change debate.

“Prominent environmental groups like the Sierra Club are now opposing efforts by utilities to install environmental controls on their power plants, the same controls that these groups have fought voraciously to attain for over thirty years and that many utilities have avoided,” states author Brian H. Potts. “These environmentalists are choosing to sacrifice known short-term health and environmental benefits for their long-term climate policy goals.”

As the Yale Law Journal explains, coal-burning electric utilities are only too happy to invest in pollution control equipment that will protect the environment and save hundreds of lives per year when regulators approve the investments. Captive customers of the power companies will then be bound to repay the utilities, and to provide the utilities with a secure rate of return.

Perversely, Sierra Club and others are intervening in the process, convincing regulators to disallow the utilities’ requests. In one case, the Sierra Club is fighting a major pollution abatement proposal in Arkansas although, according to EPA-based estimates, these controls would annually “save 250 to 350 people from premature death, avoid 300 to 400 adults from having non-fatal heart attacks, keep thousands of children from developing upper or lower respiratory symptoms, avoid tens of thousands of work loss days, and provide general health benefits valued at over a billion dollars.”

The environmentalists are willing to accept these immense human and economic costs, the Yale paper states, to discourage an investment in a coal plant that might extend its operating life, undermining the environmentalists’ greater goal of combating greenhouse gas emissions.

To save lives and the environment, Congress should act to set clear rules. “There is no reason to continue to punish our environment simply because no one can decide what to do on the climate change issue,” the Yale Law Journal article, found here, concludes.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of
Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

 

Lawyer busts climate science

This paper has become the zeitgeist. I’ve had countless emails, and I know it’s been mentioned on Pielke, then  by Solomon then Watts Up. Every self respecting skeptic will have looked at by this weekend, if not already. (Thanks to all the people who’ve emailed in the last three days).

My thoughts? For a long scientific review, it’s surprisingly well written, cuts to the core, and it’s a very unusual style of writing: No one is pushing anything, it’s not polarized or written to entertain, yet at the same time, it has compelling clarity. Johnston also exposes the rhetorical flaws in the reasoning and argument styles, which gives it a comprehensive punch.

I’m not used to reading official documents about the climate that are written to actually explain something. It’s 79 pages long, and distinctly lacks any cartoons, or even graphs, but surprisingly, astonishingly, it has sentences that are readable. There are no double barreled vagarisms designed to obscure the meaning while they recite a litany of key phrases, as if the answer is really hidden in there somewhere.  This document doesn’t finish off every other point with speculation that it might be worse than we thought. Even though, actually, as far as science goes, official climate science is worse than we thought. Damning with understated tones.

“Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination”

More » (Jo Nova)

 

Obligatory gorebull warbling: A tale of two atolls: Stanford researchers study the impact of fishing on remote coral reefs

Stanford marine scientists and anthropologists are developing strategies for sustainable fishing by comparing two remote coral reef ecosystems – one inhabited, the other a "no-catch" reserve.

Coral reefs – kaleidoscopes of pink anemones and silver sharks – are the planet's most colorful ecosystems and among its most endangered, say marine scientists.

As global warming raises ocean temperatures, many corals blanch and die, a phenomenon called "coral bleaching." And pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere could make the ocean more acidic, further decimating corals and the fish that depend on them for food and shelter. (Stanford)

 

Eye-roller: Increased heat waves from climate change a 'public health disaster,' federal official says

Global climate change will bring more heat waves, air pollution and floods, and public health systems need to prepare for those changes now, federal officials told a group of epidemiologists meeting in Portland Sunday evening. (Scott Learn, The Oregonian)

 

Warming or Cooling?

Written by David C. Archibald

The first thing to be aware of is that the warming effect of carbon dioxide is strongly logarithmic. Of the 3° C. that carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect, the first 20 ppm has a greater effect than the following 400 ppm. By the time we get to the current level of 384 ppm, each 100 ppm increment will produce only about 0.1° of warming. With atmospheric carbon dioxide rising at about 2 ppm per annum, temperature will rise at 0.1° every 50 years. If that is true, you will ask, how does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) get its icecap-melting figure of 5° for doubling of the preindustrial level to 560 ppm?

