Poll charts U.S. concerns about healthcare costs

WASHINGTON - Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the healthcare overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama costs too much and expands the government's role too far, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

The USA Today/Gallup survey of 1,033 adults, conducted between March 26 and March 28, suggests an uphill challenge for President Barack Obama and other Democrats as they try to persuade voters that the healthcare reforms are an important benefit.

The findings show that 65 percent of Americans believe the reforms cost too much, while 64 percent say they bring too much government involvement into the private healthcare industry. (Reuters)


Side Effects: Obamacare the Television Ad

Facing an American public that hates their new health care law, the Obama administration and their union/corporatist allies are planning a multi-million dollar television ad campaign to sell the benefits of Obamacare. While Food and Drug Administration regulations require all advertising for prescription drug to “present side effect information in a manner similar to that used for the benefit information,” the Obama administration faces no such hurdle when making their pitch. But if it did, this is what a typical pro-Obamacare ad would look like.

As we announced in today’s Morning Bell, we are launching a new Foundry feature, titled “Side Effects”. In this space, we will be updating you about all consequences of Obamacare, as a way of highlighting the importance of its eventual repeal. (The Foundry)


Side Effects: Medical Devices Tax Will Costs Jobs

Bad News

There’s only one way to pull the economy out of the doldrums. We need more jobs. Now.

As Obamacare inched its way toward passage, boosters of the radical legislation began making bold new claims about its virtues.  The bill, they said, would do far more than simply fix the health care system; it would create jobs and boost the economy, too.

[Oddly, they stopped short of claiming it would also help melt away the pounds as you sleep.]

Not surprisingly, the early evidence is quickly proving their claims to be false. Continue reading...


How Obamacare Hits Industry and Threatens Jobs

The people at Zoll Medical Corp. saw a ray of hope in January when Scott Brown was elected senator from Massachusetts. Located in Chelmsford, 30 miles outside of Boston, Zoll is the nation's leading manufacturer of heart defibrillators, which save the lives of thousands of heart-attack victims each year. Back in January, as the Senate race was raging, both House and Senate Democrats wanted to impose a crippling new tax on the makers of medical devices, Zoll included, to help pay for Obamacare. (Byron York, Townhall)


Side Effects: Young to Pay Higher Health Insurance Premiums

Remember those lower health insurance premiums Obamacare would bring us?  Don’t count on it—especially if you’re young.  The Associated Press reports that a new analysis by Rand Health predicts premiums for young adults could rise as much as 17 percent under the new law.

The new age rating requirement is the culprit.  It bars insurers from charging older patients much more than their younger, healthier customers.  Today, the AP notes, “Insurers typically charge six or seven times as much to older customers as to younger ones in states with no restrictions. The new law limits the ratio to 3-to-1….”  So how will insurers make up the difference?  It will be “will be shouldered by young people in the form of higher premiums.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Heritage President Ed Feulner Responds to President Obama’s Claims

President Obama this morning cited The Heritage Foundation’s research in an attempt to sell his health care package as a “middle of the road, centrist approach.” We take great exception to this misuse of our work and abuse of our name. This is but the latest act in a campaign to sell this big-government program as a moderate law that incorporates conservative ideas. Americans should not be fooled.

Let’s be very clear: We oppose this new law because it is a radical new intrusion into the daily lives of all Americans and a massive takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. We view the President’s health care law as inimical to our national interests and offensive to the historic American dedication to the principle of self-government.

Our research has shown that President Obama’s health approach is financially unsustainable and will ultimately lead to health care rationing, a lower quality of care and a greater degree of dependence on government. We deplore those outcomes and are committed to making the intellectual case for this law’s repeal.
What part of that does President Obama not understand?

Specifically, President Obama told NBC’s Today Show host Matt Lauer that a centerpiece of his health care package, “in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market—that originated from The Heritage Foundation.”

But the President knows full well—or he ought to learn before he speaks—that the exchanges we and most others support are very different from those in his package. True exchanges are simply a market mechanism to enable families to choose their health insurance. President Obama’s exchanges, by contrast, are a vehicle to introduce sweeping regulation and federal standardization on health insurance. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


ObamaCare Survivor

HSAs: Revenue-hungry Democrats have spared a choice tax break — one available even to the rich — and preserved one of the GOP's favorite plans. Could real health care reform be advancing under the radar?

By all political and fiscal logic, health savings accounts should be on their way out. That's what we once expected, and that's what liberal critics of HSAs wanted. But ObamaCare is now the law of the land and HSAs, enacted and promoted by a Republican Congress and President George W. Bush, are still here.

Democrats changed only two aspects of these plans in their quest for revenue. Holders of health savings accounts can no longer use the money to pay for over-the-counter drugs, and the tax penalty for spending HSA money on nonallowables rises to 20%. Neither revision alters the HSA basics, which in the current political climate are remarkably generous to high-income taxpayers.

An HSA holder can still deduct up to $6,150 ($7,150 if over 55) this year for a family high-deductible insurance plan. Unlike most other deductions or credits, this one doesn't phase out as income rises. The money grows tax-free and is not subject to tax when spent, as long as it goes toward medical expenses. As the New York Times' personal finance columnist Ron Lieber notes, the HSA "is a rare triple play in the world of tax breaks."

HSAs aren't a big-ticket budget item, at least not yet. Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation estimates they'll cost $6.5 billion in lost revenue from 2009 through 2013. But if their popularity continues to grow, they could cost far more in later years. Even now, they should have cost enough to rate notice by revenue-hungry Democrats, who left no seat cushion unturned in their quest for small change to pay for ObamaCare. (IBD)


Hysterical nonsense drawn from idiotic activist press releases: Investigation: Scandal of danger chemical in baby bottles

Leading British retailers selling products banned in Canada and US

Boots and Mothercare are selling baby bottles made with a chemical that scientists fear may cause breast cancer, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity and other disorders, The Independent can disclose.

The behaviour of Britain's biggest infant-products retailers contrasts with that of manufacturers, who have quietly stopped putting bisphenol A, or BPA, into baby bottles "to allay parents' fears", amid peer-reviewed studies in medical journals associating it with serious health problems in laboratory animals.

Canada and three US states, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have banned BPA in baby bottles and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is concerned about its impact on babies and young children, and supports its removal from infant-feeding products. (Martin Hickman, The Independent)


High-fructose corn syrup study generates debate about obesity findings

The tangled tale of the Princeton rats

Princeton University recently circulated an article announcing a study finding that rats that consumed lots of high-fructose corn syrup became obese. The authors conclude, "Translated to humans, these results suggest that excessive consumption of HFCS may contribute to the incidence of obesity." 

As might have been expected, the HFCS industry quickly responded. But others with less direct interest in the outcome have voiced criticism, too, notably Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University and author of the Food Politics blog. In her entry about the study, she writes: 

"I can hardly believe that Princeton sent out a press release yesterday announcing the results of this rat study. The press release says: 'Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.' How they came to these conclusions is beyond me." (Washington Post)


Fiddling those smoking figures again

Anti-smoking campaigners' use of statistics has become ever wilder

To support its call for a complete ban on smoking in cars, the Royal College of Physicians claims that exposure to tobacco causes 22,000 cases of asthma in children every year. This recalls the fashion some years back among anti-smoking campaigners for blaming passive smoking for the soaring incidence of cot deaths. The only snag was that the years between 1970 and 1988, when cot deaths shot up by 500 per cent, coincided with the very time when the number of adults who smoked in Britain was falling most sharply, from 45 to 30 per cent. To anyone but a fanatical anti-smoking campaigner, this might have suggested that "environmental tobacco smoke" was unlikely to be the chief cause of cot deaths.

In the run-up to the smoking ban in 2006, the campaigners' use of statistics became ever wilder. The number of people claimed to be dying each year from passive smoking, according to "scientists", steadily rose from 600 to 1,000 to 3,000 to 12,000 (despite the findings of the two largest scientific investigations ever carried out into passive smoking – one under the auspices of the World Health Organisation – that it doesn't cause cancer). With the campaigners now gripped by this new itch to ban smoking in cars, we can expect much more of the same. (Christopher Booker, TDT)


This looks promising: Utah governor signs bills to seize federal land

Two measures approved by Gov. Gary R. Herbert would allow use of eminent domain to take valuable sites. A long court fight is likely.

Salt Lake City - Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert has signed two bills authorizing the state to use eminent domain to seize some of the federal government's most valuable land.

Supporters hope the bills, which the Republican governor signed Saturday, will trigger a flood of similar legislation throughout the West and, eventually, a Supreme Court battle that they hope to win -- against long odds.

More than 60% of Utah is owned by the U.S. government, and policymakers complain that federal ownership hinders their ability to generate tax revenue and adequately fund public schools. Governments use eminent domain to take private property for public use.

Initially, the state would target three areas, including the Kaiparowits plateau in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is home to large coal reserves. Eminent domain would also be used on parcels where Interior Secretary Ken Salazar scrapped 77 oil and gas leases last year. (Los Angeles Times)


Hysteria not selling like it used to? Sea change in American media preferences

While Americans continue to put global warming aka climate change at the bottom of the list of worries, it seems the electronic media outlets that most often push alarming climate stories are losing favor. This interesting juxtaposition was from my Shoptalk TVSpy business newsletter today:

CNN Fails to Stop Fall in Ratings – from The New York Times

CNN Building CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year.

The trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year is all up for one network, the Fox News Channel, which enjoyed its best quarter ever in ratings, and down for both MSNBC and CNN.

CNN had a slightly worse quarter in the fourth quarter of 2009, but the last three months have included compelling news events, like the earthquake in Haiti and the battle over health care, and CNN, which emphasizes its hard news coverage, was apparently unable to benefit. More…

Fox News Has Best Quarter In Network History – from Mediaite Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


This must be of interest since a number of people sent the link: Flaming cat lights up B.C. environment minister's Earth Hour

VICTORIA — B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner was hoping to spark a little romance with his wife over a candlelit dinner Saturday during Earth Hour.

Instead, he accidentally set his cat on fire. (Canwest News Service)

Many of the links were accompanied by comments along the line of: "Environment minister so desperate for light he set fire to cat..." although there's no evidence this is anything but a "normal" candle fire hazard case. Some managed to finish the article and were pleased to note this silly fad of dearth hour is fading into the good (well-lit?) night. Others correctly pointed out that candles are more energy intensive lighting than incandescent bulbs and a few got onto the absurdity of daylight saving as an energy saving measure (it isn't -- it may have economized on candles or whale oil used for lamp lighting but most assuredly does not save energy in a modern society).


Thank you, greenies: Rat problem made worse by fortnightly bin collections

Fortnightly bin collections, overfeeding of garden birds and greater use of home compost bins are leading to a growing urban rat and mouse problem, a survey suggested. (TDT)


Robert Kennedy Jr.: ‘Factory Farm’ Crusader Lives High On the Hog

What is Kennedy Jr. thinking suing zero-discharge hog farms for ... discharge? Perhaps his trial lawyers can answer.
March 29, 2010
- by Dennis T. Avery

What is the environmental movement thinking?

Now extending the list of their mistakes is a Robert Kennedy Jr. campaign to dump millions of tons of hog waste into American rivers … while his trial lawyer acquaintances take billions suing the modern confinement farms that produce most of America’s meat and eggs. How does that square with Bobby’s long-term claim to be the nation’s top “riverkeeper”?

For more than a decade Bobby has been railing against “factory farming,” which he defines as any farm that keeps its birds or animals indoors. Kennedy claims the big hog farms produce more manure than a large city, and claims their waste is ruining our rivers.

Bobby’s got it backwards.

The little hog farmers keep their hogs outdoors, and often use the creeks as hog sewers. Today’s commercial hog farms are zero-discharge. They don’t pour any water or waste into the streams. The hog wastes are carefully collected in ponds and tanks and then used as organic fertilizer on crop fields.

When Bobby Jr. sued Smithfield Farms a few years ago, claiming the hog waste was ruining North Carolina’s rivers, his suit was tossed out of court. The judge even forced Bobby Jr. to pay Smithfield’s legal fees. (PJM)


Starling flock 'may have mistaken drive for reeds'

A flock of starlings which died after they crashed on to a driveway could have confused the drive's shingle with reeds they could land in or might have been trying to escape a predator, experts suggested today.

The flock of 76 birds crashed into the ground because of a "fatal error" in their flight, according to an inquiry led by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) wildlife group.

They could have crashed as they tried to escape a predator such as a sparrowhawk or become confused by traffic, light reflections or noise, experts at the VLA said.

The VLA also said the shingle on the drive was a similar colour to reed beds and the birds could have thought they were descending fast into tall reeds when they hit the ground. (Press Association)


Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface

During geologic spans of time, Earth's shifting tectonic plates, atmosphere, freezing water, thawing ice, flowing rivers, and evolving life have shaped Earth's surface features. The resulting hills, mountains, valleys, and plains shelter ecosystems that interact with all life and provide a record of Earth surface processes that extend back through Earth's history. Despite rapidly growing scientific knowledge of Earth surface interactions, and the increasing availability of new monitoring technologies, there is still little understanding of how these processes generate and degrade landscapes.

Landscapes on the Edge identifies nine grand challenges in this emerging field of study and proposes four high-priority research initiatives. The book poses questions about how our planet's past can tell us about its future, how landscapes record climate and tectonics, and how Earth surface science can contribute to developing a sustainable living surface for future generations. (NAP)


Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences

From the oceans to continental heartlands, human activities have altered the physical characteristics of Earth's surface. With Earth's population projected to peak at 8 to 12 billion people by 2050 and the additional stress of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand how and where these changes are happening. Innovation in the geographical sciences has the potential to advance knowledge of place-based environmental change, sustainability, and the impacts of a rapidly changing economy and society.

Understanding the Changing Planet outlines eleven strategic directions to focus research and leverage new technologies to harness the potential that the geographical sciences offer. (NAP)


Ethiopia Dam Will Not Displace 200,000: Builder

The Italian firm building Africa's biggest hydropower dam in Ethiopia on Tuesday denied allegations that the dam would deprive 200,000 self-sufficient people of a living and make them dependent on aid.

The ethnic rights group Survival International said last week that the dam would disrupt fishing and farming and displace more than 200,000 people, among them the Kwegu and Hamar tribes.

"The project will not cause drought: the dam will not block the flow of water to the river indefinitely, but merely redistribute it during the course of the year," Salini Costruttori said in a statement.

"Activities connected to the local fishing trade will not be destroyed. Agriculture will be able to benefit from a constant supply of water through the year."

The Gibe 111 dam, costing 1.4 billion euros and expected to generate 1,800 megawatts, is one of five Ethiopia is building in a drive to beat power shortages and export electricity. It will almost double current Ethiopian capacity of just under 2,000 MW. (Reuters)


Gene-Altered "Enviropig" to Reduce Dead Zones?

Pigs modified to excrete less phosphorus win limited approval in Canada.

Move over, bacon. Here comes something greener.

A genetically engineered pig recently approved for limited production in Canada makes urine and feces that contain up to 65 percent less phosphorous, officials have announced.

That could be good news for lakes, rivers, and ocean deltas, where phosphorous from animal waste can play a role in causing algal blooms. These outbursts of algae rapidly deplete the water's oxygen, creating vast dead zones for fish and other aquatic life. (Related: "World's Largest Dead Zone Suffocating Sea.")

Dubbed Enviropig, the genetically altered animal cleared a major hurdle last month, when the government-run Environment Canada approved the animal for production in controlled research settings.

The new biotech pig could take years to pass U.S. and Canadian tests for commercial use and human consumption, noted Steven Liss, an environmental scientist at the University of Guelph in Ontario and a spokesperson for the project.

But the Enviropig's creators are hopeful the animal will eventually pass muster.

"This will be probably the most significant transgenic food to be approved. We're in new territory," Liss said. ( National Geographic News)


Hmm, still banking on warming... Innovative thinking on agriculture in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Nations of the Greater Mekong Subregion need to 'rethink' their agricultural industries to meet future food needs, given the social shifts and climate changes that are forecast for the coming decades. With better farming practices, and by managing agriculture within the wider context of natural ecosystems, nations could boost production and increase the wealth and resilience of poor people in rural communities. Demand for food is forecast to double by 2050, as populations swell and people's dietary choices change. If governments act now, they will be better placed to meet this target and withstand the more severe climatic changes likely to affect the GMS beyond 2050. (International Water Management Institute)


Uh... El Nino To Influence Climate Patterns To Midyear: WMO

The El Nino warming the Pacific Ocean since June has peaked, but is expected to influence climate patterns worldwide up to mid-year before dying out, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

However, the United Nations agency said that forecasting uncertainties meant it could not rule out the possibility that El Nino would persist beyond mid-year.

El Nino, driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, can create havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region, unleashing droughts in some places and heavy storms in others. It typically lasts from 9 to 12 months.

The most likely scenario is for sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific, which rose by 1.5 degrees Celsius at its peak last November-December, to return to normal by mid-2010, WMO said in a statement.

"El Nino is already in a decaying phase. We expect it to fully decay by mid-year and neutral conditions to be established," WMO climate expert Rupa Kumar Kolli told Reuters.

"But this is a period where the predictability of the system is very low. Things could happen very suddenly," he said. (Reuters)

Strange, this piece omits Australia in its statement of "normal" El Niño effects -- probably because for the last 20-30 years Australia has experienced below average rainfall and outright drought in the east and center and this is considered "symptomatic" of ENSO warm phases. This time Australia's east and center are distinctly soggy, water impoundments are rising or overflowing and the interior is experiencing significant flooding. This is a pattern of rainfall generally expected in the La Niña or cold phase of the ENSO and suggests we have inappropriately assumed we understood ENSO when in fact we have only really observed it during one PDO warm phase. Now we are discovering how little we really know. All bets are off.



U.S. EPA Goes Unconstitutional: Time to Rein in a Rogue Agency

by Marlo Lewis
March 30, 2010

Synopsis: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, by granting California a waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, and pulling its punches in the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court case, has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate and energy policy for the nation, and amend the Clean Air Act – powers never delegated to EPA by Congress. It is time to rein in this rogue agency. The Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is the way to do it.

When did Congress tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to license California and other states to adopt non-federal fuel economy standards within their borders? When did Congress tell EPA to act as co-equal or even senior partner with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in setting fuel-economy standards for the auto industry?

When did Congress tell EPA to establish climate and energy policy for the nation? And when did Congress tell EPA to “tailor,” that is amend, the Clean Air Act to avoid an administrative debacle of its own making?

The answer, of course, is never, never, never, and never. EPA is flouting federal law and the Constitution. 

Murkowski Resolution: Averting the Regulatory Avalanche

Congress may soon get its first real opportunity to rein in this rogue agency. Sometime between now and May 25th the Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolution of Disapproval. This measure would veto the legal force and effect of EPA’s endangerment finding – the agency’s official determination that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare. If allowed to stand, the endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade through multiple provisions of the Clean Air Act.  As explained in previous posts (here, here, and here), America could end up with a regulatory regime far more costly than any climate bill Congress has either rejected or failed to pass, yet without the people’s elected representatives ever voting on it.

By EPA’s own admission, the endangerment finding leads to “absurd results” — administrative burdens that undermine environmental protection, economic growth, and congressional intent. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Graham criticizes warming rules - Small businesses need more flexibility, he says

Looming federal rules to stop global warming could affect restaurants, churches, schools, family farms and small businesses - and that's a problem, Sen. Lindsey Graham and state regulators said Monday.

Graham, R-S.C., a national leader in efforts to control greenhouse gas pollution, said federal regulations aren't the best way to attack global warming. (The State)


Cap And  Trade  Tax

Tripartisan: After the failure of last year’s cap-and-trade bill, (Left to right) Sens. Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry hope new... View Enlarged Image

Energy Policy: Watch out when sweeping new legislation comes with a "bipartisan" label. Usually it's a bad, repackaged measure undeserving of passage. Case in point: the new energy bill.

Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are working feverishly to craft a "tripartisan" approach for a new cap-and-trade bill.

The goal reportedly is to slash carbon emissions 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Unlike the past efforts, which relied on a one-size-fits-all approach, this one will have separate caps on carbon output for manufacturers and utilities. It also boosts offshore drilling and nuclear power.

Even business groups, notably the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have made favorable noises about the bill. But don't be fooled.

This will be another massive tax on consumers and industry. Industry foes, of course, will be bought off with rebates, subsidies, protectionist rules and other goodies. You'll be left holding the bag. (IBD)


EPA Limits On Greenhouse Gases Will Shift U.S. Production Overseas

Climate change represents a tough and complex policy issue. That's the reason U.S. lawmakers — more than 30 years since scientists first introduced the concept of global warming into the American political dialogue — continue to debate the best way to structure legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without damaging the economy.

As Congress debates domestic legislation, the administration participates in an international process with similar objectives.

As this takes place, the Environmental Protection Agency is engaging in a form of political blackmail, threatening to push ahead on its own if elected officials don't move as quickly as the agency wants. It has already taken the first step toward leveraging the Clean Air Act to mandate GHG reductions.

Headed toward regulatory seppuku, the agency recently finalized a climate change determination that current concentrations of GHGs — about 435 parts per million (ppm) in CO2 equivalents — in the atmosphere endanger public health and welfare.

EPA makes this claim not because these emissions are toxic like pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act, but because of their heat-trapping capacity. EPA has accepted the theory that increasing emissions of these gases will lead to unprecedented increases in the earth's temperature and that a much warmer earth will mean health- and even life-threatening problems.

Although it has been as warm or warmer in the past, EPA wants to act assuming a worst-case scenario — even if the probability of occurrence is incredibly small. (William O'Keefe, IBD)


State Legislators Ramp Up Campaigns Against EPA Climate Rules

Illinois state Rep. Dan Reitz, a Democrat and a former coal miner, is worried that pending federal climate change rules will cripple the economy, and he wants Congress to step in and stop it.

Reitz, who represents the 116th District in southern Illinois, launched his own assault against U.S. EPA climate rules when he introduced a resolution urging Congress to postpone greenhouse gas regulations for factories, power plants and other so-called stationary emission sources. The Illinois House approved his resolution earlier this month. ( Greenwire)


EPA: No greenhouse gas regulations before 2011

The EPA ha begun finalising a timeline for greenhouse gas regulations. From SolveClimate, part of the Guardian Environment Network

The EPA began finalizing a timeline for greenhouse gas regulations today, starting with the formal determination that no power plants, industrial facilities or other stationary sources will be federally regulated for greenhouse gases before January 2011.

It's the start of a series of official measures related to greenhouse gas regulations expected this spring. Those include EPA's vehicle emissions standards, which could be finalized later this week; a determination on the size of industries that would be subject to greenhouse gas regulations; and a rule that could add the oil and gas industries to the 31 industries already required to report their greenhouse gas emissions.

To get the ball rolling, EPA did two things today. (The Guardian)


Global Warming Advocates Threaten Blizzard of Lawsuits

Environmentalists, unable to squeeze "cap and trade" rules through the U.S. Senate, have a new strategy for combating what they believe is man-made global warming: Lawsuits.

Environmentalists, unable to squeeze "cap and trade" rules through the U.S. Senate, have a new strategy for combating what they believe is man-made global warming:

They're going to sue.

They're revving up their briefs and getting ready to shop for judges who will be sympathetic to their novel claim that the companies they believe contribute to global warming are a "public nuisance." 

The environmentalists allege that individual companies are responsible for climate change because they have emitted greenhouse gases during the course of their operations. Those gases, they say, have "harmed" them by fostering Hurricane Katrina, eroding the shorelines of America's coasts and causing global warming.

"People have a right to sue for redress of grievances," said Lee A. DeHihns III, a partner with law firm Alston & Bird's environmental and land development group and a former associate general counsel with the EPA. He said global warming is a "public nuisance," just like a neighbor with a loud stereo. "You can sue for an intentional infliction of harm, a nuisance," said DeHihns, whose firm is consulting with defendants in these types of cases.

The lawyers seek a "consent decree," an agreement from the defendants to stop causing global warming -- even though the theory that mankind causes global warming is hardly settled science.

"There is some dispute whether greenhouse gas is a source of global warming at all," said John Heintz, chairman of the Washington D.C. law firm Kelly Drye Warren. "Even if these defendants were to stop emitting greenhouse gases altogether, it is exceedingly unlikely that the severity or frequency of hurricanes will be affected. Or that the sea coasts of Alaska will change." (Gene J. Koprowski, FOXNews.com)


Ed Miliband writes to Pachauri

The UK climate change secretary Ed Miliband has written to the chairman of the IPCC. The nature of the letter signals that the concerns about public trust are taken seriously. Have other governments done similar things? (Die Klimazwiebel)


The greatest moral conundrum of our time … until the next one

Last year, we were told, the most important issue for the country - for the planet - was greenhouse gas emissions. This meant the Senate had to pass the government's carbon pollution reduction scheme.

It was so urgent it had to be legislated before the end of the year, and before the summit in Copenhagen.

We were led to believe if the Senate refused to pass the legislation there would be a double dissolution of Parliament. The Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull, warned this would lead to a humiliating election defeat for the Coalition. Kevin Rudd declared climate change ''the great moral and economic challenge of our time''.

Now the legislation has become less important than getting 30 per cent of the GST from the states so the government can rearrange financing in the hospital system. Can a momentous moral challenge fizzle out like this? Or are you beginning to suspect all the crisis was politically driven? (Peter Costello, SMH)


One for the faithful (they've been having a rough trot lately): US oil company donated millions to climate sceptic groups, says Greenpeace

Report identifies Koch Industries giving $73m to climate sceptic groups 'spreading inaccurate and misleading information' (John Vidal, The Guardian)


ANALYSIS-"Below" 2C opens new rift in U.N. climate battle

OSLO, March 30 - A goal to limit global warming to "below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) is opening a new rift for 2010 talks on a U.N. climate treaty as developing nations say it means the rich must deepen cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

An alliance of 101 developing nations and island states says the temperature target, endorsed by major emitters since the Copenhagen summit in December, is tougher than a previous goal by industrialised nations of 2 degrees as a maximum rise.

"2.0 degrees is unacceptable," said Dessima Williams, Grenada's ambassador to the United Nations who represents the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) which wants to limit temperatures to below 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial times.

But rich nations and some researchers say the Copenhagen Accord's "below" 2 is vague -- it can mean 1.999 degrees and so be indistinguishable for policy purposes from 2. The Accord does not lay down how the temperature goal will be reached.

"It can mean anything until we may agree on what it means concretely," European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said of the temperature target.

"The good thing about saying 'below 2C' is that you then have a ceiling. A number of countries say 1.5 C and this has not been taken off the table," she said.

Senior officials meet in Bonn, Germany, from April 9-11 for the first U.N. talks since Copenhagen, trying to work out a new pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after the U.N. summit failed. (Reuters)


Heaven To Hell

With apologies to Joel Pett…

What if it's a big hoax What if it's a big hoax

A better world? You wish. As Karl  Popper once remarked, “Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell “. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Contra Watermelons

Mises Daily: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by

[This article is a response to Paul Baer et al., "Greenhouse Development Rights: A Proposal for a Fair Global Climate Treaty," Ethics, Place & Environment, volume 12, issue 3 (2009).]


There are not one but rather two schools of thought on the environment and its challenges. For want of better nomenclature, I shall characterize them as the watermelons and the free-market environmentalists.

The first is far more well-known than the second. Here, the solution to all problems arising from this source is more government intervention into the economy, more (green) central planning, more denigration of private-property rights, new discoveries of "market failures."

Why call them "watermelons"? Because this fruit is green on the outside, but red on the inside. Advocates of this system are busybodies; their "philosophy" consists of do-gooding and ordering other people around: controlling property that does not belong to them, forcing others to cater to the latest political correctness emanating from who knows where. For a while, a long while, these people had hitched their intellectual wagon to the preeminent philosophy of the day, which promoted these goals: communism. But, then, in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in 1991, with the dissolution of the USSR, socialism could no longer suit their purposes. A new vehicle was needed: ecology was chosen.

The second school of thought on these matters is free-market environmentalism (FME).[1] For adherents of the first view, this name is a contradiction in terms. In their view the marketplace is seen as the enemy of the planet and its flora and fauna. I was once in a debate with a professor of biology who espoused watermelonism, and when I mentioned FME, he burst out laughing. Nor was this a debater's trick. He honestly thought it was outrageously funny.

It is the perspective of FME that all environmental problems stem from either lack of private-property rights, or from government regulation of laissez-faire capitalism, or from state control of resources. With economic freedom, all such challenges would either disappear outright, or become far more manageable.

The article by Baer is an example of watermelonism. Let us, then, mention some of its shortcomings. (Mises Institute)


"Change" Is Not New

When ancient fossils of creatures that live on the ocean floor have been found in rock formations at the summit of Mount Everest, that ought to give us a clue that big changes in the earth are nothing new, and that huge changes have been going on long before human beings appeared on the scene.

The recent statement that the earth was warmer in the Middle Ages than it is today, made by the climate scientist who is at the heart of the recent scandal about "global warming" statistics, ought to at least give pause to those who are determined to believe that human beings must be the reason for "climate change."

Other climate scientists have pointed out before now that the earth has warmed and cooled many times over the centuries. Contrary to the impression created in much of the media and in politics, no one has denied that temperatures change, sometimes more than they are changing today. (Thomas Sowell, Townhall)


Insurers can keep climate risks private - Regulators back away from disclosure rule

Regulators from around the country are backing away from an initiative steered by Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Sean Dilweg to require large insurance companies to disclose the risks they may face because of climate change. (Journal Sentinel)


Sudden Revolt by Insurance Regulators Scales Back Climate Rule on Industry

A surprise rebellion by a majority of insurance regulators Sunday reversed key elements of a landmark regulation requiring the nation's largest industry to publicly disclose its efforts to address climate change. Companies can now submit their answers confidentially in most states.

The upheaval rolls back the nation's maiden climate rule on corporations, casting environmentalists and investor advocates into confusion weeks before the 12-question survey was supposed to be enacted. The change, passed by a vote of 27-22 among state insurance commissioners, promises to make it more difficult for activists to pressure the sprawling industry to act more aggressively on global warming.

It also underscores the depth of concern that commissioners around the country have with a survey that asks about insurers' actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard billions in investments from climatic impacts, and about efforts to spark activism among their customers. (ClimateWire)


<chuckle> Move along! Nothing to see here... Climate change scandal: MPs exonerate professor

Committee defends scientist who sent emails admitting flaws in data

Professor Phil Jones, the climate scientist at the centre of the scandal over the leak of sensitive emails from a university computer, has been largely exonerated by a powerful cross-party committee of MPs who said his scientific reputation remains intact. (The Independent)


Drilling another hole in a leaking boat to let the water out: Climate researchers 'secrecy' criticised – but MPs say science remains intact

Leaked emails from UK's Climate Research Unit show scientists withheld information - but inquiry blames university (The Guardian)


It was never going to be any different

The parliamentary science and technology select committee has done its job on the East Anglia CRU "inquiry", finding that, "There was no evidence to challenge the 'scientific consensus' that global warming is induced by human activities."

It was not set up to do that, it was not competent to accomplish such a task, and the timescale afforded would have, in any case, rendered it impossible. But, despite that, the committee has found precisely that. It will be quoted endlessly by the "warmists" – all the rest is detail. And, in due course, that is what all the other CRU inquiries will find.

Thus, the establishment looks after its own. There are far too many with their fingers in the till for it to have been any different. (EU Referendum)


Results of the Climategate Parliamentary Inquiry in the UK

This is the final report, which has been embargoed until 5:01 PM PDT / 00:01 GMT March 31st.

Click for PDF of report

Below is the emailed notice to MP’s sent with the PDF of the report. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


Climategate Shows ‘Big Science in its Natural State’

Global warming alarmists are now alarmed because they cannot account for the cooling trend that has been evident since the late 1990s in contradiction to their climate models. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests the planet has entered a cooling cycle that could persist for decades. Dr. Don Easterbook, for instance, a geologist and professor emeritus at Western Washington University, has concluded that sea surface temperatures will experience a drop that could last for the next 25 to 30 years based on his observations of the Pacific Decadal Oscilliation or PDO, a weather phenomenon that reverts between warm and cool modes. ( Kevin Mooney, Big Government)


Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming

The debate over global warming has created predictable adversaries, pitting environmentalists against industry and coal-state Democrats against coastal liberals.

But it has also created tensions between two groups that might be expected to agree on the issue: climate scientists and meteorologists, especially those who serve as television weather forecasters.

Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. There is less of a consensus among meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns.

Joe Bastardi, for example, a senior forecaster and meteorologist with AccuWeather, maintains that it is more likely that the planet is cooling, and he distrusts the data put forward by climate scientists as evidence for rising global temperatures.

“There is a great deal of consternation among a lot of us over the readjustment of data that is going on and some of the portrayals that we are seeing,” Mr. Bastardi said in a video segment posted recently on AccuWeather’s Web site.

Such skepticism appears to be widespread among TV forecasters, about half of whom have a degree in meteorology. A study released on Monday by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was “caused mostly by human activities.”

More than a quarter of the weathercasters in the survey agreed with the statement “Global warming is a scam,” the researchers found.

The split between climate scientists and meteorologists is gaining attention in political and academic circles because polls show that public skepticism about global warming is increasing, and weather forecasters — especially those on television — dominate communications channels to the public. A study released this year by researchers at Yale and George Mason found that 56 percent of Americans trusted weathercasters to tell them about global warming far more than they trusted other news media or public figures like former Vice President Al Gore or Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate. (NYT)


Tears of a Clown

Posted by David Stockwell

Table of contents for State of the Climate

  1. CSIRO and BoM Report
  2. Australia’s Relatively Stable Rainfall
  3. Tears of a Clown

False forecasts are not without consequences. How to think about this?

Opposition to “Crying Wolf” is growing. A report by a British MP claims the World Health Organisation and other public health bodies have “gambled away” public confidence by overstating the dangers of the flu pandemic.

“This decline in confidence could be risky in the future,” says the report, seen by the Guardian. “When the next pandemic arises many persons may not give full credibility to recommendations put forward by WHO and other bodies. They may refuse to be vaccinated and may put their own health and lives at risk.”

False financial prophets are called ‘clowns’ by Nassim Taleb, I suppose in reference to the grotesque parody of reality, and their entertainment value only. He argues that excessive reliance on flawed Value-At-Risk models of portfolio risk directly contributed to the Great Financial Recession. How many are still suffering from this forecast failure?

I have been hard in the past on experts who claim forecast ability using speculative assumptions, particularly massive extinctions, drought and sea level rise, but there are many more.

By some reports, governments and others have been recklessly investing in green energy and projections of climate models that by objective criteria are useless. More costly consequences:

Instead of spending just $1.3 billion on a new dam on the Mitchell River, this Government wasted $3.5 billion on a desalination plant that will produce a third of the water. And for insurance it’s wasted $750 million more on this pipeline to steal water from irrigators.

The State of the Climate report stated without reservation that:

“Australia will be hotter in coming decades”

“Much of Australia will be drier in coming decades”

Some statements in the report have been heavily criticized, on the blogosphere at least, here and here and here. Moreover, there is a history of forecasts by CSIRO scientists of increasing drought due to global warming, here. But the issue is not settled, as shown by other CSIRO scientists who disagree.

The question can be asked whether scientific organizations issuing authoritative statements of “fact” are acting ultra vires — beyond their mandate. Putting aside the issue of whether the BoM and CSIRO’s fact sheet is misleading, by what right do they issue a document presenting controversial claims as settled fact?

Questions are also being asked about the undue influence of groups such as the WWF, renewable energy and carbon trading interests over policy decisions.

Or as Peter Berger said: “It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society.” (Niche Modeling)


Is this a joke? Early April Fool's maybe? Climate change is the new health and safety

All public bodies should have a legal duty to protect their workers from climate change in the same way as institutions currently carry out health and safety checks, according to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. (TDT)


Oh... UK infrastructure 'must factor in effects of climate change'

Report says hospitals and power station planners must pass 'climate adaptation test' akin to health and safety regulations (Sonia Van Gilder Cooke, The Guardian)

All reasonable expectation of likely climate change is already factored into building and planning, what they are talking about is gorebull warbling, which is a patent nonsense.


This Man Wants to Convince You Global Warming Is a Hoax

Marc Morano broke the Swift Boat story and effectively stalled John Kerry's presidential run. Now he is working against an even bigger enemy: belief in climate change. Somehow, he seems to be winning. (John H. Richardson, Esquire)


KBSF AND CDRG ANALYSIS: Uncorrected Errors in the U.S. Temperature Record

The Climate Debate Research Group (formerly the Kristen Byrnes Science Foundation) conducted an exhaustive two year analysis of the temperature monitoring network in the United States and concluded that detecting and correcting errors in the temperature record with methods currently used by climate scientists are highly improbable. CDRG researchers examined satellite photos, temperature station photos, as well as examining the complete field of temperature monitoring scientific literature.

"The entire network appears urbanized," said CDRG Trustee Michael Birdsall after reviewing satellite photographs and site survey photographs of temperature station sites and their surroundings. Aside from numerous errors in the station records which were "missed" by modern mathematical algorithms meant to correct station errors, those stations which are sited correctly to avoid micro-urban effects were usually biased by larger Urban Heat Islands. "We found maybe four or five good stations in the entire network of over 1,200, and those have other problems related to station moves, equipment changes and equipment failures." That is, when the entire network was surveyed there appear to be only a handful of stations that are both unbiased by urban extents and properly sited according to NOAA standards. (Press Release)


Ocean acidification: the “evil twin of global warming”

From the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies James Cook University

“Evil twin” threatens world’s oceans, scientists warn

http://i3.fc-img.com/CTV02/Comcast_CIM_Prod_Fancast_Image/84/402/1216667608592_5432_0002_mif_290_210.jpg 'Twins" 1988 - Schwarzenegger and DaVito

The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world’s oceans, international marine scientists warned today.

“Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years,” the researchers say in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE).

“This emphasises the urgent need to adopt policies that drastically reduce CO2 emissions.”

Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the ‘evil twin of global warming’, is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans. It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)

Must be at least two decades ago that JCU (James Cook University) hit on its marketing ploy of offering (expensive) courses in marine biology based in its Townsville campus with students swanning around the Great Barrier Reef. So successful was this diploma mill that the standing joke in Townsville has long been: "What do you say to a marine biologist? Big Mac & fries!". To a large extent it's true, virtually every fishing charter and tour boat has a full complement of marine biologists as deck hands, stewards, bar staff and cooks, all spouting greenie-approved lines about how the reef is "endangered". This is a reef complex that has successfully adapted to ice ages, wildly varied sea levels, super cyclones and super droughts through the ages, with far higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than current or anticipated.

Silly game... Anyway, see this from yesterday's collation:

Reefgate on the Barrier Reef

A new gate opens on the Great Barrier Reef

For the past half century the Great Barrier Reef has sustained a Queensland industry predicated on “saving” the reef from a never ending succession of purported “threats”. All have been declared as dire and of course, they require urgent funding. None have ever become manifest in any serious manner and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in research has never resulted in a solution for any of these non-problems. (Walter Starck, Quadrant)


Guest Post By Hiroshi L. Tanaka On The New Paper “Data Analysis Of Recent Warming Pattern In The Arctic” By Ohashi And Tanaka

Guest post by Hiroshi L. Tanaka of the University of the University of Tsukuba in Japan [his webpage is http://air.geo.tsukuba.ac.jp/~tanaka/

Guest Post

Dr. Kiminori Itoh suggested I contact you to explain our recent work on misleading global warming predictions in reference to the comprehensive study on the Arctic Oscillation [AO]. As you have 
experienced, the winter of 2009/2010 reminded us of the global cool weather rather than global warming. The occurrence of the extreme AO minus (3 sigma) provided us additional evidence that the AO controls a large fraction of global warming.

We have a paper that was published on 13 March 2010 with my student Mr. Ohashi in SOLA:

Masahiro Ohashi and H. L. Tanaka, 2010: Vol. 6A (2010) : Data Analysis of Recent Warming Pattern in the Arctic. Special Edition -Special Edition of the Fourth Japan China Korea Joint Conference on Meteorology- p.1-4

The abstract reads

“In this study, we investigate the mechanism of the arctic warming pattern in surface air temperature (SAT) and sea ice concentrations over the last two decades in comparison with global warming since the 1970s.

According to the analysis result, it is found that the patterns of SAT and sea ice before 1989 are mostly determined by the Arctic Oscillation (AO) in winter. In contrast, arctic warming patterns after 1989 are characterized by the intensification of the Beaufort High and the reduced sea-ice concentrations in summer induced by the positive ice-albedo feedback.

It is concluded that the arctic warming before 1989 especially in winter was explained by the positive trend of the AOI. Moreover the intensified Beaufort High and the drastic decrease of the sea ice concentrations in September after 1989 were associated with the recent negative trend of the AOI. Since the decadal variation of the AO is recognized as the natural variability of the global atmosphere, it is shown that both of decadal variabilities before and after 1989 in the Arctic can be mostly explained by the natural variability of the AO not by the external response due to the human activity.”

Professor Tanaka summarized the significance of their papers for us in the following:

The main conclusions are:

(1)  The most dominant trend in observation for 1950-1999 shows  an AO pattern (natural variability), while the most dominant trend in the IPCC models shows an ice-albedo feedback pattern (anthropogenic forcing).

(2)  In the observations, the AO pattern appears as the EOF-1. However, in the IPCC 10 model mean, the ice-albedo pattern appears as EOF-1 (which is not seen in the observation), and the AO pattern appears as EOF-2.

(3)  In the EOF analysis, the ratio of variance for the ice-albedo and AO patterns are 5:2. Since the AO is a realization of a stochastic process, the variance of the AO pattern in the observations dominates the ice-albedo pattern (5:20 in theory).

(4)  Multi-decadal trends of surface air temperatures [SAT] indicates that the AO  was negative for 1950-1969, the AO was positive for 1969-1989, and the AO was negative for 1989-2008 (2010 is the extreme value). Those are realized as the natural variability superimposed on the general trend of global warming.


According to our result, the rapid warming during 1970-1990 contains a large fraction of unpredictable natural variability due to the AO. The subsequent period of 1990-2010 indicates a clear trend of the AO to be negative. The global warming has been stopped by natural variability superimposed on the gentle anthropogenic global warming. The important point is that the IPCC models have been tuned perfectly to fit the rapid warming during 1970-1990 by means of the ice-albedo feedback (anthropogenic forcing) which is not actually observed. IPCC models are justified with this wrong scientific basis and are applied to project the future global warming for 100 years in the future. Hence, we warn that the IPCC models overestimate the warming trend due to the mislead Arctic Oscillation. (Climate Science)


From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 13: 31 March 2010

War and Peace ... and Climate Change: How are the three related?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 815 individual scientists from 486 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Raffels Sø, Liverpool Land, East Greenland. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Range Expansion (Herbaceous Plants): Would the hoped-for phenomenon be able to save the bulk of earth's plants from extinction in an unprecedentedly-warming world?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Common Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010), Narrowleaf Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010), Sugar Beet (Manderscheid et al., 2010), and White Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010).

Journal Reviews:
Storminess in the Northeast Atlantic: How has it responded to global warming over the period 1874-2007?

The Little Medieval Warm Period in the Cariaco Basin: It is the most striking feature of an 800-year record that also includes the latter part of the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and 20th-century warming.

Corals Recover from Bleaching and Hurricane Damage in Marine Reserves: They can indeed "get by with a little help from [their] friends."

Effects of Ocean Water pH on Sperm Motility and the Fertilization Kinetics of Oysters: Are they harmful, helpful or of little consequence?

Net Primary Productivity at the Duke Forest FACE Facility: Was the original growth enhancement provided by CO2 enrichment of the air maintained over the study's first decade? (co2science.org)


Spain police arrest nine in CO2 tax probe

MADRID, March 30 - Spanish police on Tuesday said they had arrested nine people and charged two more with avoiding 50 million euros ($67.54 million) in tax linked to trading in carbon credits.

The arrests came after Spanish police announced last week they were investigating alleged tax fraud, which European police agency Europol estimates has cost governments around Europe up to 5 billion euros.

"The operation began due to a report issued by Europol, which had already undertaken similar investigations in countries like France and the United Kingdom," a Civil Guard statement said.

Norwegian police charged five men on Monday as part of a European-wide probe into so-called carousel fraud related to the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme. 

Carousel fraud occurs when goods, in this case greenhouse gas emissions credits, are bought and imported tax-free from other EU countries, then sold to domestic buyers, charging them VAT.

The sellers then disappear without paying the tax to governments. (Reuters)


Climate change act delay urged to allow runway

The Government should suspend its Climate Change Act to allow it to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow, former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby said.

The prominent Tory global warming sceptic made his comments following a setback the Government received in the High Court last week.

Campaigners against the expansion plan claimed a legal victory after Lord Justice Carnwath said the Government's policy support for a third runway, made in 2003 and confirmed in January last year, will need to be looked at again, particularly in respect of climate change policy and surface access.

Lord Lawson said at question time on Tuesday: "The third runway at Heathrow has been kiboshed by the courts as the direct and predictable result of the Government's absurd Climate Change Act, which was passed with enthusiasm and complete thoughtlessness and acclaimed by all parties in this House and the Commons."

He asked Transport Secretary Lord Adonis: "Is not the only possible solution - if you think that a third runway is important and I agree with you - to put the Act in suspense not least because even the Government has admitted that it makes no sense without international agreement, which Copenhagen shows is not obtainable?" (UKPA)


Oh no! People use the cheapest, most reliable energy! Coal fuels much of internet 'data cloud', warns Greenpeace

The digital photos, shared videos, tweets and Facebook chatter that make up our online lives may appear to have no physical form, but they contribute to some very real environmental damage, the campaign group Greenpeace warns.

The vast amount of digital data that we upload and access via social networks and on websites such as YouTube is stored in what the internet industry calls the "cloud", by which it means a vast numbers of computers owned by the likes of Google, Yahoo and Apple.

These computers are housed in "data warehouses" across the world, and a Greenpeace report yesterday said that many of these power-guzzling sites had been built in parts of the US where electricity is generated mainly at coal-fired power stations. Coal, the most widely used source of energy in the US, is also the dirtiest, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the group says. (The Independent)


Government Set To Unveil Offshore Drilling Plan

The Obama administration is expected to announce by Wednesday its updated plan for oil and natural gas drilling in U.S. waters, including whether to allow exploration for the first time along the U.S. East Coast.

The plan could pave the way for a significant new domestic source of energy, helping to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports and boost supplies of natural gas used to displace coal in power plants as the country works to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he wanted to release the updated drilling plan by the end of March.

Two industry sources said on Monday President Barack Obama was expected to give a speech about energy security on Wednesday, which could include his views on expansion of offshore drilling. (Reuters)


Drilling good; climate bill, really bad: Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday. 

The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean. 

Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border. 

The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies. 

The proposal is to be announced by President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Wednesday, but administration officials agreed to preview the details on the condition that they not be identified. 

The proposal is intended to reduce dependence on oil imports, generate revenue from the sale of offshore leases and help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. 

But while Mr. Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters — supporting nuclear power, for example — the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback. And it is no sure thing that it will win support for a climate bill from undecided senators close to the oil industry, like Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, or Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana. (NYT)


Isn't it great how greenie-influenced governments inflate energy costs and create these problems? Millions struggle to heat homes as Government misses fuel poverty target

Millions of vulnerable people remain in fuel poverty despite a multi-billion spending scheme to help elderly people heat their homes, MPs have warned. (TDT)


Perpetual motion

Let's see now, we have a bunch of bureaucrats officiously developing schemes to make energy more expensive, all in a bid to force us to use less in the interests of saving the planet.

That, inevitably, means that an increasing number of people in low income groups cannot afford energy at all, or are forced to pay such a high proportion of their incomes on basic energy costs that they fall into the category defined as "fuel poverty".

To deal with that, we have another bunch of bureaucrats officiously developing schemes to compensate those people, in an attempt to ensure that these people are able to maintain at least a basic level of warmth and comfort.

Being bureaucrats, whose only real talents are in making thing more complicated and expensive, they fail dismally in their endeavours. We thus learn that the number of households in "fuel poverty" – or spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating – has doubled to around 4.6 million this year.

Confronted with this predictable failure, what do our gifted MPs do? Ah! They suggest an even more complex and expensive scheme, better able to target the people who are missing out – one which will require even more bureaucrats and which will, in the scheme of things, prove no better than the system it replaces ... if indeed it is implemented.

But do they even consider the root cause of much of this "fuel poverty" – the fact that we have another part of the government making energy more expensive? Er ... Nooooooo. So the bureaucratic machine grinds on, the nearest thing to perpetual motion every invented, extracting more and more money from us while we get poorer and poorer – and not just "fuel poverty".

When we have a set of MPs who can put two and two together – or, more to the point, abolish two sets of bureaucrats instead of creating more – then we will have representatives worth voting for. Until then, we can only shake our heads in sorrow and wonderment, and wait for the unseasonable snow in what is, officially, British Summer Time. (EU Referendum)


Uh-huh... Researchers conclude 100 per cent renewable electricity supply is feasible

European report "debunks" criticism of renewable energy supplies as unreliable and costly

Europe could generate all the electricity it needs from renewable sources by the middle of the century, according to a major new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that rejects concerns about the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources.

The report – which was contributed to by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the European Climate Forum – concludes it is technically feasible to produce a pan-continental supersmart grid powered by solar farms in North Africa, hydro electric plants in Scandinavia and the European Alps, onshore and offshore wind farms in the Baltic and North Sea, marine energy, and biomass power facilities. (James Murray, BusinessGreen)

Never mind that there is absolutely no reason to "decarbonize" the energy supply, why wouldn't Africa have any power from North African solar farms? After all, Africa can use every electron it can get, so why should North African generation supply Europe?


New regulations on energy efficiency 'mired in confusion'

Businesses unsure how commitment to carbon reduction will work

Businesses are confused about and unprepared for the implementation of the Government's Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), the energy efficiency scheme which starts tomorrow.

Nearly half of companies surveyed by the power supplier Npower said official advice about the new legislation had been "inadequate". About 49 per cent said they did not understand how to buy the necessary carbon allowances and 44 per cent said they do not know how to forecast their carbon emissions, according to a report published this morning. (The Independent)



A War On Reality

Politics: Rep. Henry Waxman vowed to haul CEOs into hearings after they revealed just how much ObamaCare will cost their firms. It's an absurd war on bookkeeping, from a Congress desperate to avoid heat for this fiasco.

In the wake of President Obama's presidential signature on the gargantuan Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last Thursday, big companies have crunched their numbers and come up with an ugly picture.

In legally mandated filings, AT&T reported that ObamaCare will cost it $1 billion. Deere & Co. reported $150 million in new costs. Caterpillar must cough up $100 million. 3M must pay another $90 million. AK Steel gets to fork over $31 million. Valero Energy will pay $30 million. There'll be more as other companies report anticipated costs to fulfill their requirements to inform shareholders. What it shows is a huge wave of costs rolling over the private sector to pay for this bill.

It's the real cost of ObamaCare, a bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had touted daily as "paid for" in her pitch for Congressional votes. (IBD)


The Crone thinks cobbled together and largely unread ObamaCare was "carefully crafted": The Legal Assault on Health Reforms

No sooner had President Obama signed comprehensive health care reform than the attorneys general of 14 states scurried to the federal courts to challenge the law. Their claims range from far-fetched to arguable and look mostly like political posturing for the fall elections or a “Hail Mary” pass by disgruntled conservatives who cannot accept what Congress and the president have done.

They seem unlikely to succeed because the law was carefully drafted to withstand just this kind of challenge. (NYT)


Here's an example of how "carefully crafted" it is: Coverage Now for Sick Children? Check Fine Print

WASHINGTON — Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions.

Mr. Obama, speaking at a health care rally in northern Virginia on March 19, said, “Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.”

The authors of the law say they meant to ban all forms of discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, birth defects, orthopedic problems, leukemia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. The goal, they say, was to provide those youngsters with access to insurance and to a full range of benefits once they are in a health plan.

To insurance companies, the language of the law is not so clear.

Insurers agree that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions. But, they say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the “availability of coverage” for all until 2014. (NYT)


The Safety Net Shreds

Entitlements: Social Security's chief actuary reports that the social safety net will run a deficit for 2010, nine years earlier than predicted. Put down that big gavel, Madam Speaker, we're about to hit the iceberg.

No sooner had House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, carrying the gavel used when Medicare was enacted, taken a victory lap around the Capitol Building after passage of the health care bill than did the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration report that his part of the social safety net had a big hole in it and would run a deficit for all of 2010.

Stephen C. Goss said that payments rose "unexpectedly" during the economic downturn as jobs disappeared and people feeling no hope and seeing little change opted to apply for benefits sooner than planned. Revenues also shrank due to fewer paychecks to tax.

Failure of the stimulus to keep unemployment under 8%, as the administration promised, has taken its toll on the entitlement. According to Goss, the administration expected a quicker, stronger recovery from the financial crisis. Officials foresaw an average unemployment rate of 8.2% in 2009 and 8.8% this year, though unemployment is hovering near 10%. (IBD)


America's New Nomenklatura

Government: With the passage of health care reform and the ongoing boom in federal hiring, it's becoming increasingly clear that America is now run by a new, privileged class of bureaucrats.

For those who remember the old Soviet Union, it was a grim place — at least for average citizens. But not so for those in government. Contrary to the official ideals of equality and a classless society that the ruling communist regime espoused, the USSR created a privileged class of party members inside government — the nomenklatura.

This semipermanent bureaucracy earned higher incomes, got better health care, ate better food and had greater job security than average Russians, the much-despised proletarians. Today, our bloated federal government seems, in significant ways, to be creating this same dynamic.

Take the just-passed health care bill that carefully excluded the White House, congressional leaders and their staffs from having to live under the reforms' restrictions.

"President Obama will not have to live under the Obama health care reforms, and neither will the congressional staff who helped to write the overhaul," said Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. "The message to the people at the grass roots is that it's good enough for you, but not for us."

The hypocrisy of these officials and the contempt they show for average Americans is bad enough. But Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public can also go to jail or be fined up to $250,000 for not buying insurance. And the government is spending $10 billion to hire 16,500 new IRS agents to make sure they don't escape the new system.

Under current budget plans, this won't end soon. With $45 trillion in new government spending planned over the next decade, this new privileged governing class can only grow. (IBD)


Keynes-Hayek Rap

Loosening the grip of Keynesian thought 

There is a video doing the rounds at the moment that can be found on Youtube under the name, the “Keynes-Hayek Rap” although more formally titled, “Fear the Boom and Bust”. It has had a million hits and if nothing else it has brought economics into households that would never likely pay the slightest attention to issues in the history of economic thought. 

Keynes is, of course, the author of the twentieth century’s most influential book on economics – although it might be noted that the economist who has been most influential on the economies of the twentieth century is more likely to have been Karl Marx. But Marx wrote in the century before. In the twentieth century, the laurel goes to Keynes. 

Hayek was the counterfoil to Keynes in the economics world of the 1930s (although he lived on into the 1990s while Keynes died in 1946). During the 1930s Hayek spent a good deal of his time demonstrating that Keynes’s ideas were unsound, but strangely, and much to his own regret, he never properly dealt with the General Theory when it first appeared in 1936 and I’m not sure he did so even after. 

The economics of Hayek is described as “Austrian”, a school of thought that originated in the 1870s. The Austrian School is the single largest segment of pre-Keynesian economic thought that remains alive today. 

If you have not seen the presentation, you should. It lays out the differences between Keynes and Hayek in ways that are not only unimaginably funny, but does so with Hayek as the unmistakeable winner of the argument. A sure sign of the times that Keynesian economics is now very definitely on trial. (Steven Kates, Quadrant)


While we are touching on the dismal science: Why Your Grandfather's Economics Was Better Than Yours

Steven Kates presents the Ludwig von Mises Memorial Lecture at the 2010 Austrian Scholars Conference. Includes an introduction by Joseph T. Salerno. The ASC is the international, interdisciplinary meeting of the Austrian School, and is for scholars interested or working in this intellectual tradition. Held at the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, March 11-13, 2010.


Swine flu season not over, US health officials warn

WASHINGTON - While swine flu has waned across much of the United States, the southeast is reporting an increase in cases of the H1N1 virus, U.S. health officials said on Monday.

"The flu season is not over yet ... H1N1 has remained persistent in the southeast and now those states are experiencing more local and regional activity," U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin told reporters in a conference call.

U.S. health officials said it was not clear why there were more swine flu cases in some regions and warned that many people were still vulnerable because they had not been immunized. (Reuters)


Resistance can develop fast with swine flu: report

WASHINGTON - The H1N1 swine flu virus can develop resistance quickly to antivirals used to treat it, U.S. doctors reported on Friday.

Government researchers reported on the cases of two people with compromised immune systems who developed drug-resistant strains of virus after less than two weeks on therapy.

Bacteria quickly develop resistance to antibiotics, which must be used carefully. Viruses can do the same and doctors worried about resistance had recommended against using antivirals for flu except in patients who really needed them. (Reuters)


Independent experts to review pandemic handling - WHO

GENEVA - A group of independent experts will review how the H1N1 pandemic has been handled to ensure that the next global health emergency is dealt with better, a top World Health Organisation official said on Monday.

The H1N1 influenza outbreak, which began in April last year, was marked by controversies over whether the WHO and public health authorities had exaggerated the risks of H1N1 and created unnecessary alarm by declaring it a 'pandemic'.

The WHO has also been criticised for its pandemic alert system that focuses on geographical spread of the outbreak rather than its severity, and on alleged conflicts of interests between health officials and experts and vaccine makers. (Reuters)


Huge parallels

How ironic it is that The Guardian, of all newspapers, should be picking up on the "flu pandemic" scare which afflicted the nation last year.

We touched on this in late January but now this newspaper is reporting the findings of a draft report to the Council of Europe. It asserts that the World Health Organisation and other public health bodies have "gambled away" public confidence by overstating the dangers.

Says Labour MP Paul Flynn, vice chair of the council's health committee, the loss of credibility could endanger lives.

As to the report, it declares that, "This decline in confidence could be risky in the future. When the next pandemic arises many persons may not give full credibility to recommendations put forward by WHO and other bodies. They may refuse to be vaccinated and may put their own health and lives at risk."

As we now know, the discrepancy between the estimate of the numbers of people who would die from flu and the reality was dramatic. In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health initially announced that around 65,000 deaths were to be expected.

By the start of 2010, this estimate was downgraded to only 1,000 fatalities. By January 2010, fewer than 5,000 persons had been registered as having caught the disease and about 360 deaths had been noted.

It cannot be stated often enough, or with sufficient emphasis, that we have been there before. This is exactly a parallel with the salmonella and BSE scares – the latter with the 500,000 deaths a year forecast, with senior medical officers and "scientists" solemnly pronouncing that we were all in mortal peril.

And, of course, the media lapped it up, giving short-shrift to the "sceptics" like myself, who said it wasn't happening, wasn't going to happen and that the "experts" were talking out of their backsides.

Here we are again with global warming – the same "consensus", the same certainty from a gang of so-called experts, the strident calls from the politicians and the media, all piling in to pronounce that we are all in mortal peril. But, with the lack of joined-up thinking that so profoundly affects papers like The Guardian, they cannot see the connections.

But all these experts can't be wrong, the experts bleat. Yet, history and recent experience tells us that experts are quite frequently wrong. When a madness such as the salmonella scare, BSE, swine flu and the rest, take hold, most likely the prevailing orthodoxy will always be wrong.

So it is with global warming – but this time the scaremongers have picked an unfalsifiable theory, and falsified the evidence, so that their dishonesty is concealed. Despite that, the dynamics are the same – there are huge parallels, and only the retarded and the self-interested can fail to see them. (EU Referendum)


Blinded by science: how DNA evidence can confuse jurors

THE less jurors know about DNA science, the more likely they are to be swayed by it and find an accused person guilty, research has shown.

Known as the ''white-coat syndrome'', this tendency to be overwhelmed by experts could mean there is a danger jurors place undue weight on scientific evidence.

But a 20-minute presentation to jurors significantly increases their understanding of DNA and its use in criminal trials, and will make them more sceptical and reduce the likelihood they will convict. These are the findings of a study to be released by the Australian Institute of Criminology today.

''The greater understanding increases their objectivity about the evidence of the experts. When there is greater understanding of the evidence, there are fewer miscarriages of justice,'' said the lead researcher, Jane Goodman-Delahunty.

Even defence lawyers and judges were caught by this, she said. ''I think because DNA evidence has attained a status where the underlying science is no longer so controversial that many defence lawyers no longer challenge it and show its fragilities,'' she said.

People failed to appreciate the potential for laboratory error or contamination and for DNA to be accidentally transferred, she said. (SMH)


Scientists Say F.D.A. Ignored Radiation Warnings

WASHINGTON — Urgent warnings by government experts about the risks of routinely using powerful CT scans to screen patients for colon cancer were brushed aside by the Food and Drug Administration, according to agency documents and interviews with agency scientists.

After staying quiet for a year, the scientists say they plan to make their concerns public at a meeting of experts on Tuesday called by the F.D.A. to discuss how to protect patients from unnecessary radiation exposures. The two-day meeting is part of a growing reassessment of the risks of routine radiology. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, driven in part by the increasing popularity of CT scans. Such scans can deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays. (NYT)


Could multivitamins raise breast cancer risk?

NEW YORK - Many people take multivitamins in the hopes of thwarting disease, but a new study finds that older women who use multivitamins may be more likely than non-users to develop breast cancer.

The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, points only to an association between multivitamin use and breast cancer. It does not prove that the supplements directly contribute to the disease.

However, the researchers say, it's biologically plausible that multivitamins could have such an effect, and the potential link "merits further investigation." (Reuters Health)


Junk food addiction may be clue to obesity: study

WASHINGTON - Bingeing on high-calorie foods may be as addictive as cocaine or nicotine, and could cause compulsive eating and obesity, according to a study published on Sunday.

The findings in a study of animals cannot be directly applied to human obesity, but may help in understanding the condition and in developing therapies to treat it, researchers wrote in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The study, involving rats, found that over consumption of high-calorie food can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain and that high-calorie food can turn rats into compulsive eaters in a laboratory setting, the article said. (Reuters)


Kids everywhere too sedentary: study

NEW YORK - American kids aren't the only ones being couch potatoes these days, according to new study of more than 70,000 young teens from 34 countries.

From Argentina to Zambia, Regina Guthold of the World Health Organization in Geneva and her colleagues found, most kids aren't getting enough exercise, while nearly a third are sedentary.

And while thoughts of the "third world" may bring to mind long walks to school and heavy physical labor for children, this isn't what Guthold and her team found. "With regards to physical activity levels, we did not find much of a difference between poor and rich countries," the researcher told Reuters Health via email. "Growing up in a poor country does not necessarily mean that kids get more physical activity." Guthold noted. (Reuters Health)


Other people are stupid so we have to be, too? A call for a total ban of trans-fat in Australia

An Australian panel called Review of Food Labeling and Policy is considering a recommendation of a required labeling of trans-fat in Australian foods or going a step further with a total ban for the country.

Trans-fats are widely considered one of the most dangerous fats in our diet, more dangerous than saturated fat. Due to this fact, many countries have looked into its adverse health consequences on its citizens.

Hidden within foods, consumers do not know these fats are there. Trans-fat is an unsaturated fat that contains trans-isomer fatty acids.

Partial hydrogenation is the chemical process that produces trans-fat. So it the label says "partially hydrogenated oils, you know trans-fats are used.

Currently in Australia, food companies are not required to list trans-fat as one of the ingredients in their foods, based on the Australian law. The consumption of trans-fat is known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and strokes by increasing the level of bad cholesterol, LDL and reducing the level of good cholesterol, HDL. (IBT)

For one thing we don't actually know whether cholesterol levels really are harmful, whether they are causal or even symptomatic of various health issues and trans fat hysteria is simply a symptom on nanny statism.


'What Is So Bad About Dying?'

Michael de Ridder, the head of the emergency ward at a Berlin hospital and author of a new book on dying, discusses how modern medical advances are making death more complicated for patients with little hope of living. His book makes a plea for doctors to allow people to die with greater dignity. (Spiegel Interview)


Is cola bad for sperm?

NEW YORK - Men who drink about a quart or more of cola every day could be causing harm to their sperm, results of a Danish study hint.

On average, these men's sperm counts were almost 30 percent lower than in men who didn't drink cola. While most of the sperm counts would still be considered normal by the World Health Organization, men with fewer sperm generally have a higher risk of being infertile.

The link is unlikely to be due to caffeine, the researchers say, because coffee did not have the same effect, even though its caffeine content is higher. Instead, other ingredients in the beverage or an unhealthy lifestyle could be involved.

"It's important to note that the men who drank a lot of cola were also different in many other ways," Dr. Tina Kold Jensen of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, told Reuters Health. (Reuters Health)


Bizarre claim that smoking is healthy

A DIRECTOR of the Victor Chang Foundation's board has written a long and detailed opinion piece promoting ''healthy smoking'' for The Jakarta Post, as the Indonesian government considers its first crackdown on cigarette advertising.

''The real argument is here in Indonesia some quite remarkable Indonesian scientists and doctors have discovered that cigarette smoking can, with specially treated cigarettes, significantly assist people's health and has the potential to cut health costs around the globe,'' wrote Murray Clapham, an Australian businessman and former diplomat who spends time in Indonesia and Singapore, as well as serving on the foundation's board.

''One thing we must do is learn from the ancient wisdom and find out how to grow healthy tobacco. Indonesia has made a start and it's a great place to do it. Unfortunately my country (Australia) has almost banned any private initiatives in this area.

''Tobacco is certainly not the key factor in many of the health issues attributed to it; the jury should remain out on that.

''These and other matters are still the subject of investigation. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here in Indonesia now. To conclude, let's ban unhealthy cigarettes and promote healthy smoking.

''This will serve many purposes, the pro-smokers can have their cake and eat it without fear, the anti-smokers are likely to have a new cheap readily available healing tool.'' (SMH)


Data Dredging for Dollars, EPA Style

by Kenneth P. Green
March 29, 2010

As a person who likes to stay abreast of our ever-expanding government in my areas of specialization (energy and environment), I periodically survey the website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to see what they are funding with my taxpayer dollars.

Imagine my surprise when I encountered a novel Request for Proposals at their National Center for Environmental Research seeking to recruit people at non-profit institutions to dredge through EPA’s databases in order to gin up new new things for the agency to worry about and possibly regulate.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing to use existing datasets from health studies to analyze health outcomes for which the link to air pollution is not well established, or to evaluate underlying heterogeneity in health responses among subgroups defined by susceptibility or extent and/or composition of exposure.

And, ever helpful, EPA gives some examples of what such data-dredging exercises might look like: [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Colony Collapse Disorder continues in 2009 as bees disappear from US

THE decline in the US bee population, first observed in 2006, is continuing, a phenomenon that still baffles researchers and beekeepers.

Data from the US Department of Agriculture showed a 29 per cent drop in beehives in 2009, following a 36 per cent decline in 2008 and a 32 per cent fall in 2007.

This affected not only honey production but around $15 billion worth of crops that depended on bees for pollination.

Scientists call the phenomenon "colony collapse disorder", and it has led to the disappearance of millions of adult bees and beehives and occurred elsewhere in the world, including in Europe.

Researchers have looked at viruses, parasites, insecticides, malnutrition and other environmental factors but have been unable to pinpoint a specific cause for the population decline.

The rough winter in many parts of the United States will likely accentuate the problem, Jeff Pettis, lead researcher at Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory in Maryland, said. (AFP)


Bringing Light, Health and Prosperity to Africa

Editors' note: This piece is co-authored by Niger Innis

“I see Africa as a … partner with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children,” President Obama declared in Ghana last July.

However, three months later, the President signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30% over the next ten years. The order undermines the ability of Sub-Saharan African nations to achieve energy, economic and human rights progress. (Roy Innes, Townhall)


Reefgate on the Barrier Reef

A new gate opens on the Great Barrier Reef

For the past half century the Great Barrier Reef has sustained a Queensland industry predicated on “saving” the reef from a never ending succession of purported “threats”. All have been declared as dire and of course, they require urgent funding. None have ever become manifest in any serious manner and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in research has never resulted in a solution for any of these non-problems.

The reef today remains a vast area of pristine nature with the majority of its over 2500 individually named reefs seldom fished or even visited by anyone. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority headquartered in Townsville has grown into a 45 million dollar a year bureaucracy charged with “managing” the reef. This it does by remote control from air conditioned offices where it oversees the application of hypothetical solutions to imaginary problems and administers a morass of regulations which have effectively strangled most healthy productive activity on the reef. Starting with no problems and only their own assessment of results, they have declared great success. This has been proclaimed widely through their extensive “educational” activity which serves to promote the Authority and create a high public profile for it.

