The master of green socialism

By Peter Foster  May 27, 2010 – 11:03 pm

Maurice Strong has been central to reformulating socialism’s grand narrative in radical environmental terms

There is nothing that aspiring global governors love so much as recognition of their vast good intentions. Today, octogenarian citizen of the world Maurice Strong receives one of this year’s Four Freedoms Awards, established by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Roosevelt Stichting in the Netherlands.

The Four Freedoms are those relating to speech and religion, and from want and fear, and are at the root of the United Nations charter. Mr. Strong’s award comes under the “want” category. The citation notes his modest “role as the foremost guardian of the world’s environment.” Also his commitment to “social justice.” Inconveniently, that latter commitment has recently come to the attention of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who is not the first to notice that “social justice” actually means forced redistribution, which means socialism, which has created more “want” than any system devised by man.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

A Tale of Two Gushers: Oil and Spending

Federal Spending Chart

Washington’s runaway gusher of spending makes the Deepwater Horizon disaster look small and simple to stop.

Congress is debating another irresponsible round of extra spending (although they refuse to call it “son of stimulus”) before they take a Memorial Day break.  The measure would add an estimated $84-billion (or perhaps $100-billion) to the deficit.

That’s actually good news, because earlier this week they planned to spend $50-billion more, until some Democrats joined Republicans in balking.  The bad news is that Congress refuses to adopt a budget that would describe how much more they intend to spend over the next five years—or even to tell us how much more they will spend this year.

In addition, another spending bill is moving thru Congress–with $60-billion that is mostly to finance the war in Afghanistan—which is also deficit spending not included in official budget numbers.

The National Debt clock just topped $13-trillion, surpassing $42,000 apiece for each American.  The $1.5-trillion deficit in 2010 makes everything worse.  Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Side Effects: Cost Of Medicaid Expansion Going Nowhere But Up

In passing Obamacare, Congress has put the states in quite a pickle. To sharply expand health coverage, Obamacare flung wide the gates of Medicaid eligibility. It envisions a massive expansion of the federal-state health program that, historically, delivers low-quality care to low-income Americans.

Not a smart move.

States were already struggling to meet their share of Medicaid program costs—even though Medicaid payments to providers often don’t even cover the cost of care. And, due to the inadequate reimbursement rates, more and more doctors were already refusing to accept new Medicaid patients.

How fiscally shaky is Medicaid today? Well, last year Congress used the stimulus bill to give states $87 billion to help them cover rising Medicaid costs. And that doesn’t seem to be enough.

A recent letter from House Democrats encourages their colleagues to give states another $24 billion to help them cover Medicaid costs for another six months. “Without this funding,” the letter says, “our states will be forced to make severe cuts to Medicaid providers and benefits, and the ensuing budget shortfall would have grave consequences for school funding and other essential state programs.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Vampires latch on to learning

ONE of the many things ailing the present university - and the list is long - is the emergence of what we might term vampire disciplines. These new disciplines are parasitic on existing bodies of knowledge and tend to justify themselves in terms of critique, deconstruction, contextualism, discourse analysis and other approaches that don't add very much to the total sum of knowledge a society or civilisation possesses about itself.

Originally, vampire disciplines found their homes within the humanities and social sciences. But they are quickly spreading to areas as diverse as law and architecture, terrorism studies and geography. Indeed, any discipline with some version of the "critical studies in . . ." genre has probably been infected by the vampire virus. And, if your discipline is still a vampire-free zone, expect the vampire advanced guard to come knocking on your door to convince you that your students majoring in transport logistics need to take a unit in "transport and society" or in "transport cultural identities".

The presence of the word "and" in a unit title should alert you the possibility that the unit being proposed is a vampire unit.

The lack of a sense of humour on the part of the proponent, or their inability to explain in words understandable to the man or woman on the street what the field is about, also make it likely that you are dealing with an academic vampire.

So how did academic vampires become so powerful? (Eduardo De La Fuente, The Australian)

 

Dispatch: Rising Rate of Media Misrepresentation

MSNBC’s Nightly News last night devoted a short segment to an “Extreme Eating” list of high-calorie restaurant meals compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). While the reporter acknowledges that each restaurant also offers lower-calorie options, he concludes by saying that the more calorie-dense options are “a weighty issue for Americans, as this country’s obesity rates just keep rising.”

“Obesity rates are not rising,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “That’s not to say that obesity is not a serious problem or that we shouldn’t do something about it, but for the media to continue to report falsely that obesity rates are rising when we know for a fact that those rates leveled out about five years ago is a misrepresentation of the data. This is an example of the media agenda that supports things like a soda tax and government involvement with restaurant food options.

“Many years ago, I spoke with the head of nutrition at Burger King. He was basically speaking on behalf of all restaurants when he told me, ‘We are in the business of selling customers the food that they want to eat.’ He said Burger King tried to sell tofu burgers for a while, but no one bought them. It’s up to the customers to make good choices. And as far as the media is concerned, obesity is a big enough problem without their exaggerations.” 

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, “Michael Jacobson of CSPI wants to eliminate all high-calorie food choices throughout America, for our own good, he says. Most restaurants offer low-calorie selections, but banning delicious — albeit fattening — choices is, thankfully, not up to CSPI.” (ACSH)

 

Justice

At last justice has been seen to be done in the case of Andrew Wakefield, who provided our first Number of the Month this year. For those who need it here is a comic book version of the saga. We have covered the case on several occasions, beginning in February 2002.

A side issue is the fact that in covering such matters we exposed ourselves to potential bankruptcy in the UK courts, owing to Britain’s extraordinary libel laws, which have been invented on the hoof by the likes of Mr Justice Eady ( Numby Laureate in 2006). Still, given the state of the nation, the creation of a lucrative minor industry such as libel tourism is probably considered a positive contribution.

Meanwhile, all commentators, even those outside the UK if their remarks are published here, face the possibility of massive costs and time-wasting, innocent or not. Crooks can use their ill-gotten gains to oppress anyone who dares to expose them.

Funny old world. (Number Watch)

 

Work stress linked to higher asthma risk

NEW YORK - People who regularly feel stressed out by their jobs may have a higher risk of developing asthma than those with a more-relaxed work atmosphere, a new study suggests.

High on-the-job stress has been linked to a number of health consequences, including heightened risks of heart disease, diabetes and depression.

The new findings, published in the journal Allergy, are the first to show an association between work stress and later asthma risk, according to the researchers.

The investigators found that among more than 5,100 adults they followed for nearly a decade, those who reported high job stress at the outset were twice as likely as those with low levels of work stress to develop asthma. (Reuters Health)

 

Tanning beds raise melanoma risk, US study finds

CHICAGO - Indoor tanning beds sharply increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, and the risk increases over time, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, and others experts called for tighter regulation.

They said people who use any type of tanning bed for any amount of time are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and frequent users are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop the skin cancer than people who never use them.

Nonetheless, the study confirms prior research linking indoor tanning beds with melanoma, and answers any lingering questions about whether the practice is safe, or if the risk depends on the type of tanning bed used.

"We found that it didn't matter the type of tanning device used; there was no safe tanning device," said DeAnn Lazovich of the University of Minnesota, whose study appeared in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. (Reuters)

 

Graying Germany Contemplates Demographic Time Bomb

Germany is already facing a demographic nightmare as birth rates fall despite a slew of family-friendly policies. Now, new statistics show that more people are leaving the country than immigrating -- adding to concerns about the country's shrinking population. (Spiegel)

 

If only mice were little men: Bone marrow transplants cure mental illness – in mice

Preliminary research involving bone marrow transplants in mice suggests there may be an immune component to mental illness such as depression, OCD, autism and schizophrenia (Ian Sample, The Guardian)

 

Scientists offer solutions to arsenic groundwater poisoning in southern Asia

An estimated 60 million people in Bangladesh are exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water, dramatically raising their risk for cancer and other serious diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Because most of the contaminated water is near the surface, many people in Bangladesh have installed deep wells to tap into groundwater that's relatively free of arsenic.

In recent years, farmers have begun using the deep, uncontaminated aquifers for irrigation – a practice that could compromise access to clean drinking water across the country, according to a report in the May 27 issue of journal Science.

The report is co-authored by groundwater experts Scott Fendorf (Stanford University), Holly A. Michael (University of Delaware) and Alexander van Geen (Columbia University).

"Every effort should be made to prevent irrigation by pumping from deeper aquifers that are low in arsenic," the authors wrote. "This precious resource must be preserved for drinking."

Every day, more than 100 million people are exposed to arsenic-contaminated drinking water in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Over the last 10 years, Fendorf, Michael and van Geen have conducted long-term groundwater studies throughout southern Asia with the goal of finding low-cost solutions to what the WHO calls the largest mass poisoning in history.

"Our Science report presents an overview of the scientific consensus and continuing uncertainty about the root causes of the arsenic calamity," said Fendorf, a professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford. (Stanford University)

 

Cull of badgers reduces outbreaks of TB in cattle, ministers told

Badger culling has reduced incidence of TB in cattle, according to scientific evidence given to ministers.

Latest figures on disease outbreaks in the areas where badgers were trapped and shot during the Government’s scientific trials has found that incidence is down 37 per cent.

A joint study by researchers at Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London, published in February, which reviewed the trials that took place between 1998 and 2005, suggested that the benefits of culling disappeared within four years. The experts have updated the findings and state that the results are “consistent with a constant benefit of proactive culling”. The findings have hardened the attitude of many farmers, especially in the South West, one of the worst areas for TB, who are demanding that a cull of badgers starts this autumn. (The Times)

 

U.S. Congress hears benefits of synthetic biology

WASHINGTON - Synthetic biology can be used to make nonpolluting fuel, instant vaccines against new diseases and inexpensive medicines, but it will take time, collaboration and a nurturing regulatory environment, scientists said on Thursday.

The researchers, along with an ethicist and members of Congress, agreed the technology does not pose immediate environmental, security or ethical concerns but said everyone needs to keep an eye on developments.

Most of the hearing before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee was spent outlining the potential of the technology. (Reuters)

 

 

Regarding climate change, Kerry should heed science

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) argued his climate bill, the American Power Act, is a national security imperative, because climate change will inject “a new major source of chaos, tension and human insecurity into an already volatile world.” (“Climate change: The new national security challenge” May 20) As evidence, he reeled off a doomsday list of looming climate crises, including, “more famine and drought, worse pandemics, more natural disasters, more resource scarcity, and staggering human displacement.” On every count, the senator is wrong. (William Yeatman, The Hill)

 

NASA accused of 'Climategate' stalling

FOIA response long overdue

The man battling NASA for access to potential "Climategate" e-mails says the agency is still withholding documents and that NASA may be trying to stall long enough to avoid hurting an upcoming Senate debate on global warming.

Nearly three years after his first Freedom of Information Act request, Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he will file a lawsuit Thursday to force NASA to turn over documents the agency has promised but has never delivered.

Mr. Horner said he expects the documents, primarily e-mails from scientists involved with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), will be yet another blow to the science behind global warming, which has come under fire in recent months after e-mails from a leading British research unit indicated scientists had manipulated some data.

"What we've got is the third leg of the stool here, which is the U.S.-led, NASA-run effort to defend what proved to be indefensible, and that was a manufactured record of aberrant warming," Mr. Horner said. "We assume that we will also see through these e-mails, as we've seen through others, organized efforts to subvert transparency laws like FOIA."

He said with a global warming debate looming in the Senate, NASA may be trying to avoid having embarrassing documents come out at this time, but eventually the e-mails will be released.

"They know time is our friend," said Mr. Horner, author of "Power Grab: How Obama's Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America."

Mark S. Hess, a spokesman for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which overseas the climate program, said the agency is working as fast as it can, and that Mr. Horner should expect some answers any day. (Washington Times)

 

Whether right or not this merely gives the impression of having something to hide: U-Va. goes to court to fight Cuccinelli's subpoena of ex-professor's documents

RICHMOND -- Virginia's flagship university went to court Thursday to fight an effort by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R) to get documents from a former climate scientist at the school, an unusual confrontation that will test the bounds of academic freedom and result in the college facing down its own lawyer in court.

In a motion filed in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia argued that Cuccinelli's subpoena for papers and e-mail from global warming researcher Michael Mann exceeds the attorney general's authority under state law and intrudes on the rights of professors to pursue academic inquiry free from political pressure. (WaPo)

 

Throwing the Hate Crime Grenade

Hate Crime legislation is the last resort of those with no real case. It’s the last resort in the “shut-up” campaign that Team-Carbonari have been running against the free world for two decades. The unverifiable, unknowable crime of intent. (Anyone have one of those Handy-Hate-Meters that reliably measures the dreaded Evil-Score to two decimal places? No? It’s a matter of time…)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post called Evidence What Evidence? where I dismantled the words of a famous Australian science journalist for parroting bureaucrats and not investigating the evidence. What I wrote is not a recipe for building a better bomb with your Mazda, but Ben E took issue with my pointed discussion in the comments:

“Sad, but scarcely surprising. Sites like this one will eventually be shut down in future updates to hate crime legislation, as they are well on the way to inciting violence and hatred towards scientists and science communicators.”

Willis Eschenbach popped in with a devastating reply that deserved to be repeated.

“Well, let’s review the bidding regarding “violence and hatred” … More » (Jo Nova)

 

Casus Belli – Suspend Democracy!

Here’s another excellent post by Eduardo Zorita at the Klimazwiebel

In this BBC podcast (takes a minute or so to load), the view of green elitists is that we have casus belli. Thus democracy has to be suspended and common sense authoritarianism has to take over – just for a while, until things are put back in their proper order. The general population is just too stupid to understand it, and is only getting in the way. (Actually, and thankfully, they’re too informed and many people understand precisely what this is about). 

“The situation is urgent, the world is going to hell in a handbasket – let us rescue the planet. Trust us,” we are constantly told. 

I’m trying to think of a veggie or fruit that’s green outside and brown inside. The closest thing I can think of is a rotten avocado. For me it’s even disturbing that the BBC even gives equal time and weight to the green nutjobs who propose suspending democracy and taking us back to the German Democratic Republic – East Germany, behind the Berlin Wall, for those of you who may have already forgotten. “Trust us” just isn’t good enough. History shows that populations have been burned by this all too often. 

The good news is that authoritarianism only works if there’s consent. But there can be no consent unless there is a genuine debate. That’s where the problem lies for the kook warmists. They’ll never win this debate, and they know it. Indeed consent has been massively eroding lately. Their science has been exposed as a hoax. They’ve lost the case and their desperation has caused them to lose any rationality they may have once had. (No Tricks Zone)

 

Middle classes in suburbs 'bearing brunt of liberal elite's obsession with climate change'

Middle class people living in the suburbs are bearing the brunt of an obsession with tackling climate change forced on them by a liberal elite, according to a new report.
 
Joel Kotkin, an American expert in social trends, said environmental policies were being used as an excuse to restrict the expansion of the suburbs on the edge of towns and cities.
The result was "a direct assault on the quality of life for millions of working and middle class families".
 
Mr Kotkin argued in the report for the Legatum Institute that working and middle class people suffered the most from well intentioned yet-ill thought out policies of liberal and urban elites.

Mr Kotkin said: “Long-term aesthetic arguments against suburbia have now evolved into a new emphasis on ‘sustainability’, largely in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Strict planning controls in the suburbs were ruining people's quality of life, forcing them to concrete over their gardens, or live in cramped homes.

Mr Kotkin said: “Progress made in the last century of returning the garden to British life has been largely sacrificed by … a policy of cramming, that is forcing ever denser housing on both suburban and urban dwellers.” (TDT)

 

Scottish parliament under pressure over emissions manifesto pledge

Scottish government told to draft tougher targets after MPs vote down mandatory annual targets

Alex Salmond's government has been told to draft tougher climate change targets after the Scottish parliament decided that his ministers were failing to cut CO2 emissions quickly enough.

Opposition MPs narrowly threw out the Scottish government's plans to make modest immediate cuts in CO2 emissions, in an embarrassing rebuttal of Salmond's repeated claims that Scotland has "world leading" climate change targets.

His Scottish National party government is now under intensifying pressure to honour its manifesto promise to immediately start cutting Scotland's emissions by at least 3% a year, after offering today to only reduce levels by 0.5% for each of the next two years and 1% in 2012.

Today's vote at Holyrood – by 64 votes to 62 – now means that Scotland currently has no legally binding annual reduction targets. The annual targets were due to take effect next Tuesday, but it may take until the autumn before ministers are able to draft revised proposals able to win majority support. (The Guardian)

 

The great deluded

Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being "wasted" in fighting climate change as other nations are hell-bent on development, a new book claims today – says The Daily Express.

This is "Climate: The Great Delusion", written by Frenchman Christian Gerondeau. He tells us that which we already know, but cannot be repeated often enough, that cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the West will not reduce them globally because of the expansion of China, India and Africa. Thus, the money being spent by our governments to reduce our emissions is being wasted.

Gerondeau concludes in his book that we have to stop wasting public and private money in the illusion that it will "save the planet". Huge savings are at hand, he writes.

The tragedy of this is that it is all true, and easily verified. Yet, despite the economies of Europe falling apart as we speak, the likes of "Call me Dave" Cameron are still locked into their mindless profligacy. And to this day, they cannot see the absurdity of calling for better control of public expenditure while, at the same time condoning the stupidity of wasting billions on their global warming obsession.

Thus, we need a book to go with this one. To "Climate: the great delusion", should be added: "Politicians: the great deluded". Of the two problems, the latter is probably the more formidable. (EU Referendum)

 

Hmm... A forum to make sense of climate science

The Science Museum's new gallery aims to deepen the understanding of those who accept man-made global warming and inform those who are unsure

If there were ever a subject that required calm and considered discussion, it is climate change. The stakes are so high. Is it happening? Is it really being driven by humans? Is it serious? If the threat is mild, we could needlessly waste huge effort and resources. If it is not, we could put at risk our food and water supplies, and world stability, as well as bequeathing our grandchildren a legacy of rising sea levels, shifted climatic zones and an impoverished biosphere. Respond correctly, and we could ensure a future in which both people and the planet can flourish.

Yet public comment is increasingly polarised and shrill. A tyranny is afoot, in which participating risks personal attack, whatever your viewpoint. The situation has become so bad in the United States, that 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences recently published a letter in which they expressed deep concern about a growing wave of political assaults on scientists in general – and climate scientists in particular.

Why should this subject generate so much emotion? Given this and the inevitable uncertainties, how can we find a sensible way forward? (Chris Rapley, The Guardian)

Rapley has certainly done his share of hyping the non issue but never mind that. The real question is whether the world is warmer than should be expected and it is one that no one can answer. Until we can define precise albedo -- along with what it has been and should be through every possible combination of phases of major natural cycles (ENSO, NAO, PDO, IOD, AO...) we have no hope of accurately determining Earth's expected mean temperature. Without knowing that we can not tell whether Earth is responding to new forcings or merely returning to natural equilibrium following the unexplained cool period known as the Little Ice Age.

This is such a silly game.

 

Oops! Society to review climate message

The UK's Royal Society is reviewing its public statements on climate change after 43 Fellows complained that it had oversimplified its messages.

They said the communications did not properly distinguish between what was widely agreed on climate science and what is not fully understood.

The society's ruling council has responded by setting up a panel to produce a consensus document.

The panel should report in July and the report is to be published in September.

It is chaired by physicist John Pethica, vice-president of the Royal Society.

Its deliberations are reviewed by two critical sub-groups, each believed to comprise seven members.

Each of these groups contains a number of society Fellows who are doubtful in some way about the received view of the risks of rising CO2 levels.

One panel member told me: "The timetable is very tough - one draft has already been rejected as completely inadequate."

The review member said it might not be possible for the document to be agreed at all. "This is a very serious challenge to the way the society operates," I was told. "In the past we have been able to give advice to governments as a society without having to seek consensus of all the members. (BBC News)

 

Why Man-Made Global Warming is a load of cobblers; Pt 1

Just been reading Climate: The Counter Consensus (Stacey International) the new book by Bob Carter – that’s New Zealand’s Professor Robert M Carter to you, mate: he’s one of the world’s leading palaeoclimatologists – and it’s a cracker. By the end, you’re left feeling rather as I did after the Heartland Conference, that the scientific case against AGW is so overwhelming that you wonder how anyone can still speak up for so discredited a theory without dying of embarrassment. (James Delingpole)

 

Propagandists seek new visuals: Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism

Climate change is about more than just polar bears. That is the message from Dr Kate Manzo whose research into climate change communication has been published in Meteorological Applications. The research, which reviews the efforts of journalists, campaigners and politicians to engage the British public with climate change, explores how new 'visual strategies' can communicate climate change messages against a backdrop of increased climate scepticism.

"There have been various efforts to put a face on the climate change issue," said Dr Manzo, from Newcastle University. "Communicators need to move away from the traditional images of polar bears or fear-laden imagery to find new, inspirational motifs to engage people with climate change. My research has uncovered a variety of possibilities – such as windmills as icons of renewable energy – as well as alternatives to documentary photography as the dominant form of climate change communication. Artists and cartoonists are among the producers of inspirational alternatives. (Wiley-Blackwell)

 

Hmm... time will tell: Government Warns Of Worst Hurricane Season Since 2005

The Atlantic storm season may be the most intense since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina killed over a thousand people after crashing through Gulf of Mexico energy facilities, the U.S. government's top climate agency predicted on Thursday.

In its first forecast for the storm season that begins next Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast 14 to 23 named storms, with 8 to 14 developing into hurricanes, nearly matching 2005's record of 15.

Three to seven of those could be major Category 3 or above hurricanes, with winds of more than 110 miles per hour (177 km per hour), the agency said, echoing earlier predictions from meteorologists for a particularly severe season that could disrupt U.S. oil, gas and refinery operations.

"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, NOAA's administrator. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall." (Reuters)

 

I knew we were in trouble but hadn't realized the country had closed completely: Our greenhouse emissions back on the rise

Australia's greenhouse gas emissions have started creeping up again after a dip caused by the global financial crisis, a trend that would see the nation overshoot its Copenhagen Accord commitment by a large margin.

Emissions fell last year by 2.4 per cent on 2008 levels as steel and aluminium production was hit by the financial crisis, but began rising again in the last few months of the year.

The country generated an estimated 537 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2009, the largest amount per person of any developed country, three-quarters of which came from the energy sector. (SMH)

537 metric tons? That's equivalent to the emissions of just 28 American citizens. On the other hand they might try a little simple arithmetic, 20 million (give or take) Aussies with per capita emissions of 18.75 mt yields an expected emission total of 375 million mt (plausible) but their 537, if they meant million metric tons, would mean Australians increased their per capita emissions by 50% -- in a recession.

The Sydney Morning Herald's numbers would appear ... questionable.

 

Reuters makes a similar tonnage claim... Australia On Track To Meet Kyoto Target: Government

Australia is on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol climate pact in part because of the global economic downturn, the government said on Thursday.

Australia, among the developed world's top greenhouse gas polluters on a per-capita basis, generates about 80 percent of its electricity from coal.

Emissions from some sectors have soared over the past two decades, particularly power generation and transport. The government hoped an emissions trading scheme would push industry and consumers to boost energy efficiency and switch to greener power.

But that plan has been shelved because of fierce political opposition, although the laws backing greater renewable energy investment have won wider support.

The government, in a regular greenhouse gas emissions report to the United Nations, said emissions fell by about 13 million tonnes between 2008 and 2009.

"The latest National Greenhouse Accounts show Australia's emissions declined for a brief period in the early part of 2009, due largely to the global economic downturn," the Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, said in a statement.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, which uses 1990 as a base year, Australia must limit its greenhouse gas emissions to 108 percent of 1990 levels during the pact's 2008-12 first commitment period. The pact binds about 40 industrialized nations to emissions targets during the 2008-12 period.

The government said annual emissions, excluding those from land use, land use change and forestry, for the four quarters to Dec 2009 fell 2.4 per cent, or from 550 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2008 to 537 million tonnes in 2009. (Reuters)

... which must mean there are significantly more Australians than previously supposed or that we emit roughly 50% more per capita than previously admitted :-)

Not that it really matters at all because all greenhouse figures are rubbery and irrelevant.

 

Like a dog with a Frisbee... Scientists detect huge carbon 'burp' that helped end last ice age

Scientists have found the possible source of a huge carbon dioxide 'burp' that happened some 18,000 years ago and which helped to end the last ice age.

The results provide the first concrete evidence that carbon dioxide (CO2) was more efficiently locked away in the deep ocean during the last ice age, turning the deep sea into a more 'stagnant' carbon repository – something scientists have long suspected but lacked data to support.

Working on a marine sediment core recovered from the Southern Ocean floor between Antarctica and South Africa, the international team led by Dr Luke Skinner of the University of Cambridge radiocarbon dated shells left behind by tiny marine creatures called foraminifera (forams for short).

By measuring how much carbon-14 (14C) was in the bottom-dwelling forams' shells, and comparing this with the amount of 14C in the atmosphere at the time, they were able to work out how long the CO2 had been locked in the ocean.

By linking their marine core to the Antarctic ice-cores using the temperature signal recorded in both archives, the team were also able compare their results directly with the ice-core record of past atmospheric CO2 variability.

According to Dr Skinner: "Our results show that during the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago, carbon dioxide dissolved in the deep water circulating around Antarctica was locked away for much longer than today. If enough of the deep ocean behaved in the same way, this could help to explain how ocean mixing processes lock up more carbon dioxide during glacial periods."

Throughout the past two million years (the Quaternary), the Earth has alternated between ice ages and warmer interglacials. These changes are mainly driven by alterations in the Earth's orbit around the sun (the Milankovic theory).

But changes in Earth's orbit could only have acted as the 'pace-maker of the ice ages' with help from large, positive feedbacks that turned this solar 'nudge' into a significant global energy imbalance. (University of Cambridge)

... these guys just won't let go. Yes, colder oceans store more dissolved carbon dioxide and yes, larger ice sheets reduce ocean atmosphere exchanges but no, this is not "evidence" of enhanced greenhouse forcing at all. Oceans do not warm because they lose carbon dioxide but they do lose carbon dioxide because they warm.

Just stop and consider, for a moment, the effect of ice ages and ice sheet expansion -- more precipitation is locked on land and polar caps in the expanding ice sheets, ocean levels fall about 400 feet (120 meters) below current levels which by definition must reduce pressure over shallow methane clathrate deposits, which form from 300 meters or so -- as ice ages advance the +300 meter depth zone migrates significantly so we should anticipate significant methane release. In fact the whole continental shelf zone has an average drop off depth of 440 feet (135 meters) which means oceans shrink in area by almost 7%. Strange that no one seems to be talking about methane pulses as ice ages develop. Stranger still that if enhanced greenhouse is such an important effect that ice ages can lower sea levels so far.

They pretend to worry about a little methane escaping from permafrost thaw -- think about how much must be liberated from sediment covering almost the entire continental shelf zone. And that is additional to the 120 meter depth girdling the continental drop off where methane clathrate deposits would be destabilized.

Neither the methane panic nor enhanced greenhouse hypothesis make any sense at all.

 

Will REDD Preserve Forests Or Merely Provide a Fig Leaf?

The tropical forest conservation plan, known as REDD, has the potential to significantly reduce deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. But unless projects are carefully designed and monitored, the program could be undercut by shady dealings at all levels, from the forests to global carbon markets. (Fred Pearce, e360)

Simply another scam with no worthwhile objective -- don't touch it.

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, May 27th 2010

Al Gore channels Monty Python, there’s a long list of hyphen-gate scandals for you to cut out and keep, Big Green is out of step with ordinary people and there is a planet doomed by global warming, but it’s not Earth. (Daily Bayonet)

 

Twaddle: Global Floating Ice In "Constant Retreat": Study

The world's floating ice is in "constant retreat," showing an instability which will increase global sea levels, according to a report published in Geophysical Research Letters on Wednesday.

Floating ice had disappeared at a steady rate over the past 10 years, according to the first measurement of its kind.

"It's a large number," said Professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, lead author of the paper, estimating the net loss of floating sea ice and ice shelves in the last decade at 7,420 cubic kilometers.

That is greater than the loss of ice over land from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets over the same time period, highlighting the impact of warming oceans on floating ice.

Ice melt ebbs and flows from winter to summer. The report's calculations referred to the net loss over the past decade.

"There's a constant rate of retreat (annually)," said Shepherd. "It's a rapid process and there's no reason why it won't increase over the next century." (Reuters)

Actually not:

Antarctic sea ice gains pretty much cancel recent reductions in the Arctic and the world is not losing its sea ice:

 

The search for improved carbon sponges picks up speed

Jeffrey Long’s lab will soon host a round-the-clock, robotically choreographed hunt for carbon-hungry materials.

The Berkeley Lab chemist leads a diverse team of scientists whose goal is to quickly discover materials that can efficiently strip carbon dioxide from a power plant’s exhaust, before it leaves the smokestack and contributes to climate change.

They’re betting on a recently discovered class of materials called metal-organic frameworks that boast a record-shattering internal surface area. A sugar cube-sized piece, if unfolded and flattened, would more than blanket a football field. The crystalline material can also be tweaked to absorb specific molecules.

The idea is to engineer this incredibly porous compound into a voracious sponge that gobbles up carbon dioxide. (LBNL)

That's lovely, now don't bother. Why? Because the last thing we want to do is reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Earth has been at critically low CO2 levels for far too long, levels barely able to support photosynthesis.

 

Who Is Really To Blame For This Blowout?

Here's my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place? Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there.

As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama's tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.)

And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we've had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultradeep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people?

All spills seriously damage wildlife. That's a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they've escaped any mention at all. (Charles Krauthammer, IBD)

 

The BP Spill: Self-Regulation, Public Property, and Political Capitalism

by Sheldon Richman
May 27, 2010

[Editor note: Some important facts are emphasized in this post: the Gulf oil spill occurred on property owned and managed by the federal government, and the operator-at-fault (BP) has been the most politically active in its industry. Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman magazine and www.thefreemanonline.org, where this article first appeared.]

With some 7,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico each day from BP’s exploded Deepwater Horizon well, offshore drilling and oil-industry regulation have returned to the front pages.

The familiar old trap is set: Do you want unfettered markets and oil spills or government regulation and safety?  The implied premise is that the oil industry operates in a free market. So, the argument goes, the only alternative is government regulation.

On first glance that story is plausible.

From USA Today:

The company that owns the offshore well spewing crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico and other major oil companies spearheaded a campaign to thwart a government plan to impose tighter regulations aimed at preventing similar disasters, according to government records.

Tighter regulations would have required that drillers perform independent audits and hazard assessments designed to reduce accidents caused by human errors, but the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) has so far not imposed the rules in the face of near unanimous opposition from oil companies.

Oil executives — including BP, which leased the rig that exploded April 20 — argued that the industry had a solid environmental record and most companies had voluntarily adopted similar safeguards to protect against a major spill. They also said the new rules would have been too costly.

So: the MMS wanted to regulate, but the industry said it could regulate itself at lower cost, insisting it was a good steward of the environment. This is not to say that MMS was right and the companies wrong. For reasons provided below, government regulation is fatally flawed. Further, this is not just a simple matter of regulation. More fundamentally it’s a matter of ownership. The government has proclaimed itself the owner of the offshore positions where oil companies drill. In a free market those positions would be homesteaded and managed privately with full liability. In the absence of a free market and private property, built-in incentives that protect the public are diminished if not eliminated. Bureaucrats and “political capitalists” are not as reliable as companies facing bankruptcy in a fully freed market. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Energy Regulation in the States: A Wake-Up Call

by Daniel Simmons
May 28, 2010

“Local environmental regulators say they will press ahead in their battle against global warming whether or not Congress strips U.S. EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gasses. State and local officials from New York and New Jersey also predicted that new greenhouse gas-curbing rules regulating industries would continue even if Congress approves federal climate legislation.”

- Nathanial Gronewold, “States Refuse to Back Down on Climate Policy,” E&E News, May 24, 2010 (reprinted below).

Affordable energy is under assault at all levels of government. But while much attention has focused on federal efforts that are certain to increase the cost of energy (e.g. Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Graham-Lieberman) far less scrutiny been paid to the concerted efforts at the state level to achieve similar goals. The Institute for Energy Research’s report Energy Regulations in the States: A Wake-up Call fills the void and highlights the programs anti-energy activists are promoting in the states.

The report is available here and an interactive map showing electricity prices and other select economic and energy data is here.

The report includes:

· A detailed look at greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations in the states. There have been total of 249 bills passed (see below) that regulate GHGs nationwide, leading to higher energy prices in states.

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· An examination of the three regional greenhouse gas initiatives and their effect on state energy policy. A majority of the nation’s states are either members or observers in one or more of these initiatives, and they have varying effects of energy policy.

· A look at the de facto bans on coal power plants that are popping up in different parts of the nations, and the impact these have on the price of energy and doing business in these states.

· An analysis of Renewable Portfolio Standards throughout the nation. These mandates require a certain percentages of the state’s overall electricity to come from renewables. States that have binding renewable electricity mandates, have electricity prices that are an average of 40 percent higher than other states.

· A break down of the electricity generation profile in each state (this map provides an easy-to-use view of this breakdown). The report also explains why promoting nuclear and wind will do nothing to reduce oil imports (petroleum provides only one percent of our electricity generation).

· An examination of the reasons electricity prices are lower in some states than in others. For example, 13 of the 15 states with the least expensive residential electricity prices produce at least 50 percent of their electricity from either coal or hydroelectric power.

· A detailed state specific appendix examining the energy sources, prices, and regulation (scroll down here to view the link for each states) These profiles give the varying prices of energy per state, as well delve into the wide spectrum of energy sources utilized by our nation. They describe both the benefits and impediments that different sources face in each state and the programs that make up policy. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Not All the ‘Easy’ Oil is Gone Mr. President

At the press conference accompanying the political hara-kiri by his director of the Minerals and Management Service, President Obama changed topics and said, “Now let me make one broader point, though, about energy. The fact that oil companies now have to go a mile underwater and then drill another three miles below that in order to hit oil tells us something about the direction of the oil industry. Extraction is more expensive, and it is going to be inherently more risky. … The easily accessible oil has already been sucked up out of the ground.”

Not all of it. He also could have noted that billions of barrels of “easily accessible” oil have been turned into “impossible to access” oil by federal regulations and moratoria that block any access. There is still a lot of non-deep sea oil available off the cost of California that can be accessed from onshore. And, don’t forget, there are the 10 billion barrels in ANWR. All of this oil has been placed completely off limits by federal regulations. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

European Dream of Desert Energy Takes Shape

Can the Sahara Desert really meet Europe's voracious appetite for energy? The Desertec solar power project aims to do just that, but a host of obstacles remain. Overly optimistic expectations are now being scaled down as the project starts to take shape. (Spiegel)

 

Nissan: electric cars could shed government aid in 4 years

Nissan Motor Co and alliance partner Renault could market electric vehicles without government incentives within four years as global sales reach 500,000 to 1 million vehicles per year, executives said on Wednesday.

Nissan, which is introducing a mass-market Leaf electric car later this year, needs government incentives to spark initial demand but understands those incentives will not be permanent, Nissan-Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said.

"You need to jump start electric cars at a certain level so that we can get scale and the scale will allow us to reduce costs," Ghosn told reporters after a groundbreaking at a plant in Tennessee that will produce the Leaf and its battery.

"We think that scale for us is between 500,000 and 1 million cars a year," he said. "When you get between 500,000 and 1 million cars per year, we don't need government support." (Reuters)

Why should they get any government support at all? If there's really a market for them then people will pay for them. After all, VW's Bugatti built the 3 mile per gallon, 250 mph, thousand horsepower Veyron and retailed it for $1.7 million a piece (base price). Never sell? At least 200 people thought otherwise and forked over the cash.

 

 

HANSON: Save people, not pets

Banning medic training with live animals could kill our troops

A choice between animal lives and human lives is pretty simple for most people, but there are some groups that would equate the two. Right now, there is an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act that would cost the lives of some of our troops in order to save the lives of some animals. One of the groups pushing this agenda is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which posts this on its website:

"On Dec. 10, 2009, Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, introduced H.R. 4269, the BEST Practices Act, which would phase in human-based training methods and replace the current use of live animals in military medical training courses."

The euphemistically named BEST Practices Act is anything but that. The best practice for a new combat medic is treating a living being. That is a harsh reality, but it is the truth. Currently, the military conducts what is called live-tissue training with goats and pigs. The animals are anesthetized and then given wounds the medics and doctors are likely to see in combat, and the medics perform the appropriate procedures to treat them. The animals are not a perfect analogue to a human casualty, but they provide one thing no simulation or dummy can: the visceral reaction each medic must face when a life is in danger. (Jim Hansen, Washington Times)

 

As Euro Zone Demonstrates Again, Socialism's Downfall Is Inevitable

Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, and it will continue to do so despite the best efforts of the die-hard true believers in the Obama administration and the rest of the world.

The most recent example of this failure: Euro-socialism is presently bankrupting the countries that embraced it in Europe. This will result not only in more social and economic upheaval, but also the ultimate demise of the ill-conceived European Union. (Steve McCann, IBD)

 

Censorship is not the answer to health scares

The only way to challenge the pseudoscience of Andrew Wakefield and others is to have more debate, not less.

‘Serious thought should be given by the public as to whether the press can self-police their own conflict of selling their product and sensationalising poor science – and if not, recognised as such, and remedies put in place.’ (Gregory Poland, Ray Spier.)

‘Fear, misinformation, and innumerates: how the Wakefield paper, the press, and public advocacy groups damaged the public health.’ (Vaccine 28 (2010) 2361-2362.)

‘How could this have happened?’ asks a splenetic editorial reflection on the MMR-autism controversy in the current issue of Vaccine, the leading scientific journal in the field of immunisation. The authors - Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic and Ray Spier from the University of Surrey – proceed to blame everybody but the scientific authorities for the scare that was launched in a notorious (and now withdrawn) Lancet paper by the former Royal Free gastroenterology researcher Andrew Wakefield who was finally struck off the medical register this week on charges of serious professional misconduct.

They blame Wakefield (citing the General Medical Council verdict that he was ‘dishonest, misleading and irresponsible’), public health authorities (who ‘stumbled in responding poorly and immediately to the issue’), and the public (for being ‘innumerate’ and ‘uncritical’). In the tone of exasperated schoolteachers scolding truculent adolescents, the authors also attribute ‘significant and disproportionate blame’ to autism advocacy organisations and recommend a period of penitence: ‘deep self-reflection would be appropriate’.

The main target of editorial wrath is the media, which is judged to be unable to ‘balance reporting, risk communication and ethics’ and found guilty of ‘celebrity-based medicine’ and ‘sensational reporting’. A disingenuous assertion of support for the principle of freedom of speech is followed by the demand for apologies from the press for their failures over MMR and a commitment to more responsible reporting in the future, with the implicit threat of measures of censorship – ‘remedies put in place’ – should such responses not be forthcoming.

Professors Poland and Spier have nothing to say about the failures of scientific quality control that allowed the Wakefield research to proceed at a reputable British medical school and teaching hospital and to be accepted for publication in a prestigious medical journal. This is surprising as they are both eminent vaccine scientists and are, respectively, the current and former ‘editors in chief’ of Vaccine. (Michael Fitzpatrick, spiked)

 

Researchers take step to 'universal' flu vaccine

WASHINGTON - A "headless" version of the influenza virus protected mice from several different strains of flu and may offer a step toward a so-called universal flu vaccine, researchers report.

They identified a piece of the virus that appears to be the same even among mutated strains, and found a way to make it into a vaccine.

Years of work lie ahead but if it works in people the way it worked in mice, the new vaccine might transform the way people are now immunized against influenza, the team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York reported.

"We now report progress toward the goal of an influenza virus vaccine which would protect against multiple strains," Dr. Peter Palese, Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre and colleagues report in a new journal mBio.

"Current influenza vaccines are effective against only a narrow range of influenza virus strains. It is for this reason that new vaccines must be generated and administered each year."

Flu viruses mutate constantly and each year a cocktail of three flu vaccines is tweaked to try and hit the most common new mutations. Every few decades a new pandemic strain emerges - a year ago the new H1N1 swine flu strain started a pandemic and it has been added to the seasonal flu vaccine mix.

It takes months to make a new flu vaccine and governments and commercial drug companies struggled to get the new H1N1 vaccine out by last September. Having a universal flu vaccine could, in theory, prevent future pandemics and keep seasonal flu under better control. (Reuters)

 

MILLOY: The standard for an environmental hazard

Litigators clean up while taxpayers are taken to the cleaners

The EPA has a history of impeding environmental protection, most notably with toxic-waste-site cleanup and nuclear waste storage.

In the wake of the 1978 Love Canal controversy, a lame-duck Congress and president enacted the Superfund law in December 1980 to provide for the cleanup of so-called toxic-waste sites. But the Superfund law was poorly designed. By the early 1990s, few sites had been cleaned up. Moreover, while it would take only about two years to actually clean up a site, it would take 10 years to progress to the point of implementation. An average cleanup cost $25 million. The Department of Energy was looking down the barrel of $300 billion worth of cleanups. More money was spent litigating cleanups than actually cleaning up. (Steve Milloy, Washington Times)

 

An eruption of fear and irrationalism

As more facts come to light, we can finally see how crazy it was to shut UK airspace in response to the Icelandic volcano.

So, with the Eyjafjallajökull volcano now appearing to be dormant once more, it seems that Iceland’s most famous export besides fish, the ash cloud, was not quite the mortal threat to European aviation it was said to be. No engines failed, no windows were sandblasted, and no planes crashed. Even at the height of the panic, over the UK and Europe the ash was not of a density sufficient to cause any damage. This does rather raise the question as to why on 15 April, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) closed down all UK airspace for five days, a decision that prompted most of the rest of Europe to do likewise.

The principal reason is that on the morning of 15 April, as the plume of ash from Iceland drifted over the UK, NATS simply did not know whether planes could fly through it without causing damage to their engines. This initial ignorance, backed up by the equally ignorant but zero-tolerance UK Civil Aviation Authority guidelines on volcanic ash clouds, led NATS to shut everything down. ‘It is our priority to ensure safety’, a spokesperson for NATS said at the time. In other words, no risks would, could or should be taken.

The strange thing about this safety-conscious approach is that over a prolonged period of time very little was done to establish whether the ash cloud really did pose a threat to aircraft engines. What was needed was a rational risk-assessment and on that basis an attempt to work out the probable outcomes. That this was absent becomes clear when one considers what the decision to completely shut down UK airspace was based on: a UK Meteorological Office computer modelling system. Such models project the distribution of the ash cloud over a certain period of time. Unfortunately, not only does the margin of error significantly increase over time – which is what you’d expect of any modelling system – but the model also proved incapable of providing the one key datum necessary to gauge potential aircraft damage: the particle density of the ash cloud. (Tim Black, spiked)

 

Herbs, supplements often sold deceptively: US report

WASHINGTON - Sellers of ginseng, echinacea and other herbal and dietary supplements often cross the line in marketing their products, going as far as telling consumers the pills can cure cancer or replace prescription medications, a U.S. government probe found.

In an undercover probe, investigators at the Government Accountability Office also found that labels for some supplements claim to prevent or cure ailments like diabetes or heart disease - a clear violation of U.S. law.

GAO staff targeted supplements most popular with older consumers and posed as elderly buyers in stores or over the telephone.

"The most egregious practices included suspect marketing claims that a dietary supplement prevented or cured extremely serious diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease," the GAO said in a report released on Wednesday at a Senate hearing.

For example, one shopper at a supplement specialty store was told that a garlic supplement could be taken instead of prescribed blood pressure drugs. Another staffer posing as a forgetful, elderly consumer was told by a salesperson that he could take aspirin and ginkgo biloba together with no harm. The Food and Drug Administration has said that combination can cause internal bleeding.

The GAO, which conducts investigations for Congress, also said it found trace amounts of potentially harmful contaminants such as lead and arsenic, but at levels that do not exceed federal guidelines.

Findings of pesticides, however, did exceed the FDA's advisory levels, the GAO said, and 16 of 40 supplements tested would violate the FDA's tolerance. (Reuters)

 

Floods cause havoc as beavers bite the land that saves them

As if the euro crisis were not enough, the Continent is being gnawed by a new problem: ungrateful beavers.

The rodents, Castor fiber, have been munching through dykes and aggravating the floods currently sweeping along the River Oder in Central Europe. They are also holding up the construction of a controversial bridge across the Elbe in Dresden. In Bavaria beavers have tunnelled into a sewerage works, releasing hundreds of tonnes of untreated faeces into a river.

Conservationists have spent millions of euros protecting the endangered species. That now seems to have been a very expensive decision. (The Times)

 

 

MILLOY: Avoiding the slick spots

Agency more adept at blowing hot air
By Steve Milloy 6:49 p.m., Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a perplexing beast. While the agency remains hellbent on regulating colorless, odorless and likely harmless greenhouse gas emissions, it has been utterly incapable of living up to its name with respect to the Gulf oil spill.

Not only was the EPA caught entirely unprepared for the oil spill, but also last week it actually tried to interfere with BP's efforts to use a chemical called Corexit to speed up dispersal of the oil. When the EPA told BP that it should use a less toxic chemical, BP rightly ignored the order because it's the oil, not the dispersant (stupid) that is the real threat to the environment, and there is no better option than the detergentlike Corexit.

Though laboratory toxicity tests show that Corexit will kill 50 percent of the fish exposed to a concentration of 15 parts per million over a period of four days, what the EPA seems to have overlooked is that there are no fish still living in an oil slick in the first place. By the time the oil has dispersed, so too will have the Corexit, down to nontoxic levels. But in the EPA mindset, all chemicals are bad and to be avoided - even ones that help and are, practically speaking, harmless.

But that is not the extent of the EPA's failure. (Washington Times)

 

The Kerry-Lieberman Bill Will Cause American Layoffs

But that doesn't stop the New York Times from running interference for the two New England liberals' climate change bill, of course. 
May 26, 2010
- by Tristan Yates

Eighteen months after the stimulus package that was supposed to prevent a deep recession, here we are. Unemployment is still close to 10%, government budgets are at their worst state in decades, and the stock market one bad day away from another meltdown.

Naturally, that means its time for the Senate to introduce a bill that will kill even more American jobs, and for the liberals in the media to do everything they can to hide its impact.

Cue the New York Times. According to them, the Kerry-Lieberman climate change bill will “prompt a decade of job growth.” That story comes from their affiliate, Greenwire, and references a supposedly nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics study.

If you’re wondering how a tax creates jobs, here’s how it works. The cost to emit a ton of CO2 will be set through auction, but they forecast $16.47 in 2013 with lots of exceptions for favored industries.

Then the legislation is a runaway train. By 2020, few permits are given away — most are auctioned off for higher and higher prices. One CNBC report puts the annual global market for carbon credits at $2 trillion a year. American companies would be paying tens or more likely hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the federal government for the right to emit carbon.

If companies don’t want to pay those fees, they can instead spend money on energy efficient technologies, which creates jobs in those sectors. These are real jobs — but like those in Spain, they’re not economically productive ones. In the absence of taxes and regulation, they wouldn’t exist.