Read more... (SPPI)

 

A tenth of one degree? A cooler Pacific may have severely affected medieval Europe, North America

Combination of hi-tech models and paleo-records may hold key to unlocking reason for Anastazi people's migration and other global events

MIAMI – June 9, 2010 -- In the time before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a cooler central Pacific Ocean has been connected with drought conditions in Europe and North America that may be responsible for famines and the disappearance of cliff dwelling people in the American West.

A new study from the University of Miami (UM) has found a connection between La Niña-like sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific and droughts in western Europe and in what later became the southwestern United States and Mexico, as published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"We've known for some time the connection between El Niño and La Niña and the weather conditions in North America and Europe," said Robert Burgman, a climate scientist at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "La Niña-like conditions, such as those we found, can cause persistent drought, and as we know warm conditions cause increased precipitation."

Using cores of fossil coral from the Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, Burgman and a team used reconstructed sea surface temperatures from the period 1320 to 1462 to simulate medieval climate conditions with a state-of-the-art climate model. When the differences between medieval and modern climate simulations were compared with paleo-records like tree-rings and sediment cores from around the globe, the authors found remarkable agreement.

During the 142-year study period, the sea surface temperature dropped only one-tenth of one degree, but it was enough to cause arid conditions in North America and Europe. (University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science)

Measured how? In mean temperature, amplitude of variation... what? Pacific sea surface temperatures vary many tenths of one degree over quite short times:

 

A study: The temperature rise has caused the CO2 Increase, not the other way around

Guest post by Lon Hocker


A commonly seen graph illustrating what is claimed to be a causal correlation between CO2 and temperature, with CO2 as the cause. (Image courtesy Zfacts.com)

Abstract

Differentiating the CO2 measurements over the last thirty years produces a pattern that matches the temperature anomaly measured by satellites in extreme detail.    That this correlation includes El Niño years, and shows that the temperature rise is causing the rise in CO2, rather than the other way around.  The simple equation that connects the satellite and Mauna Loa data is shown to have a straight forward physical explanation.

Introduction

The last few decades has shown a heated debate on the topic of whether the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is causing rising temperatures.  Many complex models have been made that seem to confirm the idea that anthropological CO2 is responsible for the temperature increase that has been observed.  The debate has long since jumped the boundary between science and politics and has produced a large amount of questionable research. Continue reading (WUWT)

Of course, for this to be correct the claimed ice core histories would have to be very wrong [gasp!] because temperatures most assuredly have not been similarly "stable". Nonetheless, oceanic outgassing in response to rising temperatures is not in dispute.

 

Update On Two Hypotheses With Respect To Lower Tropospheric Temperature Anomalies

On July 16, 2009 I posted the following

Comments On The Current Record Global Average Lower TroposphereTemperatures

The post reads

In the last couple of weeks, the onset of the El Niño, that was discussed in my weblog on July 11 2009 would appear to be a possible explanation for the sudden increase in lower tropospheric temperatures to a record level (e.g. see the latest tropospheric temperature data at Daily Earth Temperatures from Satellite). This sudden warming is also discussed on other websites (see and see).

The current and recent anomalies at 500 mb (as representative of the tropospheric temperatures) are provided by the excellent NOAA analyses at

http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z500_nh_anim.shtml

http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z500_sh_anim.shtml

The location for the sudden warming (in the global average tropospheric temperatures as reported from the AMSU data) at 500 mb in the Northern Hemisphere is not obvious, however, except perhaps for a large area with weak positive anomalies in the lower latitudes. There is some warming in the El Niño area, but it is relatively small.  In the lower latitude eastern hemisphere In the southern hemisphere, there is a strong warm anomaly near Antarctica. Maybe that is part of the reason for major region for the large positive AMSU temperature value.

This record event is an effective test of two hypotheses.

Hypothesis #1: Roy Spencer’s  hypothesis on the role of circulation patterns in global warming (e.g. see) might explain most or all of the current anomaly since it clearly is spatially very variable, and its onset was so sudden. If the lower atmosphere cools again to its long-term average or lower, this would support Roy’s viewpoint.[see Roy's June 6 2010 update on this in his post Warming in Last 50 Years Predicted by Natural Climate Cycles].