In 2004 they stumbled badly with a large expansion of no fishing areas (a.k.a. green zones) on the reef. This resulted in a devastating impact on the small but important commercial fishing industry in the region as well as over 300 mandatory criminal convictions for otherwise law abiding recreational fishermen almost all of whom were arrested for inadvertently crossing one of the complex maze of unmarked boundaries. The upshot has been a massive compensation payout for the commercial fishermen, considerable public resentment and replacement of the GBRMPA chairperson. (Walter Starck, Quadrant)


Is this an annual announcement? It's getting pretty old... Earth 'entering new age of geological time'

The Earth has entered a new age of geological time – the epoch of new man, scientists claim.

Humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes on the planet that we may be ushering in a new period of geological history.

Through pollution, population growth, urbanisation, travel, mining and use of fossil fuels we have altered the planet in ways which will be felt for millions of years, experts believe.

It is feared that the damage mankind has inflicted will lead to the sixth largest mass extinction in Earth’s history with thousands of plants and animals being wiped out.

The new epoch, called the Anthropocene – meaning new man – would be the first period of geological time shaped by the action of a single species. (TDT)


Getting a real nature lesson: Killer whale attacks dolphin in front of tourists

These amazing pictures show a killer whale attacking and killing a female dolphin and her pup in front of tourists on a nature watching cruise. (TDT)

Photo: Tommy Hatwell / Explore Images/Ferrari Press Agency


Deciding the Arctic's Future Behind Closed Doors

Diplomats from Finland, Iceland and Sweden are upset; indigenous groups are furious. Five countries bordering the Arctic Ocean are meeting behind closed doors on Monday to discuss the region's future. Many of those who have interests in the Arctic have not been invited. (Der Spiegel)


Science Alone Not Enough To Boost World Farm Output

Feeding a fast-growing global population in the face of climate change and stagnant funding for food aid and farm research will require a fundamental revamp of agriculture, agricultural experts said.

But unlike the "Green Revolution" that dramatically hiked agricultural output in Latin America and Asia from the 1950s, a new agricultural restructuring will need to focus as much on new seed varieties as on good governance, women's empowerment and things like curbing commodities speculation, they added.

"We cannot address world food security risks effectively only through a science and technology agenda," Joachim von Braun, former director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told a conference Sunday. (Reuters)


Single Gene Powers Hybrid Tomato Plants

A mutation in a single gene can turn hybrid tomato plants into super producers capable of generating more and much sweeter fruit without genetic engineering, scientists said in a study released on Sunday.

The study also showed that using classic plant-breeding techniques can boost yield as dramatically as using genetically modified organisms, said researcher Zachary Lippman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

The mutation in one copy of the gene boosted tomato yield by up to 60 percent and increased sugar content, Lippman and colleagues reported in the journal Nature Genetics. (Reuters)



EPA Phases In Permits For Greenhouse Pollution

U.S. power plants, industrial facilities and other stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming will not be required to have Clean Air Act permits until January 2011, giving industry more time to prepare for the regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday.

Agency head Lisa Jackson had signaled to Congress in February that the EPA would delay the permit requirements for this year, following concerns from U.S. lawmakers and state officials that more time was needed to ease burdens on industry and state environmental departments that would help enforce the regulations.

The EPA has said it will require big sources of greenhouse gas emissions, like power plants that run on coal or natural gas, and plants that make cement, steel and glass, to get permits proving they are using the best available technology to cut pollution. (Reuters)

Earth to EPA: "Get lost! Atmospheric carbon dioxide is an enormously valuable biosphere resource."


Florida poll: Healthcare law hurts Obama, Democrats

A new poll shows the healthcare law is bad political medicine for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, President Barack Obama and his domestic agenda.

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida voters dislike the new healthcare law so much that President Barack Obama and the state's top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are paying a hefty political price, according to a new survey and analysis by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.

The poll, conducted last week, is the first to be taken in Florida since Obama signed the healthcare reform bill into law.

It shows that Floridians have a more negative than positive view of Obama by a margin of 15 percentage points. And they oppose his so-called ``cap-and-trade'' global warming legislation as well as the new healthcare law. (Miami Herald)


French Endorse Sarkozy’s Scrapping of Carbon Tax, Poll Shows

March 28 -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy was right to scrap a planned tax on carbon emissions, according to the majority of people in an Ipsos option poll.

The poll released today found 69 percent of those surveyed endorsed Sarkozy’s decision, while 21 percent said it was wrong. 948 people were surveyed on March 26 or 27 and no margin of error was given.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon told members of parliament of the Union for a Popular Movement on March 23 that any carbon tax should be imposed throughout the European Union to be effective.

A first version of the carbon tax was rejected in December by France’s constitutional court. It ruled that the tax penalized households too heavily and excluded many industrial polluters. The Medef business lobby had campaigned against it. (Bloomberg)


If you tell it often enough? European Carbon Scheme Is A Success, Research Says

The European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is a success and its flaws have not harmed its basic aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, multi-national research showed on Friday.

Experts at French state bank Caisse des Depots, the Paris-Dauphine University, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in the United States and University College Dublin collaborated to evaluate the scheme's trial period, which has widely been viewed as a failure. (Reuters)


Carbon Trade Sector Drops From HSBC Climate Index

The carbon trading sector has dropped out of an HSBC index of 385 listed companies making money from tackling climate change, after lower expectation of global cap and trade expansion saw sharp share price falls.

Previously, two carbon trading companies were listed in the index, Trading Emissions and Climate Exchange, but neither now met the $400 million index threshold market capitalization after big drops in their share prices.

The HSBC index tracking the share price of those two firms fell 37 percent between September 1 2009 and March 19 2010. (Reuters)


Study: Public more skeptical about warming trend

Public support for global warming has declined in the past two years, according to a national survey released earlier this year.

The survey, conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities and released in January, notes one in five people said they do not believe global warming exists. (Times Daily)


Weathercasters Take on Role of Science Educators; Feel Some Uncertainty on Issue of Climate Change

However, despite their interest in reporting more on this issue, the majority of weathercasters (61 percent) feel there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about the issue of global warming. Though 54 percent indicated that global warming is happening, 25 percent indicated it isn’t, and 21 percent say they don’t know yet. (GMU)


Hot Air: The Movie

The legend goes that it all started innocently enough, in local politics. But then we sent Barbara Boxer to the Senate where she has taken root for the last 18 years as one the most liberal, partisan members more full of hot air than she is solutions to our real problems. Watch the movie to learn more - together we can STOP THE HOT AIR by replacing Barbara Boxer with a proven problem solver and true fiscal conservative in Carly Fiorina. Learn more at http://failedsenator.com (CarlyForCalifornia)


More honest responses appearing: "Climategate" blow fragments corporate response to global warming

Survey reveals more than half of respondents believe "jury is still out" on the urgent need to tackle climate change

The corporate response to climate change has become increasingly fragmented in the past year as the combination of the "climategate" scandal, the disappointing conclusion to the Copenhagen summit and the global recession has led some firms to voice scepticism over the need to take action to curb carbon emissions.

That is the conclusion of a major new survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which polled more than 540 senior executives, and found that while a number of firms remain fully committed to increasing investment in low-carbon goods and services, many senior executives are unconvinced by the case for climate change policies.

The survey, which was sponsored by the Carbon Trust, IBM, Hitachi and software company 1E, found that just over half of respondents believe the "jury is still out" on the urgent need to tackle climate change, while 32 per cent of companies polled said they do not yet have a coherent strategy in place to address energy use, an increase of seven percentage points on last year.

Moreover, just 12 per cent of businesses said they were introducing new green products to keep up with rivals, and seven out of 10 respondents said that carbon reduction policies are primarily driven by public relations issues. (James Murray, BusinessGreen)

It is all public relations for the simple reason the "problem" of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming does not exist.


Capitalism causes global warming

Excerpt from a Ford press release: “The blue oval atop Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., will go dark for one hour Saturday evening in support of Earth Hour, a global initiative to raise awareness of energy conservation and climate change.

If Ford’s management is serious about this, maybe it’s time to sell your Ford shares short. 

Don't pander
Pandering to groups whose ultimate goal is to permanently turn out the lights at Ford Motor Company and other manufacturers is seriously misguided. These groups will never be satisfied. Even if Ford produced vehicles that grew on trees in enchanted forests and used tap water for fuel, the environmental lobby would find another reason to oppose auto manufacturing and the operation of automobiles. 

The true environmental agenda
Everyone wants a clean, safe environment. While many people who support the environmental movement are sincere, the ringleaders of the international environmental movement have a different agenda: the dismantling of capitalism and redistribution of wealth. (Mike Karagozian, Examiner)


IPCC/CRU Self-Deception Through Groupthink

Few understand the extent of corrupted science produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Data was altered, or completely ignored and research deliberately directed to prove their claim that humans were causing global warming.

People identified in the leaked emails of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were primarily responsible through the Physical Science Basis Report of Working Group I of the IPCC and the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). Politics is clearly the motive for some scientists like James Hansen, Stephen Schneider and others, but this is not so clear for most at the CRU. Which begs the question how and why supposedly intelligent people became involved and continued to participate in such corruption? (Tim Ball, CFP)


Say what? Pachauri cleared of financial irregularities: report

London, Mar 29 Rajendra Pachauri, the embattled head of the UN's climate change panel who was under scrutiny for receiving alleged payments from private companies, has been cleared of the allegations by an independently conducted review, a media report has said.

Professional services company KPMG examined personal finances of Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, following allegations that he received money for advising several private sector companies, including Toyota and Credit Suisse.

"The review found these were all paid to Pachauri's non-profit organisation TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), which commissioned KPMG," the Financial Times reported.

Pachauri, the newspaper said, was hoping another audit he had commissioned, to examine the practices of the IPCC and the science contained in its report, would put to rest allegations of flaws in climate science.

"That review will not be published until the autumn," said the report. (PTI)


Oh... Absolutely tickety-boo*

Yvo De Boer, one of the world's leading authorities on climate change and sustainability, is leaving his international role with the United Nations to join KPMG, the global network of professional service firms, reports the KPMG website.

"Our global sustainability and climate change services network has more than 15 years experience in providing services to a wide range of clients from global to national businesses and government agencies. We offer business focused advice on a wide range of issues in the climate change sphere, from carbon foot printing and greenhouse gas inventories to carbon trading and corporate finance", says KPMG India.

The embattled head of the United Nations' scientific panel on climate change has been cleared of allegations of financial irregularity by an independently conducted review, reports The Financial Times. KPMG, the professional services company, examined the personal finances of Rajendra Pachauri ... after media suggested late last year that he received money for advising several private sector companies, including Toyota and Credit Suisse. The review found these were all paid to Mr Pachauri's non-profit organisation TERI, which commissioned KPMG.

All absolutely tickety boo chaps. Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest?

* Meaning: "Going smoothly, doing all right". May have originated in the British military. Possibly related to the Hindi expression "tickee babu", meaning "everything's alright, sir". (EU Referendum)


Tom Nelson synopsizes Lovelock interview:

James Lovelock on the value of sceptics and why Copenhagen was doomed | Environment | guardian.co.uk

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done. (Tom Nelson)


Updated: John Cook: Skeptical Science

The original posting with responses to the top 60 talking points was released on March 25th. Now, you can think about all the 104 observations.

Several people asked me to remove John Cook's photograph because they think it's unfair for it to appear. In some sense, I do agree that it can lead some readers to react irrationally, so I did remove it. (Revkin kept it.)
John Cook, a former student of physics in Australia, has constructed an interesting website trying to attack the opinions of climate skeptics.
Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
It's been in my climate bookmarks for quite some time but no one really cared about it so I didn't want to respond. However, his talking counter-points were recently adopted by an iPhone application. Moreover, Andrew Revkin promoted the website, too. So let us look at his points and counter-points.

On his website, you can currently see 102 observations by the skeptics (or some skeptics); 2 of them were added by March 29th and I can't constantly update this web page so that he's likely to surpass his 104 points sometime in the future. Each of the "slogans" is accompanied by a short attempted rebuttal by John Cook. And if you click it, you get to a long rebuttal. So let's look at them:

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


Climate inquiry, now

What State of Climate do we really have?

Over the past six months or so there has been a remarkable change at both official agencies and research institutions in attitudes of the believers in the dangerous warming thesis. Reflecting the Copenhagen flop and the Climategate exposure of uncertainties within research bodies, the previous out of hand dismissals of sceptical views have moved to an acknowledgement that those views should not be ignored and that uncertainty does exist. It has now become almost respectable to be a sceptic. Mind you the warmists are still quick to assure us either that the “basic” science remains valid or that we are now in an era of supposed Post-Normal science where the uncertainties are so great and the issues so important that conventional methods of first obtaining all relevant information before taking preventative action cannot wait but must rely on assessments by “knowledgeable” experts.

A major difficulty with either of the latter assurances is that whichever science is used is now showing marked problems in public (which many knew about but were not previously heard). The IPCC (which itself undertakes no scientific research) is now under an independent review instituted by the United Nations (for what that may be worth) and increasing numbers of individual scientists and groups of scientists are publicly revealing numerous possible explanations of the increase in temperatures other than increased greenhouse gas emissions. Evidence has also emerged suggesting that official agencies have made inappropriate additions to “raw” temperature data and have omitted to explain that some of the increase in temperatures is obviously due to natural causes. In short, claims of a scientific consensus behind the dangerous warming thesis are even less convincing than they were. Even a major supplier of analysis to the IPCC – Dr Jones, the (now suspended) head of the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit - recently acknowledged that the science is not settled. (Des Moore, Quadrant)


The truth shall make you free

How Government Corrupts ScienceArt Robinson is a rare man. He’s risen above and laid bare the creeping failure in the infrastructure of modern science over the last 50 years. He describes how the control of the quest for knowledge itself has been usurped from individuals and private industry and taken over by the government.

At the end of the day, what does being a scientist mean if there is nothing other than a certificate? Where is the code of conduct? Where are the professional associations which stand up and decry those who breach the basic requirements? What sense of duty and honor is left in science when high ranking members can make statements that are dishonest and yet keep their jobs and their reputations?

I was struck with Art’s description of a true scientist–where the most important attribute is honesty, where humility is inevitable in anyone who understands how little we comprehend, and where being a scientist is a lifelong search, rather than a 9 – 5 job.

The 10 page paper  How Government Corrupts Science is worth reading in full.

Below are some select parts that especially struck a chord with me.

How Government Corrupts Science

Isaac Newton was the greatest scientist who has ever lived, or in Albert Einstein’s words, the most “privileged” of all scientists because of the discoveries that Newton was permitted to make. Einstein describes Newton as “this brilliant genius”… Newton said of himself:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

During most of its history, when it housed and sponsored the work of many of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, the California Institute of Technology proudly displayed its motto:

The Truth Shall Make You Free.

Today, Caltech’s bureaucrats furtively hide this motto, if they have not canceled it altogether – both its origins and its emphasis on the “truth” being counterproductive to the “business” of “science” in which they are now engaged. Today, the “truth” seems surrounded by “lies,” and those whom we have depended upon to tell the truth appear no longer to be reliable. Worst of all, many of our scientists whom we depend upon to know the truth are … silent. More » (Jo Nova)


On rainforest sensitivity

A couple of days ago, I posted on the news that Dr Simon Lewis, a rainforest expert from the University of Leeds, has filed a complaint about an article written by Jonathan Leake at the Sunday Times. Leake's article concerned the IPCC's use of "grey" literature to support a claim that the Amazon is very sensitive to drops in rainfall and that as much as 40% was in danger of being wiped out by small reductions in precipitation.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


Dishonesty multiplied

Coincidentally, following on from my review of the first part of the Woods Hole letter yesterday, Bishop Hill follows the scent, looking at the underlying evidence cited in support of the IPCC claim of 40 percent of the Amazon forest being at risk from a slight reduction in rainfall.

This impacts directly on the second part of the letter, which I was planning to review today and forms the substance of this post. It is there, in that second part, that we see William Y Brown, president and CEO of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), assert that:

Mr Booker's criticism of the IPCC's claim that 40 percent of the Amazonian forest is threatened by global warming, on the grounds that it was based on a WWF claim, misses the fact that the WWF's statement was supported by several peer-reviewed science articles, including four published by the WHRC.
Bishop Hill does a tolerable job of tracking down some of this "support", but the point that would elude most readers is the very close connections between the WWF and WHRC. They share a common agenda and work closely together. Daniel Nepstad, the "senior scientist" on the staff of WHRC specialising in the Amazon, has worked for WWF. Some of his studies, notably this one, were part-funded by the WWF.

This highlights the difficulty anyone has in following the various claims and counter-claims on this issue. Many of the papers produced purport to be scientific explorations but they are in fact disguised advocacy directed at pursing a wholly political agenda.

That applies to WHRC and especially Daniel Nepstad. Nothing he writes or is associated with can be taken at face value. To ignore the political dimension is to afford advocacy the same status as genuine science. Nepstad is an advocate, using the guise of science to make his case, his medium the "peer reviewed" paper, giving his work entirely spurious authority.

Part of the strategy is to place such papers and then use them as a basis for self-citation and campaigning, locking in the arguments without reference to the wider issues and other views. By keeping focused on the very narrow issues, the agenda is thus set. (EU Referendum)


How we were censored

Climate science censorship in action at the American Geophysical Union

On Friday last week, ABC’s PM programme carried a report about criticisms that have been made of a peer-reviewed paper published last July in the Journal of Geophysical Research, by John McLean, Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter (hereafter MFC).

The original paper compared the global atmospheric temperature since 1958 with variations in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climatic framework. This analysis supported earlier research that demonstrates a close link between these factors. It also indicated that ENSO variation accounts for a very large portion of the variability in global temperature, thus leaving little room for a substantial human influence on temperature.

ABC’s Sarah Clarke reported the story as “Another round in climate science wars”, and provided a balanced account of what she saw as the two science sides of the story. Unfortunately, in so doing she largely missed another significant aspect of the affair - the attempt by a number of scientists - who are known to be both alarmist and influential in advising on climate science policy - to stifle the results of a research paper that disagrees with their belief.

Those attempting this censorship include some with strong links to the IPCC, for example Phil Jones of the CRU and Michael Mann of hockey-stick notoriety, and remember that it is on the IPCC’s advice that the Rudd government relies in setting Australia’s national global warming policy. As the British press highlighted during January and February this year, it is a story of no small substance when corrupt, inaccurate or deliberately misleading advice emanates from the official United Nations advisory body on climate science or from scientists who are associated with it. Remember, too, that according to CEO Megan Clark no fewer than 40 CSIRO scientists have associations with the IPCC.

Few stories in science come bigger than deliberate censorship, and especially so when it concerns material that is relevant to the dangerous global warming debate. We present below, therefore, a brief outline of the events as they happened. (Bob Carter and John McLean, Quadrant)


Black body limits: climate sensitivity parameter can't possibly be high, a proof

Let me show you another simple way to see that the climate sensitivity can't really be close to the IPCC's mean value (and certainly not close to the upper end of their interval).

The reason I will be able to show that the IPCC figure contradicts the basic laws of physics is that we will look how the relevant theories behave at somewhat more extreme temperatures which are nevertheless physically possible - and not too extreme. We will see that the IPCC estimates require a behavior that contradicts some universal laws of Nature - namely the fact that the emissivity can't exceed one.

First, we must begin with some definitions. Let us distinguish two concepts, the climate sensitivity and the climate sensitivity parameter. The climate sensitivity is the expected increase of near-surface air temperature from a CO2 doubling. It will be claimed to be near 1.1 °C.

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


Did climate influence Angkor's collapse?

Evidence suggests changing environment can bring down a civilization

Decades of drought, interspersed with intense monsoon rains, may have helped bring about the fall of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilization at Angkor nearly 600 years ago, according to an analysis of tree rings, archeological remains and other evidence. The study, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may also shed light on what drives—and disrupts—the rainy season across much of Asia, which waters crops for nearly half the world's population.

Historians have offered various explanations for the fall of an empire that stretched across much of Southeast Asia between the 9th and 14th centuries, from deforestation to conflict with rival kingdoms. But the new study offers the strongest evidence yet that two severe droughts, punctuated by bouts of heavy monsoon rain, may have weakened the empire by shrinking water supplies for drinking and agriculture, and damaging Angkor's vast irrigation system, which was central to its economy. The kingdom is thought to have collapsed in 1431 after a raid by the Siamese from present-day Thailand. The carved stone temples of its religious center, Angkor Wat, are today a major tourist destination, but much of the rest of the civilization has sunk back into the landscape. (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)


Vital role for bacteria in climate-change gas cycle

Isoprene is a Jekyll-and-Hyde gas that is capable of both warming and cooling the Earth depending on the prevailing conditions. It is an important industrial gas, necessary for the manufacture of important compounds such as rubber and vitamins, but very little is known about how isoprene is cycled in the environment.

Today, at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh, Dr Terry McGenity reveals the identity of some crucial players in the gas cycle; isoprene-degrading bacteria that are able to intercept the release of isoprene into the atmosphere.

After being released by plants and algae, isoprene reacts with molecules in the atmosphere to produce ozone. It can also prolong the lifetime of methane in the air. Both ozone and methane are potent greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Conversely, in certain conditions, isoprene can undergo chemical reactions to form aerosols that can increase cloud cover leading to cooling of the Earth. (Society for General Microbiology)

Vital role? We don't even know the net sign (if any) of isoprene's climatic influence and they are assigning a vital role to isoprene-degrading bacteria?


Bacterial 'food supplements' for small algae

To boost their diet of mineral nutrients and sunlight, small algae also feast on bacteria in order to grow and fix carbon dioxide (CO2). Understanding more about the lifestyle of small algae - which are major players in CO2 fixation in the ocean - could help to improve ecological models of oceanic and global changes. (Society for General Microbiology)


Freeing Energy Policy From The Climate Change Debate

Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, including the tainting of some climate research, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science. (Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, e360)


Finding Natural Gas, Safely

The Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin a much-needed study of the effects on water quality and public health of a method of extracting natural gas called hydraulic fracturing. An E.P.A. investigation in 2004 was rightly seen as superficial and skewed toward industry, which provided much of the underlying data. This one must be comprehensive and transparent.

It must also be swift. The search for natural gas has widened beyond the usual venues like Texas and the Rocky Mountain West to Pennsylvania and New York State, site of a vast deposit called the Marcellus Shale.

Hydraulic fracturing involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into underground formations to unlock the gas. The technique has been implicated in a growing number of water pollution cases. New York State has been forced to review plans to allow exploratory drilling upstate, including New York City’s watershed, because of fears that an accidental release of toxic chemicals could poison the water supply for millions of people. (NYT)


No mileage figures or costings? E20 Fuel Reduces Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbon Emissions in Automobiles

New study indicates ethanol-gasoline blend also has no measurable impact on drivability

A new study by the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology indicates that the use of E20 fuel, which blends 20 percent ethanol with gasoline, reduces the tail pipe emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, compared with traditional gasoline or E10 blends. In addition, the research team found no measurable impact to vehicle drivability or maintenance in conventional internal combustion engines.

The data illustrates the potential benefits of E20 as a tool in reducing overall vehicle emissions at a time when many states and the U.S. Department of Transportation are considering policies that would increase the ethanol percentage in standard gasoline. (RIT Press Release)

Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson produced a study claiming ethanol blends increased smog and pollution deaths and California applied for a waiver to avoid mandated ethanol use because their smog problem worsened as MTBE was phased out (the ethanol lobby claims the cause to be elsewhere). Regardless, you cannot reduce the energy density of fuels and expect the same mileage so we assume that's why it wasn't mentioned in the release. Then there's sourcing of the ethanol. Was food production land diverted for growing the feedstock? What effect has that on food prices, especially for the world's impoverished? Ethanol just doesn't seem to be a sound choice for any reason.


Offshore Wind Turbines May Be 10 MW Giants: Veritas

A surge in sea-based wind farms is likely to mean bigger turbines than on land, reaching 10 megawatts by 2020 with blades 85 meters (280 ft) long, the head of Norway's Det Norske Veritas said on Monday.

Veritas, which tests wind turbines until they snap as part of certification, reckons the industry will need subsidies for years since costs are about 40 to 60 percent above those for land-based wind, Chief Executive Henrik Madsen told Reuters.


Hmm... China Became Top Wind Power Market In 2009: Consultant

China became the No. 1 wind turbine market in 2009, installing a record 13.75 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity, and three Chinese suppliers ranked among the Top-10 turbine manufacturers, Danish consultants BTM said.

"The most significant trend in the market was the booming Chinese wind industry," BTM Consult said in a summary of its annual wind power market review for paying subscribers.

China's new capacity accounted for more than a third of the world's total new wind energy capacity of 38 GW last year, which was a record despite the financial crisis, BTM Consult said. (Reuters)


And yet: Why Subsidize The Surfeit Of Wind Turbines?

With an oversupply of wind turbines, why are governments subsidizing new manufacturing plants?

In recent years, China has ramped up its efforts to become a world leader in manufacturing and installation of wind turbines.

But the other side of the story is that China has also idled 40 percent of its industrial wind turbine manufacturing capacity as a result of oversupply and plummeting prices.

In Europe, the world's largest turbine manufacturer, Vestas, announced a bond issue of 600 million euros ($807 million). This is the first bond issue in the company's history and it was due to slow growth.

Even with an oversupply of manufacturing capacity, and falling prices for wind turbines, taxpayer-funded investment in wind turbine manufacturing by foreign companies in North America has been moving ahead with great fanfare. (Reuters)


Sweden’s Government Says More Nuclear Power, Please

The Swedish government has asked parliament to undo a 30 year old ban on building new nuclear plants, just months ahead of national elections. [Read More] (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)



VAT: Fuel For The Full-Entitlement State

As the night follows the day, the VAT cometh. With the passage of ObamaCare, creating a vast new middle-class entitlement, a national sales tax of the kind near-universal in Europe is inevitable.

We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that another $12 trillion will be added over the next decade.

ObamaCare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks — the unfunded $200-billion-plus doctor fix, the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only 6 years of outflows) — is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement. (Charles Krauthammer, IBD)


States' leaders clash over US healthcare lawsuits

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO - New battles are erupting over recently passed U.S. healthcare reforms, this time within the states, where leaders from both parties are clashing on whether to sue the U.S. government.

Only hours after President Barack Obama signed the healthcare plan into law this week, more than a dozen Republican attorneys general of U.S. states -- and one Democrat -- filed lawsuits saying it violated state and individual rights. Others began investigating possible lawsuits. (Reuters)


Fix Health Reform, Then Repeal It

ON Thursday night, Congress sent to President Obama the reconciliation package to remove some of the embarrassing provisions in his signature legislative achievement, health care reform. But a serious fix for what ails health care in America will entail far more than merely tweaking the new law of the land; we will need to repeal the entire faulty architecture of the government behemoth and replace it with real reform.

To be clear: it is not sufficient for those of us in the opposition to await a reversal of political fortune months or years from now before we advance action on health care reform. Costs will continue their ascent as the debt burden squeezes life out of our economy. We are unapologetic advocates for the repeal of this costly misstep. But Republicans must also make the case for a reform agenda to take its place, and get to work on that effort now. (Paul Ryan, NYT)


Constitutional Convention As A Last Resort?

In 2003, Washington blessed a grateful citizenry with the Medicare prescription drug benefit, it being generally agreed by all the experts that it was unfair to force seniors to choose between their monthly trip to Rite-Aid and Tony Danza in dinner theatre.

However, in order to discourage American businesses from immediately dumping all their drug plans for retirees, Congress gave them a modest tax break equivalent to 28% of the cost of the plan.

Fast forward to the dawn of the ObamaCare utopia. In one of a bazillion little clauses in a 2,000-page bill your legislators didn't bother reading (because, as Congressman Conyers explained, he wouldn't understand it even if he did), Congress voted to subject the 28% tax benefit to the regular good ol' American-as-apple-pie corporate tax rate of 35%.

For the purposes of comparison, Sweden's corporate tax rate is 26.3%, and Ireland's is 12.5%. But just because America already has the highest corporate tax in the OECD is no reason why we can't keep going until it's double Sweden's and quadruple Ireland's.

I refer you to the decision last year by the donut chain Tim Hortons, a Delaware corporation, to reorganize itself as a Canadian corporation "in order to take advantage of Canadian tax rates." Hold that thought: "In order to take advantage of Canadian tax rates" — a phrase hitherto unknown to American English outside the most fantastical futuristic science fiction. (Mark Steyn, IBD)


Deere (And Others) In The Headlights

Health Reform: As major businesses lay out the impact of ObamaCare in dollars and jobs, two things are clear: the costs will be enormous, and the president's vow to focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs" can no longer be believed. (IBD)


Obamacare Day 2: A $1 Billion Tax Bill… for Just One Employer

“AT&T Inc. will take a $1 billion non-cash charge in the first quarter” the Associated Press reported today. And by “take a non-cash charge” what they really mean is that President Barack Obama’s health spending plan just ate $1 billion out of AT&T’s bottom line. And that’s to pay for just one of the tax hikes wrought by Obamacare.

AT&T is just one of many companies that subsidize Medicare drug coverage for their retirees. The new health law slaps a tax on those subsidies, effective next year. In addition to costing the communications giant a cool billion, the tax is likely to cost workers and retirees a cherished benefit. AP notes that, because of the legislation, AT&T is now “looking into changing the health care benefits it offers to active and retired workers.”

So much for the promise about being able to keep the health care you have!

AT&T is not the first company warning stockholders to expect earnings to plunge due to the new law. Yesterday, as President Obama celebrated his health “triumph” by taking a victory lap in Des Moines, Iowa’s largest manufacturer, Deere & Co, announced it would have to take a first-quarter charge of $150 million. Caterpillar Inc. and AK Steel Holding Corp have announced similar charges as well. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


The Use and Abuse of the Founders: The Individual Mandate is Still Unprecedented and Unconstitutional

As soon as President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2010 into law, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed suit against the federal government, arguing that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Cuccinelli highlights the individual mandate as particularly offensive to the Constitution, emphasizing that “at no time in our history has the government mandated its citizens buy a good or service.”

Some disagree with Cuccinelli, pointing to the Second Militia Act of 1792 as evidence that the individual mandate is not unprecedented and furthermore that the Founders would have supported the recent health care bill. This argument is analytically defective. The Second Militia Act of 1972 neither sanctions nor foreshadows the individual mandate in the recently passed health care legislation.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Yet more BPA nonsense

If you've ever wondered just how much evidence has to be gathered up to put a stake through the heart of notorious junk science, what the formerly Golden State is doing with BPA can serve as a primer.

Last year, the far from chem industry friendly regulators in California decided not to put BPA on their notorious Prop 65 list. Admittedly, they had only done this after virtually every regulatory body in the civilized world had already granted the chemical a clean bill of health.

But, less than a week afterward, the fear entrepreneurs at NRDC—sensing that their golden goose was cooked—filed an amazingly amateurish petition that was enough to get the State to reconsider. Heck, what better for the elite in Sacramento to worry about as their state is rapidly headed from first to worst.

I guess that 5400 studies on BPA aren't quite enough.

Read my complete HND piece, entitled "Raising Up The BPA Boogeyman Yet Again: A Scientific Disgrace." (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Study doubts breastfeeding benefit for eczema

NEW YORK - Breastfeeding is often advocated as a way to help prevent allergies in babies at high risk, but a new study finds that infants breastfed for longer periods may actually be more likely to develop the allergic skin condition eczema. (Reuters Health)


High protein diet won't harm young women's bones

NEW YORK - Young women who eat a typical high protein Western diet need not worry that their protein consumption will harm their bone health.

According to research published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a higher intake of protein does not have a deleterious effect on bone density in premenopausal women.

There's conflicting evidence about the role protein plays in bone health, Jeannette Beasley from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington and colleagues note in their report. Protein in the diet from animal and vegetable sources is important to the development of strong bones. Yet, when protein from animal sources is digested, chemicals known to lead to bone loss are produced. (Reuters Health)


Cannabis health woes for older users

A TENFOLD increase in hospital treatment for cannabis poisoning or dependence among people in their 30s and 40s suggests the habit has run out of control for a hard core of long-term users.

Australian research shows that while cannabis consumption overall decreased during the past decade, the rate of hospital treatment rose.

Treatment rates are highest among people in their 20s, but the steepest increase has been among older people, with those in their 30s only slightly less likely to seek help than younger people by 2007, the study shows.

Seven years earlier, people in their 30s were being treated at only half the rate of their younger counterparts, according to the findings of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW. Their faster rise in cannabis-related health problems coincided with greater frequency of daily use. (SMH)


Does High Urban CO2 Concentration Threaten Health?

By E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.

Proponents of carbon-dioxide emissions reductions, seeing the scientific basis for them as a means to reduce global warming collapsing in the wake of Climategate and the many other revelations of corruption of the scientific process by anthropogenic global warming alarmists, are looking for other justifications for their aims.

Many of them cheered when a Stanford scientist published a study that claimed that “Urban CO2 Domes” indirectly increase the risk of premature death for city dwellers. Science Daily reported prominently on the article. The ever-dependable wolf-crier Grist.org trumpeted the message. The Financial Times picked up the story. New Republic blogger Bradford Plumer sounded the alarm.

But what few of them stopped to do was to ask how credible the study’s findings were. Actually reading the study’s full text rather than just its summary (the journalist’s and advocate’s usual practice) might have given them pause--especially if the readers had even an elementary grasp of statistical significance. When I read it, I immediately wondered how robust its results were and suspected that there likely were problems of statistical significance involved. Sure enough, there were.

As scientists Sherwood Idso, Keith Idso, and Craig Idso--who have specialized for years in studying the effects of carbon dioxide on plant and animal life and published many peer-reviewed studies in the field--pointed out in their critique of the study, there are serious signs in the article itself that its findings are only weakly supported and, even if true, hardly of great significance. (Cornwall Alliance)


Environmentalism has been hijacked by the warmists

John Michael Wallace, professor and former chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, writes of the growing and serious environmental crisis in India.

We have allowed, he says, the IPCC assessment reports to become the dominant vehicle for representing the views of the scientific community on a widening range of environmental issues.

In the IPCC terminology, he adds, "symptoms of environmental degradation, regardless of their cause, are labelled as impacts of climate change, and the societal response to them is framed in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change."

Thus, while scientists still write papers and speak to the media about environmental concerns outside of the purview of the IPCC, Wallace tells us that, "with so much of the world's attention riveted on climate change there is a lack of institutional infrastructure for calling attention to other issues."

The problem though is that labelling issues such as reduced agricultural productivity, loss of biodiversity, pollution and the looming shortage of fresh water as "impacts of global warming" leaves the public confused and susceptible to propaganda by groups who oppose environmental regulation of any kind.

The "denialists" can then trivialise the entire environmental crisis, says Wallace, simply by casting doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming.

However, this is more than, and not even, a question of "denialists". There is a strong constituency in India – not least the industrial complex – which does not want attention focused on broader environmental issues. It is quite content to see "climate change" in the frame, if only because this can be blamed on the white man, thereby providing absolution for local sins - and a source of income.

We touched on this in a piece earlier this month, arguing that India (and many other developing countries) have far more important things to concern themselves about than global warming.

Wallace does not go quite that far, but he does say that the current stalemate on seeking environmental improvement is likely to persist as long as scientists allow climate change to dominate the environmental policy agenda. The discussion of adaptation and mitigation options in the policy arena, he maintains, needs to be reframed so that it addresses environmental degradation and sustainability in the broad sense, not just the impacts of climate change.

That much alone is refreshing – but it is not enough. Wallace is touching on a massive problem. Warmism has hijacked the entire environmental agenda, setting the cause of real environmental improvement back decades.

So it is not a question of "reframing". The two agendas cannot live side-by-side. True environmentalists need to reclaim their ground from the warmists, who are the enemy of the environment, distorting and perverting a worthy cause for their own ends. (EU Referendum)


It's Always "Earth Hour" in North Korea

For all those Green morons calling on us to turn off our lights Saturday evening from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM to celebrate "Earth Hour", this is what it looks like every night in North and South Korea. The North is in the grip of a Stalinist dictator and the South is a thriving democracy. 

Like fire, electricity is truly a gift of the gods. It is the difference between the Dark Age and the present age...but not for everyone. Much of Africa is in darkness. too. People who hate civilization and the humans who created it are welcome to live out in the wilderness or in some primitive backward country where they burn dung to cook their meals.

If America doesn't start building more coal-fired plants, nuclear plants, and other generators of electricity, we too shall live in darkness when the sun goes down. Be warned, the present administration is doing everything possible to make that future happen.

-- Alan Caruba (Warning Signs)


Transportation Department Embraces Bikes, and Business Groups Cry Foul

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a “major policy revision” that aims to give bicycling and walking the same policy and economic consideration as driving.

“Today I want to announce a sea change,” he wrote on his blog last week. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.” (Green Inc)

Yeah, great, just imagine how wonderful an advance it will be to transport everything we need by bicycle...


And those outings could really bring the family together...



Outside the Beltway: The High Cost of Environmentalism

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

In Los Angeles, in the heart of California’s anemic economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Department of Water and Power (DWP) hope to massively raise energy rates by a whopping 21% next year, with other rate increases slated through 2014, for a total 37% hike.

Are the increased rates intended to pay for a budget shortfall? No.  Are they going up because the cost of energy is going up, too? Not exclusively. The increased rates would raise money to “invest” in renewable energy. In fact, Villaraigosa thought the hike was so important that he invited former Vice President Al Gore to present at the city council meeting via satellite.

The good news is that some common sense remains in the L.A. city council chambers, and the rate increase has not yet been implemented.

With unemployment at 12.5% in California, it would seem like now is the worst possible time for a rate hike. That fact, though, will not stop the environmental left.  They will stop at nothing to make sure people can’t afford essential things like electricity and heating oil, all in the name of unconfirmed science. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Is Africa underpopulated?

Is Mo Ibrahim right to say that a growing population is necessary for future prosperity?

It was not absolutely clear whether it was a moment to cheer or cry. In December, shortly after the participants in a UN conference on family planning had broken up in Kampala, Africa's billionth baby was born. In a continent apparently wracked with all the ills of over-population – hunger, poverty and shocking maternal and neo-natal mortality – it might appear a harbinger of disaster.

For within 40 years, that number could almost double. How then could Africa hope to feed itself, let alone find work and livelihoods for so many? "Sexual and reproductive health" – aka population control – has been added to the Millennium Development Goals mainly because it is now understood that without it there is no hope that the other targets will be met.

Africa's billionth baby, the doom mongers predicted would, if he survived to adulthood, only perish in one of the coming resource wars fought over land or water or oil or minerals, or simply fall victim to the unvarying instability that trails in the wake of over-population.

But there is a counter argument: each new baby is another consumer – and modern economic growth is driven by demand. The billionth baby is the engine of future prosperity.

That's what Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born British businessman and philanthropist, believes. "Africa is underpopulated. We have 20% of the world's landmass and 13% of its population." It is big, concentrated populations that have contributed to explosive economic growth rates in China and India. Get the policies right, he suggested (and his focus is on improving governance) and the billionth baby could yet enjoy a secure old age. (The Guardian)


Phony products impress federal energy program

WASHINGTON – Fifteen phony products — including a gasoline-powered alarm clock — won a label from the government certifying them as energy efficient in a test of the federal "Energy Star" program.

Investigators concluded the program is "vulnerable to fraud and abuse."

A report released Friday said government investigators tried to pass off 20 fake products as energy efficient, and only two were rejected. Three others didn't get a response.

The program run by the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to identify energy-efficient products to help consumers. Tax credits and rebates serve as incentives to buy Energy Star products.

But the General Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said Energy Star doesn't verify claims made by manufacturers — which might explain the gasoline-powered alarm clock, not to mention a product billed as an air room cleaner that was actually a space heater with a feather duster and fly strips attached, and a computer monitor that won approval within 30 minutes of submission.

The alarm clock's size — 1 1/2-feet high and 15 inches wide — and model name "Black Gold" should have raised alarms with Energy Star, but the automated review system didn't catch on to the deception.

"EPA officials confirmed that because the energy-efficiency information was plausible, it was likely that no one read the product description information," GAO said.

In addition, the four phony GAO companies were able to become Energy Star partners, giving them access to the program's logos and other promotional resources. Energy Star didn't call any of the companies or visit the addresses, and sent only four of the 20 products to be verified by a third-party, GAO said.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who requested the study, said that "taxpayers are shortchanged twice" when Energy Star products are not thoroughly vetted — when consumers are willing to pay more for the products, and when taxpayer dollars are spent encouraging the purchases. (Associated Press)


A thoroughly dishonest letter

In response to Booker's piece last week on the £60 billion WWF "REDD" scam - amplified in my parallel post - we have today a thoroughly dishonest letter from William Y Brown, president and CEO of the Woods Hole Research Center.

There are two parts to the letter and in the first – which we deal with in this post – Brown complains of Booker describing the Center as a "global warming advocacy group". We are, he responds, "a widely respected scientific institution whose scientists publish dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles annually in the world's most prestigious scientific journals, including Science and Nature, with much of the work supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA."

The dishonesty of this claim is transparent, evident from the center's own website where it tells us that it is an "independent, non-profit institute focused on environmental science, education, and public policy." As to its "mission", it seeks to "conserve and sustain the planet's vegetation, soils, water, and climate by clarifying and communicating their interacting functions in support of human well-being and by promoting practical approaches to their management in the human interest."

Even the most dispassionate analysis cannot find in the center's own text any support for its proposition that it is a "scientific institution". It seeks to "conserve and sustain", thence by "clarifying and communicating". It does so "in support" of an objective, and it is concerned with "promoting" practical approaches. It is also focused on "public policy".

Laudable though these activities might be, they are not science. This is advocacy, where, effectively, scientific method and personnel described as "scientists" are used as tools to promote a "mission". And, even without that, the background of its founder, George M Woodwell and his links with other advocacy groups tell you exactly where it stands.

Woodwell is an ecologist "with broad interests in global environmental issues and policies." He was also a founding trustee and continues to serve on the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He is a former chairman of the board of trustees and currently a member of the National Council of the WWF, a founding trustee of the World Resources Institute, and a founder and currently an honorary member of the board of trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Then, as regards its advocacy operation, it tells us:

The Center's Program on Science in Public Affairs focuses on the importance of bringing science to bear on policy formulation and on the adoption of international agreements governing these topics. As a result, our staff has been intensely active in scientific and policy research surrounding both global climate change issues, and issues concerning world forest resources. Our efforts emphasize the importance of participation by developing countries in international legal discussions, the resolution of north-south conflicts, and the role of nongovernmental organizations in international processes.
This confirms, in their own words, the role of their "science". They are using it "to bear on policy formulation and on the adoption of international agreements governing these topics". In other words, it is not "science" as such, but the use of scientific method as an advocacy tool, the end being, as the center clearly states, the attainment of political objectives.

Richard Lindzen had them sussed many years ago, when he wrote:
It is, of course, possible to corrupt science without specifically corrupting institutions. For example, the environmental movement often cloaks its propaganda in scientific garb without the aid of any existing scientific body. One technique is simply to give a name to an environmental advocacy group that will suggest to the public, that the group is a scientific rather than an environmental group. Two obvious examples are the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Woods Hole Research Center.
To set up an advocacy organisation with all the tools and appearances of being a scientific institute is a clever technique, but it is essentially dishonest. To then pretend that its output is "science" is also dishonest. And that is precisely what the second part of the letter does, which we will deal with in a separate post. (EU Referendum)

These greenies are, of course, banking on people confusing them with WHOI -- the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where useful things are actually done.


Microbial answer to plastic pollution?

Fragments of plastic in the ocean are not just unsightly but potentially lethal to marine life. Coastal microbes may offer a smart solution to clean up plastic contamination, according to Jesse Harrison presenting his research at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh today.

The researchers from the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science have shown that the combination of marine microbes that can grow on plastic waste varies significantly from microbial groups that colonise surfaces in the wider environment. This raises the possibility that the plastic-associated marine microbes have different activities that could contribute to the breakdown of these plastics or the toxic chemicals associated with them. (Society for General Microbiology)



Steven Chu video: ‘We don’t understand the downward trend that occurred in 1900 or in 1940. We don’t fully understand the plateau that’s happened in the last decade.’

This is an excerpt from a one hour YouTube video of a presentation that Energy Secretary Steven Chu made at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on March 23, 2010.


“It’s fair to say we don’t understand these ripples. We don’t understand the downward trend that occurred in 1900 or in 1940. We don’t fully understand the plateau in the last decade.”

So Chu says we don’t understand the cooling spells, but he spends a good portion of the rest of the lecture saying there’s no question what causes the warming – us. But, wouldn’t an inability to explain the cooling put the entire theory on ice? Sure, unless you’ve got a Progressive political agenda to shill. (Gore Lied)


Lord Monckton vs Tim Lambert: a climate debate

If you have 2+ spare hours, here is a playlist with fifteen 10-minute parts of a fresh debate involving Christopher Monckton and the blogger at the Deltoid:

Press the "tape" next to the "play" button to choose the parts. If you care, Lambert appears mostly in parts 3,4.

They say many interesting things, agree about various issues, and Lord Monckton is better. However, they also make various errors that they agree upon.

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


Can we trust the 'Climategate' inquiry?

Sceptics have not been surprised to find that almost all the members of the 'Climategate' inquiry are committed advocates of global warming

There has been a curious by-product of the attempts being made by the University of East Anglia to whitewash last November's embarrassing leak of documents from its Climatic Research Unit. Since it set up not one but two supposedly "independent" inquiries into the "Climategate" affair, climate sceptics were intrigued but not entirely surprised to find that almost all their members were committed, even fanatical advocates of global warming, and hence unlikely to be over-critical of the CRU's bizarre record.

Most recently, the sceptics have been particularly intrigued by the background of the man chosen by the university to chair an assessment of the CRU's scientific record. Lord Oxburgh declared on his appointment that he is linked to major wind-farm and renewable-energy companies. He admitted that he advises Climate Change Capital, which manages funds worth $1.5 billion, hoping to cash in on the "opportunities created by the transition to a low-carbon economy", in a world market potentially worth – its website boasts – $45 trilllion. (Christopher Booker, TDT)


Putting ClimateGate in perspective

Image: ClimateGate Tank arrives in Australia I attribute much of the recent rapid rise of the skeptics to the ongoing effects of ClimateGate. Yet, in a sense, the e-mails that were sprung from East Anglia did nothing more than confirm what most skeptics already suspected. Lawrence Solomon, author of The Deniers, has written an unusually good summary in the form of a speech for the Colorado Mining Association.

With his permission, I’ve included my favourite points here, as well as a copy of the full speech. His blog is a part of the Energy Probe team.

The Climategate emails confirmed much of what the sceptics had been saying for years.

  • They confirmed that the peer review process had been corrupted, that scientists were arranging friendly reviews.
  • They confirmed that the science journals had been corrupted.
  • That journals that refused to play ball with the doomsayers faced boycotts and their editors faced firing.
  • They confirmed that sceptical scientists were being systematically excluded from the top‐tier journals.
  • The Climategate emails confirmed that journalists were likewise threatened with boycotts if they didn’t play ball.
  • The Climategate emails confirmed that the science itself was suspect. That the doomsayers themselves couldn’t make the data work. That they were debating among themselves some of the same points that the sceptics raised, and were privately acknowledging that they didn’t have answers to the issues that the sceptics raised.
  • The Climategate emails confirmed that the doomsayers were so determined to hide their data from inquiring minds that they were prepared to break the law to hide it – and did break the law – by avoiding Freedom of Information requests.
  • The Climategate emails confirmed that raw temperature data collected from countries around the world was destroyed. It appears the UK is missing raw temperature data going back to 1850.

The scientists at the heart of the Climategate emails aren’t fringe players on some periphery. They operate what’s known as the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University in the UK. This is the group that collects temperature data, messages it, and then feeds it to the UN and others. This is the data that we have been relying on to tell us if the globe has been warming or not. This same data is then used by virtually everyone in the climate science field who is concerned with historical temperatures.

Without the raw data, it is impossible to confirm that the planet has been warming over the last 150 years. The only ones who now know by how much the planet has been warming, if at all, are the same people who have destroyed the raw data. There are now six separate investigations underway which have been spawned by the Climategate emails. One of those six is by the UK Met Office, which partnered with the Climatic Research Unit in producing the data sets.

The UK Met Office – this is the UK government’s meteorological department – says it will need three years to recreate the data that has been destroyed.

More » (Jo Nova)


Still trying to rehabilitate Mann: Penn State climate professor: 'I'm a skeptic'

Penn State's Michael Mann, under fire in e-mails probe, says his global warming research passes test. He also has a regret.


Penn State global warming scientist Michael E. Mann regrets he did not instantly object when a fellow climatologist asked him in 2008 to delete e-mails subject to Freedom of Information requests.

"I wish in retrospect I had told him, 'Hey, you shouldn't even be thinking about this,'" Mann told The Morning Call in his first interview since the university last month launched an investigation into his conduct. "I didn't think it was an appropriate request."

Despite the request by his British colleague Phil Jones, Mann did not delete e-mails, a Penn State University panel of inquiry found on Feb. 3. But the panel ordered further investigation, still in progress, over a general allegation of scientific misconduct by Mann.

Penn State officials said Friday they could not yet provide further information on the probe. (Morning Call)

I wonder who is footing the bill for Mann's pr firm? It is probably costing a pretty penny given the number of column placements and arranged softball interviews and puff pieces oozing around the place.


He's really going to try to brazen it out: Don't hound the climate scientists

One regrettable mistake about glaciers doesn't alter the vast evidence there is of climate change

To dismiss the implications of climate change based on an error about the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are melting is an act of astonishing intellectual legerdemain. Yet this is what some doubters of climate change are claiming. But the reality is that our understanding of climate change is based on a vast and remarkably sound body of science – and is something we distort and trivialise at our peril. (Rajendra Pachauri, The Guardian)


UN climate change chief Rajendra Pachauri says sorry — and switches to neutral

The outspoken chairman of the UN’s climate change body is to adopt a neutral advisory role and has agreed to stop making statements demanding new taxes and other radical policies on cutting emissions.

In an interview with The Times, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, apologised for his organisation’s handling of complaints about errors in its report.

He also apologised for describing as “voodoo science” an Indian Government report which challenged the IPCC’s claims about the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers.

But Dr Pachauri, 70, rejected calls for his resignation and insisted he would remain as chairman until after publication of the IPCC’s next report in 2014.
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He claimed he had the support of all the world’s governments and denied that, by remaining in post, he was undermining the IPCC’s chances of regaining credibility with the public.

“It is not correct to say there are people who don’t trust me,” he said. (The Times)

It is not correct to say there are people who don’t trust me” Uh, you sure about that, Raj?


Germans lose fear of climate change after long, hard winter

Germans are losing their fear of climate change, according to a survey, with just 42 percent worried about global warming.

It seems the long and chilly winter has taken its toll on climate change sensibilities despite the fact that weather has nothing to do with climate. 

The latest figure is a clear drop from the 62 percent of Germans who said they were scared of such changes just last autumn. 

The new survey, carried out by polling company Infratest for Der Spiegel magazine, showed a quarter of those questioned thought Germany would profit from climate change rather than be badly affected by it. 

Many people have little faith in the information and prognosis of climate researchers with a third questioned in the survey not giving them much credence. This is thought to be largely due to mistakes and exaggerations recently discovered in a report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the IPCC.

Germany’s Leibniz Community, an umbrella organisation including many climate research institutes, broke ranks by calling for the resignation of IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri. 

Climate research has been put, “in a difficult situation,” said Ernst Rietschel president of the Leibniz Community. He said sceptics have been given an easy target by the IPCC and said Pachauri should take on the responsibility and resign. 

Last summer the glacier on Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitz in Bavaria, was covered over with plastic sheeting to try to protect it from warm rain which threatened to accelerate its melting. (The Local)


UK Science Museum hit by skeptical ICBM; makes small concession

The London Science Museum has abandoned it’s fort-like barricade, the “No Debate Corral”, and many skeptics are rejoicing that it seems to have done an about-face. I remain highly skeptical.

Remember, this is the same museum that was blatantly telling you, the UK taxpayer, which policy you were supposed to vote and pay for:

Image: Prove-it-logo

Note the claim about “seeing the evidence”.  I have seen the light!

This is the team that only last October launched the Proveit Exhibition to “help” Copenhagen. Members were not even remotely equivocal then about their political aims and beliefs:

“The Copenhagen conference is a crucial opportunity to find an international solution to the threat of climate change and to transform the way we generate and consume energy…“

Dr Vicky Carroll, Prove It! Project Leader and Curator of Science at the Science Museum said: “Scientific evidence shows that climate change is happening. We need to tackle it urgently. Prove it! allows visitors to explore the evidence for climate change in the Science Museum and online, get to grips with the Copenhagen conference, and make their view count.”’

See that phrase: Make their view count? Museum officials were hoping to use poll results to pressure politicians into “doing something”. But, the poll results shocked them, with skeptics outnumbering believers by 5 to 1 initially, and amassing thousands of votes.  Though the museum has now made the minor concession of changing a gallery name from “Climate Change” to “Climate Science”, I remain very unconvinced that it has really shifted position. The new exhibition won’t open until just before the UNFCCC deals in Mexico, and we all know that these exhibits can be stacked with loaded questions and half-truths. If the museum were willing to get a consultant skeptical scientist, I’d be convinced this might be more than some token trick to appear impartial while set designers assemble camouflaged AGW guns in every display. More » (Jo Nova)


“Better Act Now” Than Being Sorry Later? or The Economist vs. The Titanic

Insuring against catastrophe“, proclaims The Economist after publishing an article that just a few weeks ago would have been at the receiving end of sorts of insults by climate talibans:

Plenty of uncertainty remains; but that argues for, not against, action. If it were known that global warming would be limited to 2°C, the world might decide to live with that. But the range of possible outcomes is huge, with catastrophe one possibility, and the costs of averting climate change are comparatively small. Just as a householder pays a small premium to protect himself against disaster, the world should do the same.

The Economist is wrong.

If you want to insure yourself against catastrophe, surely the very first thing you want to do is to make sure that the end result won’t be worse than the catastrophe you’re trying to avoid.

Take for example what happened with the unsinkable Titanic. It is very likely that, had the crew just slowed down the ship without trying to turn it to avoid the iceberg, four or fewer compartments would have been flooded, and the whole sinking avoided with everybody on board surviving the accident. First Officer Murdoch simply didn’t think about the consequences of some of his actions. The cost of trying to avert the iceberg was as high as losing more the fifteen hundred lives.

And so just like with the famous liner, even if we believe he environment is soon going to crush against some disaster of an iceberg, still we can’t simply decide to do something for the sake of doing something. Uncertainty doesn’t necessarily argue for action.

Now, if only we could get the climate debate to a reasonable level, things would be a tad simpler than they are. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


U.N. Panel Suspends Two More Carbon Emissions Auditors

The reputation of a Kyoto Protocol carbon finance scheme was dealt another blow after a UN climate panel late on Friday suspended the third emissions cut verifier in 15 months, and partially suspended a fourth. (Reuters)


The Climate Swindle

Are you worried about your carbon footprint hurting the earth? Don’t worry. Now climate doomsayers can sleep easy at night. For a fee a carbon offset provider will gladly funnel your money into earth friendly projects aimed to reduce greenhouse gases, such as planting trees in Ecuador or supporting a wind farm in Texas. But are carbon offset providers really delivering what they claim? Studies of international carbon offset schemes have revealed examples of widespread fraud and abuse. And now, investigations into two of the most prominent carbon offset providers in the U.S. have revealed that neither of them actually offers real reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. ( Todd Wynn, Cascade Policy Institute)

The in-depth audit can be found here: http://cascadepolicy.org/pdf/20100324ClimateSwindle.pdf


Firm Accused Of Carbon Scam May Face Legal Claims

A firm accused of defrauding Australian investors of A$3.5 million ($3.2 million) in a carbon investment scam and blacklisted by the nation's securities regulator is still operating and may face legal claims.

The case risks denting the reputation of the unregulated voluntary carbon offset market, which has been damaged in the past by allegations of fraud and double-counting, although market players said its small size meant it wouldn't have a big impact. (Reuters)


The Poverty of the Ambitious

According to the Observer today,

Some of the planet’s most powerful paymasters will gather in London on Wednesday to discuss a nagging financial problem: how to raise a trillion dollars for the developing world. Those charged with achieving this daunting goal will include Gordon Brown, directors of several central banks, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the economist Lord (Nicholas) Stern and Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economics adviser.

As an array of expertise, it is formidable: but then so is the task they have been set by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. In effect, the world’s top financiers have been told to work out how to raise at least $100bn a year for the rest of this decade, cash that will be used to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change.

A trillion dollars for the developing world, eh? That sounds like a hell of a lot. And indeed it is. Except when you do the math.

It is said that there are a billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. So a $100bn a year changes the lives of these billion people to the tune of one dollar a day, for a hundred days a year.

In other words, it makes virtually no difference. (Climate Resistance)


Hard to tell about this somewhat hysterical piece: Beyond climate change: Reframing the dialogue over environmental issues

TRAVELING in India the past two months has impressed on me the breadth and urgency of the world's environmental crisis. After decades of sustained growth following the "green revolution" in the 1960s, Indian crop yields no longer keep up with population growth.

Topsoil is becoming depleted of natural chemical nutrients so that increasing applications of chemical fertilizers are required to sustain high crop yields. Cropland is being lost to urbanization and topsoil is being stripped from fields to make bricks. Excess nitrogen from fertilizers in the runoff is polluting rivers and wetlands. Water tables are plummeting in response to shortsighted management practices such as "water mining" from deep wells to increase yields of dry-season crops. ( John M. Wallace, Seattle Times)

It is perfectly true that gorebull warbling has subsumed the broader environmental movement and to its detriment. On the other hand Wallace has history as something of a hysterical greenie and seems to be merely repositioning out of a losing paradigm. Not too sure what to make of it but it is true that absurd climate hysteria has certainly been environmentally detrimental and not just by distraction -- just look at the damage done by "biofuel" ambition and diversion of food cropland.


Skating on the Other Side of the Ice

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Inspired by this thread over at Bishop Hill’s excellent blog, I thought I’d write about sea ice. Among the many catastrophic things claimed to be the result of “global warming”, declining sea ice is one of the most popular. We see scary graphics of this all the time, things that look like this:

FIgure 1. Terrifying computer projections showing that we may not have any Arctic sea ice before the end of this century. Clearly, the implication is that we should be very concerned … SOURCE

Now, what’s wrong with this picture?

Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


It was always a baseless claim: Steady as She Goes for Ocean's Conveyor

Europe can rest easy. A new analysis of data from satellites and drifting sensors finds no evidence that the Atlantic portion of the "Conveyor Belt"—the great warm current flowing ultimately from the Pacific toward the frigid far North Atlantic—is slowing. Scientists and the public had worried that global warming might be shutting down the conveyor flow and threatening a big chill for Europe. Now, judging by its behavior, the conveyor appears to be far less susceptible to throttling by climate change than once feared.

Headlines warning of Europe’s coming ice age first appeared 5 years ago. In a 2005 Nature paper, oceanographers analyzed temperature and salinity measurements made during five brief ship surveys between 1957 and 2004. These data suggested a 30% decline in the northward flow of the Atlantic conveyor near 26°N around the turn of the century. But continuous measurements by cable-moored instrument arrays soon revealed fluctuations in conveyor flow in the space of a year that would have swamped the once-a-decade surveys. Signs of an ice age evaporated, at least by scientists’ reckoning if not the public’s. (Science Now)


Still, it was a great photo op


Yet another great Kevin Rudd idea goes precisely nowhere:

AUSTRALIAN taxpayers are the only financial backers for Kevin Rudd’s $100 million-a-year global clean coal initiative, as world leaders have failed to match their resounding endorsement of the idea at the G8 meeting last July with a single dollar.

Praised by US President Barack Obama as a “significant” announcement, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which is charged with speeding the development and take-up of clean coal technology, has attracted more than 200 of the world’s biggest economies and companies as members.

But to date their only financial commitment is to guarantee $10 [million?] in the event the institute goes broke.

(Thanks to reader CA.) (Andrew Bolt)


Jimmy Carter Was Better than This! (Why can’t Democrats embrace a free energy market?)

by R. Dobie Langenkamp
March 27, 2010

As a Democrat, I have asked myself how it is that the current administration could be so consistently wrong on energy policy. There was a time in the days of Bob Kerr, Lyndon Johnson, Sam Rayburn, and Bennett Johnson that energy policy was bipartisan. In fact, those Democratic wheel horses from the great Southwest made sure that the policy–particularly as regarded oil and gas– was somewhat rational.

Carter Was Pro-Drilling Compared to Obama

The last Democratic President to acknowledge the need for exploration was Jimmy Carter, under whom I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas. Carter pushed both an offshore 5-year leasing plan and production from the Naval Petroleum Reserves. I know–I was in charge of both.

So despite the Windfall Profits Tax and much hyperbolic rhetoric, President Carter had a foot, or at least a few toes, in the pro-production camp. And it was none other than Carter who set up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling (after adequate study) as one of his last acts in office.

The 39th President also initiated both the decontrol of gas dating from the 1950’s and the (phased) decontrol of crude oil and oil products that began with Richard Nixon in 1971 which Reagan simply accelerated with his famous decontrol executive order of January 1981.

Democrats vs. Drilling

But no more! Democrats today seem to want to fly in the face of reality by espousing phantom sources of energy and working at cross purposes with American interests:

Democrats today tend to:

  • Believe in Peak Oil and the imminent end of the hydrocarbon age
  • Accept Global Warming Alarmism unquestioningly
  • Exaggerate the decline in the state of the environment when it is actually improving
  • View hydrocarbons as a threat to modern civilization rather than its creator and preserver and to viscerally oppose oil and gas exploration
  • Exaggerate the environmental impact of oil drilling both on and offshore

All this leads Democrats to support and subsidize trendy new sources of power (e.g. switchgrass!) without acknowledging how limited or how environmentally damaging they are when implemented on a large scale.

This has only a little to do with “free market” ideology. I assert that a centrist–or if you like a moderate liberal–who believes in moderate government intervention (securities regulation, social security, Medicare, single payer health, etc.) can: [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Energy Security Populism: Oil Prices, American Leaders, and Media

American leaders and news outlets often refer to American-company overseas oil field purchases, oil and gas discoveries, freedom from oil initiatives, and offshore drilling as vehicles towards energy security. These efforts do not, and cannot, enhance oil security for the U.S. without simultaneously increasing global oil security, defined as insulation from price and supply shocks. [Read More] (Kevin P. Kane, Energy Tribune)


Another Classic Colorado Ballot Initiative

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent
March 26, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

After yesterday’s revelation about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s dismantling of his state’s global warming regulatory infrastructure, a grassroots citizens group said they would attack the renewables rent-seeking industry via a Colorado ballot initiative. The Western Tradition Partnership announced:

(Two) Colorado citizens submitted to the Legislative Legal Council Wednesday a proposed ballot initiative restoring the right of consumers to lower their utility bills by choosing less-expensive forms of energy….

If approved, the initiative allows a utility’s customers to submit a petition requesting an election among customers on whether to opt out of so-called “renewable energy standards.” Renewable energy standards are government mandates forcing a utility to buy a certain percentage of their power from more expensive sources such as wind and solar, driving up utility bills.

Renewable energy standards are a favorite tool of speculators, who invested in the more expensive, less efficient sources and cannot attract consumers in a competitive market.  By lobbying politicians to make purchasing their product mandatory, speculators pass their losses to captive customers.

Of course the foundation for the passage of these measures has been the hyped fear from the threat of global warming, which has been proven fraudulent. WTP, which placed some fairly strict requirements in the measure’s language in order to trigger a utility customer election, reports that it is only trying to restore an opt-out provision that Colorado voters supported in a previous ballot initiative.

It has become so trendy now to challenge the crumbling global warming establishment. (Cooler Heads)


CO2 ruling may halt new airport runways

CAMPAIGNERS will seek to block airport expansion across Britain following a High Court judgment which criticised the government’s decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Environmental groups linked to Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and a string of other airports hope to use the ruling to launch fresh challenges against plans for mass growth in flights and passenger numbers.

The judgment on Friday found that ministers had failed to take account of new, legally binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they approved the expansion of Heathrow. (Sunday Times)

So get rid of the idiotic targets to reduce carbon dioxide, dopey buggers.


Pity the poor grid controller

The electricity grid is one of the great achievements of modern technology. It has been so well designed and developed that we take it for granted. Thanks to the dereliction of duty by ignorant and arrogant governments of the new political class, that will all come to an end when the power cuts start. The fact that the grid is so reliable is down to the skill of a relatively small number of engineers who have the responsibility to control it. That is also about to change as new uncontrollable devices are being attached to the grid for religious reasons. This is even more grotesquely in evidence with the encouragement of “microgeneration” by which consumers are encouraged to mike their own input into the grid. Imagine the situation if people were encouraged to pump the untreated output of the wells in their back gardens into the water supply. (Number Watch)


U.S. Nuclear Waste Plan Needs Public Support: Panel

Plans to boost nuclear power hinge on overcoming intense public fears about radioactive waste -- and mistrust that the government can safely store it -- federal commissioners tasked to deal with the issue said on Friday.

There's little point in hammering out technical details about how to site a permanent nuclear waste dump without also convincing the public that storing waste won't be a risk to health or the environment, argued Commissioner Albert Carnesale of the University of California at Los Angeles. (Reuters)


Whose green jobs, again? BP closing Maryland solar manufacturing plant

BP will close its solar-panel manufacturing plant in Frederick, the final step in moving its solar business out of the United States to facilities in China, India and other countries.

Just 3 1/2 years ago, in an announcement widely hailed by Maryland officials and promoters of "green jobs," BP unveiled a $70 million plan to double output at the facility and erected a building to house the production lines.

But on Friday the company said it would lay off 320 workers and keep only a hundred people involved in research, sales and project development. BP said laid-off employees would receive full pay and benefits for three months, followed by severance packages and job-placement assistance. The company, unable to sell or lease the building, will tear it down. (Washington Post)


Rare Earth and Lithium Supplies Cloud Renewables

by Ken Maize
March 26, 2010

Rare earths refer to some 17 elements found in Earth’s crust by themselves or combined with other chemicals. Some are scarce and others abundant, but in most every case Rare earths create risk in the renewable energy supply chain under an “energy security” standard.

The metals and their compounds used in battery technologies, windmills, catalysts, and communications technologies are not mined in the U.S. The majority of commercially useful Rare earths come from mines in China, a country that is fickle toward the U.S. in many ways. This energy-security issue contradicts a rationale for taxpayer support for government-dependent energy technologies such as windpower and electric cars.

China’s Rare Earth Monopoly

The Rare earths occupy 57th to 71st place on the periodic chart of the elements. Discovered largely in the 19th century, the minerals have proven useful for modern technologies because of their electrochemical properties. They are crucial to advanced, high-temperature superconducting technologies, in addition to being used in windmills, electric vehicles, and new lighting technologies.

China owns the market for the most important rare earth metals, producing almost 100% of dysprosium and terbium, both crucial to the advanced performance of electric motors and lighting (see figure). Today, demand for the rare metals is booming. But China has been exploiting its dominant monopoly of rare earths to manipulate the market, according to U.S. commodities analysts.

Geographic changes in rare earth production. Courtesy: USGS

These are not internationally traded commodities on transparent markets, so sussing out market price trends is difficult. Analysts surveying the market assert that China is using its market power to control prices and benefit its domestic producers and users. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Lawrence Solomon: Don't bet on the Bloom Box

Investors could soon be scratching their heads over a rumoured $1.5-billion IPO for Bloom Energy and its fuel cell, a gizmo the size of a CD that can provide power to a home without needing to be connected to the electric utility's power lines. Unveiled amid much hoopla on 60 Minutes last month, the Bloom fuel cell is touted for being able to run on natural gas or biofuels, for being more efficient than a conventional natural gas power station and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And, the Bloom fuel cell doesn't just help homeowners -- if you stack a bunch of these CDs together, they can power businesses, too, even big businesses. As 60 Minutes showed, major players such as Google and eBay already use the Bloom technology, dubbed the Bloom Box, to power their operations.

But the Bloom Box has its critics. They say it is nothing revolutionary, merely another version of fuel cell technology, which many companies have pursued over the decades, and which many continue to pursue. While the Bloom Box may be more efficient than a conventional natural gas power plant in converting natural gas to electricity, from the little that Bloom Energy has disclosed it seems less efficient than the high efficiency natural gas plants now in use around the world. And the critics question whether the Bloom Box's high costs of today can be reduced enough in future to make it economical.

Who's right? The answer now is wildly unknowable, mostly because the political needs of governments, rather than the energy needs of consumers, are likely to be calling the shots.