But will companies pay the fees or create the jobs? The study makes assumptions, but as is the case with most economic policies that try to profit by punishing certain behavior, nobody really knows. Maybe everyone just pays the tax and no new alternative energy jobs are created. That’s good for tax revenue but bad for those expecting to get back to work. (PJM)

 

EDITORIAL: Tax dollars perpetuate global-warming fiction

$6 million study is used to lobby for cap-and-tax

With public faith in the global-warming myth on the wane, leftist zealots are desperate to spin a new tale - and they're spending your tax money to do it. Three years ago, Congress appropriated $5,856,600 for the National Academy of Sciences to complete a climate-change study. This bureaucratic attempt to cook the books, which was completed last week, may be too late to save this dying religion. (Washington Times)

 

EU carbon trading scheme failing to cut pollution, campaigners warn

Campaign group Sandbag says the European emissions trading scheme is failing to reduce enough CO2 emissions

Sandbag yesterday released analysis (pdf) showing how Europe's carbon caps have turned into a carbon trap.

This analysis is launched ahead of the European Commission's communiqué expected this week, which will analyse the options for moving beyond a 20% emissions reduction target. Leaked versions of the communiqué have been widely circulated and indicate that the EU acknowledges there are problems with the systems and the oversupply of permits, recommending removing 1.4bn tonnes from the scheme from 2013-20. Sandbag analysis shows that that this number is too low, for caps to become effective 2.3bn tonnes need to be removed.

The EU ETS is facing a number of problems which may leave it redundant. To prevent this from happening and rescue the EU ETS Sandbag have highlighted four fundamental problems with the current system that must be addressed to salvage the scheme. (The Guardian)

Uh... why would anyone want to rescue such an idiotic scheme?

 

Oh boy... EU stops short of recommending 30% cut in emissions by 2020

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard claims that economic crisis has made it cheaper to move to higher target

The European commission today reopened the debate on whether Europe should volunteer to cut its carbon emissions further, but stopped short of recommending such a move.

Connie Hedegaard, climate commissioner, said the recession would make it cheaper than expected for the continent to hit its target to reduce carbon pollution 20% by 2020. Raising the target to 30% by 2020 would also cost less than first calculated.

Hedegaard said: "Whether to increase our reduction target for 2020 from 20% to 30% is a political decision for the EU leaders to take when the timing and the conditions are right. Obviously, the immediate political priority is to handle the [financial] crisis. But as we exit the crisis, the commission has now provided input for a fact-based discussion. The decision is not for now, but I hope that our analysis will inspire debate in the member states on the way forward." (The Guardian)

We're broke anyway so we have less to lose with ever more suicidal "targets"? What a dangerous loon.

 

Global Warming Brought to Book

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

“The best is yet to be...” [Robert Browning, from ‘Dramatis Personae’ (1864)]

I have just checked on Amazon UK: out of the top five most popular books about ‘global warming’, no fewer than four are by sceptical authors.

And, it is surely about to get even more interesting as four new, highly-critical works hit the virtual and bookshop ‘shelves’ this May:

First, there is a new masterpiece from Matt...

Read more... (Philip Stott, The Clamour of the Times)

 

Climategate and the Scientific Elite

Climategate starkly revealed to the public how many global-warming scientists speak and act like politicians.

The news that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who popularized the idea of a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism, has been struck off the register of general practitioners in the United Kingdom testifies to the fact that, in many scientific fields, objectivity still reigns. Britain’s General Medical Council found that Wakefield had used unethical and dishonest research methods and that when his conclusions became common knowledge, the result was that far more children were exposed to the risk of those diseases than would have been the case otherwise. Unfortunately, in other areas, some scientists have been getting away with blatant disregard for the scientific method.

The most prominent example, “Climategate,” highlights how dangerous the politicization of science can be. The public reaction to Climategate should motivate politicians to curb such abuses in the future. Yet it was politicians who facilitated this politicization of science in the first place. (Iain Murray, NRO)

 

More yuks... Understanding the Urgency of Climate Change

Many circumstances require immediate action: consider a full bladder or a red traffic light. We usually address such circumstances without delay, because the consequences of inaction--physical discomfort or legal troubles--are clear.

When it comes to climate change, the urgency of the problem may not seem so obvious, since it doesn't sound an alarm or poke us in the eye. The consequences appear to be far away. And we find it hard to comprehend the significant risks posed by global warming, such as the rapid accumulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere or the impending rise in sea levels, because we can't, at the moment, see them with the naked eye. Yet if we fail to reduce heat-trapping emissions, we will cross a threshold, and the changes in our world will be irreversible. (Brenda Ekwurzel, Union of Concerned Scientists)

By golly they do spew a lot of rubbish! Would changes in climatic state be "irreversible"? Never have been in the past because Earth has been through multiple phases of ice age and ice free so definitely "reversible". Is carbon dioxide the key driver of climatic state? Of course not, Earth has plunged into glaciated states when atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane levels have been an order of magnitude higher and similarly emerged from glaciated states when these trace gases have been much lower -- changes in greenhouse gases follow changes in climate but they show no evidence of causing such changes. Are we making changes anything akin to inflating a balloon with water from a gushing faucet? How utterly absurd! What we are managing is barely a daily drip, having taken 250 years to assist atmospheric CO2 levels to increase from ~0.03% to ~0.04%. Only 100 times greater increase to go before the atmosphere resembles what we exhale naturally (halitosis not withstanding human breath is neither poisonous gas nor "pollution").

 

These clowns are still on about CO2 too: Air traffic poised to become a major factor in global warming

The first new projections of future aircraft emissions in 10 years predicts that carbon dioxide and other gases from air traffic will become a significant source of global warming as they double or triple by 2050. The study is in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal. (ACS)

 

This infection is everywhere: Researchers calculate the greenhouse gas value of ecosystems

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new, more accurate method of calculating the change in greenhouse gas emissions that results from changes in land use.

The new approach, described in the journal Global Change Biology, takes into account many factors not included in previous methods, the researchers report.

Different ecosystem types vary in their absorption or emission of greenhouse gases. | Graphic by Kristina Anderson-Teixera and Diana Yates
There is an urgent need to accurately assess whether particular land-use projects will increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions, said Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, a postdoctoral researcher in the Energy Biosciences Institute at Illinois and lead author of the new study. The greenhouse gas value (GHGV) of a particular site depends on qualities such as the number and size of plants; the ecosystem’s ability to take up or release greenhouse gases over time; and its vulnerability to natural disturbances, such as fire or hurricane damage, she said. (U Illinois)

It could take decades to undo the damage wrought by this runaway hypothesis -- we have no empirical support whatsoever for catastrophic enhanced greenhouse effect and yet the hysteria has contaminated everything, including fields that should recognize the value atmospheric carbon dioxide.

 

Public servants trained to fight scepticism

image

Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and the Environment admits that the more you question a global warming scientist, the less likely you are to believe him:

Popular opinion on climate change often waivers, particularly when the media focus on denialist views and encourage “debates” with climate change scientists.

And so the department is offering all Victorian public servants this workshop - which of course presumes there’s not a sceptic in the joint:

DSE invites members of the Victorian Public Service to a presentation on:

Dealing with climate change denialism

with Paul Holper, CSIRO…

Friday 18 June 2010
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
(includes question time)
Treasury Theatre, Lower Plaza
1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne

Ah, that slur-word “denialism”.  But why a “question time” when debate is so dangerous to the cause?

(No link to the DSE email. Thanks to readers Michael, Peter, Pat and Andy.) (Andrew Bolt)

 

Again with the make-believe: Extreme droughts to be 'more common'

Britain is heading for water shortages and crop failures as extreme droughts like that of 1976 become more frequent, experts have warned.

A Met Office study on how climate change could affect the frequency of extreme droughts in the UK has found they will become more common by 2100, and to put the droughts in context, conditions seen in 1976 were used as a benchmark – one of the worst droughts on record.

The Met Office climate model was used to run a number of simulations and in the worst case scenarios, extreme droughts could happen once every decade – making them about 10 times more frequent than today.

Eleanor Burke, climate extremes scientist with the Met Office, said understanding how droughts will affect the UK in the future is vital for plans to adapt to climate change. (The Independent)

For the record, 1976 was at the end of three decades of cooling global temperatures and worries about the onset of a new ice age. Oops...

In fairness it was a relatively warm year in the Central England Temperature record, ranking 32nd in the warm list. The case for annual deficits is difficult to make when reviewing seasonal England & Wales precipitation though:

Even tougher when you look at the long-term annual series:

 

Excellent Posts On The Weblog Of Bob Tisdale On Near Real-Time Ocean Surface Temperature Anomalies

In my post

Lack Of A Trend In The Ocean Surface Temperature Since 2000 – Its Significance

I wrote

“What is missing from the otherwise excellent website (refering to website http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anomaly.html), of course, are time plots of the global average sea surface temperatures, as well as averages for different subregions of the oceans.  With that information, we could more readily track the ocean contribution to the global average surface temperature trend, as well as anomalies within the subregions.”

Bob Tisdale on his weblog http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/ has alerted us to his excellent weblog presentation with monthly updates of SST anomalies globally, and for hemispheric and ocean basin basins. His information is accessible at

http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/05/april-2010-sst-anomaly-update.html

The global average anomaly is currently well above average, but unless this positive anomaly continues for the coming months, the absence of a clear long term trend since 1998 remains (although the interannual variations are remarkably large).

As Bob writes

“NINO3.4 SST anomalies are dropping but El Niño conditions remained during April in the central tropical Pacific (Monthly NINO3.4 SST Anomaly = +0.68 deg C). Weekly data has fallen into ENSO-neutral ranges (+0.30 deg C). Global SST anomalies increased slightly again during April (0.017 deg C). On a hemispheric basis, the rise was limited basically to the Northern Hemisphere, since the increase in the Southern Hemisphere was negligible (0.002 deg C). And looking at the major ocean basins, the North Pacific, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the East Indian-West Pacific Ocean datasets all show drops this month, but they were not strong enough to outweigh the rises in the North Atlantic and South Pacific.”

Bob also provides mid-month updates of NINO3.4 and global data using the weekly OI.v2 SST anomaly data, aka Reynolds SST data at http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/05/mid-may-2010-sst-anomaly-update.html. He writes

“NINO3.4 SST anomalies for the week centered on May 19, 2010 show that central equatorial Pacific SST anomalies are below zero and continuing their decline. Presently they’re at -0.21 deg C, which is in ENSO-neutral levels.”

and

 ”Weekly Global SST anomalies are still elevated, but they may have peaked for this El Nino. They are starting to show signs of a drop in response to the decline in central equatorial Pacific temperatures, but the global weekly data is much too variable to tell for sure.”

I recommend bookmarking this excellent, much needed weblog! (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Gavin Schmidt on attribution



Gavin Schmidt wrote an essay on the attribution of climate change:

On attribution (Real Climate)
He believes - or he pretends to believe - that the average RC readers are more confused about this topic than himself. However, his text - which is a mixture of correct observations, tautologies, obfuscations, hidden facts, missing basic principles, double standards, and manifestly untrue propositions - shows otherwise.

His "executive summary" makes four basic claims:
  1. You can’t do attribution based only on statistics
  2. Attribution has nothing to do with something being “unprecedented”
  3. You always need a model of some sort
  4. The more distinct the fingerprint of a particular cause is, the easier it is to detect
Now, the points 1,3,4 are correct as stated while 2 is incorrect. However, Schmidt later strengthens 1 to something that is no longer correct. And he masks the results of 4, the fingerprint (or he only wants to use the point 4 when it's convenient but not otherwise). So when these four items are taken to include the whole context, I only agree with 3 - although the word "model" in 3 is inappropriate and immediately leads Schmidt to additional missteps.

But even if you ignore the wrong word "model" and consider the point 3 correct, 3 is just the very beginning of science - and everything else that Schmidt would like to be done with 3 is just wrong.

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

 

Solar Story Update

We have written about the solar control on climate many times in the past, and to say the least, the debate continues to rage regarding the solar influence of Earth’s climate. IPCC has been luke warm on the subject, stating in the Technical Summary that “Solar irradiance contributions to global average radiative forcing are considerably smaller than the contribution of increases in greenhouse gases over the industrial period.” Two articles have appeared recently that provide even more evidence that variations in solar output have a profound impact on regional, hemispheric, and global climatic variations. (WCR)

 

Norway hopes to unlock climate cash to fight tropical deforestation

Norway has announced $1bn in aid to protect forests in Indonesia and hopes to forge a partnership to fight climate change (Reuters)

The trouble is wealthy developed worlders pay money to third world kleptocrats to lock impoverished people out of essential resources and any chance of development. It might give warm fuzzy feelings to ecochondriacs with everything they need (save perhaps common sense) but it wreaks havoc on the world's poorest people. Don't do it.

 

New Scientist: The Age of Name-Calling

New Scientist Satirical Cover

New Scientist plumbs new lows. The magazine has become its own self-parody. Do they see the irony of inviting a PR expert to accuse industries nearly 20 years ago of committing the crime of, wait for it, … using a PR expert?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hold any elitist ideas that only people with science degrees can write for New Scientist (the magazine has pretty much proven how useless a science degree can be). My issue with them is that Richard Littlemore (a PR expert) has essentially written a smear-by-association piece, which should have no place in a real scientific magazine. It’s not like Littlemore is just an unhealthy part of a big healthy debate — instead he’s the advertiser being offered free editorial space within the one-sided propaganda that masquerades as journalism.

New Scientist may think climate science is a moral imperative, but they don’t have room for the climate scientists who have published peer reviewed criticisms of their favorite theory. Nor do they have space to tell the extraordinary story of the grassroots independent retiree scientists who’ve busted the biggest scientific scam since the Piltdown Man. More » (Jo Nova)

 

Climate Change-Malaria Link Debunked

Many climate change alarmists have predicted a wide range of calamitous side-effects to be caused by global warming. One such link that frequently surfaces is that global warming will cause the spread of malaria, leading to a world wide pandemic. A new study, just published in the journal Nature, has shown that malaria is actually declining worldwide. Furthermore, proposed future climate induced effects are insignificant compared with the observed natural trend and easily overcome by current disease control mechanisms. In short, claiming that malaria will spread around the globe due to climate change is an outright lie.

An increased malarial threat has been popular with the media and global warming alarmists for decades. Conscientious scientists like Paul Reiter, a medical entomology researcher at the Institut Pasteur, have denounced such exaggerated claims for more than a decade. “Environmental activists use the ‘big talk’ of science to create a simple but false paradigm,” Reiter said in testimony before the US Senate in 2006. “Malaria specialists who protest this are generally ignored, or labelled as ‘sceptics’.” Now he and others have who have fought against such non-science have been vindicated. A new article, entitled “Climate change and the global malaria recession,” by Peter W. Gething et al. has driven a stake into the heart of this blatant nonsense. Writing in the May 20, 2010, issue of the respected scientific journal Nature the international team of researchers explain their study:

The current and potential future impact of climate change on malaria is of major public health interest. The proposed effects of rising global temperatures on the future spread and intensification of the disease, and on existing malaria morbidity and mortality rates, substantively influence global health policy. The contemporary spatial limits of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and its endemicity within this range, when compared with comparable historical maps, offer unique insights into the changing global epidemiology of malaria over the last century. It has long been known that the range of malaria has contracted through a century of economic development and disease control. Here, for the first time, we quantify this contraction and the global decreases in malaria endemicity since approximately 1900.

Simply put, instead of just conjecture they went back over the past century's worth of records concerning malaria to find out what has actually been happening. After all, we all know that Earth's climate has warmed somewhat over the past 100+ years or so, which should imply an increase in malaria if the proposed global warming-malaria link is true. Not that it is unreasonable to think that climate change could have an impact on malaria.


A malaria mosquito. Photo UC Davis.

Malaria remains a major scourge of mankind, killing around 1.5 million people each year, more than 3,000 of them children under the age of five. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has an infection rate of approximately 400 to 500 million victims each year and accounts for one in every ten deaths of children in developing countries. Malaria is both treatable and preventable with the technology we have today. Tragically, the majority of these cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa where poverty is the biggest obstacle in dealing with this epidemic.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by a eukaryotic protist of the genus Plasmodium. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Malaria is naturally transmitted by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito (the disease's vector). The life cycle of malaria parasites is quite complicated, consisting of three major cycles with multiple stages at each step along the way.


The malaria life cycle. Source CDC.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, malaria parasites are transferred to the new human host in the mosquito's saliva. The first human cycle (A) is spent in the infected person's liver. After a period of between two weeks and several years, the malaria parasites infect and begin to multiply within red blood cells, starting the second human cycle (B). The parasites are protected from attack by the body's immune system because, for most of their human life cycle, they hide in the liver and red blood cells, where they are relatively invisible to the immune system.

In the human blood cycle, infected cells stick to the walls of blood vessels, obstructing blood flow. The pathogen also digests the blood cells' hemoglobin, diminishing oxygen flow throughout the body. The classic symptom of malaria is cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness followed by rigor and then fever and sweating lasting four to six hours. It also causes widespread anemia and major problems occur when blockage affects major organs such as the brain and heart. Children with malaria can suffer cognitive impairments and even severe brain damage. During this stage of the parasites' life red blood cells burst open spilling the pathogen into its host so other cells can be infected. From the victim's blood, mature parasites await transfer to a new mosquito host.


Red blood cells burst by malaria parasites.

When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is taken that contains malaria parasites and the mosquito cycle (C) starts. After dining on an infected person, parasites develop within the mosquito and about one week later, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal the whole complicated process over again.

Both the malaria parasite and the mosquitoes which spread it respond to temperature and moisture, and global warming is expected to increase both. As is typical these days, scientists constructed models to help predict the impact of a changing climate on diseases including malaria. These models have predicted that in a warmer world the area subject to endemic malaria would increase significantly, though some places could see a reduction due to increased aridity. “We compare the magnitude of these changes to the size of effects on malaria endemicity proposed under future climate scenarios and associated with widely used public health interventions,” state Gething et al..

The researchers found two key implications with respect to climate change and malaria that the alarmists often conveniently ignore: “First, widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent. Second, the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures.”


Figure S2. Maps estimating the P. falciparum basic reproductive rate.

In other words, over the past century malaria has receded, despite an ever warming climate—the exact opposite of the effect predicted by the climate change Cassandras. Gething et al. concluded that claims that a warming climate has led to more widespread disease and death due to malaria are not supported by the evidence. Actual real-world data show the areas affected shrinking in size and the impact of the change shrinking as well. Furthermore, the changes projected for the future are only a tenth of those already experienced and can be easily controlled. The study's authors summed up the case for an increasing malarial threat due to global warming this way:

Predictions of an intensification of malaria in a warmer world, based on extrapolated empirical relationships or biological mechanisms, must be set against a context of a century of warming that has seen marked global declines in the disease and a substantial weakening of the global correlation between malaria endemicity and climate.

Science speak for “it doesn't work that way.” There is no denying that all life on Earth is affected by climate, and that the climate is always changing. It is the amount of the climate effect that has been blown all out of proportion. Just like the claims of imminent polar bear extinction, increased hurricane activity and rapidly rising sea-levels, the global warming induced malaria epidemic is a fiction.

These revelations have prompted a wide number of responses in the media, including one from the green.view column of The Economist, which generally supports climate change claims. “Scientists tend to model what can be modelled, and natural scientists, in particular, tend to prefer models that incorporate at least some aspects of the underlying processes which they are interested in, rather than working purely on empirical correlations,” the online article states. Models should always come with a list of warning, caveats regarding possible inaccuracies, but that this doesn't always get communicated along with a model's results. The article calls not including appropriate caveats reckless, but many have no time for such details and others have agendas to follow:

The recklessness may, at times, be deliberate. In the reporting of climate change, as in the reporting of pretty much everything else, bad news gets a better airing than good. There is no doubt that some environmental advocates are willing to exploit that dynamic to the full.

Unsurprisingly, warmist propagandists like Joe Romm and Andy Revkin persist in trying to spread this untruth. They continue to claim that balanced coverage of global warming is really bias and that people need to be scared into supporting draconian anti-climate change measures. Lies on top of lies. Eventually these self-serving, pompous ignoramuses will have to drink from the bitter cup of truth. It is worth recalling the words of Dr. Reiter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation:

A galling aspect of the debate is that this spurious 'science' is endorsed in the public forum by influential panels of 'experts.' I refer particularly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Every five years, this UN-based organization publishes a 'consensus of the world's top scientists' on all aspects of climate change. Quite apart from the dubious process by which these scientists are selected, such consensus is the stuff of politics, not of science. Science proceeds by observation, hypothesis and experiment. The complexity of this process, and the uncertainties involved, are a major obstacle to a meaningful understanding of scientific issues by non-scientists. In reality, a genuine concern for mankind and the environment demands the inquiry, accuracy and scepticism that are intrinsic to authentic science. A public that is unaware of this is vulnerable to abuse.

The Economist opined, “one of the obvious problems with predicting the future effects of climate change is that they haven’t happened.” Indeed. Here again we see a scare tactic widely used by climate change alarmists shown to be pure bunk. Real science takes time, but politicians, the media and eco-activists are always impatient and rushing to judgment. In doing so they may generate a few scary headlines and temporarily shift public opinion in their direction, but the truth comes out in the fullness of time. As we said in The Resilient Earth, nature is what it is.

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

 

Discovery by Colorado State University Professor Simplifies Our View of Atmospheric Aerosols, a Factor in Climate Change

FORT COLLINS - The large number of tiny organic aerosols floating in the atmosphere – emitted from tailpipes and trees alike – share enough common characteristics as a group that scientists can generalize their makeup and how they change in the atmosphere.

The groundbreaking research by Colette Heald, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, was highlighted this month on the cover of the American Geophysical Union’s prestigious Geophysical Research Letters.

“The hope is that we can start to accurately represent organic aerosols in climate models so we can address how they impact climate and air quality, and particularly the issue of how much is natural and how much comes from human activities,” Heald said. “What we’re really trying to get at is the composition – what’s in the atmosphere, how is it changing and where does it have an environmental impact? Many of the compounds in the atmosphere are really short lived, so the picture changes quickly.”

The atmosphere contains many different kinds of aerosols such as dust and sulfate as well as organic aerosols. These organic aerosols come from many different sources, including fossil fuel emission and wildfires. Fungi, bacteria and pollen are among the major biologically produced organic aerosol particles. Further complicating the picture are atmospheric gases that change over time and can become aerosols in the atmosphere. (CSU)

 

Are Clouds The Main Cause Of Climate Change?

Two weeks ago, I interviewed Dr. Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Spencer is a trained atmospheric scientist and actively publishes in peer-reviewed journals –  he is also a global warming skeptic. Given his background and contrarian views, I asked Spencer what evidence there is to suggest that a majority of the climate science community is wrong about global warming.

He explained that the IPCC climate models used to forecast drastic temperature increases assume that low level clouds, which tend to cool the climate, dissipate in response to warming from CO2 emissions. The assumption is based on the observation that warmer years tend to have less cloud cover than cooler years. 

Spencer argues that the IPCC is mixing up cause and effect; the warming could actually be caused by decreases in cloud cover. If he is correct, there are good reasons to believe that increases in cloud cover will mitigate the warming caused by CO2 emissions, and, as a result, global warming may not be the disaster many scientists anticipate.

Some readers took issue with that hypothesis. Patrick Lockerby was so moved by the interview that he wrote a fairly lengthy rebuttal to it. Given the detailed criticism, I asked Spencer to briefly respond. (Cameron J English, Scientific Blogging)

 

CSIRO blame game

by Tom Quirk
May 26, 2010

It was them that done it!

The explanation from P. Fraser, a senior CSIRO scientist, reveals how a major document branded by the organisation was published and promoted. Apparently, the final draft “State of the Climate” report was not reviewed by CSIRO or BOM scientists themselves, and when it is questioned others are blamed for the errors it contains and the confused dating of information. 

It’s not as though nothing is at stake. Were the now delayed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to be introduced, an estimated $14 billion over 10 years would be confiscated from the coal mining sector alone, simply on the basis that its allegedly rising fugitive methane emissions posed an unacceptable climatic threat. 

Australia’s was the only scheme in the world that was going to penalise coal mining in this way – and the proposal appeared to have CSIRO professional authority behind it. But rather than represent the data objectively – which is the CSIRO’s charter – we’ve been served up a significant distortion. If it’s not the scientist’s fault one wonders where the real accountability lies? 

To Fraser’s points: while the data may now be correct the choice of scale renders the presented result unintelligible. What remains unexplained is the omission of the methane measurements from Cape Grim showing the plateau in methane concentrations. 

Fraser makes the point that the CSIRO team were the first to report a rise in methane again towards the end of 2006 at the end of the omitted plateau. The work of the group in atmospheric measurements is first class and arguably occasionally better than some of their US colleagues but their over eager interpretation may lead them astray. The claim of rising methane is an example (Figure 1) as the latest published measurements[i] suggest otherwise with a decreasing trend. 

Figure 1: Recent measurements of atmospheric methane. Instantaneous growth rate for globally averaged atmospheric methane (solid line; dashed lines are ±1 standard deviation).

The IPCC does not understand or cannot explain the behaviour of atmospheric methane. The CSIRO has done no better. Only time for more measurements and a better understanding of the sources and sinks of methane will resolve this issue. The science is uncertain and not a basis for any policy making that has the potential to cripple a large part of the coal mining industry.

More transparency and less selective presentation would help.

[i] E. J. Dlugokencky, L. Bruhwiler, J. W. C. White, L. K. Emmons, P. C. Novelli, S. A. Montzka, K. A. Masarie, P. M. Lang, A. M. Crotwell, J. B. Miller and L. V. Gatti, Observational constraints on recent increases in the atmospheric CH4 burden. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L18803, 2009

(Quadrant)

 

Study: Major hurricane could devastate Houston

Post-Ike study by Rice's SSPEED Center details vulnerabilities

With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season less than a week away, a new analysis from experts at several Texas universities is warning that a major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region. A report issued today by the Rice University-based Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center (SSPEED) indicates that even a moderately powerful hurricane could endanger tens of thousands of lives and cripple the Houston Ship Channel, which is home to about one-quarter of U.S. refineries. (Rice University)

 

AGU 10-10: Undersea forces from hurricanes may threaten Gulf pipelines

WASHINGTON—Hurricanes could snap offshore oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico and other hurricane-prone areas, since the storms whip up strong underwater currents, a new study suggests.

These pipelines could crack or rupture unless they are buried or their supporting foundations are built to withstand these hurricane-induced currents. "Major oil leaks from damaged pipelines could have irreversible impacts on the ocean environment," the researchers warn in their study, to be published on 10 June in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

With the official start of hurricane season approaching on June 1, news reports about the Deep Horizon oil spill that began fouling the Gulf last month have raised questions about how a hurricane might complicate the unfolding disaster.

A hurricane might also create its own spills, the new research indicates. The storms' powerful winds can raise waves 20 meters (66 feet) or more above the ocean surface. But their effects underwater are little known, although signs of seafloor damage have showed up after some hurricanes.

Based on unique measurements taken directly under a powerful hurricane, the new study's calculations are the first to show that hurricanes propel underwater currents with enough oomph to dig up the seabed, potentially creating underwater mudslides and damaging pipes or other equipment resting on the bottom.

At least 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) of pipelines reportedly snake across the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico. Damage to these pipelines can be difficult to detect if it causes only smaller leaks, rather than a catastrophic break, the researchers say. Repairing underwater pipes can cost more than fixing the offshore oil drilling platforms themselves, making it all the more important to prevent damage to pipelines in the first place. (AGU)

 

The Blowout And Our Addiction To Prosperity

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is providing barrels of new ammunition to pundits on both the Right and the Left who contend we have to end our “addiction” to oil. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

Going "Green"

I ride my bike to work. It seems so pure.

We're constantly urged to "go green" -- use less energy, shrink our carbon footprint, save the Earth. How? We should drive less, use ethanol, recycle plastic and buy things with the government's Energy Star label.

But what if much of going green is just bunk? Al Gore's group, Repower America, claims we can replace all our dirty energy with clean, carbon-free renewables. Gore says we can do it within 10 years.

"It's simply not possible," says Robert Bryce, author of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy." "Nine out of 10 units of power that we consume are produced by hydrocarbons -- coal, oil and natural gas. Any transition away from those sources is going to be a decades-long, maybe even a century-long process. ... The world consumes 200 million barrels of oil equivalent in hydrocarbons per day. We would have to find the energy equivalent of 23 Saudi Arabias."

Bryce used to be a left-liberal, but then: "I educated myself about math and physics. I'm a liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics." (John Stossel, Townhall)

 

Turning all cars electric in Britain needs boost in power supply

Switching all cars in the country to electric would drain the National Grid of nearly a fifth of its capacity unless the equivalent of another six new nuclear power stations are built, claims a report. (TDT)

 

Wind Integration Realities: The Bentek Study for Texas (Part IV)

by Kent Hawkins
May 26, 2010

[Editor's note: This is the final post in the series reviewing studies for the Netherlands, Colorado and Texas on (elevated) fossil-fuel emissions associated with firming otherwise intermittent wind power. Part I introduced the issues. Part II showed negated emission savings for the Netherlands at current wind penetration (about 3 percent). Part III extended the Netherland's experience to the higher wind penetration in Colorado (6%) which demonstrates higher emissions. Part IV concludes with the Bentek results for Texas,which confirms those for Colorado.]

There are a number of relevant, notable characteristics of the 2008 Texas electricity production profile, 85% of which is managed by ERCOT:

  • The utility portion of the total electricity production is only about 24% of the total, with independent suppliers providing 57% and CHP installations, 19%. This distribution suggests that ERCOT’s ability to balance wind production is more limited than what might first appear.
  • Wind production is 5% of the total (less CHP), but a very large 17% of the utilities portion.
  • A large proportion of gas production is provided by independent suppliers and CHP, 45% and 39% respectively, again likely limiting ERCOT’s ability to balance wind with gas.
  • The ratio of utility gas to wind production is 192%, which suggests that this is tight if dedicated to wind balancing. This, plus high production from wind at night, explains the high degree of cycling of coal plants required.

Because of recycling events, arguably attributable to the presence of wind plants, the results are the same as for PSCO, that is, there is an increase in CO2 emissions with the presence of wind. In ERCOT, the coal plants produced an additional CO2 emissions in 2008 of about 0-566,000 tons over running stably without these events, and in 2009, an additional 772,000-1,102,000 tons. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Spiraling Costs Threaten International Fusion Reactor Project

The planned ITER fusion reactor in France is supposed to replicate conditions inside the Sun to produce limitless clean energy. But skyrocketing costs are putting the international project at risk. Now Germany's research minister has said Berlin will not write a blank check for the technology.

From the air, the construction site looks like a sandbox for giants. The meticulously leveled area, which is located in the middle of lush pine forests near the southern French town of Saint-Paul-les-Durance, is waiting for the ground-breaking ceremony in July. Here, on yellowish-red Provencal soil, the international nuclear fusion reactor ITER is supposed to be built in what will be one of the largest research projects in the world.

In recent months, construction workers are said to have moved soil with the total volume of the Great Pyramid at Giza. And that is just the beginning. The first buildings will soon be erected here, forming the site's own small town. The largest building will house the reactor, where as of 2026 the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium will be fused in a controlled reaction to form helium, delivering energy on the scale of a power plant. It's the same process that operates within the sun, and temperatures in the interior of the reactor could reach 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit).

Proponents of the project argue that what is at stake is nothing less than the energy of the future -- a process of energy production that uses a fuel that is available in almost infinite quantities, and that produces nearly no waste. For the first time, a fusion reactor would produce more energy than is necessary for its operation.

Opponents, however, see the multi-billion euro project as a modern white elephant. Now it has been revealed that ITER's construction costs are exploding. In a worst case scenario, the whole project could be at risk. (Spiegel)

 

 

Negative research often spun to look good: study

NEW YORK - Scientists are no strangers to spinning their research, a new study -- presumably not spun -- shows.

More than half of 72 reports examined by French and British researchers had dressed up their conclusions to make it seem as if new treatments were beneficial, even though they weren't according to the statistics in the report.

For instance, one study concluded a cancer detection system worked, but couldn't back it up with actual results, Dr. Isabelle Boutron, who worked on the study, told Reuters Health.

"Some of it was quite shocking," said Boutron, of the Universite Paris Descartes in France, adding that not all the examples were as glaring.

Earlier research has shown that findings are often spun when money is involved -- for instance when a drug maker funds a study of its own product. In such cases, favorable conclusions may directly contradict the actual results. (Reuters Health)

 

Blood pressure control up in US; many still suffer

CHICAGO - About half of the 65 million people in the United States who have high blood pressure now have it under control, up from 27 percent two decades ago, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

But the overall rate of Americans who have high blood pressure has not changed in recent years, reflecting the need for better prevention efforts, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The Institute of Medicine earlier this year declared high blood pressure, or hypertension, a "neglected disease" that costs the U.S. health system $73 billion a year.

High blood pressure, or too much force exerted by blood as it moves against vessel walls, is easily preventable through diet, exercise and drugs, yet it is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. (Reuters)

 

The Center for Nonsense with another idiotic handwringer: Menus still calorie-laden despite new laws: group

WASHINGTON - Laws requiring U.S. restaurant chains to list calorie counts have not stopped them from offering unhealthy meals that pack in calories, fat and salt, a group that encourages healthy food said on Tuesday.

A pancake breakfast providing 1,380 calories, a single-serve pizza that packs two days' worth of sodium and a pasta dish swimming in four day's worth of fat top a list published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

The group, which "outs" the calorie, fat and sodium counts of America's favorite foods every year, said it looked for evidence that restaurants are trimming back their offerings in the face of new laws and political pressure.

They found little. (Reuters)

If people didn't provide a demand for the product of restaurant chains then said restaurant chains would either provide something different or go out of business.

Personally I love fast food joints and drive-throughs for enabling the kids' "refueling in flight" as my wife and I shuttled three offspring to and from before-school training sessions, after-school sports, debating club, cadets, swimming, drama, science club, chess club, shooting range and their various other activities and social engagements. For years getting the whole family together for meals was done at weekends and by appointment and for years each of them had probably at least ten fast food serves per week in addition to their home fare, often not having their kept main meal until perhaps ten pm as they began the day's homework. Never managed to get any fat on any of them though, despite their having unrestricted access to whatever food they fancied at whatever interval suited them.

CSPI would have prevented my children having access to the high-octane fast refueling that allowed them to sample and savor so much of life in their first couple of decades because it might "make them fat" -- well, we're still waiting for our now twenty- and thirty-somethings to slow down enough for much in the way of adiposity but it doesn't seem imminent. CSPI should take a hike... if they can muster the energy for it, that is.

 

FDA needs more clout to make food supply safer

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration needs greater authority, more cooperation from other agencies and must do more scientific research to help make the U.S. food supply safer, the General Accountability Office said on Monday.

The FDA also needs to do more to help consumers navigate the maze of food supplements on the market and requires more power to regulate them, the GAO said.

A series of food safety scares has shaken consumer confidence in the food supply, the GAO said. Just last week California-based Caldwell Fresh Foods recalled alfalfa sprouts after salmonella sickened 20 people.

"We found that FDA was hampered in its ability to carry out some food safety responsibilities - oversight of food labels, fresh produce, and dietary supplements - because it lacked certain scientific information," Lisa Shames, director of Natural Resources and Environment for GAO, wrote in a letter accompanying the report. (Reuters)

 

Martin Gardner: 1914-2010

Chris French mourns the passing of Martin Gardner, a prolific writer and populariser of mathematics, and one of the most influential figures in scepticism

I woke up on Sunday morning to some very sad news. Martin Gardner had died the previous day at the age of 95.

Gardner's life was not only long but extraordinarily productive. He was a polymath and a gifted writer, publishing more than 70 books in his long career as well as innumerable magazine and newspaper articles. His wide range of interests included recreational mathematics, pseudoscience, scepticism, magic, religion, philosophy and literature. He will be mourned by many hundreds of thousands around the world.

It is no exaggeration to describe Gardner as one of the most influential figures in scepticism. In 1976 he was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP; now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, CSI).

His sceptical credentials were already well established by that time. Back in 1952 he had published his seminal analysis of the nature of pseudoscience, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. In this classic work, which is still well worth reading, he demolished a wide range of pseudoscientific claims to the total satisfaction of any reader with an iota of critical intelligence. His targets covered a very wide range including UFOs, creationism, Atlantis, scientology, Rudolf Steiner, dowsing, reincarnation, and Wilhelm Reich – to name but a few. It is, of course, slightly depressing to realise just how contemporary this book still sounds.

Gardner's uncompromising attacks on fringe science and New Age ideas delighted his admirers and enraged his detractors for many decades. From 1983 to 2002, he contributed a regular column to the Skeptical Inquirer magazine under the title "Notes of a fringe watcher" and published several more sceptical books including Science: Good, Bad and Bogus and Order and Surprise. (The Guardian)

 

Beavers responsible for Poland's flooding

Beavers are partly to blame for the devastating floods that have swept Poland killing 15 people because the animals tunnel through vital defences protecting the cities, the interior minister has said.

"The greatest enemy of the flood defences is an animal called the beaver. They live everywhere along the levees on the Vistula (river) and cause a lot of damage to them," Jerzy Miller said.

An estimated 50,000 of the large, mostly nocturnal, semi-aquatic rodents live in Poland where they enjoy a degree of protection, animal welfare services say.

However, local authorities have upped hunting quotas for the animals in the wake of the floods.

"Beavers dig tunnels in the flood defences, weakening them from inside. But they are not alone, there are also water voles," Pawel Fratczak, Poland's national fire brigade spokesman said. (TDT)

 

I call "Bullshit!" End of Alaotra grebe is further evidence of Sixth Great Extinction

Species are vanishing quicker than at any point in the last 65 million years

One more step in what scientists are increasingly referring to as the Sixth Great Extinction is announced today: the disappearance of yet another bird species. The vanishing of the Alaotra grebe of Madagascar is formally notified this morning by the global conservation partnership BirdLife International – and it marks a small but ominous step in the biological process which seems likely to dominate the 21st century.

Researchers now recognise five earlier cataclysmic events in the earth's prehistory when most species on the planet died out, the last being the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event of 65 million years ago, which may have been caused by a giant meteorite striking the earth, and which saw the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

But the rate at which species are now disappearing makes many biologists consider we are living in a sixth major extinction comparable in scale to the others – except that this one has been caused by humans. In essence, we are driving plants and animals over the abyss faster than new species can evolve. (The Independent)

Actually the rate of species extinctions has declined rapidly over the last century or so, mostly because the bulk of human-related extinctions occurred in the age of sail and exploration due to feral rats (mostly), cats and mice inadvertently spread through shipwrecks and trade and the deliberate release of breeding groups of goats and pigs on islands to provide emergency sustenance for shipwrecked sailors. The result of all these sudden introductions of basically European animals to islands was the alteration of habitat and previously unknown predators decimating nesting bird populations and obscure island-bound subspecies of reptiles.

The immediately preceding significant wave of extinctions was caused by the Polynesian migrations across the Pacific culminating in the settling of New Zealand between the 11th and 16th Centuries. These migrations spread pigs and rats across the Pacific Islands too and the Maori hunted the New Zealand Moa and other flightless birds to extinction. Most of the extinctions are niche subspecies of island dwellers, differing perhaps by markings from island to island. Very few species with continental ranges have been lost in the modern era and current extinction rates are not noteworthy.

 

Tiger conservation is disastrous, says BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham

Donating money to tiger conservation charities is a waste of time because their success rate is "disastrous", according to Chris Packham, the BBC wildlife presenter.

Packham, who caused an outcry last year when he suggested that pandas should be left to die out, said efforts to save the animals through conservation were worthless.
"Tiger conservation is a multi-million pound business that isn't working. If it were in the FTSE 100, it would have gone bankrupt. Who'd buy shares in a business that's failing in its objective?" he asked.

"I'm not saying the conservation agencies don't have their hearts in the right place, but the results are disastrous."

He told the Radio Times: "I do rather dislike the fact that if you do as I do and openly criticise conservation, it's almost as if you're attacking something holy.

"But if we're all giving a pound for the tiger, or whatever, I think we all have a right to think that money is being best spent, that's all. Why shouldn't I criticise if there is a criticism to be levelled? One would hope the vast majority of wildlife charities are doing good - but why shouldn't I ask? What's so sacred?"

There are only 3,000 tigers left in the world, down from an estimated 100,000 a century ago, according to figures from the World Wildlife Fund.

Packham evoked an angry response with his remarks last September about pandas. “Here’s a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species. Unfortunately, it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol of the World Wildlife Fund – and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go with a degree of dignity," he said. (TDT)

He's quite right -- once a critter is "critically endangered" its absolutely pointless to throw money at it. Extinction is the natural result for every species, let 'em go.

 

Scientists conclude asteroid ended the age of the dinosaurs

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist Michael Whalen is part of a team of distinguished scientists who recently compiled a wide swath of evidence striking a definitive blow in the ongoing battle over what killed the dinosaurs.

In a review published in the March 5 issue of the journal Science, the research group reaffirmed the recently challenged theory that an asteroid ended the age of the dinosaurs.

Scientists first proposed the asteroid impact theory of dinosaur mass extinction 30 years ago. The discovery of a massive crater at Chicxulub [CHICK-shuh-loob], in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula in 1991, strengthened that hypothesis. The Chicxulub crater is more than 120 miles wide--about the distance from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle--and scientists believe it was created when an asteroid more than six miles wide crashed into Earth 65 million years ago. The cataclysmic impact--a million times more powerful than the largest nuclear bomb ever tested--triggered massive earthquakes, atmospheric discharge and oceanic upheaval. The ensuing mass extinction ended both the reign of the dinosaurs and the Cretaceous period, which gave way to the Paleogene period. This theory, having steadily accumulated evidence, was thought to be a near-consensus view.

Recently, however, in a series of articles, researchers posed an alternate hypothesis for the mass extinction. Some scientists claim that long-term volcanic activity at the Deccan Traps, in what is now India, caused acid rain and global cooling, gradually making life untenable for the dinosaurs and other large animals. They also suggest that the Chicxulub impact occurred some 300,000 years before the mass extinctions.

The alternate hypothesis spurred Whalen and other Chicxulub impact proponents to respond. The current Science article dispels the Deccan Traps hypothesis, arguing that the geological record favors the Chicxulub impact event theory. (Brian Keenan, UAF)

 

Calderon And Daley Want Your Guns

Gun Rights: Not happy with interfering in our internal affairs by savaging Arizona's new immigration law, the president of Mexico wants to shred our Second Amendment too. And the mayor of Chicago wants to help.

There stood Mexican President Felipe Calderon before Congress, blaming America for the violence on his side of the border and, among other things, the guns that fuel the Mexican drug war that has claimed more than 23,000 Mexican lives since he took office in 2006. Rather than taking responsibility himself, he shoved the blame on America.

It would all stop, he implied, if America would reinstate a ban on semiautomatic weapons. The violence in Mexico, he said, "coincides, at least, with the lifting of the assault weapons ban in 2004."

He repeated the canard that in the past three years Mexican authorities have seized some 75,000 weapons, more than 80% of them traceable to the United States. Rubbish on both counts.

First, Mexico sends only about one-third of its confiscated weapons to the U.S. for tracing. Of that third, many can't be traced at all due to efforts to remove registration markings.

Fox News reported last year that according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico sent about 11,000 guns in 2007-08 to the U.S. for tracing. Of that number, 6,000 were successfully traced. And of that 6,000, only 5,114, or the famous 80%, were found to have originated in the U.S.

Do the math and you find that only 17% of the guns confiscated were actually traced to the U.S. So why are so few guns sent here for tracing? Because, as Matt Allen, a special agent with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, points out, weapons known not to be of American origin are not sent to the U.S. for tracing. (IBD)

 

 

EPW POLICY BEAT: NO IMPACT

President Obama's announcement last Friday that his Administration is contemplating fuel economy standards beyond 2016 resurrected a familiar canard in the debate on the Murkowski disapproval resolution. To wit: the resolution would overturn the "historic" auto emissions deal struck last May between the Obama Administration (EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, and Carol Browner), auto executives, and the state of California. By overturning EPA's endangerment finding, Murkowski's detractors say, the administration's new fuel economy standards will vanish into thin air. 

The one problem with this view is that it's wrong. Just ask the Obama Administration. "As a strictly legal matter," according to a February 19 letter by Kevin Vincent, NHTSA's general counsel, "the Murkowski resolution does not directly impact NHTSA's statutory authority to set fuel economy standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007(EISA)." [Emphasis added] We recognize the varied opinions on increasing corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, but we need not delve into them here. Congress gave explicit authority to NHTSA to regulate fuel economy under the EPCA and that authority was amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The main point is that, as Vincent conceded, if Murkowski became law, NHTSA's work would continue unimpeded because the resolution would only affect EPA's new administratively-created GHG authority, and not NHTSA's CAFE authority rooted in statute. (Inhofe EPW Press Blog)

Support the Murkowski Resolution

 

A Legislative Trojan Horse

Small businesses and the American economy, beware: Once again Washington politicians are conspiring to help you out. Apparently, Sens. Robert Casey (D., Pa.) and Thomas Carper (D., Del.) are planning to “save” you from the onerous rules regulating greenhouse gases being hatched at the EPA.

The basis of the EPA’s regulatory efforts is the agency’s finding that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” that supposedly “endangers” us by causing global warming. Once the EPA made this unprecedented and unsupported endangerment finding under the Clean Air Act, it put the enormous regulatory machinery of the federal government in gear to generate rules regulating CO2, rules that will damage every aspect of the U.S. economy. Thankfully, substantive legal challenges to the endangerment finding and the rules the EPA is generating have been filed.

One rule the agency has already issued, something known as the tailoring rule, seems, at first glance, different than its economy-stifling kin. The tailoring rule was supposedly designed to exempt smaller CO2 emitters from the new regulations until 2016. While the Clean Air Act itself states that pollutant emissions of 250 tons or more must be regulated, EPA’s tailoring regulation simply contradicts the law, stating that for now the agency will only regulate CO2 sources emitting 50,000 tons or more. 

How, you may ask, can a federal agency just overturn a law by regulation? Good question. The reality is that the EPA is well aware that the tailoring regulation contradicts black-letter law; consequently, it knows legal challenges have high prospects for success. So why would an agency like the EPA that has no trouble flexing its regulatory muscles exempt tens of thousands of potential regulatory targets with such a rule? Quite simply, in addition to recognizing the regulation’s tenuous legal grounds, the EPA realizes that as the number of individuals aware of the pending regulatory burden grows, the stronger the backlash against its CO2 rules will be. Crafty bureaucrats also know that the biggest hurdle they now face is beginning the process of regulating CO2 — striking out against our national economy from the regulatory beachhead of the EPA’s very questionable endangerment finding. (Hans A. von Spakovsky and Robert Gordon, Planet Gore)

 

 

Cap and Flee: California refutes its own 'green jobs' policy.

California, that former land of opportunity, was one of the first states to pass its own version of "cap and trade" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007 when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law, called AB-32, he said it would propel California into an economy-expanding, green job future. Well, a new study by the state's own auditing agency—its version of the Congressional Budget Office—has burst that green bubble.

The study released May 13 concludes that "California's economy at large will likely be adversely affected in the near term by implementing climate-related policies that are not adopted elsewhere." While the long-term economic costs are "unknown," the study finds that AB-32 will raise energy prices, "causing the prices of goods and services to rise; lowering business profits; and reducing production, income and jobs."