Hypothesis #2:  Alternatively, if the large anomaly persists, it will support the claims by the IPCC and others (e.g. see Cool Spells Normal in Warming World) that well-mixed greenhouse gas warming is the dominate climate forcing in the coming decades and is again causing global warming after the interruption of the last few years. [As discussed in in my 2006 presentation at the SORCE meeting - Regional and Global Climate Forcings (see slide 12) contributions to global warming also occurs from other human forcings including methane, tropospheric ozone,  black carbon and other aerosols, but the IPCC emphasis has been on carbon dioxide].

Only time will tell which is correct, however, we now have short term information to test the two hypotheses. The results of this real world test will certainly influence my viewpoint on climate science.

Since the warm anomalies persist (e.g. see and see; Fig 7),  the coming months are key to determining which of the two hypotheses with respect to global warming and cooling can be rejected. If we move into a La Niña without a corresponding cooling of the lower troposphere, it would support the rejection of hypothesis #1.  However, if the lower troposphere cools, in terms of anomalies, to at or below the long-term average, this would support the rejection of hypothesis #2.

Of course, the two hypotheses do not cover all of the possibilities. If the warm anomalies persist, this could be due primarily to other human climate forcings besides carbon dioxide, such as black carbon. However, this would still indicate hypothesis #1 should be rejected.

I will again revisit this topic in a few months. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

BP Supported Obama Stimulus Package, Global Warming Bill, and Corporate Welfare; BP Bankrolled Obama Campaign

by Hans Bader
09 June 2010 @ 3:08 pm

Columnist Tim Carney notes that BP, responsible for the massive oil spill, is “a close friend of big government whenever it serves the company’s bottom line.” It lobbied for President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package, the “cap-and-trade” global-warming bills backed by Obama, and “the Wall Street bailout” that Obama voted for.  “BP has more Democratic lobbyists than Republicans.”  Obama is the biggest recipient of campaign cash from BP executives.

Obama’s global warming legislation expands ethanol subsidies, which cause famine, starvation, and food riots in poor countries by shrinking the food supply, and also result in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. Subsidies for biofuels like ethanol are a big source of corporate welfare: “BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels . . .…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

Pumping Up Prices

Energy: Senate Democrats want a 400% tax hike on offshore oil production. Is this their way of punishing an entire industry for an isolated accident? If it is, they missed their mark.

The Senate proposal — increasing the duty that subsidizes an oil spill liability fund — would move the tax from 8 cents to 41 cents a barrel on oil produced offshore. A less-punitive plan, hiking it to 34 cents a barrel, was passed last month in the House.

Democrats might think a punitive tax on oil companies will score them points with the voters. And no doubt some will be pleased with the get-tough policy on an industry that has been endlessly demonized for providing products that fueled economies and boosted wealth and living standards worldwide.

But a lot of Americans know that it is they who will end up paying the extra tax. It will be passed on to them at the retail level, as will the costs of the inevitable stricter regulations, which could boost the price of each barrel of deep-water crude by 10% to 15%, according to an analyst at Credit Suisse.

Should the higher tax discourage domestic offshore production, which, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is about 2 million barrels a day in the lower 48, consumers will still pay for it as prices at the pump move higher in response to a crimp in the supply.

The only way to offset production loss caused by a tax hike and avoid rising prices would be to increase domestic output elsewhere or import more oil from adversarial countries or places where the drilling process is much dirtier than it is here.

The tax hike aims to raise $15 billion for the oil spill fund over 10 years. That sounds like a lot for cleaning up even the biggest of messes, but there's good reason for that. The fund would also be used for extended jobless benefits and for tax cuts.

But that's typical of Washington, a political swamp where fuel taxes paid by motorists and supposedly set aside for roads are spent on bike paths, walkways, transportation museums and other projects unrelated to highways.

Deep-water oil production has become a key contributor to energy needs. It meets about 9% of global demand, providing about twice as much crude as it did in 2000. Intentionally stunting the growth of this rich and important source with a vendetta tax is shortsighted. There are no economies ready to run on wind and solar power. There are just economies in need of fossil fuels. (IBD)

 

The new oil risk: peak regulation

Peak oil could become a reality if governments restrict exploration

The regulatory system totally failed. Let’s try more regulation. We’ve seen this pattern before, and we’re about to see it all again in the oil industry. In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, governments all over the world, led by U.S. President Barack Obama, are now gearing up thousand-page rule books and new bureaucracies to oversee the global oil industry. Canada and Norway have already imposed curbs on deep water and Arctic exploration.