Click here to read more... (Financial Post)



Rightful Anger

Health Reform: Should Americans feel ashamed for being angry that those who rule Washington thwarted the popular will? No more than colonial Americans at the trampling of their freedoms.

If the president and the leaders of his party in Congress think the American people are going to roll over and play dead after the biggest government power grab in history, they don't know this country.

And if they think those on the side of economic freedom will be intimidated by their attempts to caricature them as a bloodthirsty mob of Timothy McVeighs, they underestimate the powers of a free people.

A new CBS News poll finds that 62% of Americans want Republicans to keep fighting the Democrats' health legislation even now that it has passed. (IBD)


It's Over -- The Fat Lady has Sung

Meet Donna Simpson, of Old Bridge, N.J. Donna is a 42-year-old, presumably unemployed single mother with specific medical issues related to obesity. It is unclear whether she has health insurance. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid probably think of Donna Simpson as a victim of the American health insurance system, which didn't provide her automatic coverage -- and if it did provide her coverage, that coverage was probably increasingly expensive.

There's a reason that Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Reid don't use Simpson as one of their typical sob stories: Simpson weighs 604 pounds, and she's trying to work her way up to 1,000 pounds so that she can make the "Guinness Book of World Records." "This is a fantasy of mine," Simpson told the New York Post. According to the Post, Simpson would love to hit 1,000 pounds by 2012, consuming a diet of 12,000 calories per day. (Ben Shapiro, Townhall)


Reform Repeal Is Just Child's Play

Repeal: Some say trying to repeal ObamaCare is a futile dream once people get used to its benefits, such as covering kids with pre-existing conditions. Once before, government was slapped down. It can be done.

Entitlements can be addictive, and it's certainly the purpose of this administration to make as many Americans as possible as dependent on government as possible.

That's partly why a health care bill put student loans under the Department of Education. The government needed the revenues, but it also needed the power over yet another class of citizens.

Unlike Medicare and Social Security, this nationalization of one-sixth of the U.S. economy and placing of bureaucrats and IRS agents between you and your doctor was unpopular from the beginning. (IBD)


Will Gov't Health Takeover Bring Constitutional 'Hope And Change'?

We live in a fundamentally different country from that which existed only days ago. The government now requires every American to buy health insurance. The Constitution has been attacked, interpreted in a way beyond its original intent. Therefore, we must change it. (Larry Elder, IBD)


Swine flu virus not so new, study finds

WASHINGTON - The H1N1 swine flu virus may have been new to humanity in many ways but in one key feature its closest relative was the 1918 pandemic virus, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Their findings could point to better ways to design vaccines and help explain why the swine flu pandemic largely spared the elderly.

"This study defines an unexpected similarity between two pandemic-causing strains of influenza," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. (Reuters)


Heated discussions

The email conversations at the heart of 'Climategate' suggest a campaign to nobble journals, marginalise climate-change sceptics and withhold data from other researchers, says Andrew Montford

The leaking, or perhaps hacking, of hundreds of emails from the servers of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia late last year has thrown the already turbulent world of climatology into turmoil. The significance of the emails is hotly disputed, but sceptics of the so-called consensus position allege that they contain evidence of the undermining of the peer-review process, attempts to pressurise journals, the withholding of data and code from outsiders, and at least one episode of the manipulation of results.

The accusations and denials will fly for months to come. So far, no fewer than five inquiries have been announced into various aspects of what has come to be known as Climategate, and some of these will not report until the middle of the year. However, regardless of the outcome, the affair raises ethical issues that will be of interest far beyond the narrow confines of climate science. Some of the most important concern the world of academic publishing. (Times Higher Education)


Uh-huh... Rise in obesity makes VCs hungry for startups

SAN FRANCISCO (Private Equity Week) - Startups focused on treatments for metabolic disorders - one of the key contributing factors in obesity - have raised significant sums of venture capital in recent months.

For these startups, developing treatments for weight disorders is less about controlling the calories consumed and more about focusing on the metabolic systems that regulate how the body uses food. (Reuters)


Thirty per cent of breast cancer 'is caused by obesity'

Up to a third of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers claim. 

Experts believe more than 14,000 women a year would probably not develop the disease if they had adopted healthier behaviour from an early age. 

Modern lifestyles which feature regular drinking, lack of exercise and increased obesity are fuelling the rise of the disease, the European Breast Cancer Conference heard yesterday. (Daily Mail)


Obesity accelerates liver damage in heavy drinkers

NEW YORK - Obesity compounds the harmful effects of heavy drinking on the liver, new research in more than 9,000 Scottish men shows.

Based on the findings, the investigators argue that lower limits for "safe" alcohol consumption in heavier people may be necessary. (Reuters Health)


Workplace turmoil plus stress = obesity

ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 25 -- Chronic job stress and lack of physical activity are strongly associated with being overweight or obese, U.S. researchers said. 

However, researchers also found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables did little to offset the effect of chronic job stress on weight gain among the employees, who were mostly sedentary. (UPI)


Dodgy claim du jour: High fructose corn syrup the cause of obesity epidemic, new study suggests

Bad news for the high fructose corn syrup industry. A new study led by a Princeton University research team suggests that high fructose corn syrup may be at least partially responsible for the increase in the obesity rate in the United States.

The study published online March 18 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior showed consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused more weight gain in lab animals than table sugar when both sweeteners were consumed in equal quantity.

In addition, long term consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the abdomen, and an increase in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. Both are signs of metabolic syndrome. (foodconsumer)


Dispatch: Corn Syrup Vs. Sugar

A research team at Princeton University demonstrated that “rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup [HFCS] gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”

“This is contrary to many other studies that show that the metabolism of HFCS is the same as that of sucrose,” says Dr. Ross. “It isn’t even concordant with other animal studies.”

“There seems to be a campaign to show that HFCS is a major cause of obesity and that obesity will somehow cease to be a problem if we just switch to sugar,” says Dr. Whelan. “Of course, that’s completely false. Even Dr. Marion Nestle, who is often a critic of the food industry, is skeptical about this study.”

“If people want to switch from HFCS to lose weight, they should switch to non-nutritive sweeteners such as Sweet & Low, NutraSweet, Splenda, and other safe alternatives available in diet sodas,” says Stier. “If your goal is to lose weight, do not switch to sugar, since it has the same number of calories as HFCS.” (Curtis Porter, ACSH)


Better Ways to Help the Public Lose Weight

It seems like everywhere we turn — whether it’s bans on school bake sales, required calorie counts in fast food chains, or First Lady Michelle Obama toiling in her White House garden — we are being told to watch our weight. There’s even the national Campaign to End Obesity, which is “dedicated to reversing America’s costliest medical condition” and advocates for “federal policies that promote healthy weight.” 

Encouraging healthy lifestyles is important, but are these campaigns placing more stress and even a stigma on the obese? What sorts of public initiatives can promote good eating habits without possibly resulting in discrimination against overweight people? (New York Times)


Teenagers are programmed for risk, study finds

LONDON - Teenagers are programed to take risks because they enjoy the thrill of dangerous situations more than others, British scientists said on Wednesday.

The findings may explain why adolescents engage in activities like drug-taking, fighting and unsafe sex.

"The onset of adolescence marks an explosion in 'risky' activities - from dangerous driving, unsafe sex and experimentation with alcohol, to poor dietary habits and physical inactivity," said Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of University College London's Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, a co-author of the study.

She said these types of behaviors contribute to the so-called "health paradox" of adolescence, when a lifetime peak in physical health coincides with a period of relatively high health risks and death rates. (Reuters)


Moderate drinking may slow arthritis progression

NEW YORK - Some studies have suggested that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, and now new findings link the habit to a slower progression of the joint disease. (Reuters Health)


Pollution from Asia circles globe at stratospheric heights

BOULDER -- The economic growth across much of Asia comes with a troubling side effect: pollutants from the region are being wafted up to the stratosphere during monsoon season. The new finding, in a study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, provides additional evidence of the global nature of air pollution and its effects far above Earth's surface.

The international study is being published Thursday in Science Express. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, together with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Using satellite observations and computer models, the research team determined that vigorous summertime circulation patterns associated with the Asian monsoon rapidly transport air upward from the Earth's surface. Those vertical movements provide a pathway for black carbon, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants to ascend into the stratosphere, about 20-25 miles above the Earth's surface.

"The monsoon is one of the most powerful atmospheric circulation systems on the planet, and it happens to form right over a heavily polluted region," says NCAR scientist William Randel, the lead author. "As a result, the monsoon provides a pathway for transporting pollutants up to the stratosphere."

Once in the stratosphere, the pollutants circulate around the globe for several years. Some eventually descend back into the lower atmosphere, while others break apart.

The study suggests that the impact of Asian pollutants on the stratosphere may increase in coming decades because of the growing industrial activity in China and other rapidly developing nations. In addition, climate change could alter the Asian monsoon, although it remains uncertain whether the result would be to strengthen or weaken vertical movements of air that transport pollutants into the stratosphere.

Randel says more research is needed into the possible effects of the pollutants. When sulfur rises into the stratosphere, it can lead to the creation of small particles called aerosols that are known to influence the ozone layer. The monsoon transport pathway may also have effects on other gases in the stratosphere, such as water vapor, that affect global climate by influencing the amount of solar heat that reaches Earth. (NCAR/UCAR)


Farming reform needed to end hunger without obesity

Agriculture needs revolutionary change to confront threats such as global warming and end hunger in developing nations without adding to the ranks of the obese, an international study showed on Thursday.

The report said South Asia and Africa were "battlegrounds for poverty reduction" as the world population rose to a peak in 2050. Prospects for quick advances in curbing hunger are better for India and Bangladesh than sub-Saharan Africa, it said.

Funded by groups including the World Bank and the European Commission, the report said agricultural research needed reforms "as radical as those that occurred during industrial and agricultural revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries."

Research needs to be increased, and a fragmented "seed-to-table" food production system needs to be overhauled to improve cooperation between small-scale farmers, governments, companies, scientists, civil society groups and others.

The report noted estimates that net investments of $83 billion a year, at 2009 prices, were needed in developing countries to meet U.N. projections of 2050 food demand. "That is an increase of almost 50 percent over current levels," it said.

The world population is projected to rise to 9 billion by 2050 from 6.8 billion now. Between 1.0 and 1.5 billion people now live in poverty. (Reuters)


Chromosome Regions Related to Corn Flowering Time Discovered: Higher Yields for Food, Feed and Fuel Possible

Scientists may have made an "a-maize-ing" discovery that could lead to higher corn yields in the United States. In a new research report published in the March 2010 issue of the journal Genetics scientists used tropical maize from Mexico and Thailand to discover chromosome regions responsible for detecting seasonal changes in flowering time (called the "photoperiod response"). This discovery may lead to higher crop yields, improved disease resistance, and heartier plants able to withstand severe weather. As one of the United States' largest crops, corn is used for food, feed, sweetener, fuel, plastics, and more. (ScienceDaily)



Republican senator decries industry-backed carbon fee on fuel

Republican Sen. James Inhofe today threw cold water on plans to put a new carbon fee on transportation fuels as part of climate change legislation being negotiated in the Senate.

The idea -- advocated by ConocoPhillips and other oil companies -- has gained traction with the three senators writing a new climate change bill.

They have abandoned a House-passed plan to force refiners to buy pollution permits to cover the carbon dioxide released when consumers burn transportation fuels in cars, trucks and planes. Instead, they are considering a so-called "linked carbon fee" on jet fuels and gasoline that consumers would pay to airlines and at pumping stations.

"What they're talking about is an increased gas tax," said Inhofe, R-Okla., who used an Environment and Public Works hearing on transportation to press administration officials on the issue.

John D. Porcari, the deputy secretary of transportation, stood by the administration's position that a gas tax would suppress the nation's economic recovery.

"As we are in the beginning stages of a recovery, it is as important as ever to make sure that recovery is accelerated in every way possible," Porcari said. (Houston Chronicle)


Next Power Grab: Cap-and-Trade

E&E Daily reports this morning that Obama administration officials have met with Kerry-Graham-Lieberman to prepare an April push for the-tax-formerly-known-as-cap-and-trade.

That’s very good timing for reasons I’ll explain as the moment nears. Also timing well, on the heels of this report, is a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal-Europe which, in the words of Open Europe’s daily update, “looks at the EU’s emissions trading scheme for carbon and argues that it is "a cautionary tale in how quickly environmental policy engineering degrades into rent-seeking for the fortunate few.”

You Gamecocks need to explain to your neighbors the bag of magic beans that their senior senator is chasing. I’m not claiming that Senator Graham is listening to his constituents of late, just that it may be worth one last effort to educate him and his staff.

Then again, maybe this explains what he is up to: he's been cuddling up with GE. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)


GE CEO Jeff Immelt Exploits Reagan Legacy to Bolster Image with Conservatives; GE's Celebration of Reagan is Politically Motivated, says the Free Enterprise Project

In response to GE's recent announcement of its sponsorship commemorating the Centennial Celebration of President Ronald Reagan's birth, today the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research is criticizing GE CEO Jeff Immelt for exploiting Reagan's legacy to curry favor with conservatives.

"I'm outraged over Immelt's shameless exploitation of President Reagan's historic presidency to improve GE's reputation among conservatives. Reagan is the champion of conservatives because he fought for liberty and limited government. In contrast, Immelt uses GE's vast lobbying resources to expand the size and role of government in order to create markets for its products and loot Americans of their liberty," said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Public Research's Free Enterprise Project.

Borelli notes that GE is an aggressive supporter of cap-and-trade legislation and that the company played a key role in passing the Waxman-Markey climate change bill last year. GE hopes the capping of carbon emissions would force demand for its renewable energy products such as wind turbines and solar panels. With cap-and-trade currently stalled in the Senate, GE lobbyists are now writing energy legislation for Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would mandate that an increasing amount of electricity be derived from renewable energy sources. (National Center)


‘Cap and Trade’ Loses Its Standing as Energy Policy of Choice

WASHINGTON — Less than a year ago, cap and trade was the policy of choice for tackling climate change. 

Environmental groups and their foes in industry joined hands to embrace the approach, a market-driven system that sets a ceiling on global warming pollution while allowing companies to trade permits to meet it. President Obama praised it by name in his first budget, and the authors of the House climate and energy bill passed last June largely built their measure around it. 

Today, the concept is in wide disrepute, with opponents effectively branding it “cap and tax,” and Tea Party followers using it as a symbol of much of what they say is wrong with Washington. 

Mr. Obama dropped all mention of cap and trade from his current budget. And the sponsors of a Senate climate bill likely to be introduced in April, now that Congress is moving past health care, dare not speak its name. (John M. Broder, NYT)

"Cap and trade" isn't an energy policy at all, let alone the "energy policy of choice". In effect it is a cheap energy rationing scheme and consumer rip off but it is categorically not an energy policy.


Sense finally prevails: Christie Shreds New Jersey Climate Change Programs - Kills Emission Reporting, Diverts Green Energy Fund & Defunds Climate Office

TRENTON, N.J. - March 25 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has taken a wrecking ball to the state's touted Global Warming Response Act, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In recent weeks, the Christie administration has blocked required reporting from greenhouse gas sources, diverted $300 million in Clean Energy Funds dedicated to energy efficiency and proposed to zero out the state's Office of Climate Change and Energy. (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER))


How Republicans Learned To Reject Climate Change

As climate change emerged as a top issue on the national scene a few years ago, it had one unusual quality: The response to it showed surprising signs of bipartisan support.

Two or three years ago, Republicans such as Sen. John McCain and Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlie Crist played nearly as prominent a role as Al Gore in advocating a robust regulatory response.

No more. Climate hasn't yet become as partisan an issue as, say, health care and taxes. But it's getting there. (NPR)


Disaster: UK greenhouse gas emissions drop by 8.6%

Economic contraction and move away from fossil fuels saw overall emissions fall from 533m tonnes to 481m tonnes in 2009

The recession and a switch from coal to nuclear power helped produce a dramatic drop in Britain's greenhouse gas emissions over the last year, new government figures show. (The Guardian)


Free energy saving bulbs 'cost £45'

Each household has ended up paying £45 for the free energy saving light bulbs that have been sent to them by their electricity supplier, according to a leading watchdog,

More than 200 million free energy-saving light bulbs have been sent to households over the last two years by energy suppliers. The mass mail-out was caused by gas and electricity suppliers trying to hit Government targets to reduce carbon emissions.

However, Which?, the consumer watchdog has calculated that each household has ended paying £45 each through higher energy bills to fund the scheme, even though many consumers objected to being sent the bulbs. Many complained about having to go to the Post Office to collect what they thought was a parcel, only to find it was a bulb that did not even fit any of their lamps.

"Consumers unwittingly paid for them to help energy companies avoid fines," the Which? report said.

The bulbs were sent by all of the big six suppliers: British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish & Southern and Scottish Power. They were sent out because they all had to sign up to the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taget (CERT), set by the Government in an attempt to force companies to improve their green credentials.

Companies had various options of how they hit their targets to reduce carbon emissions, but if they failed to hit their targets they could be fined 10 per cent of their turnover. The companies were, crucially, allowed to pass on the costs of the scheme to customers. (TDT)


They're still trying this outright lie: Greenpeace Says Climate Denialism a 20–Year Industry - Internet, Monckton-Style Deniers Changing the Game, Report Says

Current efforts to deny climate science are part of an organized campaign that dates back 20 years, when the fossil fuel industry first formed a lobbying apparatus to stifle action on global warming, the environment group Greenpeace said on Wednesday.

In a report titled "Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science," the group accused ExxonMobil of being the ringleader of what it called a "campaign of denial." (solveclimate)


Perhaps they really are that ignorant

In the wake of the Oxfam/Prefero report, we now have Greenpeace weighing in with a report headed: "Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science. A Brief History of Attacks on Climate Science, Climate Scientists and the IPCC."

It would seem from the warmist obsession with such events that they are hurting grievously. They seem to be devoting far more attention to this issue than on the other side of the fence, where the debate is still largely on the science and related matters.

However, despite our criticisms of the Prefero report (what we know of it), it shines out as a paragon of virtue compared with the Greenpeace effort, which could best be described as a lengthy rant against the Machiavellian machinations of "Big Oil".

Purporting to describe "20 years of organised attacks on climate science, scientists and the IPCC", it offers what it believes to be "some of the key moments in this campaign of denial started by the fossil fuel industry, and traces them to their sources" – then concluding that "the correct response to attacks on climate science is scepticism."

Fixated by a fictional network of influence (pictured above) and especially Exxon Mobile money and its payments to a range of think-tanks, it picks on, amongst others, the Canadian-based Fraser Institute, delivering this commentary which demonstrates quite how far off-beam the analysis really is:

Unlike the IPCC, which receives funding only from the UN system and relies almost totally on voluntary input from the majority of those who work on it, the Fraser Institute’s team of "experts" included several scientists with direct connections with industry front groups and conservative think tanks, none of whom appear to have published any peer-reviewed articles on global warming.

The issue here is its complete misperception of the nature of the funding of IPCC personnel, some insight to which was given in our earlier post. There we noted that, amongst other payments., £330,187 had been given by Defra to Professor Martin Parry personally, to fund his work as Co-chair of Working group II.

The department had also paid £1,436,162 to "provide the scientific and administrative Technical Support Unit (TSU) for Working Group II (WGII), and an entirely separate sum of £1,144,738 to WGII TSU as part of the UK's " international commitment to provide technical support on climate change."

In all, this meant that the scientists and experts who "volunteered their time" on WGII were paid to the tune of nearly £3 million (£2,921,777) by British taxpayers alone – which does not of course include the sums paid by other nations and the production costs, or the payments by the IPCC directly.

Therein lies a puzzle. The arrangement where national governments – and especially the US government – pays its people quite healthy amounts to attend the IPCC, is hardly a secret. These scientists may have volunteered, but very few of the key writers are doing it for nothing. It is, therefore, very difficult to believe that the authors of this Greenpeace report are unaware of what is happening.

On the other hand, though, we are seeing clues from an increasing number of sources – this report included - which seem to indicate something amazing. The warmists could really be as ignorant as they appear to be. (EU Referendum)


Meanwhile: Oops: Chief Climategate investigator failed to declare eco directorship

'Dracula's in charge of the blood bank'

Exclusive The peer leading the second Climategate enquiry at the University of East Anglia serves as a director of one of the most powerful environmental networks in the world, according to Companies House documents - and has failed to declare it.

Lord Oxburgh, a geologist by training and the former scientific advisor to the Ministry of Defence, was appointed to lead the enquiry into the scientific aspects of the Climategate scandal on Monday. But Oxburgh is also a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment. (Andrew Orlowski, The Register)


Peter Foster: Trillion-dollar green troughs

Green TSX Index, an IMF Fund, the Globe confab: The Green Juggernaut rolls on

By Peter Foster

Unfortunately, I had to miss this week’s biennial Globe Foundation conference on business and the environment. Set in Vancouver, Globe is the greatest show on Earth (or at least in North America) for green policy wonks, eco consultants, aggressively growth-oriented NGOs and corporate rent seekers (all delegates carbon-neutralized). There’s no more beautiful place to bask in the notion that the world is going to environmental hell without more government regulation and subsidy, or to reflect on how much money is to be made from promoting and exploiting undefinable “sustainability.”

I attended my first Globe shindig ten years ago. The highlight (at least for me) was the announcement by Alberta utility TransAlta that it would be seeking carbon dioxide emission credits by corking cattle farts in Uganda.

Two items conspicuously absent from the agenda were whether climate science was sound and whether Kyoto commitments to slash emissions (none more rigorous and unreachable than those made by Canada) made any sense.

Click here to read more... (Financial Post)


Now it's CowGate: expert report says claims of livestock causing global warming are false

It is becoming difficult to keep pace with the speed at which the global warming scam is now unravelling. The latest reversal of scientific “consensus” is on livestock and the meat trade as a major cause of global warming – one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to eco-vegetarian cranks. Now a scientific report delivered to the American Chemical Society says it is nonsense. The Washington Times has called it “Cowgate”. (Gerald Warner, TDT))


Post-IPCC gaffe, govt seeks changes in panel ops

NEW DELHI: The government might have backed R K Pachauri, the beleaguered chairman of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but it has also sent a long and detailed advisory on how the panel could improve its operations.

The note is bound to be seen as a veiled criticism of the panel that has been under attack for producing sub-standard reports. (Times of India)


Nature’s Weakness – Scientific Magazines’ Reputation Sadly Overrated

Horrified by Nature’s idiotic editorial trying to rally the troops for a street fight? Worry no more…the esteemed British scientific magazine is not new to egregious errors, such as showing no interest in the discovery of the Krebs Cycle (in 1937) and rejecting outright the evidence for pre Cambrian complex lifeforms (1946).

Perhaps the scientists of the XXII century will have learned that reputation means truly nothing, in the realms of proper science. Especially after the invention of marketing. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Porritt still puddling on: The new parliament must innovate to build a low-carbon economy

The next parliament is the last one that can meet the 80% cut by 2050 target. Whoever wins the general election must tackle climate change immediately ( Jonathon Porritt, The Guardian)


The National Trust Wants You To Emit Greenhouse Gases

Attack of the Killer Orange Groves? The Day of The Palm Triffids? London’s California Horror?

Apart from being scientifically flawed in the extreme (with an ocean next door, one should compare Britain to Portugal, not Sicily or Greece), the latest attempt by the National Trust to “highlight how gardens will look if global warming brings Mediterranean weather to Britain in the next few decades” might turn into a PR disaster.

People are spending thousands of pounds every year to get from Britain to somewhere sunny, and the thought of having it all at home might as well entice a good increase in GHG emissions…

National Trust: Britain today

National Trust: Heavenly (?) Britain today

National Trust: Britain today

National Trust: Hellish (??) Britain +2C

National Trust: Britain today

National Trust: Hellish (????) Britain +4C

Notably, Monbiot himself made a similar point a few weeks ago… (Marizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Death by press release

Given the huge amount of money at stake in the Amazon forest, it is entirely unsurprising that the warmists have been more than usually strident in defending their turf, as I noted in a recent post.

Such is their desperation though that they have now fronted Simon Lewis, the scientist cited by Jonathan Leake in his "Amazongate" article in The Sunday Times of 31 January, to make a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

The complaint is very publicly aired in The Guardian and more fully in a warmist blog, setting out the casus belli.

As readers will recall, the essence of the story was that the IPCC made the unsubstantiated claim that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to "even a slight reduction in precipitation" and had thereby overstated the threat of climate change to the rainforest.

Bizarrely, Lewis is not complaining about the fact that the claim is unsubstantiated in the IPCC report. Rather, he asserts that, despite the lack of a supporting reference, the claim is still correct, something he drew to Leake's attention prior to the publication of the article. And it is Leake's failure to inform the readers of that assertion that forms the substance of the complaint.

Lewis thus says in his PCC complaint that "the IPCC statement itself was scientifically defensible and correct, merely that [it used] the incorrect reference... To state otherwise is to materially mislead the reader." Leake is being censured not for what he did write, but what he didn't.

The sin is compounded, according to Lewis, by Leake's failure to acknowledge a pre-publication claim by WWF that their report, on which the IPCC had based its claim, was missing an essential reference – left out by error. Had that been included, the claim would have been supported.

And here we begin to descend into low farce. As it turns out, the missing WWF reference - they tell us is to a publication called Fire in the Amazon, itself not peer-reviewed and produced by another advocacy group, the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM).

Thus, there are a series of errors here. First, the IPCC cited a study by an advocacy group (WWF) to support its claim. Second, it failed to notice that the claim in the study was unreferenced. Thirdly, the actual reference, had it been used, was to a non-peer-reviewed source.

As to Lewis's claim that the IPCC statement itself was "scientifically defensible and correct", if that is the case, then he seems to be having extraordinary difficulty in proving it.

For sure, as he says, "there is a wealth of scientific evidence suggesting that the Amazon is vulnerable to reductions in rainfall". There are also numerous papers which suggest all manner of figures as to the areas of forest at risk, from diverse causes. But nowhere is there a peer-reviewed paper, or any combination of papers, that supports the very specific IPCC claim, in its entirety.

Without a definitive paper, therefore, all that is left for Lewis to do is point us to a press release or ... a press release. "As a professional scientist I have to clear this mess up, it's important to protect my reputation in terms of providing accurate scientific information to the public," he adds.

And that is what it has come to - death by press release, the arbiter of choice becoming the press complaints commission. (EU Referendum)


John Cook: Skeptical Science

Several people asked me to remove John Cook's photograph because they think it's unfair for it to appear. In some sense, I do agree that it can lead some readers to react irrationally, so I did remove it. (Revkin kept it.)

John Cook, a former student of physics in Australia, has constructed an interesting website trying to attack the opinions of climate skeptics.

Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism

It's been in my climate bookmarks for quite some time but no one really cared about it so I didn't want to respond. However, his talking counter-points were recently adopted by an iPhone application. Moreover, Andrew Revkin promoted the website, too. So let us look at his points and counter-points.

On his website, you can currently see 102 observations by the skeptics. Each of them is accompanied by a short attempted rebuttal by John Cook. And if you click it, you get to a long rebuttal. So let's look at them:

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


Embarrassing “Skeptical Science” or The Return Of The Aristotelians

I was meaning to write about the cringe-inducing website called “Skeptical Science” and today’s Revkin’s piece at dotEarth finally pushed me forward.

I feel embarrassment for John Cook, Skeptical Science author, for two reasons (neither concerning his rather disturbing photograph). First of all the very existence of such a site seems to be a loud scream at all that has gone wrong with the IPCC. If Mr Cook feels it necessary to spend as much time as he does on the topic, obviously he should be the first one to agree that the IPCC has been a communication failure.

(not that he’s really any better himself at that: by stating that “eventually, the scientific reality will be so in our faces that inaction will be impossible“, Cook is confirming that “the scientific realityis currently notso in our faces” as his scholarly lists of scientific papers appear to suggest)

The second reason I find Skeptical Science a disaster is that all it is ever going to tell us is that AGW is a self-consistent theory and there has been plenty of papers written on the topic. That can only highlight what will forever be missing: the science that was prevented to be published, the open questions, the competing claims within AGW orthodoxy.

In fact, one of the comments at dotEarth (#15) pretty much reveals the kind of person that would find the Skeptical Science site of high interest. The point is not to understand the world as it is, but to accumulate evidence for one’s own rationalization of what the world is presumed to be. Hence no space for any doubt whatsoever of any sort, not even for competing AGW interpretations, let alone for non-orthodox scientists (by definition, their work is “crap“).

Simplicius (*) would have been proud of that. “Science” it is not.

(*) the defender of the Aristotelian (geocentric) view of the world in Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems“ (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Picasso Brain Syndrome

Picasso-Brain-Strikes-Climate-Debate Picasso-Brain-Strikes-the-Climate-Debate: Can't think. Can't reason.

Stefan Lewandowsky’s ABC article on climate change is headlined “Opinion Versus Evidence”. Then with dead-pan delivery, he lists the “evidence”, but it’s all…opinions.

The question of delusion is looming. I mean really, is this a cry for help? There are not many laws of reason that Stefan leaves unbroken. He appeals to authority, attacks the “man”, and talks about everything bar the evidence on climate change.  Is he serious? “Trust me”, he says, the world is warming because AIDS is real, mass-murderer Ivan Milat was guilty, Lord Monckton is only a non-voting member of the House of Lords, a few skeptics are burko, 97% of paid climate scientists agree that we ought to be worried and keep paying them,  someone has discussed the actual money that climate scientists earn (how could he!), and to top it off, the IPCC report is 3,000 pages long !

Not to mention that Google Scholar (“I’m so technical”) finds lots of hits (thanks to Vice President Al Gore, who arranged for the US Government to pay billions of dollars to his favorite researchers, and who also is on the Google advisory team), plus the world has got warmer in the last 150 years. So carbon must have done it, eh?

Shock me. This is science by smear, confusion, obtuse topic, and irrelevant points. Not that we haven’t seen it all before, but it’s coming from a professor. He’s really going a long long way out on a limb with baseless, unsubstantiated bluster, and lighting up in a neon sign that says: “Reason-Free Zone”. More » (Jo Nova)


Begley's all excited over Rahmstorf's wet dream:  The Real Climate Scandal

Imagine another IPCC mistake. Where's the outrage when the agency lowballs the threat? ( Sharon Begley, Newsweek Web Exclusive)

So Sharon, how does one lowball a threat which only exists in the virtual realms of computer games?


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, March 25th 2010

Al Gore upsets nerds and pervs in one week, we discover that eco-terrorists are Riverdance fans and dirty hippies want you to stop bathing, of course.

This Saturday is Earth hour, so be a good skeptic and turn all the lights on and show the world you’re no hippie. (Daily Bayonet)


Bengal Island succumbs to global warming nonsense – AP gets nutty over the loss of a sandbar

By Steven Goddard and Anthony Watts

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged. New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged. Photo - Das/AP

From the New York Daily News via  Associated Press reports :

Global warming resolves 30-year land dispute between India, Bangladesh: Coveted island sinks

By NIRMALA GEORGE, Associated Press Writer Nirmala George, Associated Press Writer – Wed Mar 24, 9:29 am ET

NEW DELHI – For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Note in the map below that the island was a river estuary, meaning it wasn’t made out of rock as claimed.  It was made out of mud and sand.  From Wikipedia:

The island was situated only two kilometers from the mouth of the Hariabhanga River. The emergence of the island was first discovered by an American satellite in 1974 that showed the island to have an area of 2,500 sq meters (27,000 sq ft). Later, various remote sensing surveys showed that the island had expanded gradually to an area of about 10,000 sq meters (110,000 sq ft) at low tide, including a number of ordinarily submerged shoals. The highest elevation of the island had never exceeded two meters above sea level. [1]

The island was claimed by both Bangladesh and India, although neither country established any permanent settlement there because of the island’s geographical instability. India had reportedly hoisted the Indian flag on South Talpatti in 1981 and established a temporary base of Border Security Forces (BSF) on the island, regularly visiting with naval gunships. [3][4]

South Talpatti Island.jpg

Wikipedia Map

The AP claim (probably from Seth Borenstein) is that global warming induced sea level rise has submerged the island, and that is complete nonsense.

Let’s look at sea level trends in the region. Here’s the NOAA Tides and Currents map of the area from their interactive web site. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)



Guest post by Willis Eschenbach

Inspired by this thread on the lack of data in the Arctic Ocean, I looked into how GISS creates data when there is no data.

GISS is the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a part of NASA. The Director of GISS is Dr. James Hansen. Dr. Hansen is an impartial scientist who thinks people who don’t believe in his apocalyptic visions of the future should be put on trial for “high crimes against humanity”.  GISS produces a surface temperature record called GISTEMP. Here is their record of the temperature anomaly for Dec-Jan-Feb 2010 :

Figure 1. GISS temperature anomalies DJF 2010. Grey areas are where there is no temperature data.

Now, what’s wrong with this picture? Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


Guest Post “A Simple Tool To Detect CO2 Background Levels” By Francis Massen


Biography of Francis Massen here.

Atmospheric CO2 mixing ratios vary with latitude, regional specificities (as sea-side, continental or urban location) and time. Daily values may differ by more than 40%, as can be seen in the first figure showing CO2 and wind speed time series at the meteorological station “meteoLCD” in Diekirch, Luxembourg (semi-rural environment).


Figure 1: CO2 and wind speed values from 14 to 21 March 2010 in Diekirch, Luxembourg.

The causes of these hefty variations are many: magnitude of wind speed, periods of boundary layer inversions, changing plant behavior (photosynthetic CO2 absorption or CO2 emissions by plant respiration) and human activity. When the boundary layer is well mixed up, CO2 levels tend to a reproducible minimum, which represents the regional background level and may even be close to the published global mean CO2 mixing ratio. The mixing up of the near ground layer is essentially caused by the wind: a plot of CO2 versus wind speed often has a typical boomerang shape, as shown in the second figure.

Figure 2:  Plot of CO2 versus wind-speed using the values of Fig.1.

The background level can be thought as being the CO2 mixing ratio that would exist if wind speed was infinite. Simple visual inspection, or better, fitting the data to an exponential function of the type CO2 = a + b*exp(-c*windspeed) delivers this asymptotic CO2 level. In the example above, the model is statistically significant (R2 = 0.64) and suggests a regional background of 390 ppm (to be compared for instance to the 2009 seasonal corrected mean Mauna Loa level of approx. 388 ppm).

The CO2 versus wind speed plot can also be used as a first step to validate historic CO2 measurements, made by chemical methods. One example is the very careful measurements done from 1939 to 1940 by W. Kreutz in the town of Giessen, Germany. Kreutz used a chemical gas analyzer having an accuracy better than 1.5% and also recorded the wind speed. The exponential fit points to a very high asymptotic level of 398 ppm, well in excess to the consensus value of 310 ppm derived from the ice-cores.

This CO2 background problem is studied in a peer reviewed paper I presented with E. Beck as coauthor (Beck is a specialist of historical CO2 measurements) at the online conference Klima2009 organized in Nov. 2009 by the University of Applied Sciences of Hamburg, Germany. Our paper “Accurate estimation of CO2background level from near-ground measurements at non-mixed environments” was rewarded “Best Paper” among the 103 contributions. A slightly edited version will be published in an upcoming book “Social, Economic and Political Aspects of Climate Change” (editor: Prof. Walter Leal, Springer Verlag).

The text of the original Klima2009 paper can be found here (Climate Science)


Oh... UK must help homes adapt to climate change, MPs say

Britain must increase its efforts to adapt infrastructure and homes to cope with the effects of climate change, parliamentary committee warns ( Press Association)


CO2 capture likely to increase price of coal-fuelled electricity generation

Globe conference panellists optimistic that technology works

VANCOUVER - The cost of electricity generated from coal will increase relative to renewable energy as the world develops and implements technologies that curtail carbon dioxide emissions at coal-fired generating plants, international experts said on Thursday in Vancouver.

Panellists at Globe 2010 sessions on carbon capture and storage said the cost of removing CO2 from the emission stacks at coal plants adds to the price of power production — and that it’s important for both government and the public to accept higher energy costs as part of the price for managing climate change.

The International Energy Agency wants to see 20 carbon capture and storage facilities in place by 2020, on the premise that the technology is essential to curtailing CO2 emissions that are believed by most of the world’s scientists to be a primary cause of global warming — and to slow the pace at which the greenhouse gas is accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere. ( Vancouver Sun)


Petroleum News publishes Arctic Oil & Gas Directory

Semi-annual magazine-style directory lists companies doing business in the Far North

Anchorage, Alaska – March 25, 2010 – Anchorage-based Petroleum News has published its first edition of the Arctic Oil & Gas Directory for 2010. The 64-page publication can be viewed online.

Published twice a year, the full color magazine contains news, profiles, standalone photos, and listings that describe the companies doing business in the Arctic have to offer the oil and gas industry in this remote part of the world. 

The latest directory cover shows three muskox next to a drilling rig in northern Alaska. The photo was taken by Judy Patrick while on a photo shoot east of the Sag River near the western border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the winter of 2009. 

Alaska’s original muskoxen, a stocky, long-haired animal with cloven hooves, originally disappeared in the mid to late 1800s as a result of overhunting. The animals were re-introduced in ANWR in 1969.

A comprehensive desk reference for anyone wanting information on companies doing business in the Arctic, the directory is offered free online, as well as distributed to Petroleum News subscribers and handed out at conferences in Alaska, Canada and the U.S. Lower 48 states.


Website: What You Need To Know About Energy

As debates about energy grow more intense, Americans need dependable, objective, and authoritative energy information. The National Academies, advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine, provide the facts about energy—a complex issue that affects us as individuals and as a nation. (National Academies)


America's Energy Future: Technology and Transformation

Energy touches our lives in countless ways and its costs are felt when we fill up at the gas pump, pay our home heating bills, and keep businesses both large and small running. There are long-term costs as well: to the environment, as natural resources are depleted and pollution contributes to global climate change, and to national security and independence, as many of the world's current energy sources are increasingly concentrated in geopolitically unstable regions. The country's challenge is to develop an energy portfolio that addresses these concerns while still providing sufficient, affordable energy reserves for the nation.

The United States has enormous resources to put behind solutions to this energy challenge; the dilemma is to identify which solutions are the right ones. Before deciding which energy technologies to develop, and on what timeline, we need to understand them better.

America's Energy Future analyzes the potential of a wide range of technologies for generation, distribution, and conservation of energy. This book considers technologies to increase energy efficiency, coal-fired power generation, nuclear power, renewable energy, oil and natural gas, and alternative transportation fuels. It offers a detailed assessment of the associated impacts and projected costs of implementing each technology and categorizes them into three time frames for implementation. (NAP) Summary Edition


The National Academies Summit on America's Energy Future: Summary of a Meeting

There is a growing sense of national urgency about the role of energy in long-term U.S. economic vitality, national security, and climate change. This urgency is the consequence of many factors, including the rising global demand for energy; the need for long-term security of energy supplies, especially oil; growing global concerns about carbon dioxide emissions; and many other factors affected to a great degree by government policies both here and abroad.

On March 13, 2008, the National Academies brought together many of the most knowledgeable and influential people working on energy issues today to discuss how we can meet the need for energy without irreparably damaging Earth's environment or compromising U.S. economic and national security-a complex problem that will require technological and social changes that have few parallels in human history.

The National Academies Summit on America's Energy Future: Summary of a Meeting chronicles that 2-day summit and serves as a current and far-reaching foundation for examining energy policy. The summit is part of the ongoing project 'America's Energy Future: Technology Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs,' which will produce a series of reports providing authoritative estimates and analysis of the current and future supply of and demand for energy; new and existing technologies to meet those demands; their associated impacts; and their projected costs. The National Academies Summit on America's Energy Future: Summary of a Meeting is an essential base for anyone with an interest in strategic, tactical, and policy issues. Federal and state policy makers will find this book invaluable, as will industry leaders, investors, and others willing to convert concern into action to solve the energy problem. (NAP)


Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use

Despite the many benefits of energy, most of which are reflected in energy market prices, the production, distribution, and use of energy causes negative effects. Many of these negative effects are not reflected in energy market prices. When market failures like this occur, there may be a case for government interventions in the form of regulations, taxes, fees, tradable permits, or other instruments that will motivate recognition of these external or hidden costs.

The Hidden Costs of Energy defines and evaluates key external costs and benefits that are associated with the production, distribution, and use of energy, but are not reflected in market prices. The damage estimates presented are substantial and reflect damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation, motor vehicle transportation, and heat generation. The book also considers other effects not quantified in dollar amounts, such as damages from climate change, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security.

While not a comprehensive guide to policy, this analysis indicates that major initiatives to further reduce other emissions, improve energy efficiency, or shift to a cleaner electricity generating mix could substantially reduce the damages of external effects. A first step in minimizing the adverse consequences of new energy technologies is to better understand these external effects and damages. The Hidden Costs of Energy will therefore be a vital informational tool for government policy makers, scientists, and economists in even the earliest stages of research and development on energy technologies. (NAP)


A Controversial Drilling Practice Hits Roadblock in New York City

Hydro fracturing is a profitable method of natural gas extraction that uses large quantities of water and chemicals to free gas from underground rock formations. But New York City’s concerns that the practice would threaten its water supply have slowed a juggernaut that has been sweeping across parts of the northeastern United States. (Bruce Stutz, e360)


Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts

The transportation sector cannot continue on its current path: The volatility of oil prices threatens the U.S. economy, the large proportion of oil importation threatens U.S. energy security, and the massive contribution of greenhouse gases threatens the environment. The development of domestic sources of alternative transportation fuels with lower greenhouse emissions is now a national imperative.

Coal and biomass are in abundant supply in the United States and can be converted to liquid fuels that can be combusted in existing and future vehicles. Their abundant supply makes them attractive candidates to provide non-oil-based liquid fuels to the U.S. transportation system. However, there are important questions about the economic viability, carbon impact, and technology status of these options.

Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass provides a snapshot of the potential costs of liquid fuels from biomass by biochemical conversion and from biomass and coal by thermochemical conversion. Policy makers, investors, leaders in industry, the transportation sector, and others with a concern for the environment, economy, and energy security will look to this book as a roadmap to independence from foreign oil. With immediate action and sustained effort, alternative liquid fuels can be available in the 2020 time frame, if or when the nation needs them. (NAP)


Why coal is the best way to power South Africa's growth

By Pravin Gordhan
Monday, March 22, 2010

Today, the South African economy is two-thirds larger than it was in 1994, when Nelson Mandela took office as the country's first democratically elected president. With this growth has come strong new demand for electricity. Millions of previously marginalized South Africans are now on the grid. Unfortunately, as in other major emerging economies, supply has not kept pace.

Reserve margins are increasingly tight -- too tight for an energy-intensive economy such as South Africa's, whose mines and factories rely on steady supplies of competitively priced power. South Africa has weathered the global downturn better than many richer countries, but the majority of our people remain poor and unemployment stands at an unacceptable 24 percent. To sustain the growth rates we need to create jobs, we have no choice but to build new generating capacity -- relying on what, for now, remains our most abundant and affordable energy source: coal.

Because this is not the most auspicious time for our energy utility, Eskom, to be looking to finance a $50 billion capital program, we are approaching sources of funding we have hitherto left untapped, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank. But our application for a $3.75 billion World Bank loan faces stiff opposition. A strong body of opinion holds that multilateral development banks should be discouraged from funding coal-burning power projects with carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. We share this concern but, after careful consideration, have concluded that the course we have chosen is the only responsible way forward. (Washington Post)

The writer is South Africa's finance minister.


Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States

America's economy and lifestyles have been shaped by the low prices and availability of energy. In the last decade, however, the prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have increased dramatically, leaving consumers and the industrial and service sectors looking for ways to reduce energy use. To achieve greater energy efficiency, we need technology, more informed consumers and producers, and investments in more energy-efficient industrial processes, businesses, residences, and transportation.

As part of the America's Energy Future project, Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States examines the potential for reducing energy demand through improving efficiency by using existing technologies, technologies developed but not yet utilized widely, and prospective technologies. The book evaluates technologies based on their estimated times to initial commercial deployment, and provides an analysis of costs, barriers, and research needs. This quantitative characterization of technologies will guide policy makers toward planning the future of energy use in America. This book will also have much to offer to industry leaders, investors, environmentalists, and others looking for a practical diagnosis of energy efficiency possibilities. (NAP)


Electricity from Renewable Resources: Status, Prospects, and Impediments

A component in the America's Energy Future study, Electricity from Renewable Resources examines the technical potential for electric power generation with alternative sources such as wind, solar-photovoltaic, geothermal, solar-thermal, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources. The book focuses on those renewable sources that show the most promise for initial commercial deployment within 10 years and will lead to a substantial impact on the U.S. energy system.

A quantitative characterization of technologies, this book lays out expectations of costs, performance, and impacts, as well as barriers and research and development needs. In addition to a principal focus on renewable energy technologies for power generation, the book addresses the challenges of incorporating such technologies into the power grid, as well as potential improvements in the national electricity grid that could enable better and more extensive utilization of wind, solar-thermal, solar photovoltaics, and other renewable technologies. (NAP)


Biofuels as America’s Biggest Loser (with apologies to NBC)

by William Griesinger
March 25, 2010

Biofuel mandates in the U.S. suffer from a high-octane blend of politics and special interest agendas that have corrupted physical science, economic analysis, and the policy prescriptions alike. This is the predictable outcome when process and policy are de-linked from basic economics and marketplace realities. Unintended consequences and distortions always result.

Historian, professor and author Burton Folsom in his book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, makes an important distinction between “market entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs.” Market entrepreneurs compete by utilizing their own funds, resources and private investment in an effort to create and market a superior product. Political entrepreneurs, on the other hand, fund their business models off of government subsidies, federal protections and vote buying.

This is a useful distinction to keep in mind when evaluating the perverse outcomes of the subsidized U.S. ethanol industry where the participants consist mainly of political entrepreneurs.

Baker Institute (Rice University) Study

Corn-based ethanol and other U.S. feedstock biofuels programs are not supportable on economic, environmental nor logistical grounds. That is the conclusion of a recent comprehensive study by Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Fundamentals of a Sustainable Biofuels Policy. This report was previously cited by Ms. Caroline Boin in her recent post, in which she correctly labels the U.S. biofuels program a “scam” and little more than a sop to farm lobbies and corporate agri-business interests. In short, the Baker Institute study represents a clear indictment of the nonsense that passes for federal energy policy.

One key recommendation from the study is that Congress reconsider its biofuels volume mandates outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

EISA called for production targets of 9 billion gal/year of biofuels in 2008 increasing to 36 billion gal/year by 2022. Corn ethanol is capped at 15 billion gal/year of this total but even that will be nearly impossible to reach due to significant logistical and commercial barriers that exist (aside from the fact that virtually no environmental benefits are derived from ethanol).

The Baker study identifies multiple reasons to question achievability of mandated volumes, claims of energy independence and alleged environmental benefits cited by ethanol advocates. A few are outlined below. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


House Bill Extends Ethanol Tax Breaks To 2016

The U.S. government would extend ethanol tax breaks and a hefty tariff on imports until 2016 under a bill unveiled by two dozen lawmakers on Thursday, reigniting the "food vs. fuel" debate.

Unless Congress acts, three of the four incentives will expire at the end of 2010. Sponsors say a long-term extension will assure a home-grown fuel supply and bring cellulosic ethanol, tabbed as the new-generation biofuel, into commercial production.

Foodmakers, meatpackers, environmentalists and budget hawks attacked the bill as a wasteful subsidy and a contribution to higher food prices by using food crops to make fuel. Brazilians said they can make ethanol cheaper and deserve a shot at the U.S. market. (Reuters)


Greens Fear Indonesia Forest Loss For Food Estate

Indonesia would have to clear about 700,000 hectares of forest, an area 10 times the size of Singapore, if it proceeds with plans for a vast agricultural estate in Papua province, an activist group said on Thursday.

Indonesia wants to develop the 1.2 million hectare (3 million acres) food estate in the Papua district of Merauke, the eastern-most part of Indonesia, to shore up supplies of rice, sugar, corn, soybean and beef and ensure more stable food prices.

The country has a rapidly growing population estimated at 240 million and wants to avoid rising food import bills. The government is trying to use more land for agricultural purposes to be self-sufficient. (Reuters)


Massachusetts tribes aim to take the wind out of a wind farm

Wampanoag Indians, citing cultural grounds, mount a spirited fight against America's first planned offshore wind turbine development.

Reporting from Oak Bluffs, Mass. - The Wampanoag Indians of southeastern Massachusetts welcomed the Pilgrims when they arrived on the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago. But now they're trying to stop another newcomer -- wind turbines.

Citing customs and religious practices recorded since the earliest contact with Europeans, two local tribes have blocked, at least for now, America's first planned offshore wind farm and the Obama administration's efforts to promote renewable sources of energy.

At issue is a private developer's plan to erect 130 wind turbine generators on a sandy shoal in the middle of Nantucket Sound, the scenic channel between Cape Cod and the resort islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Federal approval for Cape Wind, as the project is known, finally appeared on the horizon last fall after nine years of political battles, court challenges and regulatory reviews.

But then the indigenous tribes won an unexpected victory. On Jan. 4, the National Park Service ruled in favor of the Wampanoags that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a "traditional cultural property," and thus is worthy of preservation.

The park service said the 440-foot-high towers would interfere with Wampanoag spiritual ceremonies, including greeting the sunrise with unobstructed views of the water.

The ruling also said excavations for the towers could disturb presumed Indian burial grounds that began to disappear under rising seas about 6,000 years ago. The shoal is now 30 feet beneath the waves.

The tribes, the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha's Vineyard, "emphasize that they believe that their people traversed, lived on and buried their dead, and otherwise used the land . . . before the land was submerged," the park service said. (Los Angeles Times)


GE To Invest $453 Mln In European Offshore Wind

General Electric Co. will invest 340 million euros ($453 million) in offshore wind technology in Europe until 2020, it said on Thursday.

Around 110 million euros will be invested in British turbine manufacturing and 105 million euros in engineering and production facilities in Germany, with a target of mass producing GE's new 4 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine as early as 2012. (Reuters)


IEA: Nuclear Power is Cheap, Wind Energy Is Expensive

The wind energy lobbyists love to claim that installing new wind turbines is the cheapest form of new electricity generation capacity. In fact, I heard that very claim while at a party here in Austin a few weeks ago. But as usual, there’s the hype and there’s the reality. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)


Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies--Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The nation has compelling reasons to reduce its consumption of oil and emissions of carbon dioxide. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) promise to contribute to both goals by allowing some miles to be driven on electricity drawn from the grid, with an internal combustion engine that kicks in when the batteries are discharged. However, while battery technology has made great strides in recent years, batteries are still very expensive.

Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies--Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles builds on a 2008 National Research Council report on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The present volume reviews the current and projected technology status of PHEVs; considers the factors that will affect how rapidly PHEVs could enter the marketplace, including the interface with the electric transmission and distribution system; determines a maximum practical penetration rate for PHEVs consistent with the time frame and factors considered in the 2008 Hydrogen report; and incorporates PHEVs into the models used in the hydrogen study to estimate the costs and impacts on petroleum consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. (NAP)


Green concerns over Surat Basin gas mining project

QUEENSLAND'S emerging coal seam gas industry is expected to produce potentially the biggest pollution issue faced in Australia, say farmers and conservationists.

To get to the gas, mining companies propose to drill as many as 20,000 wells across the state's best farm land over the next 10 years.

Premier Anna Bligh announced on Wednesday that a world-first $60 billion deal had been signed between the British BG Group and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to draw 72 million tonnes of gas from the Surat Basin over the next 20 years.

Ms Bligh said it would boost the Darling Downs, with up to 4900 jobs in the Chinchilla-Miles area.

Wayne Newton, who farms near Dalby, said the industry would raise millions of tonnes of salt over the next 30 years.

Major environmental issues were not being addressed, including the potential depletion of Murray Darling Basin artesian aquifers and surface supplies.

"All the towns out here such as Dalby, Miles and Roma draw their drinking water from underground supplies," Mr Newton said.

"What is going to happen to that?" (Courier-Mail)

Salt can be a major concern, much of Australia used to be seabed once, although less than optimal irrigation practices still raise far more salt than is likely from gas extraction. The transition to low carbon thing is a nonsense and I think most people have a handle on that now. Without doubt some farming holding will be devalued by resource extraction and they should be appropriately compensated but there is no apparent reason this is other than a welcome development.



Just in case anyone had the slightest doubt: In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality

For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.

Speaking to an ebullient audience of Democratic legislators and White House aides at the bill-signing ceremony on Tuesday, Mr. Obama claimed that health reform would “mark a new season in America.” He added, “We have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”

The bill is the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965. It aims to smooth out one of the roughest edges in American society — the inability of many people to afford medical care after they lose a job or get sick. And it would do so in large measure by taxing the rich. (NYT)

So even The Crone can see this is not and never has been about health care but rather social engineering and wealth redistribution.

How far America has fallen from the days when the whole population aspired to wealth creation -- everyone could "make a buck" -- to now be the nation of envy, dependency and victimhood.

How bizarre the socialist philosophy of finite wealth to be redistributed to uniform mediocrity. Know that you can take a trillion dollars from the rich but redistributed over the population of the U.S. that's just $3,000 each (actually not because administration cost will eat a great proportion of it). How many factories will be built by people with their redistributed funds? How many jobs will be created, new drugs developed, medical centers built, better widgets invented, mines opened, resources brought onstream? Disbursed wealth is far less use to society than is concentrated wealth and those willing to risk concentrated wealth must be able to reap great reward so that we all benefit.

How sad the country has unlearned the lesson that a vibrant and thriving society must reward the exceptional rather than restraining them to conformity with the least.

All men are equal but not all men are the same -- some men can generate great wealth from which all society benefits, if only from increased wages as profitable enterprises compete for the labor of less driven men.

America, unfetter your wealth creators, your entrepreneurs, your captains of industry, your exceptional to be the best they can be and get industry and the economy growing again. Everyone will be better off.


Wannabe global government thinks it's good: UN health organization praises U.S. health reforms

ATLANTA - The head of the U.N. World Health Organization on Wednesday praised U.S. healthcare reforms signed by President Barack Obama this week as a breakthrough, stepping into a sharp domestic political debate.

"The people in this country and their leaders are courageous. That (healthcare reform) is an unprecedented achievement," WHO Director General Margaret Chan said.

She was speaking to reporters after a lecture in which she argued that unrestricted market forces were limited as a means of redressing imbalances in global health care.

The reforms of the $2.5 trillion healthcare sector passed by Congress after months of heated debate will extend health insurance to 32 million Americans who currently have none.

It will also bar insurers from refusing coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions, expand the Medicaid government health insurance program for the poor and impose new taxes on the wealthy. (Reuters)


Obama doesn't: EDITORIAL: No Obamacare for Obama

President Obama declared that the new health care law "is going to be affecting every American family." Except his own, of course.

The new health care law exempts the president from having to participate in it. Leadership and committee staffers in the House and Senate who wrote the bill are exempted as well. A weasel-worded definition of "staff" includes only the members' personal staff in the new system; the committee staff that drafted the legislation opted themselves out. Because they were more familiar with the contents of the law than anyone in the country, it says a lot that they carved out their own special loophole. Anyway, the law is intended to affect "ordinary Americans," according to Vice President Joe Biden (who - being a heartbeat away from the presidency - also is not covered), not Washington insiders. (The Washington Times)


Audio: Rep. John Dingell on How Long it Took “To Control the People”

Yesterday, President Obama signed his health spending bill into law promising the American people: “These reforms won’t give the government more control over your health care.” This statement is simply untrue, otherwise over 16,000 new IRS agents wouldn’t need to be hired to enforce the mandates. And if this was the case, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) wouldn’t need to introduce an amendment to the reconciliation bill that would “limit the amount of discretion given to the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the current bill to determine acceptable levels of coverage and services.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)


The Reality of Obamacare

First: Congratulations to President Obama and the Democratic leadership. You won dirty against bipartisan opposition from both Congress and the majority of Americans. You've definitely polarized the country even more, and quite possibly bankrupted us, too. But hey, you won. Bubbly for everyone.

Simply, you have nationalized health care by proxy. Insurance companies are now heavily regulated government contractors. Way to get big business out of Washington and our lives! These giant corporations will clear a small, government-approved profit on top of their government-approved fees. Then, when health care costs rise -- and they will -- Democrats will insist, yet again, that the profit motive is to blame, and out from this ObamaCare Trojan horse will pour another army of liberals demanding a more honest version of single-payer.

The Obama administration has turned the insurance industry into the Blackwater of socialized medicine. (Jonah Goldberg, Townhall)


Repeal Of Bill, All Or In Part, Is Problematic

It's springtime, and with the enactment of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care monstrosity, repeal is in the air. And why not?

Supported by substantial popular majorities now energized as never before, congressional Republicans opposed the legislation unanimously, and the polls point unambiguously to substantial gains for the GOP this November.

And so we have several Republican members of Congress promising that the first bill to be taken up in 2011 by a Republican House of Representatives will repeal the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

Forget that Orwellian title of the ObamaCare law. Ignore the eternal truth that central planning — that's what the new law is, and no amount of obfuscation can change that reality — has never and cannot reduce costs or expand access to health care services. And shunt aside the fact that Mr. Obama will remain ensconced in the Oval Office, and that the Democrats are likely to retain a majority in the Senate.

The problem is that not all parts of the legislation are unpopular, and indeed several are supported by substantial majorities in the polls, and thus by Republicans. Moreover, repeal of some parts of the new law will exacerbate the already-massive adverse effects of those that remain, and there is little evidence that anyone has thought through how a partial repeal would work.

Consider the (clearly unconstitutional) individual mandate forcing everyone to buy health coverage. Republicans along with substantial majorities of the electorate oppose it. But the mandate is an implicit tax on the young and healthy, imposed so as to subsidize coverage for everyone else. (IBD)


Entitlement Rip-Off

Bernie Madoff took money from people who thought he'd invested it, gave some to others who thought it was a partial return on their earlier investments and kept much for himself. That's called a Ponzi scheme, and his $50 billion fraud was called the biggest ever. But it wasn't the biggest. Social Security and Medicare are much bigger ones.

These are trillion-dollar scams. Medicare has a $36 trillion unfunded liability. Social Security's is $8 trillion. There's no money to keep those promises. ( ohn Stossel, Townhall)


Proliferation of wrong papers at 95% confidence level

Kilotons of breathtaking imbeciles, mostly gathering around the environmentalist cult, claim that it is possible - or desirable - to build science upon 2-sigma observations.

If you don't know what it is, it is an observation where the "signal" is only twice as large as "noise", using a proper definition of their magnitude - yet it is claimed that the "signal" is real and means something. The probability that it is not real and the deviation arose by chance is 5% or so. (In reality, it may be much higher because of various biases, but let's generously assume it's 5%.) The idealized figure is actually closer to 4% but let us use the conventional figure 5%.

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


Cluster du jour: Higher birth-defect rate seen in Chernobyl area

NEW YORK - Rates of certain birth defects appear higher than normal in one of the Ukraine regions most affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new study.

The findings, reported in the journal Pediatrics, stand in contrast to a 2005 U.N. report stating that there is no evidence of an increased risk of birth defects or other reproductive effects in areas contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl accident.

The results point to a need for continuing research into birth defects in regions affected by chronic low-dose radiation from Chernobyl, according to researcher Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki of the University of Southern Alabama in Mobile.

"There has been a tendency to imply that the question is closed as far as the prenatal effects (of Chernobyl)," Wertelecki said in an interview. (Reuters Health)

What are the socioeconomics of the region? (birth defects are frequently a symptom of poverty) What about the mothers' nutritional histories? What is the likelihood of substance abuse? What makes this region different from similarly irradiated regions? Would this study have been published at all without the Chernobyl peg?


Salty diet tied to stomach cancer in Korean study

NEW YORK - A salty diet may increase the risk of stomach cancer by 10 percent, South Korean researchers found in a study of more than 2 million people.

They found a "weak but positive" association between a preference for salt and an increased risk of stomach cancer.

Although the mechanisms by which salt may be involved in the development of stomach cancer remain unclear, "restricting salt intake is thought to be beneficial for preventing gastric cancer," Jeongseon Kim and colleagues from the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Goyang-si, South Korea, note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Stomach cancer (or gastric cancer) is a major cancer in much of the world but not the United States. While gastric cancer is declining, it is still the most common cancer in Korea. Past studies have yielded conflicting results as to whether a salty diet causes gastric cancer, though most found an association between salt use and gastric cancer. (Reuters Health)

All the corollaries one could draw from this... consider, in the Western world and particularly the U.S. salt is demonized for alleged coronary effects even though other cultures traditionally have higher salt consumption habits (but lower coronary rates). Here they are trying to associate salt with gastric cancer (RR 1.1) and yet the U.S., with its high proportion of "unhealthy" processed foods (and all their "hidden" salt) has relatively low levels of gastric cancer (in spite of sky high red meat consumption -- go figure!).


At the Corner of Food Safety and Media Bias

Whether due to advocacy or sloth, the failure of both academia and the MSM pose grave risks to the decision-making process of our country on food safety and all public policy matters.

If universities are biased and the media is lazy, how are we supposed to develop intelligent public policy? Food safety is a case in point.

At first glance it appears that there must be momentous news regarding food safety. Business Week blared the headline “Food-borne Illnesses in U.S. Cost $152B Annually“; the Los Angeles Times trumpeted “Cost of food-borne illnesses is deemed much higher than earlier estimates“; USA Today declared “USA pays price for food-borne illness: $152B a year.” All the noise was generated by a paper written by Robert L. Scharff for the Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University. Dr. Scharf is an assistant professor in the Department of Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University and once worked at the FDA as an economist.

The paper causing all the hullabaloo is titled “Health-Related Costs From Foodborne Illness In The United States,” and whatever the merits of the paper, the whole enterprise shows the utter collapse of both academic and journalistic standards and the difficulty this poses for the making of public policy. (Jim Prevor, PJM)


Breast cancer screens don't save lives: Nordic study

LONDON - Nordic scientists said on Wednesday they had found no evidence that screening women for breast cancer has any effect on death rates, adding to an already fierce international debate about routine testing.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers from Denmark and Norway said reductions in breast cancer death rates in regions with screening were the same or actually smaller than in areas where no women were screened.

"Our results are similar to what has been observed in other countries with nationally organised programmes," said Karsten Jorgensen of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, who led the research.

"It is time to question whether screening has delivered the promised effect on breast cancer mortality."

A row blew up in the United States in last November after public health officials on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force questioned the value of screening mammograms for women under 40 and suggested raising the annual screening age to 50. (Reuters)


Oh boy... Trans fats may promote endometriosis - US study

WASHINGTON - Women who eat lots of tuna, salmon and other foods rich in essential omega-3 oils might be less likely to develop endometriosis than those whose diets are loaded with trans fats, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Endometriosis, which has no cure, can cause infertility. In endometriosis, pieces of the uterine lining grow outside the womb, sometimes sticking to other organs.

The type of fat in a woman's diet, rather than the total amount, may be a risk factor for endometriosis, an often debilitating and painful condition, researchers said in a study published online in the journal Human Reproduction. (Reuters)

Let's see, women who eat lots of tuna, salmon and other foods allegedly rich in mercury and industrial oils (like PCBs) might be less likely to develop endometriosis... Guess we could draw the conclusion that mercury in women's diet reduces the chance of endometriosis eh?


China becomes world's new diabetes capital

NEW YORK - China now has more people with diabetes than any other country, a new report shows, making it clear that the nation's soaring economic growth is taking a toll on public health.

According to the report, more than 92 million adults in China have diabetes, and nearly 150 million more are well on their way to developing it. The disease is more common in people with large waistlines and in those who live in cities, the report indicates. (Reuters Health)


Wild claim #... Chemical From Plastic Water Bottles Found Throughout Oceans

A survey of 200 sites in 20 countries around the world has found that bisphenol A, a synthetic compound that mimics estrogen and is linked to developmental disorders, is ubiquitous in Earth’s oceans.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is found mostly in shatter-proof plastics and epoxy resins. Most people have trace amounts in their bodies, likely absorbed from food containers. Its hormone-mimicking properties make it a potent endocrine system disruptor. (Brandon Keim, Wired)

Hmm... so it's "ubiquitous" in the world's oceans? Even at the lowest cited concentration (0.01 ppm) that would be 10 parts per billion in something over 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water or more than 13 Km3 of BPA leached from plastics. That would be about 15 billion metric tons of BPA or roughly 3,000 times global world manufacture capacity in 2008. And that's at the lowest concentration, they did mention figures 500 times greater. Certainly not ubiquitous then unless there's some huge natural source we don't know about.

In fact, given that BA is readily biodegradable and therefore unlikely to persist and accumulate, it seems there must have been considerable cherry picking to find potential concentration points where the compound might be located. Not that it is of concern even so because there is no indication environmental exposure to BPA is in any way harmful.

Should have expected as much given the loaded and inaccurate opening: "a synthetic compound that mimics estrogen and is linked to developmental disorders". If the relatively trivial similarity between BPA and estrogen were a problem then tofu munchers should have been feminized out of existence long ago due to the action of phytoestrogens (plant hormones) in soy. So make up your minds -- either "estrogen-like" compounds are problematic, in which case tofu is extremely hazardous or they are of little consequence, in which case BPA is of none.


Sigh... Cyclone debris threat to Great Barrier Reef

THE Great Barrier Reef faces an environmental disaster if marine debris is swept out to sea, turning the cyclone-ravaged Whitsundays into a junkyard. ( Courier-Mail)

Actually the reef system won't notice, just a few tourists will see signs of humans for a while until enterprising sea critters exploit the surfaces for habitat (doesn't matter to reef builders whether it's rock or an oil rig, sunken vessels or debris, any vacant surface in the light penetrated near-surface zone is premium real estate).


New way of fish farming could help fix environment

Biologists study whether sea creatures could be used to counteract damage to ecosystems

New designs for fish farms could keep them in the ocean and help restore damaged marine environments at the same time, says a biologist working on a five-year nationwide aquaculture project.

Marine biologists in New Brunswick and in B.C. are employing mussels, oysters, sea cucumbers, urchins and seaweed to dramatically increase the amount of food created by salmon farms, and they believe they can extract excess carbon and nitrogen pollution from the sea in the process.

Taking the aquaculture industry onto land could be a missed opportunity to do the Earth some good and help mitigate the impacts of global warming, according to Thierry Chopin, a marine biologist at the University of New Brunswick. Nitrogen from agricultural sources contributes to oxygen depletion in the world's oceans, resulting in huge dead zones in which nothing can grow. Fixing and storing carbon is believed to be key to fighting global warming.

"We have to think of extractive species as having a cleansing function in the ecosystem," Chopin explained. (Vancouver Sun)


From the antidevelopment peanut gallery: Giant Ethiopian Dam To Make 200,000 Go Hungry: NGO

More than 200,000 Ethiopians who rely on fishing and farming could become reliant on aid to survive if the government goes ahead with building Africa's biggest hydropower dam, an advocacy group said.

Ethiopia is building the 1.4 billion euro dam as part of a campaign to beat power shortages and become a power exporter.

The dam - Gibe III -- is expected to generate 1,800MW, almost doubling Ethiopia's current capacity of just under 2,000MW. (Reuters)


Dam these patronising Western campaigns

The environmentalists fighting to stop the construction of a huge dam in Ethiopia must have no regard for human life.

The Gibe III dam on the Omo River in Ethiopa, once completed, will be Africa’s second largest hydroelectric dam. The third stage in a five-part dam project, Gibe III is expected to extend electricity access to large swathes of the Ethiopian population, to raise per capita income levels, and to save lives by reducing the impact of droughts and floods. And yet, some environmentalists are not happy about this income-generating, life-changing and life-saving project, and have this week renewed their campaign to bring it to a halt.

Greens have opposed the Gibe III dam project from the outset, when construction first started in 2006. Now, a group of international campaigners has launched an online petition, urging Western donors and banks to withdraw their funding for the dam. They say it will negatively effect ecosystems and, in the words of International Rivers, one of the groups opposed to the dam, it will disrupt the livelihoods of ‘hundreds of thousands of indigenous farmers, herders and fishermen, who depend on [the Omo River’s] nourishing floods to sustain their most reliable sources of food’.

One such ‘nourishing flood’, in 2006, killed nearly 400 people and thousands of livestock. And according to the United Nations World Food Programme, the floods regularly inundate crops and have displaced over 20,000 people. The NGOs who are up in arms about the Gibe III dam, ostensibly because it will displace indigenous people, overlook the fact that the river itself will keep ruining lives unless human beings tame it. (Nathalie Rothschild, spiked)



Senators at odds over climate bill

Two U.S. senators who have been part of negotiations on climate change legislation this year said on Wednesday they disagree with the carbon emissions reduction approach being developed in a compromise bill.