The economic reality here is what the Legislative Analyst's Office calls "economic leakage." That's jargon for businesses and jobs that will "locate or relocate outside the state of California where regulatory-related costs are lower." The study says the negative impact on most California industries will be "modest," but energy-intensive industries—specifically, aluminum, chemicals, forest products, oil and gas and steel—"may significantly reduce their business activity in California."

Yes, some new "green jobs" will be created. But the "net economywide impact," it says, "will in all likelihood be negative." Sorry.

The green lobby typically tries to discredit such results when they're sponsored by business, as if anything business commissions isn't credible. But no one can say that California's state auditing agency has an industry bias.

Some Californians may shrug and say that such costs are worth it to save the planet from CO2. But the report bursts that bubble too, concluding that the California law's impact on carbon emissions will be de minimis because "the economic activity that is shifted will also generate" greenhouse gasses outside the state.

Recognizing this problem, California politicians are busy trying to get a Western regional pact to reduce carbon emissions, but so far Arizona, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington have refused. They'd rather have the jobs. (WSJ)

 

Incredible stupidity: EU sets toughest targets to fight global warming

Europe will introduce a surprise new plan today to combat global warming, committing Britain and the rest of the EU to the most ambitious targets in the world. The plan proposes a massive increase in the target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in this decade.

The European Commission is determined to press ahead with the cuts despite the financial turmoil gripping the bloc, even though it would require Britain and other EU member states to impose far tougher financial penalties on their industries than are being considered by other large economies. (The Times)

You've seen the calculations, total cessation of all U.S. coal-fired generating emissions from the end this year delivers a trivial Δ forcing of 0.15 W/m2 at end of century -- 90 years of austerity to achieve a "saving" of 0.15 °C in mean temperature, if and only if the climate is as sensitive as the IPCC pretends while we all know the more plausible value is a completely meaningless 0.045 °C. We simply cannot knowingly and meaningfully influence the climate by tweaking such minor peripheral variables as trace gas emission.

Moreover, the biosphere benefits from our returning carbon to atmospheric availability and certainly humanity does so, with affordable energy underpinning society. Carbon constraint can only do harm and has no upside.

 

France and Germany cool on EU climate proposals

AFP - France and Germany on Tuesday gave a less than warm response to the EU Commission's suggestion that Europe unilaterally binds itself to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

The message from German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle and French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi came on the eve of the publication of a commission paper laying out the reasons in favour of deepening Europe's emission cuts from 20 percent, the current agreed rate, to 30 percent compared with 1990 levels.

"We have shared our concerns at the commission's proposal," said Estrosi. (AFP)

 

German industry against greater EU climate efforts

BERLIN, May 25 -- The German industry has lashed out against a plan by the European Commission to boost Europe's climate protection efforts.

Germany's two biggest industry associations said they are against boosting the European Union's carbon dioxide emissions reduction target from 20 percent to 30 percent compared to 1990 levels.

"The German industry -- probably like no other in the world -- commits itself to climate protection," Werner Schnappauf, the head of the German BDI industry association, told Tuesday's Berliner Zeitung newspaper. "However, the BDI strongly opposes a unilateral tightening of the EU climate targets."

Martin Wansleben, the head of the DIHK industry association added that Europe "can't afford costly solo attempts." (UPI)

 

China All But Dashes Hope Of Climate Deal This Year

A senior Chinese climate official said on Tuesday that negotiators aim to seal a binding global pact on warming by the end of 2011, a blow to any lingering hopes the world could reach a deal at talks this year in Mexico.

Xie Zhenhua, who led China's delegation to fractious negotiations in Copenhagen last year, said the only target for a December gathering in coastal Cancun city was a "positive result."

Top European and U.N. officials had already all but ruled out a deal this year, but Xie's comments are the first time the world's number one emitter has confirmed it also does not expect to seal a new pact in 2010.

"Everyone is now taking pragmatic measures, and working hard in a positive manner, in order that we can achieve a legally binding agreement at next year's meeting in South Africa," Xie told a Sino-European political forum. (Reuters)

 

Demonstrating the idiocy of tying aid to a non-extant "problem": UN Urges Rich To Honor $30 Billion Climate Aid Pledge

The United Nations urged rich nations on Tuesday to keep a pledge to give $30 billion to poor nations by 2012 to cope with climate change, saying it was "not an impossible call" despite budget cuts in Europe.

Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, also said it was extremely unlikely that a new U.N. climate treaty would be agreed in 2010 after the Copenhagen summit in December fell short of a full, legally binding treaty.

He said that one priority for 2010 was for rich countries to deliver on key elements of that Copenhagen Accord, including a promise of $10 billion a year in aid from 2010-12 for developing nations, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020. (Reuters)

 

Global warming is 'making Mount Everest more dangerous to climb'

Mount Everest is becoming increasingly dangerous to climb because global warming is melting glacier ice along its slopes, according to a Nepalese Sherpa who has conquered the world’s highest summit 20 times. (TDT)

At what altitude do they think the ice is melting? As pressure decreases with altitude air expands and cools, the rate is about 6.5 °C per vertical kilometer, so all things being equal from about 3,000 meters air temperature will be 20 °C less than sea level and declining. By about 6,000 meters even mid summer temperatures remain below freezing. Everest summit temperature roughly fluctuates between -20 °C during summer and -35 °C.

Surely there are changes observable but global warming? Very doubtful given the changes in atmospheric conditions (the Asian Brown Cloud from cooking fires and lack of baseload electricity altering cloud composition, precipitation and soot deposition). They are attacking the wrong target, the subcontinent needs far more coal-fired generating capacity and particularly wealth generation to clear the atmosphere and reduce anthropogenic influence on Himalayan snow accumulation.

 

Global CO2 Emissions To Rise 43 Percent By 2035: EIA

The world's emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil, and natural gas should rise 43 percent by 2035 barring global agreements to reduce output of the gases blamed for warming the planet, the top U.S. energy forecaster said on Tuesday.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the fossil fuel sources should rise from 29.7 billion tonnes in 2007 to 42.4 billion tonnes in 2035, the Energy Information Administration said in its annual long-term energy outlook.

Much of the rise will occur in rapidly growing developing countries like China and India where electricity demand is expected to soar. (Reuters)

 

Encouraging signs of development in India: India discloses carbon emissions for first time in more than decade

Emissions from electricity, cement and waste have more than doubled since 1994, making it the world's fifth biggest emitter

India claimed to be a front-runner among developing nations for emissions disclosure today with its first national survey of greenhouse gases in more than a decade.

The government study based on 2007 data showed a sharp increase in industrial activity since the last assessment in 1994 has made India the world's fifth biggest emitter after China, the US, Europe and Russia.

Since then, emissions from electricity, cement and waste have more than doubled, in addition to substantial rises in the transport and residential sectors.

According to the latest inventory, India relied on coal for 90% of its electricity, which accounts for more than a third of the country's emissions. However, despite rapid economic growth, the report notes that India's emissions are about a quarter of those from China and the United States.

Its carbon intensity – emissions relative to economic output – fell by 30% between the two reporting periods. (The Guardian)

 

Majority Of Firms Will Spend More On Climate Change

Seventy percent of firms with revenue of $1 billion or more say they plan to increase spending on climate change initiatives in the next two years, a global survey reported on Tuesday.

Nearly half of the 300 corporate executives who responded to a survey conducted for the accounting and consulting giant Ernst & Young said their climate change investments will range from 0.5 percent to more than 5 percent of revenues by 2012.

More than four out of five respondents, or 82 percent, said they plan to invest in energy efficiency in the next 12 months, with 92 percent saying energy costs will be an important driver over that period. (Reuters)

Efficiency is always good but dressing that up as "addressing climate change"? Meh...

 

Could Climate Science Survive a Legal Cross Examination?

Review by Bill DiPuccio

Could the global warming hypothesis meet the rigorous evidentiary standards of a legal trial?  The answer, according to Jason Scott Johnston, is clearly negative. 

Johnston is the Robert G. Fuller, Jr. Professor of Law, and Director of the Program on Law, Environment and Economy of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  His 79 page essay, Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination, published by the Institute of Law and Economics, examines a broad range of evidence both for and against the conclusions drawn by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

After a comprehensive examination of the peer-reviewed literature, the author concludes that there is a tendentious use of evidence by the IPCC, revealing “a systematic tendency of the climate establishment to engage in a variety of stylized rhetorical techniques that seem to oversell what is actually known about climate change while concealing fundamental uncertainties and open questions regarding many of the key processes involved in climate change” (1).

Johnston is not attempting to arrive at a scientific conclusion regarding the global warming hypothesis.  Rather, he is cross examining the “established climate story” by asking “very tough questions, questions that force the expert to clarify the basis for his or her opinion, to explain her interpretation of the literature, and to account for any apparently conflicting literature that is not discussed in the expert report” (6).

This approach raises some fundamental questions about the role of non-specialists in critiquing science.  Scientists would like to believe that their disagreements can be settled by evidence alone.  However, the reality is that science possesses an underlying grammar which includes the rigorous use of opposing evidence, critical thinking, mathematics, logic, and internal consistency.  Most of these elements are shared by other fields, including - and especially- the legal profession. 

Anyone who is competent in these areas may weigh-in on their proper, or improper, use without a full understanding of the scientific facts.  When I first read the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment (2007) I had very little background in climate science, though I had worked in operational meteorology.  Yet, it became fast apparent to me that the supporting evidence for the IPCC’s projections did not warrant the high level (90%-95%) of confidence expressed by its authors.  Indeed, it was the authors themselves who raised fundamental doubts about our scientific understanding of radiative forcing agents and climate change, both past and present.  As Johnston concludes, these projections are not reliable enough to make public policy decisions. 

After pouring over years of mainstream literature, Johnston discovered numerous scientific uncertainties “which are rarely if ever even mentioned in the climate change law and policy literature” (8-9):

* “There seem to be significant problems with the measurement of global surface temperatures over both the relatively short run - late 20th century - and longer run - past millennium - problems that systematically tend to cause an overestimation of late 20th century temperature increases relative to the past;

* Continuing scientific dispute exists over whether observations are confirming or disconfirming key short-run predictions of climate models - such as an increase in tropospheric water vapor and an increase in tropical tropospheric surface temperatures relative to tropical surface temperatures;

* Climate model projections of increases of global average surface temperature (due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2) above about 1 degree centigrade arise only because of positive feedback effects presumed by climate models;

* Yet there is evidence that both particular feedbacks—such as that from clouds - and feedbacks in total may be negative, not positive;

* Confidence in climate models based on their ability to causally relate 20th century temperature trends to trends in CO2 may well be misplaced, because such models do not agree on the sensitivity of global climate to increases in CO2 and are able to explain 20th century temperature trends only by making arbitrary and widely varying assumptions about the net cooling impact of atmospheric aerosols;

* Similar reason for questioning climate models is provided by continuing scientific dispute over whether late 20th century warming may have been simply a natural climate cycle, or have been caused by solar variation, versus being caused by anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2;

* The scientific ability to predict what are perhaps the most widely publicized adverse impacts of global warming - sea level rise and species loss - is much less than generally perceived, and in the case of species loss, predictions are based on a methodology that a large number of biologists have severely criticized as invalid and as almost certain to lead to an overestimate of species loss due to global warming;

* Finally, many of the ongoing disputes in climate science boil down to disputes over the relative validity and reliability of different observational datasets, suggesting that the very new field of climate science does not yet have standardized observational datasets that would allow for definitive testing of theories and models against observations.”

Johnston cross examines and juxtaposes conclusions from numerous scientists to reveal “a rhetoric of persuasion, of advocacy that prevails throughout establishment climate science"(9).  Complexities and uncertainties that might shake the confidence of policymakers are often concealed.  For example, there is no mention of water vapor feedbacks in the IPCC AR4 “Climate Science” documents intended to influence the public and the media - the Policymaker Summary and Technical Summary (24). 

By oversimplifying the climate story, it appears that the IPCC’s projections are just straightforward physics:  The 2 C to 6 C projected rise in global average temperature is the direct, linear result of increasing CO2.  But in reality, the IPCC claims that CO2, acting alone, will result in only a 1.2 C rise in temperature.  The rest depends on whether the climate amplifies (positive feedback) or diminishes (negative feedback) CO2 forcing. 

As Johnston demonstrates from the scientific literature, the complex and chaotic processes underlying these mechanisms, especially as they relate to cloud formation and precipitation, constitute anything but straightforward physics.  The issue of feedbacks and climate sensitivity is probably the greatest question facing climate science.  But policymakers are left blissfully ignorant of these controversies.

Johnston concludes by calling for a change in climate science practices and funding.  Since one of the major sources of disagreement between scientists lies in the use of different datasets, he recommends that “public funding for climate science should be concentrated on the development of better, standardized observational datasets that achieve close to universal acceptance as valid and reliable.” On the other hand, the continued development of “fine-grained climate models,” in the absence reliable data, only perpetuates “faith-based climate policy” (77-79).

Johnston’s essay echoes the experience of many reputable scientists whose work has been marginalized or rejected by IPCC gatekeepers.  As we learned from the ‘Climategate’ emails, there was indeed a concerted effort behind the scenes to insure that only one side of the story was heard.  If the climate science community is serious about transparency, then they need to abandon their “tidy story” and provide a bone fide forum for opposing views.  These views should be incorporated as an alternative report in both IPCC and governmental publications, including the summaries for policymakers.  With so much hanging in the balance, decision makers need to hear both sides of the debate.

Special thanks to Roger Pielke Sr. for finding Johnston’s article. See PDF.

Bill DiPuccio served as a weather forecaster and lab instructor for the U.S. Navy, and a Meteorological/Radiosonde Technician for the National Weather Service.  More recently, he was the head of the science department for Orthodox Christian Schools of Northeast Ohio. (Icecap)

 

Two degrees C Urban Heat Island in small village of Barmedman, NSW, Australia

May 25th, 2010 by Warwick Hughes

Driving from Canberra to West Wyalong last Sunday morning I tried out a temperature logger and scored this signature from the centre of the village of Barmedman which is in flat country between Temora and West Wyalong – conditions were not windy.

Urban heat island at Barmedman

Barmedman is so small that very few places with a population as low as 227 would rate a BoM temperature station. So Jones et al/IPCC data would not contain very many stations from sites with populations as small – yet Barmedman sure has a very pronounced UHI. The lesson is – think before you are conned by pro-IPCC lies. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Modeling the Polar Bear Tipping Point

After reading this BBC article on modeling the “tipping point” of polar bear populations, it seemed this photo summed it up well, especially since modeling was substituted in lieu of “nearly non-existent data”. I wonder how the bears survived the Roman Warm Period, or the Medieval Warm Period?

Image: via "Alek" on a Churchill Polar Bear Tour - click for more

From the BBC: Polar bears face ‘tipping point’

By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Climate change will trigger a dramatic and sudden decline in the number of polar bears, a new study has concluded.

The research is the first to directly model how changing climate will affect polar bear reproduction and survival.

Based on what is known of polar bear physiology, behaviour and ecology, it predicts pregnancy rates will fall and fewer bears will survive fasting during longer ice-free seasons.

These changes will happen suddenly as bears pass a ‘tipping point’.

Details of the research are published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Educated guesses

Until now, most studies measuring polar bear survival have relied on a method called “mark and recapture”. Continue reading (WUWT)

 

Getting increasingly desperate... Small mammals at risk as world warms

The biodiversity of small mammals in North America may already be close to a "tipping point" causing impacts "up and down the food chain" according to a new study by U.S. scientists.

Examining fossils excavated from a cave in Northern California, biologists from Stanford University, California uncovered evidence that small mammal populations were severely depleted during the last episode of global warming around 12,000 years ago.

Many species, say researchers, have never recovered their populations leaving them vulnerable to future rises in temperature.

Deposits in Samwell Cave in the foothills of the southern Cascades mountain range revealed that populations of gophers and voles during the period (the end of the Pleistocene epoch) were on a par with those of deer mice.

But while the deer mice population thrived in the warming period and has become one of the most common small mammals in the U.S. today, gophers, voles and other small species' populations fell away permanently.

The decline in small mammal species during the period contributed to a 30 percent decline in biodiversity, according to the study. (CNN)

 

20th century one of driest in 9 centuries for northwest Africa

Droughts in the late 20th century rival some of North Africa's major droughts of centuries past, reveals new research that peers back in time to the year 1179.

The first multi-century drought reconstruction that includes Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia shows frequent and severe droughts during the 13th and 16th centuries and the latter part of the 20th century.

An international research team figured out northwest Africa's climate history by using the information recorded in tree rings. The oldest trees sampled contain climate data from the medieval period. One tree-ring sample from Morocco dates back to the year 883.

"Water issues in this part of the world are vital," said lead researcher Ramzi Touchan of the University of Arizona. "This is the first regional climate reconstruction that can be used by water resource managers."

In most of North Africa, instruments have been recording weather information for 50 years or less, too short a time to provide the long-term understanding of regional climate needed for resource planning, he said.

"One of the most important ways to understand the climate variability is to use the proxy record, and one of the most reliable proxy records is tree rings," said Touchan, an associate research professor at UA's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

The team has developed the first systematically sampled network of tree-ring chronologies across northwest Africa, said co-author David Meko, also of UA's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

The network allowed the researchers to analyze the patterns of past droughts over the whole region, said Meko, a UA associate research professor. The width of the annual growth rings on trees in semi-arid environments is highly correlated with the amount of precipitation. (University of Arizona)

Interesting, they seem to have noticed the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age expressed as North African droughts. Doesn't sound much like Mann's stable gradual cooling until the industrial era with sudden onset of recent dramatic warming really, does it?

 

Lack Of A Trend In The Ocean Surface Temperature Since 2000 – Its Significance

In the Lyman et al 2010 paper [that I have discussed in two posts; see and see], there is the interesting statement that

“…sea surface temperatures have been roughly constant since 2000…”

This finding is based on the section of the paper State of the Climate in 2008 by Peterson and Baringer (2009) titled

Knight, J. et al. Global oceans: do global temperature trends over the last decade falsify climate predictions? Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 90, S56–S57 (2009).

Figure 3.4 top  in this article is presumably the data  that Lyman et al 2010 are referring to. The tropical ocean average anomalies in Figure 3.4 5th figure also shows an absence of further warming since 1998 although, as with the global average, it remains above the long term average (1950 to 2008).

There are important consequences of this lack of a continued global average ocean surface temperature increase:

  • since an increase of atmospheric water vapor is required to amplify the radiative heating from added CO2 and other human inputs of greenhouse gases, the absence of continued ocean surface warming suggests this water vapor feedback to radiative forcing is more muted than predicted by the IPCC multi-decadal model predictions. This more muted response in the real world  is consistent with what has been reported in the study De-Zheng Sun, Yongqiang Yu, and Tao Zhang, 2009: Tropical Water Vapor and Cloud Feedbacks in Climate Models: A Further Assessment Using Coupled Simulations Journal of Climate, Volume 22, Issue 5 (March 2009) pp. 1287–1304.
  • The claims that warming is continuing  (e.g. see) is, therefore, based on the land portion of the surface temperature record  [warm equatorial ocean temperature anomalies in recent years, particularly in the Atlantic, are offset elsewhere in the ocean].  With respect to the land surface temperature trends, we have documented a warm bias as we report in our paper Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Of course, as I and others, including Kevin Trenberth, have repeatedly urged (e.g. see and see) we need to move to the use of the ocean heat content change as the metric to assess global warming and cooling. Ocean heat content changes provide a much more robust metric than surface temperature trends as the metric to assess global warming and cooling (e.g. see and see).

A further assessment of the ocean surface temperature trends is available from the excellent website http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anomaly.html.

I have presented two analyses of ocean surface temperature anomalies below; one for mid May 2010 (top) and one for mid May 1997 (bottom). The format has changed and the center point of geography is different (which makes it harder to compare the two figures], but what stands out is not a clear difference in the ocean average, but the remarkably large spatial variations in the anomalies. It is these anomalies that have a much greater effect on the climate that society and the environment experience (e.g. drought, floods, hurricanes, etc) than a global average trend (which has not even been evident for several years).

What is missing from the otherwise excellent website, of course, are time plots of the global average sea surface temperatures, as well as averages for different subregions of the oceans.  With that information, we could more readily track the ocean contribution to the global average surface temperature trend, as well as anomalies within the subregions. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 21: 26 May 2010

Editorial:
Elevated CO2 Is Claimed to Inhibit Plant Nitrate Assimilation and Subsequent Growth ... AGAIN!!! ... and to thereby gradually reduce initial CO2-induced increases in plant photosynthesis and growth. But are these contentions correct?

Subject Index Summary:
Roman Warm Period (Europe -- Mediterranean): In the lands of what was once the Roman Empire, the Roman Warm Period contemporaneously reigned supreme.

Journal Reviews:
Ocean Acidification Effects on Calcification in Two Planktonic Foraminifera: How significant are they?

Effects of Elevated CO2 and Temperature on a Temperate Coral: Are they as bad as climate-alarmists generally contend they are?

How Best to Help Corals Cope with Heat-Induced Bleaching: Reducing local threats to coral reefs enhances their ability to withstand the planet-wide threat of global warming.

Impacts of Elevated CO2 on Growth and Calcification of Two Species of Oyster Larvae: How are they affected by the presence of people?

Sea Fan Adaptive Responses to Pathogen- and Heat-Induced Stress: What are they? ... and how effective are they?

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: European Beech (Fleischmann et al., 2010), Quaking Aspen (Darbah et al., 2010), Red Alga (Xu et al., 2010), and Rice (Li et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 833 individual scientists from 496 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from Middle and Southern Ural Mountains, Russia. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (co2science.org)

 

 

Lloyd’s syndicates launch legal action over BP insurance claim

BP’s attempts to limit the financial damage from the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a blow yesterday when almost half the syndicates in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market launched a legal action against the company.

The syndicates are attempting to block efforts by the oil giant to claim on cover held by the rig operator Transocean.

BP, which had no external insurance in place for the accident, is trying to claim up to $700 million through a policy held by Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that BP has blamed for the April 20 blast. A spokesman for BP said: “We believe we may be entitled to coverage for the incident under Transocean’s insurance.”

But in legal documents filed in a Houston court, 38 separate Lloyd’s underwriting syndicates plus a string of other international insurers affected by the disaster, rejected BP’s claim.

They have asked a US judge to declare the group has “no additional-insured obligation to BP” for the clean-up or for any damages resulting from the spill.

The Lloyd’s syndicates claim that BP’s contract to lease the rig from Transocean specifies that its insurers would only be held responsible for damage to the rig itself — not for pollution caused by a leak from it. (The Times)

 

In Standoff With Environmental Officials, BP Stays With an Oil Spill Dispersant

In a tense standoff, BP continued to spray a product called Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday to break up a vast oil spill despite a demand by federal regulators that it switch to something less toxic.

The Environmental Protection Agency had set a Sunday night deadline for BP to stop using two dispersants from the Corexit line of products. The oil company has defended its use of Corexit and taken issue with the methods the agency used to estimate its toxicity.

At a news conference Monday, the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said that she was “dissatisfied with BP’s response” and had ordered the oil giant to take “immediate steps to scale back the use of dispersants.”

Ms. Jackson called BP’s safety data on dispersants insufficient and said government scientists would conduct their own tests to decide which dispersant was best to use. She said the amount of chemicals applied to control the oil spilling from the Deepwater Horizon well — more than 700,000 gallons so far on the gulf’s surface and a mile underwater at the leaking well head — was “approaching a world record.”

Ms. Jackson said that in theory, BP’s deployment of dispersant directly onto the l well head, a novel use of the chemicals, would reduce the amount of oil on the surface and the need for application of dispersant there. She said the company could reduce its use by 50 percent to 75 percent, regardless of which dispersant was used.

Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard said that while the government had approved the use of dispersant beforehand, “no one anticipated that it would ever be used at this scale and this scope.”

Admiral Landry said the preferred method of responding to oil on the ocean was to burn it or to soak it up with devices like absorbent booms. Dispersant applications should be a second line of defense, for when the weather is too severe to rely on other techniques, she said.

It was not clear how the environmental agency would enforce the demand that BP reduce its use of the dispersant. (NYT)

 

Inspector General’s Inquiry Faults Regulators

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week.

The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry.

Although there is no evidence that those events played a role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the report offers further evidence of what many critics of the Minerals Management Service have described as a culture of lax oversight and cozy ties to industry.

The report includes other examples of troubling behavior discovered by investigators. (NYT)

 

Cash 'black hole' threatens Scots low-carbon economy

A FINANCIAL black hole is threatening Scotland's transformation to a low carbon economy, the head of Lloyds Banking Group has warned.

Lady Susan Rice, the group's managing director, told a conference yesterday she estimated £20 billion was needed to fund investments in renewables needed to bring about green schemes such as major wind farms and new marine renewable technology. 

This was far higher than the one-off £2bn government funding set for a planned new Green Investment Bank, she said.

"We know what needs to be done," she told the conference at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. "The big question is, how do we fund it?" (The Scotsman)

No, the question is: "Why should we fund it?" There is nothing more pointless than panicked measures to "decarbonize" the economy. The best thing humanity has every done for the biosphere is return to availability some of the carbon lost through accidental sequestration. Green plants love atmospheric carbon dioxide and we love green plants, that our fossil fuel use restores some atmospheric carbon dioxide is just win-win, all the way.

 

Waste is power, says rubbish collection chief

Waste, and not wind, should be the focus of the new Government’s energy policies, according to the chief executive of one of Britain’s rubbish collectors.

“Energy from waste accounts for about 1.5 per cent of energy produced in the UK and the target is to get that up to 6 per cent by 2015,” Colin Drummond, the chief executive of Viridor, said, “but the Government needs to be much more ambitious than that. Energy from wind farms can be variable, but energy from waste is base load power [it can produce electricity as and when needed].”

Viridor’s operations — clearing bins, running landfill dumps, producing and generating power from landfill gas and burning waste for energy and recycling — are becoming a more important part of its parent, Pennon, whose main operation is running South West Water. Viridor’s 35 per cent surge in profits last year means that it accounted for nearly 30 per cent of Pennon’s pre-tax earnings of £189 million in the year to March 31, which were reported yesterday. (The Times)

 

Wind Integration Realities: The Bentek Study for Colorado (Part III)

by Kent Hawkins
May 25, 2010

[Editor's note: This is the third of four posts on (elevated) fossil-fuel emissions associated with firming otherwise intermittent wind power. Part I introduced the issues. Part II showed negated emission savings for the Netherlands at current wind penetration (about 3 percent). Part III (below) and Part IV tomorrow examine the higher emissions from wind in Colorado and Texas, respectively, according to a new study by Bentek.]

The Bentek study is a significant contribution to the wind/fossil-fuel emission literature despite some notable limitations. The study analyzes the PSCO system, which dominates Colorado’s needs, and the ERCOT system in Texas, which manages 85% of that state’s electricity.

The analysis includes SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions. Bentek looks at coal cycling events only in both cases, ignoring any gas cycling, while noting PSCO’s acknowledgement that wind impacts gas as well as coal.

There are reasons why coal cycling is focused upon:

  • Although gas turbine plants are better suited for cycling to support wind, for both PSCO and ERCOT gas resources are insufficient to balance all the wind energy produced.
  • There is a small amount of pumped storage available to PSCO, which can run for only four consecutive hours.
  • Wind is strongest at night when base load coal plants predominate, and there is reduced gas generation, which may not be sufficient to safely cycle gas plants.
  • As a result, reported gas cycling events at PSCO are less frequent than that for coal.

Both analyses utilize published production information. As PSCO does not reveal hourly wind production, for emissions analysis purposes, Bentek has to rely on a few coal cycling events in relation to detailed wind production provided in PSCO training manuals. This limitation is offset by the information available on a notable increase in coal cycling, which has occurred during the period of wind introduction, and which is arguably attributable to wind. As ERCOT does release wind production at 15 minute intervals, the same analysis approach is used in the Texas system to validate the Colorado results, which it does.

Criticisms that the PSCO analysis is based on two days experience only, are well answered in the Bentek report. The reality is that PSCO does not make the necessary information available, and Bentek has done well with what they had to work with. Also, the validation of results based on the ERCOT experience is important. Finally, Bentek appropriately acknowledges limitations by calling for more comprehensive studies based on detailed information.

Having established that RPS appear to add to the emissions problem, Bentek concludes that, given RPS, it will be necessary to incorporate adequate flexible fuel capacity facilities (gas plants) to ensure reduction in emissions, which is true enough. What is missed in this logic is that incorporating such new facilities without RPS will achieve even lower emissions. More on this is provided below. There are not only more emissions with RPS than without them, but also there is duplicate capacity installed (wind) at significantly higher costs, which adds notably to the costs of electricity. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Pro-global warming camps may war with each other

By Lawrence Solomon  May 25, 2010 – 5:53 pm

90 top global warming scientists have turned their sights on the biomass energy industry, until recently seen as allies, warning that biofuels sometimes increases rather than decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

“There may be a public perception that all biofuels and bioenergy are equally good for the environment and are all lower in carbon emissions than fossil fuels, but that’s not true,” said one of the signatories, Dr. William Schlesinger of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in a press release yesterday aimed at the U.S. Congress.  “Many produce just as much or more carbon pollution than oil, gas, and coal.  If our laws and regulations treat high-carbon-impact bioenergy sources, like today’s corn ethanol, as if they are low-carbon, we’re fooling ourselves and undercutting the purpose of those same laws and regulations.”

That ethanol in your gas tank, the climate change scientists are telling us, could be bringing us closer to Armageddon by undercutting their efforts at saving the world. “Many international treaties and domestic laws and bills account for bioenergy incorrectly by treating all bioenergy as causing a 100% reduction in emissions regardless of the source of the biomass,” the scientists explain.” Under some scenarios, this approach could eliminate most of the expected greenhouse gas reductions during the next several decades.”

The letter by the 90 scientists is a response to the American Power Act, which was recently introduced by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. This proposed legislation promotes the bioenergy sector while downplaying wind and solar. Under the Kerry-Lieberman proposal, the National Academies of Sciences would study the role that biomass could play in reducing greenhouse gases while contributing to energy independence. The Environmental Protection Agency would then submit recommendations to Congress based on the NAS study and another study, this one a joint effort by EPA, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture Congress would then act on the basis of the new information before it.

To prevent this steamroller from flattening plans for windmills and solar collectors, the 90 scientists decided to take on the biomass lobby head-on. The biomass industry is now gearing up to counter the 90 with scientists of their own.

In a rebuttal by BioFuels Digest, a leading industry journal, the letter from the 90 “represents a narrowly-held view within the scientific community, rather than consensus,” as it “was primarily signed by biologists and ecologists and did not include leading scientists noted in the development of bioenergy technologies.”

Then came the call to action: “The Digest urgently calls on its friends in the scientific community, through the National Academy of Sciences, or other appropriate vehicles, to develop a point of view which can be generally said to be representative of a broad scientific consensus. We have seen what a lack of consensus can do to side-track the discussion of climate change.”

Financial Post

LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.
The letter by the 90 scientists can be found here. (Financial Post)

 

 

Side Effects: Seniors Will Lose Big Under Obamacare

Passage of Obamacare will have negative consequences for practically all Americans. However, it is the nation’s senior citizens who will get the short end of the stick after enactment of the President’s health care agenda. In a recent paper, Heritage health policy expert Robert Moffit, Ph.D., lays out the specific provisions of Obamacare that will hurt seniors:

  • Less Choice. Obamacare will reduce payments to Medicare Advantage, likely decreasing benefits and causing approximately half of current participants to drop out.  These seniors will have little choice but to go back to traditional Medicare, and buy a supplemental policy to cover Medicare’s big gaps in coverage.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

ObamaCare’s Price Controls Threaten HSAs

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

John Goodman is correct that ObamaCare’s individual mandate — and Kathleen Sebelius’s power to make the mandate more burdensome at whim — threaten the continued existence of health savings accounts (HSAs).  But ObamaCare’s price controls are no less a threat.

The new law requires insurers to charge enrollees of the same age the same average premium, regardless of health status.  That’s a price control, and it will cause premiums for healthy people to rise dramatically and thus lead to massive adverse selection.  Healthy people will gravitate to less-comprehensive insurance — in particular, HSA-compatible high-deductible plans — where the implicit tax is smaller.

As premiums for comprehensive plans spiral upward (ultimately causing comprehensive plans to disappear) and as ObamaCare proves more costly than projected, supporters will be desperate for new revenue.  They will call for the elimination of both HSAs and high-deductible health plans on the grounds that those products — not the price controls, mind you — are causing the market to unravel.

HSAs allow young and healthy consumers to avoid the raw deal that ObamaCare offers them. And that’s precisely why ObamaCare’s supporters will try to kill HSAs. We will end up repealing one or the other. (Cato at liberty)

 

Support for Repealing ObamaCare Hits 63 Percent

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

The polling firm Rasmussen Reports reports:

Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March.

Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.

Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.

The new findings include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal of the health care bill and 25% who Strongly Oppose it.

Repeal the bill. (Cato at liberty)

 

Stimulus Package Increases Trade Deficit: Replaces U.S. Jobs with Foreign “Green Jobs”

by Hans Bader
24 May 2010 @ 10:05 am

The $800 billion stimulus package is shipping American jobs overseas.  More than 79 percent of “green jobs” funding under the stimulus package went to foreign firms.  Meanwhile, to pay for the stimulus package, the government borrowed a huge amount of money from the American people, money that would otherwise have been spent on American products, or been invested in America’s companies.

The stimulus package has also destroyed thousands of jobs in America’s export sector by triggering trade wars that America lost.  It also subsidized countless examples of government waste.

Spain’s “green jobs” program, a model for Obama’s green-jobs and global-warming programs, has turned out to be a complete bust, destroying jobs and contributing to Spain’s skyrocketing government deficit.  (Earlier, Obama’s green jobs czar, Van Jones, resigned over his…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

Politicians Never Learn

Weeks away from defaulting on their debt, Greek politicians promised the International Monetary Fund and the European Union that they would cut spending in exchange for a bailout. But politicians are politicians. They can’t stop spending. Now the Prime Minister has a new idea on how to save Greece: Government subsidies for “green” energy.

“The focus on green economy is no longer just a case of sensitivity towards the environment, but an issue of creating a sustainable economy also,” Papandreou told the 3rd Climate and Energy Security Summit for Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean…

Now the Greek government will spend more for everything from solar panels to home energy conservation:

Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Tina Birbili announced the subsidization of photovoltaic installations and the connection of the subsidy with the guaranteed price of kilowatt for solar energy.

In addition, the program to upgrade the energy efficiency of buildings is progressing, that is to be followed by an energy conservation program in homes, with subsidies for making structural improvements.

In the same breath, the Greek Prime Minister also blasts speculators:

“[C]loser international cooperation is needed to develop forward-thinking energy policies, as well as face the speculators who now attack Southern European countries.”

Speculators – people who invest their own, not taxpayers’, money – see that his silly policies do harm. And they see that the World Bank ranks Greece 109th, behind Egypt, Ethiopia and Lebanon, in business friendliness. No wonder the Prime Minister doesn’t like speculators.

Unfortunately for Greece, and probably America too, polls show that the people don’t get it, either: 55 percent oppose cutting government spending.

I hope Americans are smarter.

That the leader of a bankrupt country thinks he should spend more to “go green” says a lot a lot about the power of the Green myth. I’ll cover than on my FBN show Thursday. (John Stossel)

 

They don't always listen to logic

Picked up by BBC Scotland lat week, after being aired by the farming press and the trade, it appears that there is a proposal going through the EU parliament to ban certain rat poisons.

In the frame are anticoagulant rodenticides – the most widely used group of rat poisons – and in this case the problem stems from an update to the EU's Biocides Directive, legislation introduced more than a decade ago to control the use of chemicals used to kill living organisms.

What has happened is that Christa Klass, a German MEP from the EPP group, has inserted a clause into the update to remove rodenticides from the market. Under her proposal, they would fail safety cut-off criteria because they are "toxic to human reproduction" and they would fail a derogation clause to keep chemicals deemed too important to lose.

According to Tory MEP Struan Stevenson, the proposal – crazy though it is – is already "well on its way" through the regulatory system. He is urging the agricultural industry and fellow politicians to step up their game to stop it in its tracks. "This is not scaremongering," he says. "There is a real possibility that we could see a ban."

If it does go through, farmers, public health professionals and householders will be left without a decent tool to tackle rodents. The result could be massive and dangerous levels of infestation, with very real risks of disease – just at a moment when local authorities here want to move to universal two-weekly refuse collection.

The matter goes before the EU parliament's environment committee in early June and then before the full parliament in July. Hazel Doonan, from the Agricultural Industries Confederation, is saying that there is "no logical reason why the legislation should go ahead". But she warns: "MEPs don't always listen to logic."

Quite. (EU Referendum)

 

Many vaccines at once OK for kids' brains: study

NEW YORK - Parents can rest assured that getting kids their vaccine shots on time will not hurt their mental skills later on, doctors said on Monday.

"A lot of parents are concerned that children receive too many vaccines too soon," said Dr. Michael J. Smith, of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. Some parents skip recommended vaccines out of fear of autism, for instance, and some choose to space out shots.

Although there is no evidence that would be safer, Smith said, he wanted to study the issue to address parents' concerns. So he and a colleague tapped into data from more than 1,000 preteen kids who had undergone extensive psychological tests of IQ, memory, attention, and language.

Then they divided the kids into those who had received all their shots on time in their first year of life and those who got them late, or only got some.

"Those children who were late, they never did better in any analysis," said Smith, whose study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

In fact, when comparing kids who had received the largest number of vaccines as toddlers against those who had received the smallest, the first group scored higher on 15 out of 42 tests.

But when the researchers took factors such as parents' education level into account, that difference disappeared for all but two tests. And for those, the difference was minimal, Smith said.

Earlier studies based on the same data had shown that the mercury compound thimerosal, which was used as a preservative in vaccines until recently, had no impact on kids' mental skills.

But until now, nobody had studied whether getting several vaccinations in a short time could have negative consequences, for instance by overloading the immune system, as many parents believe, according to Smith. He found that receiving as many as 10 different shots -- including flu and whooping cough -- had no impact.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher said the new findings send an important public health message.

"Parents that are considering delaying vaccination should realize that there aren't any specific benefits, and that they are putting their child at risk, and not only their child but also the community," said Dr. David Sugerman, of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service in Atlanta. (Reuters Health)

 

British ban for doctor at heart of MMR vaccine row

LONDON - A doctor whose claims of links between vaccination and autism triggered a scientific storm before being widely discredited was struck off Britain's medical register on Monday for professional misconduct.

Dr Andrew Wakefield's 1998 study led many parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot and has been blamed for a big rise in measles cases in the United States and parts of Europe in recent years.

A disciplinary panel of the General Medical Council (GMC) found that Wakefield had acted in a "dishonest", "misleading" and "irresponsible" way during his research.

The ruling means Wakefield, who now lives and works in the United States, can no longer practise as a doctor in Britain, but can continue to work in medicine outside the UK.

His paper, published in The Lancet medical journal but since widely discredited, caused one of the biggest medical rows in a generation.

"The panel has determined that Dr Wakefield's name should be erased from the medical register," the GMC said in a statement.

Wakefield had failed to disclose various details about the funding of the study - a failure the GMC described as "dishonest and misleading" - and had acted "contrary to the clinical interests" of the children involved in his research.

Striking Wakefield off the medical register was "the only sanction that is appropriate to protect patients" and was in the wider public interest. It was also "proportionate to the serious and wide-ranging findings made against him", the statement said.

Data released last February for England and Wales showed a rise in measles cases of more than 70 percent in 2008 from the previous year, mostly due to a fall in the number of children being vaccinated. Vaccination rates are now recovering.

Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the false suggestion of a link between autism and the MMR vaccine had caused "untold damage" to vaccination programmes. (Reuters)

 

Really tiny study but just possibly interesting: Reducing niacin may prevent obesity

DALIAN, China, May 24 -- Researchers in China suggest reducing the niacin added to many fortified foods may help prevent obesity.

The researchers at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Medical College, Dalian University in China looked at oral glucose tolerance tests with and without nicotinamide -- a water-soluble vitamin and part of the vitamin B group -- in the same five healthy subjects.

The researchers linked eating the foods with increased niacin to increased early phase insulin resistance and late phase hypoglycemia, which, in turn seemed to contribute to oxidative stress and increased appetite.

The study, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, used lag-regression analysis to find the increase in obesity in U.S. children and teenagers paralleled the increase in the per capita niacin consumption with a 10-year lag.

The researchers suggest niacin fortification in ready-to-eat cereals and other grain products may play a role in obesity and recommend long-term safety of niacin fortification be carefully evaluated. (UPI)

 

Caltech-led team first to directly measure body temperatures of extinct vertebrates

Could help scientists track paleoclimate, determine whether dinosaurs and other species were warm- or cold-blooded

PASADENA, Calif.— Was Tyrannosaurus rex cold-blooded? Did birds regulate their body temperatures before or after they began to grow feathers? Why would evolution favor warm-bloodedness when it has such a high energy cost?

Questions like these—about when, why, and how vertebrates stopped relying on external factors to regulate their body temperatures and began heating themselves internally—have long intrigued scientists.

Now, a team led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has taken a critical step toward providing some answers. (California Institute of Technology)

 

Dominic Lawson: Spare me lectures from deluded actors

Jeremy Irons is a very suitable standard-bearer for eternal misanthropes: his particular talent on film is to exude moroseness from every pore

Why can't actors stick to acting? They do it so well. That's why we admire and sometimes even worship them – which is when the trouble starts. The subject of that hero-worship starts to believe that he (or she) can use that fame to save the world. The latest victim of this thespian folie de grandeur is Jeremy Irons. In last weekend's Sunday Times he launched himself as a "green campaigner", telling the newspaper that he will be making a documentary about "sustainability" in the style of Michael Moore, but, he insists, "not as silly".

Unfortunately, silly is what Irons goes on to reveal himself to be, although in a manner endorsed by many less famous people; he duly trots out the trite and tired old theme that "there are just too many of us" and that something must be done about "the hugely-growing population worldwide". In fact, Irons asserts that if we do nothing about it, nature will take care of it anyway: "I suspect there'll be a very big outbreak of something. I hope it will be a disease, not war."

Memo to Irons: please try to find out what's really happening in the world before deciding to "do something about it". To this end, he could do no better than buy a copy of Peoplequake, by Fred Pearce. Published earlier this year by Eden Project Books, it tackles the poisonous myth of overpopulation from the perspective of a man who has reported on the issues of the environment and development from 60 countries over the past 20 years.

You don't need Pearce to point out – although he does it very well – how the population of the developed world is in dramatic decline. Thirty years ago, 23 European countries had fertility rates above replacement levels; now, none do. If you use exactly the kind of straight-line extrapolations always favoured by the population-explosion scaremongers, as Pearce points out: "Italy will lose 86 per cent of its population by the end of the century, Spain will lose 85 per cent, Germany 83 per cent and Greece 74 per cent."

Irons told the Sunday Times that we in the developed nations would need to set up a "ring-fence and keep everybody out" from an increasingly "starving" world "who will want to come to us". The opposite is the case: the European economy and public services will find it increasingly necessary to import the labour (and talent) that its own plunging fertility rates will have denied it. (The Independent)

 

Predictably: Environmentalists fight to keep synthetic life in lab

Environmental campaigners are fighting to ban the release of synthetic life forms into the wild.

Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire geneticist, last week announced that he had made a living cell from artificial chromosomes, paving the way for the creation of more complex synthetic organisms.

Now a Canadian environmental group aims to ensure the new life forms are never released into nature, where it is feared they could prove a threat to the survival of other species.

The Etc Group has already laid claim to a degree of success after helping to come up with a "de facto moratorium" on synthetic biology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nairobi, Kenya.

The proposals, designed by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, could prevent any experiments where the synthetic creations are released into nature, the Etc Group said. (TDT)

 

No evidence organic foods benefit health: study

NEW YORK - Consumers who opt for organic foods often believe they are improving their health, but there is currently no strong evidence that organics bring nutrition-related health benefits, a new research review finds.

A "disappointingly small" number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts', according to the review, by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK.

Moreover, they found, what studies have been done have largely focused on short-term effects of organic eating -- mainly antioxidant activity in the body -- rather than longer-term health outcomes. And most of the antioxidant studies failed to find differences between organic and conventional diets.

The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to findings reported last year by the same research team.

In that study, the researchers combed through 162 articles published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, and found no evidence that organic and conventional foods differ significantly in their nutrient content.

For the current review, the researchers were able to find only 12 published studies that met their criteria for evaluating the health effects of organic foods.

"A surprising and important finding of this review is the extremely limited nature of the evidence base on this subject, both in terms of the number and quality of studies," write Dr. Alan D. Dangour and his colleagues. (Reuters Health)

 

 

EPA can't regulate climate change

By: Sen. John Barrasso
May 24, 2010 04:55 AM EDT 

President Barack Obama recently delivered another speech about his jobs agenda. He said government can “create the conditions for small businesses to grow and thrive and hire more workers.” His administration, he said, is working to “knock down the barriers that prevent small-business owners from getting loans or investing in the future.” 

With all due respect, it’s hard to take his words seriously. 

Instead of knocking down bureaucratic barriers, this administration has thrown up more walls. The president has devoted his first 16 months in office to passing legislation that creates more red tape and makes it harder for businesses to create new jobs. 

If this is help, Americans don’t want it. They just want Washington to get out of the way. 

Since the beginning of his administration, this president has promoted legislation that’s either wasteful (see stimulus), ineffective (see stimulus) or dangerous (see health care and cap and trade). 

Fortunately, members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle believe that Obama’s cap-and-trade bill should not become law. The American people have made it clear that they do not support legislation that will increase their energy bills and kill more jobs in our country. 

Unfortunately, the president and members of his administration have tuned out the American people. They’ve decided that Washington knows best. Since Congress isn’t likely to pass cap and trade, the administration is now planning to implement it by enacting more regulations. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is now attempting to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide. The Clean Air Act was originally written to regulate traditional air pollutants — not something ever present in the air. 

As now written, the Clean Air Act requires that any sources that emit more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide a year capture the emissions. The threshold is so low that not only would power plants and refineries be required to capture but also farms, rural schools and hospitals. (Politico)

 

Disapproving of EPA’s CO2 Regulations

Environmental Protection Agency

Whatever prospects lie ahead for cap and trade legislation moving through the Senate might not matter if the Environmental Protection Agency continues forward on its path to regulate carbon dioxide. The EPA’s endangerment finding, which took place earlier this year, gives the agency the authority to use Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs). New restrictions on automobiles were the first step in what could eventually be a long, economically painful set of regulations imposed by unelected government bureaucrats – unless Congress steps up to the plate and stops them.

Lisa Murkowski’s (R–AK) resolution of disapproval would do just that. As Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman explains, “In order to provide a means of stopping unwarranted or ill-advised regulations, Congress and President Clinton enacted the Congressional Review Act in 1996. The statute allows Congress to pass, by simple majority and with limited debate time, a resolution of disapproval against any newly promulgated federal regulation it opposes, thus revoking the regulation. It is hard to imagine a more appropriate application of the Congressional Review Act than a disapproval against the EPA’s attempt to regulate energy use in the name of addressing global warming.”

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Overturning EPA's Endangerment A Constitutional Imperative

Written by George Allen and Marlo Lewis

To restore the constitutional separation of powers and democratic accountability, Congress must overturn EPA‘s endangerment finding. S. J. Res. 26, a resolution of disapproval, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), provides an appropriate vehicle to accomplish that.