The result is certain to be declining reserves of oil around the world, reduced supply and messed-up markets. Much as many people would like to believe that fossil fuels are a filthy nuisance that can be replaced by wind, sun and other forms of green energy, the fact is that the world’s people are increasingly dependent on oil and will continue to be for decades to come.

Read More » (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

 

Leaking from China’s Oil and Gas Pipelines

China may be leaking more oil and gas from its pipeline network than any country in the world, much of it because of criminal activity. [Read More] (Xina Xie and Michael J. Economides, Energy Tribune)

 

Deep-water oil drilling: banned in America, allowed here

Oil companies have been given the go-ahead to press on with the hunt for oil and gas in the deep waters off the coast of Britain despite the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. (The Independent)

 

SOLAR PANELS LURE, KILL INSECTS

Why should we care if a green energy spells doom for certain insects? It matters since the bugs are a key part of an important food chain, say scientists. (Discovery)

 

 

This is What Obamacare Looks Like

The Wall Street Journal reports this week on a threatening letter sent by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to insurance companies, regarding their upcoming bids for Medicare Advantage plans. (Medicare Advantage pays private insurers a set amount and typically the patient pays an additional premium.)

[Sebelius] warned the companies not to increase premiums...

... The health overhaul will impose drastic payment cuts to insurers that run [Medicare Advantage] plans, and consultants say insurance companies need to begin adapting now. … the law calls for a gradual reduction in government payments to insurers, totaling $136 billion

The Obama administration and Senate Democrats say that passing those costs [to seniors, through higher premiums] ... is unfair. In her letter, Ms. Sebelius warned insurers that she will deny insurers bids if they include excessive price increases.

So follow that chain of events:  the Obama Administration makes a $136 billion cut in Medicare Advantage to help pay for Obamacare. That means they pay $136 billion LESS to private insurers. So insurers increase premiums to cover the difference. The Obama Administration responds to this predictable course of events by ... threatening insurance companies.

If this smells like a clumsy attempt to impose price controls on Medicare Advantage plans, well, that's because it is.

The Atlantic's Megan McArdle says we've seen this story before:

The administration doesn't seem to have offered any evidence that insurers are overcharging; basically, they're saying that they ought to underprice their product, even if that means losing money.  Which is what has happened in Massachusetts, where the state insurance regulator refused substantial rate increases, even though as far as I know they never found an actuary to sign off on their orders.  The insurers posted big losses shortly thereafter.

After that, many insurers stopped offering new plans. Will they soon quit the business, leaving government totally in control? We'll see.

Welcome to Obamacare. (John Stossel)

 

U.S. Embraces Model That's Failed Europe

The newspaper headlines say it all. On the one hand, "Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected by Europeans," while in this country: "Private Pay Plummets, Government Handouts Soar."

The modern European welfare state has proven unsustainable. From Greece to Britain, from France to Portugal, European countries are slashing social welfare benefits, raising the retirement age and dismantling government bureaucracies. Yet, even as Europe is learning that you can't forever rob Peter in order to pay Paul, the U.S. is racing to transform itself into a copy of the failing European model. (Michael D. Tanner, IBD)

 

Explaining Obama’s America to the Chinese


Posted on Jun. 07, 2010

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama listens to Carol Browner, assistant to the President for energy and climate change, during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, June 3, 2010. Photo by Pete Souza

It is a tough thing to do, no matter how articulate I think I can be, no matter how much I have immersed myself into the Chinese culture, no matter how educated my interlocutors are: How does one explain to a Chinese intellectual, a company executive, a high government official or a military officer, America’s economic, energy and environmental policies under Barack Obama?

In early June, I had a chance to do exactly that and I do not remember ever being so tongue tied.

After all, it is China that is supposed to still be a communist country or one that more officially practices “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” But it is hard to find in that country many socialists. If they exist, they are eclipsed by pure capitalists. Certainly there are no government pronouncements that would mean economic hara-kiri for the country. And, energy, in short domestic supply, represents the government’s highest priority. Almost all Chinese recognize that unless they move in fast and furious ways, energy will be the country’s choke point.

I have been going to China several times per year, for more than 20 years. When I arrived there for the first time, the Cold War was still in place and China had just came out from the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping was trying to start a new China.