Barack Obama | Green Business | COP15

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Senator Susan Collins late last year offered a streamlined "cap and dividend" bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

It is competing against a more complex "cap and trade" bill passed by the House of Representatives last June and a more limited cap and trade compromise being worked on by a bipartisan group of senators.

"We probably still have a difference of opinion on creation of trading platforms," Cantwell told reporters. "There are some who believe that you actually have to have trading to have liquidity," she added. "I think a clear price market signal without volatility will unleash the investment."

But Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican working on the cap and trade bill, expressed strong opposition to the Cantwell-Collins approach for pricing carbon.

"If you're a southeastern state or a midwestern state where you're coal heavy, their approach basically collects money from your constituents and sends it to hydropower states and other states. It's sort of a redistribution of wealth I don't think people in my part of the world would accept," Graham said.

If the standoff continues it could further delay the climate bill. Democratic Senator John Kerry, the leading proponent of the compromise legislation, needs every vote he can get amid concerns from lawmakers from states whose economies are heavily reliant on fossil fuels. (Reuters)


If you tell it often enough? California Says Climate Change Law Won't Hurt Economy

California's economy will not be damaged by the state's 2006 climate change law and some sectors could thrive, a state agency said in a report on Wednesday that counters fears in the business community that the measure will kill jobs and economic growth.

The report from the state Air Resources Board, the chief regulator of the law, forecast higher energy costs but said these would be offset by greater overall energy efficiency. (Reuters)


Dr. Art Robinson's Campaign for Congress

Dr. Art Robinson, President of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, has put his hat in the ring to run against Peter DeFazio in the 4th Congressional District in Oregon. He will put forth energy issues in this campaign and may draw national attention. Here is a chance to put a knowledgeable scientist in Congress and put a stop to all this nonsense.


France Backs Away From Carbon Tax

Environmental Regulations: While U.S. politicians try to keep the idea alive here, the French have announced cancellation of their version of cap-and-trade. They say it will hurt their competitiveness. Vive la France. (IBD)


Nicolas Sarkozy under fire after carbon tax plan shelved

French president accused of pandering to eco-scepticism after government backs down over carbon tax (The Guardian)


The (missing) story of O

The Register is reporting that Lord Oxburgh forgot to declare another competing interest:

Lord Oxburgh, a geologist by training and the former scientific advisor to the Ministry of Defence, was appointed to lead the enquiry into the scientific aspects of the Climategate scandal on Monday. But Oxburgh is also a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


GLOBE - a vehicle for avoiding FoI

Reader, Cumbrian Lad, has been doing a sterling job researching the GLOBE organisation mentioned in earlier postings today, and which counts Lord Oxburgh as a director. It was a bit of an oversight for Lord O not to mention this, as GLOBE turns out to be quite an interesting body.

GLOVE's corporate structure and funding are not clear from its website, but Cumbrian Lad has discovered that it is a private limited company. Interesting that  - an organisation of legislators,  run as a private company. He has also obtained copies of its accounts and other information from Companies House.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


Climategate: James Hansen Finds Complying with FOIA To Be Too Much of a Burden

The longtime Al Gore adviser, with his taxpayer-funded salary, finds the public's right to know how their money is spent to be unacceptable.

A “tipping point” appears to be at hand for James Hansen, the longtime Al Gore adviser and godfather of the modern global warming movement.

Hansen now seems so disgusted with the conditions of his employment — on the taxpayer dime — that he no longer sees the conditions as acceptable.

As PJM readers know, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) got caught sexing up the post-2000 U.S. temperatures. I asked NASA for emails and other documents regarding their discussions about this. After more than two years, NASA coughed up some emails under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing internal discussions (and one particularly revealing external conversation) about losing data and other credibility issues. They also revealed discussion about NASA’s data being less reliable than — and indeed reliant upon — the non-existent Climategate temperature history from Britain’s Climate Research Unit (CRU).

These existed among other revelations (affirmations?), such as absurdly chummy relationships with establishment media and the ducking of questions from the less friendly reporters. (Additionally, there were some other discoveries which we will explore here at PJM and PJTV in coming weeks.)

Now, our FOIAs and those of others are apparently overwhelming Dr. Hansen’s media appearance and screed-writing time. He has taken to NASA’s website for yet another display of angst over his being one of the few honest visionaries fending off the dark forces working to subvert global salvation. Though this time, he doesn’t condemn those such as myself for crimes against humanity, a pleasant surprise.

Hansen writes:

Somehow we have to do a better job of communicating. The tricks being used by people supporting denial and business-as-usual are recognizably dirty, yet effective. We are continually burdened by sweeping FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, which reduce our ability to do science and write it up (perhaps this is their main objective), a waste of tax-payer money. Our analyses are freely available on the GISS web site as is the computer program used to carry out the analysis and the data sets that go into the program.

The material that we supplied to some recent FOIA requests was promptly posted on a website, and within minutes after that posting someone found that one of the e-mails included information about how to access Makiko Sato’s password-protected research directory on the GISS website (we had not noticed this due to the volume of material). Within 90 minutes, and before anyone else who saw this password information thought it worth reporting to GISS staff, most if not all of the material in Makiko’s directory was purloined by someone using automated “web harvesting” software and re-posted elsewhere on the web. The primary material consisted of numerous drafts of webpage graphics and article figures made in recent years.

It seems that a primary objective of the FOIA requestors and the “harvesters” is discussions that they can snip and quote out of context. On the long run, these distortions of the truth will not work and the public will realize that they have been bamboozled. Unfortunately, the delay in public understanding of the situation, in combination with the way the climate system works (inertia, tipping points) could be very detrimental for our children and grandchildren. The public will need to put more pressure on policymakers, enough to overcome the pressure from special financial interests, if the actions needed to stabilize climate are to be achieved.

As the FOIA emails show, Hansen, et al spend a significant amount of time spinning the press and massaging posts for the RealClimate website (which was established to defend the indefensible “Hockey Stick” and to attack author Michael Crichton), in addition to dealing with FOIA requests.

Only one of these activities is a required condition of Hansen’s employment. (PJM will be publishing some upcoming additional examples of GISS wasting taxpayer time and money.)

I’m curious what Hansen refers to with his statements regarding how to access Makiko Sato’s password-protected research directory.

Hansen says his team, followed by NASA’s FOIA team, inadvertently let some information slip that they didn’t want to be public. (And naturally, he does not blame his people for the error). I believe Hansen here — it probably wasn’t a conscious act to turn over the admission that NASA’s data set no longer exists for any legal or policy purpose.

However, given Hansen’s history and his use of the speculative “most if not all,” is this just another attempt by Hansen to equate those who disagree with or annoy him with the criminal and unethical?

How exactly was the described material accessed? Is Hansen’s claim regarding the event true, or a fabrication? He does have a history of moonbattery, including his insistence that presidents named George Bush have muzzled him — even as he gave countless interviews, and numerous FOIA emails pay homage to him as a media king.

Further, recall the spin, post-Climategate, was that the scientists caught subverting transparency statutes — among other transgressions — merely had to learn to “communicate better.” This spin continues here, as does the persistent claim that their messages are “out of context.” This was demonstrably untrue in the case of the “Climategate” emails — posted in their entirety within their relevant email thread — as it is with the GISS emails which we posted in full.

Analyses are available at GISS’s website, but admissions about the unreliability of those analyses were only available through FOIA, which seems to be what has Hansen’s attention.

My advice to Hansen: if this condition of your lucrative public employment is, in hindsight and amid all of the revelations, now no longer acceptable to you, you are the person best positioned to do something about that.

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


UN body to look at meat and climate link

UN specialists are to look again at the contribution of meat production to climate change, after claims that an earlier report exaggerated the link.

A 2006 report concluded meat production was responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions - more than transport.

The report has been cited by people campaigning for a more vegetable-based diet, including Sir Paul McCartney.

But a new analysis, presented at a major US science meeting, says the transport comparison was flawed.

Sir Paul was one of the figures launching a campaign late last year centred on the slogan "Less meat = less heat".

But curbing meat production and consumption would be less beneficial for the climate than has been claimed, said Frank Mitloehner from the University of California at Davis (UCD).

"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal less heat," he told delegates to the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in San Francisco.

"Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries."

Leading figures in the climate change establishment, such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman Rajendra Pachauri and Lord (Nicholas) Stern, have also quoted the 18% figure as a reason why people should consider eating less meat. (BBC News)


Leo Hickman tries hard: Do critics of UN meat report have a beef with transparency?

Bloggers and sceptics leaping all over a UN report that 'exaggerated' the link between meat and climate change are not revealing that the scientist challenging the figures has been funded by the livestock industry (The Guardian)


But no: UN admits flaw in report on meat and climate change

The UN has admitted a report linking livestock to global warming exaggerated the impact of eating meat on climate change. (TDT)


<chuckle> Forests expert officially complains about 'distorted' Sunday Times article

Press Complaints Commission told that newspaper story gives impression that IPCC made false Amazon rainfall claim (David Adam, The Guardian)

Good luck with that Chucky, Leake correctly noted the IPCC's lack of correct citation, which is perfectly true. Bigger problem for Simon Lewis is that the original claim was also garbage, see, e.g.:

New Study Debunks Myths About Vulnerability of Amazon Rain Forests to Drought

(Mar. 12, 2010) — A new NASA-funded study has concluded that Amazon rain forests were remarkably unaffected in the face of once-in-a-century drought in 2005, neither dying nor thriving, contrary to a previously published report and claims by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"We found no big differences in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years, which suggests that these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought," said Arindam Samanta, the study's lead author from Boston University.

The comprehensive study published in the current issue of the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters used the latest version of the NASA MODIS satellite data to measure the greenness of these vast pristine forests over the past decade. (ScienceDaily)

Now, I can't claim to be a fan of Jon Leake or his reporting but he was quite correct about the absurd IPCC claims and lack of appropriate reference.


The Economist: not a serious journal

Can anyone tell me how The Economist got its title? I’m guessing it was probably founded in the early 18th century by some crazed charlatan called, perhaps, Zachariah Economist, who, because of the unfortunate coincidence of his surname managed to persuade thousands of gullible fools to part with their shirts on one of the South Sea Bubble companies. The one whose prospectus read “A company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.”

One thing I know for sure: The Economist’s name can have no relationship whatsoever with the “dismal science” of economics because if it did then never in a million years could it have run an editorial (and feature) as lame, wrong-headed, intellectually dishonest and positively dangerous as the one it produced this week on the subject of Climate Change.

Here is its conclusion at the end of a long article – unsigned, as is traditional on The Economist to convey its weightiness, self-importance and authority – purporting to sift through the science behind AGW. (James Delingpole)


More peer review gatekeeping

Icecap has an interesting new article by three sceptic scientists - John McLean, Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter - describing the successful attempts to deny them a right of reply in the peer-reviewed literature.

The practice of editorial rejection of the authors’ response to criticism is unprecedented in our experience. It is surprising because it amounts to the editorial usurping of the right of authors to defend their paper and deprives readers from hearing all sides of a scientific discussion before they make up their own minds on an issue. It is declaring that the journal editor - or the reviewers to whom he defers - will decide if authors can defend papers that have already been positively reviewed and been published by that same journal. Such an attitude is the antithesis of productive scientific discussion.

Read the whole thing (PDF). (Bishop Hill)


This silly claim again: Rising sea level settles border dispute

NEW DELHI: In an unusual example of the effects of global climate change, rising sea levels in the Bay of Bengal have helped resolve a troublesome territorial dispute between two of the world's most populated countries, a leading Indian oceanographer says.

Sugata Hazra, the head of oceanography at Kolkata's Jadavpur University, says a flat muddy patch of land known as South Talpatti in Bangladesh and New Moore Island in India has disappeared under the Bay of Bengal. The landmass had been claimed by both countries but Professor Hazra says satellite images prove it has gone.

''It is now a submerged landmass, not an island,'' Professor Hazra told the Herald.

''Only small parts can be seen in very, very low tide conditions.''

Sea-level rise caused by climate change was ''surely'' a factor in the island's inundation, Professor Hazra said.

''The rate of sea-level rise in this part of the northern Bay of Bengal is definitely attributable to climate change,'' he said. (SMH)

Actually there is no sea level crisis in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh is actually getting bigger as the delta continues to silt with Himalayan erosion) and mud islands are most affected by dredging works to keep open or expand shipping channels. This has all been covered before.


Natural carbon cycle larger than thought: Even soil feels the heat - Soils release more carbon dioxide as globe warms

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Twenty years of field studies reveal that as the Earth has gotten warmer, plants and microbes in the soil have given off more carbon dioxide. So-called soil respiration has increased about one-tenth of 1 percent per year since 1989, according to an analysis of past studies in today's issue of Nature.

The scientists also calculated the total amount of carbon dioxide flowing from soils, which is about 10-15 percent higher than previous measurements. That number -- about 98 petagrams of carbon a year (or 98 billion metric tons) -- will help scientists build a better overall model of how carbon in its many forms cycles throughout the Earth. Understanding soil respiration is central to understanding how the global carbon cycle affects climate.

"There's a big pulse of carbon dioxide coming off of the surface of the soil everywhere in the world," said ecologist Ben Bond-Lamberty of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "We weren't sure if we'd be able to measure it going into this analysis, but we did find a response to temperature."

The increase in carbon dioxide given off by soils -- about 0.1 petagram (100 million metric tons) per year since 1989 -- won't contribute to the greenhouse effect unless it comes from carbon that had been locked away out of the system for a long time, such as in Arctic tundra. This analysis could not distinguish whether the carbon was coming from old stores or from vegetation growing faster due to a warmer climate. But other lines of evidence suggest warming is unlocking old carbon, said Bond-Lamberty, so it will be important to determine the sources of extra carbon. (DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)


Scientists Link Climate Change and Atlantic Croaker Fishery

Model Could be Used to Forecast Climate Impacts for Other Fisheries

A new climate-population model developed by NOAA scientists to study rising ocean temperatures and fishing rates on one East Coast fish population could also forecast the impact of climate change and fishing on other fisheries. The model is one of the first to directly link a specific fish stock with climate change.

In a paper in the March 2010 issue of the journal Ecology Applications published online today by the Ecological Society of America, NOAA researchers forecast the future of the Atlantic croaker fishery in the mid-Atlantic under various climate and fishing scenarios. Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a coastal marine fish inhabiting the east coast of the United States with an $8 million annual commercial fishery. Previous studies have shown a strong link between croaker abundance and winter temperatures.

“Some fish populations will increase and others decrease as a result of climate change,” said lead author Jon Hare of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) laboratory in Narragansett, R.I. “Our results demonstrate that climate effects on fisheries must be identified and understood, included in the scientific advice to managers, and factored into fishery management plans if sustainable exploitation is to be achieved.”

For various temperature and fish population scenarios over the next 90 years to 2100, the researchers forecast that at current levels of fishing, the spawning population of Atlantic croaker would increase between 60 and 100%, the center of the population would shift 50 to 100 kilometers (roughly 30 to 65 miles) northward, and the maximum sustainable yield would increase 30 to 100%. (NFSC)

While it is true that warmer is generally more life friendly and can certainly lead to greater abundance this exercise in virtual world fantasy should not influence fisheries management. Climate models driven by atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are a complete nonsense -- we don't even know if changes at current concentrations have any effect, let alone the marvelous magically magnified effect built into the models. Managing fisheries based on these fantasy worlds is a recipe for disaster.


And still they throw in "global warming": Seabed biodiversity in oxygen minimum zones

Oxygen minimum zones

Some regions of the deep ocean floor support abundant populations of organisms, despite being overlain by water that contains very little oxygen, according to an international study led by scientists at the United Kingdom's National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. But global warming is likely to exacerbate oxygen depletion and thereby reduce biodiversity in these regions, they warn. (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK))


Self-similarity of temperature graphs

Tamino, virtually all champions of the climate panic, and even most skeptics tend to think that the fluctuations and noise of the temperature graphs only exist at the short time scales.

They think that when we compute the average over sufficiently long timescales, i.e. many years or a few decades, the signal becomes bigger than the noise and the trends show up. For example, they think that if you look at more than 15 years, the warming trend becomes visible and very different from the noise.

However, this assumption is completely wrong.

The graphs of temperature anomalies - between weeks and millennia - actually look like some kind of pink noise. Much like red noise, the pink noise has the property that if you focus on a part of it and you scale the picture to fill the whole screen, both in the horizontal (time) and vertical (temperature) direction (these two scale factors may differ), you always get the same qualitative picture. The signal-to-noise ratio is actually pretty much independent of the time scale you choose - a typical behavior that people know from "critical phenomena" or "conformal field theories".

Using a simple adjective, the graphs are self-similar.

Here is my homework problem that will explain you what I mean.

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


Comment On The Article “Recovery Of Upper Ocean Heat From Major Volcanic Eruptions” By Heckendorn Et Al 2010

There is quite an informative article in the January 2010 issue of the SPARC [stratospheric processes and their role in climate] Newsletter. The article is

P. Heckendorn, F. Arfeuille, D. Weisenstein, S. Brönnimann, T. Peter, 2010 “SPARC Volcano Workshop 8-9 July 2009, Zurich, Switzerland” SPARC 2010 Newsletter no34 January.

I have two comments on this informative meeting summary

In  Section “Part IV: Radiative, chemical and dynamical response to volcanic eruptions”, there is the text

“G.Stenchikov showed with CM2.1, the recent GFDL coupled climate model (Delworth et al., 2006), that the accumulated averaged volcanic ocean heat content anomaly reaches about 1023 J, and offsets about 1/3 of the anthropogenic warming. After the Tambora and Mt. Pinatubo eruptions, the heat content below 300 m was reduced for decades (see Figure 5). Deep ocean temperature, sea level, salinity, and MOC (meridional overturning circulation) have a relaxation time of several decades to a century. This suggests that the Tambora subsurface temperature and sea level perturbations could have lasted well into the 20th century.”

This multi-decadal climate system memory to the radiative forcing of a volcanic eruption is quite an important conclusion. This would, of course, also apply to all other types of radiative forcing.  Climate prediction is clearly an initial value problem as I wrote about in

Pielke, R.A., 1998: Climate prediction as an initial value problem. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2743-2746. 

My second comment is with respect to the clear evidence of a negative radiative feedback (i.e. an adjustment back to a zero anomaly) when the volcanic eruptions produce a cooling radiative forcing (see the two figures below). This is clearly seen in the two figures below from the Stenchikov et al study reported on above. The obvious question is whether this negative feedback, for example, is due to changes in cloud cover in response to the volcanic emissions, and if such a feedback also operates when there is a warming radiative forcing. 

(Climate Science)


Model Slaves A Common Feature At NASA

(Don’t miss out on the bonus atmospheric reference at the bottom of this blog)

Should computer modeling be banned from NASA premises? Recent grandiose public statements may suggest as much. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


That's great, just don't do it: New CO2 'scrubber' from ingredient in hair conditioners

SAN FRANCISCO, March 24, 2010 — Relatives of ingredients in hair-conditioning shampoos and fabric softeners show promise as a long-sought material to fight global warming by "scrubbing" carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the flue gases from coal-burning electric power generating stations, scientists reported today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Their report, the first on use of these so-called aminosilicones in carbon dioxide capture, concluded that the material has the potential to remove 90 percent of CO2 from simulated flue gas. The new "scrubber" material may be less expensive and more efficient than current technologies for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main "greenhouse" gas linked to global warming, the scientists say. (American Chemical Society)

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is a resource, stop trying to waste it.


Argh! Making Car Fuel from Thin Air

Researchers from the South West are working on a £1.4 million project that could take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into car fuel.

Scientists and engineers from the University of the West of England are collaborating with colleagues from the University of Bath, who are leading the research, and colleagues from the University of Bristol.

The project aims to develop porous materials that can absorb the gas that causes global warming and convert it into chemicals that can be used to make car fuel or plastics in a process powered by renewable solar energy.

The researchers hope that in the future the porous materials could be used to line factory chimneys to take carbon dioxide pollutants from the air, reducing the effects of climate change. (ScienceDaily)

Carbon dioxide is not an atmospheric pollutant. It is an essential trace gas and biosphere resource! Sheesh!


Energy Policy As Unhinged As Health Care

Now into its 15th month, the administration of President Obama appears to have lost touch with political and economic reality.

A full year's political capital was spent passing the health care overhaul act, despite the fact that poll after poll showed that up to 80% of the population was quite happy with the status quo.

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has produced neither economic recovery nor reinvestment. Indeed, the strong gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter can be attributed almost entirely to business inventory rebuilding.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that construction spending in January — including the infrastructure outlays that were supposed to be the centerpiece of the ARRA — was more than 9% below its "pre-stimulus" level.

The Obama administration has now turned its attention to energy policy. But rather than looking at the energy sector as a vehicle for reinvigorating the American economy, the president has proposed hiking the tax burden on oil and gas companies by $45 billion.

At the same time, a new report from the Gas Technology Institute finds that drilling restrictions in Alaska and offshore are blocking access to nine years' worth of oil and gas.

Specifically, the administration is seeking to raise $36.5 billion from fiscal 2011 to 2020 by ending certain tax credits and deductions for domestic oil and gas production. An additional $8.5 billion would be raised by eliminating the credit for taxes paid by oil and gas companies overseas. (Bernard L. Weinstein, IBD)


EU Yields To Canada Over Oil Trade "Barriers": Sources

The European Union has yielded to Canadian demands it remove possible trade barriers to polluting oil sands to avoid further damage to ties, according to sources and leaked documents.

Relations are already strained after the European Union banned imports of seal products last July on animal welfare grounds, a move Canada is challenging at the World Trade Organization.

Canada warns that draft EU standards to promote greener fuels are too unwieldy and will harm the market for its oil sands -- tar-like oil that is trapped in sediment and forms the world's second-largest proven crude reserves after Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)


Oil Sands Environmental Debate Seen More Divisive

Canada's oil sands producers have pledged to improve their environmental records and do a better job communicating their efforts to the public, but environmentalists say they see no commitment to real change.

The diverging views point to continued tough sell around the world for producers of the massive energy resource in northern Alberta, the world's second biggest oil reserve, and for the Alberta and Canadian governments.

Executives at the Reuters Canadian Oil Sands Summit in Calgary this week gave details of some technological advances they are banking on to reduce the impact of development on land, air and water while trying to stay competitive as the world economy rebounds. (Reuters)


Saudis to Turn Increasingly to Oil to Meet Power Needs

Saudi Arabia’s booming economy and soaring demand for electricity is increasing the kingdom’s reliance on oil to produce power. By 2012, it may be using 1.2 million barrels a day, nearly two times current levels, to meet its electricity needs. This increasing use of oil is occurring because the Saudis’ natural gas production cannot keep up with power demand. [Read More] (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)


Australia signs monster $80b gas deal with China

AUSTRALIA last night signed its single biggest ever trade deal to sell gas to China.

The contract could be worth $60 billion to $80 billion over the 20-year life of the project, although the volatile oil price will ultimately determine whether it will be more or less.

China will buy 72 million tonnes of gas from Gladstone in Queensland. (Herald Sun)


It's the energy stoopid!

Aside from the peripheral and most decidedly ephemeral pre-occupations of today, an event is heralded in The Times which signals that the geo-political tectonic plates are moving – with profound repercussions in the short and medium-term.

That event is the imminent completion of a $40 billion deal between the Australian oil and gas producer, the BG Group, to supply natural gas to China. This amounts to 3.6 million tons of LNG a year for 20 years, shipped from BG's proposed export terminal in Queensland.

This is by no means the first of the giant Australian gas deals but what makes this very different and very special is that this is coal bed methane, providing further evidence that this hitherto untapped resource is poised to make a significant contribution to the world's energy supply.

Alongside shale gas, it helps re-draw the global energy map, positioning huge reserves of cheap energy in easily accessible, democratic countries. By so doing, it marginalises some of the more inaccessible and unstable regimes, reducing their ability to disrupt the global economy and their political clout.

In political terms, the significance of this cannot be over-estimated. Not least, the impact on Russia and the central Asian republics is likely to be profound. Their high-cost product is proving to be less attractive and necessary, to the extent that plans to exploit some of the Siberian gas fields are already on hold.

The news today of the TNK-BP conglomerate walking away from the vast Kovykta gas field development is not entirely unrelated. The Russian market has been severely dented by the increased availability of LNG and its failure to clinch an important supply deal with China.

As importantly, emerging economies such as China (and, to an extent India) are winning the race to secure supplies of cheap energy – thus underpinning their future prosperity and stability. By contrast, Western economies – and especially the UK together with other European nations – are saddling themselves with high-cost, unreliable cul-de-sac technologies such as wind power, creating a huge drag on their productive economies.

This is what our politicians do not seem to understand. While Clinton (or whoever) might have said, "it's the economy stoopid", underpinning every modern economy is cheap and reliable energy. Thus, it comes down to "It's the energy stoopid". It really is that important, that fundamental.

Yet, as we see today, we have serried ranks of politicians seemingly determined to undermine the very basis of our economy, our prosperity and stability, throwing away the advantages which made our nation great and which we need to exploit to ensure our continued prosperity.

Collectively, they conspire to engineer what amounts to economic suicide, while they prattle endlessly over their mindless trivia. There cannot be a more desperate, deadly betrayal than this, other than the wider failure of the political classes and the media to alert us to the importance of what is going on and to mobilise protest and dissent. We deserve better than this. (EU Referendum)


Oil giants propose limiting federal oversight of fracturing

BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Co. have provided Senate lawmakers with language to include in a pending climate change bill that essentially would block federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that's key to the current natural gas drilling boom.

The companies prepared the document, according to sources familiar with it, at the request of the Senate team that is drafting climate change law, which includes Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. 

If incorporated into the climate change law, it would keep the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations on fracturing, which is now regulated at the state level.

The document recommends that states adopt standards for disclosing the contents of hydraulic fracturing chemicals “to health professionals or state agencies” in order to protect health or environmental safety but maintain “the confidentiality of trade secret information” in the fluids.

It also encourages states to evaluate drilling practices to see if they comply with new American Petroleum Institute standards for well construction and integrity.

Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling into a formation and injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals under high pressure. The mixture cracks open the shale while the sand holds open the fractures, allowing the natural gas to flow more freely to the surface.

Some environmentalists have raised concerns about the enormous amounts of water used in the process, and about possible chemical contamination of water supplies near fracturing sites. (Houston Chronicle)


Lawmakers Seek To Keep Yucca Nuclear Waste Dump

The U.S. Energy Department's push to scrap a long-planned national nuclear waste dump in Nevada has run into stiff opposition as lawmakers on Wednesday questioned the Obama administration's decision.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a resolution of disapproval in the House of Representatives on Tuesday aimed at making the department stop efforts to shelve the project and maintain all records relating to the proposed storage site.

Lawmakers on a House Appropriations subcommittee grilled Energy Secretary Steven Chu about plans to cancel the repository at Yucca Mountain.

These moves may signal trouble for the administration's pledge to scrap the Yucca site, fiercely opposed in Nevada and by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who represents the state. (Reuters)


Budget 2010: pale green measures that could bring 80m-tonne cut in CO2

Alistair Darling's low-carbon commitments were slim, but Treasury figures show plans for biomass and electric cars amount to big emissions savings ( John Vidal, The Guardian)


Green investment bank boosts wind power

A new green investment bank has been set up by the Government to encourage investment in wind farms and solar panels.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, said the new bank would control £2 billion in assets and "unlock billions more" from the private sector for green energy and transport development.

He said the money would go towards improving railways and creating thousands of jobs in manufacturing turbines and installing solar panels.

But environmental groups said the money was "peanuts" compared to what is needed to keep the lights on while cutting carbon. (TDT)


The Color Of Money, Not The Environment

Green Government: Acting on a proposal by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles is hiking electric power bills to fund environmental initiatives. And what will customers get for their money? Nothing.

Because of the increase, approved 4-0 last week by the mayor's appointees on the Department of Water and Power board, 58% of the utility's customers will see their bills increase by an average of 8.8%. Some will be 28.4% higher. Businesses — and their customers and employees — will be hit hard, as commercial bills will run 20% to 26% higher. It all adds up to nearly a $650-million-a-year windfall for the city.

While the plan is not without opposition, and the City Council has voted 15-0 to review the rate hike, Villaraigosa has a politically correct wind at his back.

The promise that the proposal will bring green jobs — he estimates 16,000 — and boost the DWP's use of renewable energy — 20% by the end of this year and 40% by 2020 — is good enough for trendy Los Angelenos. They'll be glad to make sacrifices for the environment, even if it means forcing those who can see through the political haze to make sacrifices, as well.

There is no substance to the mayor's plan. It's all about politics and raising revenues for the city. (IBD)



Searching for Obamacare's Silver Lining

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama hopes his famous health care victory will mark him as a transformative president. History, however, may judge it to have been his missed opportunity to be one.

Health care will not be seriously revisited for at least a generation, so the system's costliest defect -- untaxed employer-provided insurance, which entangles a high-inflation commodity, health care, with the wage system -- remains. Obama could not challenge this without adopting measures -- e.g., tax credits for individuals, enabling them to shop for their own insurance -- that empower individuals and therefore conflict with his party's agenda of spreading dependency. (George Will, Townhall)


ObamaCare Means: Don't Look Behind the Curtain

You've really got to hand it to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Saddled with a majority of both houses and a hold on the White House, they somehow managed to pass the Senate health care bill in the House. It's practically a miracle.

And because Washington loves a victory, Pelosi is now seen as stronger, not as a Democrat who unconscionably lost 34 Dems and every Republican.

Monday, conservative radio talk-show Rush Limbaugh was having a field day playing audio clips of then-Sen. Barack Obama promising that the health care package he envisioned would reduce health care premiums "by up to as much as $2,500" per family per year. (Debra J. Saunders, Townhall)


3000 per cent wrong

You won’t have seen this on the news, I’m sure. But if George Bush had perpetrated this mathematical howler, how many times do you think this footage would have been aired by the media?

There are preferred media narratives - and there’s silence. (Andrew Bolt)


The Beginning of the End or of Rebirth?

The Democrats' passage of socialized medicine Sunday night will spell either the beginning of the end of this great nation or the beginning of the rebirth of its freedom. The choice is still in the hands of Americans.

To borrow a phrase from President Barack Obama, "let's be clear" on a couple of things:

First, it's not an exaggeration to say Obamacare is socialized medicine; in fact, it doesn't go far enough simply to say it represents the government takeover of our entire health care system. It is also a major step (begun long ago) in the complete dismantling of the unique American constitutional experiment and of the social compact between Americans and their government. Obama's now-realized goal of fundamental change is to make the government the people's master instead of their servant. (David Limbaugh, Townhall)



Pork is the preferred metaphor in Washington for misspending. But last weekend, pork took a backseat to baloney, which was present in abundance as President Obama and House Democrats tried to convince the public -- and themselves -- that their takeover of one-sixth of the economy is going to improve health insurance and the availability of medical treatment. (Cal Thomas, Townhall)


To Democrats, It's Monopoly Money

It is America's misfortune that at a moment in history that required sober, grown-up stewardship and a realistic appraisal of our fiscal trajectory, we elected (by large margins) the party of supplicants and whiners. How appropriate that one of the selling points of Obamacare was the guarantee that children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents' insurance plans -- because the Democrats' whole program is about extending adolescence. (Mona Charen, Townhall)


Environmental ‘Crisis’ and Government Power

By Barun S. Mitra, Wall Street Journal Asia

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted for the first time last month that it is facing a crisis of confidence. But the IPCC’s failings go far beyond the recent spate of errors identified in its reports. The problem began with the global political climate that led to the formation of the IPCC two decades ago.

Contrary to popular perception, the IPCC is not a scientific organization. It does no research of its own. Composed of scientists nominated by different governments, its key function is to collate evidence of human-induced climate change, not just changes in climate.

It is hardly surprising that with such an inherently biased objective the scientists lost their objectivity. Many of them went on a crusade to support the political goal of proving anthropogenic global warming. Concerns about scientific objectivity and critical discourse were thrown overboard. Why did political masters set such a nonscientific mandate for their scientists at the IPCC? Because over the past half century, governments have often ridden the green bandwagon to justify public-sector expansion.

Almost every decade we have witnessed the birth of a new green scare, apparently based on new scientific findings. First came the campaign against the pesticide DDT in the 1960s, followed by the population bomb in the 1970s. Then we had the campaign to protect forests and species in the 1980s, the ozone hole in the 1990s, and most recently the crescendo over climate change leading up to last year’s Copenhagen summit. Each time, the scare was shown to be false or overhyped. For instance, millions of people in the developing world died of malaria because DDT was wrongly vilified. It took decades to overcome the blanket ban of the chemical, and now it is once again being used to control mosquitoes in Africa.

Predictions of a rising population depleting the world’s resources have proven equally false and destructive. India today is enjoying the demographic dividend of a young workforce, while China is getting worried at the prospect that it may become the first society in history to grow old before it becomes rich. Likewise, forests are making a surprising comeback in many parts of the world, as the rise in agricultural productivity and economic growth are lowering demand for agricultural land.

Clearly, the track record of green prophecies has been pathetic. And with the collapse of the Soviet empire, and periodic economic turmoil, (such as the Asian economic crisis in 1997, and the dot-com bust in 2000), the public’s confidence in their leaders’ capacity to make effective economic policies has been shaken. It is in this context that climate change provided a new opportunity for many governments to legitimize their role, and expand their scope. The formation of the IPCC and its apparent focus on the science of climate change allowed the political establishments to claim science as the basis for proposed climate policies that increased the power of government and curtailed the private sector. The time frame of the projected climate change was longer than earlier green crusades, typically from 50 to 100 years. This will allow policy makers to escape accountability for their misguided policies since they would be out of office by the time the consequences became apparent.

The relationship between a section of political leaders and scientists turned out to be mutually reinforcing. Policy makers justified their empire building on the basis of “scientific consensus,” and scientists found a very profitable avenue for political influence and access to funding. To sell this climate strategy, political leaders and scientists adopted the classic carrot-and-stick approach. The rich countries offered money to the poor ones in an attempt to buy support for the climate policies. More recently there is the threat of trade sanctions, which reflect the stick.

This approach was apparent in the build-up to the Copenhagen summit last December. The distinction between scientists and activists virtually disappeared as the scaremongering reached a new depth. The rich countries’ carrots virtually broke the Group of 77 developing-world nations, as some of the poorest countries found the lure of easy money in hand more attractive than the fruits of economic growth in the future.

The grand design failed on three counts, and the world was saved from the onslaught of the climate crusade. Copenhagen coincided with the global economic slowdown, and therefore the promise of money seemed more like a mirage. Second, the scientific authority of the IPCC collapsed. And finally, deepening developmental aspirations in some of the major developing countries, such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa, meant that the leadership in these countries could not afford to barter their economic future for the sake of some small change today.

The current crisis in the environmental movement is not limited to a few leading climate scientists; its root lies in the political shifts taking place in many countries. Leaders are being forced to take their responsibilities more seriously, and not to outsource it to scientists. And scientists will have to regain public confidence by returning to their traditional values of objectivity and intellectual rigor.

Mr. Mitra is director of the Liberty Institute, an independent think tank in New Delhi, and a columnist for WSJ.com.


Well duh! The Problems With 'Natural' Products -- And How To Fix Them

The Natural Products Expo West concluded last weekend in Anaheim, Calif., and once again many businesses were able to celebrate what they learned a long time ago: That they can make a fortune by marketing almost anything as "natural." Crayola-colored gummy worms? Lipstick laden with lead? Detergents and soaps that contain questionnable phthalates? Yes, these are all being sold as "natural" - even though they resemble nothing Mother Nature ever made.

How do goods like these slide by as "natural?" It's simple: There "ain't no law against it," as one of the Little Rascals might say. The term "organic" is strictly defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; its use is policed by both the federal government and consumer groups. But not so the word "natural." That's why I and many other consumer advocates encourage shoppers to ignore it when they shop. There's no way to know what it really means. (Diane MacEachern, Greener World Media)


Moderate drinking helps heart, but don't binge

NEW YORK - One or two alcoholic drinks a day can help healthy people-and heart patients-live longer, new research confirms.

But the two new studies-one of nearly 250,000 US adults, the other an analysis of eight previous studies of more than 16,000 people with heart disease and other problems related to clogged arteries-also show that drinkers who exceeded recommended limits for alcohol consumption saw no heart health benefits.

"No question, heavy or binge drinking can have adverse health outcomes," Dr. Simona Costanzo and colleagues from Catholic University in Campobasso, Italy, warn in their report.

However, they add, doctors should tell their patients with heart disease and other clogged artery-related problems, together known as cardiovascular disease, that moderate alcohol consumption-a drink a day for women, two for men-"should not be harmful to their health."

There is considerable evidence that moderate drinking helps reduce the risk of heart disease and death from heart-related causes, likely due to the fact that drinking alcohol is linked to higher levels of "good" cholesterol. (Reuters Health)


Pricing booze higher may curb disease, health costs

NEW YORK - Raising prices on cheap alcoholic beverages could prevent thousands of deaths and hospital admissions every year, British researchers reported on Wednesday in the Lancet.

Countries around the world are considering or testing so-called "fat taxes" in an attempt to change unhealthy behavior. The new study provides the most detailed estimates so far of the public-health effects of different alcohol-pricing policies under consideration by the UK government.

For instance, charging at least 1.14 GBP ($1.70) for a pint of beer -- or $6.60 for a bottle of wine -- would be expected to prevent 49,000 cases of illness after 10 years. Those prices would nearly double the price of some discount beer and wine. (Reuters Health)


Cruise Lines Hope To Sink U.S.-Canada Pollution Plan

Cruise companies are balking at a proposal to create a low-emissions buffer zone around the United States and Canada, saying it sets arbitrary boundaries based on faulty science that overstates the health benefits.

The proposed Emissions Control Area would extend 200 nautical miles, which is 230 statute miles, around the coast of the two nations and set stringent new limits on air pollution from ocean-going ships beginning in 2015.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the U.N. agency that sets regulations for ships operating internationally, is expected to adopt the proposal at its weeklong meeting that begins on Monday in London.

Cruise executives at an industry meeting in Miami said the plan would force them to switch to low-sulfur fuels that would dramatically drive up costs.

"Our estimate is that in today's market it's probably 40 percent more expensive," said Michael Crye, executive vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the Cruise Lines International Association, known as CLIA.

It "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned within 200 miles," Stein Kruse, chief executive of Holland America Line, told the Cruise Shipping Miami conference.

Proponents, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, say the plan would clear the air around polluted port cities and save up to 8,300 lives a year in the United States and Canada. It would limit emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, pollutants that are linked to asthma and cancer. (Reuters)


Commercial cooking elevates hazardous pollutants in the environment

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2010 — As you stroll down restaurant row and catch the wonderful aroma of food — steaks, burgers, and grilled veggies — keep this in mind: You may be in an air pollution zone. Scientists in Minnesota are reporting that commercial cooking is a surprisingly large source of a range of air pollutants that could pose risks to human health and the environment. They discussed the topic here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.


Review of the Environmental Protection Agency's Draft IRIS Assessment of Tetrachloroethylene

Tetrachloroethylene is a volatile, chlorinated organic hydrocarbon that is widely used as a solvent in the dry-cleaning and textile-processing industries and as an agent for degreasing metal parts. It is an environmental contaminant that has been detected in the air, groundwater, surface waters, and soil. In June 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its draft Toxicological Review of Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene) (CAS No. 127-18-4) in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The draft IRIS assessment provides quantitative estimates of cancer and noncancer effects of exposure to tetrachloreothylene, which will be used to establish airquality and water-quality standards to protect public health and to set cleanup standards for hazardous waste sites.

At the request of EPA, the National Research Council conducted an independent scientific review of the draft IRIS assessment of tetrachloroethylene from toxicologic, epidemiologic, and human clinical perspectives. The resulting book evaluates the adequacy of the EPA assessment, the data and methods used for deriving the noncancer values for inhalation and oral exposures and the oral and inhalation cancer unit risks posed by tetrachloroethylene; evaluates whether the key studies underlying the draft IRIS assessment are of requisite quality, reliability, and relevance to support the derivation of the reference values and cancer risks; evaluates whether the uncertainties in EPA's risk assessment were adequately described and, where possible, quantified; and identifies research that could reduce the uncertainty in the current understanding of human health effects associated with tetrachloroethylene exposure. (NAP)


Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals: Volume 8

This book is the eighth volume in the series Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals, and reviews AEGLs for acrolein, carbon monoxide, 1,2-dichloroethene, ethylenimine, fluorine, hydrazine, peracetic acid, propylenimine, and sulfur dioxide for scientific accuracy, completeness, and consistency with the NRC guideline reports. (NAP)


Are cosmic rays really causing Toyota's woes?

Regulators take closer look at design of electronics

WASHINGTON -- It may sound far-fetched, but federal regulators are studying whether sudden acceleration in Toyotas is linked to cosmic rays.

Radiation from space long has affected airplanes and spacecraft, and is known for triggering errors in computer systems, but has received scant attention in the auto industry. (Free Press)


How Media Took Us For A Ride In A Prius

For three days, James Sikes held America's highest honor: victim. The nation had been transfixed by his almost half-hour-long 94-mph horror ride in his runaway Toyota Prius. He burned his brakes right down to the metal, unable to even slow the vehicle. Only his prescience in calling 911, followed by a highway patrol officer providing assistance, saved his life.

Then my article "Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax" at Forbes.com brought it crashing down. But lest you get false impressions from that title, the real hoaxter wasn't Jim Sikes, but the media. Red flags about his story were popping up from the start. Yet the entire Fourth Estate systematically ignored them. Here were some of the biggest. (Michael Fumento, IBD)


Does Krugman simply write for shock value these days? Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize winner who threatens the world

Paul Krugman, an American economist, wants to start a trade war with China. It would be worse than the 1930s, says Jeremy Warner. (TDT)


Michigan Loses New Request In Great Lakes Carp Case

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected another request by the state of Michigan for an order to close two Chicago-area waterway locks to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

The high court turned down Michigan's initial request on January 19 but the state filed a new motion after the discovery of carp DNA in water samples taken from the Calumet Harbor on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Calumet River. (Reuters)


Cold just isn't life-friendly: Manatee Deaths Jump To New Record In Florida

At least 431 manatees have died in Florida waters so far this year, exceeding in less than three months the total for any full calendar year on record, authorities said on Tuesday.

A preliminary report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission attributed most of the deaths of the marine mammals to "cold stress syndrome" during this year's unusually harsh winter. (Reuters)


Yes, you read that right: How Green Is Your Love Life? "Eco-Sex" Gets On It

You drive a hybrid, eat organic, and are passionate about recycling. But how green is your love life. (Reuters)

Bad enough the government tries to get into our bedrooms, now we have to put with the watermelons trying to?


A Scientific Assessment of Alternatives for Reducing Water Management Effects on Threatened and Endangered Fishes in California's Bay Delta

California's Bay-Delta estuary is a biologically diverse estuarine ecosystem that plays a central role in the distribution of California's water from the state's wetter northern regions to its southern, arid, and populous cities and agricultural areas. Recently, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service required changes (reasonable and prudent alternatives, or RPAs) in water operations and related actions to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence and potential for recovery of threatened species of fish. Those changes have reduced the amount of water available for other uses, and the tensions that resulted have been exacerbated by recent dry years.

The complexity of the problem of the decline of the listed species and the difficulty of identifying viable solutions have led to disagreements, including concerns that some of the actions in the RPAs might be ineffective and might cause harm and economic disruptions to water users, and that some of the actions specified in the RPAs to help one or more of the listed species might harm others. In addition, some have suggested that the agencies might be able to meet their legal obligation to protect species with less economic disruptions to other water users.

The National Research Council examines the issue in the present volume to conclude that most of the actions proposed by two federal agencies to protect endangered and threatened fish species through water diversions in the California Bay-Delta are "scientifically justified." But less well-supported by scientific analyses is the basis for the specific environmental triggers that would indicate when to reduce the water diversions required by the actions. (NAP)


Bangladesh Needs Action On Arsenic-Tainted Water: U.N.

Bangladesh must act quickly to combat arsenic contamination in water and food affecting at least 20 million people, a U.N. agency said Monday, decades after a well-meant plan for clean water became a public health disaster.

A recent survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) showed that 12.6 percent of Bangladesh households, or about 20 million people, still drink water containing arsenic above the government's recommendation of no more than 50 micrograms per liter. (Reuters)


New approach to water desalination

Could lead to small, portable units for disaster sites or remote locations

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A new approach to desalination being developed by researchers at MIT and in Korea could lead to small, portable desalination units that could be powered by solar cells or batteries and could deliver enough fresh water to supply the needs of a family or small village. As an added bonus, the system would also remove many contaminants, viruses and bacteria at the same time. (MIT Press Release)



Cap-Trade Next For No-Tomorrow Dems?

Conventional wisdom is that the health care process was so ugly and unpopular that members of Congress would be loath to take up other political hot potatoes in an election year. This line of thinking couldn't be more wrong.

While no one can predict what's going to happen in the November elections, it's not looking good for Democrats. In addition to the traditional midterm curse of the party in power, Democrats will be faced with an energized conservative base and the antagonized independent voters who helped elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Hurt by President Obama's partisanship, Nancy Pelosi's strong-arm tactics, the failed $787 billion stimulus package, the House vote for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and now the unpopular health care bill with all its related shenanigans, Democrats could easily lose their large majorities in Congress.

Since there may be no tomorrow — that is, 2011 — for a Democrat-controlled Congress, time is of the essence for the Obama agenda of transforming America into a socialist paradise. (Steve Milloy, IBD)


EPA Seeks Carbon Data From Oil, Natgas Sectors

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new proposal on Tuesday that would expand existing rules on reporting greenhouse gas emissions to include oil and natural gas production facilities and add methane gas for the first time. (Reuters)


France shelves key carbon tax plan

PARIS — France's government Tuesday put on hold a key carbon tax plan as workers held mass strikes over pensions and jobs, turning up the heat on President Nicolas Sarkozy after an election humiliation.

The government shelved the proposed carbon tax, one of Sarkozy's key reforms, a day after the president replaced a top minister in a reshuffle after his UMP party's defeat by left-wing rivals in regional elections.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in the streets and teachers, train drivers and other public workers stayed off work to protest job cuts and plans for pension reform.

The president has vowed to press on with changes to state pensions. But the carbon tax, a major plank of his environmental policy touted as France's leading contribution to anti-global warming efforts, was put on hold.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a statement that the government still aimed to implement a carbon tax but this could only be done "in common with other European countries" and France would push the EU to take a common position. (AFP)


Inhofe: Climategate Shows There's No Global Warming Consensus

Sen. James Inhofe cites flawed data on global warming and the deceit of climategate

James Inhofe is an Oklahoma Republican and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Call it the global warming crackup, an unfolding proc ess of contradictory claims about glaciers, weather, and scientists asserting a consensus when none exists. Global warming alarmists can't make up their minds because the entire basis for their energy rationing project has collapsed into a mess of errors, exaggerations, and deceit. Let me explain. (James Inhofe, US News)


A Summary of Richard Tol's look at IPCC AR4 WGIII

A guest post by Richard Tol

The Fourth Assessment Report of Working Group 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been widely criticised for being overly pessimistic about the impacts of climate change. The IPCC has admitted that errors were made, but argues that the mistakes were just that. However, all errors point in one direction: alarmism about climate change. This suggests, at least, an inadvertent bias.

In the previous guest posts, I (in one case jointly with Chris Green) argue that Working Group 3 also contains mistakes, and that most errors point in one direction: optimism about the impacts of climate policy. The other mistakes reveal the inability of the IPCC to constructively engage with valid criticism. I also looked at the reviewer comments and the responses. The errors were identified during the review process, but made it into the final report nonetheless.

In the post about population projections, I show that the IPCC misquotes a paper that cast doubt on the IPCC SRES scenarios. In the post about exchange rates, I demonstrate that the IPCC misrepresents or omits papers that criticise the IPCC SRES scenarios. These two cases suggest that the IPCC has lost the ability to be self-critical.

In the post about double dividends, I show that the IPCC’s claims that climate policy would stimulate economic growth and create jobs are not based on peer-reviewed literature. Furthermore, the IPCC fails in its role as policy advisor. Ecological tax reform could promote growth and employment – but only under very narrow conditions. An honest broker would spell out those conditions. A stealth advocate would suggest that those conditions are rather easily met – as does the IPCC.

In the post about technological progress, I show that the IPCC emphasizes the results of studies that show that the costs of emission reduction are lower than previously thought, while suppressing or misquoting studies that show the opposite – despite credible evidence that the latter papers are closer to the truth. The IPCC assessment is certainly incomplete, but I would argue it is biased.

In the post about selection bias, I demonstrate that the IPCC summarises the results of multiple abatement studies in a misleading way, failing to alert the reader to the fact that the estimates of the costs of stringent emission reduction are unrepresentative of the literature and severely biased downwards. This is deception pure and simple.

In the post about double-counting, we show that the IPCC confuses carbon savings due to “market forces” with carbon savings by “climate policy”. This again would suggest to the unsuspecting reader that emission reduction is cheaper than it really is. The IPCC again did this in spite of protests by the referees. The IPCC deliberately puts the reader on the wrong foot.

In sum, the review process of the IPCC failed miserably. AR4 of WG3 substantially and knowingly misrepresents the state of the art in our understanding of the costs of emission reduction. It leads the reader to the conclusion that emission reduction is much cheaper and easier than it will be in real life.

Dr Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was one of the lead authors of Chapter 11 where most of the “errors” originate. He has since been appointed as the co-chairperson of WG3 for the Fifth Assessment Report of 2014. (Roger Pielke Jr)


Startlingly silly

Fiona Harvey, the Financial Times' environment correspondent weighs in to the debate over Lord Oxburgh's appointment at the head of the Royal Society panel looking into the CRU-science, and the fact that the noble lord has a financial conflict of interest.

But already his appointment has been attacked by climate sceptics, as he has strong business interests in biofuels, is chairman of the wind company Falck Renewables, and a board member of Climate Change Capital, a major investor in carbon credits.

Critics say this is enough to ensure his view of the science is biased, and have called for his removal.

And roughly speaking, this is where we are coming from. So, what's Fiona's take on this argument?

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


More silliness

Daniel Cressey at Nature's Great Beyond blog seems to be adding his voice to those who support the idea of Lord Oxburgh being a suitable chairman for the Royal Society panel despite the noble lord's conflict of interest.

Daniel's case for the defence is almost as obscure as Fiona Harvey's but seems to consist of a belief that since Bob Ward, the public relations officer at the Grantham Institute, predicted that the appointment would be criticised, we should shrug our shoulders and move on. I hope I'm not misjudging Daniel's position here, because he doesn't make his position very clear. I do sense, however, that his article carries an air of criticism of those who are pointing out the conflict of interest rather than those who are behind it.

You have to laugh, don't you? (Bishop Hill)


Verifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Methods to Support International Climate Agreements

The world's nations are moving toward agreements that will bind us together in an effort to limit future greenhouse gas emissions. With such agreements will come the need for all nations to make accurate estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and to monitor changes over time. In this context, the present book focuses on the greenhouse gases that result from human activities, have long lifetimes in the atmosphere and thus will change global climate for decades to millennia or more, and are currently included in international agreements. The book devotes considerably more space to CO2 than to the other gases because CO2 is the largest single contributor to global climate change and is thus the focus of many mitigation efforts. Only data in the public domain were considered because public access and transparency are necessary to build trust in a climate treaty.

The book concludes that each country could estimate fossil-fuel CO2 emissions accurately enough to support monitoring of a climate treaty. However, current methods are not sufficiently accurate to check these self-reported estimates against independent data or to estimate other greenhouse gas emissions. Strategic investments would, within 5 years, improve reporting of emissions by countries and yield a useful capability for independent verification of greenhouse gas emissions reported by countries. (NAP)


Worried About Global Warming? Then You Are in the Minority

Last week, Gallup released the findings of a survey which found that just 28 percent of Americans worry “a great deal” about global warming. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)


This is encouraging: Public scepticism prompts Science Museum to rename climate exhibition

The Science Museum is revising the contents of its new climate science gallery to reflect the wave of scepticism that has engulfed the issue in recent months.

The decision by the 100-year-old London museum reveals how deeply scientific institutions have been shaken by the public’s reaction to revelations of malpractice by climate scientists.

The museum is abandoning its previous practice of trying to persuade visitors of the dangers of global warming. It is instead adopting a neutral position, acknowledging that there are legitimate doubts about the impact of man-made emissions on the climate.

Even the title of the £4 million gallery has been changed to reflect the museum’s more circumspect approach. The museum had intended to call it the Climate Change Gallery, but has decided to change this to Climate Science Gallery to avoid being accused of presuming that emissions would change the temperature. (The Times)


Don’t You Believe in Global Warming?

Venture a doubt about climate change politics or ethics, and you’ll likely be asked, “Don’t you believe in global warming?” If you express suspicion about the prominence and function served by alarm and catastrophe in arguments for political responses to climate change, it will be assumed that you don’t understand “the science”, or you simply aren’t aware of “the science”, or you are denying “the science”. As we’ve observed before, the debate is presented as one between sides attached to either the proposition “climate change is happening” or its denial, “climate change isn’t happening”.

It is a mistake to see the debate in this way for a number of reasons – most of which we’ve discussed here before. The point of this blog post is to stress what is interesting about the statement “climate change is happening”. For a statement with such huge implications, it is entirely devoid of meaning or content. (Climate Resistance)


Liberal Activist Says 'Cognitive' Brain Patterns Prevent Conservatives From Accepting Threat of Global Warming

Proponents of human-caused global warming claim that "cognitive" brain function prevents conservatives from accepting the science that says "climate change" is an imminent threat to planet Earth and its inhabitants.

George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the book "The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics," says his scientific research shows that how one perceives the world depends on one’s bodily experience and how one functions in the everyday world. Reason is shaped by the body, he says.

Lakoff told CNSNews.com that “metaphors” shape a person's understanding of the world, along with one’s values and political beliefs -- including what they think about global warming. (CNSNews.com)

Actually what stops us is physics and data availability: Are we really sure the world is too warm?


1970s Global Cooling Consensus Not A Myth – The Unassailable Argument

There are still many otherwise learned and reasonable people fooling themselves into thinking that the “1970s Global Cooling consensus” was a myth.  No matter how much they try to massage historical evidence, the evident truth is that they are mistaken.

In the 1970s (I am not saying, for the whole decade) there was a consensus about global cooling. How is such a conclusion reached? By asking the right question.

In fact, the very reason the question is asked is because it is relevant to the world of today.  Some have publicly declared that their skepticism on catastrophical Global Warming is based on their memories about catastrophical Global Cooling sometimes in the 1970s. Much is being done about Newsweek or New York Times articles of the time. The issue concerns therefore what we of 2010 would call a meme, and a popular one at that since it appeared and was propagated in general-interest newspapers and magazines.

That pretty much invalidates nerdy analyses of the scientific literature of the time, hardly a primary source of popular memes. Besides, one suspects it was far easier to publish a work on warming despite the underlying acceptance by prominent scientists of global cooling: surely at the time there was nothing remotely resembling the climategate gang, bent on preventing publication to anything challenging their beliefs. Fabricated unanimities just did not exist.

Hence the right question to ask is: did people sometimes in the 1970s live under the impression that there was a scientific consensus on Global Cooling? Note once again: it is a matter of impressions, not of some kind of unperceived reality.

Take this example: when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11 April 1814, all big political guns in Europe were under the impression that he was finished. Of course we know now that it wasn’t true (Napoleon escaped from his Elba prison 10 months later, and came tantalizingly close to win back his power in full).

Was there in 1814 a consensus that Napoleon was a defeated man? Yes. Was he? No, as far as we understand.  Yes, as far as contemporaries understood.

Likewise for Global Cooling…we have for a fact that world temperatures have not been declining in the last 30-40 years (rather, the opposite has happened). We also know that not every scientist in the 1970s believed in Global Cooling. And yet…for a person of 1974/1975 with an average scientific interest for example, the consensus on Global Cooling was a fact of life. Why, even the CIA did not hesitate to describe such a consensus, and to organize a scientific conference about it.

History is like a foreign country…the only way to understand it is to respect it, and to be careful when dealing with it. Unfortunately, in the heated world of the AGW believer, respect and care are seldom to be found. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Will it really be a 'barbecue summer'?

Forecasts for a sizzling summer are as uncertain as predictions of climate change, argues Roger Highfield (TDT)


Eye-roller: National Trust warns of not-so-rosy future for British gardens

The traditional British garden could be ravaged by climate change, the National Trust said yesterday, as it produced paintings showing how hotter summers may fry herbaceous borders, while wet winters could rot spring bulbs.

It released a picture showing what 2C hotter could look like — orange trees replace rose bushes, while palms push out foxgloves.

The trust, which today is launching an exhibition about what could be lost if temperatures rise significantly, said that lupins, delphiniums, hyacinths and tulips were most at risk.

The trust cites research from the Met Office suggesting that a 2C rise could make the climate in southern England similar to south west France, while a 4C rise could expose gardens to conditions more like southern Portugal. (The Times)


So, tropical regions are not biodiverse? Global warming threatens plant diversity

In the coming decades, climate change is set to produce worldwide changes in the living conditions for plants, whereby major regional differences may be expected to occur. Thus today´s cool, moist regions could in future provide habitats for additional species, and in arid and hot regions the climatic prerequisites for a high degree of plant diversity will deteriorate. This is the conclusion reached in a new study by scientists at the Universities of Bonn, Göttingen and Yale, and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society London. The study was funded by the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). (University of Bonn)


Goddard Data and Global Sea Ice Doesn't Fit

If it is darn warm, how come there is so much sea ice? (Joe Bastardi, AccuWeather)


Hmm... according to GRACE: Greenland ice sheet losing mass on northwest coast

Ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet, which has been increasing during the past decade over its southern region, is now moving up its northwest coast, according to a new international study.

Led by the Denmark Technical Institute's National Space Institute in Copenhagen and involving the University of Colorado at Boulder, the study indicated the ice-loss acceleration began moving up the northwest coast of Greenland starting in late 2005. The team drew their conclusions by comparing data from NASA's Gravity and Recovery Climate Experiment satellite system, or GRACE, with continuous GPS measurements made from long-term sites on bedrock on the edges of the ice sheet. (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Is this before or after the GRACE data has been through the models? If after then we are unimpressed, even dubious. Last time we had a close look at GRACE claims of ice loss it turned out there were large holes in the sea too, where the sea was "losing mass" even faster than the ice shield.

Listed as "highly dubious", at least until we get a look at the complete study.


A breakthrough in long range forecasting?

I am indebted to Dr Jarl Ahlbeck, from Abo Akademi University, Finland, who contacted me about his fascinating new piece of research relating to this winters severe cold across much of Europe, and a possible link to the very low solar activity we have been experiencing.

I am aware that there is a hugely varied readership of my blog; those who are very well informed about weather and climate, and others that have an interest in the subject but would struggle with some of the details contained in scientific papers. I have thus asked the author to summarize the main points of the research, and will include a link to the paper for those that feel brave enough to look into it themselves. (Paul Hudson, BBC)


Improving predictions of climate change and its impacts

New interagency program to generate high-resolution tools for addressing climate change

On March 22 at 11 a.m., EDT, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture held a webcast announcing the launch of a joint research program to produce high-resolution models for predicting climate change and its resulting impacts.

Called Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models (EaSM), the program is designed to generate models that--significantly more powerful than existing models--can help decision-makers develop adaptation strategies addressing climate change. These models will be developed through a joint, interagency solicitation for proposals. (NSF)



Churchville, VA—“Radical New Direction Needed in Food Production to Deal with Climate Change!” says the press release. Crop yields may fall 20-30 percent by 2100 because the earth will be too warm for optimum photosynthesis, warns a February 12, 2010 “Perspectives” article in the journal Science. (“Radically Rethinking Ag for the 21st Century”).

Hunger is one of the scare-words always attached to global warming. But a warming world isn’t likely to starve, even with the larger human population expected in 2100.

Start with our knowledge that the Medieval Warming was warmer than today. Ice core data show the Greenland ice sheet then was 2.5 degrees C warmer then, which means most of the world’s current grain belts had significantly longer growing seasons and fewer untimely frosts. Also, lots of sunshine, in contract to the cloudy “little ice ages.”

Most of Europe’s famous castles and cathedrals were built during the Medieval Warming. So were the 10,000 temples at Angkor Watt in Cambodia. Meaning that the Medieval Warming’s longer growing seasons produced enough extra food to pay hundreds of thousands of non-farm workers top wages to construct “luxury” buildings.

Second, we know that added CO2 in the atmosphere stimulates plant growth. Hundreds of agricultural test plots have demonstrated this, world-wide. CO2 acts like fertilizer, and also increases plants’ water use efficiency. Thus, doubling the concentration of CO2 in the air raises the productivity of herbaceous plants by 30-50 percent. Fortunately, we’re going to have lots of CO2 in the air.

A new Chinese report says that Chinese rice production is likely to rise 3–19 percent by 2100, because of CO2’s fertilization effect—and because farmers will increase their northern crop production. The report says rice production would push further north, with lucrative double-cropping over the whole Yangtze Basin, not just the southern part. Other studies confirm that Chinese farmers would move corn and potato crops farther north into Manchuria with all the crop yields benefitting from higher CO2 levels.

Most of the world’s recent 0.7 C temperature increase occurred before 1940. Thus, it must be ‘blamed” on the moderate, solar-linked 1,500-year climate cycle that also produced the Medieval Warming. That natural warming pattern indicates that  tropical temperatures may not even rise much during the coming centuries.

The cycle implies a further temperature rise of 0.5 degree C over the next 300 years, rather than the 5–8 degrees C by 2100 claimed in the computerized models. Remember that we’ve never seen real-world evidence of the runaway warming. The Arctic ice is on a 70-year cycle, and the Antarctic has record amounts of ice and sea-ice. Even the man-made warming believers admit there’s been no warming for 15 years.

We shouldn’t even have to give up meat. Most of the fodder for our livestock comes from the natural grasslands, and from massive consumption of peanut hulls, citrus pulp, feather meal and other “wastes.”  A pound of meat costs 1.4 pounds of human-edible protein—and delivers 1.4 pounds worth of human-edible protein.

The climate models deliberately claim famine and flooding—because you would not otherwise give up 87 percent of your current energy and go voluntarily back to the Stone Age. But the lack of any massive warming over recent decades; and, most of all, the declining heat in the world’s oceans has proven the climate models wrong.

Meanwhile, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have pledged a billion dollars to help create a “second green revolution” for Africa and other marginal farming regions. Expect to eat well during our Modern Warming— unless governments are foolish enough to tax-away the energy sources needed for truly sustainable production.

DENNIS T. AVERY is a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He is an environmental economist and was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net


The sunburnt country is awash

Record-breaking rain means huge Australian arid-land lakes are visible from space.

Australia has one of the most unpredictable rainfall patterns in the world, and this is one of those unpredictable years. For the past few months, the repeated downfalls have left large pools of water lying in arid lands in Western Queensland. It’s great news for farmers. The water will, over the next year, flow south through the Darling River system, restoring parched watercourses, swamps, and dams. The Darling River system flows from Queensland through New South Wales and into South Australia.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Meteorology announced that the rains were “exceptional”:

The most remarkable aspect of this event was the area covered by the heavy rainfall and the total volume of rainfall that fell. Daily totals exceeded 100 mm over 1.7% of Australia on 1 March and 1.9% on 2 March. The latter is the largest area of 100 mm-plus daily totals on a single day in the Australian meteorological record, breaking the previous record of 1.7% set on 22  December 1956. 28 February was the wettest day on record for the Northern Territory with an NT-wide average of 29.23 mm, while 2 March set a new record for Queensland with a Statewide average of 31.74 mm1.

And after that record-breaking rain, the rain kept falling .

But, this year, the widespread repeated rainfall has filled up floodplains. Note the scale. The image is almost 1500 km (900 miles) wide. Photo taken March 14, 2010.

queensland floods 2010

Images thanks to the NASA Earth Observatory. More » (Jo Nova)


Loehle on Hoffman et al and CO2 trajectories

Craig Loehle sends word of a new publication that looks at CO2 trajectories in the context of Hoffman et al. Excerpt posted below. A link to the full paper follows.


Craig Loehle, PhD, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc., Naperville, Illinois

Atmospheric Environment doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.02.029

Figure 2: Projected exponential, quadratic, and saturating models compared to IPCC scenario values. Over the calibration period 1958-2009 the 3 models and data are indistinguishable from each other, but then diverge.


A paper by Hofmann et al. (2009, this journal) is critiqued.  It is shown that their exponential model for characterizing CO2 trajectories for historical data is not estimated properly. An exponential model is properly estimated and is shown to fit over the entire 51 year period of available data. Further, the entire problem of estimating models for the CO2 historical data is shown to be ill-posed because alternate model forms fit the data equally well.  To illustrate this point the past 51 years of CO2 data were analyzed using three different time-dependent models that capture the historical pattern of CO2 increase.  All three fit with R2 > 0.98, are visually indistinguishable when overlaid, and match each other during the calibration period with R2 > 0.999.  Projecting the models forward to 2100, the exponential model comes quite close to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) best estimate of 836 ppmv.  The other two models project values far below the IPCC low estimates. The problem of characterizing historical CO2 levels is thus indeterminate, because multiple models fit the data equally well but forecast very different future trajectories. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


Stealth Advocacy and Geoengineering

Wired has an interesting story on a meeting being held this week at Asilomar on the governance of geoengineering. Several of my colleagues are in attendance. I was invited but decided to spend my spring break otherwise ;-)

The meeting is interesting because it is sponsored by a group with a financial interest in geoengineering. From the Wired story:

While many of the field’s top scientists are attending the meeting, it has drawn criticism from high-level scientists with an interest in geoengineering like Stanford’s Ken Caldeira and the University of Calgary’s David Keith.

“My only concern about this meeting is that the convening organization, [Climate Response Fund] is nontransparent and appears to be closely tied to Climos which was conceived to do ocean fertilization for profit,” Keith wrote. “While I am happy to see profit-driven startups drive innovation, I think tying ocean fertilization to carbon credits was a sterling example of how not to govern climate engineering, and I am therefore concerned to see a closely linked organization at the center of a meeting on governance. A meeting on governance ought to start by having transparent and disinterested governance.”

Despite Keith’s strongly worded statement about the conference, he has decided to attend to, as he put it, “speak out.” Caldeira declined his invitation, telling Wired.com that he preferred governance meetings held by “established professional societies and non-profits without a stake in the outcomes.”

The choice of venue was by design:

The group is meeting at the Asilomar resort in California, a dreamy enclave a few hours south of San Francisco. The gathering intentionally harkens back to the February 1975 meeting there of molecular biologists hashing out rules to govern what was then the hot-button scientific issue of the day: recombinant DNA and the possibility of biohazards.

The 1975 process wasn’t perfect, but after a fraught and meandering few days, the scientists released a joint statement that placed some restrictions and conditions on research, particularly with pathogens. That meeting is now held up as a model for how researchers can successfully assume the mantle of self-regulation.

But like much in science policy, there is as much mythology as history here:

Susan Wright, a historian of science at the University of Michigan, has called the bargain supposedly struck at Asilomar — some research restrictions in exchange for scientific self-governance — a myth on both sides of the deal.

“It is a myth that most scientists working under competitive pressures can address the implications of their own work with dispassion and establish appropriately stringent controls — any more than an unregulated Bill Gates can give competing browsers equal access to the world wide web,” she wrote. “Sure enough, some five years later, the controls proposed at Asilomar and developed by the National Institutes of Health were dismantled without anything like adequate knowledge of the hazards.”

Further, she says, “it is equally a myth that scientists in this field are self-governing.” Instead, their research agendas are shaped by utilitarian interests of government or corporate sponsors. Even at that early stage, before the biotech boom of later years, molecular biologists were never doing pure science.

My view is that geoengineering using technologies such as solar radiation management is never going to emerge as a viable policy option -- much more on this forthcoming in The Climate Fix this summer. We can expect that far-from-disinterested scientists will be using the issue to advance agendas, and often hiding behind the fig leaf of pure science. Asimolar is just a start. (Roger Pielke Jr)


From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 12: 24 March 2010

Local Health Effects of Locally-Emitted Carbon Dioxide: What has been claimed? ... how firm are the numbers? ... and how significant are they?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 813 individual scientists from 485 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Eastern Gotland Basin, Baltic Sea. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Little Ice Age (Regional - South America: Bolivia): Evidence continues to accumulate, almost to redundant proportions, for the global extent of a significant cooling during the Little Ice Age.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Narrowleaf Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010), Reed Grass (Zhao et al., 2009), Thale Cress (Teng et al., 2009), and White Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010).

Journal Reviews:
Simulating the South American Monsoon System: How good do state-of-the-art climate models do?