Read more... (SPPI)

 

The danger is some managers might believe this idiot: Pension wealth at risk as climate priority slips

Pension funds must shift more capital into low-carbon energy to drive long-term returns, British academic Nicholas Stern told Reuters Global Energy Summit, adding that a cold U.S. and European winter had sapped urgency on global warming. (Reuters)

Pension funds need to go for real returns, not attempt to farm subsidies paid by ... pensioners, among others.

 

We must stop saying ‘The science demands...’

Top climate-change expert Mike Hulme tells spiked it is a scandal that scientific claims are increasingly usurping politics and morality.

‘To say that the science demands a certain policy response to climate change is just a wrong reading of the relationship between science and policy.’

Mike Hulme, professor of climate change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, is a passionate advocate of science. Yet, as he tells spiked, when it comes to climate change, too many people expect too much of science. Physics and ethics seem to have become conflated in the climate change debate. We see politicians expecting science to determine policy; we see environmental campaigners, armed with peer-reviewed papers, expecting it to win all the arguments; and, in turn, we see so-called sceptics expecting their science to refute the green vision of society. But for Hulme, author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, science cannot, and should not, be expected to do these things. It is no substitute, he argues, for politics or for moral judgements.

‘The phraseology that I object to – because it’s inappropriate – is “the science demands this” and “the science demands that”, as though the making of climate policy, or policy in general in fact, is a simple process of translating scientific evidence or scientific knowledge claims directly into policy. In no area of policy is that the case – least of all in climate change, where the making of policy has to bring in a much wider range of pieces of evidence and also political and ethical considerations.’ (Tim Black, spiked)

 

Hit Job: ABC News Attempts to Align Climate Change Skeptics with White Supremacists

By Jeff Poor

At first, Michael Mann, a Penn State professor and a central figure in the Climategate scandal, but best known for his discredited "hockey stick graph" didn't like being mocked in a YouTube video. Now Mann is alleging he's a victim of hate groups. 

On ABC's May 23 "World News Sunday," a segment from anchor Dan Harris alleged that threatening e-mails Mann received were part of a "spike" in violence aimed at the global warming alarmist community.

"The ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf is keeping the debate over climate and energy very much in the headlines and that debate is becoming increasingly venomous with many prominent scientists now saying that they are being severely harassed," Harris said.

Curiously Harris makes no mention of the real violence in the form of eco-terrorism that has come from the environmental left or Greenpeace repeatedly targeting the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner, by stealing his garbage on a weekly basis, as his Web site points out. Instead, this "severe harassment" ABC warned about were e-mails from fringe Internet elements sent to Mann.

"The FBI tells ABC News it's looking into a spike in threatening e-mails to climate scientists like Penn State's Michael Mann," Harris said.

And Mann, who has a lawsuit against Minnesotans for Climate Change, a group that publicly mocked him for his discredited hockey stick graph, where he allegedly intentionally hid data to accentuate the argument of global warming alarmism, complained that the e-mailers are trying to trample his free speech rights. (NewsBusters)

 

Army of Light and Truth 135, Forces of Darkness 110

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

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

Serious observers are interpreting this shock result as a sign that students are now impatiently rejecting the relentless extremist propaganda taught under the guise of compulsory environmental-studies classes in British schools, confirming opinion-poll findings that the voters are no longer frightened by “global warming” scare stories, if they ever were.

When the Union’s president, Laura Winwood, announced the result in the Victorian-Gothich Gladstone Room, three peers cheered with the undergraduates, and one peer drowned his sorrows in beer. (SPPI)

 

Heartland Conference Gave Global-Warming Skeptics Great Ammunition

Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley pulled an enormous calculator out of the inside pocket of his finely tailored English suit, pointed to a formula in the paper he was holding, punched some buttons, and explained, showing me the calculator results, that if we shut down the entire world’s economy for 25 years, the maximum possible impact on global temperatures would be 1 degree centigrade. 

That’s what passed for light banter at the Heartland Institute’s 4th Annual Conference on Climate Change, which I had the good fortune to attend for three days last week, meeting a pantheon of climate “skeptic” heroes including Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Steve McIntyre and Roy Spencer, just to name a few of the dozens of speakers hailing from two dozen nations.

Heartland’s president, Joe Bast, set the tone the first night while addressing the meeting’s roughly 800 attendees. Bast quoted a scientist—and I use that term very loosely—from the University of East Anglia, home of the Climategate scandal, who actually wrote in a recently published book: “We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but what climate change can do for us.” Rarely has there been a more public statement of the mindset of global warmists. (Ross Kaminsky, Human Events)

 

Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons

LONDON — Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?

Nowhere has this shift in public opinion been more striking than in Britain, where climate change was until this year such a popular priority that in 2008 Parliament enshrined targets for emissions cuts as national law. But since then, the country has evolved into a home base for a thriving group of climate skeptics who have dominated news reports in recent months, apparently convincing many that the threat of warming is vastly exaggerated.

A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.

And London’s Science Museum recently announced that a permanent exhibit scheduled to open later this year would be called the Climate Science Gallery — not the Climate Change Gallery as had previously been planned. (NYT)

No mystery guys -- baseless fears can only be maintained for so long before people begin to notice the promised apocalypse failed to materialize.

 

Plant and Animal Response to Global Warming

Written by Robert Ferguson

One of the grandest of all catastrophes predicted by climate alarmists to occur as a result of CO2-induced global warming is that many plant and animal species will not be able to migrate poleward in latitude or upward in altitude fast enough to remain within the temperature regimes suitable for their continued existence, and, therefore, many of them will likely be driven to extinction.

Read more... (SPPI)

 

Parallel Loonyverse: MMR and AGW

The doctor that caused mass hysteria over the safety of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine has been struck off for unethical behavior.

Andrew Wakefield claimed the vaccine could cause autism, a claim that led to panicked parents opting not to vaccinate their children, which in turn led to needless deaths.

The science behind Wakefield’s claims was junk, but a gullible, eager media pushed it anyway:

Wakefield could not have caused the huge scare single-handed. He needed the help of compliant sections of the media which like to alarm their readers. And I think that those journalists who did so much to spread the scare should ask themselves serious questions about the extent to which they properly examined the facts or were simply swept along by the general hysteria and by their desire to relate a sensational story.

Eventually the medical journal Lancet retracted the original paper, but that won’t bring dead kids back or soothe the souls of parents that failed to vaccinate their children.

The MMR scare shows how junk science can be adopted as truth when pushed by an uncritical media and supported by idiot celebrities and begs direct comparison with the global warming hoax, where dishonest junk science is sold to a gullible public by a complicit media, supported by idiot celebrities.

Andrew Wakefield lost his job, his career and his credibility as punishment for his central role in the MMR scare. In the global warming arena, Michael Mann is being investigated for fraud for his debunked hockey stick graph, a central element in the junk science of the global warming hoax.

Other warmist scientists are bleating about being held accountable for their words.  As Dr Wakefield has discovered, people don’t like being taken for fools and the consequences of unethical, dishonest science are far more real than his manufactured conclusions ever were. (Daily Bayonet)

 

Cooler Heads Digest 14 May 2010

by William Yeatman
14 May 2010 @ 1:51 pm

In the News

How To Buy Corporate Support for Kerry-Lieberman
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 14 May 2010

Cap-and-Scam
David Harsanyi, Denver Post, 14 May 2010

Renewables Versus Conventional
John Droz, Jr., American Spectator, 14 May 2010

The Bootleggers Are the Baptists’ Last Hope
Iain Murray, Washington Examiner, 13 May 2010

Thomas Friedman, Phone Home
William Yeatman & Jeremy Lott, Real Clear Markets, 12 May 2010

A Climate Dud
Chip Knappenberger, MasterResource.org, 12 May 2010

The Price of Wind
Wall Street Journal editorial, 12 May 2010

Kerry-(Graham)-Lieberman: A Monstrous Payoff To Big Businesses
Myron Ebell, New York Times, 10 May 2010

Shelving of California’s Climate Law a Lot Closer
Tom Tanton, OC Register, 10 May 2010

Sale of Chicago Climate Exchange Reinforces Weak Carbon Market
Joel Kirkland, ClimateWire, 3 May 2010

News You Can Use
Costs & Benefits of Kerry-Lieberman American Power…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

Nude Socialists still confuses cause and effect: Meltdown: Why ice ages don't last forever

BACK in 1993, a boy playing football near Nanjing, China, suddenly fell through the ground. He had inadvertently found a new cave, later named Hulu, which has turned out to be a scientific treasure chest. Besides two Homo erectus skeletons, it contains stalagmites that have helped solve one of the greatest mysteries in climate science: why the ice ages came and went when they did.

For more than 2 million years, Earth's climate has been oscillating wildly. Immense ice sheets slowly advance across northern lands, then suddenly melt away to leave the planet basking in a relatively brief period of warmth before the ice creeps back again. Climate scientists have long suspected that these glacial cycles are triggered by changes in our planet's orbit. Yet while this theory has had many successes, it fails to explain one critical fact: why the ice ages end every 100,000 years or so. "It's a big problem," says Larry Edwards of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Edwards is part of a group of researchers who may finally have the answer, thanks to Hulu and other nearby caves. If their conclusions are right, then the greatest ice sheets of the past were remarkably vulnerable, melting away when there was just a glimmer of extra sunlight. But what have stalagmites in China got to do with the vast ice sheets that covered much of Europe and Siberia, and North America? ( Stephen Battersby, New Scientist)

Since CO2 increase does not precede warming and rising ocean levels it simply can not be causal (maybe they're dyslexic and confuse the order of cause and effect?). Try to remember fellas: if something is precedent it might be causal but if it is subsequent it can not be causal.

 

Quantifying the Effects of Ocean Acidification on Marine Organisms

Written by Dr. Craig Idso

According to climate-alarmist theory, as the air’s CO2 content rises in response to ever-increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and as more and more carbon dioxide therefore dissolves in the surface waters of the world’s oceans, the pH values of the planet’s oceanic waters should be gradually dropping.

Read more... (SPPI)

 

My Perspective On The Nature Commentary By Kevin Trenberth

As readers of my weblog know, there are a set of posts giving e-mails among Kevin Trenberth, Josh Willis and I, and blog posts by Roy Spencer, on the issue of “missing heat” in the climate system. These posts can be viewed at

Is There “Missing” Heat In The Climate System? My Comments On This NCAR Press Release

Further Feedback From Kevin Trenberth And Feedback From Josh Willis On The UCAR Press Release

Comments On Two Papers By Kevin Trenberth On The Global Climate Energy Budget

The Significance of the E-Mail Interchange with Kevin Trenberth and Josh Willis

Article On The “Missing Heat” In The April 16 Issue of Physicsworld.com

Further Comment By Kevin Trenberth

Roy Spencer’s Response To Kevin Trenberth, April 26, 2009

April 26 2010 Reply By Kevin Trenberth

Earths Missing Energy: Trenberth’s Plot Proves My Point

There is now a new contribution by Kevin on Nature (it is actually not new in one sense, since Kevin (and J. Fasullo) recently posted a commentary on the same subject at Science magazine. Nature soliciting the same person (no matter how qualified) to write a comment is not expanding our perspective on this issue (Roy Spencer, for example, would have been a good choice as he has a different viewpoint than Kevin expressed in his Science comment). (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

Carbon phobia... Toward Sustainable Travel: Breaking the Flying Addiction

Flying dwarfs any other individual activity in terms of carbon emissions, yet more and more people are traveling by air. With no quick technological fix on the horizon, what alternatives — from high-speed trains to advanced videoconferencing — can cut back the amount we fly? (Elisabeth Rosenthal, e360)

 

FTA Chief: Paint Is Cheaper Than Trains

Posted by Randal O'Toole

In March, Cato published my review of every rail transit system in America (as of 2008), showing that in nearly every case buses would have been more cost-effective at moving people. This same view was expressed last week by a surprising source: Peter Rogoff, the Obama administration’s appointee in charge of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Appropriately, Rogoff spoke before the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, whose transit system, he pointed out, is in a “grim” state. Nationwide, he noted, America’s transit industry suffers from $78 billion worth of deferred maintenance — most of which is due to rail transit lines that cities cannot afford to keep in shape. Rogoff was disturbed that cities were asking for federal grants to build more rail lines when they can’t keep the existing trains in a state of good repair.

Rogoff says he has been telling transit managers, “if you can’t afford to operate the system you have, why does it make sense for us to partner in your expansion?” Cities that build “shiny new rails now . . . need to be mindful of the costs they are teeing up for future generations.”

“Let’s start with honesty,” he said: “Paint is cheap, rails systems are extremely expensive.” He suggested that, instead of expensive trains, many cities can attract just as many riders onto transit by painting buses on specific routes in distinctive colors (as Boulder, CO has done).

Part of the problem, Rogoff knows, is that Congress has given cities incentives to build high-cost transit projects. To address this issue, the last transportation bill, in 2005, included a section requiring the Federal Transit Administration to evaluate the incentives created by federal funding.

Unfortunately, the FTA dropped the ball: the resulting report said nothing about existing incentives and addressed only the question of whether new incentives could be created to encourage agencies to bring their properties up to a state of good repair. While that is a laudable goal, it is an input, not an output.

According to historic data published by the American Public Transportation Association, the productivity of public transit — outputs per unit of input — has declined dramatically since the federal government began funding transit in 1964. From 1964 through 2008, the inflation-adjusted cost of operating transit increased by more than 360 percent, while transit ridership grew by a mere 24 percent and fares by 62 percent.

Ultimately, transit should be privatized, but in the meantime Congress or the administration can adopt a race-to-the-top program similar to the one the administration is using to improve education. Rogoff should direct his agency to rewrite its incentive report before Congress takes up transportation again in 2011. (Cato at liberty)

 

Red light for green discount

The planned discount on new electric cars could become a casualty of the government's cost-cutting drive

The £5,000 discount on all new electric cars, which had been due to be introduced next year, could be scrapped as part of the government's cost-cutting drive, the Guardian has learned.

The Department for Business has told car industry executives the planned offer was being reviewed. Scrapping the discount would be a set back for the electric car market, which accounts for 1% of the 26m cars on British roads. The industry has already begun marketing its new electric models on the basis that the offer would remain in place. Last month Nissan announced that its Leaf, a 100% electric five-seater, would go on sale next year for £23,350 – including the £5,000 discount.

Kieren Puffett from Parkers, the used car guide, said that even at that price only the most environmentally conscious motorists would buy it.

The £5,000 discount – along with financial support promised to Vauxhall, Ford and Nissan by the previous government this year – is being reviewed and a decision is expected in "weeks not months". (The Guardian)

 

BP pledges to fund Gulf impact study

Faced with mounting criticism of its handling of the clean-up of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP pledged today to set aside up to $500 million to fund a ten-year research programme into the environmental impact of the disaster.

Tony Hayward, the chief executive, said: “BP has made a commitment to doing everything we can to lessen the impact of this tragic incident on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast ... There is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific community has access to the samples and the raw data it needs to begin this work.”

The oil group’s move came hours after it admitted that the amount of oil it was siphoning off from its ruptured well in the Gulf was far less than earlier and less than half the total amount leaking each day. (The Times)

 

States hit by oil spill prepare to seize control of botched clean-up

Fury over the handling of the BP oil disaster intensified yesterday as state officials challenged federal authorities, accusing them of bureaucratic fumbling and betrayal as the slick took over 65 miles of Louisiana coastline.

Even as the oil company continued to empty toxic dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico — defying an order by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop, and using data protection regulations to keep details of its content secret — those fighting the spill complained that they were being made to seek formal permission for their efforts, resulting in critical delays.

Millions of feet of protective boom requested weeks ago have not arrived. Fishing boats commissioned by BP to help to set up defences remain idle, prompting parish officials in Louisiana to commandeer 30.

In the absence of a long-awaited permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to start creating offshore sand barriers, the mayor of one city said he had even contemplated resorting to piracy. (The Times)

 

What can you expect of someone raised by a man who wanted to kill off billions of humans? Disaster must be catalyst for change, says Jean-Michel Cousteau

Jean-Michel Cousteau, one of the world’s leading ocean explorers, has spoken of his “frustration at the human species” over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and called for it to become a catalyst for political, industrial and environmental change. (The Times)

 

Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead

WASHINGTON — In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked about the permits and waivers, officials at the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating that the agency had no intention of stopping all new oil and gas production in the gulf.

Department of the Interior officials said in a statement that the moratorium was meant only to halt permits for the drilling of new wells. It was not meant to stop permits for new work on existing drilling projects like the Deepwater Horizon.

But critics say the moratorium has been violated or too narrowly defined to prevent another disaster. (NYT)

 

A Short Lesson In Scale (and Global Power Demand)

When considering the global energy sector, one of the most difficult tasks is understanding the gargantuan scale of our energy consumption. [Read More] (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

After oil, Norway should turn to gas

Statoil, 67 percent held by the Norwegian state, is one of the world's largest oil and gas producers and the world's second largest natural gas exporter behind Russian giant Gazprom. 

A Statoil gas processing plant in Kaarstoe, Norway. Statoil, 67 percent held by the Norwegian state, is one of the world's largest oil and gas producers and the world's second largest natural gas exporter behind Russian giant Gazprom. 

A Norwegian flag waving in front a Statoil prototype floating wind turbine. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand will be 40 percent higher in 2030 than in 2007, while electricity demand will grow 76 percent, with natural gas up 42 percent. 

A Statoil gas processing plant in Kaarstoe, Norway. The main problems for wind, solar and other renewables in replacing oil is that they involve massive investment and it is unclear if in practice they will ever be capable of supplying reliable energy on a large scale. 

AFP - As Norway prepares for the day its massive oil reserves run out, industry players say natural gas is the best replacement, freely available and more efficient than renewables and less controversial than nuclear.

"It's a battle between idealists and realists and it will not be an easy discussion. But gas will be part of the solution," said Brian Bjordal, who heads up Norwegian gas transport company Gassco.

Rune Bjoernson, who leads the natural gas unit at Norwegian energy group Statoil, agrees.

Natural gas is "competitive on price, predictable when it comes to costs, ... it has a very low carbon footprint (and) reserves are huge," he told AFP.

Statoil, 67 percent held by the Norwegian state, is one of the world's largest oil and gas producers and the world's second largest natural gas exporter behind Russian giant Gazprom.

"We have enough reserves to cover 250 years of global consumption," Bjoernson boasted. (AFP)

 

Australia first, urges energy paper

THE government has been flayed for undermining confidence in the resources sector, but an early version of its energy policy advocates doing everything possible to ensure Australia remains an attractive destination for investment.

A draft of a section of the government's energy green paper, obtained by the Herald, also criticises foreign governments that invest directly in oil companies, claiming the trend would undermine the development of free markets and harm Australia's long-term economic strength.

The green paper was to have been released late last year, but has been delayed by the government, which claims it needed to be informed by the prospect of an emissions trading scheme and the Henry review's recommendations.

But a draft paper circulated by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism to state governments in October makes clear the government is banking on a huge expansion of the energy industry, so that ''Australia reaps the rewards of increasing long-term world demand for energy''. (SMH)

 

Wind Integration Realities: The Netherlands Study (Part II)

by Kent Hawkins
May 24, 2010

[Editor's note: This is the second part in a four-part series on two new studies examining the negation of windpower emissions savings from fossil-fuel firming. The Netherlands study below, which is found to be consistent to Mr. Hawkins's calculator approach, indicates a total negation of emissions savings from fossil-fuel fill-in.]

Windpower has traditionally been considered a substitute for carbon-based energy and thus a strategy for reducing related emissions, including that of carbon dioxide (CO2). However, reality is more complicated. Either natural gas-fired or coal-fired power must rescue wind from its intermittency problem, a role that creates incremental fuel usage and emissions compared to a situation where the conventional capacity could operate on a steadier basis.

Previous studies have highlighted this unsettling tradeoff for proponents of windpower. And a new study by C. le Pair and K. de Groot based on actual experience in the Netherlands finds:

The use of wind energy for electricity generation in combination with the requirement for fossil fuel powered stations to compensate for wind fluctuations can easily lead to loss of the expected saving in fuel use and CO2 emission. In addition, the conventional stations will be subject to accelerated wear and tear.

It is recommended to get an accurate and quantitative insight into these extra effects before society sets out to apply wind energy on a large scale. All producers must be required to publish data on the efficiency effects and fuel use when wind energy is added on.

This post reviews their study and compares its results with that produced by my fossil fuel and CO2 emissions calculator, both of which show how quickly any claimed saving from wind can become negative given the reality of fossil-fuel backup to firm-up intermittent power. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Entergy says nuclear remains costly

Entergy Corp Chief Executive J. Wayne Leonard said on Monday that building new nuclear plants remains too costly and will prevent many utilities from participating in the fledgling nuclear renaissance in the United States.

"Utilities do not want to take that risk," Leonard said at the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Houston. "It's risk we don't control."

New Orleans-based Entergy suspended two license applications filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for proposed new reactors to be built either in Louisiana or Mississippi in 2008 after being unable to negotiate a favorable construction contract.

While a few U.S. companies are moving ahead to develop new reactors, Leonard said that to make the economics of nuclear work for Entergy, he would need to see "double-digit natural gas prices and carbon blow-out prices" starting at $25 per ton and escalating toward $50.

Congress has been debating legislation that would set a price on carbon emitted into the atmosphere. (Reuters)

 

 

The strange history of DDT

If you've ever wondered how a chemical that earned the 1948 Nobel Prize could get blacklisted two decades later, you have to read The Excellent Powder: DDT's Political and Scientific History. Authors Donald Roberts and Richard Tren, of the group Africa Fighting Malaria, have done a superb job, and have somehow made the book suitable for the techie and layperson alike.

You'll read about the incredible junk science put forth by St. Rachel Carson, and the shameless posturing against this compound by elite journals such as Science. Meanwhile, millions of Africans were dying, but according to evil hacks like Paul Ehrlich, that was just fine.

If banning DDT is what founded the modern environmental movement, then it was founded on a gigantic lie. Read my book review in Health News Digest.

In anticipation of the e-mails: She is "Saint" Rachel since even though most Greens with a science background now acknowledge that her anti-DDT screed was complete nonsense, she has attained such iconic status that it doesn't matter. Yes, yes, I realize that the use of "Saint" is theologically incorrect, as all canonizations are infallible and go through an extensive vetting process, which our secular Saint Rachel did not—until it was too late. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

Video: Health Care Reform Timeline

The White House knows its signature health care legislation is still deeply unpopular with the American people, which is why it has been desperate to speed up implementation as much as legally possible. But many of the law’s new costs and limitations are still scheduled to kick into effect years down the line, when Congress hopes voters aren’t paying attention anymore.

A new Foundry video illustrates the health care implementation timeline (pdf) researched by the Heritage health care team.

Think you can keep your current plan?  Think seniors and the disadvantaged will get a fair shot at the care they want and need?  Watch and find out.  For more information on the side effects of Obamacare, visit the Side Effects blog. (The Foundry)

 

Side Effects: ER Overload Will Only Get Worse

Remember how Obamacare was going to save big bucks and reduce wait time in emergency rooms? The idea was that millions of previously uninsured Americans accustomed to using ERs for basic medical treatment would snatch up Obamacare coverage and start getting primary care from regular (and cheaper) medical practices.

Nice thought. But it doesn’t look like it’ll pan out.

Indeed, notes Rick Dallam, it looks like “it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years.” In an article in The Hill, Dallam, a health care partner at a firm that designs health care facilities, notes: “We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Europeans Fear Crisis Threatens Liberal Benefits

PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

“We’re now in rescue mode,” said Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister. “But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon. The ‘reform deficit’ is the real problem,” he said, pointing to the need for structural change.

The reaction so far to government efforts to cut spending has been pessimism and anger, with an understanding that the current system is unsustainable. (NYT)

The Europe that protects”? They've been freeloading on American defense since WWII and using America's comparative austerity and productivity to fund vote buying and pampering of their unproductive socialist fantasy -- now the chooks are coming home to roost, Socialism simply does not and can not work. The only way it can do so is by having an enslaved population supporting a tiny all-powerful dictatorial elite in exactly the same way as social insects do (fine if you are royal bees or ants but a really crappy life for the masses of workers -- and this is the model for the "workers paradise"...). The only way workers can hope for lifestyle improvements and comfortable retirement is in a free-market capitalist system.

 

EU says Glaxo, Merck vaccines OK despite pig virus

LONDON, May 21 - Rotavirus vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co are safe to use despite being contaminated with a pig virus, Europe's drugs watchdog said on Friday.

The decision echoes a similar ruling from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week.

Glaxo's Rotarix and Merck's Rotateq, which is sold in Europe via a joint venture with Sanofi-Aventis, target rotavirus, which can cause fatal diarrhoea. DNA from porcine circovirus (PCV) had been found in both vaccines.

The European Medicines Agency said there was no evidence that the PCV in the oral vaccines presented a risk to public health, noting PCV was not known to cause disease in humans.

The agency said it was awaiting further information from the manufacturers on steps being taken to rid their vaccines of PCV and would consider the need for further recommendations in its meeting in July, as further data emerge. (Reuters)

 

Cholesterol drug side effects need watching: study

LONDON, May 21 - People using cholesterol-lowering statins have a higher risks of liver dysfunction, kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts and such side effects of the drug should be closely tracked, doctors said on Friday.

In a study covering more than 2 million people in Britain, researchers from Nottingham University found that adverse side effects of statins, which are prescribed to people with high levels cholesterol to cut the risk of heart disease, were generally worst in the first year of treatment.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, are unlikely to affect the use of best-selling medicines like Pfizer's Lipitor and AstraZeneca's Crestor, but the study's authors said patients taking statins should be "proactively monitored" for side effects. (Reuters)

I'm still waiting for anything remotely resembling compelling evidence cholesterol levels are important drivers of disease or that statins are really beneficial.

 

Your phone probably isn't killing you

The scientific consensus is that devices that emit electromagnetic radiation have little effect on the body.

Most children would remember being told that sitting too close to the television would give them square eyes.

Despite this comical myth there have been genuine concerns from scientists and the public about the effect various devices can have on people's health.

A common concern of the past decade has been the effect things such as mobile phones, microwave ovens, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices and baby monitors, which emit electromagnetic radiation, could have on the body.

Yet the executive director of the Australian Centre for Radio Frequency Bioeffects Research, Rodney Croft, said that despite decades of research, there was little evidence to suggest that technology that emits electromagnetic (EM) radiation had a negative affect on the body.

In a study reviewing the average level of electromagnetic radiation given off by various electronic devices, Croft found faulty microwaves emitted the most EM radiation.

But these emissions were only about 10 per cent of the daily limit that was considered safe by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, a government organisation which sets the standards on EM radiation, he said.

''All of these technologies used EM radiation and if there was a notable health impact of one device, it would be relevant to all of them,'' he said. (SMH)

 

Older patients can skip breast radiation - study

WASHINGTON, May 20 - Older women with early stage breast cancer can safely skip radiation therapy and go straight to taking pills that help keep tumors from coming back, researchers reported on Thursday.

They said the finding, to be presented next month to a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, may save many women and their doctors a lot of trouble, not to mention the costs of radiation.

"This study confirms that for older women with early stage breast cancer, lumpectomy without radiation is a viable alternative, and tamoxifen may replace the need for radiation," said Dr. Kevin Hughes of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the study.

Hughes and colleagues now have 12 years of data on 636 women aged 70 or older who had stage I breast cancer, the easy-to-cure type that has not spread and that is so-called estrogen receptor-positive. (Reuters)

 

Contaminants in Groundwater Used for Public Supply

More than 20 percent of untreated water samples from 932 public wells across the nation contained at least one contaminant at levels of potential health concern, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

About 105 million people — or more than one-third of the nation’s population — receive their drinking water from one of the 140,000 public water systems across the United States that rely on groundwater pumped from public wells

The USGS study focused primarily on source (untreated) water collected from public wells before treatment or blending rather than the finished (treated) drinking water that water utilities deliver to their customers.

“By focusing primarily on source-water quality, and by testing for many contaminants that are not regulated in drinking water, this USGS study complements the extensive monitoring of public water systems that is routinely conducted for regulatory and compliance purposes by federal, state and local drinking-water programs,” said Matthew C. Larsen, USAGES Associate Director for Water. “Findings assist water utility managers and regulators in making decisions about future monitoring needs and drinking-water issues.” (USGS)

 

Thirst for cash brings push to tax sweet drinks

WASHINGTON — Thirsty for new sources of cash, health-conscious lawmakers in cities and states across the country are reaching for the refrigerator, proposing taxes on sports drinks, teas and soda.

Politicians say the taxes will help curb rates of obesity and diabetes and can pay for health programs. But retailers and the beverage industry say the taxes are unpopular, unfair and simply won't work.

Last year, federal lawmakers dropped a proposal to use a penny per ounce drink tax — an extra $1.44 for a 12-pack of soda — to help pay for health care reform legislation. In the year since, however, lawmakers in more than a dozen states and a handful of cities have become the new cola crusaders, proposing similar taxes either to plug budget gaps or fund new programs. (AP)

 

Soda Tax Uncaps a Fight

Beverage Makers Step Up Campaigns Against Levy as Cities, States Weigh Idea

Makers and sellers of soda and other sweet drinks have intensified a fight against proposed taxes on their products, as a growing number of cities and states are weighing the measures to help fill depleted coffers. (WSJ)

 

When did entertainers get the silly idea they actually knew something? Earth will bite us back, warns Iron

There are too many humans and disease may restore the balance, the actor claims

The world is becoming so overpopulated that nature will one day wreak its revenge, claims Jeremy Irons, the actor.

Launching himself as a green campaigner, Irons has revealed plans to make a documentary about sustainability and waste disposal, likening himself to Michael Moore, the controversial film maker, although “not as silly”.

The increasing global population would put an intolerable strain on the world’s resources, Irons said, and the gulf between developing countries and westerners living a bountiful “pie-in-the-sky” existence must be addressed.

“One always returns to the fact that there are just too many of us, the population continues to rise and it’s unsustainable,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times. “I think we have to find ways where we’re not having to scrap our effluent junk and are a really sustainable planet.”

Natural systems of selfregulation may stop population growth, he said: “I suspect there’ll be a very big outbreak of something because the world always takes care of itself.”

The 61-year-old actor went on to speculate that either disease or war, “probably disease”, could become nature’s way of halving the population. (Sunday Times)

 

EU Struggles To Find Voice On Environment Issues

The European Union is bogged down in a power struggle over who speaks for the bloc at international meetings, threatening action on environmental issues from mercury pollution to whaling, EU officials say.

The discord has emerged since the 27-country bloc adopted its new Lisbon Treaty late last year, which sowed confusion by empowering a new European Council president and foreign policy chief.

"We're in a bit of a mess," one senior EU official said on Friday. "We're still feeling our way forward." (Reuters)

 

Study finds big decrease in global child mortality

Fewer children are dying around the world, with deaths among children under 5 falling in almost every country, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

Using a new method of calculating mortality that they say is more complete and accurate than previous methods, the team at the University of Washington says the number of deaths of children under 5 has plummeted from 11.9 million in 1990 to 7.7 million in 2010.

The findings are similar to a September report by the United Nation's children's fund that showed better malaria prevention and using drugs to protect newborns of AIDS-infected mothers lowered mortality from 12.5 million under-five deaths in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008.

But the new estimates suggest that 800,000 fewer young children died than UNICEF estimates.

"Previous estimates had shown child deaths falling slowly and neonatal deaths nearly at a standstill," Julie Knoll Rajaratnam, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We were able to double the amount of data and improve the accuracy of our estimates to find that children are doing better today than at any time in recent history, especially in the first month of life."

Globally, the team says 3.1 million newborns died in the past year, 2.3 million infants and 2.3 million children aged 1 year to 4. (Reuters)

 

Reasons not to be fearful

The human race isn’t heading to hell in a handcart, argues Matt Ridley – in fact, we’ve never had it so good (Sunday Times)

 

The Atrazine Scare Is Just the Beginning

by Robert James Bidinotto

Recently, I reported here on the environmentalists’ trumped-up scare campaign targeting atrazine, a valuable, widely used agricultural herbicide. I quoted a Wall Street Journal editorial that observed, “The environmental lobby also figures that if it can take down atrazine with its long record of clean health, it can get the EPA to prohibit anything.”

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In fact, the attack on atrazine is just part of the total war against man-made chemicals that is waged today by environmentalists inside and outside of government.

On May 6, the President’s Cancer Panel fired the latest salvo in this battle, in the form of its annual report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now. The report follows in the scare-mongering tradition established by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a major green lobby. As I noted earlier, the NRDC’s 1989 pesticide report—citing bogus rodent experiments—fomented a nationwide panic over the chemical alar, abetted by media sympathizers. Last year, the group issued a similar faux “study” to gin up alarm over atrazine.

The presidential panel’s report similarly relies on “junk science” to reach alarmist conclusions, and was pre-released to reliably green journalists to maximize its visibility. Columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was one. In “New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer,” Kristof proclaimed that “the mission control of scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel” was “poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies.” Reuters likewise reported the story under the scary title, “Americans ‘Bombarded’ with Cancer Sources: Report.”

Yet, jarringly, the first sentence in the report’s cover letter to President Obama begins: “Though overall cancer incidence and mortality have continued to decline in recent years . . .”

How to reconcile this admission with the report’s frightening thesis: that the “American people—even before they are born—are being bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures”? If cancer-causing chemicals are widespread and increasing, why do overall cancer rates and deaths continue to fall?

To its credit, the New York Times highlighted strong criticism by the American Cancer Society leveled against the government report. ACS epidemiologist Dr. Michael Thun blasted the study as “unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer,” and for claiming, without proof, that environmentally caused cancer cases are “grossly underestimated.”

In truth, says the ACS, only six percent of all U.S. cancers are related to “environmental causes”—four percent from occupational exposures and just two percent from all other settings. “Environmental causes” thus represent only a tiny fraction of the overall incidence of U.S. cancers, which are due overwhelmingly to non-environmental factors—mainly genetics and voluntary lifestyle choices.

“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Dr. Thun said, adding that poor nutrition, obesity, and lack of exercise contribute far more to cancer susceptibility than do pollutants.

But that’s not the conclusion the presidential panel wants you to reach. (Big Government)

 

Bovine TB found in wild boar for first time in UK

Scientists discover TB in wild boar, raising fears among farmers that boars and badgers could be contributing to disease in cattle (The Guardian)

 

Beekeepers lose one sixth of hives

Beekeepers lost one in six hives last winter due to disease and cold weather, according to the latest statistics.

The losses are much higher than the natural rate of up to 10 per cent and reflect growing concerns that bee numbers are falling in Britain.

However, beekeepers are optimistic that colonies are in better shape than previous years, especially after such a harsh winter.

In 2008/09 one in five hives were lost over the winter and a third died out the year before.

The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) said it was good news that 80 per cent of honey bee colonies made it through the coldest winter in 31 years. The highest losses of 26 per cent were recorded in the north of England, and lowest losses of 12.8 per cent were recorded in the south west of England. (TDT)

 

Climate forces African rice revival vs Asian cousin

OSLO, May 21 - Scientists are reviving long-ignored African rice to cut dependence on Asian varieties that may be less able to withstand the impact of climate change on the poorest continent, a report said on Friday.

Historically, scientists have focused on breeding useful traits such as disease resistance from African rice into Asian rice. Now the focus is on the reverse -- using African rice as the basic crop and improving it with Asian genes. "African rice was initially ignored by mainstream research," said Koichi Futakuchi, a scientist at Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) in a statement.

"Now for the first time, we're reversing the gene flow."

Asian and African rice are the only two cultivated species of the crop in the world but the usually higher-yielding Asian type, introduced to Africa by the Portuguese in the 16th century, has become the dominant type to meet surging demand.

Africa imports 40 percent of its rice with import bills estimated at $3.6 billion in 2008.

"With climate change a reality, the work of developing crop varieties adapted to the changing environment is going to keep plant breeders busy for decades," AfricaRice said in a study coinciding with U.N. International Biodiversity Day on May 22. (Reuters)

Broadening the stock base is good and yes, climate change is and always has been real but the ridiculous panic over mythical catastrophic enhanced greenhouse effect (which is what Al and the clown cohort carry on about under the misleading nomenclature of "climate change") must stop -- it simply misdirects effort and finance.

 

Oh... Young coral 'threatened by noise pollution'

As if it's not bad enough for them with pollution, fishing by dynamiting, global warming and ocean acidification, the world's coral reefs face a new threat – from noise.

Scientists have discovered that baby corals, in their first days as free-swimming larvae in the ocean, find their way home by listening to the noise of animals on the reef, and actively swimming towards it.

But the findings raise new concerns for the future of coral reefs, as increasing human noise pollution in the world's oceans, from ships' engines to drilling to seismic exploration, is masking reef sounds. (The Independent)

So, guess we better hunt down all those noisy whales and dolphins then, so coral larvae can hear reef noise easier...

 

Gorebull warbling is falling apart, so: UN says case for saving species 'more powerful than climate change'

Goods and services from the natural world should be factored into the global economic system, says UN biodiversity report 

The economic case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change, a major report for the United Nations will declare this summer.

The Stern report on climate change, which was prepared for the UK Treasury and published in 2007, famously claimed that the cost of limiting climate change would be around 1%-2% of annual global wealth, but the longer-term economic benefits would be 5-20 times that figure.

The UN's biodiversity report – dubbed the Stern for Nature – is expected to say that the value of saving "natural goods and services", such as pollination, medicines, fertile soils, clean air and water, will be even higher – between 10 and 100 times the cost of saving the habitats and species which provide them. (The Guardian)

 

There's a major problem with this: Whales and dolphins deserve 'human rights' because of their intelligence

Whales and dolphins should get "human rights" to life and liberty because of mounting evidence of their intelligence, a group of conservationists and experts in philosophy, law and ethics have argued. (TDT)

As soon as you contemplate bestowing human rights on critters and blurring the distinction of humanity you open the door to treating humans as animals. What's the criteria for "human"? Intelligence? Oh, so it's OK to put down an idiot child then? Think how we could cleanse society of all kinds of "burdens" as we euthanize the autistic, Down Syndrome and what, say those with an assessed IQ <100? Critters aren't human and we must never blur that distinction, if for no other reason than fear of what other people will do under such license.

Human rights must be reserved for humans.

I've opened a forum discussion here -- self-register for your free account if you haven't already done so and join the discussion if you have an opinion.

 

 

Cap-and-pain sinks Dems

Sometime before June 7, the so-called Murkowski resolution to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases will be voted on in the Senate. Democrats up for re-election this fall may want to think twice about a knee-jerk “no” vote.

Finalized last December but not yet implemented, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases would be even worse economically than cap-and-trade, which is already bad enough. (How bad is cap-and-trade? So bad that massive Democrat congressional majorities can’t pass it.)

EPA greenhouse gas regulation would empower the agency to control energy use (and, hence, the economy) without any of the potential ameliorative effects from the trade part of cap-and-trade or the dividend part of Cantwell-Collins’ cap-and-dividend. EPA regulation would just be cap-and-pain.

Some quick-learning Democratic senators, like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson have already figured out the politics of EPA cap-and-pain. They joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski when the resolution was introduced in January.

But senators like Colorado’s Michael Bennett, Nevada’s Harry Reid, and North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan are still dithering hoping that Murkowski will either not bring her resolution to the floor for a vote or that it will be overtaken by a separate effort by West Virginia’s Jay Rockfeller that would delay EPA regulation for two years.

But Sen. Murkowski seems undeterred in what could be the only Senate vote this year on climate. (Steve Milloy, Daily Caller)

 

Horner: Cuccinelli Is Following the Law; Mann Up, UVa

WASHINGTON The University of Virginia indicates it will challenge Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's request for records produced, using taxpayer resources, by former Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences Michael Mann. This is regrettable. Cuccinelli is following smoke to see if there is fire, prompted by troubling revelations in leaked documents that raise serious questions about Mann's activities while at the university.

UVa's Faculty Senate has condemned Cuccinelli's request, calling it a serious infringement upon academic freedom and assault on the freedom of scientific inquiry. It joins a chorus of voices enjoying massive financial support from the taxpayer but who, it seems, believe that this should come without conditions, established by law, which follow the money.

On its face, their problem is with a 2002 statute that passed both state legislative chambers unanimously, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. It bears no hint of exempting academics, scientists, or others from its prohibitions or inquiries that attach to the use of appropriated funds. It empowers the attorney general to compel documents, and testimony about them.

No one claims the law doesn't apply here. With a straight face, scientists and academics instead merely argue against applying it to them. Academic freedom apparently means taking taxpayer money free from accountability under standards applying to the rest of us. Since when? (Christopher Horner, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

 

Stupid stunt of the month: Reef team tries a little time travel to assess acid damage

On a coral atoll just a two-hour boat ride from Queensland's Gladstone Harbour, past the endless line of tankers queued to load coal for export, a half-dozen scientists work frantically against the tide.

Their objective? To explore the consequences of rising atmospheric carbon on the delicate chemistry of the reef and the creatures living there.

The project team, led by Dr David Kline from the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, is completing tests on a new underwater laboratory that will expose corals on the Great Barrier Reef to the more acidic conditions forecast for oceans by the end of the century.

The team has spent weeks working around the tides, connecting four chambers built on the reef shelf to a floating platform of 50 instruments that will manage and monitor the water in them. Fish and currents can move freely through the porous structures, two of which will be dosed with low pH seawater. (SMH)

Figures! Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of course... low pH seawater presumably means acid, which is not a plausible outcome no matter how much carbon dioxide humans manage to emit (ocean "acidification" actually means slightly reduced alkalinity). What they should do is simply bubble CO2 through some of the chambers to allow increased solution and reduced alkalinity if they really want to see what could happen under extreme conditions or, they could simply check out what happens around and downstream from natural sea floor CO2 vents (there are some nice inshore shallow water examples around New Guinea quite adjacent to flourishing coral reef structures). Really stupid stunt!

 

Eye-roller du jour: A mammoth blow for global warming

SCIENTISTS believe gassy mammoths helped to fill the atmosphere with methane and keep the Earth warm more than 13 thousand years ago.

Experts estimate that, together with other large plant-eating mammals that are now extinct, they released about 9.6 million tonnes of the gas each year.

When the megafauna disappeared there was a dramatic fall in atmospheric methane which may have altered the climate, British scientists say.

Analysis of gases trapped in ice cores suggests that the loss of animal emissions accounted for a large amount of the decline. ( AAP)

And dinosaur farts warmed the Jurassic? This enhanced greenhouse hypothesis is out of control and we have no sound reason to believe it is of any real significance in Earth's climate.

 

Just a little ray of sunshine ended ice ages

VAST sheets of ice that threatened to freeze much of the Earth may have been turned back by tiny changes in the level of sunlight, scientists have found.

The finding could be a vital breakthrough in solving one of science’s great mysteries. Researchers have long known the planet has gone through about 20 ice ages in the past 2.5m years. What they have been unable to work out is why each of those ice ages ended. (Sunday Times)

But still persisting with CO2-fascination: "They found that, at the start of that period, volcanic eruptions raised the levels of CO2 in the air to about 400 parts per million, pushing global temperatures up to several degrees higher than they are now." Uh, fellas... that would require enormous climate sensitivity to small perturbations in a minor greenhouse gas -- at least 10 °C for a doubling of CO2 to change the glaciated state to "several degrees" warmer than current temperatures despite our having witnessed a miserable ~5% of that change from an effectively similar change (all changes of atmospheric greenhouse trace gases converted to CO2-equivalent and summed already yields a figure well north of 400 ppm).

Forget enhanced greenhouse effect, it's really not that big a deal.

 

It’s the Sun, stupid

By Lawrence Solomon May 21, 2010 – 7:17 pm

Solar scientists are finally overcoming their fears and going public about the Sun-climate connection

Four years ago, when I first started profiling scientists who were global warming skeptics, I soon learned two things: Solar scientists were overwhelmingly skeptical that humans caused climate change and, overwhelmingly, they were reluctant to go public with their views. Often, they refused to be quoted at all, saying they feared for their funding, or they feared other recriminations from climate scientists in the doomsayer camp. When the skeptics agreed to be quoted at all, they often hedged their statements, to give themselves wiggle room if accused of being a global warming denier. Scant few were outspoken about their skepticism.

No longer. (National Post)

 

Hmm... very dubious reporting: Climate Scientists Claim 'McCarthy-Like Threats,' Say They Face Intimidation, Ominous E-Mails

Global Warming Denier Says His Side Gets Threats, Too

Climate scientist Michael Mann says he has received hundreds of them -- threatening e-mails and phone calls calling him a criminal, a communist or worse. (ABC News)

"Global warming denier"... and then it goes on to call Mann a "climate scientist"!

 

Springwatch finds the BBC in cloud cuckoo land

Sadly the flowers have refused to follow the BBC's climate change rules, says Christopher Booker

Last Monday, in its obsession with global warming, the BBC got comically caught out. It devoted a whole hour-long edition of its popular nature programme Springwatch to one of the more familiar themes of warmist propaganda, the way in which springs have been noticeably moving forwards in recent decades, with flowers, tree leaves and much else appearing weeks earlier than they used to do.

A familiar instance to any observer of the countryside has been the dramatic advance in flowering times of those three hedgerow indicators, blackthorn, hawthorn and elder. These used to blossom with unfailing regularity in the closing days of April, May and June, and their recent flowering weeks earlier has undoubtedly been a reflection of a warming climate. But contradicting any belief that this change in our climate is "irreversible" has been the fact that this year, after the hardest of three cold winters running, nature's calendar has dramatically reverted to "normal". The blackthorn burst into flower with unusual intensity in late April, may blossom is only now appearing, as it used to do, in the last 10 days of May.

To all this, Springwatch was oblivious. Dozens of times the presenter Chris Packham babbled on about global warming and even our "moral duty" to fight climate change, without any sign that he had noticed what is happening in the real world. He tried to alarm us about how the warming of Welsh mountaintops is threatening the extinction of the Snowdon lily, when, from the BBC's own archives, he could have found film showing how in the last two Aprils, the Snowdon railway has still been closed by feet of snow. (TDT)

 

Coulda, woulda, shoulda, if, might, maybe... El Niño could make 2010 the hottest year ever

CLIMATE scientists have warned that 2010 could turn out to be the warmest year in recorded history.

They have collated global surface temperature measurements showing that the world has experienced near-record highs between January and April.

Researchers working independently at the Met Office and Nasa are soon to publish data that reveal the trend is likely to continue for the rest of the year.

James Hansen, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss), a world centre for climate monitoring, said: “Global temperatures, averaged over the past 12 months, were the warmest for 130 years.

“December to February was also the second-warmest of any such period.”

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “It was a cold winter in Europe but, globally, January to March was one of the seven warmest starts to the year on record.

“This year has more than a 50% chance of being the warmest on record.” (Sunday Times)

 

Meanwhile: El Nino 2009/10 Over - La Nina, Warm Summer and Global Cooling Coming

By Joseph D’Aleo CCM

The El Nino of 2009/10 is over. Temperatures in region NINO34, the key region used for official El Nino assessment are now negative (-0.1C).

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The warming peaked in the central tropical Pacific in December / January. Some lingering warmth has been found in the east as cooler water has surfaced in the east central (below, enlarged here).