I miss the Cold War, certainly not the anxiety that it wrought and the tension of nuclear Armageddon between the West and the Soviet Union, and the even more radical Maoist (an adjective that came to mean even more radical Communist) China. What I do miss is the ideological clarity and world balance that it brought. We were supposed to be the capitalist, free enterprise world. Economics was our paramount leader and competition and free markets were our hallmark. They, on the other hand, were supposed to be the centrally controlled, repressed societies, unable to develop, unable to absorb modernity, unable to enter the 21st Century.

We won the Cold War but clearly we have not dominated thereafter. Barack Obama and his policies, from health care to cap-and-trade to government decisions by fiat, and increased spending, and the welfare state, do not represent the presumed victor of the Cold War.

Ideological environmentalism has trumped economic development and has thwarted economic freedom, which was, ostensibly, the motive of the Cold War. Al Gore, before the Tipper French Kiss and before the Nobel Prize for the “Inconvenient Truth” wrote that the “internal combustion engine is the biggest threat to humankind.”

Tell that to the Chinese who are buying more than 40,000 new cars per day. (Energy Tribune)

 

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics.

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101. (Daniel B. Klein, WSJ)

 

Economic Prosperity Through Limited Government

FBN’s John Stossel argues we need to shift toward a more free market and free-trade will lead to economic prosperity.

 

Study backs heart-healthy effect of dairy fat

NEW YORK - Eating dairy foods could help protect your heart, new research from Sweden suggests.

Dairy foods are a major source of saturated fat in the diet, which has been associated with heart disease. However, there's some evidence that dairy foods could actually benefit heart health, for example by lowering blood pressure or reducing cholesterol levels, Dr. Eva Warensjo of Uppsala University and her colleagues note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

To get a clearer sense of people's intake of fat from dairy and heart disease risk, Warensjo and her team measured blood levels of two biomarkers of milk fat in 444 heart attack patients and 556 healthy controls. The substances, pentadecanoic acid and heptadecanoic acid, indicate how much dairy fat a person has been eating.

The researchers found that people with the highest levels of milk fat biomarkers, suggesting they consumed the most dairy fat, were actually at lower risk of heart attack; for women, the risk was reduced by 26 percent, while for men risk was 9 percent lower. (Reuters Health)

 

More stupid food superstitions: Crying Over Raw Milk

THE buses rolling into the parking lot of Eau Claire’s Chippewa Valley Technical College came from every corner of Wisconsin, and at least from one corner of Ontario, each packed with farm families wearing paper milking caps with “Freedom” written on them and brandishing signs that said, “I ♥ Raw Milk.” March 10 was smack in the middle of calving time, but the heifers would have to wait — raw milk was that important.

The occasion was a hearing-turned-rally on a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that would allow dairy farmers to sell milk straight from the spigot to anyone who felt it did a body good, save the very young, the very old and the very pregnant. Some 500 farmers crammed into the small college auditorium to cheer on one of the bill’s sponsors, State Representative Chris Danou, the Thoreau of raw, who declared that, should the legislative process fail, civil disobedience would surely follow. (NYT)

Milk must be pasteurized or otherwise sterilized before sale to protect human health and there is no advantage in not doing so. The "argument" is too dumb for words.

 

Oh boy... Secondhand smoke may harm mental health

NEW YORK - Other people's smoke is bad for your lungs and bad for your heart, and new research suggests it could be bad for your mental health, too.

Researchers found that non-smokers exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke were 50 percent more likely to suffer from psychological distress than those not exposed to other people's smoke.

And their risk of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital over the next six years was nearly tripled (it was almost quadrupled for smokers).

So-called "passive smoking" is very common, Dr. Mark Hamer of University College London in the UK and colleagues note in the Archives of General Psychiatry. One US study found evidence of secondhand smoke in 60 percent of non-smokers.

Studies measuring the nicotine byproduct cotinine have made it possible to precisely measure secondhand smoke exposure and its health effects, they add, but there is "very limited information" on how other people's smoke might affect mental health. (Reuters Health)

Really? How did they control for consumption of Solanaceous food plants and the nicotine alkaloids therein? The nightshade family (Solanaceae) unites 75 genera and over 2000 species and some of the nightshade plants are important nutritious plants, like for example the potato, the tomato, sweet peppers and the eggplant. All of these contain nicotine and their consumption produces the metabolite cotinine. So, that tomato and capsicum salad is bad for your mental health? Oh puh-lease!