The Medieval Warm Period in Northwest Lithuania: What was it like?

Coral Reefs, Temperature and CO2: Their Long-Term Interactions: What do they suggest about current global warming and ocean acidification concerns?

Acidified Seawater's Effects on Coral Larvae and Polyps: Do low pH ocean waters hurt corals most when they are youngest and (supposedly) most vulnerable to the high-CO2-induced phenomenon?

Effects of Elevated CO2 and Climate Change on Leaf Spot Disease of Redbud and Sweetgum Trees: What are they? ... what is their net effect? ... and why do we care? (co2science.org)


A “Solution” to the “Energy Situation”? (Glenn Schleede Responds to a Critic)

by Glenn Schleede (Guest Blogger)
March 24, 2010

Mr. Schleede:
I’ve read your position on wind farms and their associated problems with a great interest.  Can you tell me when we can expect to receive your solution to the energy situation here in the US?

I look forward to your response. 

Regards, ______________ Fairfax, VA

Dear Ms. _____:

Thanks for your note. You certainly do flatter me with your expectation that I could produce a “solution to the energy situation here in the US.”  (But I suspect that was not your purpose.)

As you may know, U.S. political leaders and government officials at both the federal and state levels — not to mention hundreds of smart people in universities, business and non-profit organizations — have been seeking that solution for at least 35 years.

The U.S. Department of Energy and its predecessors have spent over $150 Billion (2006$) on “energy R&D” and, unfortunately, have little to show for it.  That doesn’t include more billions in federal and state tax credits, credit programs and other subsidies of various kinds (e.g., cash, regulatory, government official lobbying) to promote energy technologies selected by government officials.

Numerous “promising,” government-selected energy technologies have emerged and retreated during the past 35 years.  (You can find references to dozens of them in Presidential messages, the Congressional Record, or in hundreds of press releases.)

Looking back, it’s now quite clear that these “promising” technologies that were selected for government support always

(a) take longer to develop,

(b) face technological hurdles,

(c) have unacceptable environmental impacts, and/or

(d) cost much more than their promoters claimed.

[Read more →] (MasterResource)


And you thought Stephen King was the one who made a living making up scare stories... Oil reserves 'exaggerated by one third'

The world's oil reserves have been exaggerated by up to a third, according to Sir David King, Britain's former chief scientist, who has warned of shortages and price spikes within years. (SMH)

The obvious response, of course, is to accelerate non-conventional oil extraction, so crank up those oilsands and shale oil projects, get busy with coal-to-liquids... Whaddya mean that isn't what he had in mind?


Peter Foster: The church of Peak Oil

Peak Oil theorist Richard Heinberg doesn’t believe that civilization has gone wrong, but that it was a mistake. He traces the rot back to the invention of agriculture

By Peter Foster

This paper’s main editorial page carried a piece last week by Peak-Oil promoter Richard Heinberg of the California-based Post Carbon Institute. It noted that Mr. Heinberg was due to speak in Toronto on Monday night. Call me a masochist, but I decided to attend. To say that I did so with an open mind would be untrue. But then I don’t approach astrology or Fidel Castro with an open mind either.

The problem with Peak Oil the theory isn’t that it’s wrong in noting that industry depletes resources, and that oil may, sooner or later, reach a production plateau, it’s that it sees those facts through a moralistically-charged and economically-challenged lens. It also embodies extraordinary faith in Big Government and grass roots activism.

Click here to read more... (Financial Post)


Native Groups Vow To Fight Enbridge Pipeline

Aboriginal groups on Canada's Pacific Coast vowed on Tuesday to block Enbridge Inc's proposed Gateway pipeline to carry oil sands crude to export markets including China.

The groups said the environmental danger of oil tankers traveling through the coastal waters of British Columbia is too great, and the announcement could set the stage for a protracted legal and political fight over the pipeline.

"Some people are saying (the pipeline) is a done deal. It's not," Art Sterritt, executive director of the Coastal First Nations, a coalition of native Indian communities in the area, often called the Great Bear Rainforest.

The proposed project would carry crude from the oil sands in northern Alberta to a port facility in Kitimat, British Columbia. (Reuters)


Love it :-) Bill would define tire burning as renewable energy

Legislation would add tire incineration to law boosting wind and solar energy

With just five words quietly slipped into legislation, Illinois lawmakers are moving to include tire burning in the state's definition of renewable energy, a change that would benefit a south suburban incinerator with a long history of pollution problems.

Adding the "incineration or burning of tires" to a measure intended to boost wind and solar energy would clear the way for Geneva Energy to reap lucrative green energy credits for its troubled incinerator in Ford Heights, one of the poorest suburbs in the U.S.

The legislative change also would make the tire burner a player in the growing market for renewable energy in Illinois, where power companies must get at least 10 percent of their electricity from green sources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.

Originally sponsored by Rep. David Miller a Dolton Democrat running for state comptroller, the measure would give tire burning, which generates large amounts of toxic air pollution, the same status as pollution-free wind and solar power. It apparently is designed to benefit the state's sole tire incinerator, in Miller's district. (Chicago Tribune)


Public Support For Nuclear Power At New Peak

The majority of Americans who favor nuclear-generated electricity hit a new high this year, according to a poll on Monday that suggests growing support for President Barack Obama's aid to the nuclear industry.

Sixty-two percent of 1,014 U.S. adults, who were surveyed March 4-7 by Gallup, said they favored nuclear energy as one way to meet national electricity needs. (Reuters)


Reviving The U.S. Nuclear Industry Could Get Hung Up On How To Handle Waste

WASHINGTON - Reviving the U.S. nuclear industry could get hung up on the political minefield of how to handle the security, legal and environmental risks posed by a growing mountain of radioactive waste.

The Obama administration, which sees nuclear power as a key part of its policy to meet America's energy needs with more fuels that do not add to global warming, has said it plans to scrap a long-delayed permanent dump site for nuclear waste.

The move probably won't stop new nuclear plants from being built, but could limit the pace of growth in the sector, which has been stagnant since the 1970s. (Reuters)


British Energy sale to French was a poor deal, MPs conclude

Ministers rely too much on EDF's nuclear plans to plug energy gap, report warns

The Government's sale of British Energy to France's EDF was a good price but a bad deal, an influential committee of MPs will conclude this morning. (The Independent)


Energy Security Worry To Drive India's Low-CO2 Plan

Worries over energy security will drive India's goal to slow the growth of its carbon emissions, the head of a government panel tasked with developing the country's low-carbon strategy said on Monday. (Reuters)


India’s Woes Reflected in Bid to Restart Old Plant

VELDUR, India — “Wherever there is a lamp, there is darkness below it,” said Bava Bhalekar, a fisherman and local leader in this village roughly a hundred miles south of Mumbai. “The tragedy is that while our village has this project, we ourselves don’t have electricity.”

“This project” is the power plant that Enron built.

A decade after Enron withdrew from the project, the Indian government and two Indian companies are promising to bring the plant to full capacity. The tragedy, as Mr. Bhalekar and his fellow villagers see it, is that even after the plant is fully operational, their daily blackouts — now from 3 to 7:30 p.m. — will still occur, with just slightly fewer hours without electricity.

State authorities promise to have the plant running at 100 percent by the end of the month. But, so far, this plant remains a monument not to the problems of Enron, but to India’s own corruption, cronyism and weak economic policies — some of the reasons that India remains a perpetual second fiddle to China, its increasingly powerful rival.

For all the progress India has made in information technology and service-sector jobs, the country is still unable to provide reliable power, water, roads and other basic infrastructure to most of its 1.2 billion people. For instance, about 40 percent of the country’s population is not connected to the electricity grid.

This energy deficit is also an impediment to development. Here in Maharashtra, India’s most industrialized state and the home of its commercial capital, Mumbai, formerly Bombay, the demand for electricity will exceed supply by about 30 percent this year, up from 4.5 percent in 1992. (NYT)


Stone Age Could Complicate N.Sea Wind Farm Plans

Energy firms taking part in a North Sea boom for offshore wind farms will have to watch out for remains of Stone Age villages submerged for thousands of years, an expert said on Tuesday.

A region dubbed "Doggerland" connected Britain to mainland Europe across what is now the southern North Sea until about 8,000 years ago, when seas rose after the last Ice Age.

It is now the site of a planned vast expansion of offshore wind power by 2020 to help combat climate change.

"We've begun to think about how we'd tackle any archaeological finds," Adrian Fox, supply chain manager of the Crown Estate which leases land off Britain, told Reuters during a conference in Oslo about offshore wind. (Reuters)


Europe's largest windfarm was shut down after a blade snapped off one of the huge turbines

All 140 turbines at the Whitelee windfarm on Eaglesham Moor near Glasgow are being inspected by engineers following Friday's incident.

ScottishPower Renewables said mechanical failure or a lightning strike could be to blame for the breakage, which it described as ''highly unusual''.

The 150ft, 14-tonne, fibreglass blade broke off in the early hours in windy conditions and landed at the base of its tower. (TDT)


Waste Industry Hunts Energy Rewards, Risks Abound

Innovators are racing to glean heat, power and fuel from waste, seeking big rewards and subsidies for technologies which have a history of failed projects, drawing skepticism from some analysts.

Governments are sweetening waste-to-energy technologies with incentives, to try and cut carbon emissions, boost domestic renewable energy supplies and dispose of waste more cleanly.

The subsidies are encouraging entrepreneurs to push the boundaries of what is possible, whether to find new uses for established technologies or invent altogether new processes.

Some critics fear a hype which could encourage companies to make claims they may struggle to meet, and subsidies for technologies which could fail. (Reuters)



Editor's note: A couple of people have queried why JunkScience.com is paying such attention to America's health care tribulations, so let me be succinct:
  1. Socialized medicine results in the very worst junk health care -- all it does is bankrupt society while reducing care standards for all and it does so by the immutable laws of supply and demand: force artificially low prices and demand (along with societal cost) increases. Services collapse as they are overwhelmed with demand at the same time as they decline due to funding starvation and this is inexorable and inevitable. Note that this monstrosity is not required to provide a basic safety net cover for all uninsured citizens but appears designed to collapse the system with fully-insured free riders.
  2. ObamaCare is a huge leap in the socialization of the United States and socialism bankrupts societies. Just look at the failure of the USSR, a nation massively endowed with natural wealth in resources, arable lands and an abundant able workforce to run its industries -- collectivism simply does not work. China has boomed since turning to capitalism with zest and gusto, a brand of "communism" that would be completely unrecognizable for their founding philosophers.
  3. Societal bankruptcy trashes research and development, resulting in the virtual death of science. Doesn't help entrepreneurialism either, accelerating the decay in research funding and even basic teaching.

America's ability to maintain and develop science will wither and die under socialism and ObamaCare entrenches socialism, thus ObamaCare threatens sound science far more seriously than most of the junk on which we report.

The United States of America's scientific future depends on killing the unmitigated disaster that is ObamaCare.

It's as simple as that.


America socializes healthcare

During my years at socialist schools, 1980-1989, less than one-half of my teachers actively supported socialism - and many of them were heroes who actively opposed it.

Those who were pushing the official communist propaganda would usually emphasize that the evil capitalist countries don't have education and healthcare for free - and there are unemployed people.

A part of the propaganda would no longer work. And by the way, even Harry Reid confirms Stalin's proposition that even the Americans have been waiting for socialist medicine for five decades. ;-)

Last night, the Democrat Party voted 219-212 to approve the new socialist healthcare by the House: all Republicans (plus 34 Democrats) opposed the bill - and so does the majority of the U.S. population. But tell it to the liberal Democrats: they always act as if they speak on behalf of the majority, if not everyone, even if the evidence shows this not to be the case.

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


Enacting A Lie

Health Overhaul: Sunday's vote exposed the ugly truth that ObamaCare is not really about health care at all. It's all about who pays for it and who controls it — in effect a massive wealth-redistribution scheme.

Those who believe this will lead to some medical nirvana will likely be disappointed. Fact is, this poorly designed monstrosity will lead to lower-quality care, higher costs, fewer practicing physicians, higher taxes and fewer jobs.

We've done more than 150 editorials in the past year or so documenting these problems. Democrats surely understand them. Yet, despite a recent CNN poll showing that 59% of Americans oppose ObamaCare, Congress approved it anyway.

Why? Because it's not really about health care. It's the largest wealth grab in American history, masquerading as health care "reform," another step in the socialization of Americans' income in the name of "fairness" and "spread(ing) the wealth around," as Obama himself has put it.

That's why we call the program a lie. (IBD)


Video of the Week: Sharpton Says American People Voted for Socialism When They Elected President Obama

After the health care vote last night, Reverend Al Sharpton told Fox News:  “I think that this began the transforming of the country where the President had promised. This is what he ran on.” When the interviewer interjected that many view the vote as a step towards socialism, Sharpton didn’t skip a beat, responding:

the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


A Turning Point In Dismantling Of America

With the passage of the legislation letting the federal government take control of the country's medical care system, a major turning point has been reached in the dismantling of America's values and institutions.

Even the massive transfer of crucial decisions from millions of doctors and patients to Washington bureaucrats and advisory panels — as momentous as that is — does not measure the full impact of this largely unread and certainly unscrutinized legislation.

If the current legislation does not entail the transmission of all our individual medical records to Washington, it will take only an administrative regulation or, at most, an executive order of the president to do that. (Thomas Sowell, IBD)


Get Ready for Health Insurance Slumlords

ObamaCare would force insurers to behave as slumlords, much like rent control does.
March 21, 2010
- by Brian T. Schwartz

If you dislike your health insurer now, just wait until politicians impose price controls that make your insurer act like a slumlord. Expect worse customer service, skimpier plans, and more claim denials.

Price controls on rental properties encourage landlords to become slumlords. Forbidden from making a profit by renting at market rates, to make a living landlords must skimp on quality and service rather than please customers. The same will result from insurance price controls: lousy policies for people with preexisting conditions or for anyone who might get sick.

That is, everyone. (PJM)


Supply and Demand: Reviewing the Unbreakable Theory That Shall Doom ObamaCare in Short Order

Recall Jimmy Carter gas lines? Artificial control of health care prices must end the same way.
March 22, 2010
- by Tom Bowler

When President Obama spoke to House Democrats the day before the House voted on his health care reform bill, he said:

I am convinced that when you go out there and you are standing tall and you are saying I believe that this is the right thing to do for my constituents and the right thing to do for America, that ultimately the truth will out.

Now that Congress has voted to approve his bill, the truth will out. We can only hope that it won’t be too late to repair all the damage that will have occurred by the time it finally does.

A topic noticeably absent from public discussions of bending the health care cost curve down has been the economics of health care supply and demand. The phrase “supply and demand” is often misunderstood. What supply and demand curves measure is the effect of price changes on quantity supplied and quantity demanded. Higher prices encourage greater quantity supplied, while lower prices encourage greater quantity demanded. A professor might illustrate this in an economics class by posing a couple of hypothetical situations. (PJM)


New CNN Poll: 59% Oppose Obamacare

9-12 protest

A new CNN Opinion Research poll, conducted over the weekend as the House debated Obamacare, finds that 59 percent of Americans now stand opposed to the health care legislation in Congress. Just 39 percent of the poll’s 1,030 respondents said they favored the bill.

These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise — even to the White House. In fact, The Washington Post reported this morning that “President Obama is set to begin an immediate public relations blitz aimed at turning around Americans’ opinion of the health-care bill.” The White House plan will be both a short-term strategy to shore up political supporters of the legislation and a long-term effort to bolster Obama’s legacy. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Madam Pelosi's House Of Ill Repute

The Vote: Conned by the promise of an ephemeral executive order, the last holdouts cave and ObamaCare advances. It doesn't add a single doctor or hospital room, but needs 17,000 new IRS agents to enforce it. (IBD)



Outside the Beltway: State AGs Start the Road to Repealing Obamacare

Attorneys General to Sue to Stop Health Care Reform

As liberal groups begin plotting to spend millions of dollars to “sell” Obamacare to Americans in swing House districts, at least 12 state attorneys general are mounting an effort to stop Obamacare in its tracks on constitutional grounds.

At issue is the provision in Obamacare that forces Americans to buy health insurance or face an annual $750 fine. Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli plans to sue the federal government on grounds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution:

“At no time in our history has the government mandated its citizens buy a good or service,” Cuccinelli said.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Kill It In Court

Constitution: Republicans vow to repeal health care reform. But no social entitlement, once signed into law, has ever been overturned. The way to stop this federal overreach is through the courts.

Fox pundit Bill Kristol predicts that Republicans will repeal the law in 2013. Rep. Jim DeMint and other GOP leaders have already pledged to do so.

But that assumes a lot. Republicans must first regain control of both houses of Congress, which will require sustaining the current level of public outrage for six months after the fact.

That won't be easy. While additional negative details about the 2,074-page bill will come out over the coming months, the worst parts won't go into effect for years. And the White House is already reselling the few positives, such as covering pre-existing conditions, which go into effect right away.

Yes, Republicans won Congress for the first time in 50 years after Clinton tried to socialize medicine. And yes, this bill is arguably worse, with 732 more pages, 109 more bureaucracies and just as many new taxes.

But HillaryCare failed, and was cast as a major Democrat defeat. ObamaCare, on the other hand, will be hailed as a big Democrat win. Even in the off chance that they do take back Congress, Republicans seeking repeal will have to fend off all the lobbyists who will cement around new health care rules, programs and benefits.

Then they'll have to override President Obama's veto.

The nation's best chance to kill this monstrosity before it can ruin the best health care system in the world is to get the courts to declare it unconstitutional. (IBD)


We’ve Crossed the Rubicon

President Obama has crossed the Rubicon with the health care vote. The bill was not really about medicine; after all, a moderately priced, relatively small federal program could offer the poorer not now insured, presently not on Medicare or state programs like Medicaid or Medical, a basic medical plan.

We have no interest in stopping trial lawyers from milking the system for billions. And we don’t want to address in any meaningful way the individual’s responsibility in some cases (drink, drugs, violence, dangerous sex, bad diet, sloth, etc.) for costly and chronic health procedures.

No, instead, the bill was about assuming a massive portion of the private sector, hiring tens of thousands of loyal, compliant new employees, staffing new departments with new technocrats, and feeling wonderful that we “are leveling the playing field” and have achieved another Civil Rights landmark law. (NB: do the math: add higher state income taxes in most states; the new Clinton-era federal income tax rates to come; the proposed lifting of limits on income exposed to FICA taxes; and now new health care charges — and I think you can reach in some cases a bite of 65%to 70% of one’s income.)

So we are in revolutionary times in which the government will grow to assume everything from energy use to student loans, while abroad we are a revolutionary sort of power, eager to mend fences with Syria and Iran, more eager still to distance ourselves from old Western allies like Israel and Britain.

There won’t be any more soaring rhetoric from Obama about purple-state America, “reaching across the aisle,” or healing our wounds. That was so 2008. Instead, we are in the most partisan age since Vietnam, ushered into it by the self-acclaimed “non-partisan.” But how could it be anything else? (Victor Davis Hanson, PJM)


Why America Hates Universal Health Care: The Real Reason

[I originally published this essay in December of last year, before I started blogging for PJM. I was planning to write a new last-minute plea for sanity as we approach the zero hour for the health care vote in Congress -- but I inevitably ended up just re-phrasing the ideas contained in my original essay. So rather than repeat myself, I present below a reprise of what many have said is the one and only essay you'll ever need to read about universal health care.]

I watch the debate over health care with amazement. A million words are spoken on the topic with every passing minute, and as far as I can tell no one has ever addressed the real issue that’s upsetting everyone.

So, rather than wait in vain for someone else to finally speak the honest truth about the single-payer system, I’ll just have to do it myself. (Zombie, PJM)


Is America’s AAA Rating in Trouble?


America’s current predicament is that it borrows money from countries or individuals to finance many of its expensive obligations, including financing the $862 billion stimulus bill as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what would happen if America had to pay higher interest rates on all future borrowing? This is the question that some people in the federal government have to ponder, as influential rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have both recently voiced their view that America’s AAA rating is not guaranteed or in fact even assured. The massive and growing debt obligation makes some professionals question whether this country’s rating may soon be lowered.

A downgrade in America’s credit risk would mean paying higher interest on additional borrowing, thus making borrowing much more expensive. Just as importantly, it would signify a change in perception of quality about the American economy and by extension of the world economy.

Moody’s softened the impact of their statement by being clear that a downgrade is not likely but just a possibility, and similarly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that he is confident that that will not happen. The purpose of talking about this unpleasant possibility is to remind policymakers in Washington that it is important to address America’s fiscal deficit and debt. However, the fact that this possibility is being talked about and discussed should be seen as a warning, if not an ebbing sign for concern. Continue reading... (The Foundry)


Abuses Stir A Constitutional Awakening

If there is anything good to say about Democrat control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, it's that their extraordinarily brazen, heavy-handed acts have aroused a level of constitutional interest among the American people that has been dormant for far too long.

Part of this heightened interest is seen in the strength of the Tea Party movement around the nation. Another is the angry reception that many congressmen received at their district town hall meetings.

Yet another is seen by the exchanges on the nation's most popular radio talk shows such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others. Then there's the rising popularity of conservative/libertarian television shows such as Glenn Beck, John Stossel and Fox News.

While the odds-on favorite is that the Republicans will do well in the fall elections, Americans who want constitutional government should not see Republican control as a solution to what our founders would have called "a long train of abuses and usurpations."

Solutions to our nation's problems require correct diagnostics and answers to questions like: Why did 2008 presidential and congressional candidates spend over $5 billion campaigning for office? Why did special interests pay Washington lobbyists over $3 billion that same year? What are reasons why corporations, unions and other interest groups fork over these billions of dollars to lobbyists and into the campaign coffers of politicians? (Walter Williams, IBD)


More hazards from the idiotic "ozone depletion" scare? Study explores link between sunlight, multiple sclerosis

MADISON — For more than 30 years, scientists have known that multiple sclerosis (MS) is much more common in higher latitudes than in the tropics. Because sunlight is more abundant near the equator, many researchers have wondered if the high levels of vitamin D engendered by sunlight could explain this unusual pattern of prevalence.

Vitamin D may reduce the symptoms of MS, says Hector DeLuca, Steenbock Research Professor of Biochemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison, but in a study published in PNAS this week, he and first author Bryan Becklund suggest that the ultraviolet portion of sunlight may play a bigger role than vitamin D in controlling MS.

Multiple sclerosis is a painful neurological disease caused by a deterioration in the nerve's electrical conduction; an estimated 400,000 people have the disabling condition in the United States. In recent years, it's become clear the patients' immune systems are destroying the electrical insulation on the nerve fibers.

The ultraviolet (UV) portion of sunlight stimulates the body to produce vitamin D, and both vitamin D and UV can regulate the immune system and perhaps slow MS. But does the immune regulation result directly from the UV, indirectly from the creation of vitamin D, or both?

The study was designed to distinguish the role of vitamin D and UV light in explaining the high rate of MS away from the equator, says DeLuca, a world authority on vitamin D. (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Food-allergic kids should carry two 'epi' doses

NEW YORK - Children with a history of food-induced allergic reactions may need more than one shot of epinephrine to halt a severe reaction, a study has confirmed.

Among a group of children treated for food-related "anaphylactic" reactions over 6 years, 12 percent needed a second epinephrine dose, according to a report out today in the journal Pediatrics. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that develops quickly, within seconds or minutes of exposure, causing potentially life-threatening symptoms like difficulty breathing.

Prior studies found similar results. One found that nearly one in five severe food-induced allergic reactions will require more than one epinephrine shots.

Taken together, these studies add weight to the recommendation that children at risk for severe food-related allergic reactions carry two doses of epinephrine, note Dr. Susan A. Rudders of Children's Hospital Boston and colleagues. (Reuters Health)


Baby Fat May Not Be So Cute After All

Schools have banned cupcakes, issued obesity report cards and cleared space in cafeterias for salad bars. Just last month, Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity promised to get young people moving more and revamp school lunch, and beverage makers said they had cut the sheer number of liquid calories shipped to schools by almost 90 percent in the past five years. 

But new research suggests that interventions aimed at school-aged children may be, if not too little, too late. 

More and more evidence points to pivotal events very early in life — during the toddler years, infancy and even before birth, in the womb — that can set young children on an obesity trajectory that is hard to alter by the time they’re in kindergarten. The evidence is not ironclad, but it suggests that prevention efforts should start very early. (NYT)


Sabotaging their own product lines? Pepsi to cut salt, sugar and saturated fats

PHILADELPHIA - PepsiCo Inc said on Sunday it would cut the levels of salt, sugar and saturated fats in its top-selling products.

The company, which owns the Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Quaker brands, said it plans a reduction of 25 per cent the average sodium per serving in major global food brands in key markets by 2015.

It also would reduce the average saturated fat per serving by 15 percent by 2020, and cut the average added sugar per serving in key global beverage brands by 25 percent by 2020.

Meanwhile, it will increase whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy in its product portfolio.

"We believe that a healthier future for all people and our planet means a more successful future for PepsiCo," said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer. (Reuters)


Hmm... Researchers: Seaweed Holds Key to Fighting Obesity

Seaweed could be the answer to the obesity epidemic, potentially reducing the body's fat retention by more than 75 percent.

A fibrous material in sea kelp called alginate was better at preventing fat absorption than most over-the-counter slimming treatments, researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. found.

"This suggests that if we can add the natural fiber to products commonly eaten daily — such as bread, biscuits and yogurts — up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body," said team leader Dr. Iain Brownlee.

"We have already added the alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging. Now, the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective it is when eaten as part of a normal diet," he added.

Alginates not only have great potential for weight management — adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fiber content. (Sky News)


Artists contemporize paintings? Who'da thunkit? Study: Last Supper paintings supersize the food

An obesity researcher analyzed dozens of famous paintings of the Last Supper and found that food portions have grown larger in more recent ones.

Cornell University's Brian Wansink (WAHN-sink) studied 52 paintings depicting Jesus Christ's last meal with his disciples. The paintings were done at various times during the last 1,000 years.

He found that over that time period, the size of the main dish grew 69 percent, the size of the plate grew 66 percent, and bread portions grew 23 percent in the images.

The study was released Tuesday and is published in the April issue of the International Journal of Obesity. ( Associated Press)


Tufts Academic Gives Two Thumbs Down to Cheap Food

I suspect I may be falling into a publicity trap here, but nonetheless I am unable to resist blogging about an email I received this morning from the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University.  The email contained this teaser:

How does cheap food contribute to global hunger?  GDAE’s Timothy A. Wise, in this recent article in Resurgence magazine, explains the contradictory nature of food and agriculture under globalization. He refers to globalization as “the cheapening of everything” and concludes:

“Some things just shouldn’t be cheapened. The market is very good at establishing the value of many things but it is not a good substitute for human values. Societies need to determine their own human values, not let the market do it for them. There are some essential things, such as our land and the life-sustaining foods it can produce, that should not be cheapened.”

This sort of stuff could only be written by someone on full academic tenure and who has never had to worry about feeding his family.

It would take many hours to rebut all of the idiocies contained in the full article, but for now I will just say: Yes, it is true that U.S. government subsidies for corn, for example, cause environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico (Cato scholars have in fact covered this before as part of our ongoing campaign to eliminate farm subsidies). And yes, poor farmers abroad have suffered because of government intervention in food markets. But those are problems stemming from government intervention, not the free market. (Sallie James, Cato @ liberty)


Body-checking safe in preteen hockey players: study

NEW YORK - You may not need to worry as much about young kids body-checking each other on the ice, according to a new study.

Allowing kids as young as 9 years old to use body-checking during ice hockey may be safe if rules are strictly enforced, Canadian researchers said Monday in a report that adds to a long-standing controversy.

The researchers looked at injury rates before and after a rule change allowed the forceful technique to be used by nine- and 10-year-old players in Ontario. Until 2002, only those from 12 and up could use it.

There were slightly more injuries in 10- and 11-year-olds due to checking after the rule change. However, the overall injury rate among 7- to 14-year-olds fell by about 20 percent. And for 12-year-olds, checking injuries halved.

Based on the findings, before the rule change, if 100 kids played hockey for one year, the researchers would expect to find 6 injuries. After the rule change, that number would have dropped to about 5.

"Frankly," the researchers write in the journal Pediatrics, "the overall decline in rates of injury after the introduction of the rule change was unexpected." (Reuters Health)


Bees face 'unprecedented' pesticide exposures at home and afield

Sometimes dozens of pesticides turn up in a single sample of wax or pollen

SAN FRANCISCO For years the news has been the same: Honey bees are being hammered by some mysterious environmental plague that has a name -- colony collapse disorder – but no established cause. A two-year study now provides evidence indicting one likely group of suspects: pesticides. It found “unprecedented levels” of mite-killing chemicals and crop pesticides in hives across the United States and parts of Canada.

Scientists here at the American Chemical Society spring annual meeting, which kicked off today, will report on the findings of this study later in the week. But if you want an early peak at their results, or can’t make it to the meeting, check out a 19-page synopsis of the data that has just been published online in the March PLoS ONE. (Science News)

Wonder if it occurred to them that “'unprecedented levels' of mite-killing chemicals" were present because one main suspect in CCD is varroa mites? (See Bee Colony Collapse Disorder: New Bait Lures Varroa Mite To Its Doom for example) Think apiarists might have been worried into increasing their hive miticide treatments, maybe?


Agriculture industry sees lawsuit as first of many

A class-action lawsuit filed last week in a southern Illinois court is threatening to change a long-standing Kansas farming practice.

The suit, organized and filed by a Texas law firm, represents nearly 100 cities, counties and water systems —including 16 water systems in Kansas— that feel their drinking water has been compromised by farmers’ use of one of the most common herbicides, atrazine.

The suit’s plaintiffs say they are simply asking for funds to clean their water systems but those in the agriculture industry believe the lawsuit could lead to a change in farming practices and is the first in a potentially long series of lawsuits aimed at changing the farming industry.

“I think there is a good chance of change in use regulations because of this lawsuit,” said Kansas Corn Growers Association spokesperson Sue Schulte. “I believe there is a good chance our farmers won’t be able to use (atrazine) if this lawsuit is successful.” (Katie Stockstill,  McPherson Sentinel)


Researcher Alex Avery Criticizes Atrazine Studies by Dr. Tyrone Hayes in New Video

Alex Avery, Director of Research and Education at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, released a video criticizing new research by University of California Berkeley professor Dr. Tyrone Hayes alleging endocrine disruption in amphibians caused by the popular herbicide atrazine.

“For the last ten years I’ve been watching closely the research and activism of Dr. Tyrone Hayes from the University of California – Berkley. And for ten years Dr. Hayes has tried to claim that atrazine is an eminent threat to amphibian populations because it feminizes frogs at some, but not all, concentrations,” says Avery.

Avery points out that Dr. Hayes’ research is flawed due to the small sample size of the experiment. He cites several recent papers that have used sample sizes much larger and allowed the EPA full access to their research that contradict Hayes’ research, finding no impact on feminization of males. Avery goes on to criticize Dr. Hayes for releasing his findings “via press release orchestrated by environmental organizations” instead of doing research by the book without bias.

“We have to weigh one or the other. I don’t think Dr. Hayes has really stepped up to the plate. He continues to do research that according to the EPA is ‘insufficient’ and ‘scientifically flawed.’…They [the EPA] also complain that Dr. Hayes would not share his raw data.”

Finally Avery addresses Dr. Hayes research directly, asking if his research is correct then frog populations in areas where atrazine has long been used would not be thriving as many are today. He also refers to a Yale University study which found frogs in urban areas having more of a feminization problem than rural areas, where atrazine is used. (CGFI)


A Libertarian View of Urban Sprawl

On Thursday, March 18, John Stossel’s show on the Fox Business News network will feature a discussion of how taxes and regulation have prevented urban areas like Cleveland from recovering from the decline of the industries that once supported those regions.

While the “stars” of the show were Drew Carey and Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie, Stossel spent a few minutes on zoning and land-use regulation. When searching for someone to advocate such land-use regulation, they happened to ask James Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere, a critique of suburbia.

Kunstler’s response was emphatic. First, he called one of Stossel’s other guests (okay, it was me) “a shill for the sprawl-builders.” Then he added, “Please tell Stoessel [sic] he can kiss my ass.” He was so proud of this response that he posted it on his blog (look for it in the archive if it has disappeared from his home page).

Kunstler is biased against mobility and low-density housing, but he must be a good writer because he has lots of fans. As soon as he posted his rude reply, the blogosphere lit up with arguments from progressive, conservative, and even libertarian writers claiming that sprawl is the result of central planning and zoning and therefore libertarians such as Stossel and Cato should support smart-growth policies aimed at containing sprawl.

Sprawl is “mandated by a vast and seemingly intractable network of government regulations, from zoning laws and building codes to street design regulations,” claims conservative Austin Bramwell. As a result, “government planning makes sprawl ubiquitous.”

Anarcho-libertarian Kevin Carson quotes The Geography of Nowhere as the authority for how planners like Robert Moses forced people to live in sprawl. “Local governments have been almost universally dominated by an unholy alliance of real estate developers and other commercial interests” that insisted on urban sprawl, says Carson.

Progressive Matthew Yglesias describes sprawl as “centrally planned suburbia” and accuses libertarians of being hypocrites because they don’t oppose zoning codes that mandate sprawl. He adds that “People sometimes cite Houston as an example of a libertarian-style ‘no zoning’ city, but this is mostly a myth” (citing a paper that finds that Houston “regulates land use almost as intricately as cities with zoning”).

This is all balderdash and poppycock. People who believe it should get their noses out of Kunstler’s biased diatribes and look at some real data and see how zoning actually worked before it was hijacked by authoritarian urban planners. It doesn’t take much to show that areas without any zoning or regulation will — if developed today — end up as what planners call “sprawl.” Until recently, all that zoning has done has been to affirm the kind of development that people want. ... (Randal O'Toole, Cato @ liberty)


Plastic Vortex Eyed As Potential Fuel Source

Scientist Charles Moore has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the insidious plastic soup swirling in the North Pacific, but he has said that cleaning it up is impossible. A scientific mission is under way now to see if it's not only possible, but an opportunity for recycling.

Project Kaisei, a diverse team of marine scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs sponsored in part by recycling businesses, is working in collaboration with researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Over the weekend, the Kaisei brigatine and Scripps's converted fishing vessel New Horizon reached the gyre, where an estimated four million tons of plastic has gathered due to ocean currents.

Moore has pointed out that some of the plastic pellets are so small that there's no way to remove them without damaging marine life. Plus, it would undoubtedly be an expensive, fuel-intensive endeavor. 

Kaisei cofounder Mary Crowley told AOL News that her team is looking into ways to remove the plastic debris and turn it into fuel. 

"We're working on capture technology, all in our effort to figure out the most energy efficient way to collect the debris in the ocean," she told reporter Christine Riedel.

The team is testing out different kinds of active and passive capture methods, including a new barrel-capture technology that might be scalable. In addition, the scientists want to learn more about exactly what all the plastic is, where it is, and what's in it. Once they do, the plastic could go from ocean trash to recyclable treasure. (Discovery News)


What nonsense: Whaling: the great betrayal - Outrage as secret deal set to sweep away international moratorium

The moratorium on commercial whaling, one of the environmental movement's greatest achievements, looks likely to be swept away this summer by a new international deal being negotiated behind closed doors. The new arrangement would legitimise the whaling activities of the three countries which have continued to hunt whales in defiance of the ban – Japan, Norway and Iceland – and would allow commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary set up by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1994.

Conservationists regard it as catastrophic, but fear there is a very real chance of its being accepted at the next IWC meeting in Morocco in June, not least because it is being strongly supported by the US – previously one of whaling's most determined opponents.

Should the deal go ahead, it would represent one of the most significant setbacks ever for conservation, and as big a failure for wildlife protection as December's Copenhagen conference was for action on climate change. ( The Independent)

The charter purpose of the IWC is and always has been to facilitate commercial whaling. It is, after all, the International Whaling Commission. It is not the WWF, not Greenpeace and definitely not an anti whaling animal rights group. In fact it is the whackos who tried to hijack the IWC and subvert its function, unsuccessfully, it would seem. Those who don't want a share in annual whale harvest have no business at teh commission in the first place. Without doubt there are more than ample stocks of minke whales to support commercial harvest, southern humpbacks too and probably several other species although I don't actually follow whale population statistics. The Japanese want to whale? Good for them. Everyone else should mind their own business.


The world's first amphibious insects have been discovered by scientists

The tiny caterpillars belong to the moth genus Hyposmocoma which includes an enormously diverse group of at least 350 species found only on Hawaii.

Entomologist Professor Daniel Rubinoff and colleagues observed larvae feeding and breathing in streams and on dry rocks - a newly discovered phenomenon.

Many insects can withstand extreme conditions in a dormant state, but never before has one been known to survive an entire life cycle above and below the water's surface. (TDT)


Wouldn't recognize a real problem if it leapt up and bit her on the butt: U.S. Bolsters Chemical Restrictions for Water

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday that it would overhaul drinking water regulations so that officials could police dozens of contaminants simultaneously and tighten rules on the chemicals used by industries. 

The new policies, which are still being drawn up, will probably force some local water systems to use more effective cleaning technologies, but may raise water rates. 

“There are a range of chemicals that have become more prevalent in our products, our water and our bodies in the last 50 years,” the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said in a speech on Monday. Regulations have not kept pace with scientific discoveries, and so the agency is issuing “a new vision for providing clean, safe drinking water.” 

Along with its other steps, Ms. Jackson said the E.P.A. was readying stricter regulations on four carcinogens often detected in drinking water, including a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning. (NYT)


This is what problems look like: U.N. report: Let's turn foul water from mass killer into global treasure

Contaminated and polluted water now kills more people than all forms of violence including wars, according to a United Nations report released Monday that calls for turning unsanitary wastewater into an environmentally safe economic resource.

"At the beginning of the 21st century, the world faces a water crisis, both of quantity and quality, caused by continuous population growth, industrialization, food production practices, increased living standards and poor water use strategies," the report by the U.N. Environmental Program says.

As a result, "it is essential that wastewater management is considered as part of integrated, ecosystem-based management that operates across sectors and borders, freshwater and marine."

The report defines wastewater as a combination of fertilizer runoff, sewage disposal and other animal, agricultural and industrial wastes.

According to the report -- titled "Sick Water?" -- 90 percent of wastewater discharged daily in developing countries is untreated, contributing to the deaths of some 2.2 million people a year from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene. At least 1.8 million children younger than 5 die every year from water-related diseases, the report says.

But with proper management, the report notes, "wastewater can be an essential resource for supporting livelihoods." (CNN)


More water for life

Water is the life-blood of agriculture; it is the liquid elixir that nurtures the growth of billions of hectares of crops needed to feed the world. The ample supply of water for farming and agriculture often means the difference between feast and famine. Many parts of the world, however, suffer from the opposite - the growing scarcity of water available for agriculture. The reasons can range from drought and desertification to climate change and climate variability, pollution, over-use and poor water management practices.

Acutely aware of the seriousness of this problem, affected countries are implementing measures to ensure adequate water supplies for farming. Some of these measures involve the use of nuclear techniques to better understand, analyse and mitigate the root causes of the problem.

With technical help from the IAEA, countries from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are reporting successes in water resource management. Some notable examples: (IAEA)


Open Carry Victory

As I previously noted, one of the areas where enforcement of the right to keep and bear arms will impact states and localities is in the carrying of handguns, either open or concealed. Until then, handgun carry proponents will be forced to comply with state laws that mandate open carry where concealed handgun permits are not issued or are only issued to those who happen to have fame, money, or political connections.

Wisconsin is one of two states with no provision for concealed carry (Illinois is the other). Frank Hannon-Rock, a member of Wisconsin Carry, a pro-gun rights organization, was arrested for open carrying on his front porch. He filed suit and was recently awarded $10,000 by a federal district court.

This parallels (but does not equal) the experience of Danladi Moore, an open carry advocate in Virginia who has been harassed repeatedly by Norfolk police. Moore’s case is worse; he is black, and police behavior took a predictable turn:

Danladi Moore – whom the city paid $10,000 in July to avoid litigation after being stopped by police for suspected weapons violations – was charged with trespassing at the downtown entertainment complex Tuesday night…

Moore said a friend who was with him at Waterside also was carrying a gun and also had challenged police when asked to leave. He said his friend, who is white, was not charged.

Given the racist origins of gun control and the positive role that firearms played in the civil rights movement, you would think that this sort of thing would be frowned upon. (David Rittgers, Cato @ liberty)



Emmanuel on the Climategate emails

Reader Mac notes Kerry Emmanuel's comments on the Climategate emails, delivered at an MIT debate on the subject:

"What we have here," says Kerry Emanuel, are "thousands of emails collectively showing scientists hard at work, trying to figure out the meaning of evidence that confronts them. Among a few messages, there are a few lines showing the human failings of a few scientists…" Emanuel believes that "scientifically, it means nothing," because the controversy doesn't challenge the overwhelming evidence supporting anthropogenic warming. He is far more concerned with the well-funded "public relations campaign" to drown out or distort the message of climate science, which he links to "interests where billions, even trillions are at stake..." This "machine … has been highly successful in branding climate scientists as a bunch of sandal-wearing, fruit-juice drinking leftist radicals engaged in a massive conspiracy to return us to agrarian society…"

I'm speechless. Even after the debacle of Philip Campbell's resignation from the Russell panel, no lessons appear to have been learned. (Bishop Hill)


Royal Society panel announced

The Royal Society panel that is going to examine the scientific aspects on the Climategate affair has been announced. This is the press release from UEA (via a reader - it doesn't appear on the UEA website at the moment).

Lord Oxburgh FRS, a former chair of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to chair an independent Scientific Assessment Panel to examine important elements of the published science of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

His appointment has been made on the recommendation of the Royal Society, which has also been consulted on the choice of the six distinguished scientists who have been invited to be members of the panel.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


Lord Oxburgh, the climate science peer, ‘has a conflict of interest’

A member of the House of Lords appointed to investigate the veracity of climate science has close links to businesses that stand to make billions of pounds from low-carbon technology.

Lord Oxburgh is to chair a scientific assessment panel that will examine the published science of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

The CRU has been accused of manipulating and suppressing data to overstate the dangers from climate change. Professor Phil Jones, its director, has stood down from his post while a separate inquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, takes place into the leaking of e-mails sent by him and his colleagues.

Climate sceptics questioned whether Lord Oxburgh, chairman of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and the wind energy company Falck Renewables, was truly independent because he led organisations that depended on climate change being seen as an urgent problem. (The Times)


They've been on a rampage

There's no getting away from the fact that those who are deniers of climate change have been lying in wait, having been organising themselves, and the moment this opportunity arose they've decided to strike and since then they've been on a rampage.

See the rest here. (EU Referendum)


Myles Allen's ad hominem

Reader DR sends these notes from A Meeting on Sustainability at the University of Oxford

'What can be said about future climate? Using observations to constrain the forecast and the implications for climate policy.'

Myles Allen introduced himself as a member of an endangered species, a climate scientist. He agreed that energy measures will be needed regardless of climate change, but wanted to argue that climate change is important. He said that climate scientists have recently been faced by many questions, both from sceptics and from the policy community, and said that most people are asking the wrong questions. It is clear, he said, that CO2 is rising and temperatures are trending upwards.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)


Language of Religious Fervor Inflames Climate Change Debate

LONDON -- Apocalyptic visions and the muscular language of religious fervor are invading the climate arena, replacing issues of fact with those of faith and bringing high emotion into science -- an area where it should have no place -- politicians and religious leaders complain.

People who say human-induced climate change is a fact that demands urgent action are described as "believers" or "climate evangelists," while those who reject the concept are "deniers," "skeptics" or "atheists." Those in the middle who say they are unconvinced either way are "agnostics."

"The use of this language has become increasingly an issue," said Colin Challen, chairman of the United Kingdom's All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, a committee of U.K. lawmakers studying the global climate phenomenon.

"Some people would like that to happen, because in some eyes proving that climate change is man-made becomes as difficult as proving the existence of God," he told E&E.

The contagious, semi-religious linguistic brew is further fueled by climate alarmists, from environmentalists to politicians, warning of looming apocalyptic disasters or seeing themselves pitted in an Armageddon-like struggle between the forces of good and evil. (ClimateWire)


Creating a Problem for Climate Skeptics

By conflating creationism with climate skepticism, creationists can only harm their fellow man by greasing the skids for draconian climate policies.

To my dismay, creationists have decided to hitch their religious crusade to secular skepticism of climate science and policy. As the New York Times reports:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools. In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The Times further observes that

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general. Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

As a public policy analyst trained in biology and environmental science, I would like to sound “repel boarders” and kick these would-be policy pirates off the back of the ship. Not only do I reject equating climate-science skepticism with creationism, but I believe that the efforts of these new conflationists will only give proponents of draconian greenhouse gas controls a new stick with which to beat climate-science skeptics as well as climate-policy skeptics. (Kenneth P. Green, The American)


This stupidity, again: Climate change uncertainty is no reason for inaction since we can't rule out risk

We don't have to believe that our house will burn down to take out insurance. So why delay taking action to reduce emissions? ( Tim Palmer, The Guardian)

Where to start?

For one thing, no one would insure their house when the annual premiums cost far more than the value of the house. Would you? That, however, is the correct analogy with climate "insurance" because potential "damage" is less than the cost of "avoidance".

Second point, you spend a percentage of your house value on insurance because a catastrophic fire could completely destroy the house but this is categorically not the case with enhanced greenhouse -- even if it really has a measurable effect (not yet observed but never mind) it is not a case of writing off the world's economy, there will be some winners and some losers for sure but no great global detriment can come of feeding plants more readily and perhaps (only perhaps) making the world a little less cold.

What kind of "insurance" is decimating the world's economy, reengineering society and its energy supply and lowering people's standard of living all to avoid a slightly less hostile and more bio-productive world?


Watch the animal libber front groups attack this: Eating less meat and dairy products won't have major impact on global warming

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2010 — Cutting back on consumption of meat and dairy products will not have a major impact in combating global warming — despite repeated claims that link diets rich in animal products to production of greenhouse gases. That's the conclusion of a report presented here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Air quality expert Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., who made the presentation, said that giving cows and pigs a bum rap is not only scientifically inaccurate, but also distracts society from embracing effective solutions to global climate change. He noted that the notion is becoming deeply rooted in efforts to curb global warming, citing campaigns for "meatless Mondays" and a European campaign, called "Less Meat = Less Heat," launched late last year.

"We certainly can reduce our greenhouse-gas production, but not by consuming less meat and milk," said Mitloehner, who is with the University of California-Davis. "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries."

The focus of confronting climate change, he said, should be on smarter farming, not less farming. "The developed world should focus on increasing efficient meat production in developing countries where growing populations need more nutritious food. In developing countries, we should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices to make more food with less greenhouse gas production," Mitloehner said. (American Chemical Society)


Sesame Street Revisited: Interviewing Vegetable Puppets about CO2

Back in November, Sesame Street celebrated its 40 anniversary, and the show featured First Lady Michelle Obama talking to vegetable puppets about helping curb childhood obesity. The First Lady explained to three young children and two somewhat old muppets the logistics of planting and growing tomatoes, lettuce and carrots as part of her initiative to promote healthy eating. She mentioned that eating these vegetables can make the children big and strong. At the end of the show, the cabbage puppet told her “We think you’re great too” and then led the children in three cheers for the First Lady. Mrs. Obama said at the time of recording her appearance was “probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.”

We at World Climate Report were so moved by this show that we decided to ask the vegetable puppets what would make them big and strong, and the answer we got in our exclusive interview was resoundingly … “higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)!”

There are 1,000s of articles in the professional literature showing the incredible biological benefits of CO2, so in honor of the Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary, here is the latest on tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and carrots. (WCR)


The Guardian sees the light on wind driven Arctic ice loss

First, we pointed this out quite some time ago. See: Winds are Dominant Cause of Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheet Losses and also NASA Sees Arctic Ocean Circulation Do an About-Face

Second I’m pleased to see the Guardian finally catching on. You can watch wind patterns in this time lapse animation:

Animation of Arctic sea-ice being pushed by wind patterns - CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW ANIMATION- Above image is not part of original story, but included to demonstrate the issue. Note that the animation is large, about 7 MB and may take awhile to load on your computer. It is worth the wait Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

From the Guardian:

Wind contributing to Arctic sea ice loss, study finds

New research does not question climate change is also melting ice in the Arctic, but finds wind patterns explain steep decline.

Much of the record breaking loss of ice in the Arctic ocean in recent years is down to the region’s swirling winds and is not a direct result of global warming, a new study reveals.

Ice blown out of the region by Arctic winds can explain around one-third of the steep downward trend in sea ice extent in the region since 1979, the scientists say. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


The Secret of Sea Level Rise: It Will Vary Greatly By Region

As the world warms, sea levels could easily rise three to six feet this century. But increases will vary widely by region, with prevailing winds, powerful ocean currents, and even the gravitational pull of the polar ice sheets determining whether some coastal areas will be inundated while others stay dry. (Michael D. Lemonick, e360)

But the most likely rise over the next century (if any) is 4"-8", as it has fairly consistently since the end of the last great glaciation.


BBC More Confused Than Birds About Climate Change

Are milder winters good for wildlife? Yes? No? Who knows? Certainly, nobody would know it were the BBC the main source of information…

Latest: Mar 19, 2010: “The harsh winter in Britain may have had a devastating impact on wildlife, particularly on birds like the kingfisher“. But on May 28, 2003: “increases in spring temperatures in temperate areas of Europe” mean “long-range migrant birds ‘in peril’“, even if “short-haul migrational birds could benefit“.

And if on Nov 3, 2005, “scientists showed that migration and breeding of the great tit, puffin, red admiral and other creatures are moving out of step with food supplies“, on May 8, 2008, as already reported here, “great tits cope well with warming“. Didn’t they know? On Dec 19, 2001, Alex Kirby had written “The populations of some common wild bird species in the UK are at their highest in more than a decade. Woodland birds and several rare species are also doing better than they have. [...] Scientists say mild winter weather helped many species“.

On the other hand, wasn’t it on Aug 12, 2000 that we were told that “the hunters say the drop in grouse populations during the past two years was mainly due to an unusually wet summer in 1998 and a mild winter in 1999“?

The overall impression is of course that few at the BBC (or amongst the esteemed scientists and various interviewees for several years) understand about the topic they are writing about, so they end up contributing to an absolutely confused mess where too much uncritical reporting demonstrates everything and its opposite.

If one waits long enough, literally anything will appear on the BBC News website on matters of climate.

ps Nature presenter Bill Oddie is reported on March 25, 2005 as saying “When I was a lad we had ‘proper’ winters and spring started in April. Now that seems a thing of the past“. I guess Mr Oddie must be happy by now, alongside a Herefordshire farmer who warned on Nov 11, 2006 of a shortage of blackcurrant squash and jam” linked to (of course!) mild winters. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


A Comment On Judith Curry’s Interview In Discovery Magazine

There is an informative interview of Judith Curry in Discovery Magazine titled

Discover Interview It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here: The Big Battle Over Climate Science  [thanks to Bill DiPuccio for alerting us to the section I have highlighted below]

In Judy’s thoughtful interview responses she said

QUESTION: You’ve talked about potential distortions of temperature measurements from natural temperature cycles in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and from changes in the way land is used. How does that work?

JUDITH CURRY’S ANSWER: Land use changes the temperature quite a bit in complex ways—everything from cutting down forests or changing agriculture to building up cities and creating air pollution. All of these have big impacts on regional surface temperature, which isn’t always accounted for adequately, in my opinion. The other issue is these big ocean oscillations, like the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and particularly, how these influenced temperatures in the latter half of the 20th century. I think there was a big bump at the end of the 20th century, especially starting in the mid-1990s. We got a big bump from going into the warm phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation was warm until about 2002. Now we’re in the cool phase. This is probably why we’ve seen a leveling-off [of global average temperatures] in the past five or so years. My point is that at the end of the 1980s and in the ’90s, both of the ocean oscillations were chiming in together to give some extra warmth.

Judy’s reply reinforces that we need a broader perspective on the climate issue, as we emphasized in

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

This includes both the need to include land use/and cover change as a first order human climate forcing and the more significant role of natural atmospheric/ocean circulations in modulating the climate system. (Climate Science)


Attention BBC: which of our cities is almost dry?

A word to the BBC’s Sydney reporter Nick Bryant. Mate, Australians now have the Internet and can check the bizarre reports you file back home, like this one:

Australia is in the grip of “the Big Dry”, one of the worst droughts in a century.

Major cities confront the major possibility of running out of water daily, and some are building desalination plants that draw from the sea.

Here’s the rain anomalies for this summer, showing above average rainfall for most of the country:


And here are the current storage levels on these cities that “confront the major possibility of running out of water daily”:

Sydney: 59%

Melbourne: 34.3% with desalination plant to come online next year.

Brisbane: 97.7%

Perth: 39.6% with desalination plant online.

Adelaide: 62% plus water piped from the Murray.

Your correction should be a beauty. Claiming you simply consulted Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery is no excuse. (Andrew Bolt)


Changes seen in rainfall trends in March, June and October since 1945 in Spain

An international team led by the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) has produced MOPREDAS, the most complete database to date on monthly precipitations in the Iberian Peninsula. This has been used to analyse monthly rainfall trends between 1945 and 2005 in the Spanish part of the Iberian Peninsula.

The aim of this study is "to respond to a request in the ministerial report about the impacts of climate change in Spain, which highlights the lack of detailed studies into rainfall in Spain or a database that covers the entire country", José Carlos González-Hidalgo, lead author of the study and a tenured professor of Physical Geography in the Faculty of Geography at UNIZAR, tells SINC.

The study, which has just been published online in the International Journal of Climatology, shows that March, June and October are the months that show significant changes in precipitation trends across large areas of the Iberian Peninsula.

Precipitation has declined in quantity in March and June (above all in the centre, south and west of the country), but over large parts of the country in general, affecting more than 60% of the peninsula in March.

"We can't say categorically that annual precipitation has increased or decreased overall, but there are marked variations in different areas", says the geographer.

For the period between October and March, rainfall has increased in October while there has been a widespread decrease in March, "which is important information for the management of water resources". (FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology) [em added]


Snowballs, Ice Ages and CO2

Earth's climate history includes numerous incidents of rapid warming and cooling. While Pleistocene ice-age glacial terminations are arguably the most dramatic recent examples of sudden climate change, during the last glacial period the climate of the Northern Hemisphere experienced several other significant episodes when the climate rapidly warmed. Scientists call these episodes Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events after the Danish and Swiss researchers who documented them using ice-core studies. These rapid oscillations are marked by rapid warming, followed by slower cooling. The most prominent coolings are associated with massive iceberg discharge into the North Atlantic Ocean known as Heinrich events (HE). The melting icebergs add large volumes of cold fresh water to the ocean, disrupting circulation patterns and causing further climate changes. Scientists look to past events like these to help us understand how Earth's climate system functions—what causes our planet to cool or suddenly warm. Recently, new data on past climate changes have led one commentator to predict the end of winter skiing in the American Southwest.

In an attempt to better understand the impact of such events on the American Southwest, Asmerom et al. examined oxygen isotopic data from a well-dated stalagmite recovered from central New Mexico. It seems that speleothems are providing scientists a wealth of new paleoclimate data these days. The data presented in this report, “Variable winter moisture in the southwestern United States linked to rapid glacial climate shifts,” utilizes a new analysis technique, different from the one used to identify ancient sea-level changes I reported on earlier (see “Ancient Sea-levels Rewrite Ice Age Transitions”). Here researchers were trying to fill in a gap in our knowledge regarding precipitation changes in days gone by. As they explain in the article:

Climate in the Northern Pacific basin is partly modulated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation on interannual timescales and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on decadal timescales. On centennial to millennia timescales, it has been shown that the East Asian monsoon (EAM) responds to Northern Hemisphere climate-forcing through modulation of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Over longer, orbital timescales, it has been suggested that the high stands of lakes in western North America during the Last Glacial Maximum were associated with the southward shift of the polar jet stream. The effect of centennial- to millennial-scale Northern Hemisphere climate modulation is less clear, in part owing to the lack of high-resolution proxies that can be absolutely dated.

This lack of data has been particularly true for arid regions, but the authors used speleothems and new multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric techniques to analyze U-series isotopes, providing a new look at the climate history of the American Southwest. The ratio of oxygen isotopes in the calcite that makes up the speleothems from the sample site is a proxy for the relative amounts of summer and winter precipitation in the past. The researchers obtained 68 high-precision uranium-series dates using mass spectrometry with typical age uncertainties of less than 1%, providing a way to precisely date the precipitation proxy data from the oxygen isotopes.

The cave, typical of other parts of the southwestern United States, has two rainy seasons, consisting of summer North American monsoon rainfall, derived from the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific-derived winter precipitation. Asmerom et al.

These techniques showed that the stalagmite they collected from approximately 1 km into the Fort Stanton Cave in central New Mexico had grown continuously from 55.9 to 11.4 thousand years ago. Along with the date measurements, they took 1209 δ18O measurements. The authors found a close match between precipitation changes and the record of DO events, which they interpret as a result of a shift of the polar jet stream and intertropical convergence zone to the north during warm periods. This change in turn causes a reduction in winter precipitation.

The theory is that during warming periods, the pole-to-Equator temperature gradient decreases, shifting the polar jet stream and the Northern Hemisphere summer ITCZ further north. The opposite changes would be expected during cold swings. Analysis of later Holocene climate and historical data show that years of severe droughts are primarily the result of deficit in winter precipitation. Because of all of these factors the authors state “global warming may result in profound changes in precipitation,” which prompted Science writer H. Jesse Smith to quip “Ski While You Can,” a reference to expected temperature increases due to global warming. But that is not the full story.

According to the authors: “The poleward shift during DO events occurred at a time when the earth was in a glacial state. An example of ‘extra’ warming during an interglacial, expressed as a +4 to +6 m rise in sea level relative to today, at the end of the last interglacial 125,000 yr ago has been reported.” As was seen from the Mallorcan sea-level study reported earlier on this blog, such higher sea-levels did occur during the Eemian interglacial and the DO events following it. This implies that the bouts of “extra” global warming can and do occur naturally. And when this paper's authors menacingly pronounce, “rapid DO-like warming due to greenhouse-gas forcing during the present interglacial stage could push SWNA into an even more arid phase, unseen since the early Holocene, or even go beyond this, into conditions not represented since 125,000 yr ago,” it is pure speculation.

By contrast, Heinrich events, named after German oceanographer Hartmut Heinrich, are relatively brief and occur on average every seven-thousand years during glacial periods. Abrupt shifts to warmer climate follow immediately after Heinrich events, the last event (HE1) marked the onset of the termination which ended the last glacial. The events seem to occur only when the ice volume is relatively large, the temperatures are relatively cold, and the sea level is 130-250 feet (40-60 meters) below present values. The cause of Heinrich events—internal ice dynamics or external climate change—is not fully understood but it is pretty safe to say we are not threatened by them during the current interglacial.

Atmospheric CO2 composition and climate during the last glacial period. Red numbers denote DO events. Ahn et al.

The data presented by Asmerom et al. in no way show a causal connection between CO2 or anthropogenic global warming and DO events. In fact, a connection to the latter could not exist, since the humans that were around back then had no factories or SUVs. The gratuitous comments at the end of this paper and the fatuous remark from Mr. Smith show how pervasive the AGW mindset has become among climate scientists. As I reported in “Modeling Ice Age's End Lessens Climate Change Worries,” it may not be possible to induce an abrupt onset warming under a gradual forcing.

Sizing Up The Snowball

The time before the Cambrian explosion of life, the Neoproterozoic, was an era of great environmental and biological change. Unfortunately, direct and precise knowledge about the age of strata from this time has prevented accurately linking the early development of complex life with changes in the Precambrian environment. In a study of rocks in northwestern Canada, Francis A. Macdonald et al. have linked large perturbations in the carbon cycle, a major diversification and depletion in the microfossil record, and the onset of the Sturtian glaciation. The researchers set the scene and motivation for their work at the begining of their paper “Calibrating the Cryogenian”:

Middle Neoproterozoic or Cryogenian strata [850 to 635 million years ago (Ma)] contain evidence for the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia, widespread glaciation, high-amplitude fluctuations in geochemical proxy records, and the radiation of early eukaryotes; however, both relative and absolute age uncertainties have precluded a better understanding of the nature and interrelationships of these events. Several first-order questions remain: How many Neoproterozoic glaciations were there? How were they triggered? What was their duration and extent? How did the biosphere respond?Answers to all of these questions hinge on our ability to precisely correlate and calibrate data from disparate stratigraphic records around the world.

Some of the most dramatic climate events of this period are the so called “Snowball Earth” super ice ages. Snowball Earth refers to the hypothesis that Earth's surface became nearly or entirely frozen over at least once during three ice age periods between 650 and 750 million years ago. The snowball Earth hypothesis, originally put forth by W. Brian Harland, was developed in response to strong paleomagnetic evidence for low-latitude glaciation from the Elatina Formation in Australia.

In 1964, Harland published a paper in which he presented data showing that glacial tillites in Svalbard and Greenland were deposited at tropical latitudes. Since continents drift over time, it is difficult to figure out exactly where they were positioned on the globe at a given point in Earth's past. When sedimentary rocks form, magnetic minerals within them tend to align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field. Through the precise measurement of this palaeomagnetism, it is possible to estimate the latitude (but not the longitude) where the rock was deposited.

One of the things that may have contributed to the several periods of Neoproterozoic ice-house conditions was the configuration of the continents. During the time period in question the ancient supercontinent Rodinia was in the process of breaking up into a number of smaller land masses. It has been suggested that when there is a large land mass over either of the polar regions conditions become favorable to an ice age. One reconstruction of the geography of the late Precambrian is shown below.

Possible geography of late Precambrian Earth. Hyde et al.

The Sturtian snowball earth is linked to sedimentary deposits found on virtually every continent some evidence suggests that it lasted for millions of years. It is commonly called the “Sturtian,” after glacial sediments in South Australia described in 1908 by the geologist Walter Howchin. It is uncertain whether the Sturtian glacial epoch consisted of one discrete glaciation that lasted tens of millions of years, or multiple glacial episodes including the low-latitude glaciation at ~716.5 Ma. “Prior to this study, minimum and maximum age constraints on the Sturtian glaciation were provided by a sample from South China dated at 662.9 ± 4.3 Ma and the Leger Granite in Oman dated at 726 ± 1 Ma, respectively,” state the authors. They suggest that 717.43 ± 0.14 Ma is the maximum age constraint on the low-latitude glaciation.

Models suggest extremely rapid ice advance once ice extends below 30° latitude, implying that such glaciation of equatorial latitudes should be synchronous around the globe. According to the authors “we conclude that the Sturtian glaciation at ~716.5 Ma was global in nature.” Even so, there remain a number of unanswered questions, including whether the Earth was a full snowball or a “slushball” with a thin equatorial band of open water during these episodes.

In the 1960s Martin J. S. Rudwick, working with Brian Harland, proposed that the climate recovery following a huge Neoproterozoic glaciation paved the way for the explosive radiation of multi-cellular animal life during the following Cambrian period. In a 2000 article in Scientific American, Paul F. Hoffman and Daniel P. Schrag conjectured: “It has always been a mystery why it took so long for these primitive organisms to diversify into the 11 animal body plans that show up suddenly in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion. A series of global freeze-fry events would have imposed an environmental filter on the evolution of life. All extant eukaryotes would thus stem from the survivors of the Neoproterozoic calamity.” Indeed, Hoffman (no relation) and colleagues had previously reported on evidence of this freeze then bake cycle:

Negative carbon isotope anomalies in carbonate rocks bracketing Neoproterozoic glacial deposits in Namibia, combined with estimates of thermal subsidence history, suggest that biological productivity in the surface ocean collapsed for millions of years. This collapse can be explained by a global glaciation (that is, a snowball Earth), which ended abruptly when subaerial volcanic outgassing raised atmospheric carbon dioxide to about 350 times the modern level. The rapid termination would have resulted in a warming of the snowball Earth to extreme greenhouse conditions. The transfer of atmospheric carbon dioxide to the ocean would result in the rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate in warm surface waters, producing the cap carbonate rocks observed globally.

Could complex life on Earth owe its existence to the evolutionary pressure exerted by these global freeze overs? According to Macdonald et al., “It is clear that a diverse biosphere persisted through the Neoproterozoic glaciations, but the impact of global glaciation on eukaryotic evolution remains unresolved.” Though Earth has not frozen solid since the advent of truly complex life, ice ages have occurred throughout the Phanerozoic.

A modern Snowball Earth. Image by Neethis.

A geographic configuration similar to the Middle Neoproterozoic existed during the Permian, when the continents once again had clustered together to form another supercontinent—Pangaea. During this period the great Karoo Ice Age occurred, ending around 260 mya. This was followed by the worst of all the mass extinction events, the Permian-Triassic at 251 mya. Following that catastrophe life almost had to begin anew and Earth soon entered the age of the dinosaurs. And of course, H. sapiens bounced back from the edge of extinction and exploded across the globe following the last deglaciation only 14,000 years ago.

What impact these new findings will have on thinking regarding our current ice age remains to be seen. Considering the geographic dispersal of the continental land masses today it is unlikely that Earth will be cast into another snowball earth episode any time soon. There as been, however, another new report in Nature Geoscience that casts doubt on at least one theory about CO2 and the end of the glacial period just prior to the current Holocene warm period.

Goin' Through Them Changes

Over the past 500,000 years, each of the five identified glacial periods ended abruptly. Rapid warming caused continental ice-sheets retreated in roughly one-tenth of the time it took for the Earth's climate to cool and for ice sheets to reach to their maximum extent. Ice-core records from Greenland and Antarctica show that atmospheric CO2 levels rise by ~80 ppm during such deglaciations, leading scientists to seek a source for the carbon dioxide. According to current thinking the Southern Ocean as the main area of exchange with reservoirs of deep old water, which then makes its way to lower-latitude waters. Ricardo De Pol-Holz et al. investigated the hypotheses that an injection of carbon dioxide with low radiocarbon activity from an oceanic abyssal reservoir was the source of the increase (see “No signature of abyssal carbon in intermediate waters off Chile during deglaciation”).

“The fundamentals behind the atmospheric CO2 increase and Δ14C decrease during the so-called mystery interval (17.5–14.5 kyr BP) and the contemporaneous deglaciation have remained elusive,” state De Pol-Holz et al. Ice-core records show that the overall increase in atmospheric CO2 was ~100 ppm (parts per million) during the deglaciation. At the same time, the concentration of radioactive carbon 14 (14C) decreased without any record of a decrease in cosmic ray activity that would explain the drop. The proposed source for the upsurge in depleted CO2 is an upwelling of old water from the deep.

Supposedly, the deep ocean water had remained isolated from the atmosphere for several thousand years during the last ice age, becoming progressively depleted in 14C because of radioactive decay. Previous work by Marchitto et al. had documented two pulses of extremely depleted water coinciding with the mystery interval and the Younger Dryas (11,500–12,900 years ago). This resulted in changes to the radiocarbon content of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) because of mixing with old abyssal water south of the subantarctic frontal zone. To test for the presence of such water a number of cores were taken from ocean bottom sediment. What they found was unexpected—the upwelling of deep, carbon 14 deplete water could not have come from the depths off Chile.

Map of ocean salinity at 1 km depth showing the location of cores. In the figure above, intermediate-depth low-salinity signatures of AAIW and North Pacific Intermediate Water are shown in purple–pink. De Pol-Holz et al.

“Increasing evidence from the Atlantic, both in observations and in models, and from the West Pacific indicates a re-invigoration of AAIW production during the deglaciation,” the researchers concluded, “We therefore believe that the idea of a deglacial AAIW being formed elsewhere and routed in a completely different way so as to not affect the intermediate waters off Chile is unlikely.” What does this mean for science's understanding of ocean water movement during a deglaciation? It means that we do not really understand the conditions that prevailed during the “mystery interval” more than 14 thousand years ago. Unless an alternative formation mechanism is found for the young intermediate waters observed in the record, the upwelling intensity proxy for the Southern Ocean may need further revision. The paper concludes this way:

The increasing number of sedimentary records showing anomalous low radiocarbon at intermediate depths around the world demands further investigation on its causes. Our work shows that their connection with the Southern Ocean overturning strength is not entirely straightforward and alternative explanations for their presence should be explored. Understanding glacial–interglacial CO2 cycles still remains an elusive test for our proficiency in the study of the Earth as a system.