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LA NINA - SISTER OF THE EL NINO COMING ON

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You can see the colder water emerging here in the recent weekly. Also the warmer water is seen mixing out quickly as upwelling of cold water increased in this animation.

Ocean heat content in the tropical Pacific is shown to dive, similar to what happened in 1998 and 2007. (below, enlarged here).

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The cross section along the equatorial Pacific shows the warm water gone with a large plume of sub-surface water ready to be tapped by upwelling - the onset of La Nina (below, enlarged here). Note the similarity to May in 1998 and 2007 when El Ninos gave way to La Nina in the summer/fall (below, enlarged here).
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Most ENSO models indicate La Nina is likely. All dynamical models show negative anomalies. Some statistical models show La Nada (neutral) conditions (below, enlarged here).

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EL NINOS TRANSITIONING TO LA NINAS TEND TO LEAD TO WARM, DROUGHTY SUMMERS IN CORN BELT AND YET GLOBAL COOLING

These maps are for the Corn Belt. (below, enlarged here and here).

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Rapidly falling ENSO indices have led to lowered corn production in 1983, 1988, 1995. 1998 did not see such a decline. Warm water lingered in the eastern TROPAC that year (below enlarged here).

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In 2007, slow movement west of the cold water led to late season issues, affecting mainly beans.

The best analogs suggest a warm summer though cooler than normal and wet conditions in the southern plains (below, enlarged here and here).

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Soil moisture models have been coming around to this thinking (below enlarged here).

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WILDCARDS - SOLAR SLUMBER AND VOLCANIC RUMBLINGS

One of the wildcards is the sun, which returned to a quiet state in late April and early May with two extended strings of spotless days and a return of solar flux to solar minimum levels. We continue to track close to the cycle 5 in the Dalton Minimum 200+ years ago. Unprecedented solar levels and long period of quiet solar may enhance the global cooling effect as La Nina comes on. Note the rapid global temperature (MSU satellite lower atmospheric temperatures shown) declines in prior La Nina episodes post strong El Ninos (red arrows) (below, enlarged here). You can also see clearly the effects of volcanic aerosols and El Nino (warming) and La Nina (cooling).

image

Note similarity of sunspot activity to cycle 5 at the start of the Dalton Minimum. Cycle 14 a century ago is also shown and has been regarded by some as another possible analog/ Note the more rapid recovery that cycle. That was also a cold period though not as cold as the Dalton (below, enlarged here).

image

Also Eyjafjallajokull continues to erupt. Though most days the ash and aerosols remain below the stratosphere, occasional eruptions are more explosive. Much more dangerous Katla historically has been triggered by Eyjafjallajokull eruption periods which often last for long periods. A major eruption would change the weather picture globally quickly by affecting the AO and ash and aerosols could affect crops in Europe. Redoubt and Sarychev affected the hemisphere’s climate last two summers and last winter.

image

See full PDF with enlarged images here. (Icecap)

 

Reply to article by Don Easterbrook: Don Easterbrook hides the incline by Tim Lambert: Deltoid

Sunday, May 23rd 2010, 4:35 PM EDT

As some of you may know, my recent paper at the Heartland global climate conference has been attacked by Gareth Renowden and posted by Tim Lambert on his blog.

Although I don't normally even read this kind of garbage, I responded to an inquiry by Andy Revkin with the attached.

Don Easterbrook

"When you are losing an argument on the basis of facts and evidence, the oldest trick in the world is to invent some outrageous lie, the more outrageous the better, and while people are reacting to the lie, attention is diverted from the real issue. It is a sure sign of desperation in distracting attention from facts and data. The outrageous charge of fraud made by a self professed "photographer and truffle grower" (Gareth Renowden) is not worthy of response, but because the charge is so easily refuted, I will do so......"

Please click PDF file to download FULL response to "hides the incline" from Don Easterbrook

File attachment: Responsetohidestheincline.pdf (Climate Realists)

 

?!! Debate heats up over climate impact on malaria spread

Researchers criticised for saying mosquito control is more influential than a warming world in the spread of malaria (Mićo Tatalović for SciDev.net, part of the Guardian Environment Network)

Criticized? By who? Oh... by a Penn State researcher with a $1.8million grant to create alarm about disease vectors in a warming world, with familiar hockey stick fabricator, Mikey Mann:  “2009-2013 Quantifying the influence of environmental temperature on transmission of vector-borne diseases, NSF-EF [Principal Investigator: M. Thomas; Co-Investigators: R.G. Crane, M.E. Mann, A. Read, T. Scott (Penn State Univ.)]. $1,884,991"

 

Mann’s 1.8 million Malaria grant – “where do we ask for a refund’?

Thomas Fuller of the San Francisco Examiner has a great piece which summarizes the issue of climate and malaria and Mann. Like with the imagined increase in hurricane frequency due to global warming, so it goes with malaria. There’s no correlation. The premise is false.

On Monday, May 17th, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel at the Heartland Institute Chicago ICCC4 conference with regular WUWT contributor Dr. Indur Goklany. He gave his views on the declining mortality we’ve seen worldwide and has published several pieces here on WUWT. He also the author of the book: “ The Improving State of the World”. “Goks” (as his friends call him) gave a PowerPoint presentation on declining mortality in a warming world and you can view the PPT File here.

I’ve culled one of the slides he presented below. If this doesn’t offer proof that when it comes to mankind that “warmer is better”, I don’t know what would. Note the reversal in the southern hemisphere with Australia and New Zealand.

click for a larger image

But the most interesting slide is number 10, showing the drop in Malaria worldwide: Continue reading (WUWT)

 

But here's a real-world problem: Mongolia: Nomadic way of life at risk as harsh winter kills 17% of livestock

As nearly eight million animals are wiped out by the paralysing cold, UN predicts influx of up to 20,000 herders into the cities (Andrew Jacobs, The Observer)

 

Is Global Warming Really Cause for Alarm?

Editors' note: This piece is co-authored by Willie Soon and David R. Legates

We’re often asked, "What really causes all these alarms about global warming disasters?"

As scientists and policy analysts who’ve studied our ever-changing climate for a combined 65 years and attribute the changes primarily to natural forces, we’ve wondered that ourselves and also asked: Why is warming always framed as bad news? Why does so much “research” claim a warmer planet “may” lead to more childhood insomnia, more juvenile delinquency, war, juvenile delinquency, violent crime and prostitution, death of the Loch Ness Monster – and even more Mongolian cows dying from cold weather? (Paul Driessen, Townhall)

 

The Missing Climate Model Projections

The strongest piece of evidence the IPCC has for connecting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to global warming (er, I mean climate change) is the computerized climate model. Over 20 climate models tracked by the IPCC now predict anywhere from moderate to dramatic levels of warming for our future in response to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In many peoples’ minds this constitutes some sort of “proof” that global warming is manmade.

Yet, if we stick to science rather than hyperbole, we might remember that science cannot “prove” a hypothesis….but sometimes it can disprove one. The advancement of scientific knowledge comes through new hypotheses for how things work which replace old hypotheses that are either not as good at explaining nature, or which are simply proved to be wrong.

Each climate model represents a hypothesis for how the climate system works. I must disagree with my good friend Dick Lindzen’s recent point he made during his keynote speech at the 4th ICCC meeting in Chicago, in which he asserted that the IPCC’s global warming hypothesis is not even plausible. I think it is plausible.

And from months of comparing climate model output to satellite observations of the Earth’s radiative budget, I am increasingly convinced that climate models can not be disproved. Sure, there are many details of today’s climate system they get wrong, but that does not disprove their projections of long-term global warming.

Where the IPCC has departed from science is that they have become advocates for one particular set of hypotheses, and have become militant fighters against all others.

They could have made their case much stronger if, in addition to all their models that produce lots of warming, they would have put just as much work into model formulations that predicted very little warming. If those models could not be made to act as realistically as those that do produce a lot of warming, then their arguments would carry more weight.

Unfortunately, each modeling group (or the head of each group) already has an idea stuck in their head regarding how much warming looks “about right”. I doubt that anyone could be trusted to perform an unbiased investigation into model formulations which produce very little warming in response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

As I have mentioned before, our research to appear in JGR sometime in the coming weeks demonstrates that the only time feedback can be clearly observed in satellite observations — which is only under special circumstances — it is strongly negative. And if that is the feedback operating on the long time scales associated with global warming, then we have dodged the global warming bullet.

But there is no way I know of to determine whether this negative feedback is actually stabilizing the climate system on those long time scales. So, we are stuck with a bunch of model hypotheses to rely on for forecasts of the future, and the IPCC admits it does not know which is closer to the truth.

As a result of all this uncertainty, the IPCC starts talking in meaningless probabilistic language that must make many professional statisticians cringe. These statements are nothing more than pseudo-scientific ways of making their faith in the models sound more objective, and less subjective.

One of the first conferences I attended as a graduate student in meteorology was an AMS conference on hurricanes and tropical meteorology, as I recall in the early 1980’s. Computer models of hurricane formation were all the rage back then. A steady stream of presentations at the conference showed how each modeling group’s model could turn any tropical disturbance into a hurricane. Pretty cool.

Then, a tall lanky tropical expert named William Gray stood up and said something to the effect of, “Most tropical disturbances do NOT turn into hurricanes, yet your models seem to turn anything into a hurricane! I think you might be missing something important in your models.”

I still think about that exchange today in regard to climate modeling. Where are the model experiments that don’t produce much global warming? Are those models any less realistic in their mimicking of today’s climate system than the ones that do?

If you tell me that such experiments would not be able to produce the past warming of the 20th Century, then I must ask, What makes you think that warming was mostly due to mankind? As readers here are well aware, a 1% or 2% change in cloud cover could have caused all of the climate change we saw during the 20th Century, and such a small change would have been impossible to detect.

Also, modelers have done their best to remove model “drift” — the tendency for models to drift away from today’s climate state. Well, maybe that’s what the real climate system does! Maybe it drifts as cloud cover slowly changes due to changing circulation patterns.

It seems to me that all the current crop of models do is reinforce the modelers’ preconceived notions. Dick Lindzen has correctly pointed out that the use of the term “model validation”, rather than “model testing”, belies a bias toward a belief in models over all else.

It is time to return to the scientific method before those who pay us to do science — the public — lose all trust of scientists. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Will Happer: testimony in the House

Prof Will Happer of Princeton has given an excellent testimony in front of the House of Representatives yesterday,

Climate science in the political arena (PDF)

On these eight pages, he first modestly sketches some facts about his impressive scientific background.

He says that the climate has been largely warming for 200 years or so, that the CO2 is rising because of us, that CO2 probably causes less than 2 °C of warming per doubling, that the empirical evidence increasingly speaks against large positive feedbacks, or any net positive feedbacks for that matter, that the models have been often wrong, that "modeler" Lord Kelvin was wrong when he argued against Charles Darwin's correct statement that the Earth had to be very old, that a "team B" should be created to critically evaluate the conclusions by "team A" (this IPCC2 is originally an idea due to Václav Klaus, and I also think that the names "team A" and "team B" should be naturally reversed relatively to Happer's proposal), that CO2 is naturally present in much higher concentrations in our breath etc. and is beneficial for the plants.

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

 

BBC: Roger Harrabin about types of AGW skeptics

Roger Harrabin wrote a pretty interesting BBC report from the fourth Heartland climate conference in Chicago:

Climate sceptics rally to expose 'myth'
You shouldn't be shocked that the text is far from impartial. The myth is written in the quotation marks while Harrabin himself complains that the vegetarians have been underrepresented, among other bizarre attempts to attack the skeptics.

But otherwise, he offers some meaningful insights into the sociology of climate change - and to the internal diversity of the climate realists in particular. You should see
Bob Carter's report which is even more sensible
but I will stay with Harrabin's text.

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

 

In Defense of the Globally Averaged Temperature

I sometimes hear my fellow climate realists say that a globally-averaged surface temperature has little or no meaning in the global warming debate. They claim it is too ill-defined, not accurately known, or little more than just an average of a bunch of unrelated numbers from different regions of the Earth.

I must disagree.

The globally averaged surface temperature is directly connected to the globally averaged tropospheric temperature through convective overturning of the atmosphere. This is about 80% of the mass of the atmosphere. You cannot warm or cool the surface temperature without most of the atmosphere following suit.

The combined surface-deep layer atmospheric temperature distribution is then the thermal source of most of the infrared (IR) radiation that cools the Earth in response to solar heating by the sun. Admittedly, things like water vapor, clouds, and CO2 end up also modulating the rate of loss of IR to space, but it is the temperature which is the ultimate source of this radiation. And unless the rate of IR loss to space equals the rate of solar absorption in the global average, the global average temperature will change.

The surface temperature also governs important physical processes, for instance the rate at which the surface “tries” to lose water through evaporation.

If the globally averaged temperature is unimportant, then so are the global average cloudiness, or water vapor content. Just because any one of these globally-averaged variables is insufficient in and of itself to completely define a specific physical process does not mean that it is not a useful number to monitor.

Finally, the globally averaged temperature is not just a meaningless average of a bunch of unrelated numbers. This is because the temperature of any specific location on the Earth does not exist in isolation of the rest of the climate system. If you warm the temperature locally, you then will change the horizontal air pressure gradient, and therefore the wind which transports heat from that location to other locations. Those locations are in turn connected to others.

In fact, the entire global atmosphere is continually overturning, primarily in response to the temperature of the surface as it is heated by the sun. Sinking air in some regions is warmed in response to rising air in other regions, and that rising air is the result of latent heat release in cloud and precipitation systems as water vapor is converted to liquid water. The latent heat was originally picked up by the air at the surface, where the temperature helped govern the rate of evaporation.

In this way, clouds and precipitation in rising regions can transport heat thousands of kilometers away by causing warming of the sinking air in other regions. Surprisingly, atmospheric heat is continually transported into the Sahara Desert in this way, in order to compensate for the fact that the Sahara would actually be a COOL place since it loses more IR energy to space than it gains solar energy from the sun. (This is because the bright sand reflects much of the sunlight back to space).

Similarly, the frigid surface temperature of the Arctic or Antarctic in wintertime is prevented from getting even colder by heat transport from lower latitudes.

In this way, the temperature of one location on the Earth is ultimately connected to all other locations on the Earth. As such, the globally averaged surface temperature — and its intimate connection to most of the atmosphere through convective overturning — is probably the single most important index of the state of the climate system we have the ability to measure.

Granted, it is insufficient to diagnose other things we need to know, but I believe it is the single most important component of any “big picture” snapshot of climate system at any point in time. (Roy W. Spencer)

Without doubt Roy has accumulated plenty of credibility capital and we are always delighted to reprint his thoughts, even though this time I freely admit some reservation. There are an infinite number of possible combinations of local, regional and hemispheric temperature changes that can yield a specific global mean temperature and therefore the metric is of extremely limited diagnostic value, certainly from a human perspective since we are intimately concerned with local temperature and precipitation.

 

Climate change concern declines in poll

Only 62% of Britons interested in subject, down from 80% in 2006, according to YouGov survey

Popular concern about climate change has declined significantly, following this year's harsh winter and rows over statistics on global warming, a survey has found.

The numbers of those interested in where Britain's electricity comes from have also slipped back, according to a survey commissioned by the energy company EDF, demonstrating what appears to be growing consumer complacency in an era of electric-powered gadgetry.

At the same time resistance to building new nuclear power stations appears to be slackening. The results of the YouGov poll, based on a sample of 4,300 adults questioned during the week after the general election, show that interest in climate change fell from 80% of respondents in 2006, to 71% last year and now stands at only 62%. Only 80% say they are interested in where electrical power is made, down from 82% the previous year.

Other recent polls have recorded a similar drop in public alarm about the imminence of climate-triggered disaster. The number of climate change agnostics – those unsure whether human activity is warming the planet – has risen from 25% in 2007 to 33% now. (The Guardian)

 

Are Students Learning About The Corruption Of Climate Science?

The mainstream media actively promoted global warming, then effectively ignored evidence of corrupt climate science and essentially ignored the whitewash investigations of the activities of members of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They promoted Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” yet ignored the evidence of major scientific errors. They quickly condemned Martin Durkin’s documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” because of one small error on a graph. Durkin withheld the DVD until the error was corrected. Al Gore’s movie is still shown uncorrected in most schools, although a UK court ordered the government to have teachers advise students of the bias and errors. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Sea Level Rises…What Sea Level Rises?

Another one of the standout presentations at the Heartland Institute’s fourth International Conference on Climate Change was the one by Nils-Axel Morner, former emeritus head of the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University. His talk focused on sea level increases and the difference between observed data and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model’s predictions.

Morner was a former reviewer on the IPCC report and when he was first made a reviewer he said he was “astonished to find that not one of their 22 contributing authors on sea levels was a sea level specialist: not one.” Morner discussed the realities of a number of countries and islands claimed to be doomed from climate change. He started with the Maldives, which some reports claim will be submerged in the next fifty years. Morner pointed out that the sea level around the Maldives has been much higher before and actually fell 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) during the 1970s. He also asserted that sea levels have been stable for the past three decades.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

On Being the Wrong Size

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

This topic is a particular peeve of mine, so I hope I will be forgiven if I wax wroth.

There is a most marvelous piece of technology called the GRACE satellites, which stands for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. It is composed of two satellites flying in formation. Measuring the distance between the two satellites to the nearest micron (a hundredth of the width of a hair) allows us to calculate the weight of things on the earth very accurately.

One of the things that the GRACE satellites have allowed us to calculate is the ice loss from the Greenland Ice Cap. There is a new article about the Greenland results called Weighing Greenland.

Figure 1. The two GRACE satellites flying in tandem, and constantly measuring the distance between them.

So, what’s not to like about the article?

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

This is SO not over

The Australian Department of Climate Change The Australian Department of Climate Change

People have asked me if the Rudd Government’s postponement of the ETS means we’ve won, as in game over, time for that beach holiday in Broome? But the end of the game is nowhere in sight while our government still has a Department of Climate Change stacked with high paid executives that soak up $90 million a year. The gullible guys who leapt in with both feet are still top-dogs. The end is not even close while two of our largest daily papers don’t realize they are the real Deniers they disparage, or when the second in charge of our opposition still thinks we need to trade carbon. Joe Hockey (our shadow treasurer) said this week that “a carbon price is inevitable”. He used the same old line: “scientists say blah”, as if a consensus of “scientists” is either (a) faultless and incorruptible, or (b) in control of the weather.

Carbon trading, “inevitable“? How about “inane”? Even better: perilous, fraud-prone, and serpentine. It boils down to forced markets trading fake goods that nobody would willingly buy. It’s not a “carbon” market, it’s a Permit Market. And a permit (especially to something unmeasurable) is not a commodity to be traded. What better recipe to bake a crooked cake, and fan the flames of darker human instincts? Yea verily, let’s feed the dark side and invite the charlatans to our table. Why not give them press secretaries, diplomatic immunity, and an expense account as well?

Speaking of dark: the propaganda rolls on (thanks to your money) More » (Jo Nova)

 

A New Paper “Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination” By Jason Scott Johnston

A very important, much needed new research paper has appeared. It is

Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination by Jason Scott Johnston who is the Robert G. Fuller, Jr. Professor of Law and Director, Program on Law, Environment and Economy of the University of Pennsylvania – Law School.

His short biographical vita reads

“Jason Scott Johnston has published dozens of articles in American law journals, such as the Yale Law Journal,and in peer-reviewed economics journals, such as the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization. He is currently working on books about the law and economics, corporate environmentalism, global warming policy, and the comparative law and economics of environmental federalism. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Law and Economics Association and on the National Science Foundation’s Law and Social Science grant review panel. He won Penn Law’s Robert A. Gorman Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003.”

The abstract reads

Legal scholarship has come to accept as true the various pronouncements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientists who have been active in the movement for greenhouse gas (ghg) emission reductions to combat global warming. The only criticism that legal scholars have had of the story told by this group of activist scientists – what may be called the climate establishment – is that it is too conservative in not paying enough attention to possible catastrophic harm from potentially very high temperature increases.

This paper departs from such faith in the climate establishment by comparing the picture of climate science presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other global warming scientist advocates with the peer-edited scientific literature on climate change. A review of the peer-edited literature reveals a systematic tendency of the climate establishment to engage in a variety of stylized rhetorical techniques that seem to oversell what is actually known about climate change while concealing fundamental uncertainties and open questions regarding many of the key processes involved in climate change. Fundamental open questions include not only the size but the direction of feedback effects that are responsible for the bulk of the temperature increase predicted to result from atmospheric greenhouse gas increases: while climate models all presume that such feedback effects are on balance strongly positive, more and more peer-edited scientific papers seem to suggest that feedback effects may be small or even negative. The cross-examination conducted in this paper reveals many additional areas where the peer-edited literature seems to conflict with the picture painted by establishment climate science, ranging from the magnitude of 20th century surface temperature increases and their relation to past temperatures; the possibility that inherent variability in the earth’s non-linear climate system, and not increases in CO2, may explain observed late 20th century warming; the ability of climate models to actually explain past temperatures; and, finally, substantial doubt about the methodological validity of models used to make highly publicized predictions of global warming impacts such as species loss.

Insofar as establishment climate science has glossed over and minimized such fundamental questions and uncertainties in climate science, it has created widespread misimpressions that have serious consequences for optimal policy design. Such misimpressions uniformly tend to support the case for rapid and costly decarbonization of the American economy, yet they characterize the work of even the most rigorous legal scholars. A more balanced and nuanced view of the existing state of climate science supports much more gradual and easily reversible policies regarding greenhouse gas emission reduction, and also urges a redirection in public funding of climate science away from the continued subsidization of refinements of computer models and toward increased spending on the development of standardized observational datasets against which existing climate models can be tested.

Keywords: Climate change, greenhouse effect, ghg emission reductions, catastrophic risk, comparative scientific analysis, open scientific questions, size and direction of feedback effects, inherent non-linear temperature changes, methodological validity of climate models, gradual and reversible policy choices.

(Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

Update On Jim Hansen’s Forecast Of Global Warming As Diagnosed By The Upper Ocean Heat Content Change

Jim Hansen responded in 2005 to a comment we made on ocean heat content with respect to a Science Express article he wrote in that year [Pielke and Christy, 2005; our Comment was (no surprise) rejected by Science]. Jim’s entire 2005 response can be read here.

“Contrary to the claim of Pielke and Christy, our simulated ocean heat storage (Hansen et al., 2005) agrees closely with the observational analysis of Willis et al. (2004). All matters raised by Pielke and Christy were considered in our analysis and none of them alters our conclusions.

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

With the new 2010 paper

John M. Lyman, Simon A. Good, Viktor V. Gouretski, Masayoshi Ishii, Gregory C. Johnson, Matthew D. Palmer, Doug M. Smith, Josh K. Willis, 2010: Robust warming of the global upper ocean. Nature 465, 334-337 (20 May 2010) doi:10.1038/nature09043 Letter

we can update how well Jim Hansen’s prediction is comparing to observations. My last update was on February 9 2009 [I have a post on Keven Trenberth's commentary on the Lyman et al paper on Monday].

The Lyman et al 2010 paper concludes that 

“Accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty, a composite of several OHCA curves using different XBT bias corrections still yields a statistically significant linear warming trend for 1993–2008 of 0.64W per meter squared (calculated for the Earth’s entire surface area), with a 90-per-cent confidence interval of 0.53–0.75 W per meter squared.”

The 1993 to 2008 value is close to the Hansen prediction despite the flattening of the heating of the upper ocean reported in the Lyman et al 2010 paper since 2003 [if we use Jim Hansen's expected radiative imbalance at the end of the 1990s of 0.85 Watts per meter squared and use  80% of that to represent the upper ocean heat content change, his prediction of the heating rate of the upper ocean is 0.68 Watts per meter squared. This is within the uncertainty of the Lyman et al analysis].

However, there are important questions with respect to conclusion of Jim Hansen’s forecast as well as an opportunity.  First, since the heating rate is dominated by the time period prior to 2004, an assessment of whether the GISS model (which is the basis of Jim’s forecast) produces interruptions of the heating for this long needs to be made and reported. Also, over 40% of the heating occurred in just the time period 2002 and 2003 with about 30% more in 1999.  Does the GISS model predict such shorter term bursts of heating?

With respect tot the lack of recent heating, the Lyman et al 2010 paper write

“The individual OHCA curves all flatten out after around 2003, with some variability among curves in the year in which this levelling occurs. The causes of this flattening are unclear, but sea surface temperatures have been roughly constant since 2000. Although sea level has continued to rise steadily during this period, an increase in the amount of water added to the ocean by melting continental ice in recent years may account for most of this rise even with very little change in ocean heat content….The flattening of OHCA curves also occurs around the time (2004) that the Argo array of autonomous profiling floats first achieved near global coverage and became the primary source of OHCA data.”

A consequence of this absence of heating is that we should soon see a return to the radiative imbalance predicted by Jim Hansen, if he is correct. Indeed, this provides us the best opportunity we have over the next few years to test the robustness of the  multi-decadal global models to predict the climate system radiative imbalance (i.e. global warming). (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

We Know About Soros — But Who Is Maurice Strong?

Canadian mogul and avowed socialist Maurice Strong manipulates governments to benefit his "green" portfolio and those of his friends: George Soros, Ted Turner, Al Gore, and China.

May 24, 2010
- by Ed Lasky

Intercontinental Exchange has agreed to purchase the parent company of the Chicago Climate Exchange, the preeminent market for trading carbon credits. This is a market that exists solely to capitalize on possible federal legislation that would mandate reduced greenhouse gas emissions or the purchase of “pollution credits.”

Politicians created this market out of thin air by fiat, and not surprisingly, cronies of these politicians will be the beneficiaries. These climate change profiteers include Maurice Strong.

We know of the usual suspects who have invested, either directly or indirectly, in the Climate Exchange: Goldman Sachs, Al Gore, and Chicago’s Joyce Foundation (which made an investment when Barack Obama sat on its board), among others. Franklin Raines, while he headed Fannie Mae, purchased and patented the mechanism used for trading under the cap-and-trade system — an investment that could fare far better than the trillion dollars worth of bad mortgages he saddled Fannie Mae with.

But Maurice Strong … who is he? (PJM)

 

EU crisis may hit carbon targets

The European Commission is under pressure to shelve plans to raise its target for greenhouse gas emission cuts from 20% to 30% amid fears that further uncertainty would be too damaging to fragile world markets.

The EU is planning to publish a paper this week urging carbon emission reductions targets for Europe’s biggest polluters to be raised to 30% by 2020, an announcement that is likley to cause a sudden surge in the price of EU Allowances, the European carbon permits.

Until now Europe has agreed only to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels. However, the commission believes this is not enough. It argues in a paper to be given to the 27 EU member states on Wednesday that “an EU target of 20% by 2020 is not enough to put emissions on to the right path” to reach the goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 2C.

It estimates that the total cost of such a move would be some €81 billion (£70 billion) — just €11 billion more than originally predicted.

However, experts are insisting that the EU shelve the plans because of last week’s market turbulence caused by concerns over the euro and Europe’s growing debt crisis. Senior market sources are concerned that further pressure on Europe’s industrial giants to reduce emissions could send markets plummeting.

“The commission was hoping to issue a paper on the costs of a 30% reduction target. The events of the past few days may now put those on hold,” said one source. (Sunday Times)

 

Somewhat desperate rerelease: The benefits of energy crop cultivation outweigh the costs

Champaign, Il – May 3, 2010 - An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy reveals that Miscanthus x giganteus, a perennial grass, could effectively reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while lowering atmospheric CO2.

Using a simulation tool that models the future global climate, researchers predict that the carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the loss of natural vegetation will be paid back by Miscanthus within 30 years. Previous estimates for other liquid biofuels, such as corn ethanol, were estimated to take 167-420 years to pay back their carbon debt.

The global concern over climate change has challenged researchers to explore ways to mitigate the damage we are doing to our environment. They are looking more closely at energy crops, like Miscanthus, to replace our need for fossil fuels like natural gas and oil, which raise atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

According to John Hughes, UK Met Office Research Scientist, "Our study demonstrates the huge potential of energy crops, in particular of Miscanthus. Also, by scaling the results up to the global scale as we do in this study we are developing a new set of tools for evaluating energy crops." (Wiley-Blackwell)

People are beginning to recall that CO2 is an atmospheric resource and essential trace gas. It is an essential trace gas and more is a major benefit to the biosphere -- we really don't want to reduce its availability and nor should we.

 

Shortchanging American Energy Security

Who would've ever thought that a federal bureau within the U.S. Department of Interior mandated to "conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants" could possibly have such a significant and potentially damaging effect on our nation's energy security.

Nearly 4,800 miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) — which is tucked away in Alaska's northeast corner along the Canadian border — the Washington, DC-based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is readying a proposal that could severely undercut our nation's ability to safely and responsibly develop homegrown, job-creating oil and clean-burning natural gas resources in this energy-rich region.

This misguided proposal to place much of the region within the National Wilderness Preservation System will hamstring local economies and native tribes that rely on these lands for survival. Native Alaskan tribes — which have lived off these lands for centuries — may have their livelihoods upended. How so? Economic development of any kind would not be allowed on Native-owned lands. And subsistence hunting access to wildlife would be tough in the coastal plain, a place where things are plenty tough already.

And it's not just public, taxpayer-owned lands that will be affected — privately owned land and energy resources could also be placed off-limits if this proposal is enacted.

Worse yet, the FWS proposal to place the nearly 1.5 million acres of ANWR's coastal plain — the largest onshore oil prospect in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) — off-limits would not only be far-reaching, it could also be permanent. (Richard Glenn, IBD)

 

Obama Gives a Bipartisan Commission Six Months to Revise Drilling Rules

WASHINGTON — President Obama established a bipartisan national commission on Friday to investigate what caused the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and figure out where the government went wrong so as to “make sure it never happens again,” as he put it.

Mr. Obama tapped two prominent former officials to lead the commission — Bob Graham, the former senator from Florida, and William K. Reilly, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — and gave them six months to come up with a plan to revamp federal regulation of offshore oil drilling.

“If the laws on our books are inadequate to prevent such an oil spill, or if we didn’t enforce those laws, I want to know it,” Mr. Obama said in his Saturday radio and Internet address. “I want to know what worked and what didn’t work in our response to the disaster, and where oversight of the oil and gas industry broke down. We know, for example, that a cozy relationship between oil and gas companies and agencies that regulate them has long been a source of concern.”

Mr. Obama said he wanted to hold both the government and BP accountable for the spill that continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day. But he did not retreat from his plan to expand offshore oil drilling and in fact portrayed the commission as a means to make that possible despite the disaster. (NYT)

 

Despite Leak, Louisiana Is Still Devoted to Oil

MORGAN CITY, La. — In some parts of the country, the sight of oil drifting toward the Louisiana coast, oozing into the fragile marshlands and bringing large parts of the state’s economy to a halt, has prompted calls to stop offshore drilling indefinitely, if not altogether.

Here, in the middle of things, those calls are few. Here, in fact, the unfolding disaster is not even prompting a reconsideration of the 75th annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

“All systems are go,” said Lee Delaune, the festival’s director, sitting in his cluttered office in a historic house known as Cypress Manor. “We will honor the two industries as we always do,” Mr. Delaune said. “More so probably in grand style, because it’s our diamond jubilee.”

Louisiana is an oil state, through and through. A gushing leak off of its coast has not, apparently, changed that. (NYT)

 

Conflict of Interest Worries Raised in Spill Tests

Local environmental officials throughout the Gulf Coast are feverishly collecting water, sediment and marine animal tissue samples that will be used in the coming months to help track pollution levels resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, since those readings will be used by the federal government and courts to establish liability claims against BP. But the laboratory that officials have chosen to process virtually all of the samples is part of an oil and gas services company in Texas that counts oil firms, including BP, among its biggest clients.

Some people are questioning the independence of the Texas lab. Taylor Kirschenfeld, an environmental official for Escambia County, Fla., rebuffed instructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to send water samples to the lab, which is based at TDI-Brooks International in College Station, Tex. He opted instead to get a waiver so he could send his county’s samples to a local laboratory that is licensed to do the same tests.

Mr. Kirschenfeld said he was also troubled by another rule. Local animal rescue workers have volunteered to help treat birds affected by the slick and to collect data that would also be used to help calculate penalties for the spill. But federal officials have told the volunteers that the work must be done by a company hired by BP.

“Everywhere you look, if you look, you start seeing these conflicts of interest in how this disaster is getting handled,” Mr. Kirschenfeld said. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but there is just too much overlap between these people.” (NYT)

Well, maybe... but there is a strong likelihood of people with the expertise and equipment for oil testing to be used by, um, oil companies, no? And having all testing done by a centralized entity gives more assurance of consistent standards and compatibility of all test results.

 

Ethanol and the Gulf Spill

The question of the week seems to be just how much oil is leaking from the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico. [Read More] (Geoffrey Styles, Energy Tribune)

 

Crude Facts About Offshore Drilling

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This unprecedented accident for the American offshore drilling industry, the first significant spill in 40 years, will certainly have a calamitous impact on the Gulf marine environment and surrounding coastal areas. What is less certain, but potentially even more dangerous, is the effect that this spill will have on the US domestic oil industry. While environmentalists clamor for a shut down of all offshore drilling in the Gulf, realists know that this will make the threat to ocean life even greater. What has not being told to the public is that nature itself leaks more oil into the ocean each year than mankind, and has been doing so for millions of years. What is even less known is that offshore drilling can actually reduce the amount of crude released into the seas.

While the knowledge that nature spills more oil into the ocean environment than humans in noway reduces the amount of harm this accident will cause, or excuse those in both industry and government who are responsible for the event occurring, it should be a reminder to all that man's transgressions against nature, as bad as they are, are nothing compared with nature's own. Indeed, offshore drilling is responsible for half of the oil spillage as tankers, and together these man-made spills only account for 1/16 the amount released by natural seeps. Scientists are well aware of this situation, as was reported in a recent paper in Nature Geoscience, entitled “Asphalt volcanoes as a potential source of methane to late Pleistocene coastal waters.” In it, David L. Valentine et al. report:

A recent assessment of oil sources to the ocean revealed that natural seepage accounts for nearly half of all input1. Oil seeps occur in a range of environments from the continental shelves, to continental slopes, and deep basins. Satellite imagery from the northwest Gulf of Mexico suggests ~1,900 km of persistent natural oil slicks at the sea surface in that region alone, with many other seep regions dispersed globally. Oil seeps also typically release large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The co-occurrence of oil and gas at seeps is thought to increase the atmospheric methane flux through the formation of protective surface coatings on gas bubbles, but significant fractions of methane still dissolve into the water; for example, approximately half the methane emitted by the seeps at Coal Oil Point, California, dissolves in the water column

When methane dissolves into the ocean it depletes the water's oxygen content, which is why investigators on the scene of the current Gulf spill have noticed the oxygen content of the surrounding water dropping. This is obviously a threat to any sea life in the area. In California, where being green is almost a requirement of residency, offshore drilling has been suppressed for years even though it probably does no good. Valentine et al. explain: “The timing and volume of erupted hydrocarbons from the asphalt structures can explain some or all of the documented methane release and tar accumulation in the Santa Barbara basin during the Pleistocene.”


Tar bubble at the La Brea tar pits, Los Angeles. Photo Daniel Schwen.

This means that, even without human drilling activity, there would still be escaping methane, robbing the seas of oxygen, and oil washing up on the beaches as sticky tarballs. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. After all, one need only look at the famous La Brea Tar Pits and ask “what would happen if a similar tar pit occurred underwater?” But asking such questions unsettles the blame-humanity-first crowd.

Since 1975, offshore drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone (within 200 miles of US coasts) has a safety record of 99.999%. This means that only 0.0001 percent of the oil produced has been spilled. In the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), between 1993 and 2007 there were 651 oil spills, releasing 47,800 barrels of oil. Given 7.5 billion barrels of oil produced during that period, one barrel of oil has been spilled in the OCS per 156,900 barrels produced. The truth is, the amount of oil spilled from platforms, tankers, and pipelines is small, relative to the amount of oil extracted and transported.

Even so, oil spills remain an unpleasant reality of offshore oil drilling. Certainly, any amount of oil spilled into the ocean is undesirable, but offshore oil operations contribute relatively little of the oil that enters ocean waters each year. By far the largest source of human caused oil release is through “normal” use of oil products—people just dumping used oil away. According to the National Academies’ National Research Council, natural processes are responsible for over 63% of the petroleum that enters North American ocean waters and over 45% of the petroleum that enters ocean waters worldwide.

According to research by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), 8 to 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez accident has leaked from petroleum seeps near Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel. Published in the May 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, documents how the oil is released by the seeps, carried to the surface along a meandering plume, and then deposited on the ocean floor in sediments that stretch for miles northwest of Coal Oil Point. In “Weathering and the Fallout Plume of Heavy Oil from Strong Petroleum Seeps Near Coal Oil Point, CA,” Christopher Farwell et al. report a seepage rate of 20−25 tons of oil daily in that area alone.


Oil seeps naturally from the sea floor.

According to oceanographers at Old Dominion University: “the oceans have been receiving natural oil for at least 400 million years. The city of Santa Barbara, California, receives more gases from natural seeps, than from all man made sources. The Gulf of Mexico has over 600 sources of natural oil leaks. And the oceans have absorbed more oil than all that is currently left on the planet.” Earth's ecosystems are more resilient than most people realize.

In contrast to what green activists will tell you, offshore drilling can actually reduce the amount of oil leaking into the sea. Research shows that, because it relieves the pressure that drives oil and gas to leak from ocean floors, drilling can reduce natural seepage. In 1999, two peer-reviewed studies found that natural seepage in the northern Santa Barbara Channel was significantly reduced by oil production. The researchers documented that natural seepage declined 50% around Platform Holly over a twenty-two-year period, concluding that, as oil was pumped from the reservoir, the pressure that drives natural seepage dropped (See “Oil and Gas Seepage from Ocean Floor Reduced by Oil Production”).

Though offshore drilling has proven to be less environmentally dangerous than shipping oil in tankers, occasionally an accident will focus the world's attention on the damage crude oil can do when spilled. Just such a spill, emanating from a pipe 50 miles offshore and 5,000 feet underwater, erupted into the news in late April, 2010.


Fire boat crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Photo US Coast Guard.

The US Gulf coast states have a love hate relationship with the oil industry. America gets around 30% of its oil from the more that 3,500 offshore drilling rigs that dot the Gulf of Mexico. These rigs bring jobs, both on the drilling platforms and at the onshore refineries that turn the crude into heating oil and gasoline. Most of the time, the residents of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are happy to have the oil industry in the Gulf. In fact, the governors of other states had called on the federal government to relax restrictions so oil exploration could take place off their shores.

President Obama had publicly announced his administration's support for expanded drilling for domestic oil and gas. Exploratory offshore drilling was planned for several parts of the east coast of the United States that were previously off limits. Then the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, leased and operated by British Petroleum (BP), suffered the worst offshore oil disaster since the Exxon Valdez sank off the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound in 1989.

The immensity of the disaster in the Gulf unfolded slowly over several weeks. It started with an explosion and fire on the platform, 11 workers went missing and are presumed dead. After burning for several days the platform eventually sank on April 22. Only then did rescue workers on the scene realize that there was oil leaking from the site. The oil leak was not at the surface but at the base of the bored hole.

To avoid just this type of spill, all offshore oil rigs have safety devices that are supposed to shut off their wells in the event of an accident. Something obviously went terribly wrong on the Deepwater Horizon. Oil from the fractured drilling pipe now threatens Louisiana’s fragile coastal wetlands as strong winds and rough waters hampered clean-up efforts. The miles of floating barriers have proven ineffective and the well continues to spew oil into the fisheries and fragile ecosystems of the Gulf.


Oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico, May 6, 2010. Photo US Navy.

How to cap the massive blowout, which is leaking and estimated 200,000 gallons a day, remain elusive. Capping a geyser of oil 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is a feat never before attempted. “The sort of occurrence that we've seen on the Deepwater Horizon is clearly unprecedented,” BP spokesman David Nicholas told the Associated Press. “It's something that we have not experienced before ... a blowout at this depth.”

The Transocean Ltd. rig that sank was worth over $600 million and BP was reportedly leasing the rig for $500,000 per day. Under US law and international treaty, BP is responsible for all expenses stemming from the accident—the damages could run into the billions. As of this report, BP is frantically trying to contain the spill and clean up costs are running $6 million per day. Environmental damage is being estimated at close to 8 to 12 billion dollars but, in the end, the worst damage may be to the US domestic oil industry.

Eco-activist group Oceana is trying to collect a half a million signatures to stop all new offshore drilling (stopthedrill.org). So far the total is only around 33 thousand. And there is little chance that existing production wells will be shut down either. As mentioned, the Gulf provides about 30% of America’s 6.7m barrel-a-day domestic output and Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, who is heading the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon accident, says production will not be halted. When green politics collide head-on with America's energy needs there is little question, at least in politician's minds, what the outcome will be.

The crude facts are these:

  • Restricting offshore drilling will lead to the US importing more oil from other sources, which will increase spillage, as well as weaken national security.
  • Drilling farther out than 75 miles falls under Federal jurisdiction, not under the control of individual states. Drilling closer to shore is safer than drilling farther off the coasts, but green groups have forced drilling to be done out of sight and in deeper water.
  • Under some conditions, drilling wells in offshore waters can reduce the amount of oil released from natural seeps by reducing the pressure in the oil traps.
  • The US gets ~30% of its domestic oil from the Gulf. There is no way that the Obama or any other administration will shut it down.

Seawater covered with thick black oil splashes up in brown-stained whitecaps. AP Photo.

As usual, the green position is totally untenable. Offshore drilling will continue until America and the rest of the world can break their oil addiction, which will not be any time soon. Until an acceptable alternative to the internal combustion engine is found, and the hundreds of millions of cars and trucks on the road today are replaced, the world will continue to run on oil. Not that BP, Transocean and Halliburton should be left off the hook—they should pay for cleaning up their mess and for the hardship inflicted upon the local people, whose lives they have harmed, even it it drives all three into receivership.

Through their whining and wailing, the eco-lobby has pushed drilling farther off shore where accidents are more probable and containment harder—nature suffers but they get to feel pious and smug. Ignorant and ideological, the greens lash out at those they do not like and offer “solutions” that cannot work: Biofuels that consume more energy than they produce and produce more pollution than the fuels they replace, all while laying waste to the worlds remaining forests; wind turbines that kill birds and bats and can alter local climate; solar power plants that ruin fragile desert ecosystems and have the greens themselves up in arms. The world's energy problems will not be solved by consumer abstinence and a gaggle of wonky alternative energy sources. Blinded by their own fanaticism, every time greens get involved in energy matters they make the problem worse.

We all need to remember that, every time the lights come on when we throw a switch, every day we hop into our vehicles to take the kids to school or commute to work, every day we go shopping in the grocery store and find it filled with fresh produce from around the world, those things are possible, at least in part, due to oil. For most of the history of mankind, kings and queens could not live as well as the average citizen of a developed country does today. The Deepwater Horizon accident is a catastrophe for many reasons—not the least of which being the deaths of 11 men who laboured at one of the most dangerous jobs around to support their families and allow the rest of us to live comfortable lives.

The threat to the ecosystems in and around the Gulf of Mexico is real and tragic, as is the damage to the local tourist and fishing industries. With every picture of an oil soaked bird or sea turtle the voices of those who wish to shut down the oil industry everywhere, on land and sea, will become more strident. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and ignore the world's growing need for energy, and we cannot wish the hazards of drilling for oil to go away. Life is full of hard choices and we need to act like educated adults: let us punish those responsible to the limit of the law, regulate the offshore drilling industry to ensure this does not happen again, and insist that our government takes serious action towards solving our energy problems.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay sceptical.



We cannot hide from the world's growing energy needs. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

Naked anticapitalism: Polluted by profit: Johann Hari on the real Climategate

Global warming - and the worst environmental disasters - will only be tackled when green lobbyists in the US stop taking cash from Big Oil and Big Coal (The Independent)

 

U.S. Unveils New Push For More Efficient Cars, Trucks

President Barack Obama unveiled a government push on Friday to boost auto fuel economy for model-year 2017 passenger vehicles and beyond, and introduce a truck efficiency target for the first time.

Obama's policy initiative was characterized by leading environmental groups as an especially welcome step in the wake of the BP Plc Gulf Coast oil spill.

"I believe it's possible in the next 20 years for vehicles to use half the fuel and produce half the pollution that they do today," Obama said at a White House ceremony.

Separately, Canada announced similar steps for heavy trucks and hopes to propose a draft regulation within several months.

Cars and trucks account for more than 60 percent of U.S. oil consumption and more than 25 percent of domestic carbon pollution, environmental statistics show. (Reuters)

Again with the "carbon pollution" thing -- atmospheric carbon dioxide is an essential trace gas and undeniably more is much better.

 

Sigh... Ford re-examining its carbon footprint

Ford Motor announced Thursday it will use its influence to reduce the carbon footprints of its suppliers.

In partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project , the World Resources Institute, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Ford plans to survey 35 of its top suppliers worldwide with regard to their sustainability practices. Ford said this is just the initial phase of a long-term plan to eventually have all suppliers institute better sustainability practices. The suppliers chosen for this round include those who make tires, metal components, seats, and steering systems. 

Based on the collected data and using modeling software from PTC InSight , Ford will then make recommendations as to how each supplier might make changes to reduce its carbon footprint. (CNET)

 

Obama’s Model ‘Green’ Country? Denmark Evicts Citizens, Clear-Cuts Forests for Windmill Space

Following the embarrassment of having recommended Spain's failed "green" programs, Obama switched to using Denmark as a model. Best out of five?

May 24, 2010
- by Christopher Horner

President Obama was caught flatfooted by the embarrassing truth about Spain’s “green economy” after he instructed us — on eight separate occasions — to “think about what’s happening in countries like Spain” as a model for a U.S. future. Spain, of course, is suffering an economic meltdown from enormous public debt incurred through programs like a mandated “green economy.”

But Obama also just implored Spain to drastically scale back or risk becoming Greece. A flip he immediately flopped, by pushing hard to enact the Kerry-Lieberman “path to insolvency” bill based on … Spain. (Cue Benny Hill theme.)

So, embarrassed — or perhaps shameless — Obama changed his pitch: “Think about what’s happening in countries like Denmark.”

Of course, the experience of Denmark — a country with a population half that of Manhattan’s, not exactly a useful energy model for our rather different economy and society — is no great shakes, either.

But it gets better. (PJM)

 

Wind Integration Realities: Case Studies of the Netherlands and of Colorado, Texas (Part I: Introduction)

by Kent Hawkins
May 22, 2010

There is no convincing proof that utility-scale wind plants reduce fossil fuel consumption or CO2 emissions. Although there are are a number of reports claiming gains can be made that will combat climate change, free us from fossil fuel “addiction,” provide energy independence and needed 21st century industrial development, such reports are not substantiated by definitive and comprehensive analyses.

To determine the actual effects will require long-term time series, at intervals significantly less than one hour, of wind production and fuel consumption due to fast ramping of fossil fuel plants to compensate for wind’s volatility in an electricity system where wind represents approximately at least 1-2% of production.

As opposed to wind proponents’ claims, studies based on actual experience with wind integration are emerging  that demonstrate the fossil fuel and CO2 emissions gains are not valid. The two reviewed here are examples but are limited by the lack of availability of complete information on operational performance, especially of wind plants. Fortunately, enough information can be gleaned that provides a strong indication of what those who have studied this objectively have long suspected.