 

Doctors work on radiation problem to ease fears

CHICAGO - On a recent flight, Dr. Aaron Sodickson learned firsthand about the fallout from studies and media stories about radiation exposure from CT scans.

Sodickson, a radiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was going to Washington, D.C., to meet with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to find ways to protect patients from getting too much radiation from CT scans.

"The woman sitting next to me on the plane had a lump in her neck. It was thought to be cancer," Sodickson said in an interview.

The woman's doctor had ordered a CT scan to help determine if the lump was cancerous.

"She refused because she thought she would die of the CT scan," Sodickson said.

A CT scan assembles cross-section images of the body into a vivid picture that gives doctors a much better look at a patient that conventional X-rays, often eliminating the need for exploratory surgery. But too much radiation exposure is believed to raise the risk of cancer and scientists are working to cut down the risk from a CT scan.

A CT scan of the chest exposes a patient to more than 100 times the radiation of an X-ray and an abdominal CT scan is roughly equivalent to 400 chest X-rays.

A report last year by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement found that Americans receive seven times more radiation from diagnostic scans than in 1980. About 70 million CT scans were done on Americans in 2007, up from 3 million in 1980.

A three-year study of Americans aged 18 to 64 last August from a team at Emory University in Atlanta suggests as many as 4 million Americans a year are exposed to what they viewed as high doses of radiation.

Accidental radiation exposure became a major worry in October after the FDA said it was investigating more than 200 cases of patients being exposed to toxic doses of radiation from CT scans at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

"Patients are really scared," Sodickson said. (Reuters)

 

Hello! Where were they? Gestures reveal 'green fakers', says psychologist

There are many "green fakers" who only pretend to be eco-friendly, claims a psychologist who has been studying what is revealed by body language. (BBC News)

"Green" is by its very nature fake -- it is simply an attempt to camouflage misanthropy.

 

For real environmental performance: Freer Trade is Key to a Cleaner Environment and Green Growth

In remarks on World Environment Day, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, pointed out that, “Trade opening has much to contribute in the fight against climate change and to the protection of the environment.”

Indeed, the most practical improvements in energy efficiency and protecting the environment over the past decades haven’t stemmed from government regulatory mandates. As shown in the analysis of the Index of Economic Freedom, the most progress has been driven by advances in freer trade and economic freedom. These unleash greater economic opportunity and prosperity, generating a virtuous cycle of investment, innovation, and dynamic economic growth. Echoing the same message, the WTO chief further noted: Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Tantrum because their fundraising scam might be exposed? GM public consultation has 'no credibility' - say campaigners

Food campaigners are to boycott ongoing talks on GM, casting further doubt on a controversial Government review of the science. (TDT)

 

EU Moves On GMO Crops A "Big Step": DuPont Executive

Moves by the European Union to overhaul its approval system for genetically modified crops is a "big step forward." but it is likely to be some time before the bloc is open to wide-spread cultivation of key crops, a leading DuPont executive said on Tuesday.

Citing a provision of reported regulatory plans to allow EU member states to "opt out" of approvals of biotech crops, DuPont executive vice president James Borel said the proposed overhaul would not eliminate many market obstacles.

"Is it ideal? No. We recognize that it's not a slam dunk to get everything passed," said Borel, who oversees the company's production agriculture businesses, including key corn and soybean seed developer Pioneer Hi-Bred.

"But we think that is a big step forward so we're hopeful," said Borel, interviewed on the sidelines of an economic conference in Kansas City.

"It starts to get the EU to be able to take a position and say they've approved it," he said "We think over time individual member states will come along and realize the benefit of the technology." (Reuters)

 

Commercial GM Wheat 10 Years Away: Report

Australia needs to focus on wheat breeding technologies including genetically modified wheat, Peter Reading, managing director of Australia's Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) said on Tuesday.

But GM wheat was unlikely to be commercially available for another 10 years, he told the International Grains Council's conference.

Breeding technologies were key to addressing declining rates in Australia's wheat productivity growth, he said.

"It is very encouraging to see the life bioscience companies now investing in wheat biotechnologies but it is unlikely that GM wheat will be commercially available within the next 10 years," said Reading. (Reuters)