Science continues to refine the knowledge we have of Earth's climate, whether it be from 14,000 years ago or half a billion, new discoveries are constantly being made. Despite centuries of study, we still do not know what makes conditions right for Ice Ages to come and go: some special combination of the size and shapes of the continents; the circulation patterns of ocean waters and the atmosphere; the wobbling, subtly changing path of Earth around its star; and changes in the Sun's output may all have to come into convergence to trigger radical climate change. Meanwhile, the link between radical climate change and CO2 remains fuzzy at best. What we do know is that to rebound from a Snowball Earth took CO2 levels 350 times those of today. Those who claim that human activity will trigger a sudden warming or a sudden cooling are just blowing hot air.

As for the threat to skiing in the American Southwest, consider what has happened this year. One of the things that happens during an El Niño is an increase in snowfall across the southern Rockies and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Many have speculated that a warming climate could enter a phase of nearly continuous El Niño. Though this sounds like good news for snow skiers, not bad, I wouldn't count on it either way. After all, the climate change prognosticators haven't been right yet.

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

Not likely to go away anytime soon.


Mixing In Some Carbon

MOSS LANDING, Calif. — It seems like alchemy: a Silicon Valley start-up says it has found a way to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants and lock them into cement. 

If it works on a mass scale, the company, Calera, could turn that carbon into gold. 

Cement production is a large source of carbon emissions in the United States, and coal-fired electricity plants are the biggest source. As nations around the world press companies to curb their greenhouse-gas emissions, a technology that makes it profitable to do so could be very popular. Indeed, Calera’s marketing materials may be one of the rare places where glowing quotes from a coal company and the Sierra Club appear together. 

“With this technology, coal can be cleaner than solar and wind, because they can only be carbon-neutral,” said Vinod Khosla, the Silicon Valley billionaire. His venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures, has invested about $50 million in Calera. On Monday, Calera is set to announce that Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company, has invested $15 million. 

Although Calera has a pilot project up and running, it is still not clear that the process can be used on a large scale or that anyone will buy the cement it makes. (NYT)

That's great except we categorically do not want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This nonsense about a marvelous biospheric resource being a pollutant simply must stop.


Coerced Energy Efficiency in Texas: Government Conservationism Isn’t Market Conservation

by Robert Michaels
March 22, 2010

[Editor note: Texas has been a hotbed for energy mandates and environmental pressure groups ever since Enron successfully lobbied for the state to enact a strong renewable energy mandate in 1999. This mandate was expanded in 2005, and the a second expansion (with a solar carve-out) almost passed in the last session. Currently, environmental pressure groups are working to toughen an energy efficiency mandate enacted in the same 1999 law and extended in 2007.]

The Texas Public Utility Commission (TPUC) is in the midst of a rulemaking that would expand Texas’s energy efficiency program. Questions of administrative overreach aside (the state legislature rejected the program last session), a sober look at costs versus benefits indicates it is a very questionable deal for ratepayers.

Some will argue that more government-directed conservation (or conservationism) is a good thing. After all, it is frequently claimed that the existing efficiency program is cost-effective based on 2001–2009 data.

In reality, however, the record provides no such justification. Actual expenses for the program in 2008 were at least $57.9 million, and projected expenses for 2010 are $105 million. These costs are paid for by residential and commercial electricity consumers. The PUC says the benefits of this program outweighs its cost. But the commission currently uses a cost-benefit method that does not accurately measure the program. (MasterResource)


Presidential Advisor Holdren Replies To Shanahan Energy Letter

On the first of February, 2010, Dr. John A. Shanahan sent a letter regarding the future of American energy policy to Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and President Obama's Science Advisor. Attached to the letter were more than thirty pages of signatories—309 scientists, engineers and citizens from 22 countries and 36 US states. The purpose of the letter was to ask for a clarification of the Obama administration's stand on nuclear energy policy. Dr. Shanahan's conclusion: if anyone thinks that the current administration's nuclear policy solves America's energy problems, they have no idea what they are talking about.

The entire world in engaged in efforts to build a secure and ecologically sound energy future, yet the US government continues to dither over energy policy. With the exception of grandstanding sound bite events, like the announcement by President Obama that the Federal Government would offer secure loans to build the first new American nuclear power plant in the nearly four decades, nothing has been done to secure the future or craft a coherent US energy policy.

John Shanahan, a Denver-based civil engineer who has worked on numerous nuclear power plant projects, wrote a letter to President Obama's Science Advisor John Holdren about the administration’s support for nuclear energy. Shanahan met Holdren in California, forty years ago, and they had kept in touch since then. Frustrated with America's lack of progress on the energy front, John contacted a number of his nuclear friends, and they drew up a letter to the President's Science Advisor. This is how the letter starts:

Dear Dr. Holdren,

Peace on earth and preservation of the marvels of nature will not be achieved without a sound energy policy. This must include well-managed and well-governed thermal- and fast-neutron nuclear power, recycling spent fuels and depleted uranium. This was the goal of the founding scientists in the late 1940s and still is the best way to a reliable and secure energy future.

This letter is about American policy in a world that counts on American leadership. Although that leadership is vital if there is to be an orderly global deployment of nuclear technology, the United States has for a decade and a half left the evolution of nuclear-power technology largely to others, and consequently is being left behind. At present, 58 new nuclear plants (including two fast reactors, one in Russia and one in India) are under construction in 14 countries. Of these, 20 are in China, 9 in Russia, 6 each in India and South Korea. Only one is in North America, and that is resumption of work on a plant that was mothballed in 1988 when it was 80% finished. France has just announced a $7 billion commitment for a "sustainable development" program that includes promotion of fourth-generation nuclear reactors, three of which are fast-neutron reactors—a technology in which the United States was once the world leader...

A pdf of the entire text of the letter and a list of the signatories can be downloaded here. To summarize the main points of the letter, it goes on to make three “urgent” recommendations to get America into the Nuclear Renaissance that is engulfing the rest of the world.

  1. Accelerate the licensing and building of Light Water Reactors (LWR), the kind of reactors currently in use in the US and around the world.

  2. Initiation of large scale domestic production of the full spectrum of medical and industrial isotopes.

  3. Reinstate the development fourth-generation fast nuclear reactors—as epitomized by the US developed Integral Fast Reactor (IFR).

Shanahan is a supporter of the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor), a system which takes the "nuclear waste" from current nuclear power plants, and uses it as fuel to burn. This type of reactor also converts non-fissionable uranium and transuranic isotopes into fuel, while making electricity. A US development program was killed 30 years ago by the Carter administration for political reasons. With the rest of the world now rapidly building new nuclear plants, America is falling behind.

John P. Holdren is on leave from Harvard University, where he is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School, as well as Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He is also the Director of the Woods Hole Research Center and from 2005 to 2008 served as President-Elect, President, and Chair of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His work focuses on causes and consequences of global environmental change, analysis of energy technologies and policies, ways to reduce the dangers from nuclear weapons and materials, and the interaction of content and process in science and technology policy.

As might be gathered from this brief curriculum vitae, Dr. Holdren leans green, fears nuclear proliferation and is politically active. In testimony before the US Congress, Holdren is on record as saying: “Reprocessing spent fuel for recycle of its plutonium -- and breeder reactors that depend on this -- go in the wrong direction in all of these respects: they make fission energy more complex, costlier, riskier, more proliferation-prone, and, correspondingly, more controversial. And there will be no sound economic or resource-availability justification for reprocessing or breeding for the next few decades, at least.”

It has now been reported that Dr. Holdren has replied to Dr. Shanahan's letter. At first blush, the response from the Science Advisor seemed positive. “In brief, Dr. Holdren says that our government is working positively on all three points,” said Shanahan in an email announcing the reply. “At least Dr. Holdren is saying that he is working on these three problems and is giving you recognition of your support for this letter,” reported Shanahan to those on the signatory list (among them your reporter).

That was the initial reaction but like so much that comes out of Washington, it should not be accepted at first glance. Indeed, after reading the reply in detail, the impression one gets is quite different. Here are a number of points made by Shanahan in a follow up email :

Does anyone expect a positive response from this administration or many of our other politicians and their "advisors?" Unfortunately NO, they are beholden to "belief" ideologies and the people who vote for them.

There are simple answers to your questions about Holdren's response dated March 5, 2010.

1) This administration like so many others, is willfully not knowldgeable about the facts. They go anyway the voters want them to go and unfortunately are strongly influenced by extremist minority groups. The voters are not well informed either and often vote with emotion rather than facts.

2) The German poet, Gottfried Keller, wrote a poem, "Schein und Wirklichkeit" in the 1800s. The title translates to "Illusion and Reality." The Reality is the actual science, technology and operating record of nuclear power and medical use of isotopes. The Illusion is the acts of the government and the anti-nuclear people, including the March 5, 2010 reply by John Holdren. All the people who support this letter and are hands-on experts in this field know that the March 5, 2010 letter from John Holdren is no real response. It is an Illusion.

3) The Latin American writer, Eduardo Galeano, wrote a trilogy history of the Americas and Europe, "Memoria del fuego." Volume II has the subtitle, "Las caras y las máscaras." The translation is: "Memory of Fire" "Faces and Masks" This volume is about the 1700s and 1800s. In our situation, the great scientists and engineers who developed peaceful uses of nuclear energy and medical and industrial uses of isotopes are the real FACES. The people who spend their whole lives presenting false and misleading arguments about nuclear energy in the media and the court system are hiding behind their MASKS. So is John Holdren hiding behind a mask in his response dated March 5, 2010.

4) On recommendation # 1 in - Light Water Reactors, President Obama's offer of loan guarantees does not remove the two major hurdles that have existed for forty years and continue to exist today: a) the legal system that permits trivial and non-serious objections to hold up the large and very important projects in courts for years, and b) politically placed anti-nuclear persons in the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Secretary of Energy, Hazel O'Leary in the 1990s is a famous example.

5) On recommendation # 2 - domestic development of isotopes, the isotope experts who are signed on to the Holdren Letter dated February 1, 2010 say that Holdren's description of what the government is doing is much too little, much too late. Our government destroyed a lot of the domestic isotope production facilities by neglect and shutting down reactors like the Fast Flux Test Facility.

6) On recommendation # 3 - pyro-reprocessing of spent fuel and the Integral Fast Reactor. I consider this the biggest SCHEIN - Illusion and máscara - mask of all by John Holdren and this administration. Simply put, the Integral Fast Reactor with its metalic fuel and pyro-reprocessing can use all the spent fuel from light water reactors, continuing to make LWRs very useful in until a fully developed IFR Program is established in the future. The IFR can use the spent fuel from LWRs and depleted uranium from past uranium enrichment programs to produce enough electrical energy to power the whole of the United States at 1990s levels for 700 years without anymore mining of uranium or coal !!!!!!! Holdren says that the government is appointing another committee to study it again. Most of the members of the committee have no real experience with nuclear power, much less the IFR.

As you can tell, Dr. Shanahan is less than pleased with Holdren's response on behalf of the Obama Administration. In true political fashion, the administration's energy plan consists of false claims, platitudes and evasion. This type of business-as-usual Washington bovine excreta is what motivated Al Simmons and myself to write a second book, soon to be released, on the topic of the growing world wide energy gap. In it we offer positive solutions, not meaningless political babble.

Dr. Shanahan's final take on the Holdren letter, contained in advice to a high school debating team, is as follows: “In conclusion, if anyone in the debates suggests that the Holdren Response dated March 5, 2010 solves nuclear energy's problems, they have no idea what they are talking about. They are hiding behind Illusions and Masks. ” And don't forget the smoke and mirrors either.

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

Have I got an energy policy for you!


Can he be that stupid?

"An average of 500 jobs will be created every month until 2020 in sectors ranging from offshore wind power to carbon capture technology," writes The Scotsman, heralding a report which supposedly highlights how Scotland can capitalise on its natural advantages to make the most of the potential economic benefits of green business.

The report was "unveiled" yesterday by Scottish finance secretary John Swinney, who, without batting an eyelid, proclaims the opportunities as "vast". "Scotland's future," he says, "lies in low-carbon technologies and greener business." And what is more, "8,000 jobs will be provided by environmental management opportunities, such as consultancy work or pollution control."

All you now need to know is that Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, welcomed the report. But, if there is any doubt, Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, says the paper is a "big step forward for Scotland". "We have long argued that greater investment and support for the environment could be good for jobs too," he adds.

Both are speaking of a territorial area which likes to think itself as a country but which is an impoverished Euro-region, kept solvent by the charity of English taxpayers, who are forced to tolerate this high-level stupidity for no other reason than it is the Scottish vote which keeps the current government in power.

With the limited powers afforded it, this self-important Scottish "government" seems determined to drive its peoples further into poverty and dependency, frittering away its natural wealth over a mad obsession, wholly unable to understand that its raft of non-jobs are simply another drag on an already over-burdened economy.

All one can hope for is that, when the money finally runs out, the 8,000 environmental managers and consultants turn on their masters and slaughter them, curing us once and for all of that terminal disease afflicting our political classes – an unredeemable and incurable stupidity.

"Can he be that stupid?", I ask. On the basis of the evidence, this hardly requires an answer. But, like the contagion it is, the disease in not confined to Scotland - otherwise we could simply quarantine this benighted province. From England to the USA, to Australia and India, the disease is afflicting the political classes throughout the world. Drastic, the disease is. The cure is going to have to be similarly drastic. (EU Referendum)


China Adapts to the Climate Change Fashion Show

China will not agree to abide by any mandatory carbon emissions reduction scheme any time in the foreseeable future. [Read More] (Michael J. Economides and Xina Xie, Energy Tribune)


Barnett Shale producers draw heat on air quality: Industry leaders reject criticism saying it continues to reduce emissions

The industry has long recognized the Barnett Shale natural gas field in North Texas as a model for drilling techniques that produce gas while reducing the environmental footprint. But now oil and gas executives are defending themselves against concerns over air quality and potentially high emission levels in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The area spanning 12 counties is becoming the centerpiece to an argument over whether natural gas exploration companies do enough to contain harmful emissions. It’s driven largely by a recent state study that has some community leaders concerned about emissions such as benzene.

Benzene is a carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia among those with prolonged exposure; in this case, oil and gas workers.

Industry leaders say they take special steps that not only contain emissions but also enable them to produce more gas, a win-win situation. And research is also ongoing to further reduce the impact to air quality; steps like running a rig off a power grid rather than diesel fuel. (GoO)


"Climate change spending"... World Bank Helps Indonesia Increase Geothermal Energy

The World Bank has announced $400 million to help double Indonesia's geothermal energy capacity, part of a broad effort at the bank to ramp up climate change spending in the developing world. (ClimateWire)


Bloweth the wind

The wind may not make the bird choppers go round as fast as the greenies would like, but it does move the ice in the Arctic. That, at last, Geoffrey Lean is conceding, catching up with the rest of us.

Meanwhile, from an excellent report on the wind experience in Ontario, it seems that the bird choppers there are just as useless as they are here – which does not exactly come as a surprise. Once again, also, we see the familiar refrain about the need for back-up, thus duplicating the network at huge expense.

Another death knell for this useless fantasy comes with the news on developments in coal-bed methane (CBM), which is now being taken so seriously that Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina have purchased technology pioneers Arrow Energy for £2.1 billion.

With coal seams that stretch from the Pennines to the Irish Sea rich in methane gas, work is also in progress to exploit this resource in the UK, with suggestions that there is enough gas to generate electricity to supply seven percent of UK domestic needs for 15 years. A pilot plant already operating at a site between Widnes and Warrington.

With shale gas, this technology is another "game changer" which will take the edge off energy shortage problems – at the very least buying enough time to get the much-delayed nuclear estate renewal in hand. The crisis that might be is very much beginning to take on the mantle of the crisis that never was.

As always though, it takes non-specialists a while to catch up – and the greenies even longer, who must hate the idea that their doom-laden projections of energy shortages are not going to materialise. And, as new supplies flow, renewable energies becomes less and less attractive. The wind not only bloweth, but changeth. The bird choppers are doomed (or would be if the politicians had any sense). (EU Referendum)



House Votes to Pass Health Care Bill, Send 'Fixes' Back to Senate

A bloc of pro-life Democrats turned out to be the linchpin to passage of the Senate's massive health insurance overhaul Sunday night, as President Obama cemented a 219-212 victory with a pledge to issue an executive order "clarifying" abortion language in the Senate bill. (FOXNews.com)


Democrats face dubious voters on healthcare

Democrats in Congress who passed historic legislation on Sunday to revamp the U.S. healthcare system face a new challenge over the next seven months: convincing voters it's a good deal. (Reuters)


GOP readies challenges on merits, procedures

Republicans suffered a major defeat last night in the House as Democrats passed a sweeping health care bill, but GOP leaders warned they had not finished fighting and planned to fiercely challenge parts of the package that must still win approval in the Senate. 

Republicans are preparing a last-minute battle plan designed to tie up the voting in procedural knots in the days ahead and, ideally, force yet another House vote on the reconciliation part of the package. They also hope to rally their base and weaken vulnerable Democrats in the midterm elections by hammering home forceful arguments against the measure.

“We owe it to the American people to do the very best we can to keep this bill from passing so that we can start over and get it right,’’ the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.’’

Senate Republicans are compiling dozens of amendments designed to underscore their contention the health care bill is too expensive, involves too much government, and cuts too much out of Medicare. In many cases they hope to force Senate Democrats to vote against popular ideas they would otherwise support for the sake of keeping the bill intact.

Democrats must resist any temptation to amend the reconciliation bill or the House will have to vote on it again before it can become law. That could create enormous political consternation, intensifying a simmering feud between House and Senate Democrats. (Boston Globe)


Happy Dependence Day!

Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . . (Mark Steyn, NRO)


The Heritage Foundation Responds to the Health Care Vote


Truth Is A Casualty Of The Final Push

Health Reform: Not since the heyday of Bill Clinton have we had a leader play so fast and loose with the facts as President Obama. And as the health care debate reaches a crescendo, he's been especially reckless.

Tired of waiting for the major media to take note, here's a small sampling of whoppers we took from the president's speeches last week in Ohio and Virginia, plus his interview with Fox News' Bret Baier:

• "We have incorporated the best ideas from Democrats and from Republicans." Far from it. Some of the biggest omissions include tort reform, health savings accounts, portable insurance, expanding consumer access to plans across state lines and posting provider prices for services so patients can shop around.

Republicans were almost completely shut out from the process and at the early stages last summer, were not even permitted to read the bill. In an atmosphere like this, it's little wonder the bill isn't drawing a single vote of support from Republicans of either house. It's fully a creature of the Democratic Party.

• ("This is not a) government takeover of health care." How is it that government can dictate to private insurance companies what they can offer, to whom, under what circumstances and at what prices, and yet still not own it? Every basic business decision a private company can make has effectively been expropriated.

Even as Obama denied his health care plan was a government takeover, his vice president, Joe Biden, laid out the real deal: "You know we're going to control the insurance companies." We'll take him at his word.

• "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." That's if your doctor chooses to remain in the profession. Unfortunately, our own IBD/TIPP Poll found that up to 45% would consider quitting if they're going to be dictated to by unaccountable bureaucrats who couldn't get into medical school.

... (IBD)


What Democrats Have 'Deemed': Remorseless, Ever-Faster Decline

Last Thursday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to set up a committee to examine whether condoms should be required on all pornographic film shoots.

California has run out of money, but it hasn't yet run out of things to regulate.

For a government regulatory hearing, the testimony was livelier than usual. Porn star Madelyne Hernandez recalled an especially grueling scene in which she had been obliged to have sex with 75 men. The bureaucrats nodded thoughtfully, no doubt contemplating another languorous 18-month committee assignment looking into capping the number of group-sex participants at 60 per scene.

The committee will also make recommendations on whether the "adult" movie industry should be subject to the same regulatory regime and hygiene procedures as hospitals and doctors' surgeries. You mean with everyone in surgical masks? Kinky.

If you've ever been in the filthy wards of Britain's National Health Service, it may make more sense after the passage of ObamaCare to require hospitals to bring themselves up to the same hygiene standards as the average Bangkok porn shoot.

One can make arguments for permitting porn and banning porn, but there isn't a lot to be said for the bureaucratization of porn. Hard to believe there will be California bureaucrats looking forward to early retirement on gold-plated pensions who'll be getting home, sinking into the La-Z-Boy and complaining to the missus about a tough day at the office working on the permits for "Debbie Does The Fresno OSHA Office."

Meanwhile, ObamaCare will result in the creation of at least 16,500 new jobs. Doctors? Nurses? Ha! Dream on, suckers. That's 16,500 new IRS agents, who'll be needed to check whether you — yes, you, Mr. and Mrs. Hopendope of 27 Hopeychangey Gardens — comply with the 15 tax increases and dozens of new federal mandates about to be "deemed" into existence.

This will be the biggest expansion of the IRS since World War Two — and that's change you can believe in. This is what "health" "care" "reform" boils down to: fewer doctors, longer wait times, but more bureaucrats. And, when you walk into the Health Care Enforcement Division of the IRS the staffing levels will make Madelyne Hernandez's group sex scene look like an equity-minimum one-man play. (Mark Steyn)


Liberty Or Debt

States' Rights: Idaho requires its attorney general to sue the feds if ObamaCare passes while Virginia, the cradle of liberty, heads the line of states in front of the federal courtroom. Somewhere Patrick Henry is smiling.

As the second coming of King George III seeks to impose the leftist mandate of national health insurance on the unwilling American people, the states are once again in revolt. This time they're unwilling to be the colonies of an imperial federal government determined to spend and tax us into bankruptcy while treating the Constitution as if it were bird cage liner.

Is this what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they risked being hanged by the British crown because they said we shouldn't be taxed without representation? Well, we have representation, and they care not about the people they represent. We can now pass laws by not voting on them, almost as if by imperial decree. We have become the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez.

Not amused is Idaho, the latest state to jump into the fray last Wednesday, with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signing into law a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance. (IBD)


Health Overhaul's Assault On Business

Taxes: If ObamaCare becomes permanent, no one will suffer more than U.S. businesses. They'll face higher taxes, more regulations and a higher cost of capital. But don't take our word for it. Go ask Caterpillar.

The heavy-equipment giant reckons its insurance costs will go up 20%, or $100 million, the first year after the health care system is overhauled, and may go even higher. Multiply that by literally tens of thousands of companies nationwide, large and small, and you can see how costs will soar.

"We can ill-afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus our global competitors," said Greg Folley, a Caterpillar vice president. "We are disappointed that efforts at reform have not addressed the cost concerns we've raised throughout the year."

If you don't care how this affects businesses, you should. Some 15 million people in this country don't have jobs — and another 12 million work part-time but want full-time positions.

If America's major employers are hit with huge, government-mandated cost increases during an economic downturn, do you really think they'll hire more when the economy starts growing on its own again? Of course not. (IBD)


Copenhagen: End Game for Green Imperialism

Ever since Kant, liberal thinkers have dreamed of another kind of citizenship—world citizenship, in which national loyalties would be extinguished in an all-embracing legal order free from the causes of belligerence ... in which the warm relations of membership [of a nation-state] would be replaced by a cool adherence to a scheme of abstract duties and rights.

—Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest

Less than three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Left demonstrated its resilience with an astonishing show of strength. In June 1992, the UN’s Earth Summit was held at Rio de Janeiro. It was largest international conference ever, attended by representatives of 172 governments, including 108 heads of government or heads of state. US President George H.W. Bush, after first resisting the idea, finally gave in under pressure from the American environmentalist movement and attended. Australia was represented by Environment Minister Ros Kelly. There were 2400 officially recognised NGO representatives, and 17,000 attended the parallel NGO forum.

Rio was the brainchild of Canadian oil entrepreneur and left-wing international political fixer Maurice Strong. In writing about Strong, the New Yorker commented, “The survival of civilization in something like its present form might depend significantly on the efforts of a single man.” The New York Times hailed Strong as the “Custodian of the Planet”.

It was at Rio that the audacious Green strategy of turning the UN into an instrument of “global governance”, run by the environmentalists of Europe and North America, began to get traction. The vehicle chosen to provide the motive power for their strategy was the global warming scam, which took off in the USA under the energetic vice-presidential patronage of Al Gore, and in the UK had had the prime ministerial patronage of Margaret Thatcher, something she later came to regret (“it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supranational socialism”).

As a consequence of Rio, the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) came into effect on March 21, 1994. The UNFCCC was a key pillar of Imperium Viridis, the Green Empire. It has generated more jobs, trips, conferences and rent-seekers than anything else in world history. It is founded on a scam—that by reducing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, mankind can control the world’s climate—and this article of faith would provide the foundation for the Greens’ imperial ambitions. (Ray Evans, Quadrant)


World government: they’re at it again

By The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

They’re at it again. The world-government wannabes of the UN have summoned 192 nations to meet in Bonn, Germany, in the second week of April to plan another attempt to impose an unelected global government on us in the specious name of Saving The Planet.

The Planet, of course, was Saved 2000 years ago, and it does not need to be Saved again. But the international corporatists, fascists, communists – call them what you will, but they are certainly not believers in democracy in any shape or form – know that they cannot get away with setting up their long-planned dismal bureaucratic-centralist dictatorship unless they pretend that a global emergency demands it.

At the very moment when the science behind the “global warming” scare has abjectly collapsed, and “global warming” profiteers and data-fabricators around the world are facing prosecution for false accounting, scientific and financial fraud, and outright racketeering, the fraudsters and racketeers will be in Bonn planning to give themselves a free pardon as they inflict upon us a ruthless and monstrously expensive regime of taxation without representation, regulation without election, and economic interference without democracy. Read the rest of this entry » (SPPI)


Oh my giddy aunt! Researchers Present Study on How Global Climate Change Affects Violence

Newswise — If global warming is a scientific fact, then you better be prepared for the earth to become a more violent place. That's because new Iowa State University research shows that as the earth's average temperature rises, so too does human "heat" in the form of violent tendencies.

Co-authored by Craig Anderson, a Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of Iowa State's Center for the Study of Violence; and Matt DeLisi, an associate professor of sociology and director of ISU's criminal justice program, the paper was presented by Anderson this week (March 15-19) at the Sydney (Australia) Symposium of Social Psychology.

Using U.S. government data on average yearly temperatures and the number of violent crimes between 1950 and 2008, the researchers estimate that if the annual average temperature in the U.S. increases by 8°F (4.4°C), the yearly murder and assault rate will increase by 34 per 100,000 people -- or 100,000 more per year in a population of 305 million.

And while the global warming science has recently come under fire, the main premise behind the Iowa State researchers' paper is irrefutable. (Iowa State University)

So, heat is the controlling factor? And this is "irrefutable"? Let's have a quick look:

Atlanta, Georgia ("Hotlanta") in July has temperatures ranging from about 70-90 °F and about 5" inches of rain, so it's warm and humid, although other months are cooler. City rating says the population of about 430,000 has a murder rate of ~35/100,000 (149 murders for the listed year). Singapore is generally warmer and wetter, ranging from 73-88 °F throughout the year with 7-10" monthly rainfall. Among its crowded 4.8 million people the homicide rate is <1/100,000.

You can compare lots of places, Albany, NY, for example, has a temperature in July of 60-82 °F, 3" of rain and a homicide rate ~8.5/100,000. New York, NY has a July temperature closer to Singapore's with 69-84 °F and a homicide rate of ~7.4/100,000 in a population about twice that of Singapore.

If temperature were the controlling factor in people committing violent crime then Singapore, with its perpetual high temperature and high humidity, should be a very violent place and yet has negligible violent crime. Atlanta has similar temperatures but briefly through the year and has 35 times the homicide rate. New York is significantly cooler than Singapore and has almost 9 times the homicide rate.

And they suggest "the main premise behind the Iowa State researchers' paper is irrefutable"?



Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution

The hominin fossil record documents a history of critical evolutionary events that have ultimately shaped and defined what it means to be human, including the origins of bipedalism; the emergence of our genus Homo; the first use of stone tools; increases in brain size; and the emergence of Homo sapiens, tools, and culture. The Earth's geological record suggests that some evolutionary events were coincident with substantial changes in African and Eurasian climate, raising the possibility that critical junctures in human evolution and behavioral development may have been affected by the environmental characteristics of the areas where hominins evolved. Understanding Climate's Change on Human Evolution explores the opportunities of using scientific research to improve our understanding of how climate may have helped shape our species.

Improved climate records for specific regions will be required before it is possible to evaluate how critical resources for hominins, especially water and vegetation, would have been distributed on the landscape during key intervals of hominin history. Existing records contain substantial temporal gaps. The book's initiatives are presented in two major research themes: first, determining the impacts of climate change and climate variability on human evolution and dispersal; and second, integrating climate modeling, environmental records, and biotic responses.

Understanding Climate's Change on Human Evolution suggests a new scientific program for international climate and human evolution studies that involve an exploration initiative to locate new fossil sites and to broaden the geographic and temporal sampling of the fossil and archeological record; a comprehensive and integrative scientific drilling program in lakes, lake bed outcrops, and ocean basins surrounding the regions where hominins evolved and a major investment in climate modeling experiments for key time intervals and regions that are critical to understanding human evolution. (NAP)


Acupuncture can spread serious diseases: experts

HONG KONG - Bacterial infections, hepatitis B and C, and possibly even HIV are being transmitted via acupuncture through the use of contaminated needles, cotton swabs and hot packs, experts warned on Friday.

In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal, microbiologists at the University of Hong Kong said the number of reported acupuncture-related infections worldwide was the tip of an iceberg and they called for tighter infection control measures.

"To prevent infections transmitted by acupuncture, infection control measures should be implemented, such as use of disposable needles, skin disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques," wrote the researchers, led by Patrick Woo, microbiology professor at the University of Hong Kong.

"Stricter regulation and accreditation requirements are also needed," they added. (Reuters)


US child obesity problem worse than thought

WASHINGTON - Extreme obesity among American children is much worse than previously believed, putting them at greater risk of serious health problems as they age, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

A study of more than 700,000 children and teens in southern California found that more than 6 percent, or 45,000, were extremely obese and more boys than girls were far too heavy, the researchers reported in the Journal of Pediatrics.

"This study is unique because it is the first time that we've had a large up-to-date snapshot of what's happening with obesity in our children," co-author Dr. Amy Porter of Kaiser Permanente health care system said in a video statement.

"The prevalence of obesity in children is much higher than we ever thought it was" Porter said. She said the study also showed that extreme obesity was rising in almost every group. (Reuters)

Should be good for lots of funding, having hit both It'sWorseThanWeThought® and It'sForTheChildren™ requirements.


Silly salt saga stumbles on: Cereal offenders agree to cut salt

LEADING bread and cereal manufacturers have agreed to reduce the sodium content of their products in response to rising concern about Australians' high salt intake and heart disease.

The parliamentary secretary for health, Mark Butler, told the Herald yesterday that George Weston Foods, Goodman Fielder Baking, Allied Mills and Cripps Nubake, as well as Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, had agreed to reduce sodium in bread products to 400 milligrams per 100 grams by the end of 2013.

Other manufacturers of cereals, including Kelloggs, Sanitarium and Cereal Partners Worldwide, have also agreed to reduce sodium content by 15 per cent over four years, he said. (SMH)


Herb shows no added benefits for women's bones

NEW YORK - Exercise may help older women maintain their bone density, but adding the supplement black cohosh to the routine does not bring any extra benefits, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 128 postmenopausal women they studied for one year, those who were randomly assigned to regularly exercise generally maintained their bone density. In contrast, women who were assigned to a "wellness" group that got only light, infrequent exercise showed a decline in their bone density, on average.

But while exercise appeared to help women hang on to their bone mass, the herb black cohosh showed no added effects. Among exercisers, those who were randomly assigned to take the supplement each day showed no bone-density advantage after one year.

Black cohosh extracts are marketed as a "natural" form of hormone replacement therapy and most commonly used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Some lab research, but not all, suggests the herb may have estrogen-like activity in the body. (Reuters Health)


Maybe but it's only a small study: Vitamin D helps fend off flu, asthma attacks: study

NEW YORK - In a study of Japanese schoolchildren, vitamin D supplements taken during the winter and early spring helped prevent seasonal flu and asthma attacks.

The idea for the study, study chief Dr. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, told Reuters Health, came from an earlier study looking at whether vitamin D could help prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. The researchers in that study noticed that people taking vitamin D were three times less likely to report cold and flu symptoms.

This led Urashima, of Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, and colleagues to randomly assign a group of 6- to 15-year-old children to take vitamin D3 supplements (1,200 international units daily) or inactive placebo during a cold and flu season.

Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is more readily absorbed by the body and more potent than vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, the form often found in multivitamins. (Reuters Health)


More study needed on vitamin D-ovarian cancer link

NEW YORK - There isn't enough evidence to back or debunk the claim that vitamin D can help reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, despite several recent studies making this claim, the authors of a new review of the scientific literature conclude.

"Based on the current evidence, it is premature to make any definitive claims for or against the role of vitamin D in ovarian cancer," Dr. Dr. Linda S. Cook of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and her colleagues conclude.

Nevertheless, they add, because an association between vitamin D and the disease is "biologically plausible," and there were problems with the studies that they reviewed, "this is an area worthy of further primary research." (Reuters Health)


Another "Really? Where are the bodies?" piece: Britain. A breath of foul air

The UK faces £300m in fines after failing to meet EU pollution targets, but Britons also pay the price with heart disease, asthma and cancer

More than 50,000 people are dying prematurely in the UK every year, and thousands more suffer serious illness because of man-made air pollution, according to a parliamentary report published tomorrow. The UK now faces the threat of £300m in fines after it failed to meet legally binding EU targets to reduce pollution to safe levels. ( The Independent)


Recycled handwringer: Perils of plastics: Risks to human health and the environment

Plastics surround us. A vital manufacturing ingredient for nearly every existing industry, these materials appear in a high percentage of the products we use every day. Although modern life would be hard to imagine without this versatile chemistry, products composed of plastics also have a dark side, due in part to the very characteristics that make them so desirable—their durability and longevity.

Now Rolf Halden, associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University and assistant director of Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute has undertaken a survey of existing scientific literature concerning the hazards of plastics to human health and to the ecosystems we depend on. His findings, which appear in the latest issue of the Annual Review of Public Health, are sobering. (Arizona State University)


Do You Want “Ethics” With That?

The desire that things be “ethical” has developed in the same era as climate change anxiety. Naturally, there is some convergence. Things which promise to lessen ‘environmental impact’ are considered ‘ethical’, and the implication is that things that aren’t clearly labelled ‘ethical’ are therefore ‘unethical’.

This is unusual because “ethical” seems to have replaced the word “good” in the discussion about what is good. This is nonsense for two main reasons. “Ethical” does not mean “good”. Al-Qaida has ethics. The Nazi Party had ethics – It had a very “ethical foreign policy”. Ethics is about determining a moral framework, within which can be established, in any instance, right from wrong, good from bad. So at the same time, those who use the word “ethical” in the place of the word ‘good’ reveal their own lack of confidence in the concept of good, and yet pretend to be the only people to ever think about what is right and what is wrong. Ethics is now what you buy, not what you think. (Climate Resistance)


Absurd headline but does get a bit better: Why everything you've been told about evolution is wrong

What if Darwin's theory of natural selection is inaccurate? What if the way you live now affects the life expectancy of your descendants? Evolutionary thinking is having a revolution... (Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian)

Actually only a slight refinement rather than an overturning of Darwinian Evolution but I guess they have to try to get people to read it somehow.


A Miles-Per-Gallon Rating for Your Home? Get Ready!

PORTLAND, OR, March 5, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The last time you bought a car, especially in the current economy, you probably paid close attention to the fuel efficiency by looking at the mile-per-gallon ratings and comparing similar vehicles. Now home buyers in certain states may soon be able to do the same with homes, and it looks like the trend will go national.

Earth Advantage Institute, a leading nonprofit green building resource that has certified more than 11,000 homes, has played a key role in the conceptualization, promotion, and adoption of the Energy Performance Score (EPS), currently the only residential energy labeling system that enables buyers to directly compare home energy consumption. The tool provides homeowners with both an energy consumption score and an associated carbon emission score. The number is based on in-home measurements and diagnostics data, as well as your utility’s energy source, which are entered into online software for calculation. (Press Release)

Getting sillier by the minute. Where your utility is located or how it generates the electricity you use in your house actually has nothing to do with the energy efficiency of the building -- so many units of energy are so many units of energy, period.

Carbon score? Who cares? Check that, we all should -- we should try to deliver the biosphere a little more carbon dioxide each day since it is actually in short supply and a major ecological resource.

Most everyone could reduce the energy required to heat or cool their homes simply by making the ventilation inadequate but that is a really bad idea.

"Green building" is a scam targeting ecochondriacs, trying to position to become a generally mandated nonsense through gorebull warbling.


Most Federal Actions To Protect Endangered Fishes In California Bay-delta 'scientifically Justified,' But Additional Clarification Needed

WASHINGTON -- Most of the actions proposed by two federal agencies to reduce water diversions in the California Bay-Delta in order to protect endangered and threatened fish species are "scientifically justified," but the basis for the specific environmental triggers that would indicate when water diversions should be reduced is less well-supported by scientific analyses, says a new report from the National Research Council that was requested by Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior. (NAS)


Sheesh! Wildlife havens to be abandoned to the sea

Protected wildlife havens that are home to rare birds, plants and insects, are to be lost to the sea under government plans to abandon coastal flood defences.

It is the quintessential coastal holiday destination, complete with a historic harbour popular with yacht owners and idyllic countryside that offers visitors a glimpse of a more traditional, genteel way of life.

Such is the charm of Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, that Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah took their two sons on a family holiday there and each summer the town attracts thousands of music fans who come to enjoy the Latitude Festival.

But now large areas of the popular beauty spot are to be lost under government plans to abandon the flood defences that have protected the town and its surrounding countryside from the sea for more than 400 years.

The clay embankments that have kept the sea at bay around the Blyth Estuary have been condemned as unsustainable by the Environment Agency because of rising sea levels and will now be left to crumble. (TDT)

Enviros really are a "can't do" hazard to society aren't they? People reclaimed that land without benefit of so much as a steam shovel but relied on literal horse- and man-power and yet the EA claims we cannot maintain it despite modern earthmoving machinery?

Can this really be the land of outstanding engineer/inventor Isambard Kingdom Brunel, son of of equally pioneering engineer/inventor Marc Isambard Brunel? These are men who designed and built great ships, railways, canals and drove tunnels under the Thames in the 18th and 19th Centuries, men of vision, drive and intellect who solved problems in Europe, the Americas and even Australia with technology we would consider quaint and even primitive.

And now the EA insists that despite the advantage of modern machinery we cannot defend clay berms established in the 16th and 17th Centuries by men with spades, wheelbarrows and ox carts?

Makes you ashamed and embarrassed, doesn't it?


Oh... What about protecting existing investments, like the above? Budget 2010: Darling aims to launch green investment bank

The Government will this week commit to its first deliberate direct involvement in state banking since the 1970s when the Chancellor launches a "green investment bank" to channel cash towards environmental projects. (TDT)


One place where "salt reduced" is actually beneficial: Solution to a thirsty world: sea water without the salt

Neil McDougall of Modern Water says taking seawater and making it drinkable could be the answer to a looming shortage (Sunday Times)


Mutated genetic supertrout developed in lab

After ten years of tinkering with DNA in a Rhode Island lab, a top fish boffin claims he has created a genetically enhanced mutant supertrout.

"Our findings are quite stunning," says Professor Terry Bradley, an expert on trout, salmon, flounder and tuna. "The results have significant implications."

Bradley says he has managed to modify the genetic pattern of rainbow trout so that the tasty fish become hugely more muscular and powerful than normal. Apparently the process is similar to that which occurs in a type of "double muscled" blue cow produced in Belgium.

"Belgian blue cattle have a natural mutation in myostatin causing increased muscle mass, and mice overexpressing myostatin exhibit a two-fold increase in skeletal muscle mass. But fish have a very different mechanism of muscle growth than mammals, so we weren't certain it was going to work," says Bradley. (Lewis Page, The Register)


Grasses, Trees, Climate and Food

A submission from The Carbon Sense Coalition to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration in response to their requests for submissions on the “Inquiry into Native Vegetation Laws, Greenhouse Gas Abatement and Climate Change Measures”.

http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/grass-trees-climate-food.pdf [PDF, 653 KB] (Carbon Sense Coalition)



Alarmists should be stunned by these fresh admissions from NASA

[NASA scientist: We don't currently understand cloud feedbacks; we can't separate man-made from natural climate variations]

[NASA's Dr. Dave Young] We know the things that can cause our climate to change. They include changes in the intensity of the sun, and increases in heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. What we want to learn is how the Earth responds to these driving forces, and any other secondary feedback effects that might occur. For example, say the Earth responds to increases in carbon dioxide levels by warming up; a warmer planet causes more water to evaporate and increases the amount of certain types of clouds. Clouds could either accelerate or slow down subsequent global warming. By taking very accurate energy measurements from space over a long period of time, we'll be able to measure these responses and feedbacks on decade-long timescales.

3. CLARREO claims it will produce an "irrefutable climate record." Does that mean it will put an end to climate change controversy?

Producing a trusted and tested climate record is one of our goals.
...The goal is to have a set of highly accurate measurements that can be used to track today's global warming trends and to improve climate models' predictions for the future. We've pretty much shown that you can separate man-made climate change from natural climate variations using the data we expect to collect. You'll see the impact of changes in carbon dioxide, methane and other gases reflected in the changes in the temperatures we measure. By comparing these numbers to the climate models, we'll really understand how that climate change developed.
Climate Change: Dr. Dave Young
Affiliation: NASA Langley Research Center
Education: Bachelor's degree in astrophysics from Michigan State University, U.S.; Master's degree in meteorology from Penn State University, U.S.

(Tom Nelson)


How government cash created the Climategate scandal

Australian climate scientist Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen tells the British parliamentary inquiry into Climategate just how much global warming science is corrupted by politics and money. Excerpts:

I was peer reviewer for IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)… Since 1998 I have been the editor of the journal, Energy & Environment (E&E) published by Multi-science, where I published my first papers on the IPCC. I interpreted the IPCC “consensus” as politically created in order to support energy technology and scientific agendas that in essence pre-existed the “warming-as -man-made catastrophe alarm."…

3.2 Scientific research as advocacy for an agenda (a coalition of interests, not a conspiracy,) was presented to the public and governments as protection of the planet… CRU, working for the UK government and hence the IPCC, was expected to support the hypothesis of man-made, dangerous warming caused by carbon dioxide, a hypothesis it had helped to formulate in the late 1980s…

3.3 ... In persuading policy makers and the public of this danger, the “hockey stick” became a major tool of persuasion, giving CRU a major role in the policy process at the national, EU and international level. This led to the growing politicisation of science in the interest, allegedly, of protecting the “the environment” and the planet. I observed and documented this phenomenon as the UK Government, European Commission, and World Bank increasingly needed the climate threat to justify their anti-carbon (and pro-nuclear) policies. In return climate science was generously funded and required to support rather than to question these policy objectives… Opponents were gradually starved of research opportunities or persuaded into silence. The apparent “scientific consensus” thus generated became a major tool of public persuasion…

4.1 ...  As editor of a journal which remained open to scientists who challenged the orthodoxy, I became the target of a number of CRU manoeuvres. The hacked emails revealed attempts to manipulate peer review to E&E’s disadvantage, and showed that libel threats were considered against its editorial team…

4.4 Most recently CRU alleged that I had interfered “maliciously” with their busy grant-related schedules, by sending an email to the UKCIP (Climate Impact Programme) advising caution in the use of CRU data for regional planning purposes. This was clearly reported to [CRU head Phil] Jones who contacted my Head of Department, suggesting that he needed to reconsider the association of E&E with Hull University. Professor Graham Haughton, while expressing his own disagreement with my views, nevertheless upheld the principle of academic freedom…

4.5 The emails I have read are evidence of a close and protective collaboration between CRU, the Hadley Centre, and several US research bodies such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where former CRU students had found employment. Together they formed an important group inside IPCC Working Group 1, the science group…

The CRU case is not unique. Recent exposures have taken the lid off similar issues in the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, and possibly in Germany and Canada… It is at least arguable that the real culprit is the theme- and project-based research funding system put in place in the 1980s and subsequently strengthened and tightened in the name of “policy relevance”. This system, in making research funding conditional on demonstrating such relevance, has encouraged close ties with central Government bureaucracy. Some university research units have almost become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Government Departments. Their survival, and the livelihoods of their employees, depends on delivering what policy makers think they want. It becomes hazardous to speak truth to power…

Postglacial climatic history is by no means well understood and the human contributions cannot yet be assessed.

(Thanks to reader John. read on for Boehmer-Christiansen’s full submission.)

Icon Arrow Continue reading 'How government cash created the Climategate scandal' (Andrew Bolt)


Temperatures rising: In climate-change discussions, two Princeton professors go against the grain

By Mark F. Bernstein ’83

The issue of climate change, or global warming, has become a rallying cry: The Earth’s surface temperatures are rising due to increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, much of it produced by human activity. Unless action is taken, and soon, global warming could cause crops to fail and sea levels to rise, leading to widespread social disruptions and endangering many species of life on the planet. President Obama, who has renewed the American commitment to combating this problem, declared at the recent United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen: “Climate change threatens us all.”

That’s one thing scientists agree on, right? Well, not everyone. (Princeton Alumni Weekly)


Reconsidering the Dessler/North Op-Ed on Settled Alarm, Climategate-as-Distraction (Part III in a series)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
March 19, 2010

Scientists find themselves fighting science when it comes to the highly unsettled physical basis of climate change. An example of this is the March 7th Houston Chronicle op-ed by two Texas A&M climate scientists (and four colleagues from other universities), “On Global Warming, the Science is Solid.”

I took general exception to their piece in Part I in this series, titled “Andrew Dessler and Gerald North on Climategate, Climate Alarmism, and the State of Texas’s Challenge to the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding.” Chip Knappenberger yesterday took issue with their claim that the Texas Petition was flawed because it “contains very little science.”

This post critically reconsiders the op-ed, which argued, in effect, that the science behind climate alarmism is settled and that Climategate is a distraction from the core issues. Just the opposite may well be true.

Some Background

Evidently, Dr. Dessler wrote this op-ed and got sign-on from other Texas scientists to make it a ‘consensus’ statement. Here is how the Houston Chronicle attributed it:

This article was submitted by Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; Katharine Hayhoe, research associate professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas Tech University; Charles Jackson, research scientist, Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin; Gerald North, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; André Droxler, professor of earth science and director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society, Rice University; and Rong Fu, professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin. 

I refer to the piece as Dessler/North because the activist-oriented Dr. Dessler is the leader, and the most distinguished climate scientist of the six named authors is Dr. North.

Criticism of Dessler/North (et al.) Piece

A critique follows with the exact language of the (entire) op-ed in quotation and black and my comments in blue for ease of reading. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Climate change: both sides dig in

Where the climate change debate is concerned, the temptation to use military metaphors is sometimes irresistible. Until recently, the vastly superior forces of the IPCC and its allies in the scientific establishment have prevailed against the guerrilla warfare of the sceptics, who have sometimes done localised damage but never threatened the monolith. However, as a series of weaknesses in their campaign have become increasingly public, those who are currently in the scientific mainstream are being forced to conduct a more vigorous defence of their position. But the various groups of dissenting and sceptical irregulars, though they have gained ground, are far from having won the war. Both camps are now digging in for the long haul. Whether there will ever be a decisive victory for one side or the other is doubtful, but for now the battlefield is at least more even. (Scientific Alliance)


Union of Concerned Scientists Declaration: Rebuttal By Ed Berry

By Edwin X Berry, PhD
Atmospheric Physicist

Also to appear on Climate Depot

Will the 2000 signers of the UCS declaration appear to defend their statement at the International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago on May 16-18?

Some 2000 scientists signed the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) declaration calling for “swift and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Yet, these same scientists have yet to prove there is any danger whatsoever from human emissions of carbon dioxide. Worse, they ignore the direct challenge to them by thousands of climate scientists, most recently in the “Open Letter to UN Secretary-General” of December 8, 2009, which states as follows:

“We the undersigned, being qualified in climate-related scientific disciplines, challenge the UNFCCC and supporters of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to produce convincing OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE for their claims of dangerous human-caused global warming and other changes in climate. Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation. (Stand Up America)


End-phase of the Climate Wars?

by Barry Brill
March 22, 2010

History may see the interview of CRU’s Professor Phil Jones by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin on 12 February 2010 as the opening of the end-phase of the long-running “alarmists versus sceptics” debate.

The gap between these two schools has never yawned as widely as media reports often suggest. Both agree that climate is always changing, that we have recently been in a warming period (with tiny temperature changes), that “greenhouse theory” has some validity, and that human activities are capable of impacting climate. The core dispute lies in the detection and attribution of ‘anthropogenic global warming’ (AGW), and is brought out in the following exchange:

HarrabinHow confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

Jones - I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity. 

Sceptics say any human causation was trivial. This dispute was addressed directly:

Harrabin - what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?
- The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.

“The warming from the 1950s” didn’t actually commence until 1975, and the 1975-2009 warming is identified by Professor Jones as a trend-rate of temperature increase of 0.161C per decade.

This decadal figure is significant, but only just. In the second interview question, Jones says a trend of “0.12C per decade is not significant at the 95% significance level”.

The world has been experiencing a long-term gentle warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. Professor Jones has said elsewhere that this natural variability has averaged 0.11C per decade. So, the “extraordinary” recent warming that calls for explanation is the balance of 0.051C per decade.

This is the smoking gun. It is the sole evidence that a measurable but unexplained increase in global temperatures has coincided with the post-1950 increase in human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Jones says that this correlation is evidence of causation, because the IPCC has no other explanation. (Quadrant)


Is the EPA poised to destroy Earth’s habitats?

The Environmental Protection Agency is on a course that will damage the environment, not protect it. Just observe EPA’s willingness to do so while spouting false statements to make its case on regulating greenhouse gases.

EPA’s Secretary Lisa Jackson says that if the House and Senate will not pass a cap-and-trade bill, then the agency will move forward to enact ways to reduce greenhouse gases, including CO2.

Unfortunately, she is still clinging to the “science is settled” statement that is now widely known to be false. There are tens of thousands of scientists who have signed a petition belittling the catastrophic global warming forecasts. Even Phil Jones, former Director of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University which has been the gold standard of global temperatures, has now publically admitted that the science is not settled. What does Secretary Jackson know that Phil Jones, a 34-year veteran of climate research, does not know? What about EPA climate scientist Alan Carlin who notified the agency he could not find the science to back up the EPA’s claims on man-made global warming?

Secretary Jackson’s pronouncements are not factual, but are purely political and will give the current administration a hefty stream of tax dollars. Those dollars will come out of your pocket if you use electricity, transportation or food. (H. Leighton Steward, Daily Caller)


US states sue EPA to stop greenhouse gas rules

WASHINGTON, March 19 - At least 15 U.S. states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to stop it from issuing rules controlling greenhouse gas emissions until it reexamines whether the pollution harms human health.

Florida, Indiana, South Carolina and at least nine other states filed the petitions in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, states said.

They joined petitions filed last month by Virginia, Texas and Alabama.

The Obama administration has long said it would attack greenhouse gas emissions with EPA regulation if Congress failed to pass a climate bill. (Reuters)


Once upon a climate

by John Izzard
March 22, 2010

Jack and Jill and a bucket of weather 

It is rather sad, and pathetic, that we have to go to the British press to find robust investigative reporting about the theory of man-made global warming. Apart from this country’s national newspaper, The Australian, you could almost believe that the mantra that “the science is settled”, is true. If you follow the line of the ABC and much of the mainstream press, to question the science of climate-change is to be un-Australian and un-Earth. Well, the science isn’t settled — not by a long shot — and the battle continues. 

Having been mugged at Copenhagen, embarrassed out of their wits by the scandal that was Himalaya-glacier-Gate, and facing a planet that doesn’t seem to want to respond to the dire predictions of the most learned­ — the lads and lasses at the IPCC have been desperate in their attempts to block the rising tide of public sceptisism. So we have waited, with our breath bated, for a indication as to how they will deal with a growing, non-believing public. 

Apart from the “science is settled” spin, which is code for “don’t question us”, the other side of the debate has been the “Outrageous-Claims Department”. This is where the dedicated followers of climate let pass for science any outrageous claim made by any of their front-line “experts”. Al Gore, Tim Flannery, James Hansen, Penny Wong, Kevin Rudd and Dr Pachauri. What do you do when scientists and political leaders blindly allow false claims to go uncorrected. When they must know that there isn’t a “new” change-in-climate because the climate has always changed. It’s what climate does. Sea-levels have always risen or dropped, ice-caps have always built up or shrunk, river systems have always developed, and in certain periods in history, just simply disappeared. 

Living things on planet Earth have done what the have always done as climate changes naturally— adapted. (Quadrant)


Devastating non-trends in US Climate

From Warren Meyer, who was discussing the recent announcement from the White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.

If one wonders why the climate alarmist movement is suffering from a credibility problem, one only needs to read some of the claims:

Climate change is already having “pervasive, wide-ranging” effects on “nearly every aspect of our society,” a task force representing more than 20 federal agencies reported Tuesday.

Here are some of the devastating non-trends in US Climate:

Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


The BOM & CSIRO report–it’s what they don’t say that matters

Ken Stewart has scanned the trend maps at BOM (Bureau of Meteorology), and his point is spot on. As soon as I saw the neat joint 6 page advertising pamphlet for the climate-theory-that’s-backed-by-bankers, I wondered what happened to the first 60 years of last century, and Ken found it. Did the BOM forget they have hundreds of data points from back then? Did they forget to use their own website, where you can pick-a-trend, any-trend, and choose the one with err…more convenient results? Or is the case that their collective mission is not necessarily to provide Australians with the most complete and appropriate information available, but to provide them with what the bureaucracy needs them to know? (And what they need to know apparently is the carefully censored version of the truth that will keep government ministers happy–let me tax them more; keep department heads smiling–let the climate cash cow continue, and last but not least, help staff “feel good”–I’m sure I’m helping the environment?)

Why censor half their own data?

The trendmap page works exquisitely well (I am happy to praise the BOM web-site team). Compare these two trend maps.

Australian Rainfall Trends 1960-2009

Australian Rainfall Trends 1960-2009

The brown bits are the parts that used to get lots more rain in the 1960’s. The Dark Green bits are areas which are quite a lot wetter at the moment, than what they used to be. But if we go back past 1960, back to when records started to come together, the trends are decidedly less scary, and all in all, you’d think Australia might be getting a bit more rain than it was a century ago (and you’d be right) More » (Jo Nova)


More ex-post "adjustments" to Satellite Sea-Level Altimetry

From a 2002 publication showing the Topex/Posiedon satellite altimetry sea level data for the eight years from 9/92-9/00, the global map shows stable to declining sea levels in most areas with the exception of the western Pacific, which is strongly influenced by periodic ENSO/El Nino/La Nina conditions.

The accompanying data below shows declining sea levels throughout most of the Pacific Ocean. The mean of the sea level changes (first number in each column) for each of the bands of the 3 major oceans shows a mean global sea level decrease of .4 mm/year. Yes, the bands for the 3 oceans are not the same size, but since the largest bands by far are in the Pacific Ocean and show the largest declines, the mean for the 3 oceans by area would therefore show an even greater decrease in mean sea level over the 8 year period. This is despite the fact that this period was also marked by the largest El Nino in the 20th century, which resulted in a large increase in the global mean.

But that's not what the TOPEX/POSEIDON data show today, as somehow a global decrease in mean sea level evolved into a global increase of 3.1 mm/yr. This appears to be further confirmation of Dr. Nils Axel Morner's claim that the TOPEX satellite data was ex-post adjusted upward many years after the fact to show a false positive trend.  The data was further adjusted upward between 2005 and 2010 (almost 20 years after the start of the satellite record). (HockeySchtick)


An Example Of Why A Global Average Temperature Anomaly Is Not An Effective Metric Of Climate

Roy Spencer and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville have reported in their Global Temperature Report that February 2010 was the 2nd warmest February in 32 years (e.g. see Roy’s summary). [UPDATE: Thanks to Phillip Gentry for providing this figure!]

Their spatial map of the anomalies, however, shows that most of the relative warmth was in a focused geographic area; see

The global average is  based on the summation of large areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies.

As I have reported before on my weblog; e.g. see

What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures?,

it is the regional tropospheric temperature anomalies that determine the locations of development and movement of weather systems [which are the actual determinants of such climate events as drought, floods, ect] not a global average temperature anomaly. (Climate Science)


The Sun is Undergoing a State Change


Each morning, I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. For the past several years I was normally greeted with the message "The sun is blank - no sunspots." We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, Solar Cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because there are “Danger Signposts” ahead!

Sunspots are dark spots that appear on the surface of the sun. They are the location of intense magnetic activity and they are the sites of very violent explosions that produce solar storms.

The sun goes through a cycle lasting approximately 11 years. It starts at a solar minimum when there are very few sunspots and builds to a solar maximum when hundreds of sunspots are present on the surface of the sun and then returns back to a solar quiet minimum. This cycle is called a solar cycle. We are currently in a solar minimum leading up to Solar Cycle 24, so named because it is the 24th consecutive cycle that astronomers have observed and listed. The first cycle began in March 1755. (James A. Marusek, Paradigms and Demographics)


WWF hopes to find $60 billion growing on trees

The carbon credits scheme would make WWF and its partners much richer, but with no lowering of overall CO2 emissions, writes Christopher Booker.

And see Amazongate II - Seeing REDD (EU Referendum)


Gas pain needed to meet emission targets, Harvard study says

by Marlo Lewis
March 19, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

A new Harvard University study (Analysis of Policies to Reduce Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector) offers a sobering assessment of what it will take to meet the emission reduction targets proposed by President Obama and the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.

Saruman’s rebuke to Gandalf — “You have elected the way of pain!” – nicely captures the key policy implication of this study (although the researchers, of course, do not put it that way). (Open Market)


Partly right: $100bn needed to keep power on, government warns

THE Rudd government has warned of brown-outs and national power shortages akin to the water crisis if $100 billion is not spent on generators in the next 10 years, guaranteeing steep rises in electricity bills.

Power price rises have also been linked to the cost of connecting renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, to the national electricity grid and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said at the weekend that the investment required to avoid power rationing and increase renewable energy "can only be paid for with higher electricity prices".

"It is high time we started telling the truth about electricity prices," he told a meeting of business people in Queensland on Saturday.

"We simply cannot maintain supply reliability for households and businesses if we don't invest in electricity supply infrastructure. That investment can only be paid for with higher electricity prices.

"Australia now needs to invest at least $100bn in electricity infrastructure over the next decade just to meet growing demand and replace ageing infrastructure. And the community also expects us to invest in climate change energy efficiency measures, renewables and other clean energy technologies." ( The Australian)

Australians do expect power demand to be met but they don't worry about climate or other absurd scare campaigns. Working families are beginning to learn how much their energy is going to be taxed under the pretext of gorebull warming and they are beginning to punish governments at the polls because of it. Aussies want power on demand, always and it had better be cheap.


Howlin’ Wolf: Paul Ehrlich on Energy (Part II: Failed Predictions)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
March 20, 2010

[Editor's note: Part I in this five-part series examined Dr. Ehrlich's views on Julian Simon, growing energy usage, and depletion.]

The Ehrlichs’ angst about the energy future was rife with forecasts that have been proven false–and embarrassingly so. As mentioned in Part I, the Ehrlichs’ protégé John Holdren has made similar radical pronouncements and wild exaggerations (see here and here) and even joined Stephen Schneider and other climate scientists in the global cooling scare.

Running Out of Oil

Writing in 1974, the Ehrlichs predicted that “we can be reasonably sure . . . that within the next quarter of a century mankind will be looking elsewhere than in oil wells for its main source of energy.” [1] Consequently, “we can also be reasonably sure that the search for alternatives will be a frantic one.” [2] He predicted that proved world oil reserves were no more than 35 years of supply at current demand levels. [3] 

“The energy mini-crisis [of the 1970s],” the Ehrlichs confidently concluded, “illuminated once and for all the hopeless incompetence of our political leaders and our institutions when it comes to coping with fundamental change.” [4] More generally, the Ehrlichs predicted that “America’s economic joyride is coming to an end: there will be no more cheap, abundant energy, no more cheap abundant food.” [5] Thus, “continuing to increase our dependence on petroleum consumption is clearly a suicidal course of action.” [6] [Read more →] (MasterResource)


The cold wind doth blow

And so it comes to pass that The Sunday Times is picking up that which anti-wind campaigners have been pointing out since the dawn of time – that "some treasured landscapes may have been blighted for only small gains in green energy."

However, so often does the media publish the entirely meaningless capacity figure for new wind developments that it is a real change to have Jonathan Leake write that an analyses of data released by Ofgem "reveals that more than 20 wind farms produce less than a fifth of their potential maximum power output."

One site, at Blyth Harbour in Northumberland (pictured), is thought to be the worst in Britain, operating at just 7.9 percent of its maximum capacity. Another at Chelker reservoir in North Yorkshire operates at only 8.7 percent of capacity. Both are relatively small and old, but larger and newer sites fared badly, too.

Siddick wind farm in Cumbria, now operated by Eon, achieved only 15.8 percent of capacity. The two turbines at High Volts 2, Co Durham, the largest and most powerful wind farm in Britain when it was commissioned in 2004, achieved 18.7 percent. Thus does Leake write that the best achieve only about 50 percent efficiency and the norm is 25-30 percent.

Such is common knowledge so we hardly needed Michael Jefferson, professor of international business and sustainability at London Metropolitan Business School, to tell us that the subsidy encourages the construction of wind farms. "Too many developments are underperforming," he says. "It's because developers grossly exaggerate the potential. The subsidies make it viable for developers to put turbines on sites they would not touch if the money was not available."

Nevertheless, the story is picked up by The Daily Mail (online) and it also provokes a splendid leader in The Sunday Times, which declares: "Too much wind and not enough puff". And, after a reference to onshore wind as "disappointing", we are told that "solar power is likely to be even more so, especially in Britain."

Helpfully, the paper then tells us that this kind of problem arises when renewable targets are set from on high, in this case from the European Union: "It wants 20 percent of energy across Europe to be generated from renewable sources by 2020," a situation which is described as "folly of the highest order", if the only way it can be done is inefficiently and expensively and at the cost of damaging our environment. Far better, says the paper, "to push on with technologies we know can deliver, such as nuclear and clean coal."

The answer, sadly, it concludes, "is not blowing in the wind."

Even sadder, perhaps, is that this is not entirely an EU issue. Agreeing to the target in the mad days of the end of his premiership was Tony Blair, caught up in the collective hysteria of the European Council of March 2007, when the colleagues were outbidding each other to ramp up the targets to the absurd levels at which they currently stand.

And, as The Guardian informed us at the time, these targets were so unrealistic as to be unreachable. Thus does the cold wind blow, not the wind that will give us power via these useless bird choppers, but the cold wind of reality, as it gradually dawns on a wider constituency that they've been had.

That, of course, doesn't stop the likes of Dr Sue Armstrong-Brown, of the RSPB, defending her dire organisation against Booker's attack last week.

She tells us in a letter today that "as a charity concerned with the future fortunes of wildlife, we can't hide from the fact that climate change is the single biggest threat biodiversity faces. Renewable energy, such as that provided by wind, must play a part in the nation's future energy mix, as must tidal and solar energies."

The only joy to be got out of that bit of self-serving stupidity is the news that RWE is considering turning the wind farm at Haverigg in Cumbria into a site for a nuclear power station, requiring the demolition of the bird choppers. Where the RSPB fails, nuclear leads the way.

Needless to say though, Sky News describes this site as "efficient", even though it averages a load factor of a mere 35 percent. That just goes to show how far that cold wind of reality must blow before it reaches the sterile brains of the broadcast media. (EU Referendum)



Buying Votes With Water

The water spigots are back on, at least temporarily, in California's Central Valley. Turned off to protect a tiny fish, they happen to be in the districts of two congressmen "undecided" on health care reform.

One could chalk it up to good fortune or just good constituent service. But in the middle of a contentious health care debate marked by Cornhusker Kickbacks and Louisiana Purchases, we may be forgiven if we find an announcement by the Department of the Interior regarding California's water supply a tad too coincidental. (IBD)


This tax on fizzy drinks stinks

Whether it is cigarettes, booze or soda, it’s not the place of the taxman to dissuade us from our enjoyable bad habits.

They are nutritionally valueless, apparently. They rot your teeth. They make you fat. They may cause diabetes, heart disease and even pancreatic cancer. So who could possibly object to taxing fizzy drinks? I could. The idea may be gaining fans on both sides of the Atlantic, but the last thing we need is the taxman deciding what we eat and drink. (Rob Lyons, spiked)


Supplement may slow overweight kids' fat gain

NEW YORK - Supplements containing the dietary fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help overweight kids curb the amount of fat they gain over time, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that overweight and obese children who took the CLA supplement for seven months showed less fat accumulation than a comparison group of children given a placebo.

However, children on the supplement also showed a dip in their blood levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and a lesser gain in bone mass over time.

The findings suggest that while CLA might help slow body fat gain, its overall safety and effectiveness for children needs to be studied further, the researchers note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

CLA is an unsaturated fatty acid found in beef, lamb and dairy products; the CLA in supplements is generally derived from vegetable oils that are rich in linoleic acids.

Animal research has found that CLA can help melt away body fat, and some studies have suggested the same may hold true in humans. One recent study, for example, found that obese women with diabetes shed a couple pounds of body fat, on average, after taking CLA for four months.

Lab research on the fatty acid has suggested that it may be particularly effective at preventing fat accumulation in young animals. But the effects on overweight children have been largely unknown. (Reuters Health)


Can't make up their minds? Taking blood pressure pills cuts risk of dying

NEW YORK - People with high blood pressure who want to reduce their risk of having a stroke or dying prematurely should get their prescriptions filled and see their doctor regularly.

In a large study of Medicaid patients, researchers found that the more closely a person adhered to his or her doctor's recommendations for filling their blood pressure medication prescription, the lower his or her risk of stroke and death.

Taking just one more pill as recommended each week (from a one-a-day regimen) cut stroke risk by 9 percent and death risk by 7 percent, Dr. James E. Bailey of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and colleagues report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

They looked at the medical records of about 49,000 Tennessee Medicaid patients for 1994 to 2000 to determine if blood pressure medication refill adherence or frequency of physician visits influenced risk of stroke or death. The researchers also investigated whether the type of blood pressure-lowering drugs a patient took was associated with stroke or risk of dying.

Patients were taking two different types of blood pressure drug on average, although some were taking as many as six. Sixty percent of the patients filled their prescriptions less than 80 percent of the time, and were classified as non-adherent to their medication.

During follow-up, which ranged from 3 to 7 years, 619 study participants had a stroke and 2,051 died.

Patients who were non-adherent were a half-percent more likely to die over a five-year period compared to adherent patients. Blood pressure drugs known as thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers all cut death risk by 3 to 4 percent, while thiazide diuretics also cut stroke risk. (Reuters Health)


If this pans out it really will be a breakthrough: New attack on cancer forces cells to grow old & die

CHICAGO - Instead of killing off cancer cells with toxic drugs, scientists have discovered a molecular pathway that forces them to grow old and die, they said on Wednesday.

Cancer cells spread and grow because they can divide indefinitely, without going through the normal aging process known as senescence.

But a study in mice showed that blocking a gene in this pathway called Skp2 triggered the aging process, causing cancer cells to stop dividing and halting tumor growth.

The finding may offer a new strategy for fighting cancer, Pier Paolo Pandolfi of Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues reported in the journal Nature. (Reuters)


Drug-resistant TB killed 150,000 in 2008

WASHINGTON - Multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis killed 150,000 people in 2008 and infects between 400,000 and 500,000 people globally, according to World Health Organization estimates released on Thursday.

WHO said the numbers suggest the hard-to-treat infection is spreading and said there is an urgent need for countries to set up labs to fight it.

So-called MDR-TB is especially common in Russia, Tajikistan, China and India, WHO said in a report. It said an especially hard-to-treat form called extensively drug resistant TB or XDR-TB is also growing.

"Almost 50 percent of MDR-TB cases worldwide are estimated to occur in China and India. In 2008, MDR-TB caused an estimated 150,000 deaths," the WHO report said.

The report uses new methods and new surveillance data from countries around the world, so the figures cannot be compared to older surveys of MDR-TB. But WHO said the findings are startling and show a need to find infected patients and treat them promptly. (Reuters)


Tests for genes don't predict breast cancer better

BOSTON - Studying genes linked to breast cancer may someday lead to better treatments, but they do little to improve a doctor's ability to predict who is likely to develop a tumor, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Their study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that testing for 10 errant bits of genetic code linked to breast cancer was no better for screening than asking old-fashioned questions involving a woman's conventional risk factors. These include family history, age of fertility and age when a first child was born.

Only when these questions were combined with genetic testing did the ability to predict a tumor improve. "It was not enough improvement to matter for the great majority of women," team leader Sholom Wacholder of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, said in a statement. (Reuters)


Anti-malaria funding must be tripled - campaigners

PARIS - Funding to combat malaria must be more than tripled if the mosquito-borne disease which kills nearly a million people a year is to be fought effectively, health campaigners said on Thursday.