Why is more complete information about wind performance and integration not available? Is it because wind proponents, including some policy makers and wind industries, do not want the realities disclosed, or, in the case of many environmentalist organizations, because they would interrupt established agendas? Or is it that these groups believe it unnecessary because they do not understand the realities of utility-scale wind power? [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Is the Electric Emperor Naked?

Honda’s R&D chief thinks he may at least be in his underwear.

It is unlikely you have ever heard of Tomohiko Kawanabe. But if you are interested in cars, and particularly the future of electric cars, it might be useful to listen to what he has to say.

The media and assorted environmentalists and green technology types seem eager to assure us that the “future is now” for electric vehicles, or EVs. We are told that people are lining up to order Nissan’s attractive electric four-door Leaf, that anticipation is high for General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, that the Tesla roadster (even at $100,000 each) is a sports car dream and that other pure battery cars like Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV are ready in the pipeline. Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, expects his company to have the capacity to build half a million electric cars a year by 2012. He and some other EV advocates predict that one out of every ten cars sold by the end of this decade will be battery-powered.

Kawanabe begs to differ.

He is the chief of research and development for Honda Motor Co., a company with a reputation for staying on the technological edge of the automobile. Honda has been seriously working on electric cars since 1988. It gained a lot of real-world knowledge about electrics from feedback on the more than 300 EV Plus nickel-metal hydride battery-powered cars it leased in the United States between 1997 and 2000. Last fall it introduced an electric “concept car,” the EV-N, to show that it is still keeping its hand in the game.

Kawanabe is not saying anything new, but he is saying something that is either ignored or has yet to sink in with electric enthusiasts. Electric cars—including the very best of them—don’t go very far.

What Honda knows about electric cars is considerable. But what Honda, as one of the world’s leading manufacturers, knows about the car business is even more considerable. And as to the electric part of that business, Kawanabe says “We lack confidence” in it.

“We are definitely conducting research on electric cars,” he recently told Bloomberg News, “but I can’t say I wholeheartedly recommend them.”

Why? As a leading engineer for the builder of some of the world’s most popular cars, Kawanabe’s answer is right to the point. “It is questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them.”

Kawanabe is not saying anything new, but he is saying something that is either ignored or has yet to sink in with electric enthusiasts. EVs—including the very best of them—don’t go very far. They go even less far if they go fast. They go even less far if they contain passengers or any significant cargo. Or if it is very cold. Or if it is very hot.

And, investment in charging infrastructure aside, the laws of physics seem, thus far, to be less than accommodating about the dream of a “quick” battery charge that comes anywhere close to the few minutes it takes to fill a gas tank. (Ralph Kinney Bennett, The American)

 

 

Update on the Legal Challenges to Obamacare

Posted by Ilya Shapiro

Since I first issued my challenge to debate “anyone anytime anywhere” on the (un)constitutionality of Obamacare, a lot has happened.  For one thing, Randy Barnett and Richard Epstein, among many others, have published provoctive articles looking at issues beyond the Commerce Clause justification for the individual mandate — such as the argument that Congress’s tax power justifies the mandate penalty and that the new Medicaid arrangement amounts to a coercive federal-state bargain.  (Look for to a longish article from yours truly due to come out in next month’s issue of Health Affairs.)  For another, as Michael Cannon noted, seven more states — plus the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals – have joined the Florida-led lawsuit against Obamacare.  Perhaps most importantly, such legal challenges are gaining mainstream credibility.

Here’s a brief look at some important legal filings from the past 10 days:

  1. On May 11, the U.S. government filed a response to the Thomas More Center’s lawsuit asking a federal court in Michigan to enjoin Obamacare on various grounds, including, distinct from other suits I’ve seen, religious liberty violations from having to pay for abortions.  The government argues that the plaintiffs lack standing because it’s unclear whether the individual mandate will harm them and in any event this provision doesn’t go into effect until 2014 at the earliest. The government also predictably argues that the mandate is a valid exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce and to provide for the general welfare.  There is nothing surprising here and we now await the court’s preliminary ruling.
  2. On May 12, the U.S. Citizens Association (a conservative group) and five individuals filed a new suit in Ohio, as Jacob Sullum notes.  In addition to the government powers arguments that are being made in most Obamacare lawsuits (most notably the state suits), this suit claims a violation of: the First Amendment freedom of association (the government forces people to associate with insurers); individual liberty interests under the Fifth Amendment; and the right to privacy under the Fifth Amendment’s liberty provision, Ninth Amendment retained rights, and the rights emanating from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments (such is the Court’s convoluted jurisprudence in this area).  I’ll add that the attorney filing this suit, Jonathan Emord, worked for Cato over 20 years ago.
  3. On May 14, Florida filed an amended complaint that, along with adding seven states, two individuals, and the NFIB — so all potential standing bases are covered — beefs up relevant factual allegations and, most importantly, shores up a few legal insufficiencies to the previous claims.  This is a solid complaint, and alleges the following counts: (1) the individual mandate/penalty exceeds Congress’s power under both the Commerce Clause and taxing power and, as such, violate the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; (2) the mandate violate’s the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause; (3) the mandate penalty is an unconstitutional capitation or direct tax because it is unapportioned; (4) the Medicare expansion constitutes a coercive federal-state bargain that commandeers state officials; (5) a different formulation of coercion/commandeering; and (6) interference with state sovereignty and functions under the Tenth Amendment.   After further briefing, oral arguments on the government’s expected motion to dismiss are scheduled for September 14 in Pensacola.
  4. At least one enterprising analyst has determined that the 2,400-page bill lacks a severability clause.  This means that if one part of the bill is struck down as unconstitutional, the whole thing falls! — and would mean that the drafters committed legal malpractice of the highest order.  I guess it goes to show that nobody has read the whole thing.

Finally, if anybody is reading this is in Seattle, I’ll be debating Obamacare at the University of Washington Law School next Thursday, May 27 at 4:30pm.  This debate, sponsored by a number of groups, including the law school itself and the Federalist Society, is free and open to the public.  For those interested in other subjects, I’ll be giving a different talk to the Puget Sound Federalist Society Lawyers Chapter the day before at 6:30pm at the Washington Athletic Club ($25, rsvp to Michael Bindas at mbindas@ij.org).  The title of that one is “Justice Elena Kagan?  What the President’s Choice Tells Us About the Modern Court and Confirmation Process.”  Please do introduce yourself to me if you attend either event. (Cato at liberty)

 

Solving an Innovator’s Dilemma

Innovative licensing agreements between Western and Indian drug companies are leading to sustainable profits and increased access to quality medicines.

Over the past decade, the developing world has become the battleground in the global debate about drug patent protection and access to essential medicines. And the debate continues at this week's World Health Assembly in Geneva. Part of the solution, which will unfortunately not likely be discussed at the WHA, is innovative licensing agreements between Western and Indian drug companies.

Until recently there had been much heat and little light in the fights between the governments of India, Thailand, and Brazil, which had threatened innovator companies to lower drug prices or face losing patent protection, and innovator companies, which steadfastly defended their patent rights. The epicenter of the patent and drug access debate is India. The caricature is simple: for health activists, India is the medicine chest to the world’s poor, whereas to Western industry it is often a cheating competitor in the global market. (Roger Bate, The American)

 

BPA's Risks Are Vastly Exaggerated

(May 19) -- If you found out that you were exposed to a chemical in food packaging that was linked to a host of health problems including obesity, breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, brain disorders and erectile dysfunction, you'd want to have it banned. Even if the risk wasn't that great or the science fully proven, precaution would seem to be the most sensible course of action given those charges. 

This would seem to be the case with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to coat the linings of cans and in the manufacture of various plastics. 

And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., thinks so. She has proposed an amendment to the current food safety bill to ban the chemical. And to buttress her case, a coalition of activist groups released a "study" Tuesday claiming that "meals involving one or more cans of food can cause a pregnant woman to ingest levels of BPA that have been shown to cause health effects in developing fetuses in laboratory animal studies."

But while public concern about BPA has steadily increased, the science behind the alleged health risk has so far failed to justify any such ban. In fact, banning BPA could do more harm than good.

Here's the background. (Trevor Butterworth, AOL News)

 

Is a high carbohydrate diet linked to pancreatic cancer?

NEW YORK - One of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer -- often noticed even years before diagnosis -- is indigestion. A new study suggests that these timely tummy troubles may be enough to explain away previous links made between a high carbohydrate diet and an increased risk of the disease.

"We started out just aiming to replicate other studies that looked at the association between carbohydrates and pancreatic cancer," Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, from the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland and an investigator on the new study, told Reuters Health. "But it turned out to be something more interesting."

It also turned out to be more complicated. (Reuters Health)

 

ABC News discovers digestion

The results of drinking 20 ounces of Coca Cola on an empty stomach shocks starving journalist into having a sugar high.

Recently, two ABC News reporters, Yunji de Nies and Hanna Siegel, headed to the University of Pennsylvania's Rodebaugh Diabetes Center. Their assignment was to act as human guinea pigs in an “experiment” designed to show the malevolent effects of drinking soda on blood sugar levels and the human body drank 20 ounces of Coca Cola on an empty stomach and then had her blood sugar measured. The results were broadcast on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer with the tag, “Do you know what an average soda does to your body”:

“The glucose in the sugar, or corn syrup, is quickly turned into energy, fructose, which is sweeter, is more likely to turn into fat.

After you drink a soda, the glucose hits your bloodstream, and your pancreas immediately begins making insulin to balance the sugar rush.

My glucose level started at 79, and then it rapidly shot up, because I had just put the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar into my body. That is 10 more teaspoons of sugar than the American Heart Association recommends a woman like me consume in an entire day.

After 40 minutes, my glucose level had reached 107.”

This is called digestion, absorption, and metabolism – and it happens whenever you eat. Something similar would have happened if the ABC reporter had eaten any carbohydrates for breakfast. These break down into sugars and are absorbed into the bloodstream where they are either used immediately to power the body or stored as easily-accessible fuel in the form of glycogen. (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

 

 IU study: More physical activity leads to less obesity -- often, but not always

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- It may seem intuitive that greater amounts of exercise lead to less obesity, but an Indiana University study has found that this conventional wisdom applies primarily to white women. The findings draw attention not only to racial, ethnic and gender differences regarding exercise but also to the role work can play. 

In his study involving more than 12,000 people in a nationally representative sample of U.S 20- to 64-year-olds, obesity expert Dong-Chul Seo found that obesity rates in general declined as the amount of weekly leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) increased. White women, however, saw the steepest decreases, particularly when meeting minimum national guidelines for weekly physical activity. This was not always the case for men and for women who were African American or Hispanic. 

"For the majority of health professionals, even health researchers, they say the more leisure-time physical activity you engage in, the less likely you'll get obese," said Seo, associate professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Department of Applied Health Science. "This is true but it's probably only applicable to white women and some of the white men." 

Surprised by the results, Seo looked deeper and found that job-related physical activity might have influenced obesity rates. Studies have found, for example, that men and Hispanic women are more likely to have manually demanding jobs than white women, which could affect the amount of LTPA they accumulate. For Hispanic women, their obesity rates dropped as their amount of occupational physical activity (OPA) increased. However, a different pattern was seen for men. (Indiana University)

 

D.C. Council appears to take proposed soda tax off the table

A majority of D.C. Council members signaled their opposition Thursday to a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soda, probably killing the proposal for the year. 

The council's decision followed several weeks of intense lobbying that pitted grocers and the beverage industry against nutrition advocates, including actor Morgan Freeman, who made a last-minute pitch in support of the bill. (WaPo)

 

New York governor proposes new soda tax to raise $815 million

New York Governor David Paterson on Thursday proposed lifting the sales tax on diet soda, while adding a new "sugar tax" to full-calorie drinks, in a fresh bid to boost revenue for the cash-strapped state. (Reuters)

 

Long stretch of the day: Belly Fat in Middle Age Raises Dementia Risk

'Spare tire' had strongest association with senility, study found

THURSDAY, May 20 -- A preliminary study suggests that excess fat in the abdomen during middle age boosts the risk of dementia later in life.

An estimated 24.3 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, which can stem from Alzheimer's disease or other causes.

In the new study, Dr. Sudha Seshadri, of Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the medical records of 733 people with an average age of 60. About 70 percent were women.

The research confirms that increasing levels of body-mass index -- a measurement of whether someone's height and weight are proportional -- in middle-aged people corresponds with lower brain volumes when they are older, Seshadri said in a news release. (HealthDay News)

 

Small study guesstimation of the day: Heavy caffeine intake may mean smaller babies

NEW YORK - Pregnant women who down six coffee cups' worth of caffeine every day may have smaller babies than those who consume less caffeine, a new study finds.

Researchers found that among more than 7,300 Dutch women followed from early pregnancy onward, between 2 and 3 percent said they consumed the caffeine equivalent of six cups of coffee per day during any trimester. On average, their babies' length at birth was slightly shorter than that of newborns whose mothers had consumed less caffeine during pregnancy.

Heavy caffeine consumers also had an increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age -- smaller than the norm for the baby's sex and the week of pregnancy during which he or she was born.

That finding, however, was based on a small number of babies, and the significance is uncertain. Of 104 infants born to women with the highest caffeine intakes, seven were small for gestational age. (Reuters Health)

 

Aimless mission drift of a once useful agency: WHO targets child obesity with food marketing curbs

Health ministers, alarmed at the growing number of obese children, agreed on Thursday to try to reduce children's consumption of junk food and soft drinks by asking member states to restrict advertising and marketing. (Reuters)

 

Squeezing the joy out of ketchup

Heinz’s decision to change its ketchup recipe after 40 years is a sign of our health-obsessed, killjoy times.

I have a friend – hang on, I have two friends – for whom everything tastes of tomato ketchup. Not because they suffer from a weird medical condition, but because they drown every meal they eat in a tsunami of red sauce. For them, thanks to the red stuff, food can always be relied on to taste great – even if it always tastes exactly the same.

When we talk about tomato ketchup, we really mean Heinz Tomato Ketchup. It is far and away the biggest-selling brand, with 60 per cent of the US market. Created in 1876, ketchup is Heinz’s No.1 selling item. According to the Heinz website: ‘Over 650million bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup are sold around the world in more than 140 countries, with annual sales of more than $1.5billion.’

Yet now, Heinz has announced a change to its long-standing recipe, though this particular change will only affect the US version of the ketchup (Heinz tweaks the recipe for different markets). It plans to reduce the sodium content – that is, the amount of salt – in its US ketchup by 15 per cent. A spokesperson for Heinz in the US, Jessica Jackson, told the New York Post that the decision ‘came from the changing needs of our consumers and our commitment to health and wellness’ – which is garbled public-relations speak for ‘the government was leaning on us to do this and we finally gave in’. (Rob Lyons, spiked)

 

ES&T are becoming professional hysterics: Mercury levels are increasing in popular species of game fish in Lake Erie

Scientists are reporting that mercury levels in a popular species of game fish in Lake Erie are increasing after two decades of steady decline. The study, the most comprehensive to date on mercury levels in Great Lakes fish, is in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal. (ES&T)

I had a quick look at the numbers and definitely advise against anyone eating more than 1,000 pounds/day of these fish (it could be harmful!). Beyond that... meh!

 

Report: CDC used bad data to judge DC water safety

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials knowingly used flawed data in a study that calmed public fears about lead in the District of Columbia's drinking water in 2004, according to a congressional investigation released Thursday.

The report by a House science and technology subcommittee admonishes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the study's methodology and says the CDC has "failed its public health responsibilities" by refusing to withdraw the report.

District officials say the problem with high lead levels in drinking water has since been fixed.

A CDC official defended the federal agency, saying it reported as factually as it could in 2004, based on information it had. A second analysis — with many more blood tests — was later conducted.

"We have concluded that CDC's initial reports did not understate the magnitude of the problem," said Dr. Robin Ikeda, the CDC's deputy director over environmental health. (AP)

 

Congressional report prompts fear and anger over lead in D.C. water

Federal and local political leaders, D.C. parents and health advocates reacted Thursday with a mixture of anger and fear to news that a federal agency misled them about the harm that lead in the District's water had caused -- and might still be causing. 

The furor came as a House investigative subcommittee released a report showing that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knowingly used flawed data when telling D.C. residents that their health hadn't been harmed by spikes in lead in the drinking water in 2004. The investigation, the subject of a congressional hearing Thursday, also disclosed new cause for alarm: Internal CDC research shows that an effort to fix the lead problem since 2004 puts residents in 9,100 D.C. homes at much higher risk of lead poisoning. 

Some city parents, along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), accused the CDC of engaging in a coverup to shield the water utility and federal regulators from blame. (WaPo)

 

Report linking depression with chocolate leaves bad aftertaste

It's pretty much an irresistible combination -- chocolate and depression -- and everyone from the Boston Globe to the BBC took a bite the other week.

Researchers from two campuses of the University of California released a report that said people who consider themselves depressed eat more chocolate than people who consider themselves otherwise.

It sounded all learned and scholarly and stuff. Heck, it was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and any magazine most of us have never laid eyes on must be smart.

As another very wise person from a college on the opposite side of the country points out, though, the report had all the weight and heft of a Kit Kat bar. Like so many of the health tidbits that wind up in print or on the 11 o'clock news, this one melts in your hand.

Maybe chocolate makes you depressed. Maybe it cures depression. Maybe it ruins your complexion and then you get depressed so you need to buy more chocolate when you stop at Rite Aid for Clearasil. The only thing you can tell for sure from the report, suggests Rebecca Goldin, is that the people who compiled it don't know diddley-squat about the candy aisle. (Detroit News)

 

Genetics shine new light on old diseases

HONG KONG - Lui Sang, now 81, was diagnosed with leprosy as a boy shortly after his older brother came down with the same infection, notorious for centuries for causing disfiguring skin lesions and stigma.

Now, patients such as Lui -- who lost his left leg -- may be helping not only in eradicating leprosy but in battling another ancient scourge, tuberculosis. (Reuters)

 

Gene variants may raise risk of infectious diseases

LONDON - Scientists have found a group of gene variants that increase susceptibility to infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria and say the discovery may help in designing new drugs to tackle several illnesses at once.

Researchers from Britain and Singapore found that several different mutations of a gene called CISH are linked to a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Having just one of these mutations can raise the risk by 18 percent, they said.

"That one small gene can be involved in multiple infectious diseases at a very fundamental level is a rare and unexpected finding," said Judith Swain, director of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, whose researchers worked on the study.

She said the discovery had "far-reaching implications" because it added to scientists' understanding of the mechanisms of infectious disease, which in turn would help the search for new and more effective medicines.

Although there are drugs available to treat them, malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and bacterial blood infections still kill millions of people around the world.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria and TB combined kill almost 2.7 million people every year. (Reuters)

 

Indur Goklany’s Double Play in the New York Times

Posted by David Boaz

Indur Goklany’s great book, The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet, has been cited this week by both John Tierney and Andrew Revkin in the New York Times.

But neither of them really says much about it. Don’t bother with the articles, just go buy the book. It’s a compelling, comprehensive case — with more than 100 charts and tables — for the case made in the title, which deserves to be bullet-pointed. It shows that the state of the world is improving because

  • We’re Living Longer,
  • Healthier,
  • More Comfortable Lives
  • on a Cleaner Planet

Check out the evidence. (Cato at liberty)

 

The Green Jobs Myth

Jobs: A Spanish economics professor said attempts by his country to create a green economy would fail. Now a Spanish government report confirms his findings, blunting claims that the professor's report was biased.

The professor, Gabriel Calzada Alvarez of Juan Carlos University in Madrid, produced a 41-page study last year on the European experiment of going full bore on the conservation front. He found that "the Spanish/EU-style 'green jobs' agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs."

For every green job created by the Spanish government, Alvarez found that 2.2 jobs were destroyed elsewhere in the economy because resources were directed politically and not rationally, as in a market economy.

"The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices," the professor told the press.

Alvarez's findings, of course, were rejected by the environmental left, which tried to smear him as a stooge of the oil industry.

But inconveniently for the eco-conscious, his results have been backed up by Carlo Stagnaro and Luciano Lavecchia, a couple of researchers from the Italian think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni.

They found that in Italy, the losses were worse than they were in Spain: Each green job cost 6.9 jobs in the industrial sector and 4.8 jobs across the entire economy.

"Green investments are an ineffective policy for job creation," they say in their report. Despite the other merits of investments in new energy, "to the extent that the 'green deal' is aimed at creating employment or purported as anti-crisis or stimulus policy, it is a wrong policy choice."

Even more inconvenient for the environmental left is a study by the Spanish government. This leaked document supports the Alvarez report. The green lobby can't claim bias in this analysis because the Zapatero administration that compiled it is a socialist government that sees windmills when more rational people see dragons. (IBD)

 

About time: Water Sanity For Central California

Law: A federal judge has struck a blow for California's water-deprived Central Valley, ruling that draconian federal water cutbacks violate human rights because — surprise! — people also belong in the ecosystem.

Next time a concept like, say "death panels" from the federal government seems far-fetched, consider the ordeal California's Central Valley has endured for the past two years.

Based on a judicial ruling, some of the most prized and productive agricultural land in the country was turned into a wasteland after its water was shut off.

The ruling was derived from an 800-page "biological opinion" put out by regulators enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act, ostensibly to protect a finger-sized fish called the delta smelt and some other wildlife. Regulators complained that smelt were getting ground up in pumping stations that brought river water from California's north to its south, so the water had to stop.

Even the judge was appalled at being forced into the ruling but had no choice, given the law, and tried to cushion the impact.

Tuesday, that same judge, District Judge Oliver Wanger declared to federal regulators that they must consider the impact of their "draconian" actions on human communities, something they've never done up until now.

"Federal defendants completely abdicated their responsibility to consider alternative remedies," Wanger wrote.

He also ripped into the environmental regulators for their junk science "guesstimates," stating that their shut-off "lacked factual and scientific justification, while effectively ignoring the irreparable harm (their regulations) have inflicted on humans and the human environment," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It's a landmark ruling that makes a superb use of checks and balances on power, given that up until now, these bureaucrats have never been held accountable for their actions.

It also has a nice symmetry with current laws, given that businesses must examine at great cost the environmental impact of their actions on even the smallest changes to their businesses for the sake of regulators. Now environmentalists are on notice that they'd better start looking at what they do to communities next time they insist on protecting a fly or a fish.

It can't happen too soon. The water shut-off has been a nightmare for California. Huge farms growing the world's finest grapes, peaches, almonds, pistachios, plums and walnuts — as well as cotton, carrots, cantaloupe and the other lush truck crops that come out of California's temperate weather and rich soil — have gone fallow.

Adding insult to injury, water has increasingly been turned into a bargaining chit, with Washington using access to it as political leverage to force local congressmen to vote for unpopular bills like health care reform.

But the worst part of these decisions is the high human cost. California's communities have suffered terrible disruption, with unemployment as high as 45% in some towns and farm workers forced to stand in food lines for bags of Chinese-grown carrots near fields they once harvested.

Socialists of all stripes have an awful record on land issues.

From communist China's harsh uprootings of population to build the massive Three Gorges Dam to Hugo Chavez's expropriations of farms in Yaracuy, Venezuela, there are always great costs from bureaucrats who claim good intentions for their environmental schemes. Even so, it boggles the mind that such disruptions could happen here. But they have.

Fortunately America's democracy, with its separation of powers, has now broken up the environmental regulators' monopoly.

Judge Wanger is a hero for ruling that federal water regulators must consider the impact of their rulings on human communities along with the fish they seek to protect. Americans' rights have been trampled by out-of-control environmentalism, which at times seems to grant more rights to fish and other creatures than humans.

No community should have to bear the entire brunt of a man-made water shortage because of heartless, ignorant bureaucrats.

The judge's ruling has restored some sanity into what has up until now been an atrocious out-of-control bureaucracy. (IBD)

 

Horror Borealis

By Peter Foster  May 20, 2010 – 7:40 pm

Why are junkistas and ­extortionists making Canadian forest policy?

Steve Kallick of the Pew Charitable Trusts — who is reported to have “brokered” this week’s Boreal Forest Agreement — gave a little “colour” to the Toronto Star about the negotiations. When dining with Avrim Lazar, the head of the Forest Products Association of Canada, Mr. Kallick said he had been lectured by Mr. Lazar, a vegetarian, over eating a “big sloppy piece of beef.” “It was an ironic twist,” said Mr. Kallick, “being lectured by the head of the logging association about not being kind to the planet.”

There are a few other ironic, not to mention questionable, twists to this deal, which bans logging for three years in 29 million hectares of Canada’s vast northern wilderness.

Why was a representative of a giant American foundation sitting down to negotiate Canadian forestry policy? Also, how can a “broker” simultaneously be funding one side of the “negotiation?” This agreement was dubbed a “ceasefire,” but only one party was ever shooting, and Pew was providing the bullets. Meanwhile surely the biggest irony is that Pew — which has become a multi-billion dollar fount of junk science-fuelled activism — was set up with money made by the stout free marketers who first commercialized the Alberta oilsands.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Levy planned for coastal residents

RESIDENTS of coastal properties will be forced to pay special coastal protection levies in threatened areas under legislation proposed by the state government.

The legislation would enable owners of threatened properties to take emergency measures to protect their own properties for the first time, and open the door for councils to impose coastal protection levies.

The emergency measures include permitting sandbagging where severe erosion results from storms or ''an extreme or irregular event'' or when such beach erosion is imminent. (SMH)

Personally ambivalent about this -- councils already rake off big rates from high-value coastal properties so they've really already priced in the extra costs of coastal protection measures. Then again, if you live by the sea you accept the risks of so doing...

 

My name is Clive, and I used to be an organoholic . . . but I'm all right now

After years of chemical-free eating, Clive Aslet admits that he has given up organic produce in favour of cheaper, local and even (whisper it) intensively reared food. (TDT)

 

 

Reading the Tea Leaves on the Sen. Murkowski-Epa Climate Resolution

The Senate will likely vote on a climate change measure in the next few weeks.

But it won't be on comprehensive cap-and-trade legislation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has until the week of June 7 to call for a floor vote on her resolution to handcuff U.S. EPA's forthcoming climate regulations.

Many observers see Murkowski's resolution as doomed, in part because it is unlikely to win President Obama's signature if it clears both chambers of Congress or withstands a veto. But even if it fails, observers say the vote could signal whether the Senate is prepared to quash or kick-start the climate bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

"I think everybody's going to be reading the tea leaves on this," said Dan Weiss, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "I think not only who wins but by how much is important, too."

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) fears that a failed attempt to block EPA could send the wrong signal.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and leading skeptic of climate science, has said that he is leaning against calling for a vote on the EPA resolution unless victory is assured. Otherwise, he said, the backers of Senate climate legislation would interpret the votes against the resolution as votes for a cap-and-trade bill.

"If for some reason it didn't win, all of a sudden you'd have Barbara Boxer [D-Calif.] and John Kerry saying, 'Everything changes, they've realized the error of their ways,' and interpret that as those votes are for cap and trade," Inhofe said recently. "Which in fact is not true."

Industry attorney Scott Segal said that even if Murkowski gets fewer than the 51 votes needed under Congressional Review Act procedures, a strong showing of support might make supporters of the Kerry-Lieberman bill wonder whether they will be able to get the 60 votes needed for that bill.

"If she gets 48 votes, for example, I think that a lot of political analysts might conclude that it may be difficult to find 60 votes to vote for Kerry-Lieberman," Segal said.

Murkowski already has 41 co-sponsors, including three Democrats: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. ( ClimateWire)

Support the Murkowski Resolution

 

Editorial: Climate bill would strangle economic recovery

The betting in Washington is that the cap-and-trade carbon bill introduced in the Senate by Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut hasn't got a chance of passing this year. That may explain why public outcry against yet another economy-choking piece of legislation has been fairly muted.

But we're not taking anything for granted, remembering that in January, after Scott Brown scored his stunning victory in the Massachusetts race for the U.S. Senate, the smart money said that health care reform was dead, too. And look what happened.

This bill ought to be labeled "The Kill Any Hope for Economic Recovery Act." Its negative impact on jobs and economic development in this country will be enormous, as will be its contribution to job creation and economic growth in China, Brazil and India. What's left of America's manufacturing base will pack up and head for places where energy is still cheap and environmental regulations are less onerous. You think making cars in Detroit is tough now, watch what happens if the Kerry-Lieberman bill passes. (Detroit News)

 

Scott Denning speaks at the Heartland conference

Prof Scott Denning of Colorado State University was one among two de facto AGW believers who accepted the invitation to the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change.

We kind of know what fellow skeptics would say although some talks were rather innovative. But I found this mainstream guy's comment refreshing, too:

He's very polite, he has learned a a lot, he complains that his colleagues don't attend such meaningful conferences, and he says that paranoia isn't helpful and that pro-market forces suffer because they're not sufficiently represented among physical scientists which is why physical scientists inevitably give far left-wing recommendations whenever science intersects with policymaking. Very true.

To compare, check this annoying, boring, lousy, repetitive, frustrating, and dishonest commencement speech by Al Gore. It's kind of amazing for a university to invite something like that for the commencement festivities.

Via Tom Nelson and Freedom Pub (The Reference Frame)

 

EDITORIAL: Nero was hotter than Al Gore

National Academy of Science study: Ancient times were warmer

The planet has never been warmer than it is right now, if you believe what global warming alarmists have to say. Mankind's selfishness in producing "excessive" amounts of carbon dioxide has set us on a path toward global cataclysm, they insist. The problem with this tale is that it neither fits with the historical record nor with a growing body of scientific evidence.

The alarmists must imagine that 50 years before the birth of Christ, men like Julius Caesar spent their summers strolling the streets of Rome wearing sweaters to guard against catching a chill - instead of abandoning the sweltering capital in favor of temperate seaside villas. A study published in the March 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science casts further doubt on the warmist premise by concluding that the sun beat down more harshly on the Caesars than it did on anyone else in the past 2,000 years.

Instead of using tree rings as a proxy for air temperature, the study's authors extracted data from sea shells preserved in deep sedimentary layers, using them as a proxy for sea temperature in the North Atlantic over the course of two millennia. According to the study, the "reconstructed water temperatures for the Roman Warm Period in Iceland are higher than any temperatures recorded in modern times." The heat lasted from approximately 230 B.C. to 140 A.D. After that, temperatures rose and fell over time with a second peak taking place during the better-known Medieval Warm Period.

The researchers confirmed their temperature estimates against records of human settlement patterns and descriptions found in Norse sagas and other historical writings. People settled in the region when it was warm; cold spells coincided with descriptions of famine. (Washington Times)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Preoccupation with climate change harming efforts to control malaria

By Lawrence Solomon  May 20, 2010 – 3:27 pm

Global warming is all-but irrelevant to the spread of malaria, according to a study released today in Nature. In contrast, global warming policies based on the belief that global warming promotes malaria are harming efforts to eradicate malaria.

“Climate change is, in our view, an unwelcome distraction from the main issues,” according to Oxford University’s Peter Gething, the study’s lead researcher. Gething notes that malaria has been steadily decreasing while global temperatures increased. Instead of focussing on a non-issue, Gething believes, malaria-fighting resources should be directed to measures needed to maximize the progress in fighting this disease.

Gething’s comments, reported today by the BBC, supports the long-standing views of the Pasteur Institute and other prestigious malaria research bodies, all of whom have long been critical of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1995 report. This report fostered misinformation that then sent malaria prevention off on a wild goose chase.

To decide where to intervene to prevent the spread of malaria, researchers use models that predict where their efforts are best focussed. Models based on climate change redirected disease-prevention efforts away from regions where they were most needed to address the true health needs of Africa. Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Climate Science Strikes Back

If a letter appearing in the May 7, 2010, issue of Science is any indication, it looks like climate science traditionalists are trying to stage a comeback. The article by P. H. Gleick and a cast of hundreds, entitled “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science,” states that “we are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.” Decrying the attacks on climate scientists by “deniers,” the letter reiterates the signatories' support for dogmatic climate change theory. While admitting that the IPCC “quite unexpectedly and normally, made some mistakes,” they call for an end to “McCarthy-like threats” against themselves and their colleagues. Painting themselves as victims, they have gone on the offensive—like the evil Empire of Star Wars fame, climate science is striking back.

Likening climate change to the theories of the origin of Earth, Evolution and the Big Bang, the letter's signatories state: “There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.” They quickly play the uncertainty card, repeating the tired better-safe-than-sorry argument, saying “for a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.” Their song remains the same: we don't have real proof but we should act anyway, just in case we are right.

A foreshadowing of the letter's credibility was the use of a now famous photoshopped picture of a single polar bear, stranded on a small ice-flow (clicking on the small picture at the begining of the article will bring up the bogus “collage”). The Science article on-line contains this correction:

Due to an editorial error, the original image associated with this Letter was not a photograph but a collage. The image was selected by the editors, and it was a mistake to have used it. The original image has been replaced in the online HTML and PDF versions of the article with an unaltered photograph from National Geographic.


The replacement image, perhaps acknowleding that the ice isn't melting.
Photo: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic/Getty Images.

If only they would admit their larger transgressions so easily. Aside from the pictorial faux pas, the letter itself repeats the same tired old arguments. And of course, they can not help but call those who question their theory “deniers.” If anyone is in denial it is this group. The central points of the letter are reproduced below, judge for yourself.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v)The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

These cranky boffins must think that, if they repeat the same lies enough times, everyone will start believing them again. No serious skeptic claims that a single cold winter reverses the past century's warming trend, though AGW supporters constantly trumpet the warmest this and that. The truth can be seen in the chart below, produced by NASA's GISS.


Mean global temperature has not changed for over a decade. NASA/GISS.

This graph appeared in “Playing the Uncertainty Card,” but bears repeating, as does the statement by Mark A. Cane: “Over the past decade, the mean global temperature did not rise much, if at all.” Gleick et al. assert that Earth's climate is “now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.” Dr. Cane, a distinguished climate scientist from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, seems to think that nature is doing the overwhelming: “This pause in global warming cannot be attributed to cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions by the planet's human population, so it must be nature taking a turn towards colder temperatures.”

At the end of the letter, it is claimed that skepticism of anthropogenic global warming has created a hostile environment for climate scientists. These pedants are amazed that people get upset when they are purposefully lied to, when data are manufactured to prove climate scientists' pre-ordained outcomes, and when leading experts collude to mislead the public. The same protests have been made by hucksters and confidence men down through the ages.

We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: We can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

Do they really expect everyone to accept their assertions of imminent disaster based on the flimsy, and often falsified, evidence present by the IPCC? Do they really think that the peoples of the world would accept a crash program to reorganize the economies of every nation without overwhelming proof that significant change was occurring? These “scientists” not only don't live in the real world, they have abandoned it in favor of perfidious computer models. Immersed in their models' fantasy worlds, where they can play god with Earth's climate and reassure themselves that their half-formed notions are true.

The signatories are all members of the US National Academy of Sciences but do not claim to be speaking on its behalf. The Academy itself, however, has embarked on a new course of open advocacy and decided to overtly recommend a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax. “We really need to get started right away. It's not opinion, it's what the science tells you,” said academy panel vice chairman Robert Fri, prompting Roger Pielki Jr. to label that statement “the boneheaded comment of the day.”

Pielki uses the term “stealth issue advocate” to describe someone, like Fri, who hides their advocacy behind science. The Gleick et al. letter is a veritable who's who of stealthy and not so stealthy advocates. Below is the full list of signatories to the Science letter. I propose that, when the notion of dangerous, human caused global warming is finally put to rest, we raise a monument to scientific folly, with a bronze plaque containing the names of those listed here.

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

 

UK Arrests Four More In Suspected CO2 Tax Probe

British tax investigators arrested four more people on Thursday they said were believed to be connected to a 38 million pound ($54.5 million) suspected tax fraud in European carbon credit trading.

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators also found firearms and large amounts of cash during the early morning raids on seven properties in London and Leicester areas, the agency said in a statement.

"These arrests are the result of the hard work that our investigators have carried out during a sustained and complex 15 month operation," said Chris Martin, an assistant director at the HMRC. (Reuters)

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, May 20 2010

Jovian factories and SUV’s caused the giant planet to lose a red ring, the activist group Climate Camp is tearing itself apart over a Bolivian blowout and a Canuck paper says that 75% of the global population will be dead in 19 months. (Daily Bayonet)

 

The Great Dying of Thermometers

It’s like watching the lights go out over the West. Sinan Unur has mapped the surface stations into a beautiful animation. His is 4 minutes long and spans from 1701-2010. I’ve taken some of his snapshots and strung them into a 10 second animation.

You can see as development spreads across the world that more and more places are reporting temperatures. It’s obvious how well documented temperatures were (once) in the US. The decay of the system in the last 20 years is stark.

For details on just how sinister the vanishing of data records is, see my previous post on Anthony Watts and Joe D’Aleo’s extraordinary summary of Policy Driven Deception.

Graphic: Great Dying of Thermometers

The Great Dying of Thermometers

I’m sure one day the chronological spread (and decay) of thermometers will be a useful marker for some socio/economic/historic marker (though it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what). This is not a measure of population growth — some of those dots in Australia 100 years ago are just stations (as in big farms). It’s not just “money” (Europe booms post WWII), it’s not measuring the spread of “English”  though English speaking countries are well represented, Japan suddenly comes “online” in about 1880. What was it exactly, that swept countries up with the idea and the wherewithal to measure temperatures and record them?

The full 4 minute animation is (below), it’s a twinkling silent testament to human endeavor.  You can also rate it on Youtube, or go to Sinan’s site and leave a comment there to say thanks. More » (Jo Nova)

 

Global Average Sea Surface Temperatures Poised for a Plunge

Just an update…as the following graph shows, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) along the equatorial Pacific (“Nino3.4″ region, red lines) have been plunging, and global average SSTs have turned the corner, too. (Click on the image for the full-size, undistorted version. Note the global values have been multiplied by 10 for display purposes.)

The corresponding sea level pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin (SOI index, next graph) shows a rapid transition toward La Nina conditions is developing.

Being a believer in natural, internal cycles in the climate system, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that global-average SSTs will plunge over the next couple of months. Based upon past experience, it will take a month or two for our (UAH) tropospheric temperatures to then follow suit. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Climate Change: The West vs The Rest by Will Alexander

We are fortunate to have a guest post by Will Alexander (see his earlier one here). WJR (Will) Alexander is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Honorary Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. He spent the past 35 years of his career actively involved in the development of water resource and flood analysis methods as well as in natural disaster mitigation studies. His interest in climate change arose from claims that it would have an adverse effect in these fields. In his subsequent studies of very large hydrometeorological data sets he was unable to detect any adverse human-related changes. He has written more than 200 papers, presentations and books on these subjects. [alexwjr@iafrica.com]

GUEST POST By Will Alexander (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

Arctic Drilling Proposal Advanced Amid Concern

A proposal to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean as early as this summer received initial permits from the Minerals Management Service office in Alaska at the same time federal auditors were questioning the office about its environmental review process.

The approvals also came after many of the agency’s most experienced scientists had left, frustrated that their concerns over environmental threats from drilling had been ignored.

Minerals Management has faced intense scrutiny in the weeks since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. An article in The New York Times reported that it failed to get some environmental permits to approve drilling in the gulf and ignored objections from scientists to keep those projects on schedule.

Similar concerns are being raised about the agency’s handling of a plan by Shell Oil to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. (NYT)

 

U.S. Power Grid Could Tap More Wind, Solar: Study

Large amounts of solar and wind power could be added to the western U.S. power grid without significant spending if utilities make operational changes, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Thursday.

The DOE report, conducted by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) over a 3-year period, focused on how the WestConnect power grid would respond if 35 percent of its electricity was generated by renewable sources.

The results, researchers said, were surprising.

"You need to make some significant changes to operational practice to accommodate wind and solar, but you don't need a whole lot of additional infrastructure to handle that," said Debbie Lew, a senior project manager at NREL.

Wind and solar power together make up less than 3 percent of the total U.S. power generation, but both are growing rapidly amid a range of state and federal incentives. (Reuters)

 

Greek Crisis and Euro Fall Snare Clean-Energy Stocks

May 20 -- As Europe grapples with the fallout from Greece’s economic woes, at least one unexpected corner of the economy is suffering: renewable energy companies.

That’s because few wind, solar, and other green power installations would be profitable without subsidies, and as governments across Europe curb spending in response to the Greek crisis, those funds are being cut back, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its May 24 issue.

“The uncertainty in Europe is a further burden in a market that is still challenging,” said Kathleen McGinty, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton’s administration who now helps manage $800 million in clean-energy investments as a partner at private equity firm Element Partners in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

The aid to renewable energy, paid by consumers in their power bills, is being slashed by governments that want to cut costs for businesses to boost economic growth and generate tax revenue as bond investors scrutinize their plans to rein in budget deficits as much as three times the European Union limit. (Bloomberg)

40 years go, when there were credible fears we could "run out" of energy and a fresh naivety that "alternatives" could supply baseload power, there was a case to be made for nurturing/sheltering these upstart technologies. Now we know better, so why is taxpayer money still being squandered on these useless schemes?

 

 

Only VAT Can Fund Leftist Welfare State

Recently in the Wall Street Journal, David Ranson pointed out what tax economists have known for a long time: no matter what changes Congress makes to the existing tax code, it will continue to raise the same amount of revenue as a percentage of GDP year-after-year. Ranson writes:

Despite big changes in marginal tax rates in both directions,”Hauser’s Law,” as I call this formula, reveals a kind of capacity ceiling for federal tax receipts at about 19% of GDP.

The income tax is the predominant revenue raiser for the federal government, and fluctuations in the revenue it collects have the biggest effect on the total change in tax collections year-to-year. Over the course of its history the top rate has been as high as 91 percent and as low as 28 percent. Even with such large variations in top rates, the income tax has raised a remarkably consistent amount of revenue as the chart shows. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

and even places with a VAT aren't making it: “I’m Afraid To Tell You There’s No Money Left”

When Britain’s new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, walked into his office last week, he found a letter from his predecessor, Liam Byrne. Laws assumed it contained useful advice.

But when he opened the envelope, he found that the letter – which he characterized as “honest but slightly less helpful” than he had expected – had only a single line:

Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.

And so there isn’t. Americans don’t realize just how bad Britain’s situation is. True, Britain’s not in the Euro, which is a huge help. But Britain’s got a larger structural deficit – in other words, the deficit after you factor out the effects of the recession – than Greece, and its borrowing one pound for every four it spends. It will take years for Britain to recover from the pain New Labour has inflicted. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Free Trade: Key to Job Creation

Trade critics charge that free trade damages U.S. firms and workers. It’s true that individuals can experience trade-related job loss.  Balanced against that, however,  must be the overall gains in U.S. employment and productivity that stem from an open trading environment.  Indeed, free trade fosters economic efficiency, which is the basis for dynamic growth and job creation.

In a recent report entitled “Opening Markets, Creating Jobs: Estimated U.S. Employment Effects of Trade with FTA Partners,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce points out that more than 17 million American jobs depend on trade with U.S. FTA partners, and in 2008 alone, over five million jobs were created by the boost in trade unleashed by the FTAs. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue appropriately remarked, “I defy anyone in town to name another budget-neutral government initiative that has generated anything like this number of jobs.” Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Oh no! Not another one! Porter: Ecologist Sandra Steingraber is the Rachel Carson of the new millennium

“It is the exquisite communion between the interior landscape of the body and the exterior,” Sandra Steingraber says, barely panting, as we pad down the streets of the Oakwood neighbourhood side by side. She is talking about scenes from the new documentary Living Downstream, based on her book of the same title.

But she could be speaking about running, which she does in every city she drops into to give yet another speech about the soup of industrial chemicals we bob in and how it is killing us. (Toronto Star)

The first lunatic did more than enough damage the first time round, thanks very much. Haven't dimwitted green chemophobes killed enough people with their superstitious crap?

 

Counterfeit drugs on rise, pose global threat: WHO

GENEVA, May 19 - Production and sale of counterfeit drugs is on the rise in rich and poor countries, with more unwary consumers buying them over the Internet, experts warned on Wednesday.

Fake or substandard versions of medicines are often hidden in cargos taking circuitous routes to mask their country of origin as part of criminal activity worth billions, they add.

"They put people at risk of harm from medical products that may contain too much, too little, or the wrong active ingredient and/or contain toxic ingredients," said Margaret Hamburg, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Counterfeiting is growing in complexity, scale and geographic scope," she said in a speech to the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO). (Reuters)

 

Overuse of antibiotics spurs vicious cycle: study

LONDON - Patients whose doctors over-prescribe antibiotics may develop drug resistance that lasts up to a year, putting them and the population at risk when more serious treatment is needed, scientists said on Wednesday.

The more antibiotics are prescribed for coughs and flu-like illnesses, or urine infections, the more bacteria become resistant in a vicious cycle, said British researchers who analysed 24 previous studies of antibiotic resistance.

"The effect is greatest in the month immediately after treatment, but may last for up to a year, and this residual effect may be a driver for high levels of resistance in the community," said Alastair Hay, a consultant senior lecturer in primary health care at Bristol University, who led the research.

Medical experts say overuse of antibiotics in Europe, the United States and other wealthy regions is building widespread resistance in and threatening vital medical treatments from hip replacements and cancer therapies, to intensive care.

Hay said his study showed how individual resistance was building up, and how that then translated into community- or population-wide problems. (Reuters)

 

Experts find killer of pneumonia-causing bacteria

HONG KONG, May 20 - A common bacteria found in the human nose and on skin which can cause diseases like meningitis and pneumonia can be destroyed by another bacteria found in the nasal passage, researchers have found.

The discovery may help experts find new ways to control the Staphylococcus areus (S. aureus) bacteria, which has become more threatening in recent years because it has grown resistant to many powerful antibiotics. (Reuters)

 

Particulate air pollution affects heart health

Breathing polluted air increases stress on the heart's regulation capacity, up to six hours after inhalation of combustion-related small particles called PM2.5, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. (Penn State)

 

Moderate drinkers have better health, study finds

LONDON, May 19 - People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have better health on average than those who are teetotalers, French scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers found that most of the health benefits in drinkers were not a direct result of the alcohol, but due to indirect links such as being less stressed, engaging in more physical activity and enjoying a better social status.

"Moderate alcohol intake is a powerful marker of a higher social level, superior general health status and lower cardiovascular risk," said Boris Hansel, of the Hospital of Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris, who led the study.

He stressed, however, that the study did not show any causal links, and should not be used as evidence to promote alcohol. (Reuters Life!)

 

Is ageing a disease?

LONDON, May 19 - Is ageing a disease?

It's clear that the simple fact of growing older -- chronological ageing -- is relentless and unstoppable. But experts studying the science of ageing say it's time for a fresh look at the biological process -- one which recognises it as a condition that can be manipulated, treated and delayed.

Taking this new approach would turn the search for drugs to fight age-related diseases on its head, they say, and could speed the path to market of drugs that treat multiple illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's at the same time.

"If ageing is seen as a disease, it changes how we respond to it. For example, it becomes the duty of doctors to treat it," said David Gems, a biogerontologist who spoke at a conference on ageing in London last week called "Turning Back the Clock".