Presenting a report covering the past decade, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership said a jump in financing had helped to contain the disease but more needed to be done.

"In all the countries where there is sufficient financing, we are reaching our goals," said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, executive director of the partnership, which is backed by the World Health Organisation.

Total annual global funding was about $2 billion at the end of 2009, far short of the estimated $6 billion required annually to expand the campaign, the partnership said. (Reuters)

Interior spraying with DDT is both cheaper and more effective and it should be far more widely deployed.


Honest Food Labels

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has said one of her priorities is to improve the information on food package labels. Her new crackdown on dishonest nutritional claims by food manufacturers is a welcome sign that she means business.

Earlier this month, the agency made public 17 letters it had sent to food companies, accusing them of inflating nutritional claims or masking undesirable ingredients. Several products, including Gorton’s Fish Fillets and Dreyer’s bite-size Dibs ice cream snacks, were cited for labels boasting that they contained no trans fat, even though they had high levels of saturated fat. POM pomegranate juice was cited for misleading claims on the company’s Web site, which is listed on juice bottles, that said the juice could prevent or cure disease like hypertension, diabetes and cancer. (NYT)

Honest labeling is good but methinks they are too excited about how much notice consumers take of labels. Fats, trans, saturated or otherwise are really a synthetic "problem" and basically irrelevant as consumer information (they wouldn't get a mention if activists hadn't stampeded politicians searching for an "issue" into banning them). True, the pomegranate claims are garbage but most consumers can recognize snake oil sales pitches guaranteed to "cure coughs, colds and pimples on the belly -- removes stains, too!".

Worthy of a broadsheet editorial? Meh...


Global Warming: We’ve Passed The Rubicon (For Now)


For only the second time in more than two decades and the second straight year, Americans are more likely to say economic growth should take precedence over environmental protection when the two objectives conflict (53%) than to say the reverse (38%).

Our thoughts: this figure has been greatly affected by the highly embarrassing ClimateGate (and all its aftershocks) and the downturn in the economy. It’s fairly likely that a return to focus on “environmental protection” will occur when wallets are fat again, though it’s not clear whether that will include a return to caring about Global Warming or whether there will be a new cause celebre. (The Chilling Effect)


Households face fines for not recycling 'almost everything they throw'

Householders could be forced to recycle virtually everything they throw away or face fines under new government proposals to cut landfill.

Under the plans, paper and card, food, garden waste and plastics would have to recycled, composted or burned for energy.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals will be announced by Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, on Thursday.

Traditional black bins would be scrapped and replaced with a number of recycling containers including slop buckets for food.

Residents who persistently flout the rules by not sorting rubbish properly or refusing to recycle could be hit with penalties of hundreds of pounds. (TDT)


The "Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability"? Oh boy...  China and India: Neighbors need to collaborate for sake of global environment

EAST LANSING, Mich. --- With large and growing economies and populations, China and India will strongly influence the quality of the global environment for years to come. While their political relationship is strained, it's critical the two countries work together to slow global warming, deforestation, water shortages and other environmental issues, says a Michigan State University scientist and colleagues. (Michigan State University)


World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction

Their sheer size and strength have made them among the most celebrated of endangered species, yet they have all been betrayed — by vested interests at a UN meeting on wildlife protection.

Proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar. (The Times)

If any of these species are genuinely at risk of extinction (highly doubtful) then activists have only themselves to blame for this failure. They've been crying wolf for 50 years, so why should anyone listen now?


'So there you are!' Britain's rarest wildflower returns from the dead after 23 years

It is the most mysterious wildflower in Britain, the strangest, the rarest, the hardest to see, and it was given up for lost. But like a wandering phantom, the ghost orchid has reappeared.

After an absence of 23 years, during which it was declared extinct, this pale, diminutive flower, the most enigmatic of all Britain's wild plants, rematerialised last autumn in an oak wood in Herefordshire. (The Independent)



As Senate Trio Advances Climate Measure, Energy-Only Bill Remains a Possibility

Under pressure to quickly produce a bill, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) yesterday shared an eight-page outline of their draft plan in a closed-door meeting with major industry groups.

That's openness, transparency and democracy for you....

The senators also hope to send their proposal to EPA and the Congressional Budget Office by the end of next week for a five-to six-week analysis, although the timing on that depends in part on two legislative counsel staffers who are out on maternity leave.

and that's labor laws for you....



The Texas Petition against the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding: A User’s Guide (Part II in a series)

by Chip Knappenberger
March 18, 2010

“Texas’ challenge to the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide contains very little science….”

- Andrew Dessler, Gerald North, et al….., “On Global Warming, the Science Is Solid,” Houston Chronicle, March 7, 2010. [Also see yesterday's Part I post on Dessler/North.]

Last month, the State of Texas filed a petition for reconsideration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (summary here) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Petition lays out why the EPA’s reliance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide an assessment of climate change science was a very bad idea.

After documenting flaws in the scientific literature, flaws in scientific behavior, flaws in the IPCC process, and flaws in the IPCC’s conclusions, Texas asks the EPA to re-examine its conclusions regarding climate change and its potential impacts on human health and welfare, and this time, not to rest its conclusions on the biased opinion of the IPCC.

In other words, Texas asks the EPA to do the work themselves—something they are mandated to do anyway.

The complete Texas Petition is available here in a single pdf file. But for easier navigation, we have broken the full Petition up into its individual sections, and linked them into the Table of Contents page, which is reproduced below.

Hopefully, this will enable you to read through it in a more directed fashion so that you can go straight to which ever section you may be most interested in and see how Texas lays out its case for Reconsideration. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


The LA Times Refuses To Report Honestly on Costs of Climate Law

by William Yeatman
18 March 2010 @ 11:29 am

Why can’t the LA Times be fair about the costs of AB 32, California’s global warming law?

Last week, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that the “net jobs impact” of AB 32 is “likely to be negative.” No surprises there-AB 32 is designed to raise the price of energy, and expensive energy hinders economic growth.

The LA Times, however, was unconvinced. The editorial board juxtaposed the LAO analysis with a report from the California Air Resources Board asserting that AB 32 would create 120,000 jobs. The LA Times asked, “Which is right?”

As if the answer is in doubt!

There’s a more important question: Why is the LA Times citing a discredited report? CARB’s rosy economic analysis of AB 32 was eviscerated by…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)


Questions Swirl Around U.N.'s Climate Auditors

A little-known group called the InterAcademy Council has been made the voice of authority on the credibility of climate change, leaving critics scratching their heads -- and some key questions unanswered. (Gene J. Koprowski, FOXNews.com)


Pushing to protect their media monopoly: ABC should be praised for fair reports on climate change

An open letter to Mr Maurice Newman, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Scientists are fairly measured in their public statements. Years of training instils a care with words, and avoidance of value judgements. Well, sod that, I'm angry.

What has me fuming is your speech last week to ABC staff in which you accuse your senior journalists of "group-think" in favouring the scientific consensus on climate change. You refer to "a growing number of distinguished scientists [that are] challenging the conventional wisdom with alternative theories and peer reviewed research" and you claim that these poor folk are being suppressed in the mainstream media.

Who are these distinguished scientists? I don't know of a single credible climate scientist who doubts human-induced climate change. (SMH)

Quite a rant from Michael Ashley.

Pity he neglects to mention skeptics don't need an alternate theory, or that we have no evidence of unusual warming.

Parenthetically, this exposes the absurdity of both the "we don't know of anything else that could be responsible, so it must be people's CO2 emissions" and the "skeptics must produce a viable alternative hypothesis" because, as far as we can tell, the bulk of allegedly alarming warming trends appear to be artifacts of measurement and statistics as opposed physical reality.

Furthermore, evidence indicates repeated episodes of equivalent or greater warmth since the last great ice age, which rather lets the air out of claims of unprecedented warmth and/or unique causation.

Be that as it may it is always the responsibility of proponents to defend their own hypothesis and of everyone else to attempt to invalidate it.

So, open letter to Michael Ashley: What is the precise expected mean surface temperature of planet Earth? (he can't tell us because no one can -- we lack sufficient knowledge about and precision measurement of Earth's albedo during various cycle phases and solar conditions) and what is Earth's absolute mean surface temperature? (something else we don't know or even have an agreed definition of).


Begley the believer: Their Own Worst Enemies: Why scientists are losing the PR wars.

It's a safe bet that the millions of Americans who have recently changed their minds about global warming—deciding it isn't happening, or isn't due to human activities such as burning coal and oil, or isn't a serious threat—didn't just spend an intense few days poring over climate-change studies and decide, holy cow, the discretization of continuous equations in general circulation models is completely wrong! Instead, the backlash (an 18-point rise since 2006 in the percentage who say the risk of climate change is exaggerated, Gallup found this month) has been stoked by scientists' abysmal communication skills, plus some peculiarly American attitudes, both brought into play now by how critics have spun the "Climategate" e-mails to make it seem as if scientists have pulled a fast one. (Sharon Begley, Newsweek)

Actually Sharon, people are finally beginning to question the dogma because a few in the media (mainly across the Atlantic) actually dared to mention the fraud exposed in the climategate leaks. The pontifications of the idolized IPCC have at last been examined and found wanting. It's as simple as that.


Mistake or mistakes?

Little Rajendra can't even make up his mind whether the IPCC has made "mistakes" (plural) or a "mistake" (singular). And this is the man whom the BBC and others cast as the world's leading "climate scientist".

Hillariously, Sharon Begley of Newsweek then offers us a piece headed, "Their Own Worst Enemies", with the strap: "Why scientists are losing the PR wars."

I say "hillariously" because la Begley goes on to cite, with evident agreement, a certain Randy Olson, who tells us: "Scientists think of themselves as guardians of truth ... Once they have spewed it out, they feel the burden is on the audience to understand it" and agree.

Clearly, that is the driving assumption behind erstwhile railway engineers and self-proclaimed "climate scientist" Rajendra Pachauri. La Begley might care to reconsider her thesis that climate scientists have problems because they are poor communicators and because have failed to master "truthiness".

Another, possibly more plausible explanation is that many of the lead figures – like Pachauri – are pathological liars and they have been caught out.

But what is also a massive turn-off is the airy arrogance of so many of the warmists, such as Chris Smith, chairman of the UK's Environment Agency. He tells us, in what is obviously an agreed line, often repeated, that "we cannot allow a few errors to undermine the overwhelming strength of evidence that has been painstakingly accumulated, peer-reviewed, tested and tested again."

Yet, almost in the same breath he tells us, "We need to take the argument back to the sceptics, and make the powerful, convincing and necessary case about climate change much clearer to everyone." Compare the two statements and what is on offer is neither powerful nor convincing.

And that is their problem ... and they don't have the first idea of how to fix it. (EU Referendum)


The Economist in advocacy mode: The clouds of unknowing

There are lots of uncertainties in climate science. But that does not mean it is fundamentally wrong

FOR anyone who thinks that climate science must be unimpeachable to be useful, the past few months have been a depressing time. A large stash of e-mails from and to investigators at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia provided more than enough evidence for concern about the way some climate science is done. That the picture they painted, when seen in the round—or as much of the round as the incomplete selection available allows—was not as alarming as the most damning quotes taken out of context is little comfort. They offered plenty of grounds for both shame and blame.

At about the same time, glaciologists pointed out that a statement concerning Himalayan glaciers in the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was wrong. This led to the discovery of other poorly worded or poorly sourced claims made by the IPCC, which seeks to create a scientific consensus for the world’s politicians, and to more general worries about the panel’s partiality, transparency and leadership. Taken together, and buttressed by previous criticisms, these two revelations have raised levels of scepticism about the consensus on climate change to new heights.

Increased antsiness about action on climate change can also be traced to the recession, the unedifying spectacle of last December’s climate-change summit in Copenhagen, the political realities of the American Senate and an abnormally cold winter in much of the northern hemisphere. The new doubts about the science, though, are clearly also a part of that story. Should they be? (The Economist)

They are making quite a push, see items following:


Spin, science and climate change

Action on climate is justified, not because the science is certain, but precisely because it is not

CLIMATE-change legislation, dormant for six months, is showing signs of life again in Washington, DC. This week senators and industrial groups have been discussing a compromise bill to introduce mandatory controls on carbon (see article). Yet although green activists around the world have been waiting for 20 years for American action, nobody is cheering. Even if discussion ever turns into legislation, it will be a pale shadow of what was once hoped for.

The mess at Copenhagen is one reason. So much effort went into the event, with so little result. The recession is another. However much bosses may care about the planet, they usually mind more about their bottom line, and when times are hard they are unwilling to incur new costs. The bilious argument over American health care has not helped: this is not a good time for any bill that needs bipartisan support. Even the northern hemisphere’s cold winter has hurt. When two feet of snow lies on the ground, the threat from warming seems far off. But climate science is also responsible. A series of controversies over the past year have provided heavy ammunition to those who doubt the seriousness of the problem.

Three questions arise from this. How bad is the science? Should policy be changed? And what can be done to ensure such confusion does not happen again? Behind all three lies a common story. The problem lies not with the science itself, but with the way the science has been used by politicians to imply certainty when, as often with science, no certainty exists. (The Economist)

Admit the uncertainty: we have no way of knowing whether earth is warmer or cooler than should be anticipated. There is an excellent chance the planet is merely rebounding from the Little Ice Age.


Conflicted: Brian Hoskins on climate change (The Economist)

So, the science is not in doubt but climate models are lousy?

Actually, as process models (which is what they really are) climate models are developing nicely, we learn much from them about what is happening in observed phenomena. As prognostic tools, however, they are worse than useless and anyone attempting to use them for such purpose should be firmly beaten about the head until they come to their senses.

Hoskins's attempt at defending the science rings somewhat hollow given that we do not know earth's expected or current mean temperature with sufficient precision to know whether it is warmer or cooler than should be anticipated, which means all this fuss may be over a perfectly natural recovery from the Little Ice Age (no one knows whether increasing levels of the trace gas carbon dioxide has any effect on global mean temperature at all).

Remember that the 16 most trusted and developed climate models can't agree better than about a 5 °C range for earth's unforced ("natural") mean surface temperature. See the results from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project control series here. Over the 80-year simulation one-third of the models never suggest a temperature as low as we think the word has been for the 20th Century average.


Cap-and-trade's last hurrah: The decline of a once wildly popular idea

IN THE 1990s cap-and-trade—the idea of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by auctioning off a set number of pollution permits, which could then be traded in a market—was the darling of the green policy circuit. A similar approach to sulphur dioxide emissions, introduced under the 1990 Clean Air Act, was credited with having helped solve acid-rain problems quickly and cheaply. And its great advantage was that it hardly looked like a tax at all, though it would bring in a lot of money.

The cap-and-trade provision expected in the climate legislation that Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have been working on, which may be unveiled shortly, will be a poor shadow of that once alluring idea. Cap-and-trade will not be the centrepiece of the legislation (as it was of last year’s House climate bill, Waxman-Markey), but is instead likely to apply only to electrical utilities, at least for the time being. Transport fuels will probably be approached with some sort of tax or fee; industrial emissions will be tackled with regulation and possibly, later on, carbon trading. The hope will be to cobble together cuts in emissions similar in scope to those foreseen under the House bill, in which the vast majority of domestic cuts in emissions came from utilities. (The Economist)

But there is no excuse for it. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is an environmental resource, an asset and neither we nor the planet will benefit in any way from its constraint. Furthermore acid rain is a particularly ridiculous reason to expand a bad idea because it was a non-extant problem too. It was a problem for a while - about 3-4 billion years ago - but that wouldn't have troubled aerobic life because oxygen didn't really begin to accumulate until about 3 billion years ago.


Airbus gets a crafty upgrade by flying the flag for biodiversity

A380 airliner to feature official logo for UN, despite aviation being a major source of emissions that threaten biodiversity

Who do you think might just have been granted the right to display the official logo of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity? A conservation body, perhaps. Or a new brand of organic food?

Well, no. It's an aircraft manufacturer, actually. The world's largest aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industries. The European company that is doing more than anyone else, Boeing included, to increase the number of flights we take, and thus the airline industry's contribution to climate change. ( Fred Pearce, The Guardian)

Poor Freddy, he still seems to think the UN genuinely has concerns about the climate. Don't worry Fred, they never did, it's just a means to an end.


Hysterical, in both senses: Canadian government 'hiding truth about climate change', report claims

Canada's climate researchers are being muzzled, their funding slashed, research stations closed, findings ignored and advice on the critical issue of the century unsought by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, according to a 40-page report by a coalition of 60 non-governmental organisations.

"This government says they take climate change seriously but they do nothing and try to hide the truth about climate change," said Graham Saul, representing Climate Action Network Canada (CAN), which produced the report "Troubling Evidence".

"We want Canadians to understand what's going on with this government," Saul told IPS.

Climate change is not an abstract concept. It already results in the deaths of 300,000 people a year, virtually all in the world's poorest countries. Some 325 million people are being seriously affected, with economic losses averaging 125 billion dollars a year, according to "The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis", the first detailed look at climate change and the human impacts.

Released last fall by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, the report notes that these deaths and losses are not just from the rise in severe weather events but mainly from the gradual environmental degradation due to climate change. ( Stephen Leahy for IPS, part of the Guardian Environment Network)

The Guardian had been getting a bit better but, like an alcoholic in a bar, I guess, they've chosen to run a piece by a headless chook called Stephen Leahy (readers will remember a number of his pieces back in the days I could still stomach braving the IPS site).


Still trying to hamper agriculture by any means possible: Damage to peat bogs driving climate change

Some of the most beautiful areas of England are releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year because of damage to peat bogs, environment watchdogs have warned. (TDT)


Weather balloon data backs up missing decline found in old magazine


A Rawinsone being prepared for release at the Miami, FL airport - Image: NOAA

Jo Nova has more from Frank Lansner on what older records, this time from weather balloons, tell us about recent adjustments to the temperature record. WUWT readers may recall Rewriting the decline where the graph from National Geographic below raises some questions about temperature graphs today.

Graph 1880 - 1976 NH temperatures
Above: Matthews 1976, National Geographic, Temperatures 1880-1976

Frank Lansner has done some excellent follow-up on the missing “decline” in temperatures from 1940 to 1975, and things get even more interesting. Recall that the original “hide the decline” statement comes from the ClimateGate emails and refers to “hiding” the tree ring data that shows a decline in temperatures after 1960. It’s known as the “divergence problem” because tree rings diverge from the measured temperatures. But Frank shows that the peer reviewed data supports the original graphs and that measured temperature did decline from 1960 onwards, sharply. But in the GISS version of that time-period, temperatures from the cold 1970’s period were repeatedly “adjusted” years after the event, and progressively got warmer. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


Overheating detected in Arctic

Not everyone writing for Nature is a warming alarmist. Take Johannes Oerlemans, professor of meteorology at Utrecht University’s Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who takes a stick to Henry Pollack, author of the latest scare-book:

A World Without Ice opens with a strong foreword from Al Gore: the science has been done — now we must act. .... Pollack’s patchwork assessment of the science of ice and climate ... gets off to a bad start by adding drama. Writing in his preface that “Throughout most of Earth’s history, ice has been an indomitable force of nature”, Pollack sidesteps the consensus view that for the majority of Earth’s past there was little or no ice…

Similarly, he cites mountain glaciers as the direct source of water for almost a quarter of the world’s population, when in reality the bulk comes from rain and seasonal snow…

In his investigation of the regional effects of global warming on ice, snow and permafrost, Pollack adopts a fearful tone, suggesting that any change in the environment should be interpreted as a local disaster. He lists the many locations where glaciers are retreating, sea-ice coverage is shrinking, permafrost thawing and ski areas declining. And he cautions that “in only a few decades the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free in the summer, for the first time in 55 million years”.

Yet he forgets that, during the Holocene climatic optimum about 9,000 to 6,000 years ago when summer temperatures in the subarctic regions were 2–5 °C higher than today, the Arctic Ocean in summer was probably ice-free on a regular basis…

Again, his discussion of the ice sheets and sea-level rise is too dramatic: for example, it has not been established that the Greenland ice sheet will melt away in a few centuries once we pass the ‘tipping point’....

For example, it is clear that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently losing mass, but there is abundant evidence that the shrinkage has been happening for the past 15,000 years, mainly in response to rising sea levels initiated by deglaciation in the Northern Hemisphere.

(Andrew Bolt)


Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, March 18th 2010

London has a new building that can shred birds, appropriately called ‘The Razor’, the green mask slips to reveal some very inconvenient truths and we learn about the missing link between cargo cults and global warming science. (Daily Bayonet)


Column - CSIRO shames itself

THE CSIRO, once our top scientific institution, this week showed how shoddy and politicised it’s become.

It’s issued State of the Climate, a pamphlet it drew up with the Bureau of Meteorology, to silence the sceptics of catastrophic man-made warming.

“Climate change is real,” it announced. The proof was that Australia’s mean temperature went up 0.7 [°C] since 1960, seas were rising in some places by 3mm a year, and less rain now fell on our most settled areas.

Phew. That’s put me in my place. Or so you’d think from the uncritical coverage this propaganda got from the ABC, The Age and even the Herald Sun.

But the document, barely even six pages, despite its big graphs, is a testament not to the truth of man-made warming, but to the CSIRO’s decline.

First, no one doubts “climate change is real”. Climate changes all the time. For the CSIRO to suggest this is the debate is dishonest.

We’re also talking about global warming, so why does the CSIRO give only Australian temperatures? (Andrew Bolt)


Chill Out: Matt Nisbet on Politicized Climate Science

Matt Nisbet, a communications scholar at American University, has a thoughtful and hard-hitting essay at Slate arguing that climate scientists need to step back from a war footing, because they are waging a battle for public opinion that they've already won. The most likely casualty of continued open warfare on climate skeptics will be science itself.

Here is an excerpt:

If communication researchers have trouble establishing clear evidence of a significant impact for Climategate, what explains the apparent overreaction by scientists and their bunker mentality? Past research shows that individuals more heavily involved on an issue, such as climate scientists, often tend to view even objectively favorable media coverage as hostile to their goals. They also have a tendency to presume exaggerated effects for a message on the public and will take action based on this presumed influence. The call to arms that "science is getting creamed" and that there is a need for an "aggressively partisan approach" are examples of how these common miscalculations about the media have colored the outlook of climate scientists.

Scientists are also susceptible to the biases of their own political ideology, which surveys show leans heavily liberal. Ideology shapes how scientists evaluate policy options as well as their interpretations of who or what is to blame for policy failures. Given a liberal outlook and strong environmental values, it must be difficult for scientists to understand why so many Americans have reservations about complex policies that impose costs on consumers without offering clearly defined benefits. Compounding matters, scientists, like the rest of us, tend to gravitate toward like-minded sources in the media. Given their background, they focus on screeds from liberal commentators which reinforce a false sense of a "war" against the scientific community.

The scientists seem to believe they can prevail by explaining the basis of climate change in clearer terms, while asserting the partisan motives of "climate deniers." This has been the strategy since the early days of the Bush administration, yet for many members of the public, a decade of claims about the "war on science" are likely ignored as just more elite rancor, reflecting an endless cycle of technical disputes and tit-for-tat name calling. What are needed are strategies that transcend the ideological divide, rather than strengthen it.
I differ a bit from Nisbet in his prescription -- he thinks scientists should work to engage the public and opinion leaders. In contrast, I think scientists need to demonstrate leadership by helping to open up space for a wide-ranging discussion of policy options among specialists, rather than enabling a small clique of activists to try to shut down any such discussion in the name of science.

These views are not mutually exclusive, of course. However, any public engagement is futile from a policy perspective without viable policy options on the table. And tight now climate policy lacks viable options.

Nisbet is one the mark when he concludes:
By getting out of the lab and away from their echo chamber of like-minded views about climate politics, researchers would learn how other people view climate change, and what should and can be done about it.
(Roger Pielke Jr)

I wouldn't be so sure about public opinion having been "won" - the public are not likely to react too well when they finally find out gorebull warbling has exactly no basis in fact.


Future low solar activity periods may cause extremely cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia


The observed winter temperatures for Turku, Finland (and also generally for North America, Europe and Russia) for the past 60 winters have been strongly dependent on the Arctic Oscillation index (AO). When the Arctic Oscillation index is in "positive phase", high atmospheric pressure persists south of the North Pole, and lower pressures on the North Pole. In the positive phase, very cold winter air does not extend as far south into the middle of North America as it would during the negative phase. The AO positive phase is often called the "Warm" phase in North America. In this report I analyzed the statistical relation between the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index (QBO is a measure of the direction and strength of the stratospheric wind in the Tropics), the solar activity, and the Arctic Oscillation index and obtained a statistically significant regression equation. According to this equation, during negative (easterly) values of the QBO, low solar activity causes a negative Arctic Oscillation index and cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia, but during positive (westerly) values of the QBO the relation reverses. However, the influence of the combination of an easterly value of the QBO and low solar activity on the AO is stronger and this combination is much more probable than the opposite. Therefore, prolonged low solar activity periods in the future may cause the domination of a strongly negative AO and extremely cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia. (Jarl R. Ahlbeck)

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Oh... HSBC bankers turn climate crunch champions

Bankers may not be the world's most popular people, but at HSBC they have the good of the planet at heart – the bank has invested $35 million in sending employees to assess the potential effects of climate change and preach the green gospel to colleagues back at the office. Serena Allott joins a group of volunteers in India. (TDT)


Carbon traders voice fears over recycled carbon credits

Resale of surrendered Certified Emission Reduction credits by Hungarian government prompts warning that "double counting" could damage the integrity of the EU emissions trading scheme. From BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network

If they mean integrity as in "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty" then the EU emissions trading scheme would appear unassailable -- how can you damage something which does not exist in the first place?


All the usual suspects, still carrying on carrying on: The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies

The Climate Response Fund (www.climateresponsefund.org), in collaboration with the Climate Institute (www.climate.org), has developed this international conference to propose norms and guidelines for experimentation on climate engineering or intervention techniques. The Conference has the overall goal of minimizing risk associated with scientific experimentation on climate intervention or climate geoengineering, and will focus exclusively on the development of risk reduction guidelines for climate intervention experiments. (CRF)


EDITORIAL: Obama surrenders gulf oil to Moscow

The Russians are coming - to drill in our own backyard

The Obama administration is poised to ban offshore oil drilling on the outer continental shelf until 2012 or beyond. Meanwhile, Russia is making a bold strategic leap to begin drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. While the United States attempts to shift gears to alternative fuels to battle the purported evils of carbon emissions, Russia will erect oil derricks off the Cuban coast.

Offshore oil production makes economic sense. It creates jobs and helps fulfill America's vast energy needs. It contributes to the gross domestic product and does not increase the trade deficit. Higher oil supply helps keep a lid on rising prices, and greater American production gives the United States more influence over the global market.

Drilling is also wildly popular with the public. A Pew Research Center poll from February showed 63 percent support for offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. Americans understand the fundamental points: The oil is there, and we need it. If we don't drill it out, we have to buy it from other countries. Last year, the U.S. government even helped Brazil underwrite offshore drilling in the Tupi oil field near Rio de Janeiro. The current price of oil makes drilling economically feasible, so why not let the private sector go ahead and get our oil? (The Washington Times)


It’s Time to Let Virginia Drill

At last Thursday's Summit on Virginia's Energy Future in Richmond, Governor Robert McDonnell delivered a detailed talk on the state's energy opportunities and the bi-partisan commitment of the legislature and Virginia's US Senators and Congressional delegation to capitalize on them, including its offshore oil, gas and wind resources. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Tribune)


Earth friendly alternative to gas flaring

Petrobras’ search for a compact GTL plant that fits on a FPSO might be at an end

Two gas-to-liquids plant developers will soon be testing competing modular GTL designs for Brazil’s largest oil company, government-controlled Petrobras. The GTL process results in an unrefined synthetic oil, or syncrude, that can be blended back in with a field’s mainstream oil. 

If at least one of the two modular GTL plants proves successful—i.e. economically feasible—it could go a long way to reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the flaring of unwanted natural gas from remote oil fields. (GoO)


Breaking the Obama Code: The Green Money Machine

As a few dozen dot-com billionaires gathered in a Palo Alto living room one evening in early 2007, then-Senator Obama rallied potential new donors over the speakerphone. After the call, host John Roos, a prominent lawyer, emphasized what most of his guests already knew. The clean-energy revolution was gaining momentum. The election in 2008 would be the critical moment. The ethics-based green revolution could be passed into law, and Obama was their guy. Roos raised much money and opened many doors for Obama that evening. In May 2009, despite initial criticism from Japan, Roos was given the plum appointment of U.S. Ambassador.

Roos, who had handpicked his guest list carefully, was a kingmaker in the progressive, green, and Bay Area billionaires club. The polls showing America's rising concerns about ocean levels reflected the hard work of Silicon Valley hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. (Patti Villacorta, American Thinker)


Green jobs... Report says China is squeezing U.S. firms out of its massive wind-power market

WASHINGTON – U.S. companies are getting squeezed out of the big Chinese wind-power market even as Dallas investors are bringing Chinese firms here via a big wind farm in Texas, according to a new industry report.

"They've used every measure you could possibly think of to enhance production of renewable energy equipment in China," said report author Alan Wolff of the trade law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk won a pledge from the Chinese last fall to drop rules giving preference to Chinese makers of wind-power equipment. But Kirk's office hasn't seen any evidence that the pledge has been carried out, said spokeswoman Carol Guthrie.

Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers are entering the U.S. wind market under a joint venture led by Dallas investor Cappy McGarr. (Dallas Morning News)


Micronesia beats civilization, 1-to-0

As I wrote in December and January, Greenpeace CZ has been trying to find primitive tribes all over the world that would help Greenpeace CZ to harm the Czech energy industry by following the template envisioned by Michael Crichton in State of Fear.

In the book, eco-terrorist groups initiate lawsuits against industrial corporations based on claims of sunk islands due to global warming. To make their case stronger, they also engineer some artificial disasters themselves. Greenpeace CZ has brutally stolen Crichton's copyrights and started with this stunning unethical manipulation in the real world.

Climate change kills Greenpeace. Similar pictures convinced the Micronesian chieftains. Not sure whether the Greenpeace activists realize that they may deserve what they're training.

After dozens of failed attempts, Micronesia agreed to be guided by Greenpeace CZ which was a surprise even for the non-violent yet deeply obnoxious advocacy group itself. So Greenpeace CZ has prepared some dirty propaganda against the coal power plant in Prunéřov, sent them to Micronesia, and the Micronesia officials sent them back to the Czech ministry of environment.

The latter agreed to investigate the statements that the Czech power plants would raise the sea levels and sink the islands of Micronesia. ;-) So the minister and his allies chose an independent Norwegian panel that would try to find problems with the upgrade plans for Prunéřov.

Of course, if someone wants to look for problems, he will find them. The Czech media reported today that the Norwegian folks found out that ČEZ, the key Czech electric utility, is not planning to use the "best available technology" on the market.

Why the hell should it be using the "best available technology"? Every sane company has to decide - and has both the duty and the basic right to decide - about a trade-off between quality and price. Different companies choose different technologies. Clearly, the environmental standards in Norway are more strict because Norway is an extremely rich country and most of its citizens are mollycoddled sissies. Our GDP per capita (PPP) is $24,400 a year, slightly less than one-half of the Norwegian one ($53,000 a year) and it does make some difference when it comes to the luxury we require.

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


Electric cars and 40 new nuclear power stations to meet climate change targets

Every car on the road will need to be electric and there will be solar panels on every home, 10,000 wind turbines onshore and 40 new nuclear power stations if the Government is to stand a chance of meeting strict climate change targets, engineers have warned. (TDT)


What energy crisis?

You can tell that civilisation as we know it is coming to an end when they call a car "The Leaf", the new Nissan electric fantasy which is going to cost the British taxpayer £20.7 million in grants, topped up with a soft loan from the European Investment Bank of £197.3 million.

We are told that this thing will have an average range of 100 miles and a top speed of 90mph, although the egregious hacks writing this stuff forget to tell us that it is one or the other – not both. They don't tell either that you need a calendar rather than a speedometer to gauge the acceleration.

Nor, of course, do they tell you that, in terms of net efficiency, the electric car performs far less well than a petrol-driven motor, by the time you have taken into account the power station and transmission losses, to say nothing of the conversion losses in charging the batteries.

And then, since about 40 percent of our electricity comes from coal, and will do so until it is replaced by gas generation, the odds are that this wonderful "green" car will be driven by fossil fuels, only very inefficiently at one stage removed.

None of this, of course, will impinge in the slightest on the greenie brain – or that of Mr Brown who is so proud of this exercise in applied fatuity. But, not only – as we saw yesterday – do green issues bring out the meanness, they make you stupid as well.

A far better option – in terms of energy efficiency, thus reducing your "carbon footprint", if that's what turns you on – is to use gas power directly. Or, rather than use coal to produce electricity, use it to produce petrol and drive a sensible car.

That is certainly an option the being looked at. According to the Globe and Mail, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed an economic and clean way to turn lignite, the cheapest kind of coal, into synthetic crude which can then be refined into petrol.

This is the answer to a gas-guzzler's prayer. Canada, for instance, has more energy in its "proven, recoverable" reserves of coal than it has in all of its oil, natural gas and oil sands combined: 10 billion tons. The world has 100 times more: one trillion tons. These reserves hold the energy equivalent of more than four trillion barrels of oil. They are scattered in 70 countries, mostly in relatively easy-to-mine locations and mostly in democratic countries.

The United States alone has 30 percent of the world's reserves, and if the technology can be scaled up successfully, this could represent a historic moment in energy production – a secure supply of petroleum and liberation from the tyranny of the Middle East and other unstable regions.

What with the promise of shale gas and the potential for thorium-powered nuclear reactors – and access to a plentiful supply of fuel – there is no prospect of an energy shortage some time soon, not for a hundred years or more. And by that time, we will doubtless have other technological solutions, not that any of us will be around to care.

But, of course, that does not account for today's greenies, who are intent on driving us back into the economic dark ages, saddling us with dead-end technology, all in pursuit of their mad obsession over global warming. Thus, do we see public money frittered away on "The Leaf". I cannot wait for autumn. ((EU Referendum)



Barrasso Faults Environment Committee Oversight

The Senate subcommittee overseeing environmental policy failed in holding accountable key activities of the Obama administration in 2009.

The conclusion is from a Minority Staff Report released by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (Christopher Guzman, Human Events)


EPA gets involved with ethylene oxide usage

Ethylene oxide (EtO) is an essential sterilant, used for all sorts of devices that can't take steam processing. For some years, it has been fashionable to pile on this compound. Yet, pesky data—tracing morbidity and mortality of EtO-exposed workers and comparing it to the non-exposed population—shows essentially no difference (beginning in the OSHA era).

Older EtO sterilizers were used in conjunction with separate aerators, so that workers had to unload the sterilizer and place the load into the aerator. Technically, this provided an additional exposure, compared to more modern sterilizers that have built-in aerators.

One would think that such practices would logically come under OSHA, but since ethylene oxide is considered a pesticide, EPA enters the picture.

Pesticides have to be registered and re-registered, so certain new guidelines for EtO came into effect on March 1, 2010, the most important of which is to prohibit the use of separate aerators. Or, to put it more positively, only single chamber sterilizers are now to be used.

The good news for EtO, though is that EPA also found that:

[T]he benefits of EtO use outweigh the occupational risks associated with its use provided that the risk mitigation measures outlined...are adopted and label amendments are made to reflect these measures.

Interscan has posted a Knowledge Base article on this matter, and I would encourage all in health care who might be affected by the new regs, to surf on over. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)


Where are the bodies?

Models that predict thousands of smog-related hospitalizations in Toronto don’t hold up

By Ross McKitrick

For many years we have heard that air pollution in Canada is responsible for thousands of annual deaths and hospitalizations. In 2004 Toronto Public Health claimed that 1,700 premature deaths and 6,000 hospitalizations occur each year in Toronto alone, due to air pollution. The Ontario Medical Association, provincial and federal governments, lung associations and other groups regularly cite these kinds of figures in support of calls for new regulatory initiatives. These death and hospitalization rates are astonishing. It is like suffering a 9/11-sized terrorist attack every 10 months.

But is it really true?

Click here to read more... (Financial Post)


Talk about small sample extrapolation... Moms post-birth bleeding tied to early radiation

NEW YORK - Women who had radiation to the abdomen in childhood to treat cancer may experience excessive bleeding after giving birth, new study findings suggest. 

The study evaluated pregnancy and birth outcomes in 40 women who were 30 years old on average and had been treated when about 7 years old for cancers of the blood, kidney, bone, and other locations.

Twenty-eight of the women were pregnant with their first child, eight with their second, and the rest were on their third, fourth or fifth pregnancies. 

In general, these women had outcomes similar to more than 9000 women who never had cancer, Dr. Sharon Lie Fong, at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and her colleagues found. 

However, the six women previously treated with abdominal radiation appear to be the exception. 

Although just two of the six bled severely after childbirth, percentage-wise this represents a higher rate (33 percent) of severe bleeding cases relative to that seen in the general population where just 5 percent bled after childbirth. (Reuters Health)

Yup, exactly two cases. Not 40 women, not 9,000 women, those are but Trojan numbers, they are talking about just 2.


Could cancer win the war?

Despite huge advances in prevention and treatment, cancer is poised to become the leading cause of death worldwide as people refuse to ditch bad habits and the population ages, experts said. (AFP)

Basically a case of people getting older because cancer is basically a disease of aging. That and pharmacology and medical care are reducing other cause mortality. The "war on cancer" is such a silly term -- people are always going to die of something and it makes much more sense to list a lot of cancer mortalities as what they really are -- death from sheer old age. That won't be popular, of course, because there is a large and dedicated industry of charities, NGOs and researchers farming a loaded grant process and emotion-driven fundraising. Der Krieg ist verloren, aber der Krieg wird immer weiter gehen.


Triplet births rising and death rates high - study

LONDON - Triplet births are on the increase, even when IVF pregnancies are discounted, and the death rate for triplets is 10 times higher than for single births, Norwegian scientists said on Wednesday.

The researchers, who said their findings were likely to be similar in other parts of Europe, said the increase in triplet pregnancies was probably due to use of hormone drugs to stimulate ovulation and a rise in the average age of mothers.

The results mean more effort is needed to control such treatments to cut the number of triplet pregnancies, they said.

The study analysed more than 2 million pregnancies between 1967 and 2006 in Norway and found that although death rates have fallen for singles, twins and triplets in the past 40 years, the rate for triplets is still 10 times higher than for single births. (Reuters)


Oops! Wrong headline: Obesity builds immunity to fight flu

A new research has shown that obesity limits the body’s ability to develop immunity to influenza viruses, particularly secondary infections, by inhibiting the immune system’s ability to ‘remember’ how it fought off previous similar bouts of illness. (Times of India)

This is what they meant: Immunity to Flu May be Inhibited by Obesity

Obesity has been shown to have many adverse health effects, including an increased susceptibility to infection. The CDC has listed obesity as a risk factor for pandemic flu strains, such as the H1N1 virus. In new research using laboratory mice, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that obesity may limit the body’s ability to fight infection, but may also decrease its ability to develop immunity against secondary influenza viruses. (eMaxHealth)


Obesity's Perk For the Heart

A little advice for the trim and healthy: Never be smug.

A study presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Atlanta this week adds another bit of striking evidence to what doctors call the obesity paradox -- the notion that being very heavy may come with some health advantages as well as risks. 

The University of Rochester researchers were looking at people with chronic heart failure who'd already had one heart attack. They found that those who were obese were much less likely to drop dead from sudden cardiac arrest than skinny, chubby, or even normal weight folks.

Now, it's still true that a beer belly, love handles, and other extra layers of fat boost your risk of developing diabetes, clogged arteries and high blood pressure. And if you're very fat, you're more likely to develop an enlarged, weakened heart that struggles to pump blood efficiently -- the physical condition known as heart failure. But, paradoxically, in this study of more than 1,200 heart failure patients, that excess weight seemed protective against sudden death. (NPR)


Probably not a good move: Kraft to trim sodium levels in food products

NEW YORK, March 17 - Kraft Foods, the maker of Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese, plans to cut sodium levels in its North American products by about 10 percent over the next two years, making it the latest food maker trying to address health concerns as pressure mounts from government. (Reuters)

The sensible thing for Kraft to do would be to offer a reduced sodium version of products in parallel. If consumers prefer them then full-salt versions could be phased out without harming sales but to cede ground to competitors by simply altering the flavor of people's preferred purchases? And merely because some politicians have bought into the salt/health myth? Not so smart.


Why us?

I have been depressed lately and Why Did You Kill My Dad? (BBC1, Monday) wasn’t what I needed at all. In it award-winning film-maker Julian Hendy interviewed the families of some of the 100 innocents who are randomly murdered each year by psychopaths. Hendy’s dad was one of them. It was all so sensitively, movingly done, and the ‘Why us?’ testimonies of the bereaved parents, wives and children were so heartbreaking that it made you want to cry.

The villain of the piece was the psychiatric establishment. Throughout the 1980s, we learnt — perhaps it’s the case still — it was standard practice for trainee psychiatrists to be taught that there was no connection between violence and mental illness. This means that many of the consultants running our regional Mental Health Trusts are basing important decisions about public safety on a politically correct lie. (James Delingpole, Spectator)


Can a gene test change your life?

National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins, who previously led the National Human Genome Research Institute, talks with Editorial Board Editor Fred Hiatt about genetic testing and how it could change our behavior, as it has his. (Washington Post)

Full interview: Talking genetics, God and AIDS with the director of the NIH

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, talks about his work with the National Human Genome Research Institute, his belief in God and the progress of AIDS research in the last 20 years. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)


The Unholy Alliance between Philips and the Greens – A Guest Weblog by Joost van Kasteren and Henk Tennekes

Holland is a miniature kingdom in the Northwest corner of Europe. Latitude 52 degrees north: as far north as the town of Red Deer in Alberta, Canada, midway between Calgary and Edmonton. Consequently in wintertime, our days are short and our nights are long. Our kids have their breakfast in artificial light. It dawns when they hike to school; twilight starts when they come back. They do their homework in the warm light of incandescent bulbs. Like we did …. and our parents.

Not for long anymore. An unholy alliance (discovered by Elsevier journalist Syp Wynia – see footnote) between a large multinational company and a multinational environmental organization succeeded in their lobby to phase out, and ultimately by 2012 forbid, the sale of incandescent bulbs, because of their low watt-to-lumen efficiency – not  only in the Netherlands but in the whole of the European Union. The multinational company wanted to develop a new market for products with a high profit margin, and the environmental multinational wanted to impress the citizens of Europe with the imminent catastrophe caused by anthropogenic climate change. That would also be of benefit to its battered public image.

Philips, the company involved, started in 1891 with the mass production of Edison lamps, at its home base, Eindhoven, Netherlands. There existed no international court of justice at the time, so they could infringe on US patent law with impunity. In the past 120 years it has expanded continuously, to become the multinational electronics giant it is today. Because nostalgia seldom agrees with the aims of private enterprise, Philips started lobbying to phase out the very product on which its original success is based. They started this campaign around the turn of the century, ten years ago.

Their line of thought is clear: banning incandescent bulbs creates an interesting market for new kinds of home lighting, such as “energy savers” (CFL’s, compact fluorescent lamps) and LED’s (light emitting diodes). The mark-up on these new products is substantially higher than that on old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. The rapid expansion of the lighting industry in China makes the profit margin on ordinary bulbs from factories in Europe smaller yet.  

At ACTION, a major discounter
Incandescents: $0.46 and up
CFL’s: 7 watts for $1.99
Softone CFL’s: 7 watts for $3.70
At ALBERT HEIN, our largest supermarket
Incandescents: $0.59 and up
Halogens, house label: $1.99 and up
Halogens, Philips: $3.99 and up
CFL’s, house label: $5.30 and up
CFL’s, Philips: $7.65 and up
Softone CFL’s, Philips: 12 watts for $10.45
LED’s, Philips: 5 watts for $21.99
Dimmable LED’s, Philips: 6 watts for $33.30

Energy savers (CFL’s) were introduced on the market in 1980, but they never succeeded in gaining wide acceptance from consumers. Notwithstanding their long life expectancy and reduced power consumption, most of us find their light unnatural, too “cold” as it were. On top of that, the early types were far too heavy. They also were slow starters and often did not fit in standard armatures. These days, warmer CFL’s are on the market, but they are twice as expensive as the earlier types. Multiple government campaigns, aimed at promoting the idea that energy savers contribute to the well-intentioned goal of reducing the energy consumption of households, failed to convince citizens.

The spectre of catastrophic climate change offered a new opportunity for the strategists and marketing specialists at Philips headquarters. They changed their marketing concept and jumped on the Global Warming band wagon. From that moment on, energy-saving bulbs could be put on the market as icons of responsibility toward climate change. This would give Philips a head start in the CFL end LED business. The competition would be left far behind by aggressive use of European patent law. That strategy fitted like a glove with that of the environmental movement. For them, ordinary light bulbs had become the ultimate symbol of energy waste and excessive CO2 emissions. Seeing the opportunity, Greenpeace immediately made a forward pass with the ball thrown by Philips’ pitchers. The incandescent bulb would serve as an ideal vehicle for ramming Global Warming down people’s throats. No abstract discussions about CO2-emissions any more: a ban on bulbs would suffice. Not unlike the misguided banning of DDT in the name of environmentalism, which leads to the loss of countless lives due to malaria.

Come to think of it, banning incandescent bulbs makes only marginal sense. The energy savings of CFL’s are small. They are somewhat more efficient when you take into account only the number of lumens per watt of electrical power, but they cost a lot more to produce. Also, their real life expectancy often is much less than the 7,000 hours promised in the ads. And don’t forget that they contain a few milligrams of mercury, which contaminates the environment when they are not disposed of properly. Most of them aren’t – a scary thought.

Is it fair to judge light bulbs on the efficiency with which they convert watts into lumens? The combined lobby from Big Business and Big Environment has attempted to convince us that old-fashioned bulbs waste a lot of energy. They ignore the inconvenient truth that the efficiency of common light bulbs is in fact a full 100%. All the “waste heat” helps to heat the house. In wintertime, when days are short and cold, every contribution to home heating is welcome. In summertime the days are long and there is hardly any need for artificial lights. The incandescent bulb may give only a little bit of light, but it also produces a lot of useful heating.  

There is yet another problem: the quality of the light produced by CFL’s and LED’s. Their light is unnatural; it is unsuitable for an atmosphere of coziness in living rooms, not to mention bedrooms. The directors of art museums in Europe worry a lot about this. The famous landscape paintings of Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt and Ruysdael lose their brilliance in the harsh lights that have to replace incandescent bulbs. For the next few years they can switch to high-intensity halogen bulbs, like we did in our homes. But those will be banned by 2016. In the struggle for attention (and for profit) no holds are barred. Everything is fair in war – love is not involved here.

In 2006, Dutch legislators caved in under the combined lobbying pressure by Philips and Greenpeace. A parliamentary majority in The Hague embraced the idea of banning incandescent bulbs and ordered the Dutch Environment Minister, Jacqueline Cramer, to lobby for an extension of the ban to all states in the European Union. That task proved simple enough. Top politicians in Europe, Germany’s Angela Merkel up front, deeply impressed by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, were only too eager to project an image of strength and will power concerning imagined threats to the planet. ”Save the Earth, ban the bulb” was an effective campaign strategy.

To make a long story short, it took less than one year to issue a binding European Union Edict ordering the phasing out of incandescent bulbs, starting with a ban on bulbs of 100 watts and more effective March 1, 2009, and leading to a complete ban of all incandescent lighting on September 1, 2012. The spin doctors at Philips headquarters have got it made. And if this scam backfires on them in consumer protests all over Europe, they can cover their backsides by claiming that politicians and the green movement are responsible, not they. 

Backfire it will. There exist no decent alternatives to incandescent light.  None.


Elsevier, the Dutch weekly, is the local equivalent of TIME magazine. On August 8, 2009 it ran a  revealing cover story by Syp Wynia, entitled “How war was declared against the incandescent bulb.” Other sources of information include an article by James Kanter in the New York Times of August 31, 2009 and many others, easily found by googling “incandescent bulbs” and “banned.”

Henk Tennekes is an aeronautical engineer. From 1965 to 1977 he was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State. He is co-author of A First Course in Turbulence (MIT Press, 1972 – still in print) and author of The Simple Science of Flight, recently (2009) released in a revised and expanded edition.  Joost van Kasteren is a senior writer on technology and science in Holland. He covers energy, housing, water management, agriculture, food technology, innovation, science policy, and related issues. (Climate Science)


Can she really be this dumb? Can the EPA’s Lisa Jackson Rally Black Communities Around the Environment?

Although environmental harm is disproportionately concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color, so far the green movement has largely been one of white people. The EPA’s latest top gun, Lisa Jackson, is its first African American administrator and also the first EPA administrator unafraid to speak frankly about the important overlap between environmentalism and race. (triple pundit)

Low income communities are the ones that will be most adversely affected by carbon hysteria - as they always are by the bizarre misanthropic activities of the watermelon brigade.


Dan Walters: California's politicos dig deeper hole

If you find yourself in a hole, the old adage advises, the first thing you should do is stop digging.

California is buried in a deep economic and fiscal hole, but our politicians seem bent on burrowing even deeper.

The state has tens of billions of dollars in unsold bonds, and Treasurer Bill Lockyer has warned that with the state's lowest-in-the-nation credit rating he may market new debt only sporadically.

Lockyer warned against a big water bond issue last year, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators ignored him. They approved an $11.2 billion bond issue, loaded with pork, that will tap the deficit-ridden budget for more than $20 billion in principal and interest.

Why should taxpayers spend $250 million to finance removal of dams on the Klamath River by PacifiCorp, a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.? Or $20 million for "economic development" in Siskiyou County? The Klamath flows through Siskiyou en route to the sea, but contributes nothing to our water supply.

Nearly $10 billion in unsold bonds would finance a fraction of the proposed bullet train linking Northern and Southern California. But the project's "business plan" is ludicrously inadequate, with cost, ridership and fare projections that defy reality, and full financing is so far an illusion. (Fresno Bee)


Maybe they're looking for a few nice bear-skin rugs... Polar Bear Protection Scuppered By Brussels

BRITAIN was forced by the EU yesterday to reject plans to give threatened polar bears greater protection.

The British delegation at crucial talks in Qatar on safeguarding endangered species wanted to back an American proposal to ban the international trade in polar bear products such as bear-skin rugs.

But Britain had to vote as part of an EU bloc at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) – and the EU decided to reject the deal. (Express)


Congress to pass food safety law in 2010: DeLauro

WASHINGTON - Congress will pass a new law to overhaul the antiquated U.S. food safety system by the end of the year, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, an influential House lawmaker, said on Wednesday.

"I have every confidence that we are going to pass food safety legislation and this legislation is going to get to the president for a signature and that that's going to happen this year," said DeLauro, chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House passed its bill last July. But a companion Senate bill has been held up by work on healthcare and financial regulatory reform, and has also been stalled by the U.S. Trade Representative's office, which wants to ensure reforms do not contravene trade agreements, DeLauro said.

The Connecticut Democrat was speaking at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit. (Reuters)


Rule Broken, Anarchists Outraged

Peaceful, tolerant, diverse San Francisco turns on its own:

An ex-vegan who was hit with chili pepper-laced pies at an anarchist event in San Francisco said Tuesday that her assailants were cowards who should direct their herbivorous rage at the powerful - not at a fellow radical for writing a book denouncing animal-free diets.

Lierre Keith, a 45-year-old Arcata resident, was attacked at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the 15th annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair while discussing her 2009 book, “The Vegetarian Myth.” A 20-year vegan, Keith now argues that the diet is unhealthy and that agriculture is destroying the world.

And for that, apparently, you deserve to be assaulted.

As Keith stood at a lectern at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, three people in masks and black hooded sweatshirts ran from backstage, shouted, “Go vegan!” and threw pies in her face.

As you’ll shortly see, it was a little more aggressive than that. The woman was essentially belted in the head – despite her holding views that on almost every other issue besides food align Keith with her attackers.

“It’s insane. My entire book is about how the world is being destroyed,” Keith said. She said the first pie hit her just after she uttered the sentence, “You should not eat factory-farmed meat.”

Observe as the revolutionary piemen of vegetal justice take down their prey:

Note the immediate non-response of the assembled anarchists, who sit there like a pod of narcoleptic flatheads while a 45-year-old woman is bashed. Solidarity, comrades. Note, too, the Yakety Sax soundtrack. It helpfully conceals further audience reaction:

The worst part was hearing the cheers of onlookers in the audience as the assault took place.

Lovely people.

UPDATE. Vegan logic:

she says vegans are all navie and veganism is an eating disorder which causes anger problems. this is super offensive and reason enough to get pied for.

Death to those who insult the religion of peace!

UPDATE II. From comments at the main piece:

Two months ago, in Portland, a radical animal rights man doused himself with gasoline and light himself on fire, and then attempted to run into a fur store in his last act to set it ablaze. Too bad for him the store door was still locked as they had not yet opened for business that day. BTW, he died that afternoon.

Yep. It happened. (Tim Blair)



Pachauri refuses to step down

March 16 - Chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), R K Pachauri, said he would not resign for making claims that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by the year 2035, which he termed as "one mistake".

Some climate researchers have criticized the IPCC in recent days for over-stating the speed of shrinking of Himalayan glaciers, whose seasonal thaw helps to supply water to many nations including India and China.

An ANI Report.


Walter Williams: Global warmers swing back at skeptics

Stephen Dinan's Washington Times article "Climate Scientist to Fight Back at Skeptics," [March 5] tells of a forthcoming campaign that one global warmer said needs to be "an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach" to gut the credibility of skeptics. "Climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of 'being treated like political pawns' and need to fight back ..." Part of their strategy is to form a nonprofit organization and use donations to run newspaper ads to criticize critics. Stanford professor and environmentalist Paul Erlich, in one of the e-mails obtained by the Washington Times said, "Most of our colleagues don't seem to grasp that we're not in a gentlepersons' debate, we're in a street fight against well-funded, merciless enemies who play by entirely different rules."

Professor Thomas Sowell's most recent book, "Intellectuals and Society," has a quote from Eric Hoffer, "One of the surprising privileges of intellectuals is that they are free to be scandalously asinine without harming their reputation." Environmentalist Professor Paul Erlich, who's giving advice to the warmers, is an excellent example of Hoffer's observation. Ehrlich in his widely read 1968 book, "The Population Bomb," predicted, "The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer." Erlich also predicted the earth's then-5 billion population would starve back to 2 billion people by 2025. In 1969, Dr. Erlich warned Britain's Institute of Biology, "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." Despite these asinine predictions, Erlich has won no less than 16 awards, including the 1980 Crafoord Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' highest award. (Orange County Register)


Andrew Dessler and Gerald North on Climategate, Climate Alarmism, and the State of Texas’s Challenge to the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding (the first in a series)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
March 17, 2010

On March 7th, the Houston Chronicle published an editorial by two Texas A&M climate scientists, Andrew Dessler and Gerald North (et al.):  “On Global Warming, the Science is Solid.” The op-ed argued that Climategate was a mere distraction and that climate science was settled in favor of alarm–both points being intended to challenge the State of Texas’s Petition for Rehearing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding, which was based on a belief of “settled science.”

A week later, a response/defense followed in the Chronicle, written by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott: “State Suing for Responsible Scientific Conclusions.” His argument was that significant scientific uncertainties (nonsettled science) were tweaked away at Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, and major errors in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have come to light.

Challenging the Dessler/North (et al.) Op-Ed

The general problem of the Dessler opinion piece was oversimplification and the use of half-truths. I took issue with it in this (unpublished) letter-to-the-editor that I sent to the Chronicle:

[This op-ed] is a perfect example of groupthink, argument from authority, and agenda-driven science. If climate alarmism is really settled science as asserted by the coauthors, then why did their leading brethren get caught desperately communicating with such phrases as “the lack of warming” and “hide the decline”? Why did these leading scientists refuse to release their data and methods? Why are hearings being held and official temperature reconstructions now underway? Climategate, the Enron of science, is not fiction but fact.

Six weeks ago, hundreds of Houstonians witnessed two global warming debates, one hosted by the Houston Forum and the other by two science groups at Rice University. One of the two participants, Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, debated one of the authors of this op-ed, Gerald North of Texas A&M.

Dr. Lindzen’s viewpoint was that climate science has been politicized by the likes of Al Gore; that carbon dioxide warming is modest and probably beneficial; and that the whole dizzying debate between natural and manmade warming after a century of greenhouse gas buildup concerns tenths of one degree, hardly a basis for alarm.

There are strong arguments against a Climategate-is-small, science-is-settled rationale behind climate alarm and policy activism–and thus against the U.S. EPA’s finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and a danger to human health. A scientific case can be made that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are positive, not negative, for the environment and society. Part of this conclusion has come from my decade-plus interaction with Gerald North, a co-author of the piece in question. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Reivew of Gore, Hansen, Schneider and Helm/Hepburn

In Nature this week I review books by Al Gore, Jim Hansen, Steve Schneider and Dieter Helm and Cameron Hepburn. It looks like the full review is freely available here. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Together, these four books highlight that climate policy is at a crossroads. The journey so far has emphasized science and exhortation: that facts, spoken loudly enough, are enough to win the argument. That path has succeeded in bringing climate change to the attention of policy-makers and the public as an important global problem. At the same time, that approach has shown its limitations. Climate science has become deeply politicized and climate politics is in gridlock. Climate change is at risk of becoming an issue of cultural politics, similar to the evolution debate in the United States and elsewhere. If the climate-policy debate is to continue as it has, we should expect more of the same.
Please have a look at the whole thing and then feel free to come back here and discuss or ask questions. (Roger Pielke Jr)

Poor Roger, he really believes.


A physicist supports sound climate physics

From Professor Fred Singer

To the Institute of Physics, United Kingdom:

I am an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and a co-organizer of a Petition drive to the APS Council to modify or withdraw the published APS Statement on Climate Change [see Nature 460:457, 23 July 2009]. Some 250 members and Fellows of the APS have now joined in signing this Petition, including members of the US National Academy of Sciences, a Nobelist, and many other prize winners.

I urge you to ignore all of the insubstantial criticisms leveled against your submission to the House of Commons’ inquiry into ClimateGate. All scientists should applaud your call for openness and sharing of data – even without the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, and regardless of one’s position on the causes of global warming. To echo Margaret Thatcher’s admonition to President George Bush: “Don’t go wobbly!” Read the rest of this entry » (SPPI blog)


Lovelock: Gaia created skeptics to protect Herself

The Times write about a meeting at the Royal Society last week (or somewhat earlier?). Several famous scholars, including string theorist Michael Green, came to listen what others had to say.

James Lovelock may have said the most interesting stuff. Recall that he is the father of Gaia theory, the idea that the biosphere of the Earth actively conspires to keep the Earth more hospitable for life.

And may I tell you something? I actually think that statistically speaking, this is the case. The individual organisms are trying to do things that are good for them. In most cases, they do just a short-sighted planning. But in a few cases, they're able to detect what's indirectly good for life, and support the changes in the environment that indirectly lead to this outcome. In effect, this has similar consequences as the idea that the biosphere is one super-organism.

While I think that this "super-macroscopic" aspect of the dynamics is far less important than the individual lives of the organisms, it seems to me that there exist both theoretical and experimental evidence that the Gaia negative feedbacks exist.

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


Prescribed burns may help reduce US carbon footprint

BOULDER--The use of prescribed burns to manage Western forests may help the United States reduce its carbon footprint. A new study finds that such burns, often used by forest managers to reduce underbrush and protect bigger trees, release substantially less carbon dioxide emissions than wildfires of the same size.

"It appears that prescribed burns can be an important piece of a climate change strategy," says Christine Wiedinmyer, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and lead author of the new study. "If we reintroduce fires into our ecosystems, we may be able to protect larger trees and significantly reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by major wildfires." (NCAR/UCAR)

What a shame a takes a farce like gorebull warbling to to encourage sound fire management...


Look at the nonsense spawned by the gorebull warbling fraud: European research under the direction of ICTA

CLICO Project 25.02.2010 Research - The European research project CLICO -Climate Change, Water Conflict and Human Security- devoted to the study of climate change and its social dimensions begins in February with conferences that take place from 25 to 27 February in Bellaterra. During the next three years, researchers from 14 institutes, under the direction of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) at UAB will be analysing the effects hydro-climatic phenomena -drought, flooding and rise of sea levels- have on the intensification of social tension and conflicts in eleven regions of the Mediterranean, Maghreb, Middle East and Sahel, and will propose specific actions to guarantee the peace and security of the population in each area.

The unprecedented speed at which changes in the climate are taking place all over the planet represents a threat to human security, especially in regions greatly affected by droughts, flooding or rise of sea levels which can cause or worsen violent conflicts and humanitarian disasters such as hunger or hordes of climate refugees. (UAB)

"Hordes of climate refugees..." Sheesh!


Still trying this nonsense too? Miami Waterworld? It Could Happen - World's top Arctic scientists meeting in Miami: Ground Zero for sea level rise

And you thought the down economy made it hard to sell your home?

New scientific data says the sea is rising faster than anyone thought and under worst-case scenarios, much of Miami and South Florida could be under water by the end of the century, unless drastic measures are taken soon.

Some of the world’s leading experts on Arctic climate change are meeting in Miami this week to share the newest science and plot the course for future science. (NBC Miami)


Government to continue climate change ads despite criticism from watchdog

Department stands by climate change campaign as ASA bans press adverts that 'should have been phrased more tentatively' (The Guardian)


ClimateGate: What Will Television Do With All Their Scare-Programming?

A funny thing happened on the way to a global conspiracy. Reality killed it. Funny how that happens.

Not long ago people like Al Gore were jetting around the globe taking in vast speaking fees, winning awards, telling everyone that they must give up the things they enjoy to save the planet. These doomsayers all told us we were stupid if we doubted them. They knew better, you see. These people claimed all “real” scientists agreed that mankind was destroying the planet with global warming. That we humans were at fault and the only way to save ourselves is bow down to a world government, pay lots of taxes and give up our cars, our electricity, air travel, light bulbs, blah blah blah. (James Hudnall, Big Hollywood)


Medieval Warm Period seen in western USA tree ring fire scars

Here is just one more indication that despite what some would like you to believe, the MWP was not a regional “non event”.

Top: Mann/IPCC view, bottom historical view

From a University of Arizona press release,

Giant Sequoias Yield Longest Fire History from Tree Rings

California’s western Sierra Nevada had more frequent fires between 800 and 1300 than at any time in the past 3,000 years, according to a new study led by Thomas W. Swetnam, director of UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

This cross-section of a giant sequoia tree shows some of the tree-rings and fire scars. The numbers indicate the year that a particular ring was laid down by the tree. (Credit: Tom Swetnam)

By Mari N. Jensen, UA College of Science March 17, 2010

A 3,000-year record from 52 of the world’s oldest trees shows that California’s western Sierra Nevada was droughty and often fiery from 800 to 1300, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researchers.

Scientists reconstructed the 3,000-year history of fire by dating fire scars on ancient giant sequoia trees, Sequoiadendron giganteum, in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. Individual giant sequoias can live more than 3,000 years.

“It’s the longest tree-ring fire history in the world, and it’s from this amazing place with these amazing trees.” said lead author Thomas W. Swetnam of the UA. “This is an epic collection of tree rings.”

The new research extends Swetnam’s previous tree-ring fire history for giant sequoias another 1,000 years into the past. In addition, he and his colleagues used tree-ring records from other species of trees to reconstruct the region’s past climate.

The scientists found the years from 800 to 1300, known as the Medieval Warm Period, had the most frequent fires in the 3,000 years studied. Other research has found that the period from 800 to 1300 was warm and dry. Read the rest of this entry »


Another UHI effect – thunderstorms & lightning

The March-April edition of WeatherWise magazine has an interesting article in it regarding UHI (Urban Heat Island) effects of enhancing thunderstorm formation in the downwind heat plume. It Stems from this paper (PDF) published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. I saw a similar study presented in August 2007 when I attended Dr. Roger Pielke’s land use conference presented by Dr. William Cotton on the enhancements modeled in St. Louis, MO. Read that paper here

Radar reflectivity image of the March, 14, 2008 Atlanta, Georgia thunderstorm. Image from Weather Underground

Excerpts from WeatherWise Magazine:

The Atlanta Thunderstorm Effect

by Mace Bentley, Tony Stallins and Walker Ashley

Although nearly everyone is fascinated by lightning, some of us are terrified, while others are drawn to its elusive beauty. Lightning is one of the most photogenic of all atmospheric phenomena, but also one of the least understood. For all of its beauty, lightning is a major cause of weather-related deaths in the United States and accounts for more deaths than hurricanes and tornadoes combined. Nearly 40 percent of all lightning deaths occur when a person is involved in some form of outdoor recreation.

Now, new evidence suggests that lightning and its parent thunderstorms might actually be enhanced by cities. Urban areas are literally hotbeds for producing heat and lift, two important ingredients for thunderstorm formation. At the same time, throughout the world people are continuing to migrate to cities for employment opportunities and the search for a better life. Eighty percent of the U.S. population now lives in cities. City growth has increased the amount of urbanized land cover in the United States to nearly the size of Ohio! In the United States, many of our cities in the south are growing rapidly due to their location in a more temperate climate. However, a temperate climate also means cities are more prone to thunderstorms. Could all of these factors together combine to increase risk of lightning and other thunderstorm hazards to urban communities around the world? Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


Problems with the Permafrost?

You’ve heard it a thousand times before – greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm, there is more warming in the Arctic than other parts of the planet, and the permafrost is melting away. Remind the world that permafrost holds carbon and methane that can be released into the atmosphere, throw in some pictures of a drunken forest, claim that the permafrost melting is some type of global warming time bomb, and you will be embraced by the global warming alarmists. Do a web search on the subject of global warming and permafrost melting for 1,000s of additional ideas. (WCR)


You can't trust people running a scam? European emission trading rocked by scandal over recycled carbon permits

EUROPE'S emissions trading system was in uproar yesterday amid a mounting scandal over "recycled" carbon permits.

Two carbon exchanges were forced to suspend trading as panic hit investors fearful that they had bought invalid permits.

BlueNext and Nord Pool, the French and Nordic exchanges, suspended trading in certificates of emission reduction (CERs) when it emerged that some had been illegally reused.

Concern that used and worthless permits were circulating caused the spot price of the certificates to collapse, from €12 ($17.87) a tonne of carbon to less than €1.

The scare erupted after Hungary said last week that it had sold two million CERs submitted by Hungarian companies to satisfy their carbon emission allowances under the EU's emission trading system (ETS).

Carbon permits submitted by companies every year to the national register are usually cancelled.

However, Hungary exploited a loophole that allows CERs - which are issued not by European Union governments but by the United Nations under its Clean Development Mechanism - to be traded.

Investors in the carbon market took fright as it emerged that some of the Hungarian CERs had found their way back into the market, despite having been used to meet the carbon targets of Hungarian companies.

The double counting is threatening confidence in the ETS, according to staff at one energy consultancy. Icis Heren said: "For companies obliged by law to buy carbon credits ... government-led carbon credit recycling means they risk buying a worthless asset." (Carl Mortished, The Times)

Sheesh! When will they realize hot air certificates are the quintessential "worthless asset"?


<GUFFAW!> Carbon capture storage will 'generate 100,000 jobs and £6.5bn a year'

Ed Miliband unveils strategy to encourage growth of unproven technology for next generation of coal-fired power stations ( Press Association)

See why JunkScience.com is so opposed to CCS. See also: Carbon capture and storage (CCS), the other financial considerations.


The assault continues unabated: The Carbon Footprint of Mountaintop Mining

Mountaintop removal is without a doubt the world's worst coal mining -- responsible for landscape destruction, habitat loss and water pollution throughout Appalachia. As if all that weren't bad enough, new research suggests that the global warming pollution from conventional (dirty) coal-fired power plants are up to 17% higher when greenhouse gas emissions relating to mountaintop mining operations are factored in. (NRDC)

I think NRDC must stand for "Never Rational Damned Cranks" or something along those lines. Once more, with feeling:

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is not pollution but a biosphere resource.
CO2 is present only in trace amounts (<0.04% of the atmosphere).
CO2 has rarely been at such low levels in the atmosphere during the history of life on Earth.
CO2 is an essential trace gas required by green plants and underpins the food chain for all aerobic life on Earth.
Green plants thrive at higher ambient levels of CO2 (which is why commercial greenhouses pay good money to increase levels in their facilities during the day while plants are photosynthesizing).
Even if humans burn every pound of recoverable fossil fuel we can not hope to increase atmospheric levels of CO2 to the levels at which plants are most comfortable and efficient.