At the moment, drug companies and scientists keen to develop their research on ageing into tangible results are hampered by regulators in the United States and Europe who will licence medicines only for specific diseases, not for something as general as ageing. (Reuters)

 

Fighting cancer: Diet, scant exercise problems

The United States does not produce or import anywhere near enough fruits and vegetables to provide Americans the right kind of diet to prevent cancer, government researchers said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

 

New Strategy for Soda Tax Gives Diet Drinks a Break

Gov. David A. Paterson is considering a new strategy in his effort to pass a soda tax, hoping to win over reluctant lawmakers and the beverage industry by pairing the proposal with a state sales tax exemption on diet sodas and bottled water. 

When put into full effect, the original penny-per-ounce tax on sugary sodas was supposed to garner $1 billion a year, an important sum for a state anxiously trying to close a multibillion-dollar shortfall. But since the Senate and Assembly have been firmly opposed to a soda tax, administration officials seem willing to settle for the $815 million a year they estimate the new proposal, with its exemption for diet drinks, would bring in. (NYT)

 

Milk, wheat-free diet may not help autism: US study

WASHINGTON, May 19 - A popular diet that eliminates wheat and milk protein does not appear to help children with autism, but early behavioral treatments do, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The findings are sure to disappoint many parents who have been trying to manage autism, which affects as many as 1 in 100 U.S. children.

"It would have been wonderful for children with autism and their families if we found that the gluten-free, casein-free diet could really help, but this small study didn't show significant benefits," said Dr. Susan Hyman of the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and other grains, while casein is a milk protein.

"The removal of gluten and casein from the diet of a controlled group of young children with autism, all of whom were screened for celiac disease ... did not demonstrate a change in sleep habits, bowel habits, activity or core symptoms of autism," Hyman said.

Autism includes a range of conditions, from the social awkwardness seen in Asperger's syndrome to profound and severe disabilities. There is no cure and little information about treatments that work. (Reuters)

 

In Scientific Research, It's Full Disclosure for Thee, Not For Me

"Commercialized" science distorts science, writes the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the webpage of its "Integrity in Science" project. The very name of the project suggests that such science somehow inherently lacks integrity.

Attacks like these on industry-funded science are often cloaked in a call for simply more disclosure of the source of funding for a given study. And who could be against more disclosure?

The problem is that the only type of disclosure in vogue these days is that which comes from industry science. And for many people, that’s just fine; as the folks at CSPI surely know, simply reporting that science is funded by industry – even when there is no impropriety – undermines the credibility of the findings. It harms our understanding of science, and even deters industry from funding much-needed research, since business leaders know the credibility of anything they fund will be received with suspicion.

The media eagerly comply with CSPI's suggestion that they "routinely ask scientists and others about their possible conflicts of interests and to provide this information to the public."

But if the source of funding really does suggest the possibility of bias, the "disclosure" advocates aren't giving us the whole story. They are focused only on one type of funding – one type of potential for bias. But disclosure can’t be selective.

Take last week's Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that called for giving the FDA greater regulatory authority over dietary supplements. The recommendation may be a wise one, but the media failed to take note of the fact that the report was sponsored by the FDA, even though the IOM's own press release made that plain Yes, the FDA funded a study that calls for giving the FDA more authority … and the media, which widely touted the report, failed to point out this obvious conflict. (Jeff Stier, Townhall)

 

Birds chose higher protein-content seeds -- imagine that... Garden birds prefer non-organic food to organic, study finds

The nutritional benefits of organic foods have been called into question by some very discerning diners – wild garden birds trying to survive the winter.

British researchers found that birds such as robins and house sparrows "instinctively" preferred non-organic seeds to the more naturally grown varieties as it appeared to provide them with greater nutritional value through the cold months.

When offered both varieties of wheat seed, they were able to discern between the two and ate up to 20 per cent more of the conventional grown variety than the organic. (TDT)

Bottom line? Unlike people birds are not superstitious and so choose optimal return from foraging effort.

 

Common herbicide atrazine affects fish reproduction

WASHINGTON — The farm herbicide atrazine, used widely worldwide, has been shown to affect reproduction in fish, according to a US government study released Wednesday.

"Concentrations of atrazine commonly found in agricultural streams and rivers caused reduced reproduction and spawning, as well as tissue abnormalities in laboratory studies with fish," said Donald Tillitt, lead author of the US Geological Survey study published in Aquatic Toxicology. (AFP)

I wonder how applicable this lab tank study is to the real world?

 

Green zealots... Widow threatened with legal action over butter tub in wrong bin

A widow aged 95 was threatened with legal action after accidentally putting an empty butter tub in the wrong recycling bag. (TDT)

 

 

Kerry–Lieberman: A “Simple” 987-page Bill? (Enron postmodernism in a Senator’s voice)

by Robert Bradley Jr.
May 19, 2010

“We’re trying to minimize the package,” [Sen. John] Kerry said yesterday of the 987-page bill. “We’re trying to keep it simple. We’re trying to keep it transparent and open and understandable for why something took place.”

- Darren Samuelsohn, “Kerry-Lieberman Bill Uses ‘Fewer Buckets’ in Giving Out Highly Prized Allowances,” E&E News, May 14, 2010.

“One often speaks without seeing, without knowing, without meaning what one says.”

- Jacques Derrida, quoted in Mitchell Stephens, “Deconstructing Jacques Derrida; The Most Reviled Professor in the World Defends His Diabolically Difficult Theory,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, July 21, 1991.

The late postmodern philosopher,  Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) would find intellectual kinship in the political debates about climate and energy coming from the party in power. If alive today, Derrida would nod approvingly at Senator John Kerry’s above I-say-it, it-is-true inversion of reality. It ranks right up there with Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling telling the world after the Enron collapse that Enron was a great company.

Donway Unmasks Enron’s Inner Philosophy

Roger Donway was the first person to identify Enron as a postmodern company. In “The Collapse of a Postmodern Corporation,” he wrote:

But if Enron’s executives were neither incompetent nor crooked, what brought Enron down? I believe it was a culture of corporate values rooted in postmodernism. These were not your grandfather’s businessmen.

He explained: [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

No one fond of Senate’s global-warming bill

Montana utilities and environmentalists are giving a cool reception to what appears to be the U.S. Senate’s main global-warming bill.

Rural electric cooperatives worry that their consumers will bear the financial burden of pollution caps placed on coal-fired power plants under the Senate’s American Power Act, similar to an earlier global-warming bill by House Democrats.

Environmental groups say they, too, were hoping for something different from the Senate, namely more rewards for conservation-minded Montana consumers and more incentives for developing renewable energy sources. (Billings Gazette)

 

National Advocacy Society? New climate change reports underscore need for action

WASHINGTON -- As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council today issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as AMERICA'S CLIMATE CHOICES.

"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond." (NAS)

No one on the planet can accurately determine what temperature the planet "should be" and so we have no way of telling whether it is currently warming or simply recovering from being too cool. If Cicerone actually believes we understand climate and its drivers he should be booted as a dangerously ignorant dill. Since we don't think of Ralph as being particularly stupid the alternative is that he is simply empire-building -- a common thing in what passes for research today but no more acceptable.

 

Going all-in: Strong Evidence on Climate Change Underscores Need For Actions to Reduce Emissions and Begin Adapting to Impacts


Advancing the Science of Climate Change

Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change

Stay tuned for more America's Climate Choices...

The America's Climate Choices suite of studies will include two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change will examine how to best provide decision makers information on climate change, and a final overarching report, America's Climate Choices, will build on each of the previous reports to offer a scientific framework for shaping the policy choices underlying the nation's efforts to confront climate change.

If your organization has an important forum or event where you'd like to hear more about the America's Climate Choices studies from the reports' authors, please contact Nancy Huddleston at 202-334-1260.

For media inquiries, email the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information at news@nas.edu or call 202-334-2138.

 

Dumb & Dumber? Borenstein and Revkin on New NAS Reports

Writing for AP, Seth Borenstein says that the US National Academy of Sciences has embarked o0n a new course of open advocacy and decided to overtly recommend a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax, which he associates with specific legislation being considered in Congress:

Ditching its past cautious tone, the nation's top scientists urged the government Wednesday to take drastic action to raise the cost of using coal and oil to slow global warming.

The National Academy of Sciences specifically called for a carbon tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, calling global warming an urgent threat.

The academy, which advises the government on scientific matters, said the nation needs to cut the pollution that causes global warming by about 57 percent to 83 percent by 2050. That's close to President Barack Obama's goal. . .

In the past, the academy has called climate change a problem, but it has never recommended a specific policy. The impetus for its bolder stance now was a set of questions posed by Congress on climate change and how to deal with it.

The cap-and-trade idea, which is supported by the Obama administration, has been proposed for several years in Congress but never passed the Senate. It would set overall limits on carbon dioxide pollution, but would allow companies to pollute more by paying for it and buying pollution credits from cleaner companies.

Last year, the House approved a cap-and-trade bill, but it stalled in the Senate as health care legislation took center stage. A new version, that doesn't use the cap-and-trade phrase but has similar characteristics, was introduced last week.
In what probably qualifies as the boneheaded comment of the day, the panel co-chair says that it is science that is telling us to act, not anyone's opinions (emphasis added):

"We really need to get started right away. It's not opinion, it's what the science tells you," said academy panel vice chairman Robert Fri, who was acting Environmental Protection Agency chief under President Richard Nixon. "The country needs both a prompt and a sustained commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

By contrast Andy Revkin sees not much new in terms of advocacy in the report, or in its discussion of policy options:

The Academies, the country’s preeminent scientific advisory body, have issued strings of reports on global warming over the decades. In 1991, the language was already strong and urgent, noting that the risks were sufficient to justify action even with substantial unanswered questions: “Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now.”

Revkin also finds no clear linkage with Obama Administration policies or those currently being debated in Congress:

The report on “Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change” lays out what would be required to drive an energy revolution in the United States — greatly cutting output of greenhouse gases while sustaining economic well being. It’s a familiar mix of finding ways to add a price to pollution, moving forward with standards and policies that fulfill the huge potential for cutting energy waste and also invigorating the innovation pipeline by greatly boosting investment — public and private — in research and development and the other steps required to generate insights and turn them into new and widely disseminated technologies.

It does not expressly endorse a “cap and trade” approach as opposed to a carbon tax but does recommend creating an overall “budget” for greenhouse gas emissions over a stretch of decades that can lead to a clear, directly measurable goal.

Who has got this right Borenstein or Revkin? Obviously, somebody is spinning madly. (Roger Pielke Jr)

 

American Physical Society begins to Backpedal on Climate Policy

The Council of the American Physical Society (APS) has adopted on April 18, 2010 a "Climate Change Commentary" to append to their definitive and "incontrovertible" 2007 policy statement on climate change. The commentary allows considerable backpedaling from the prior policy while appearing to save face. The commentary removes the word incontrovertible because such words are "rarely used in science because by its very nature science questions prevailing ideas." The statement "While there are factors driving the natural variability of climate (e.g., volcanoes, solar variability, oceanic oscillations), no known natural mechanisms have been proposed that explain all of the observed warming in the past century." is added, and while not true since there are a number of papers which show that ocean oscillations and solar variability can explain all of the 0.7 degree warming of the past century, it is a step in the right direction from the 2007 policy which makes no mention of natural forcing and blames climate change on man-made emissions of CO2. (Hockey Schtick)

 

Liberals Gone Wild

Even though the Constitution does not include the words "separation of church and state," liberals have long treated that concept as a hallowed fundamental doctrine of constitutional law. But no more. With the recent introduction of new Senate cap and trade legislation, ultraliberal supporters Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and others have now completely abandoned that doctrine in their quest to establish global warming dogma as the official, established religion of the United States.

Under that legislation, everyone in America will be forced to tithe to the new religion through higher prices for electricity, gasoline, natural gas, coal, home heating oil, jet fuel, food (especially meat), and every product produced or transported with such energy sources. Indeed, prices will soar high enough to reduce fossil fuel use and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions back to the per capita levels of 1870! (Peter Ferrara, American Spectator)

 

Climategate-inspired fraud probe kicks up storm

A row over academic freedom has broken out in the US over a state attorney general's demands that a university release documents relating to research-grant applications.

Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general of Virginia, issued a "civil investigative demand" to the University of Virginia last month demanding documents relating to grants obtained by climate scientist Michael Mann.

Mr Cuccinelli is investigating possible violations of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act in relation to five research grants obtained by Professor Mann, who left Virginia in 2005 and is now based at Pennsylvania State University.

In defence of the move, Brian Gottstein, Mr Cuccinelli's spokesman, cited the controversy caused by the distribution of documents that were leaked or stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia last year.

"Climategate indicates that some climate data may have been deliberately manipulated to arrive at pre-set conclusions," he said.

"The use of manipulated data to apply for taxpayer-funded research grants in Virginia is potentially fraud. The only prudent thing to do was to look into it." (THE)

 

Marked Mann

The Weather: A state attorney general is challenging the creator of the global warming hockey stick graph, and the researcher's allies are yelping about intimidation. But who are the real academic bullies? (IBD)

 

Leftwing Drama Queen Scientists

Mark J. Fitzgibbons

The leftwing-activist Union of Concerned Scientists may have done more harm than good to its favored cause, global warming. It released a letter signed by 800 Virginia scientists urging the state's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, to drop his taxpayer fraud investigation directed at the University of Virginia's records of Climategate figure Michael Mann.

Cuccinelli, who received a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia, is showing no signs of favoritism to his alma mater.

The scientists' letter is long on drama, and devoid of substance. Its gist is that the laws of the universe -- or at least the civil laws of Virginia -- should not apply to scientists because . . . well, because they are scientists. The letter reads in part:

Science thrives on rigorous debate and a frank exchange of differing ideas and perspectives. The freedom of scientists to openly disagree and discuss critical scientific topics has brought Virginia and the United States prosperity and global leadership in science. Research shows that scientific discovery is held back when government officials harass scientists.

Of course, public policy, religion, economics, indeed all areas of thought, conscience and prosperity, also thrive on rigorous debate and frank exchange.

Earth to scientists: government officials have been harassing people without PhDs for a long time.

The Virginia investigation, however, isn't about probing science's boundaries or honest mistakes; it is about whether Professor Mann intentionally misrepresented or omitted material facts to procure a taxpayer grant. The standards of the law are higher than those of science in this matter. Fraud is not protected by the First Amendment, and is not an academic liberty.

Scientists who believe they are above the law fit nicely into the self-indulgent, elitist paradigm against which a backlash is brewing. People who aren't ideological detractors of all things conservative are supportive of the investigation and skeptical of the motives of its critics.

As Dr. S. Fred Singer wrote, "ClimateGate is a much more serious issue than simply sloppiness and ideological distortion; ClimateGate suggests conspiracy to commit fraud." Ironically for the UCS, its letter to Cuccinelli supports Dr. Singer's observation far more than refutes it. (American Thinker)

 

International Conference on Climate Change Totally Ignored By Media

Four days after Senate Democrats introduced a new bill to limit carbon emissions, an international conference discussing the scientific holes in the theory of man-made global warming began in Chicago.

Despite the attendance of hundreds of scientists from across the globe, as well as polls finding Americans becoming less and less convinced that man has anything to do with the warming trend the planet has experienced since 1850, our nation's media couldn't care less.

The Fourth International Conference on Climate Change included such renowned scientists as MIT's Richard Lindzen, University of Virginia's S. Fred Singer, and former NASA astronaut and Senator Harrison Schmitt.

The event kicked off Sunday evening with a detailed discussion of the facts surrounding last year's ClimateGate scandal by Climate Audit's Stephen McIntyre (videos in three parts follow with commentary): (NewsBusters)

 

Oh boy... Bonuses can be a good thing - if they're linked to carbon emissions

Growing numbers of firms are linking executive remuneration to environmental performance – Andrew Williams investigates those companies pioneering the concept of carbon bonuses (Andrew Williams for BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network)

So, shut down the business and max out on carbon bonuses? Idiots.

 

Hurray for economic collapse? European recession slashed 2009 carbon emissions

The European recession last year slashed more than 11 percent off climate-warming emissions from heavy industry, the European Union's executive said on Tuesday.

The EU said carbon dioxide emissions from more than 12,600 installations regulated by its Emissions Trading Scheme fell by 11.6 percent to 1.873 billion tonnes.

The decrease was also helped by low prices encouraging greater use of natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than the coal it replaced to generate electricity.

"Because of the crisis it suddenly became easier to reduce emissions," European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement. (Reuters)

Carbon bubbleheads really are a worry...

 

Disease control, not climate change, key to future of malaria

A study published today in the journal Nature casts doubt on the widely held notion that warming global temperatures will lead to a future intensification of malaria and an expansion of its global range.

The research, conducted by the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), a multinational team of researchers funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust, suggests that current interventions could have a far more dramatic – and positive – effect on reducing the spread of malaria than any negative effects caused by climate change.

A steady stream of modelling studies have predicted that malaria will worsen and its range will spread as the world gets warmer. Malaria already kills more than a million people each year, mainly young children and pregnant women, with some 2.4 billion people at risk from its most deadly form.

Last year the Malaria Atlas Project produced a new map of modern-day malaria risk, giving researchers a unique opportunity to examine the effects that climate change may have had on the disease.

The new research compared this modern-day map with a historic reconstruction of malaria at its assumed peak, around 1900, and measured changes in the disease risk since that time. Although it is widely known that malaria has receded from many areas where it was previously endemic, such as the United States and much of Europe, the researchers were able to measure for the first time the extent of this recession and show that even in tropical areas the intensity of transmission has declined substantially this century. (Wellcome Trust)

 

Living Longer in a Warming World

Climate Science Exposed

Indur Goklany was involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an author, U.S. delegate and reviewer since before its inception. His focuses are climate change and economic development, among others, and his presentation at Heartland’s 4th International Climate Change Conference on global warming and mortality was one of the standout presentations in the entire conference. His talk establishes the long-standing fact that cold kills more than warmth and that global warming policies cost more lives than global warming itself. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Solar scientists worldwide working to counter global warming hypothesis

By Lawrence Solomon  May 19, 2010 – 10:59 am

Solar scientists worldwide are working to disprove the hypothesis that man is primarily responsible for climate change, according to Dr. Jeff Kuhn, Associate Director of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. In the view of Dr. Kuhn and other top scientists, the Sun changes Earth’s climate. “As a scientist who knows the data, I simply can’t accept (the claim that man plays a dominant role in Earth’s climate),” he states.

Dr. Kuhn last week announced breakthrough research on the role of the Sun – after years of precise satellite measurements, undistorted by Earth’s stratosphere, he and his team discovered that the Sun did not change much in size, as has generally been believed. Rather, the Sun is surprisingly stable, its diameter changing by less than one part in a million during the last 12 years.

Dr. Kuhn’s team, which includes scientists from Stanford University in California and Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa in Brazil, used  NASA’s SOHO satellite to obtain resolutions 10 times better than telescopes on Earth, allowing them to measure the Sun’s diameter of approximately 865,000 miles to an accuracy of a few hundred feet. In 2017, when the world’s most powerful telescope  — his institute’s Advanced Technology Solar Telescope –  starts operating on Hawaii’s Mt. Haleakala’s summit at a resolution 10 times better still, he expects to zero in on details that unravel the mystery of how minute changes on the Sun’s surface affect climate on Earth. NASA’s SOHO satellite revealed that 100 metre high bumps 90,000 kilometres apart cover the Sun’s surface. With his new telescope, Dr. Kuhn expects to capture never-before-seen details of the solar surface.

“We can’t predict the climate on Earth until we understand these changes on the sun,” concludes Kuhn.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

He can be contacted at: LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com (Financial Post)

 

Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns

Contrary to the commonly held scientific conclusion that the Earth is getting warmer, a scientist who has written more than 150 peer-reviewed papers has unveiled evidence for his prediction that global cooling is coming soon. (Gene J. Koprowski, FOXNews.com)

 

CSIRO abandons science

by Tom Quirk
May 19, 2010

The unfinished hockey stick 

A Trend is a trend
But when will it end?
Will it reach for the sky
Or burn up and die
Or will it just go round the bend?
              Whitehall doggerel 

The CSIRO paper “State of the Climate” is as much a commentary on the state of the climate scientists who put the document together. The CSIRO has waded into a large government funded trough and is not inclined to publish anything that gets between it and the trough. (Quadrant)

 

Sigh... Man-made climate change blamed for 'significant' rise in ocean temperature

The world's oceans are warming up and the rise is both significant and real, according to one of the most comprehensive studies into marine temperature data gathered over the past two decades. (The Independent)

We're only just beginning to get a handle on ocean heat content with deployment of the Argo floats completed in 2007 with earlier records dreadfully sparse and less than reliable. Recent figures show a slight cooling:

 

Inconvenient Truth: Sea Level Rise is Decelerating

Despite alarmist claims* to the contrary, according to both tide gauge and satellite altimetry data, the rate of sea level rise since 1900 (and over the past 6000 years according to paleologic data) has been decelerating, not accelerating. Carefully selected tide gauge data by Simon Holgate of the UK Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory is shown in his poster below, which notes that the rate of sea level rise decelerated in the second half of the 20th century (despite exponential increases in CO2 emissions):

Furthermore, the rate of sea level rise as determined by satellite altimetry (which is only available since 1992 and is calibrated to tide gauges) has also decelerated over the past 5 years from 3.2 mm/yr to only 1.5 mm/yr, about the same rate as calculated by Holgate for the period 1954-2003. Paleologic data also indicate sea level rise has greatly decelerated over the past 6000 years, and that sea levels have been rising naturally since the last ice age.

Al Gore apparently doesn't need to be concerned about his purchases of  a $4.5 million condo and $8.8 million villa, both near the Pacific ocean.

*The recent NAS letter states that man-made global warming is causing "climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle." (Hockey Schtick)

 

What Alarming Sea Level Rise? Observational Data Reveals No Change, Scientist Says

CHICAGO -- Global warming advocates say rising sea levels will soon drown Venice. But a top scientist says they're full of hot air -- and he says he’s got the data to prove it.

In a new scientific paper, Nils-Axel Morner, former emeritus head of the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden, says that observational records from around the world -- locations like the Maldives, Bangladesh, India, Tuvalu and Vanuatu -- show the sea level isn't rising at all.

Morner's research, revealed Monday at the fourth International Conference on Climate Change, demonstrates that there is no “alarming sea level rise” across the globe, and it says a U.N. report warning of coastal cities being deluged by rising waters from melting polar ice caps “is utterly wrong.” (Gene J. Koprowski, FOXNews.com)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 13 Number 20: 19 May 2010

Editorial:
The Response of Tundra Vegetation to High Arctic Warming: Has it been positive or negative over the past quarter-century of what climate alarmists describe as a period of unprecedented global warming, especially in the Arctic?

Subject Index Summary:
Roots (Grasses): How might the roots of various species of grass respond to further global warming and continued increases in the air's CO2 content?

Journal Reviews:
Russian Academician Postulates a Seismicity-Climate Connection: Could earthquakes beneath the sea be the ultimate cause of climate change?

Fifteen Hundred Years of Climatic Oscillations in Southern Poland: What do they tell us about the relative warmth of the Medieval and Current Warm Periods?

The Three Major Determinants of Terrestrial Isoprene Emissions: What are they? ... how have they affected isoprene emissions over the course of the 20th century? ... and why do we care?

Rice Production and the Looming Water Crisis: How are the two related? ... and what's CO2 got to do with it?

Warming-Induced Mismatches of Breeding in Insectivorous Passerine Birds and Abundance of Prey for their Hatchlings: Do such mismatches occur in nature? ... or are they merely theoretical suppositions?

Plant Growth Database:
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: European Beech (Fleischmann et al., 2010), Quaking Aspen (Darbah et al., 2010), and Rice (Li et al., 2010).

Medieval Warm Period Project:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 831 individual scientists from 494 separate research institutions in 43 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record comes from Southwestern Tver Province, Russia. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here. (co2science.org)

 

U.S. probes another BP rig, seeks MMS shakeup

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday the U.S. government was investigating another big BP oil rig while admitting his agency came up short in preventing the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Salazar testified at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing about the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, BP Plc a drilling rig, four weeks ago that caused a massive oil spill deep in the Gulf. He said offshore drilling was vital to meeting U.S. energy needs but that additional safety measures were required.

Salazar told the committee the government was now investigating safety concerns at BP's Atlantis oil production platform in the Gulf after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 people and spilled vast amounts of crude. (Reuters)

 

Environment lawsuit: MMS waived oil safety rules

The U.S. Minerals Management Service, which grants offshore drilling permits, set aside safety regulations for oil exploration in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, environmental groups alleged in a lawsuit on Tuesday.In a 2008 notice to oil companies with drilling leases off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- areas now threatened by the spill from the BP Deepwater Horizon rig -- the agency known as MMS waived requirements for documentation on what would be done in case of a blowout or a "worst-case scenario" spill, the lawsuit said.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, comes on the heels of more than 100 other lawsuits spawned by the spill. This federal suit seeks to reverse what it called an illegal waiver of safety regulations. The waiver was granted in 2008 and extends through 2013, according to a copy of the MMS notice to the oil firms obtained by Earthjustice. (Reuters)

 

Reliance on Oil Sands Grows Despite Environmental Risks

CONKLIN, Alberta — Beneath the subarctic forests of western Canada, deep under the peat bogs and herds of wild caribou, lies the tarry rock that is one of America’s top sources of imported oil.

There is no chance of a rig blowout here, or a deepwater oil spill like the one from the BP well that is now fouling the Gulf of Mexico. But the oil extracted from Canada’s oil sands poses other environmental challenges, like toxic sludge ponds, greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of boreal forests.

In addition, critics warn that American regulators have waived a longstanding safety standard for the pipelines that deliver the synthetic crude oil from Canada to refineries in the United States and have not required any specific emergency plans to deal with a spill, which even regulators acknowledge is a possibility.

Oil sands are now getting more scrutiny as the Obama administration reviews a Canadian company’s request to build a new 2,000-mile underground pipeline that would run from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast and would significantly increase America’s access to the oil. In making the decision, due this fall, federal officials are weighing the environmental concerns against the need to secure a reliable supply of oil to help satisfy the nation’s insatiable thirst.

The gulf accident adds yet another layer of complexity. Regulators and Congress are weighing new limits on drilling off the coastline after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, increasing the pressure to rely more heavily on Canada’s oil sands. At the same time, political consciousness of the risks has grown.

Canadian oil sands are expected to become America’s top source of imported oil this year, surpassing conventional Canadian oil imports and roughly equaling the combined imports from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm. (NYT)

 

Dolphin and seal damage warning over wind farm expansion

A new generation of offshore wind and tidal farms could produce £14 billion of electricity every year for Scotland but pose a “significant” threat to wildlife, the fishing industry and islanders’ ferries, an official report has warned. (TDT)

 

Britain’s Power Conundrum

David Cameron, Britain’s new prime minister, may have succeeded in bridging his country’s political power gap, but another looms that could very quickly short-circuit the Tory leader’s grip on national power, unless his coalition government gets real, and quickly, over energy and environment. [Read More] (Peter C Glover, Energy Tribune)

 

Cameron's Wasted Energies

No one ever needed government regulations or subsidies to want to become more efficient.

David Cameron last week renewed his promise to cut the U.K. government's carbon emissions by 10% in the next 12 months, and is now taking suggestions on how to achieve that. Here's a thought: How about cutting the central government itself by 10%? That's about the only way the new Prime Minister can simultaneously reduce government emissions and the cost of government.

If, on the other hand, the government's plans for shrinking its emissions involve similar measures as its plans to "green" the private sector, Mr. Cameron might ask himself whether, with a budget deficit of 12% of GDP, he can afford this particular boondoggle. (WSJE)

 

Huhne 'sceptical' on nuclear power in talks with utility boss

Climate change minister described as enthusiastic towards wind power, according to UK's largest renewable generator (The Guardian)

 

British motor industry and ‘green’ energy at risk of spending cuts

The future of the British motor industry and renewable energy in the UK is at stake as the new Government combs over the billions committed by Labour to supporting UK companies. (The Times)

 

Limited biofuel land compatible with food: industry

A large but limited amount of land can be used to provide plant-based fuel without cutting the world's food supply, environmentalists and consultants told a global biofuels gathering on Wednesday.

Governments around the world have promoted biofuels in order to cut greenhouse emissions and their dependence on fossil fuels, as well as prevent pollution. (Reuters)

That would be wildlife habitat -- land not plowed down for food production then?

 

EU agrees mandate for virtually carbon-neutral homes

All new buildings constructed in Europe after 2020 will have to be virtually carbon-neutral after the European Parliament gave new energy standards the last approval they needed Tuesday.

The standards are expected to have a significant long-term impact on the EU's bills for gas imports for heating from Russia, Norway and Algeria, worth tens of billions of euros each year.

The European Union's mandate for "nearly zero-energy buildings" will kick in for all new public buildings in the European Union after 2018, and for all new homes and offices two years later.

Environmentalists gave the standards a guarded welcome, but said they would take effect too late and would do little to encourage the renovation of Europe's existing housing stock. (Reuters)

 

 

Pelosi: ObamaCare Helps Artists Avoid Hassle of Working

ObamaCare creates incentives not to climb the economic ladder.  It also creates incentives not to work at all; able-bodied people can quit their jobs, safe in the knowledge that the suckers working man will foot the bill for any health care they may need.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks that’s a not a bug, but a feature of the new law, at least if those able-bodied non-paycheck earners are artists.  (HT: CNS News.)

Repeal the bill. (Cato at liberty)

 

Study: Medicaid Provides Lower-Quality Care

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2019, ObamaCare will cover 32 million U.S. residents who would otherwise have been uninsured.  Half of those coverage gains would come from expanding the Medicaid program, which has been criticized for poor-quality care.

A new study in the journal Inquiry gives another indication that Medicaid provides low-quality care:

we find that uninsured and Medicaid patients are treated by lower-quality physicians both because of the hospitals these patients attend and because of sorting within hospitals…Our study concluded that patients in government hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients are least likely to be treated by a board-certified or top-trained physician.

The study has plenty of limitations.  For one, physician training is an input, not an output.  What matters are health outcomes, and so it will be interesting to see what the Oregon Health Study has to say about Medicaid’s effects on health. (Cato at liberty)

 

And some people confuse Australia with a free country: Fines for refusing to take part in ABS health survey

People face fines if they fail to provide information on their health and lifestyle to ABS researchers

UP TO 50,000 people face a fine of $110 a day if they refuse to divulge information on their health and lifestyle to Australian Bureau of Statistics researchers.

The Australian Health Survey announced in last week's Budget will be the most comprehensive research on the health of Australians ever undertaken and will be jointly funded by the National Heart Foundation.

But the 50,000 people chosen to take part will be compelled to do so.

Participants will be weighed and measured and will be asked to give a blood and urine sample.

They will also be asked detailed questions on what they drink and eat and their physical activity.

The ABS said participation "is ultimately compulsory for those chosen by random sampling to ensure the survey accurately represents the Australian population as a whole".

However, participants would only be compelled to answer questions. Providing a blood and urine sample and weighing in would be voluntary.

While it would seek co-operation of those selected, the ABS said it had the power to direct unwilling respondents to provide information.

"If a participant was directed in writing and continued to refuse to comply, they may be prosecuted under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and a fine may be imposed," a spokesman for the ABS said.

"A fine of up to $110 per day may be imposed until such time as the information is supplied." (Daily Telegraph)

Several people have already asked us how they can avoid being so compelled and given a variety of reasons for wishing to do so. The advice given has been that if approached to immediately advise Health Surveyors they will not willingly participate and that if compelled to answer they will provide random responses to some or all of the survey questions.

If anyone is actually charged with failing to comply with a nationalized invasion of privacy we will of course coordinate a defense fund and media response.

 

Baby boomers warned of heart attack risk

MORE than 2.5 million baby boomers are likely to have a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke in the next five years because they refuse to lose weight, exercise or take blood pressure medication.

A report, released today by Access Economics, found more than three-quarters of people over 55 were inactive and overweight, more than half had hypertension and high cholesterol and a quarter had diabetes - all risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

But most were not aware they were in danger or refused to get treatment, believing they would always be healthy, a cardiologist and vascular physician at Liverpool Hospital, Greg Conner, said yesterday. (SMH)

 

Childhood obesity report gives D.C. a starting point for improving diets

The White House may be leading the battle in the war against childhood obesity, but it's not alone. 

As Michelle Obama and Cabinet officials held a news conference Tuesday to unveil the results of a White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, D.C. officials were wrapping up a two-day conference on obesity in the District. (WaPo)

 

The Battle Over Taxing Soda

The classic way for lobbyists to defend their client’s interest is to insist that they are not actually defending their client’s interest. Really, they say, they are just looking out for ordinary Americans. 

Tobacco lobbyists spent years fighting regulation by claiming to be defending individual freedom, not the profits of tobacco companies. Detroit’s lobbyists did much the same to push back against seat belt and pollution laws. Wall Street has spent months opposing the financial regulation bill in the name of families and small businesses. 

The latest example comes from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the rest of the soda industry, which is trying to defeat a soda tax now before the District of Columbia Council. The industry has succeeded recently in beating back similar taxes in New York and Philadelphia, and in keeping one out of the federal health overhaul bill. But the Washington Council seems to be seriously considering a penny-per-ounce tax on nondiet sodas, energy drinks and artificial juices. Council members are set to vote on the issue next week. (NYT)

 

Grab your "woohoo" hat: U of M study finds rising levels of dioxins from common soap ingredient in Mississippi River sediments

Dioxins in general decreasing, but those derived from triclosan increasing

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (05/18/2010) —Specific dioxins derived from the antibacterial agent triclosan, used in many hand soaps, deodorants, dishwashing liquids and other consumer products, account for an increasing proportion of total dioxins in Mississippi River sediments, according to University of Minnesota research.

The study appears online in the May 18 issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The researchers, from the university's Institute of Technology (soon to be College of Science and Engineering), found that over the last 30 years, the levels of the four dioxins derived from triclosan have risen by 200 to 300 percent, while levels of all the other dioxins have dropped by 73 to 90 percent. (UM News)

 

Airlines join forces to condemn no-fly zones

The model used to predict the spread of the volcanic ash was condemned as "outdated and inappropriate" as the airlines criticised Monday's closure of airports. (TDT)

While it is true that atmospheric models are extremely primitive and of little prognostic value, if any, it is quite unfair to blame the people attempting to keep air travel safe. Just imagine the calls for public execution should they declare the skies safe for flying only to see airliners dropping out of them with their engines clogged with ash.

 

Noise study turns up volumes about binge listening

WAKING up bleary-eyed on Sunday morning after a night clubbing, Nick Van Breda never thought much about the ringing in his ears. That was until he found out the sound levels he had exposed himself to were the equivalent of listening to a chainsaw all night. (SMH)

 

‘Son of Alar’: The New Pesticide Scare Campaign

In 1989, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a major environmentalist group, launched a nationwide panic over the presence on apples of alar, a chemical growth agent. On TV shows such as “60 Minutes” and “Donahue,” and in major women’s magazines, NRDC (with the aid of its expert consulting toxicologist, actress Meryl Streep) claimed that alar “might” eventually cause thousands of lifetime cancer cases due to apple consumption by preschoolers.

This carefully choreographed publicity stunt terrified parents, cost alar’s manufacturer millions, caused over $100 million in losses to apple growers—all while creating a fundraising bonanza for the NRDC.

The scare campaign was based on junk science—on experiments on laboratory rodents in which dose levels were so absurdly high that the animals were dying of simple poisoning. These tests were so shoddy that an independent panel of scientists convened by the EPA—called a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP)—dismissed the findings as scientifically worthless.

Under political pressure to find something, however, the EPA ordered new tests on mice at dose levels that, again, were so outrageously high that 80 percent of the animals were poisoned to death. Not surprisingly, this overdosing produced the tumors the agency was looking for, and gave it the excuse to ban all use of the chemical.

I spent six months investigating this scam for a special report that appeared in the October 1990 Reader’s Digest. After its publication, many people—echoing the rock group The Who—concluded that “we won’t be fooled again” by environmentalist fear-mongers.

But now a new pesticide panic is underway. Once again, it is being incited by the NRDC, with additional litigation pressure from trial lawyers. Once again, the scare campaign rests on studies that amount to little more than “junk science.” This time, though, the target is an herbicide that plays a far more significant role in agriculture: atrazine. ( Robert James Bidinotto, Big Government)

 

Atrazine: Safe, Needed and Effective

If it were so inclined, the Environmental Protection Agency could highlight the herbicide atrazine as a farm chemical that is clearly safe and effective. For more than 50 years atrazine has been a primary crop protector for 60 percent of corn, 75 percent of sorghum and 90 percent of sugarcane produced in the United States.

However, America’s farmers are concerned that the use of atrazine may be threatened by a new EPA review of its safety. Despite a proven safety record and demonstrated economic need, EPA in October launched a comprehensive evaluation of atrazine’s effects on humans, which will culminate in a decision whether to revise the compound’s risk assessment and impose new restrictions on its use.

Atrazine has a stellar safety record. In 2006, the EPA completed a 12-year review that included 6,000 studies and 80,000 public comments. When agreeing to re-register the product, EPA concluded that it provided no harm to people. Moreover, the World Health Organization has found no health concerns with atrazine. (American Farm Bureau Federation)

 

U of I Atrazine Study Shows Ban Would Hurt Midwest Producers

University of Illinois study reveals importance of atrazine for Midwest crops

[ClickPress, Wed May 19 2010] A study at the University of Illinois aims at showing how important atrazine is to crops in the Midwest. The study looked at 175 sweet corn fields in the Midwest. 

“While the vast majority of our Kansas corn growers raise field corn, which is a feedgrain, this research is valuable because it helps us understand how vegetable farmers also rely on atrazine,” according to Jere White, Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association. 

Researchers noticed atrazine was being applied to two-thirds of the sweet corn acres; row cultivation was used on about half of the sweet corn acreage. Here is what one of the researchers, Marty Williams had to say about the study: 

"If the use of atrazine was phased out completely, our data indicate the greatest burden would be on those growers who rely on less tillage for weed control, have particularly weedy fields, have early season crop production, and grow sweet corn in rotation with other vegetables such as snap or lima beans," said U of I and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist Marty Williams. "Vegetable crops have fewer herbicide options and there tends to be poorer levels of weed control in those crops. When more weeds escape, more weed seed are produced, and crops succeeding those vegetables can have challenging weed problems." (ClickPress)

 

Oh good grief! With newly protected boreal forest, the caribou are smiling

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, signed by most of the Canadian forestry industry and environmental activists, is nothing less than historic. (Globe and Mail)

 

Much better: Forest shakedown

By Peter Foster  May 18, 2010 – 8:40 pm

We need a ‘Do not Donate’ campaign against these green extortionists

Behind all the feel-good eco-speak of this week’s Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement lies a simple bargain: the forest-products industry gets a bunch of NGOs off its back (at least for the moment); the NGOs get to demonstrate their ability to bring the forest industry, or indeed any industry, to heel.

As Todd Paglia, the executive director of ForestEthics, one of the NGO signatories, noted a few years ago, “We are going to provide these companies with an option of doing it the easy way. If they want to do it the hard way, we can see a tremendous amount of negative press and damage to their brand.”

So the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), which signed this deal with nine NGOs on behalf of its 21 members, has effectively cried “uncle” and called it accommodation.

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Summit: "Environmental Disaster No One's Heard Of?"

BOULDER, Colo. - Some scientists call it the biggest environmental disaster no one's heard of, and those scientists are gathering starting today to try and change that. At issue is nitrogen pollution from fertilizers and other sources that can affect both water and air quality, and has associations with possible health issues. (Ag Weekly)

 

 

The EPA's Shocking Power Grab

The agency is making federal decisions without the consent of Congress.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out one of the biggest power grabs in American history. The agency has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate policy for the nation and amend the Clean Air Act--powers never delegated to it by Congress. It has done this by declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, in a proceeding known as the "endangerment finding."

On Tuesday the U.S. Senate will debate and vote on Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution of disapproval to overturn the endangerment finding. The resolution is absolutely necessary to restore democratic accountability in climate policymaking.

If allowed to stand, the EPA's endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade through multiple provisions of the Act. America could be burdened with a regulatory regime more costly than any climate bill Congress has rejected or declined to pass, yet without the people's representatives ever voting on it.

Consider how the endangerment finding will expand the EPA's power beyond any plausible congressional mandate. (George Allen and Marlo Lewis, Forbes)

 

Inhofe Floor Speech: The Heartland Institutes International Climate Conference

Full text of speech as prepared for delivery:

If you've been watching the global warming debate of late, you will notice that supporters of cap-and-trade are getting anxious. They realize that the political environment for cap-and-trade couldn't be more favorable: liberals control the House, liberals control the Senate, and liberals control the White House. But they also realize that time is running out: the November elections are looming, the legislative calendar is shrinking. As Sen. Kerry (D-Mass.) put it, this is "the last call" to pass a bill.

That's exactly what Sen. Kerry is trying to do. But he won't get 60 votes; he won't get support from Democrats in the Heartland; and he won't convince the American public that they need a massive new energy tax. I say this with confidence because the bill Sen. Kerry introduced last week with Sen. Lieberman (I-Conn.) is the same old cap-and-trade scheme the Senate rejected in the McCain-Lieberman bill in 2003, the McCain-Lieberman bill in 2005, the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008, and the Waxman Markey bill in 2009. (Inhofe EPW Press Blog)

 

Leading Global Warming Skeptic Lindzen: Time to Abandon the 'Skeptic' Label

M.I.T. professor says 'skepticism' implies anthropogenic global warming theory a 'plausible proposition.' (Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute)

 

'Abolish U.N. climate panel, indict chief'

Former Thatcher adviser documents fraud by global body

CHICAGO – Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, called for the abolishment of the United Nations climate committee and the indictment of the U.N.'s chief climate scientist for financial fraud. 

Monckton was the featured speaker today at the closing luncheon of the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago. 

"While we are on the subject of the IPCC," Monckton told the conference, referring to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "my policy for the future of that body is that it should be abolished." 

Monckton objected to the IPCC misrepresenting scientific data to advance Penn State climatologist Michael Mann's "hockey stick" chart to argue that human activity is responsible for global warming, the core thesis of the IPCC-advanced theory of anthropogenic global warming, or AGW. (Jerome R. Corsi, WorldNetDaily)

 

Climategate 2010: The Inconvenient Facts About Global Warming

Scientists, economists, and other experts present the case against manmade global warming fears at the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change.
May 18, 2010
- by S. T. Karnick

In the wake of the Climategate scandal, panelists and audience members at the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) indicated growing confidence that the tide is turning in favor of those who believe that manmade global warming is not a crisis.

More than 700 people — including a good many scientists, along with economists, policy analysts, and legislators — have gathered together since Sunday night, discussing the once-settled but increasingly controversial proposition of an anthropogenic global warming (AGW) crisis. Any triumphalism was averted by a general agreement to explore real-world facts and test the assertions of alarmists. The presenters and audience members continually asked whether the data says what the modelers say it does. (PJM)

 

USCAP Members Are Unpatriotic?

As the science underpinning anthropogenic (man-made) global warming steadily erodes in light of new data and in the midst of scandal, the public policy rationale has also shifted. The proponents of Kyoto-type legislative proposals now claim that it is vital to invest in renewable energy sources and green technology to keep pace with international competitors.
Fortunately, for U.S. taxpayers, the political class is not going unchecked and unchallenged in its drive for greater government control, regardless of how their schemes are packaged.

Over 70 climate scientists, economists and policy experts are convening in Chicago this week for the fourth Annual Heartland Institute International Conference on Climate Change just as "cap and trade" has been reintroduced in the U.S. Senate. Chris Horner, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is among the many participants.

"The issue is never the issue," he has observed. "This is not about the environment. It is about wealth transfers and lifestyle restrictions." (Kevin Mooney, American Spectator)

 

Climate Science Policy Needs a “Team B” (Big Science + Big Government = Bad Science & Policy)

by David Schnare (Guest Blogger)
May 18, 2010

The wonderful “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” statement attributed to Senator Everett Dirksen  may be apocryphal, but it remains a prescient warning to our nation’s leaders. At a time when Congress is throwing billions of dollars around like pocket change based on claims of scientists and engineers, a real quote of Dirksen may be equally important (Congressional Record: June 16, 1965, p. 13884):

One time in the House of Representatives [a colleague] told me a story about a proposition that a teacher put to a boy. He said, ‘Johnny, a cat fell in a well 100 feet deep. Suppose that cat climbed up 1 foot and then fell back 2 feet. How long would it take the cat to get out of the well?

Johnny worked assiduously with his slate and slate pencil for quite a while, and then when the teacher came down and said, ‘How are you getting along?’ Johnny said, ‘Teacher, if you give me another slate and a couple of slate pencils, I am pretty sure that in the next 30 minutes I can land that cat in hell.

The nation needs Johnny. In fact, it may be time we hired a team of people like Johnny for every large science-based policy proposal Congress contemplates funding.

Carbon Capture and Storage: A Known Boondoggle

Consider, for example, the $4.4 billion Congress is putting into carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research, nearly half of that to come from the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill. As Robert Bryce points out in the New York Times, “That’s a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering.” [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

The Return of Cap and Trade

The heart of the proposed “American Power Act,” aka: the Kerry-Lieberman bill, is a national cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, we’re already well down the road to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, whether one thinks that such efforts are horribly misguided (as I do) or desperately needed (as Al Gore does), one cannot help but wonder: Why would anyone propose something like Kerry-Lieberman at all? (Rich Trzupek, Front Page)

 

The Media Is Ignoring Kerry’s Cap-and-Trade

by William Yeatman
17 May 2010 @ 9:59 am

After 7 months of negotiations, Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman last week unveiled a major climate bill to a chorus of…silence. On the day after the rollout, the American Power Act failed to make the front page of a single paper with a national scope. The Sunday political talkies also ignored the bill. I didn’t hear a single mention of the American Power Act on Fox News Sunday, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, the McLaughlin Group, or the Chris Matthews Show.

What gives? The mainstream media LOVES global warming as an issue, because it’s divisive and it’s yellow. So why would they ignore it? The only explanation I can think of is that the media believes the bill…

Read the full story (Cooler Heads)

 

Senate climate bill stuck in limbo for now

The compromise climate change proposal unveiled last week in the Senate is in legislative limbo, its fate apparently uncertain until at least next month.

Barack Obama | Green Business | COP15

The plan by Democratic Senator John Kerry and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming is not the subject of any committee hearings; it's not being debated on the Senate floor; it's not even been formally introduced. (Reuters)

 

Poizner goes from backer to foe of global warming law

The Republican primary candidate for governor now wants California to roll back AB 32. Four years ago he called the law a bold effort to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. ( Michael Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times)

 

New Ice Age 'to begin in 2014'

Russian scientist to alarmists: 'Sun heats Earth!'

CHICAGO – A new "Little Ice Age" could begin in just four years, predicted Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia.

Abdussamatov was speaking yesterday at the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago, which began Sunday and ends today.

The Little Ice Age, which occurred after an era known in scientific circles as the Medieval Warm Period, is typically defined as a period of about 200 years, beginning around 1650 and extending through 1850. (WorldNetDaily)

 

UVa inquiry defended: Cuccinelli calls it case of possible fraud

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said Tuesday that his investigation into the research activities of a former University of Virginia climate change scientist is about rooting out possible fraud and does not infringe upon academic freedom.