You get the picture, CO2 is required by all but anaerobic bacteria and extremophiles and more CO2 is definitely better for all life we are familiar with on the surface of this planet. Despite all the scare stories we have absolutely no indication of anthropogenic CO2 emissions having any adverse effect.


More Regulation Needed For Canada Oil Sands: Report

Steam-driven projects to extract crude from Canada's oil sands, often held up as more environmentally friendly than mining, have major drawbacks of their own that require more stringent regulation to fix, an environmental think tank said on Wednesday.

The Alberta-based Pembina Institute compared nine projects that employ "in situ" extraction methods -- where steam is pumped into the earth to liquefy the extra-heavy crude so it can be pumped to the surface -- and found all need to make improvements to varying degrees.

"The impacts of in situ have sort of been framed as low-impact oil sands development, but when you look at the data that isn't actually borne out," said Simon Dyer, one of the authors of the report, called "Drilling Deeper: the In Situ Oil Sands Report Card".

"Some of them indicate actually higher impact on a per-barrel basis than mining, for instance greenhouse gas emissions and sulfur-dioxide emissions and some of the cumulative impacts on land." (Reuters)

And someone actually cares what Left-wingnuts Pembina say or think?


Electric Car Sparring With European Realities

It was up to Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, to declare the beginning of the electric car era when it launched its ambitious plan to revolutionize the transport sector, the top threat to meet binding climate change targets. [Read More] (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)


Timminco Suspends Solar-Grade Silicon Production

Shares of Timminco Ltd dropped 13.3 percent on Wednesday after the company said it was suspending solar-grade silicon production and would not resume operations until customer demand recovered.

Timminco said after markets closed on Tuesday that it expects gloomy solar energy market conditions to continue hurting demand for its products and financial results in the foreseeable future.

The Toronto-based company has developed its own method of purifying silicon metal into solar-grade silicon to make solar power cells.

Depressed solar-grade silicon prices are one effect of a global slump in the solar power market, which is beset by tight project funding and an oversupply of panels and parts.

Timminco said its average selling price of solar-grade silicon in the fourth quarter fell to C$36 per kilogram from C$65 at the same time last year. (Reuters)



Not Even A Vote?!

Using a parliamentary trick ironically known as the "self-executing rule," Democrats plan on passing their massive health bill without voting. In November, they'll learn just how "self-executing" it was.

Just when you thought Washington couldn't get more corrupt, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week seems intent on trampling representative government itself. Unable to get the votes to pass their U.S. health care revolution, she and her fellow Democratic leaders have figured out a way to pass it without a vote. (IBD)


If the House Enacts the Senate Health Care Bill without Voting on It…

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

…are we under any obligation to obey it? The answer may be no.

Democrats are considering a scheme that would “deem” the Senate health care bill to have passed the House if a separate event occurs (specifically: House passage of a budget reconciliation bill).  That strategy has been named after its contriver, House Rules Committee chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY).  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says of this scheme: “I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill” (emphasis added).

Not so fast, says former federal circuit court judge Michael McConnell in The Wall Street Journal:

Under Article I, Section 7, passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another.

The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the “exact text” must be approved by one house; the other house must approve “precisely the same text.”

Democrats have already hidden 60 percent of the cost of the Senate bill, effected an obscenely partisan change in Massachusetts law to keep the bill moving, pledged more than a billion taxpayer dollars to buy votes for the bill, and packed the bill with an unconstitutional individual mandate and provisions that violate the First Amendment. It’s almost as if, to paraphrase comedian Lewis Black, Democrats spent a whole year, umm, desecrating the Constitution and at the last minute went, “Oh! Missed a spot!”

And these people want us to put our trust in government. (Cato @ liberty)


The Keynesian Fraud

Keynesian economics is mostly a fraud and always has been. It has little theoretical basis and no empirical support, as I have previous explained.

Our school system has convinced the public that government is the source of most good and can solve all problems. Generations of children have been taught that Franklin Delano Roosevelt "saved" us from the Great Depression. History textbooks proclaim this. Yet Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary clearly contradicted this myth:

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot! 
- Henry Morganthau, Treasury Secretary, May 1939

Morganthau's statement is the equivalent of Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner stating that "everything we have done has done no good." When the architect and manager of the program admits it failed, on what basis can honest historians claim that it was successful?

If only current political appointees could be as honest as Morgenthau. But the Keynesian myth is too important and must survive at all costs. It is a source of government power and an inspiration for more government spending. It is a source of many economists' income and prestige. Keynesian economics is the bedrock supporting the entire myth of expansive government. If it is debunked, then so is the twentieth-century conception of government. ( Monty Pelerin, American Thinker)

See also: FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate


Vaccines Win Again - A special court dismisses the vaccine-autism link.

Few medical scare campaigns have done as much harm as the one claiming to link autism to vaccines for children. So parents and doctors alike should welcome the latest emphatic ruling by a special Washington court dismissing such allegations.

On Friday, special masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled against the claims of parents of autistic children in three separate cases. The parents alleged that vaccines with thimerosal—a preservative containing mercury—had triggered autism in their children, and they were seeking compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The vaccine court was established to require a lower standard of proof than civil courts, so the forceful rejection of the vaccine-autism link is especially notable.

Special Master George Hastings wrote, for example, that "The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelming contrary to the petitioners' causation theories." Another ruling noted that many parents had "relied upon practitioners and researchers who peddled hope, not opinions grounded in science and medicine." The court also rejected claims that certain children are genetically predisposed to be more susceptible to mercury.

The rulings follow the same court's judgment last year against claims that measles-mumps-rubella shots in combination with other thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism. And they reinforce many comprehensive scientific studies, including one from the Institute of Medicine, that have ruled out any causal link.

Autism is a frightening diagnosis that puts enormous burdens on families, but blaming vaccines without evidence only harms other families who might be frightened enough not to immunize their children. The fate of children with autism would be far better served if the activists who have devoted their resources to lawsuits would support research to discover its true causes, and to helping those children realize their full human potential. (WSJ)


Melanoma survivors at higher risk of other cancers

NEW YORK - Melanoma survivors are at increased risk of other cancers as well as the return of their skin cancers, according to a new study, leading National Cancer Institute researchers to urge lifelong follow-up of such survivors. (Reuters Health)


Studio chief hankers for healthy movie food

LOS ANGELES - Popcorn and soda has filled the stomachs of generations of moviegoers, but with childhood obesity on the rise one studio head has a hankering to see yogurt and veggies at the concession stand, too.

The message came on Monday from Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, who addressed theater owners on the first day of their ShoWest convention in Las Vegas.

"I suggest you consider adding a few healthier items to your existing menu," Lynton said in prepared remarks.

"I believe it's the right thing to do for your industry, for our audiences ... and for America," he said. (Reuters)


Thin Wallets, Thick Waistlines: New USDA Effort Targets Link between Obesity and Food Stamps

Could added incentives and other changes to the federal food stamp program trim rampant obesity rates among low-income groups? (SciAm)


Local push to tax soda adds fizz to U.S. debate

A campaign by state and local lawmakers to tax sugary beverages to cover obesity-related health costs could revive a national debate successfully snuffed last year by the $110 billion soft drink industry.

In California and New York -- states with big budget deficits and experience taking public health issues into their own hands -- legislators are backing efforts to tax sugary drinks, now a focus of the national debate on obesity.

They are not alone. Roughly a dozen more states, including Kansas and Colorado, and cities like Philadelphia, are gearing up for battle or enacting new taxes on sweetened beverages. (Reuters)


Soda tax proposal falling flat among NY lawmakers

A proposed new tax on sugary drinks appears unlikely to pass the state Senate, despite passionate campaigning by New York Gov. David Paterson and his health commissioner.

Supporters have pushed the tax as a way to combat obesity while bolstering funding for state health programs. But a number of Democratic senators are opposed, along with the entire Republican conference. With a 31-30 Democrat-Republican split in the chamber, the measure isn't expected to draw the minimum 32 votes needed for passage. (Associated Press)


Pepsi Says No To Soda Sales at School

PepsiCo Inc. said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft-drink producer.

PepsiCo announced its plan the same day first lady Michelle Obama urged major companies to put less fat, salt and sugar in foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy products to children. Pepsi, the world's second-biggest soft-drink maker, and Coca-Cola Co., the biggest, adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006. 

The World Heart Federation has been urging soft-drink makers for the past year to remove sugary beverages from schools. The group is looking to fight a rise in childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other ailments. (Associated Press)


Good grief: Opinion: Big Soda should pick up the tab for role in obesity crisis

Despite the best efforts of the soda industry to keep a lid on any discussion of a soda tax, the concept keeps bubbling up. It rose to the surface again last month when State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez introduced soda tax legislation for California. (Harold Goldstein, Mercury News)

How about we go after Microsoft, too, since they had much to do with popularizing PCs and encouraging more sedentary lifestyles.

And how about makers of vacuum cleaners and washing machines? Nothing used to keep the pounds off Granny like beating the rugs and hand wringing those clothes!

Maybe earthmoving machine makers? Ditch digging kept a fellow trim.

Public transport? Walking everywhere left little time for family and leisure, a life of walk & work is a sure way to stay trim.

What's that? People's lifestyle changes make soda consumption look insignificant? Funny you should say that....


For Obese People, Prejudice in Plain Sight

As a woman whose height and weight put me in the obese category on the body-mass-index chart, I cringed when Michelle Obama recently spoke of putting her daughters on a diet. While I’m sure the first lady’s intentions are good, I’m also sure that her comments about childhood obesity will add yet another layer to the stigma of being overweight in America. (Harriet Brown, NYT)


British TB cases at highest since 1980s

LONDON - Cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Britain rose by 5.5 percent in the past year and are at their highest levels since the 1980s, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there were more than 9,150 cases of TB in 2009, most of them among immigrants.

The main burden of infection was in London with 3,476 cases reported in 2009, accounting for 38 percent of the nationwide total. Nearly three-quarters of all cases were in people born outside Britain, the figures showed.

"The increase we have seen this year is the biggest rise in the number of cases since 2005," said Ibrahim Abubakar, a TB expert at the HPA. An official said infection rates were at their highest since the 1980s.

TB is caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs. Antibiotics can cure it, but about 1.7 million people around the world die from it every year. (Reuters)


Interesting: What your brain does in an emergency

Research into people's reactions to emergencies aims to make sure there are more survivors in future ( The Guardian)


Still trying to reinforce the myth: UV exposure has increased over the last 30 years, but stabilized since the mid-1990s

NASA scientists analyzing 30 years of satellite data have found that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth's surface has increased markedly over the last three decades. Most of the increase has occurred in the mid-and-high latitudes, and there's been little or no increase in tropical regions.

The new analysis shows, for example, that at one line of latitude — 32.5 degrees — a line that runs through central Texas in the northern hemisphere and the country of Uruguay in the southern hemisphere, 305 nanometer UV levels have gone up by some 6 percent on average since 1979.

The primary culprit: decreasing levels of stratospheric ozone, a colorless gas that acts as Earth’s natural sunscreen by shielding the surface from damaging UV radiation. (NASA)

They forgot to mention that the vast majority of Sol's increased activity of about 0.2% has been in UV output, up by roughly 0.7%, which, coupled with our relatively clear atmosphere over the period has allowed greater UV penetration to surface (where's my woohoo hat?), although outside the tropics the amount is hardly significant. In fact life flourishes in the tropics, where stratospheric ozone levels are never high and where solar radiation bombardment is roughly 100,000% of that received in the region of the Antarctic Ozone Anomaly (6% increase outside the tropics now doesn't sound very much, does it?). Is there any evidence of "ozone depletion? In a word, no.


Gallup: environmental concerns hit 20-year low

USA Today just informed about the newest figures from Gallup. They have been asking the question "do you worry a great deal" about various issues to the Americans since 1989.

The percentages that worry a big deal are:

  • pollution of rivers, lakes etc: 46% now (max: 72% in 1989)
  • air pollution: 38% (max: 63% in 1989)
  • toxins in soil and water: 44% (max: 69% in 1989)
  • loss of rain forests: 33% (max: 51% in 2000)
  • global warming: 28% (max: 41% in 2007)
We may ask about the causes of the decrease. You may suggest that the real environmental worries have been hijacked by the AGW propaganda. Except that the decrease of AGW and non-AGW issues seems to be more or less aligned - so that's unlikely to be the reason.

While I have always cared about such things, it's just true that I have never encountered an environmental problem (air, water, soil pollution) in the U.S. that would be worth a discussion. The environment has improved in the last 20 years - so the contamination simply ceased to be a serious problem. In this sense, I think that the people react rationally. It's sensible to care about problems that actually exist.

The previous paragraph referred to the issues that people can see in their neighborhood. The AGW and tropical forests don't belong to this category. But it's still true that people have learned that one of these problems has been vastly exaggerated while the other one was de facto completely fabricated.

The polls just see the people's learning - which often took place despite the media's persistent efforts to distort the truth.

Most of these concerns may be classified as "fads" and the number of people who worry about them is changing pretty rapidly. Needless to say, global warming is the most ephemeral one among these fads. A drop from 41% to 28% (to 2/3 of the original value) in just two years is unmatched by any of the other graphs.

However, you should notice that global warming has been the "least worrisome" among the five concerns pretty much since the beginning of the poll in 1989 so we're not experiencing a qualitatively unprecedented situation now.

By the way, most employees of the Science Times section of the New York Times doubt that global warming is a serious issue, too. We can learn it from John "End of Science" Horgan, an übercrackpot who is of course unhappy about this heresy of the Gray Lady. Horgan just returned from a symposium of similar dopes who were trying to find the best ways to spread the AGW propaganda.

Some attendees proposed "neuroframing" which is "spinning plus brain scans" and it was a too strong a cup of tea even for Horgan himself - and believe me, he is a real nutcase. (The Reference Frame)


HWGA: Poor Deer Season Spurs Chemical Concerns

Judy Hoy’s lonely crusade to determine if farm chemicals are deforming deer boosted by falling populations (Miller-McCune)

Wonder what caused boom and bust game cycles before people had industries to blame? Never mind... Judy Hoy is engaged on a "lonely crusade" mainly because her "research" appears largely the result of an active imagination and wishful "observation". If it were replicable work then the watermelons would be throwing money at it and demanding government attention while the usual bandwagon jumpers and gravy train riders would be fighting to get aboard. With the world awash in post-grads in "environmental" fields all struggling to find a thesis and a grant (and any potential career vehicle will do in such competitive times) it tells you immediately that the claim is fragile when researchers are carrying on a "lonely crusade".


"Green" Investing Loses its Luster

Is "green" investing dead?

A series of high-profile blunders involving manipulated global warming data has the green movement on its heels and may be hurting investment in green technology.

The green movement has come under fire recently after a report by the United Nation’s climate change panel erroneously stated that certain Himalayan glaciers would melt by the year 2035. The faulty data was put into the UN’s climate report without any oversight, raising important questions about the credibility of the climate change panel.

So, is now the time to invest in green technology? Investor Matt McCall from Penn Financial is not convinced. “The environment for this investment has changed,” said McCall on Varney and Company. “There have been holes poked in the global warming debate. These green companies are not as hot as they once were”

While the push for green investment has stalled, not everyone is ready to write off the potential profits in green technology.

Peter Fusaro, founder of the Wall Street Green Trading Summit, defended green investments on Varney and Company, but admitted that there is a lull in opportunities.

“It’s in a pause,” said Fusaro. “It’s been impacted by the financial crisis, but the reality is we’re still moving forward on climate change globally”

Fusaro also said that no investor should be going totally green with their portfolios, stating, “You should only have about 10% of your portfolio in these risky investments.” (FoxBusiness)


Groan... Misgivings over minerals boom

The coal industry in the Hunter is booming again, thanks to higher prices and expanding port capacity. Coal exports from Newcastle – already the world's largest coal export port – are predicted nearly to double over the next decade.

It is NSW's own slice of the minerals boom more commonly ascribed to the states of Western Australia and Queensland. It is the same boom that helped Australia outperform every other advanced economy during the global financial crisis.

Our natural gifts of beauty rich and rare are paying out handsomely once again. We rode high on the gold rush, then the wool boom. Now it is our coal and iron ore feeding the furnaces of rapidly developing economies such as China and India. NSW alone exported $13billion worth of coal last financial year – the state's biggest export.

But what price success? (Jessica Irvine, SMH)

Maybe Jessica the watermelon should think about making hay while the sun shines rather than "what if it doesn't last?" but it is not a huge worry -- Australia's carbon-dense coals are going to be in increasing demand in an energy hungry world for decades and probably centuries to come.


New report reveals the environmental and social impact of the 'livestock revolution'

A new report by an international research team explores the impact of the global livestock industry on the environment, the economy and human health. (Stanford Report)


Swifts could be running out of places to nest because of 'eco-upgrades'

Swifts could be running out of places to build their nests as older homes are given 'eco-upgrades', the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has warned. (TDT)


“Huge Puzzle…On A Planet Where We Thought We Know Everything”

NASA Finds Shrimp Beneath Antarctica Ice – 600 Feet Below Antarctic Ice Where Nothing Complex Should Live, NASA Catches A Curious Shrimp

Of course this will soon to be shown to mean scientists have grossly overestimated the amount of CO2 in the past, that it’s worse than we thought, and that climate change is pushing curious shrimps and foot-long jellyfish on the edge of extinction. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)


Green fridge labelled a fraud

AN ELECTRONICS manufacturer with a history of making false environmental claims has been caught doctoring fridges to make them appear more energy efficient.

LG Electronics has agreed to compensate potentially thousands of consumers after two of its fridges - models L197NFS and P197WFS - were found to contain an illegal device that activates an energy-saving mode when it detects room conditions similar to those in a test laboratory.

The so-called circumvention device was discovered last month by the consumer advocacy group, Choice.

The device detects test conditions - typically 22 degrees - and activates the energy-saving mode, creating the impression of lower running costs and energy usage. The devices have been banned in Australia since 2007. (SMH)


Catastrophic Flooding May Be More Predictable After Penn Researchers Build A Mini River Delta

PHILADELPHIA –- An interdisciplinary team of physicists and geologists led by the University of Pennsylvania has made a major step toward predicting where and how large floods occur on river deltas and alluvial fans.

In a laboratory, researchers created a miniature river delta that replicates flooding patterns seen in natural rivers, resulting in a mathematical model capable of aiding in the prediction of the next catastrophic flood. (Penn State)


Scarcity of Phosphorus Threat to Global Food Production

Phosphorus is just as important to agriculture as water. But a lack of availability and accessibility of phosphorus is an emerging problem that threatens our capacity to feed the global population. Like nitrogen and potassium, it is a nutrient that plants take up from the soil and it is crucial to soil fertility and crop growth. (ScienceDaily)


Gene breakthrough could help mammals regrow lost limbs

Mammals could be enabled to regrow lost limbs after scientists identified a single gene which prevents regeneration. (TDT)



Inhofe: Al Gore, Global Warming Alarmists Running for Cover After Climategate

Inhofe Floor Speech: "Don't Feel Sorry For Al Gore"

Inhofe Senate Floor Speech: The Inhofe Family Igloo

Transcript of Inhofe Floor Remarks from the Congressional Record (EPW Blog)


Gore Attaches Global Warming as Cause to Last Weekend's Storm in Northeast

Former vice president points toward weather events as evidence of climate change during 'strategy conference call' for supporters. 

If there’s a drought – it’s global warming. When there’s a hurricane – it’s global warming. If there are heavy snows or even blizzards – it’s somehow global warming. And amazingly, the latest round of rainy and windy weather in the Northeast, well that’s consistent with this phenomenon as well, so says former Vice President Al Gore.

Gore, the self-anointed climate change alarmist-in-chief, told supporters on a March 15 conference call that severe weather in certain regions of the country could be attributed to carbon in the atmosphere – including the recent rash of rainy weather.

“[T]he odds have shifted toward much larger downpours,” Gore said. “And we have seen that happen in the Northeast, we’ve seen it happen in the Northwest – in both of those regions are among those that scientists have predicted for a long time would begin to experience much larger downpours.”

But Gore had a specific example in mind. He explained this recent soaking in the Northeastern United States was “consistent” with what global warming alarmists were projecting.

“Just look at what has been happening for the last three days,” Gore said. “The so-called skeptics haven’t noted it because it’s not snow. But the downpours and heavy winds are consistent with what the scientists have long warned about.” (Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute)


White House report cites gaps in climate change strategy

Improved risk assessments, more scientific study and better coordination between federal and local governments are needed, the report says. (Jim Tankersley, LA Times)

OK as far that goes but check out the utter nonsense of the last few lines:

The draft report is a first step in that process and is light on specific recommendations.

It concludes that climate change "is affecting, and will continue to affect, nearly every aspect of our society and the environment" through increasingly severe floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves, along with rising sea levels.

Those impacts are already "affecting the ability of federal agencies to fulfill their missions," the report said.


Cap-trade plan in compromise US climate bill

WASHINGTON, March 15 - A compromise climate control bill that could be sketched out next week in the U.S. Senate will be anchored by a "cap and trade" plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from utilities such as power plants, a key senator said on Monday.

"That's not to say there are not some details left to be resolved with utilities but the overall approach is that," the senator said during an interview with Reuters. (Reuters)


UN at odds over climate policy

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general on Tuesday appeared to be at odds with his own climate change envoy over the role the UN should play in securing international agreement on tackling global warming.

Gro Harlem Bruntland, UN climate change envoy, was quoted as telling a conference in Amsterdam that there was likely to be a shift towards more contacts among key players in the climate change debate in view of the UN’s Copenhangen summit in December failing to produce the desired binding agreement.

“You will have more of a double track system” in addition to the UN framework, Associated Press quoted her as saying.

Asked about Ms Brundtland’s comments a few hours later, Mr Ban told a press conference in New York: “Double track is not desirable at this time.” He said he had not read the reports of the former Norwegian prime minister’s remarks but added: “That I regard as her personal views.”

The centrality of the UN to the climate change process has been challenged by some member states who believe a forum of 192 members is too unwieldy to deal with such complex negotiations. (Financial Times)


Eye-roller: Urban CO2 domes increase deaths, poke hole in cap-and-trade proposal

Everyone knows that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, is a global problem. Now a Stanford study has shown it is also a local problem, hurting city dwellers' health much more than rural residents', because of the carbon dioxide "domes" that develop over urban areas. That finding, said researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, exposes a serious oversight in current cap-and-trade proposals for reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, which make no distinction based on a pollutant's point of origin. The finding also provides the first scientific basis for controlling local carbon dioxide emissions based on their local health impacts.

"Not all carbon dioxide emissions are equal," said Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering. "As in real estate, location matters."

His results also support the case that California presented to the Environmental Protection Agency in March, 2009, asking that the state be allowed to establish its own CO2 emission standards for vehicles.

Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford, testified on behalf of California's waiver application in March, 2009. The waiver had previously been denied, but was reconsidered and granted subsequently. The waiver is currently being challenged in court by industry interests seeking to overturn it.

Jacobson found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations – discovered to form above cities more than a decade ago – cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone, as well as particles in urban air. (Stanford University)

With an opening like this you know it has to stink before reading on: "Everyone knows that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, is a global problem."

Um, actually not. Most people know carbon dioxide is an essential trace gas without which there would be no green plants nor anything which depends upon them. Nor is carbon dioxide anywhere close to being "the main greenhouse gas" or even a determinant of global climate.

Following on from the above absurd statement Jacobson goes from bad to worse. Carbon dioxide isn't the cause of Urban Heat Island Effect, just try entering a bare rock canyon with the sun beating down if you need a demonstration of the effect without local emissions or human energy use. Nor does carbon dioxide take part in or facilitate any reactions producing pollutants or toxins and it most certainly isn't present in anything like the concentrations where it could directly have an adverse effect on human health.

On the whole an utterly stupid piece. Stanford should be ashamed having their name associated with it.


Hide the decline and rewrite history?

Human emissions of carbon dioxide began a sharp rise from 1945. But, temperatures, it seems, may have plummeted over half the globe during the next few decades. Just how large or how insignificant was that decline?

Frank Lansner has found an historical graph of northern hemisphere temperatures from the mid 70’s, and it shows a serious decline in temperatures from 1940 to 1975. It’s a decline so large that it wipes out the gains made in the first half of the century, and brings temperatures right back to what they were circa 1910. The graph was not peer reviewed, but presumably it was based on the best information available at the time. In any case, if all the global records are not available to check, it’s impossible to know how accurate or not this graph is. The decline apparently recorded was a whopping 0.5°C.

But, three decades later, by the time Brohan and the CRU graphed temperatures in 2006 from the same old time period, the data had been adjusted (surprise), so that what was a fall of 0.5°C had become just a drop of 0.15°C. Seventy percent of the cooling was gone.

Maybe they had good reasons for making these adjustments. But, as usual, the adjustments were in favor of the Big Scare Campaign, and the reasons and the original data are not easy to find.

Graph 1880 - 1976 NH temperatures

Matthews 1976, National Geographic, Temperatures 1880-1976


1880-1976 with CRU 2006 adjustments

The blue line is the adjusted CRU average from 2006

More » (Jo Nova)


As Climate Change debate wages on, scientists turn to Hollywood for help

Keeping the public looped in on what scientists are discovering has never been easy. For one thing, the traditional explainers - journalists - can distort, hype, or oversimplify the latest breakthroughs. But the need to communicate science broadly and clearly has never been more urgent.

Understanding science helps people know "where the truth speakers are on an issue" such as climate change, says Robert Semper, the executive associate director of the Exploratorium, a hands-on science center in San Francisco.

"The more educated and knowledgeable the public is about science ... the more responsible they can be when it comes time for voting or expressing opinions about public policy," adds Leslie Fink, a public affairs specialist at the National Science Foundation in Washington.

The importance of getting the word out has science organizations scrambling to explore new channels, from souped up websites to asking Hollywood for help.

The current climate-change furor has become the poster child for what happens when there's a communications gap between scientists and the public. The vast majority of scientists see compelling evidence that the world's climate is about to change significantly, and that the change is largely driven by human activity. Yet polls show public opinion becoming more skeptical about climate change. (Gregory M. Lamb, CSMonitor)


What Real Scientists Do: Global Warming Science vs. Global Whining Scientists

by David Schnare (Guest Blogger)
March 16, 2010

According to M. Mitchell Waldrop, editorial page editor for Nature, “global-warming deniers . . . are sowing doubts about the fundamental [climate change] science.” Further, Waldrop argues in his op-ed “Climate of Fear, “scientists’ reputations have taken a hit.”

Let’s ignore the snarky reference to “deniers” and ask: is science and are scientists under attack? The answer is Yes. But in an intellectual sense, isn’t this the essence of falsifiable, non-verifiable  physical science?

Climategate (et al.) is not simply about “deniers” and Waldrop’s complaint that skeptics are “stok[ing] the angry fires of talk radio, cable news, the blogosphere and the like.” It’s much more nuanced than that.

As a quick aside, perhaps Dr. Waldrop can be forgiven for failing to see the big picture. To critics (can he tolerate them?), he is a deer in the headlights of universal, Internet-quick scientific scrutiny. And there are a lot of smart ‘amateurs’ mixing it up with the pros (who likes competition?).  Consider the view of his colleague-in-arms Paul Ehrlich, who profoundly stated in the same March 10th editorial: “Everyone is scared shitless, but they don’t know what to do.”

Perhaps we can help them.

Three Key Issues

Sorting this out, there are three important issues:

(1) Is science under attack?

(2) Are scientists under attack? and

(3) Who is doing the attacking?

The third questions is by far the most interesting, but let us first dispose of questions one and two. [Read more →] (MasterResource)


Big Oil forgets to bribe McKitrick

Hans von Storch reports that Edinburgh University's Tom Crowley has been doing some auditing himself, writing to Ross McKitrick to find out how much loot the Canadian is receiving from Big Oil.

Unfortunately it appears that the well-organised denier movement forgot to fund one of the most prominent sceptics of all.

Which prompts a question:

Are the Hockey Team conspiracy theorists?

Discuss. (Bishop Hill)


U.S. Groups Want To Expand Climate Bill Forestry Aid

U.S. environmental groups are trying to expand a climate change bill being written in the Senate to help foreign countries pay for enforcing laws they already have in place for protecting forests as one way of reducing carbon pollution.

Global warming legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year would set up financial incentives encouraging new steps in the United States and abroad for reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

But there are doubts it would let those financial incentives flow to foreign countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia, with forest protection laws on the books but few resources to enforce them. (Reuters)


Poland Moves To End Dispute With EC On Carbon

Poland will ask the European Commission for a new carbon dioxide emission permits quota of 208.5 million tons a year, it said in a statement on Tuesday, in a compromise likely to help end a long dispute with Brussels.

Poland had originally requested 284.6 million a year of the permits, called EUAs, under the bloc's scheme to fight global warming. But it was only given 208.5 million by the European Commission.

A European tribunal then ruled that the decision to grant Warsaw the lower amount was unjustified, opening the way for new negotiations.

"We were arguing for more, but the Commission was arguing for an even tighter limit than 208.5 and that's what we have settled for," a Polish source close to the negotiations told Reuters.


Not a good look: Going Green? Try Greedy for Green

Press Contact: Theresa Petry, (314) 807-7077

Call to Release All Documents Surrounding $90 Million Stimulus Dollars Allocated for Tom Carnahan’s Wind Farm

(ST. LOUIS, MO.) March 5, 2010 – The National Environmental Scorecard just gave Rep. Russ Carnahan a top score but didn’t delve into his incentive for going green. The public deserves to know and today 3rd district Congressional candidate Ed Martin sent Carnahan a letter requesting he release all documents regarding the $90 million stimulus dollars allocated for his brother’s windmill farm in DeKalb County, Missouri.

“In what reads like a fictional account of nepotism and corruption, Congressman Russ Carnahan voted for a so-called “stimulus” bill that not only did not create jobs in his district but allowed his brother to receive $90 million in taxpayer money for his company to then purchase foreign parts,” said Ed Martin.

Tom Carnahan’s $300 million wind farm “was on hold” Vice President Joe Biden told reporters while visiting a mid-Missouri factory last spring. But Biden went on say thanks to the Federal Economic Recovery Act, “We’re going to get companies like this windmill company to be able to move forward.” Interesting how it all magically changed, after his brother Russ cast his vote for the Federal Stimulus bill. ”We never really liked to say it out loud,” said Tom Carnahan, president/founder of Wind Capital Group. “A few months ago, the banks were closed. Banks now have confidence to move forward … The stimulus changed everything.” (St. Joseph News, Alyson E. Raletz, April 17, 2009)

Boy did it! The stimulus funneled $90 million taxpayer’s dollars into Tom Carnahan’s project. The Democratic Policy Committee acknowledged and even touted the earmark stating, “Missouri’s largest wind energy development, funded by the Recovery Act…” (DPC, website Nov. 5, 2009)

So let’s get this straight – A proposed $300 million wind farm couldn’t even get banks to call them back for two years, but then Rep. Russ Carnahan votes to approve the Stimulus bill, and out of the blue his brother’s company is notified it will get $90 million in stimulus funds and now banks are lining up. Hmmm…pardon us for saying so but something seems a bit fishy. Should we conclude that if you need money all it takes is a family member in power? (Press Release)


Looks like Mann's going to try to brazen it out to the end: Curry vs. Mann in Discover

There is an interesting set of interviews in Discover with Judy Curry, of Georgia Tech, and Michael Mann, of Penn State. It is worth reading in full to see two very different views of climate science and how it should engage with the broader community. One of these voices represents the future of climate science, and the other, its recent past.

Here are some excerpts from the interview with Curry:

Where do you come down on the whole subject of uncertainty in the climate science?

I’m very concerned about the way uncertainty is being treated. The IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] took a shortcut on the actual scientific uncertainty analysis on a lot of the issues, particularly the temperature records.

Don’t individual studies do uncertainty analysis?

Not as much as they should. It’s a weakness. When you have two data sets that disagree, often nobody digs in to figure out all the different sources of uncertainty in the different analysis. Once you do that, you can identify mistakes or determine how significant a certain data set is.

Is this a case of politics getting in the way of science?

No. It’s sloppiness. It’s just how our field has evolved. One of the things that McIntyre and McKitrick pointed out was that a lot of the statistical methods used in our field are sloppy. We have trends for which we don’t even give a confidence interval. The IPCC concluded that most of the warming of the latter 20th century was very likely caused by humans. Well, as far as I know, that conclusion was mostly a negotiation, in terms of calling it “likely” or “very likely.” Exactly what does “most” mean? What percentage of the warming are we actually talking about? More than 50 percent? A number greater than 50 percent?

Are you saying that the scientific community, through the IPCC, is asking the world to restructure its entire mode of producing and consuming energy and yet hasn’t done a scientific uncertainty analysis?

Yes. The IPCC itself doesn’t recommend policies or whatever; they just do an assessment of the science. But it’s sort of framed in the context of the UNFCCC [the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. That’s who they work for, basically. The UNFCCC has a particular policy agenda—Kyoto, Copenhagen, cap-and-trade, and all that—so the questions that they pose at the IPCC have been framed in terms of the UNFCCC agenda. That’s caused a narrowing of the kind of things the IPCC focuses on. It’s not a policy-free assessment of the science. That actually torques the science in certain directions, because a lot of people are doing research specifically targeted at issues of relevance to the IPCC. Scientists want to see their papers quoted in the IPCC report.

And here is an excerpt from Mann's interview:
Judith Curry has been an outspoken critic of your work and of a lot of climate researchers in general.

Did you ask Judith to turn over her e-mails from the past three years? Once she does that, then she’s in a position to judge other scientists. Until she does that, she is not in a position to be talking about other scientists. Glass houses. Look, I’ll just say this. I’ve received e-mails from Judith that she would not want to be made public.

She said that some data discussed in these e-mails concerned a temperature bump in the 1930s and 1940s, caused by a coincidence of Atlantic and Pacific decadal oscillations.

Yeah, I came up with the term: Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. I coined the term in an interview with Richard Kerr [a writer for Science] in 2000 over a paper with Tom Delworth of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and the NOAA Laboratory in Princeton, where we actually were the ones to articulate the existence of this oscillation. And you know what? It was celebrated by contrarians. My work has been celebrated by climate skeptics. It’s an interesting footnote.

Is Curry wrong in that regard?

I don’t know exactly what she is referring to. She might be referring to a paper by Thompson et al. that appeared in Nature a couple of years ago about a spurious cooling in the 1940s that scientists couldn’t quite understand.

She was referring to a rise and fall in temperatures in the 1930s and ’40s that might have been caused by a coincidence of these oscillations in the Atlantic and Pacific, and another that could account for a lot of the warming in the 1990s. She was saying that it looked bad that you were trying to smooth out the bump in the ’30s and ’40s but not the one in the 1990s. Is that a valid critique?

The way you characterize it, it sounds like nonsense. I’m not sure how much familiarity she has, for example, with time-series smoothing. I’ve published a number of papers on this topic, and in fact, the approach that I take was used in the most recent IPCC report. I actually take a very objective approach to the problem of time-series smoothing. I’m not sure she understands the problem. It is very much the mainstream view in the climate research community that you cannot explain the warming of the past few decades without anthropogenic and human influences on climate.

Read the whole thing. (Roger Pielke Jr)


Climategate: two more bricks fall out of the IPCC wall of deceit – rainforests and polar bears

Oops! There go another two bricks, tumbling out of the IPCC wall of deceit on man-made global warming – there is not a lot left now; even the Berlin Wall (to which the AGW construct is ideologically allied) has survived better. Unhappily for Al, Phil, Michael, George and the rest of the scare-mongers, these two discredited components are among the most totemic in the AGW religion. ( Gerald Warner, TDT)


Another WWF wet dream: Study highlights forest protected areas as a critical strategy for slowing climate change

WASHINGTON, DC, March 16, 2010 – A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change. The study, "Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change," was published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation (nicknamed REDD).

"Deforestation leads to about 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes on earth. If we fail to reduce it, we'll fail to stabilize our climate," said Taylor Ricketts, director of World Wildlife Fund's science program and lead author of the study. "Our paper emphasizes that creating and strengthening indigenous lands and other protected areas can offer an effective means to cut emissions while garnering numerous additional benefits for local people and wildlife." (World Wildlife Fund)


Fittingly, from a political scientist: Public forum promises to cut through the fog of climate science

PETER Coaldrake has chosen a hot topic for Universities Australia's first public forum as the peak lobby group seeks to cast off its image as a club of vice-chancellors who blow a "foghorn for funding".

Tomorrow at a UA-hosted forum in Parliament House, Canberra, a senior scientist from the Bureau of Meteorology, Blair Trewin, will defend its century-long climate science record.

This week the bureau released a statement characterising Australia's climate as more extremely hot days, fewer cold ones, wetter in the north and drier in the south. This was a snapshot of today's climate, not a forecast, the bureau explained. (The Australian)


Britain 'turns brown' as cold winter kills off spring growth

Britain's usually green and pleasant land has been turned a shade of brown this spring after the coldest winter in 31 years.

Cerne Abbas the way it usually looks (L) Cerne Abbas giant is almost invisible in Dorset this year (R) Photo: BNPS

Aerial pictures of famous beauty spots show a dull landscape compared to the normal lush spring colours.

Experts said the grass is still suffering from freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall over the winter, but it will grow back in the next few weeks.

The photographs show some of the worst-affected areas during the big freeze earlier in the year. Southern Britain, that is usually much warmer, saw up to 10 inches of snow and temperatures well below freezing. (Louise Gray, TDT)

Wonder how long before Louise blames gorebull warbling?


Copenhagen activist trial: 'I can't see what evidence there is for the charges'

Australian honours student 'indignant' over charges of organising violence and disorder at climate summit as trial opens (The Guardian)

You can't see the evidence Natasha because you are a moron. Take your lumps and please don't come back to Australia - any and everyone else is welcome to you.


Climate Warming Created Farming, By: Dennis T. Avery

Churchville, VA—A new study by Dr. Shahal Abbo of Israel says the invention of farming wasn’t due to climate change because farming depends on a relatively stable climate. Dr. Abbo isn’t looking at the picture broadly enough. 

The ice cores tell us the invention of farming came about not long after the end of the last Ice Age, one of the earth’s key climate changes. Modern Homo sapiens had been around for over 100,000 years—but we’ve found no evidence of farming until after the last big ice sheets melted about 10,700 years ago

Before then, humans had been stealing birds’ eggs, digging clams, gathering seeds and picking berries. Stone Age man also learned that his hunting bands could drive big carnivores away from their kills with stone-tipped spears, then feasting on meat they couldn’t catch themselves.

Wondrously, the ice disappeared. The earth’s climate warmed more than 10 degrees C. Chicago, for example, shifted from mile-thick glacier to sunny Corn Belt. That’s certainly climate change in my book. And since the big ice sheets have been gone, the earth’s climate has indeed been relatively stable. (CGFI)


From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 11: 17 March 2010

Coccolithophores: Are They Genetically Prepared for Ocean Acidification?: Read on ... and decide for yourself.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 811 individual scientists from 483 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Southwest Greenland. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants -- Pine Trees: Miscellaneous): Will the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content prove a curse or a blessing to Aleppo and Shortleaf pine trees?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Cattail (Sullivan et al., 2010), Reed Grass (Zhao et al., 2009), and Thale Cress (Teng et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
Flooding in Switzerland Since 1850: Does it reveal a response to CO2-induced global warming?

Two Centuries of Precipitation and Drought Data from Seoul, Korea: Has the availability of the region's precipitation-derived water increased or decreased, as the earth has recovered from the icy grip of the Little Ice Age?

Global Warming vs. Other Causes of Shifts in Bird Ranges: Is it easy to confuse the two? ... and what are the dangers if we do?

Impacts of Warming on Reproductive Output of a Forest Herb: What are they? ... and what do they imply about the wellbeing of slow-colonizing herbaceous forest-plants in a warming world?

Effects of Increases in Atmospheric CO2 and Nitrogen Deposition on the Productivity of the Terrestrial Biosphere: They can have a powerful tempering influence on the rate of rise of the air's CO2 content and any impact that increased emissions of the trace gas might have on earth's temperature. (co2science.org)


Direct Evidence that Most U.S. Warming Since 1973 Could Be Spurious

My last few posts have described a new method for quantifying the average Urban Heat Island (UHI) warming effect as a function of population density, using thousands of pairs of temperature measuring stations within 150 km of each other. The results supported previous work which had shown that UHI warming increases logarithmically with population, with the greatest rate of warming occurring at the lowest population densities as population density increases.

But how does this help us determine whether global warming trends have been spuriously inflated by such effects remaining in the leading surface temperature datasets, like those produced by Phil Jones (CRU) and Jim Hansen (NASA/GISS)?

While my quantifying the UHI effect is an interesting exercise, the existence of such an effect spatially (with distance between stations) does not necessarily prove that there has been a spurious warming in the thermometer measurements at those stations over time. The reason why it doesn’t is that, to the extent that the population density of each thermometer site does not change over time, then various levels of UHI contamination at different thermometer sites would probably have little influence on long-term temperature trends. Urbanized locations would indeed be warmer on average, but “global warming” would affect them in about the same way as the more rural locations.

This hypothetical situation seems unlikely, though, since population does indeed increase over time. If we had sufficient truly-rural stations to rely on, we could just throw all the other UHI-contaminated data away. Unfortunately, there are very few long-term records from thermometers that have not experienced some sort of change in their exposure…usually the addition of manmade structures and surfaces that lead to spurious warming.

Thus, we are forced to use data from sites with at least some level of UHI contamination. So the question becomes, how does one adjust for such effects?

As the provider of the officially-blessed GHCN temperature dataset that both Hansen and Jones depend upon, NOAA has chosen a rather painstaking approach where the long-term temperature records from individual thermometer sites have undergone homogeneity “corrections” to their data, mainly based upon (presumably spurious) abrupt temperature changes over time. The coming and going of some stations over the years further complicates the construction of temperature records back 100 years or more.

All of these problems (among others) have led to a hodgepodge of complex adjustments.


I like simplicity of analysis — whenever possible, anyway. Complexity in data analysis should only be added when it is required to elucidate something that is not obvious from a simpler analysis. And it turns out that a simple analysis of publicly available raw (not adjusted) temperature data from NOAA/NESDIS NOAA/NCDC, combined with high-resolution population density data for those temperature monitoring sites, shows clear evidence of UHI warming contaminating the GHCN data for the United States.

I will restrict the analysis to 1973 and later since (1) this is the primary period of warming allegedly due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; (2) the period having the largest number of monitoring sites has been since 1973; and (3) a relatively short 37-year record maximizes the number of continuously operating stations, avoiding the need to handle transitions as older stations stop operating and newer ones are added.

Similar to my previous posts, for each U.S. station I average together four temperature measurements per day (00, 06, 12, and 18 UTC) to get a daily average temperature (GHCN uses daily max/min data). There must be at least 20 days of such data for a monthly average to be computed. I then include only those stations having at least 90% complete monthly data from 1973 through 2009. Annual cycles in temperature and anomalies are computed from each station separately.

I then compute multi-station average anomalies in 5×5 deg. latitude/longitude boxes, and then compare the temperature trends for the represented regions to those in the CRUTem3 (Phil Jones’) dataset for the same regions. But to determine whether the CRUTem3 dataset has any spurious trends, I further divide my averages into 4 population density classes: 0 to 25; 25 to 100; 100 to 400; and greater than 400 persons per sq. km. The population density data is at a nominal 1 km resolution, available for 1990 and 2000…I use the 2000 data.

All of these restrictions then result in thirteen 24 to 26 5-deg grid boxes over the U.S. having all population classes represented over the 37-year period of record. In comparison, the entire U.S. covers about 31 40 grid boxes in the CRUTem3 dataset. While the following results are therefore for a regional subset (at least 60%) of the U.S., we will see that the CRUTem3 temperature variations for the entire U.S. do not change substantially when all 31 40 grids are included in the CRUTem3 averaging.


The following chart shows yearly area-averaged temperature anomalies from 1973 through 2009 for the 13 24 to 26 5-deg. grid squares over the U.S. having all four population classes represented (as well as a CRUTem3 average temperature measurement). All anomalies have been recomputed relative to the 30-year period, 1973-2002.

The heavy red line is from the CRUTem3 dataset, and so might be considered one of the “official” estimates. The heavy blue curve is the lowest population class. (The other 3 population classes clutter the figure too much to show, but we will soon see those results in a more useful form.)

Significantly, the warming trend in the lowest population class is only 47% of the CRUTem3 trend, a factor of two difference.

Also interesting is that in the CRUTem3 data, 1998 and 2006 would be the two warmest years during this period of record. But in the lowest population class data, the two warmest years are 1987 and 1990. When the CRUTem3 data for the whole U.S. are analyzed (the lighter red line) the two warmest years are swapped, 2006 is 1st and then 1998 2nd.

From looking at the warmest years in the CRUTem3 data, one gets the impression that each new high-temperature year supersedes the previous one in intensity. But the low-population stations show just the opposite: the intensity of the warmest years is actually decreasing over time.

To get a better idea of how the calculated warming trend depends upon population density for all 4 classes, the following graph shows – just like the spatial UHI effect on temperatures I have previously reported on – that the warming trend goes down nonlinearly as population density of the stations decrease. In fact, extrapolation of these results to zero population density might produce little warming at all!

This is a very significant result. It suggests the possibility that there has been essentially no warming in the U.S. since the 1970s.

Also, note that the highest population class actually exhibits slightly more warming than that seen in the CRUTem3 dataset. This provides additional confidence that the effects demonstrated here are real.

Finally, the next graph shows the difference between the lowest population density class results seen in the first graph above. This provides a better idea of which years contribute to the large difference in warming trends.

Taken together, I believe these results provide powerful and direct evidence that the GHCN data still has a substantial spurious warming component, at least for the period (since 1973) and region (U.S.) addressed here.

There is a clear need for new, independent analyses of the global temperature data…the raw data, that is. As I have mentioned before, we need independent groups doing new and independent global temperature analyses — not international committees of Nobel laureates passing down opinions on tablets of stone.

But, as always, the analysis presented above is meant more for stimulating thought and discussion, and does not equal a peer-reviewed paper. Caveat emptor. (Roy W. Spencer)


Another Look at Climate Sensitivity

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

OK, a quick pop quiz. The average temperature of the planet is about 14°C (57°F). If the earth had no atmosphere, and if it were a blackbody at the same distance from the sun, how much cooler would it be than at present?

a) 33°C (59°F) cooler

b) 20°C (36°F) cooler

c) 8° C (15°F) cooler

The answer may come as a surprise. If the earth were a blackbody at its present distance from the sun, it would be only 8°C cooler than it is now. That is to say, the net gain from our entire complete system, including clouds, surface albedo, aerosols, evaporation losses, and all the rest, is only 8°C above blackbody no-atmosphere conditions.

Why is the temperature rise so small? Here’s a diagram of what is happening.

Figure 1. Global energy budget, adapted and expanded from Kiehl/Trenberth. Values are in Watts per square metre (W/m2). Note the top of atmosphere (TOA) emission of 147 W/m2. Tropopause is the altitude where temperature stops decreasing with altitude. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)


A New 2010 Study “Ecosystem, Vegetation Affect Intensity Of Urban Heat Island Effect” By Mike Carlowicz

There is an important new article on the role of urban temperatures in the January-February 2010 issue of NASA’s The Earth Observer.

The 2010 article is on page 36-37 and is titled

Ecosystem, Vegetation Affect Intensity of Urban Heat Island Effect by Mike Carlowicz, ofNASA’s Earth Science News Team. The Earth Observer. Volume 22 Issue 1. pages 36-37.

Excerpts from the article are

“Goddard researchers including [Marc] Imhoff, Lahouari Bounoua, Ping Zhang, and Robert Wolfe presented their findings at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, CA on December 16.”

“When examining cities in arid and semi-arid regions —such as North Africa and the American Southwest—scientists found that they are only slightly warmer than surrounding areas in summer and sometimes cooler than surrounding areas in winter. In the U.S., the summertime urban heat island (UHI) for desert cities like Las Vegas was 0.83°F (0.46°C) lower than surrounding areas, compared to 18°F (10°C) higher for cities like Baltimore. Globally, the differences were not as large, with a summertime UHI of -0.38°F (-0.21°C) for desert cities compared to +6.8°F (+3.8°C) for cities in forested regions.”

“The open question is: do changes in land cover and urbanization affect global temperatures and climate?” Imhoff  [Marc Imhoff added. “Urbanization is perceived as a relatively small effect, and most climate models focus on how the oceans and atmosphere store and balance heat. Urban heat islands are a lot of small, local changes, but do they add up? Studies of the land input are still in early stages.” (Climate Science)


Ocean geo-engineering produces toxic blooms of plankton

Adding iron to the world's oceans to capture carbon and fight global warming could do more harm than good, as the mineral appears to boost the growth of a plankton that produces a deadly neurotoxin, a study published Monday shows. (University of Western Ontario)


Sheesh! Jevons' Paradox and the Perils of Efficient Energy Use

It's a given among Peak Oilers and New Urbanists alike that the imminent and permanent return of high oil prices will send convulsions through the suburban American landscape. But it's one thing when professional Jeremiahs like James Howard Kunstler preach this to the converted week after week, and something else when the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers advise commercial real estate investors to "shy away from fringe places in the exurbs and places with long car commutes or where getting a quart of milk takes a 15-minute drive." Oil shocks will do what urban planners can't seem to and the government won't (through sharply higher gas taxes or putting a price on carbon): force people to live at greater densities. 

In books like $20 Per Gallon and Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller--both published last year, in the wake of 2008's real estate bubble-burst--the end of cheap oil is presented as a good thing, a chance to press the reset button on civilization and live more locally and sustainably. Kunstler goes further in 2005's The Long Emergency and in subsequent blog posts and novels, painting peak oil as a cleansing fire that will burn away exurban places like Pasco County, Florida. Last Wednesday, I drove for hours through the ground zero of Florida's foreclosure crisis, a scrolling landscape of strip malls, auto dealerships and billboards promising motorists that their stock market losses had been someone else's fault (and that you should sue them). The apocalypse would be a small price to pay for no more of this.

How else to explain the hostility directed at Amory Lovins by Kunstler and others? Lovins identified the hard and soft paths of fossil fuels versus conservation and renewables thirty-four years ago, and has since written books like Winning the Oil Endgame and Small is Beautiful, in which he called for a massively distributed, solar-powered "microgrid." But Lovins earned ridicule for his still-unrealized vision of a "hypercar" made of composites and electric drive trains three-to-five times more efficient than existing models. The hypercar, Kunstler wrote, "Would have only promoted the unhelpful idea that Americans can continue to lead urban lives in the rural setting." (To add insult to injury, Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute is accessible only by car.)

Why unhelpful? In a phrase: Jevons' Paradox. Nearly a century before the geologist M. King Hubbert began calculating peak oil, the economist William Stanley Jevons discovered, to his horror, peak coal. In The Coal Question, published in 1865, Jevons raised the questions which haunt sustainability advocates to this day: "Are we wise in allowing the commerce of this country to rise beyond the point at which we can long maintain it?" He estimated Britain's coal production would reach a peak in less than a hundred years, with calamitous economic and Malthusian consequences. The engine of coal's demise would be the same invention that was created to conserve it: the steam engine. But it made burning coal so efficient, that instead of conserving coal, it drove the price down until everyone was burning it. This is Jevons' Paradox: the more efficiently you use a resource, the more of it you will use. Put another way: the better the machine--or fuel--the broader its adoption.

A corollary is the Piggy Principle: instead of saving the energy conserved through efficiency, we find new ways to spend it, leading to greater consumption than before. No wonder Kunstler is alarmed that a hyper-efficient hypercar would lead to hyper-sprawl--it's only been the pattern throughout all of human history. Maybe the worst thing that could happen to new urbanism would be an incredibly efficient new car (or fuel) that allows Americans (and, increasingly, the Chinese) to carry on as before, as an oil glut allowed us to do between 1979 and 2001. Crisis is on their side. (Fast Company)

Simply employing coal-to-liquids, never mind LNG/CNG and unconventional oil recovery there's more than adequate supplies of useful transportation fuel for probably several centuries to come and none of it requires puddling around with ag subsidy boondoggles like biofuels. We realize these twits despise modernity and your having a reasonable standard of living but surely even they can see what utter garbage they disseminate?


Oil Demand in the Platinum Age

Two scholars at Leeds and NYU have placed online a very interesting draft analysis of projected demand for oil. The figure above comes from their analysis.

J. M. Dargay and D. Gately, 2010. World oil demand’s shift toward faster growing and less price-responsive products and regions (PDF)
Here is their provocative conclusion:
World oil consumption has experienced dramatic share changes since 1971, shifting toward faster growing and less price-responsive products and regions. The OECD and FSU consumed 86% of world oil in 1971, compared with only 61% today. OECD use of fuel oil was 33% of total world oil in 1973, compared with 9% today.

Most of the easy reductions in demand – fuel-switching away from residual and heating oil, especially in the OECD – has been accomplished: we have picked the low-hanging fruit. Demand for these fuel switchable oils has fallen by one-third, while the demand for transport and other oil has doubled. Hence, world oil demand is now dominated by transport and other oil, which are less price-responsive and more income-responsive than residual and heating oil. Similarly, the regional shift of world demand away from the OECD and FSU has the same effect – toward regions whose income growth and income-elasticities of demand are higher, and whose price-elasticities are lower, than for the OECD and FSU.

The rest of the world now consumes 39% of world oil (but it has nearly 80% of world population), and its income is growing faster than in the OECD and FSU. Its per-capita oil demand has grown from 0.4 liters/day in 1971 to 1.1 liters/day in 2008, averaging about 2.5% annually. DOE(2009) projects that the rest-of-world’s annual per-capita oil growth rate will slow dramatically (to 0.56% ), even assuming faster income growth than in 1971-2008, increasing only to 1.2 liters/day by 2030. IEA(2009) and OPEC(2009) make similar projections. In contrast, we project a rest-of-world growth rate similar to what has occurred historically, to 1.8 liters/day by 2030. This difference in projections amounts to an extra 20 mbd in rest-of-world demand by 2030 – roughly twice the current production of Saudi Arabia. Such rapid demand growth is unlikely to be supplied by conventional oil resources. Hence this imbalance would have to be rectified by some combination of higher real oil prices, much more rapid and aggressive penetration of alternative technologies for producing liquids, much tighter oil-saving policies and standards adopted by multiple countries, and slower world economic growth.
The analysis supports assertions by Garnaut et al. that the world has entered a "platinum age" of growth in emissions:
Rapid global economic growth, centred in Asia but now spread across the world, is driving rapid greenhouse-gas emissions growth, making earlier projections unrealistic. . . we project annual emissions by 2030 to be almost double current volumes, 11 per cent higher than in the most pessimistic scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and at a level reached only in 2050 in the business-as-usual scenario used by the Stern Review. This has major implications for the global approach to climate-change mitigation. The required effort is much larger than implicit in the IPCC data informing the current international climate negotiations.
The analysis is also supportive of the suggestion in Pielke et al. 2008 (PDF) that the IPCC SRES scenarios had potentially underestimated future due to aggressive assumptions about rates of spontaneous decarbonization:
. . . it is likely that we have only just begun to experience the surge in global energy use associated with ongoing rapid development. Such trends are in stark contrast to the optimism of the near-future IPCC projections and seem unlikely to alter course soon. The world is on a development and energy path that will bring with it a surge in carbon-dioxide emissions — a surge that can only end with a transformation of global energy systems. We believe such technological transformation will take many decades to complete, even if we start taking far more aggressive action on energy technology innovation today.
These various analyses suggest that the challenge of mitigation -- that is, stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations at a low level, such as 450 ppm -- that been dramatically underestimated. If so, then the policies currently being discussed are not up to the challenge. It is uncomfortable to discuss for those wanting action on climate change, no doubt. Maybe that is why there is so much renewed attention being paid to debates over the science. (Roger Pielke Jr)

Fortunately, in as much as humans can influence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, it's a case of "the more, the merrier". Any amount we can make available to the biosphere will be gratefully received. Get on with it.


And they have no idea why... Climate activists predict direct action against Scotland's 'Kingsnorth'

Ayrshire Power starts planning process for power station which would be UK's first to use carbon capture and storage (The Guardian)


America Headed To CO2 Prison

At first glance, Maine’s wind energy business may seem to bear little resemblance to the plot of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” but stick with me for just a minute.

The movie, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, focuses on Andy Dufree (played by Tim Robbins) who is convicted -- on circumstantial evidence -- of murdering his wife. Dufree is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary, a fictional prison in Maine. After much noble suffering and struggle, Andy Dufree breaks out, leaving behind evidence of the warden’s corruption and brutality.

The wind industry’s strategy in Maine and in the rest of the US parallels the plot in the movie: Americans have been falsely condemned for global warming on circumstantial evidence by a stacked jury and without due process. The jury was stacked with biased climatologists, environmental groups, bureaucrat enforcers, and industry insiders. The verdict, declared without trial by the Environmental Protection Agency was something like this: “carbon dioxide is pollution. Since you can’t control yourselves, we will.”

The jurors then became our self-appointed judges, and wardens, and jailors.

We have been promised freedom, independence, and a “green” redemption, if we just put in the years and of course, payments. Only through renewable energy and wind power, they say, will come salvation.

Wind turbines are hailed as free, clean, and a provider of “green jobs.” In addition, they will provide “freedom and independence from foreigners who hate us!”.

But, those same turbines bring decades of torture and servitude, high cost and debt. America is headed to such a prison replete with sleep deprivation, heavy chains of cost on the “inmates,” and corrupt “jailers and wardens.”

Look at what is happening in Maine. (Jay Dwight, Energy Tribune)


29 Governors Call for More Expensive Electricity from Wind

Today, the Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition, a group that represents governors from 29 states, will send a report to Congress and the White House urging the federal government to increase use of wind energy and to require utilities to derive 10% or more of their electricity from renewable sources no later than 2012. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)


Czechs Seek To Temper Solar Investment Boom

The Czech Republic does not spring to mind as one of Europe's hot spots, yet an over-used subsidy scheme has created a bonanza for solar power that has ignited fears of a spike in energy prices and grid instability.

Lawmakers are now gearing up to cut the country's generous solar incentives, which investors say is needed to cool off the boom that made the Czechs the third-largest builders of solar capacity behind Germany and Italy last year.

This year, new projects will dwarf those of last year before cuts in feed-in tariffs -- which are currently up to 469 euros per megawatt hour -- push some investors further south to sunnier places than the central Euroepan Czech Republic, such as Bulgaria, investors said.

The generous tariffs have, together with falling prices of solar panels, led to a spike in returns in parts of the sector to around 30 percent per year. (Reuters)


UK Hung Parliament A Threat To New Nuke Plants

Multi-billion pound investment in Britain's energy sector, particularly in nuclear plants, could be under threat in the event of a hung parliament, an executive from a utility planning to build them said on Tuesday.

Opinion polls suggest no political party may win an overall majority in the British elections, which are just weeks away, making the investment climate too risky for developers to push ahead with their plans.

"It could possibly make some investment inconceivable, for instance nuclear," RWE npower designate chief executive, Volker Beckers, told reporters on the sidelines of the Future of Utilities conference in London.

He said although the opposition Conservative Party supported the ruling Labour government's push to replace Britain's aging nuclear fleet with new reactors, it was unclear what stance a new government, that might include the Liberal Democrat Party, would take on nuclear power. (Reuters)



More crocks from the docs: Obesity, climate change are "great threats'': doctors

An open letter signed by more than 300 Australian doctors and scientists has warned of the threat to civilisation posed by man's preoccupation with consumerism, "exertion-free living'' and a growing economy and population.

The letter, co-signed by a former Australian of the Year, said these forces were now "seriously damaging our planet'' and had spawned two great threats - in rising obesity rates and climate change.

A dedicated task force and new public forum was needed to drive discussion and development of “post-growth alternatives to unsustainable, consumption-based growth as the economic norm''.

“As health professionals, we urge Australian politicians (and the public) to recognise the overlap in the underlying cause of two great health threats that our population now faces,'' the experts wrote.

''... the rise of obesity and its life-threatening disease consequences and the great threats to health from global climate change.

“We are now seeing the emergence of health risks caused by excesses in market driven consumerism (including the consumption of energy dense processed foods), energy subsidised exertion-free living, an over-arching pre-occupation with gross domestic product and ... population growth.'' (AAP)

Not exactly keeping up with the times, are they? You'd think even anti-consumerism watermelons would have realized by now that hitching your wagon to the gorebull warbling star is a short trip to oblivion.


No surprise: Adding fat-lowering drug no help for diabetic hearts

ATLANTA - Adding a drug that lowers blood fats known as triglycerides to cholesterol-fighting statins provided no additional protection from heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease in patients with Type 2 diabetes, according to data from a large study.

The study run by the National Institutes of Health, dubbed Accord, aimed to see if the dual-drug therapy could reduce heart disease and stroke-related events in diabetes patients at particularly high risk of serious heart problems due to additional risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

All subjects in the 5,518-patient trial took Zocor, which is available generically as simvastatin.

One group also received TriCor, which is designed to lower the blood fats known as triglycerides and raise "good" HDL cholesterol. TriCor belongs to a class of drugs called fibrates.

There was an 8 percent risk reduction from the combination therapy compared with the statin plus dummy pill, but researchers said the result could have been a statistical fluke. (Reuters)


Newer gene test better at spotting autism: US study

CHICAGO - U.S. researchers looking for genetic changes linked to autism reported on Monday an advanced gene test that searches for deleted or extra DNA in chromosomes worked three times better than standard tests.

They said the test, known as a chromosomal microarray analysis or CMA, should be used in the first round of testing done to look for a genetic cause for a child's autism.

Autism is a mysterious condition that affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children. The so-called spectrum ranges from mild Asperger's syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, and there is no cure or widely accepted good treatment. (Reuters)


Saving U.S. Water and Sewer Systems Would Be Costly

WASHINGTON — One recent morning, George S. Hawkins, a long-haired environmentalist who now leads one of the largest and most prominent water and sewer systems, trudged to a street corner here where water was gushing into the air.

A cold snap had ruptured a major pipe installed the same year the light bulb was invented. Homes near the fashionable Dupont Circle neighborhood were quickly going dry, and Mr. Hawkins, who had recently taken over the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority despite having no experience running a major utility, was responsible for fixing the problem.

As city employees searched for underground valves, a growing crowd started asking angry questions. Pipes were breaking across town, and fire hydrants weren’t working, they complained. Why couldn’t the city deliver water, one man yelled at Mr. Hawkins.

Such questions are becoming common across the nation as water and sewer systems break down. Today, a significant water line bursts on average every two minutes somewhere in the country, according to a New York Times analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data.

In Washington alone there is a pipe break every day, on average, and this weekend’s intense rains overwhelmed the city’s system, causing untreated sewage to flow into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

State and federal studies indicate that thousands of water and sewer systems may be too old to function properly. (NYT)

Citizens pay taxes for transport infrastructure, water and sewer, all obligations of government while most everything else is optional. Governments have long been guilty of misusing taxes for everything from arts and cultural centers to absurd monuments just to have a politicians name on some plaque. The correct course is not to charge citizens more but to use their taxes for necessary infrastructure rather than frivolous nonsense and totally unnecessary "services". Local government's sole purpose is the local provision and maintenance of transport, water and sewer infrastructure so that people can live and work, while State and Federal governments are responsible for the superstructure provision and maintenance of same and citizens pay more than plenty to achieve that.

Isn't it time to prune all these bloated bureaucracies and trim government functions to only what is needed? Why is it that our taxes support so much more than the bare minimum required judiciary, administration and service provision? Do even 10 cents in our tax dollar go towards what we actually need? Heck, for the money we pay you'd expect to be able to support a standing army in the tens of millions and have our streets vacuumed and scented and yet the infrastructure is falling apart. Big government simply means bigger problems.


Private drinking water supplies pose challenges to public health

An estimated three to four million people – about one in every eight Canadians –drink water from private supplies.

Infrequent testing and maintenance puts consumers of these water supplies at greater risk of contamination than public systems, states an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). It goes on to state people need to take personal responsibility for their water quality and governments need to provide better oversight and resources in order to improve the case.

Water-borne disease outbreaks are common in the developing world but can also occur in affluent countries. In the United States, 19.5 million water-borne illnesses occur every year (all sources) and three quarters (76%) of drinking water outbreaks are associated with groundwater sources. A study from the United Kingdom found outbreaks of water-borne infectious diseases among people with private water supplies were 35 times greater than among consumers of publicly-supplied water. (Canadian Medical Association Journal)


People finally looking at the facts rather than simply accepting watermelon woe? Poll Charts Rising U.S. Environmental Satisfaction

WASHINGTON - Americans have grown more content about current environmental quality over the past year, though 53 percent still rate conditions as only fair to poor, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday.

Forty-six percent of the 1,014 adults surveyed March 4 to 7 described current U.S. environmental conditions as excellent or good. That was up from 39 percent in March 2009 and was the highest positive environmental rating measured by Gallup since 2002. (Reuters)


The face of reason

This is Kumi Naidoo, described as the head of Greenpeace. He – or so we are told – argues that it is justifiable to break the law in order to alert people to the threat of climate change.

He is speaking in defence of his activists, 54 of whom have been charged with trespass after spending the night on the roof of the Houses of Parliament in October last year, and says his organisation has no intention of scaling back its tactics.

Actually, I have no problem with the idea of breaking (mad-made) laws. The concept of civil disobedience is honourable and well-established. Much of the progress in what passes for civilisation has been made by men and women of principle refusing to be bound by outdated or unjust laws. And I have personally broken too many such laws in my time to be able to sit on my high horse and condemn anyone else for doing what they believe to be right.

However, there is a distinct and unwholesome tinge to Mr Naidoo's brand of civil disobedience. In the general run of things, the tactic is normally employed by individuals or groups who believe their rights are being infringed or that they are being oppressed by the state. In Mr Naidoo's case, he is seeking to impose his belief system on the rest of humanity, enlisting the state in his cause, to impose expensive and oppressive measures on us all.

Thus, if Mr Naidoo believes that breaking the law is justifiable – as a matter of principle - in pursuit of his beliefs, he can have no reasonable objection if those who wholeheartedly disagree with him adopt exactly the same tactic, in opposition to him and his followers.

And if down that slippery slope we must all travel, he must not be surprised if civil disobedience then extends to refusing to obey any laws that are passed as a result of his activism. "It's only when decent men and women are willing to stand up, put their lives on the line and take strong, vibrant action that the agenda can move forward," he says.

Quite. (EU Referendum)


People buy 'green' products to look good for others

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/15/2010) —Environmentally friendly products are everywhere one looks. Energy efficient dishwashers, bamboo towels, the paperless Kindle and, of course, the ubiquitous Prius are all around. But why do people buy these "green" products? Do they care about the environment or is there something else at play? "Green purchases are often motivated by status," says Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "People want to be seen as being altruistic. Nothing communicates that better than by buying green products that often cost more and are of lower quality but benefit the environment for everyone."

In the recently published paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," Griskevicius and co-authors find that people will forgo luxury and comfort for a green item. The catch? People will forgo indulging for themselves only when others can see it. "Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," says Griskevicius. His research finds that when people shop alone online, they choose products that are luxurious and enhance comfort. But when in public, people's preferences for green products increases because most people want to be seen as caring altruists.

Nowhere is this clearer than the highly visible and easily identifiable Toyota Prius, which essentially functions as a mobile, self-promoting billboard for pro-environmentalism. "A reputation for being a caring individual gives you status and prestige. When you publicly display your environmentally friendly nature, you send the signal that you care," states Griskevicius. (Science Codex) | The paper and more information on Professor Griskevicius can be found at http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/marketinginstitute/vgriskevicius


Sly, dishonest gradualism

Picking up in the news story yesterday that the government was considering such a move, George Pitcher in The Daily Telegraph thinks that lowering the drink-drive limit is an "absurd" idea.

In December, however, the same newspaper found it "puzzling" that Lord Adonis wanted to re-open the debate on the issue.

But, as we remarked at the time, it wasn't puzzling at all. This is part and parcel of a covert attempt at harmonising traffic laws in the EU, which made an appearance in May 2004, based on an agenda set out in 2002. The drink-drive limit is part of it - random testing is another.

What we are seeing is a graphic example of the way the system works. Knowing that an overt "in-your-face" harmonising directive would be hugely unpopular – and underline quite how much power we have given away – the EU works in the shadows, getting member states, apparently voluntarily, to bring their own laws closer into line with the European "ideal".

Each time this is done, it comes out without reference to the EU – presented, as is the case here, as if it was a UK initiative. Then, in the fullness of time, when our laws are so close to the