“The same legal standards for fraud apply to the academic setting that apply elsewhere,” said Cuccinelli, who on Tuesday attended a fundraiser barbecue in Ivy for an abstinence-only education group. “The same rule of law, the same objective fact-finding process will take place.”

Cuccinelli sent a Civil Investigative Demand to UVa to obtain documents related to the work of Michael Mann, a leading researcher in climate change who was part of UVa’s faculty between 1999 and 2005.

UVa has hired a law firm to explore its options, possibly signaling that the university will fight Cuccinelli’s demand. (Daily Progress)

 

Yuks? Who cares? Academics fight Cuccinelli's call for climate-change records

The ranks of Virginia academics who oppose Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's demand for records from the University of Virginia related to the climate change research of a former professor have grown.

The latest letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists to Cuccinelli boasts signatures from more than 800 faculty members at state colleges and universities. ( Virginian-Pilot)

Concerned scientist...Nicky da Mutt (pictured left) is a concerned scientist or at least of member of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS or "yuks" as we like to call them), although admittedly he's no longer financial (you can be a UCS member too, no qualifications required, just as long as you give them a donation).

He's the only one I have immediate access too (he and several other members of the household pack are sleeping around the desk as I write) and has expressed absolutely no concern regarding Cuccinelli's actions.

In fact, during one of his periods of activity earlier in the day I asked whether he was happy about Mann being thoroughly investigated and he was as happy as all-get-out about it (or perhaps it was the dog chews I was handing out at the time).

Anyway, I've seen no evidence credentialed scientists are really troubled about this civil investigative demand and most I've talked with believe academics should be held to a higher standard of veracity and accountability than say a dodgy salesman.

Academics should certainly have freedom of inquiry but this in no way means they should have freedom from inquiry. You dine on the public purse then you darn well better be prepared to account for every penny and certainly show all lab notes, workings, collaborative communications and results generated while so dining. Why does anyone have a problem with that?

 

U.-Va. hires legal counsel as it prepares for possible fight over Cuccinelli subpoena

The University of Virginia has hired the big law firm Hogan Lovells to help the school evaluate its options in responding to a civil subpoena from the state attorney general seeking documents related to the work of a former professor. It's the strongest indication yet that the school is seriously considering fighting the subpoena in court, as various academic groups have urged.

"The University and its Board of Visitors believe it is important to respond to this [civil information demand]," said John O. Wynne, the Rector of the university, in his first statement on the issue. "Research universities must defend the privilege of academic freedom in the creation of new knowledge. Hogan Lovells will help us to explore the appropriate options for a response." (WaPo)

 

Barbara Hollingsworth: U.Va.'s dishonorable double standard

University of Virginia students pledge not to lie, cheat or steal under the nation's oldest student-run honor system -- and to report any of their peers who do.

But U.Va. administrators apparently don't think they have an obligation to do the same. On April 23, university officials received a subpoena from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli requesting the e-mails of former U.Va. climatologist Michael Mann in an investigation into whether Mann fraudulently used manipulated climate data to apply for $500,000 worth of taxpayer-funded research grants.

At first, they indicated their intention to comply. However, angry protests from academics around the country accusing Cuccinelli of a "witch hunt" convinced them to take a second look at their "options." But those options boil down to two: Turn over the documents subpoenaed under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by the July 26 deadline, or ignore Cuccinelli's request for any "correspondence, messages or e-mails" between Mann and 39 other prominent scientists between 1999 and 2005. (Washington Examiner)

 

WWF Emerges as Leading Lobbyist on Senate Climate Bill

An environmental group that made its name battling on behalf of pandas, polar bears and pelicans now is fighting for what it fears is a politically imperiled species: U.S. climate legislation that has a global perspective.

The World Wildlife Fund spent the past year lobbying zealously for a bill that would provide assistance preserving forests, funds to spark demand for clean technologies in developing countries and money to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate-induced changes. It won almost none of what it wanted in the legislation from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The group now is forming strategies to persuade lawmakers that those international provisions are necessary and that climate legislation needs to become law. ( Greenwire)

That misanthropists are so keen should tell you all you need to know about this nonsense...

 

Are they really so stupid? ACTU claims climate change action will create rural jobs

The ACTU says cutting carbon emissions will create more than 100,000 new farming and mining jobs. 

A report commissioned by the union movement and the Australian Conservation Foundation finds the work in primary industry will be created over the next 20 years if a climate change policy is introduced. (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

 

Return of the carbon profiteers: Greenies and business unite on climate action

BUSINESSES are planning an unlikely alliance with the Australian Conservation Foundation to prod the nation's leaders into fundamental action on climate change.

The federal government's decision to shelve its carbon emissions trading scheme has jeopardised investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars, driving some companies to plan a climate circuit-breaker.

One plan under review is a revival of the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change, which emerged four years ago when the Howard government was baulking at action.

The roundtable was remarkable for teaming an environmental group, the Australian Conservation Foundation, with six big members of the corporate world: Westpac, the re-insurer Swiss Re, Insurance Australia Group, Origin Energy, Visy Industries and BP Australasia.

The group's landmark report of 2006 warned of grave economic harm if Australia did not take early action on global warming - a view that '' took courage'' at the time, one of the founding members recalled this week.

''Between them the chief executives of these companies lobbied all the east coast premiers, the then prime minister, and the opposition leader. A lot of senior-level heavy lifting went on behind the scenes after the launch of our report, and that probably had more effect than the report itself.''

When the Howard government reluctantly moved to adopt an emissions trading scheme, the group faded, thinking its work done.

But the decision to delay the emissions trading scheme raised the prospect of a new alliance. (SMH)

 

Hmm... Greenland rapidly rising as ice melt continues

Scientists from the University of Miami are surprised at how rapidly the ice is melting in Greenland and how quickly the land is rising in response. Their findings are published in Nature Geoscience

VIRGINIA KEY, FL (May 18, 2010). — Greenland is situated in the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast of Canada. It has stunning fjords on its rocky coast formed by moving glaciers, and a dense icecap up to 2 km thick that covers much of the island--pressing down the land beneath and lowering its elevation. Now, scientists at the University of Miami say Greenland's ice is melting so quickly that the land underneath is rising at an accelerated pace.

According to the study, some coastal areas are going up by nearly one inch per year and if current trends continue, that number could accelerate to as much as two inches per year by 2025, explains Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and principal investigator of the study.

"It's been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland's ice sheet," Dixon says. "What's surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response," he says. "Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating."

Dixon and his collaborators share their findings in a new study titled "Accelerating uplift in the North Atlantic region as an indicator of ice loss," The paper is now available as an advanced online publication, by Nature Geoscience. The idea behind the study is that if Greenland is losing its ice cover, the resulting loss of weight causes the rocky surface beneath to rise. The same process is affecting the islands of Iceland and Svalbard, which also have ice caps, explains Shimon Wdowinski, research associate professor in the University of Miami RSMAS, and co-author of the study. (University of Miami)

This one sets the ol' spidey senses tingling. That is a lot of isostatic rebound, if that's what it is. Do we have evidence of significant ice loss from Greenland and commensurate sea level rise? Actually no. We have some evidence in increased geothermal activity, which may be related -- or not. We have some suggestion of increased ice accumulation in central Greenland which might result in elastic deformation of the island (depression causing saucer uplift around the periphery). So much ice loss that all of Greenland is getting taller? Very, very doubtful...

 

New Study Reveals Link Between ‘Climate Footprints’ and Mass Mammal Extinction

An international team of scientists have discovered that climate change played a major role in causing mass extinction of mammals in the late quaternary era, 50,000 years ago. Their study, published in Evolution, takes a new approach to this hotly debated topic by using global data modelling to build continental ‘climate footprints.’

“Between 50,000 and 3,000 years before present (BP) 65% of mammal species weighing over 44kg went extinct, together with a lower proportion of small mammals,” said lead author Dr David Nogues-Bravo working from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate in University of Copenhagen. “Why these species became extinct in such large numbers has been hotly debated for over a century.”

During the last 50,000 years the global climate became colder and drier, reaching full glacial conditions 21,000 years before present time. Since then the climate has become warmer, and this changing climate created new opportunities for colonization of new regions by humans. While both of these global change actors played significant roles in species extinction this study reveals that changing climate was a significant force driving this mass extinction.

“Until now global evidence to support the climate change argument has been lacking, a large part of existing evidence was based on local or regional estimates between numbers of extinctions, dates of human arrivals and dates of climate change,” said Dr Nogues-Bravo.

“Our approach is completely different. By dealing with the issue at a global scale we add a new dimension to the debate by showing that the impact of climate change was not equal across all regions, and we quantify this to reveal each continent’s “footprint of climate change.”

The study shows that climate change had a global influence over extinctions throughout the late quaternary, but the level of extinction seems to be related to each continent’s footprint of climate change. When comparing continents it can then be seen that in Africa, where the climate changed to a relatively lesser extent there were fewer extinctions. However, in North America, more species suffered extinction, as reflected by a greater degree of climate change. (Wiley)

 

Playing the Uncertainty Card

There is little doubt that the political forces promoting climate change hysteria are under attack and in retreat around the world. It has also become obvious that little global consensus exists among climate scientists regarding how to regain the public's trust. There is, however, ample evidence that the climate change alarmists have not learned their lesson. At a recent conference held in Washington, D.C., an eminent climate policy expert urged that scientists and policy leaders embrace the persuasive power of uncertainty. If you cannot convince the public with the facts, frighten them into going along anyway seems to be the message. This is not science, it is subterfuge justified by blind faith.

“There is no doubt that humans are causing climate change and that existing technology can limit greenhouse gas emissions,” Mohamed El-Ashry said at the 10th Annual Science & Technology in Society Conference cosponsored by AAAS. But science and policy leaders might gain more traction in the public debate over emissions by “highlighting the uncertainty of what might happen over the next 50 years, which is much scarier,” he said. It is a sad state of affairs when an “eminent” climate scientist's best argument in support of a theory is uncertainty, and that is because uncertainty can be used to scare the public.

This revealing statement was reported in the “AAAS News and Notes” section of the April 30, 2010, issue of Science, the flagship journal and official organ of the AAAS. El-Ashry called for more regional modeling of climate change and better assessment of how healthy ecosystems support local and national economies. Focusing on near term, local effects—like harsher weather conditions or changes in the timing of snowmelt used in agriculture—could help governments recognize that climate change has an impact “not just over there in the Arctic,” he said, “but on our farms and within our borders.”

To accomplish this refocusing of global warming, from global climate a hundred years in the future to local changes over the next ten years, will require climate scientists to do something they have never been able to do before—predict climate change on a decadal time scale. “Decision makers are in need of decadal climate forecasts,” says Mark A. Cane, writing in Nature Geoscience. “When—or whether—climate modellers will be able to deliver is not yet clear.” Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, stated the problem facing the climate science community like this:

Over the past decade, the mean global temperature did not rise much, if at all. This pause in global warming cannot be attributed to cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions by the planet's human population, so it must be nature taking a turn towards colder temperatures. The extent to which such natural climate variability can be predicted on decadal timescales is not known.

Of course, the tool of choice in the pursuit of short term predictions is the IPCC's old friend, the computer climate model. Reporting from a workshop held in January, 2010, on “Predicting the Climate of the Coming Decades,” Cane noted that the anomalously frigid weather kept the gathered scientists and policymakers inside the auditorium in their winter coats—the workshop was being held in Miami, Florida. “It was a visceral reminder that the climate of the next few decades depends as much on natural climate variations as it does on anthropogenic forcing,” wrote Cane. Perhaps he should have added that it was also an indication of scientists' inability to accurately predict future climate change based on CO2 emissions.


Mean global temperature has not changed for over a decade. NASA/GISS.

Decadal prediction was described as “demand driven” by Kenneth Broad, an ecological anthropologist from the University of Miami. No doubt many decision makers would like to incorporate climate change into their decision making processes. Unfortunately, the century-long span of typical climate change projections, heretofore favored by the IPCC and other climate change alarmists, does not fit with the decadal outlook of resource managers. Spurred on by demand, and the prospect of funding, a number of institutions and organizations are diving into the decadal forecasting business. Indeed, as part of the next assessment from the IPCC, many climate modeling groups will be producing decadal forecasts. These include the UK Met. Office, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, to name just a few.

This effort may all be for naught, however. “[T]he hope for useful skill in predicting natural variability is far from assured,” states Cane. “The climate system is chaotic and it is not known how predictable decadal variations are, even if we had perfect models and sufficient observations to determine the initial state with high precision.” In other words, science may not be able to predict climate, even if they new how the climate system works and could incorporate that knowledge in a working computer model. So far the effort has fared no better the the IPCC's GCM behemoths:

Enthusiasm for decadal forecasts was greatly stimulated by two recent attempts, that do provide forecasts that are closer to observations than the most basic forecasts assuming the persistence of existing conditions or on-average climate conditions. However, both studies are less persuasive in showing that their forecasts are significantly better than models that do not use detailed information about the present state of the climate. It is noteworthy that one of the two forecasts, predicts that the next five years will be warmer than the past decade, whereas the other predicts the opposite.

It seems that the model offered by Doug M. Smith et al. says that “climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.” You can see how it might gain favor with the climate change catastrophe crowd (see “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model” in Science).


Welcome to sunny Florida.

Alternatively, the model proffered by N. S. Keenlyside et al. doesn't see things that way: “[W]e make the following forecast: over the next decade, the current Atlantic meridional overturning circulation will weaken to its long-term mean; moreover, North Atlantic SST and European and North American surface temperatures will cool slightly, whereas tropical Pacific SST will remain almost unchanged.” (see “Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector” in Nature).

Does this story strike anyone as familiar? Following the age old management dictum, “when the plan fails change the objective,” climate science is trying to move the goal posts from a century out to just ten years from now. How bleak their prospects have become is demonstrated by the fact that the climate change community is excited by two new decadal models that not only don't work but give opposite forecasts. The researchers themselves admit that climate may not be predictable—ever. Perhaps they hope that, if nothing else, the attempts at decadal prediction will provide ample uncertainty for Dr. El-Ashry to scare the public with.

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

 

Tanaka: Climate Change is “Most Difficult Negotiation On Earth”

The global crisis, now well rooted in its third year, continues to rock the world’s political and economic foundations. Regimes have been replaced, capitalism has shifted gear, and even the future of the European Union is being tested. [Read More] (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)

 

BREAKING: Leaked Doc Proves Spain’s ‘Green’ Policies — the Basis for Obama’s — an Economic Disaster (PJM Exclusive)

PJM has received a leaked internal document confirming Spain realizes its green failures, just as Obama pushes the American Power Act based on Spain's program. (Click here for the original Spanish document. An English translation is provided in this article.)

May 18, 2010 - by Christopher Horner

Pajamas Media has received a leaked internal assessment produced by Spain’s Zapatero administration. The assessment confirms the key charges previously made by non-governmental Spanish experts in a damning report exposing the catastrophic economic failure of Spain’s “green economy” initiatives.

On eight separate occasions, President Barack Obama has referred to the “green economy” policies enacted by Spain as being the model for what he envisioned for America.

Later came the revelation that Obama administration senior Energy Department official Cathy Zoi — someone with serious publicized conflict of interest issues — demanded an urgent U.S. response to the damaging report from the non-governmental Spanish experts so as to protect the Obama administration’s plans.

Most recently, U.S. senators have introduced the vehicle for replicating Spain’s unfolding economic meltdown here, in the form of the “American Power Act.” For reasons that are obvious upon scrutiny, it should instead be called the American Power Grab Act.

But today’s leaked document reveals that even the socialist Spanish government now acknowledges the ruinous effects of green economic policy. (PJM)

 

Industry Strives for Cleaner Oil From Oil Sands

As Elisabeth Rosenthal and I discuss in an article appearing Wednesday in Business Day, oil sands — or tar sands, as their detractors like to call them — have a serious image problem, even among fossil fuels.

Oil sands are most frequently mined from giant pits carved out of Canada’s boreal forest, home to wild herds of caribou and millions of migratory birds. And the process of extracting oil from the sands can emit triple the amount of greenhouse gases as conventional oil production.

Even high-pressure steam extraction wells, which tear up less forest and wildlife habitat than the surface mines, depend heavily on the burning of natural gas, making them serious emitters of greenhouse gases.

But the oil industry says it is working on the problem. “We have work to do on that, and we admit that right up front,” said Chris Seasons, Devon Energy’s president for Canadian operations. 

Mr. Seasons said that with new technologies, the industry can make oil sands production more efficient and reduce the emissions to a level comparable with conventional oil and gas production. 

Indeed, the industry claims to have already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands by 27 percent since 1990 through a variety of techniques. That’s important because Canadian oil sands are poised to become the leading source of imported oil to the United States this year, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. (NYT)

Improved efficiency in extraction is good but greenhouse? Meh...

 

New report likens Alberta bitumen to Gulf spill in “slow-motion”

By Gary Park for Greening of Oil

That came a week after the Norwegian government served notice it will block similar efforts forcing state-owned Statoil to pull out of the oil sands. 

But don’t think for a minute that these shareholder activist attempts to green up and clean up operations in northern Alberta are headed down a blind alley. (GoO)

 

CNQ cites big break cleaning tailings

CALGARY -- Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has made what it says are "promising" steps in solving some of the most challenging environmental problems associated with oil sands tailings ponds.

The Calgary-based company said it is is using far less - only 12% to 14% - of the fresh water it expected to remove from the Athabasca River at its Horizon oil-sands mine near Fort McMurray. 

Furthermore, Canadian Natural thinks it has sped up the time needed to clean up the toxic ponds, all while also sequestering carbon dioxide, key in reducing emissions.

"It looks like a very, very promising process," Steve Laut, the company's president, told reporters Tuesday. (Carrie Tait, Financial Post)

 

Alberta picks North West Upgrading for processing bitumen received from producers

CALGARY - The Alberta government has chosen Calgary-based North West Upgrading Inc. to refine the heavy, sticky oilsands product it will receive in place of cash through its bitumen-royalty-in-kind initiative.

In an announcement Tuesday, Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said negotiations will begin exclusively with the privately held company to eventually take up to 75,000 barrels per day into its refinery.

Insiders who asked not to be identified have said the three phases of the project could cost as much as $18 billion, at $5 billion to $6 billion per 50,000 bpd phase.

Calgary’s Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which completed its 110,000 bpd Horizon oilsands project last year, bought a 50 per cent share in North West earlier this year.

“This is great news,” said North West chairman Ian MacGregor. “We’ve been through a long tendering process now and the next thing is to work on the details.” (Dan Healing and Shaun Polczer, Calgary Herald)

 

The Insane Myth of ‘Renewable’ Energy

The nonsense from green energy lobbyists is nothing short of crazy talk. Why is Congress, or anyone else, buying it?
May 18, 2010
- by John Droz, Jr.

“Renewable” electrical energy sources are not even remotely equivalent to conventional energy sources, and this is perhaps the most important reality of energy to understand.

Green lobbyists go to great lengths to disguise this. Everything they propagate is based on an “equivalency” between “renewables” and conventional power sources that does not exist in the real world. Even generally objective sources, like the Energy Information Administration (EIA), seriously err when they show levelized cost charts that have wind energy and nuclear power in contiguous columns. (PJM)

 

 

The 2008-2009 Annual Report from the President's Cancer Panel: Your tax dollars totally wasted

If you ever had any doubt that even a worthy mission such as fighting cancer could be undermined by political correctness, you need only read small sections from this ridiculous document.

This utter bilge has been condemned by virtually every single cancer authority—not to mention my friends at...

Stats.org and the American Council on Science and Health.

To produce a 240-page document that raises environmentally-induced cancer to anything more than minuscule importance is positively shameful, and this panel—consisting of two whole people—should be condemned, nay mocked by the scientific community.

To the clueless LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S. and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D. I would say this:

The only proven cancer risk from chemicals derived from a very small number of cases of heavy occupational exposure, and this was pre-OSHA, of course. Almost nothing in your absurd report can be backed up, and the production of this document should force both of you into immediate retreat from public life.

More than that, you have discredited the work of every agency currently in place that, if anything, has gone overboard to limit exposure to toxic chemicals.

This is truly a disgrace, and you both richly deserve all the negative feedback. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

On Track To Become Next U.K.?

Public Spending: Government gobbled up the British economy with amazing speed in the past decade. Here's how it happened — and why something very much like it could happen in the U.S.

It was not so long ago that Great Britain was rightly seen as the most "American" of the major European economies, with a tilt toward free-market capitalism and a relatively lean public sector.

No more. The U.K. is now, in the words of the Cato Institute's Daniel J. Mitchell, "the new France." Its public-sector spending has exploded over the past decade so that it now makes up more than half the economy. (IBD)

 

Work exposure to soy tied to asthma symptoms

NEW YORK - Allergic reactions to soy may be a cause of asthma symptoms in some workers at soy processing plants, a new study suggests.

Soy is among the most common sources of food allergies, and some studies have found that people who work in soy processing have higher-than-average rates of respiratory symptoms such as wheezing.

Those findings raised the question of whether breathing in soy "dust" may lead to airway inflammation and asthma in some workers. (Reuters Health)

 

Hmm... Pesticide link to hyperactivity: study

Children exposed to higher levels of pesticide found on commercially grown fruit and vegetables in the United States were more likely to have attention deficit/hyper-activity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published on Monday.

Researchers in the United States and Canada studied data from 1139 children aged between eight and 15 and found children with higher residue levels of pesticides known as organophosphates were roughly twice as likely to have ADHD, the study in the journal Pediatrics found.

"The present study adds to the accumulating evidence linking higher levels of pesticide exposure to adverse developmental outcomes," the study concluded. (AFP)

I haven't seen this study, has anyone got the numbers? What was the dose response curve? How significant was the association?

Not inspiring confidence (from a Reuters report): "They interviewed the children's mothers, or another caretaker, and found that about one in ten met the criteria for ADHD." and "For a 10-fold increase in one class of those compounds, the odds of ADHD increased by more than half." Hmm... again.

 

Rotavirus vaccine keeps kids out of the hospital

NEW YORK - The number of young children hospitalized for severe diarrhea dropped sharply after the U.S. introduced rotavirus vaccination in 2006, a new government study finds.

Rotavirus is the top cause of severe gastroenteritis among children worldwide. Because infants and small children can quickly become dehydrated, the diarrhea and vomiting caused by the infection can be dangerous and even fatal.

In 2006, the U.S. licensed Merck's RotaTeq, or RV5, vaccine for immunizing infants against rotavirus.

In the new study, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that after the vaccine's introduction, hospitalizations for gastroenteritis among children younger than 5 fell substantially.

During the 2008 rotavirus season (January to June), the rate of such hospitalizations across 18 U.S. states was 45 percent lower than the rates for the years 2000 to 2006, the study found.

The typical hospitalization rate during those pre-vaccine years was 101 per 10,000 children younger than age 5. In 2008, the rate was 55 per 10,000 children, the researchers report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. (Reuters Health)

 

Do c-sections increase the risk of celiac disease?

NEW YORK - Children who develop celiac disease appear to be more likely to be born by cesarean section, German researchers say.

Celiac disease is a disorder in which eating gluten -- a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye -- causes the body's immune system to attack and damage the small intestine. In the U.S., researchers think nearly 1 out of every 100 people has celiac disease.

Dr. Mathias Hornef, from Hannover Medical School in Germany, and his colleagues knew that people with certain inflammatory bowel diseases - such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis - have a different mix of bacteria in their intestines.

How a child is delivered can affect that mix, so the researchers wondered if children with those diseases would have a higher rate of cesarean birth. (Reuters Health)

Or is there something in common between mothers needing to deliver offspring via cesarean section and who have children prone to celiac disease? A more useful investigation would seem to be to swab for bacterial cultures and compare gut fauna directly.

 

WHO study has no clear answer on phones and cancer

LONDON - Experts who studied almost 13,000 cell phone users over 10 years, hoping to find out whether the mobile devices cause brain tumors, said on Sunday their research gave no clear answer.

A study by the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the largest ever to look at possible links between mobile phones and brain cancer, threw up inconclusive results but researchers said suggestions of a possible link demanded deeper examination.

"The results really don't allow us to conclude that there is any risk associated with mobile phone use, but... it is also premature to say that there is no risk associated with it," the IARC's director Christopher Wild told Reuters.

The results of the study have been keenly awaited by mobile phone companies and by campaign groups who have raised concerns about whether mobile phones cause brain tumors.

Years of research have failed to establish a connection. (Reuters)

 

Parasites in Paradise

PRESIDENT OBAMA has started an ambitious global health initiative that will deliver urgently needed medicine and preventative care to hundreds of millions of people in poor countries. Included in the plan are efforts to devote resources to “neglected tropical diseases,” afflictions like hookworm infections, river blindness and elephantiasis that many think have gone the way of smallpox, but which still make up the most common ailments among the world’s bottom billion.

When we talk about these diseases, we tend to think of distant places like West Africa and South Asia. As we develop the plan, however, it’s crucial that we remember that they plague communities much closer to home as well. (Peter J. Hotez, NYT)

 

Oh dear... New trials launch of a daily polypill which could potentially save millions of lives

A new trial of the Red Heart polypill, four drugs in a single tablet, launches today to assess whether those at risk of heart attacks and strokes will take it regularly and whether it will saves lives. (The Guardian)

Medicalizing life... wonder how many will suffer the side effect of statins, for example (not a fun prospect for those who don't tolerate them well) and how much activity will be sacrificed to blood pressure lowering ...

 

Not all thyroid cancers need treatment: study

NEW YORK - People with papillary thyroid cancer that hasn't spread beyond the thyroid gland appear to have good outcomes regardless of whether or not they are treated, new research shows.

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer. Among more than 35,000 people with "localized" papillary thyroid cancer who underwent immediate surgery to remove half or all of their thyroid gland, researchers found that 99 percent were still alive 20 years later. For the 440 patients who didn't undergo immediate treatment, 97 percent were still alive after 20 years. (Reuters Health)

 

Another meta data dredge wild guess... Study suggests processed meat a real health risk

CHICAGO - Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that identifies the real bad boys of the meat counter.

Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb appeared not to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes, they said, suggesting that salt and chemical preservatives may be the real cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat.

The study, an analysis of other research called a meta-analysis, did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, which are also linked with high meat consumption.

"To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating," said Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health, whose study appears in the journal Circulation.

"Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid," Micha said in a statement. (Reuters)

 

Invasive kudzu is major factor in surface ozone pollution, study shows

Kudzu, an invasive vine that is spreading across the southeastern United States and northward, is a major contributor to large-scale increases of the pollutant surface ozone, according to a study published the week of May 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kudzu, a leafy vine native to Japan and southeastern China, produces the chemicals isoprene and nitric oxide, which, when combined with nitrogen in the air, form ozone, an air pollutant that causes significant health problems for humans. Ozone also hinders the growth of many kinds of plants, including crop vegetation.

"We found that this chemical reaction caused by kudzu leads to about a 50 percent increase in the number of days each year in which ozone levels exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency deems as unhealthy," said study co-author Manuel Lerdau, a University of Virginia professor of environmental sciences and biology. "This increase in ozone completely overcomes the reductions in ozone realized from automobile pollution control legislation." (University of Virginia )

 

Oceans' fish could disappear in 40 years: UN

NEW YORK – The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned Monday.

"If the various estimates we have received... come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones -- ultimately resulting in a thriving industry. (AFP)

 

New research links decline of endangered California delta smelt to nutrient pollution

Study suggests pollution reductions could help restoration efforts

A new study to be published in the academic journal Reviews in Fisheries Science recommends that efforts to restore the endangered California delta smelt and other declining pelagic fish should more sharply focus on reducing nutrient pollution to the species' native waters. The research indicates these fish populations would greatly benefit from reductions in the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta from wastewater treatment plants and balancing the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus contained in the discharged water.

"While a great deal of emphasis has been placed on ensuring there is enough water for delta smelt, we also need to recognize that the water also has to have the right chemical balance," said Dr. Patricia Glibert of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "The research shows us that reducing the amount of nitrogen from Bay-Delta wastewater treatment plants should aid the recovery of the delta smelt population. The high nutrient loads are affecting the algae at the base of the food web, which in turn, affect the food supply for the fish. This has altered the ecology of the system over many years."

For her research, Dr. Glibert analyzed 30 years of water chemistry, river flow, plankton, fish population and effluent discharge data to determine possible linkages to the population of the delta smelt and other pelagic fish in the Bay-Delta system. The analysis reveals that declines in delta smelt population most closely coincide with effluent changes from the region's major wastewater treatment plant. (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

 

Logging Deal Expected In Canada's Northern Forest

Some of Canada's largest forestry firms and environmental groups are expected to unveil a landmark deal on Tuesday to end their battle over logging in the country's massive northern forest.

Industry and environmental representatives have scheduled a news conference in Toronto to unveil "a major announcement on conservation and competitiveness in Canadian forestry," according to a press release on Monday.

No details have been released, but a published report in the Province newspaper in Vancouver last week said producers would agree to stop logging in some protected areas in return for green groups allowing logging elsewhere in the continent-wide boreal forest. (Reuters)

" green groups allowing logging"? Sheesh! Who gave them the right to bestow or withhold permission?

 

Eco anarchists: A new breed of terrorist?

Last month, three activists were caught trying to bomb an IBM plant. Their motivation wasn't religion or politics – but the state of the planet. This is the dark side of green, says Nick Harding

Until last month the small market town of Langnau in the rolling Swiss hills had two claims to fame; it was both a centre for the production of Emmental cheese and also one of the sunniest places in Switzerland. Today, thanks to a routine police traffic inquiry, it has the dubious honour of being the location where one of Europe's biggest alleged acts of eco-terrorism was foiled.

On the night of 15 April local officers pulled over a car on one of the town's quiet streets. Inside the vehicle they found a large cache of explosives, primed and ready to detonate. The three people in the car are alleged to have been members of the murky Italian anarchist group Il Silvestre, who were reportedly on a mission to blow up the nearby unfinished £55m IBM nanotechnology facility.

The apparent attack is believed to be part of a new co-ordinated wave of eco-terror on the continent. The IBM site is due to be opened next year and will be the most advanced centre for nano- and biological scientific research in Europe. According to reports, the eco anarchists Il Silvestre are opposed to all forms of nanotechnology. The group was formed in Tuscany and is considered by some to be one of the rising "eco-terror" groups in Europe, with a rigid cell structure, access to explosives, and a membership that supposedly has no qualms about killing to achieve its goals.

Supporters, on the other hand, argue that the group, which publishes the militant magazine Terra Selvaggia, are "radical ecologists" and "revolutionaries".

The idea that green activists are willing to destroy, maim and kill in their crusade to protect the planet goes against the domestically fostered image of cuddly, eccentric green campaigners epitomised by Swampy, the dreadlocked former public schoolboy sitting in a muddy hole in Devon waiting for the bulldozers to arrive. With labels like tree-hugger, hippy and bunny lover, there is a quaint Britishness about the subterranean Twyford Downs protesters and the Canbury Gardens activists, who lived in tree houses for weeks to save a row of Poplars in Kingston-upon-Thames from the developer's chainsaw in the late Nineties. So when did the cosy eco-warrior become seen as a hardcore terrorist? And just how much of a threat is environmental extremism? (The Independent)

 

The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

Is human activity altering the planet on a scale comparable to major geological events of the past? Scientists are now considering whether to officially designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that homo sapiens have wrought: the Anthropocene. (Elizabeth Kolbert, e360)

 

Gulf Looks To Science To Turn Desert To Farmland

Gulf nations hope science will turn desert areas into arable land to boost food security and avoid the risks inherent in buying farmland abroad, industry insiders said Monday.

Farming in the Gulf battles against little water supply, high soil salinity and extreme heat. But many of the countries in the region have the cash to adopt expensive solutions that others could not.

Abu Dhabi has conducted a soil survey to identify areas with underground water supplies and soil quality that could be enhanced, said Faisal Taha, who headed the project by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency.

The survey found over 200,000 hectares of land that could be used for agriculture given the right investment, Taha told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Abu Dhabi.

"We are talking about tens of millions of dirhams in investments ... but it's worth it because with this land vegetable and fodder production could be increased by up to 70 percent," said Taha. (Reuters)

 

Resisting Roundup

A vast majority of soybeans and corn planted in this country, and in much of the world, are genetically engineered, and the technology is rapidly pushing its way into many more crops.

For farmers, the benefits are real — with these seeds they can spend less time plowing and cultivating and can use more benign agricultural chemicals to kill weeds. But according to a recent report from the National Research Council, there are also signs of trouble, chief among them the appearance in various parts of the country of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Such weeds could undermine the main purpose of genetically engineered crops: their ability to tolerate spraying with glyphosate, an environmentally benign herbicide marketed by Monsanto, one of the major producers of genetically engineered seeds, under the name Roundup. As ever, nature is finding its way around our defenses.

Well, kind of. Glyphosate resistance is a natural trait (where do people think Monsanto acquired it for incorporation into engineered seeds?) and we have always known the proliferation of resistant weeds is inevitable. The correct answer is to keep developing stacked trait crops and hitting weeds with an array of herbicides to reduce resistance development. There is nothing unexpected or alarming here though and certainly not worth an editorial in a broadsheet.

 

Meet Spider Goat - the DNA-enhanced web-flinging nanny that may one day knit bones

ON a farm in Wyoming, USA, goats are being milked for their spider webs.

And if that sounds bizarre, molecular biologist Randy Lewis claims that within two years, spider silk milked from goats could replace your body's tired or strained tendons and ligaments - maybe even bones.

Professor Lewis and his team at the University of Wyoming have successfully implanted the silk-making genes from a golden orb spider into a herd of goats and are now, finally, producing one of nature's strongest products in useable quantities.

The technology is cutting edge, but the science isn't. Spider silk has been used for centuries to dress wounds with varying degrees of success, but the problem has until now been how to get it. (news.com.au)

 

Can a body grow its own spare parts?

Nanoscientist Molly Stevens is working on techniques to enable a damaged heart to repair itself or bone tissue to regenerate (Robin McKie, The Observer)

 

 

Scientist: Global Cooling is the Real Crisis

Global warming conference participant says reduced sunspot activity may cause extreme cold fatalities, mass starvation. (Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute)

 

Virginia's Cavalier Ethics

By Chris Horner

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli is a smart, aggressive conservative who scares the heck out of the Left, which includes the establishment media. And former University of Virginia tree-ring expert Michael Mann is a darling of the same crowd.

This ensured a combustible mix when, exercising his authority (and, I suggest, responsibility) under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, Cucinelli sought records from the University of Virginia which were produced during Mann's days there. It was from this perch that Mann developed the infamous and now disgraced "hockey stick." The Hockey Stick portrayed for the first time a stable climate until the horrors of Industrial Man. Then temperatures began an unprecedented spike. Or so we were told. Often and loudly.

Mann's algorithm rewrote history so that it was no longer as those who lived it had chronicled in diaries, agricultural records and cultural artifacts. That politically expedient abandonment of a thousand years of accumulated knowledge was just too good to receive a skeptical reception. It was instead hailed as the "smoking gun" of the IPCC Third Assessment Report – in a chapter which, by chance, Mann was lead author – and proof of man-made global warming.

Upon scrutiny by the Wegman Committee, this proved to be no more than Mann-made warming. Mann's house of cards began to collapse, but not before he had parlayed it into a research unit at Penn State. Along the way Mann used University of Virginia resources and otherwise hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars building on his work and the name he had created for himself with the Hockey Stick.

Then late last year ClimateGate exposed the climate industry, through 1,000 emails, computer code and code annotations showing how scientists collaborated to subvert the peer-review process, distort research, and violate transparency laws. The focus of much of this subterfuge was protecting Mann's work from challenge. (Climate Depot)

 

This seems extremely rude: Top Mann Nemesis: He's Not a Fraud

By on 5.17.10 @ 5:59PM

The person who was most instrumental in debunking Climategate scientist Michael Mann's hockey stick chart, Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, said last night that he did not believe his scientific misrepresentations rose to the level of fraud. At the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago, McIntyre delivered a compelling account of his adventures in trying to obtain temperature data and in successfully challenging Mann's work, but then left much of the ballroom disappointed by letting Mann off the hook. My Heartland colleague Dan Miller recounts:

Citing a particularly controversial email in the Climategate emails that referred to hiding an unexpected but inconveniently inexplicable decline in global temperatures, McIntyre concluded, “To the extent that things like the ‘trick’ (to "hide the decline") were common practice, the practices need to be disavowed. The scientists do not need to be drummed out, but there has to be some commitment to avoiding these sort of practices in the future.”

But the audience was having none of McIntyre’s forgiving rhetoric, and questioner after questioner pressed the Canadian to acknowledge legal, if not moral, culpability.

“I don’t even think in those terms,” McIntyre insisted.

As Miller and Heartland president Joe Bast noted, it was an extremely odd audience reaction: McIntyre received a standing ovation upon his introduction, thanks to his dogged research and unrelenting demand for information and accountability, but then his blase' attitude about scientists' behavior -- particularly Mann's -- left most of the audience cold and some even angry. The applause for McIntyre was tepid upon the conclusion of his remarks. I don't think I've ever seen that before.

McIntyre said he believed expressing emotions and anger over the episode was counterproductive and even self-indulgent, and that simply proving Mann and others wrong was sufficient. Perhaps if McIntyre personally lent or gave a few million dollars for Mann to indulge in his deceptive research, instead of taxpayers footing the bill, then he might feel more self-indulgent himself. (Spectator)

McIntyre has never professed to have a dog in the hunt, he just wanted to sort out the derivation of the graph. I think anyone expecting him to champion any position is wrong and the reaction of the audience as recounted above is appalling. McIntyre never offers an opinion on whether AGW is or is not a looming catastrophe, is always polite and generally seems to think the world is a lovely place where everyone should play nice. He may well say someone has used the wrong methodology or arrived at unsupportable conclusions but he does not present as ever likely to accuse anyone of fraud whatever the provocation. If the above is a fair and accurate representation of audience reaction then I think it churlish and that McIntyre is owed an apology.

 

Kerry – Lieberman: Corrupt Climate Science Used To Destroy US Economy

The Kerry - Lieberman American Power Act (APA) is a disastrous, unnecessary solution for a non-existent problem. Worse, it’s a problem that exists only in a grossly inadequate computer model whose projections have never been correct. It is predicated on the false assumption that an increase in CO2 causes a temperature increase. Every record of any duration for any period in Earth’s history shows temperature increases before CO2 increases. The false assumption is the basis of all global warming and climate change used in the corrupted research and models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is impossible to imagine such an unjustified basis for any action, except to undermine the US economy for political gain. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Gullible Rudd steps right in it

Rudd let slip a line in his frustration this week that reveals how little he knows about the topic he holds so dear. He has so completely swallowed the PR on climate science, that when poked, he reflexively fires back exaggerated scientific claims that would make even the IPCC blush. In 2007 the IPCC and Gore et al offered Rudd the perfect Election-Wedge-on-a-Platter. They’d primed the audience with propaganda; trained the crowd to recite: Carbon is pollution. It looked like a no-brainer. Yet having based his leadership and campaign on it, it’s obvious he had not done even the most basic of checks (and still apparently hasn’t).

It’s an abject lesson in the importance of doing some homework before rewriting a nation’s economy.

Last week Tony Abbott (the Australian opposition leader) told school children that it was warmer ”at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth”. This banal line set off a flurry of denial and bluster.

Rudd was incredulous in the Parliamentary Hansard record to the opposition members last week:

…how is it that, in the 21st century, you could support this Leader of the Opposition, who says that the world was hotter in Jesus’ time? How could you actually hold to a belief, in defiance of total science around the world, that somehow in the last 2000 years the world has become cooler, not warmer? How could you stand behind a leader who says that the industrial revolution, in effect, did not happen?

In defiance of “total science”? Or totalitarian science?

It’s true it’s difficult to know the exact temperature of the globe in the year one (it’s difficult to know the exact global temperature in 1975, too), but there are scientists reporting in journals from all over the world that back up Mr Abbott. We know it really must have been warmer in Europe thanks to written historical records and artefacts that pop out of melting glaciers. As William Kinninmonth points out, Hannibal took an army of elephants across the Alps in winter in 200 BC. And we all know that the Romans are not known for wearing fur coats.

Rudd is apoplectic with the non-sequiteur about the industrial revolution: If temperatures were warmer in 10BC, somehow that nullifies the steam engine 1800 years later? In Rudd-land, no one can even imagine the parallel universe where  carbon might not control the climate.

A warmer world in Roman times?

A quick tour of peer reviewed research around the globe shows it was also warmer in China, North America, Venezuela, South Africa, and the Sargasso Sea 2000 years ago. And of course, Greenland tells an evocative tale. More » (Jo Nova)

 

U.N. picks Costa Rican Figueres as new climate chief

The United Nations appointed Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica on Monday to be its climate chief to head stalled international talks on how to contain the world's greenhouse gas emissions. (Reuters)

 

Michael McCarthy: This is no forecast. Climate change is here and now

You can look at the warming of Lake Tanganyika as a geographical and scientific curiosity; but you're probably wiser to look at it with a considerable sense of foreboding.

Africa may well be the region where global warming hits hardest in the coming century, a possibility clearly spelled out in the last report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2007. (The Independent)

Why would we view warming with a sense of foreboding, especially for Africa? When the Earth was warmer North Africa was forest, savanna and wetland complete with hippos and crocodiles, now it's desert. Cooling really hasn't done much for the place.

 

Climate threatens trout and salmon

Trout and salmon are among the world's most familiar freshwater fishes, but numbers have fallen over recent decades – in some areas, dramatically.

Pollution, habitat loss and over-fishing have all been blamed in the past, but new evidence from Cardiff University shows that climate change could be a major factor, putting both species at risk.

The scientists studied populations of young salmon and trout in the River Wye in Wales, traditionally one of the UK's best angling rivers. Professor Steve Ormerod and colleagues from the Cardiff School of Biosciences found salmon numbers fell by 50% and trout numbers by 67% between 1985 and 2004 - even though the river itself became cleaner.

The fish were hit hardest following hot, dry summers such as 1990, 2000 and 2003. The results suggest that warmer water and lower river levels combine to affect both species. As both trout and salmon favour cool water, they face potentially major problems if climate warming continues as expected in the next two to three decades. (Cardiff University)

But we are not really expecting warming over the next two to three decades...

 

Comments On The Tree Ring Proxy and Thermometer Surface Temperature Trend Data

There has been considerable discussion on the divergence in recent years of temperature trends derived from tree ring data and from surface air temperature measurements. I have discussed this in two past posts on my weblog:

A New Paper On The Differences Between Recent Proxy Temperature And In-Situ Near-Surface Air Temperatures 

December 2007 Session ‘The “Divergence Problem’ In Northern Forests

In the first post, the abstract of the paper includes the text

“An anomalous reduction in forest growth indices and temperature sensitivity has been detected in tree-ring width and density records from many circumpolar northern latitude sites since around the middle 20th century. This phenomenon, also known as the “divergence problem”, is expressed as an offset between warmer instrumental temperatures and their underestimation in reconstruction models based on tree rings.”

In the second post, I wrote

“Dear Drs. Wilson and D’Arrigo

Thank you for your announcement and invitation for this very important
session. While I will not be able to attend the AGU Conference this
December, I did want to e-mail to encourage you to add another topic to
your list of questions. This is

How accurately does the in-situ (station data), when used to construct the
regional temperature trends, compare with the tree-ring data that are used
represent the actual temperature environment in which the trees grow?
Also, is the statistical relationship improved when the comparison with
the tree ring derived data is compared with maximum and minimum
temperatures, as well as different temperature measures of the growing
season, such as first and last date below selected threshold temperatures.

For the growing set of documentation of the USHCN sites, the siting of the
in-situ temperature measurement sites is a major problem (see
http://www.surfacestations.org and http://www.climateaudit.org). A
presentation of photographs for the surface temperature stations that are
used as part of the calculation of the temperature trends for each region
might be very insightful. Satellite derived surface temperatures (e.g. see
Comiso, 2006: Weather. pages 70-76) can be very helpful also in this
assessment, but the interpretation to the heights that the tree responds
to is also a challenge, as well as that the satellite is not sampling on
all days.

The testing of the robustness of the air temperature data trends would be
quite informative, and the availability of these photographs would be
valuable.”

With respect to the science of the issue raised in the otherwise excellent Der Spiegel article  I  (and others) disagree with their statement that

“….Tree-ring data indicates no global warming since the mid-20th century, and therefore contradicts the temperature measurements. The clearly erroneous tree data was thus corrected by the so-called “trick” with the temperature graphs.”

The reason that the tree ring data differs from the surface air temperature data in recent years has not been answered, despite the above statement from Der Speigel.  Possible (speculative) explanations (besides the issues with the relationship of the surface air temperature data to the tree ring proxy data that I reported on above) include the effect of the increase of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen deposition from human emissions on tree growth. The increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and/or the addition of nitrogen to the soil in which the trees grow could be altering their relationship to temperature from what it was in previous years.

Since the microclimate of the trees that were sampled are quite different from the microclimate where the surface air temperature data has been collected, this is also a possible explanation that needs to be examined.  Photographs of the locations where the tree ring and surface air temperature data are collected should be a priority.

The tree ring proxy temperature data is not necessarily erroneous, but it is has diverged from the in-situ measured air temperature trend analysis. The reason for this difference needs further exploration. (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

Could There Be A Bright Side To the Deepwater Horizon Disaster?

Although the US petroleum industry is understandably in a state of panic after the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico and some, both friend and foe, have even resorted to outrageous speculation that the accident would mean “the end of offshore oil,” there is an optimistic take to the events. [Read More] (Michael J. Economides, Energy Tribune)

 

Oil Tax Hike is About Raising Revenue, Not Clean Up

Instead of concentrating on the cause of the oil spill, lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear to be focused on liability limits and oil tax increases. The White House and some Members of Congress are pushing for a one-cent increase per-barrel of oil produced – from eight cents to nine. In reality, this is an indirect gas tax that will be passed onto the consumer. Currently the direct federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon with the mean state tax being 27.2 cents per gallon. The purpose of the newly proposed tax hike is to increase the amount of funds available in the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and ostensibly collect more money for the clean up. But the real purpose is to make political ends meet.

Although it doesn’t sound like much, the Wall Street Journal reports that “The one-cent increase would raise about $5 billion over 10 years to help offset the cost of the tax package, which is nearing $200 billion. The tax could go to 10 cents a barrel in 2017.”

Wait. What tax package? Politico says, “The added revenue is coveted by tax writers, still struggling to find close to $50 billion in offsets needed to pay for an election-year package of infrastructure investments and popular tax break extensions.” This makes one wonder: is this about cleaning up the Gulf or making ends meet for other political agendas? Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

BP Says Turns Corner In Oil Spill

Energy giant BP said on Monday it had "turned the corner" in a weeks-long effort to contain an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico even as the company faced fresh questions about its industry safety record.

London-based BP Plc said its latest "quick fix" -- a mile-long siphon tube deployed by undersea robots down to the leaking well-- was capturing about a fifth of the oil leaking from the ruptured well.

Officials cautioned that the tube is helping contain the oil but will not stop the flow.

The company's stock rose more than 2 percent in London on the news but later shed its gains.

More efforts to stem the spill were under way and there is another smaller leak besides the one now being targeted.

"I do feel that we have, for the first time, turned the corner in this challenge," BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in Florida after meeting with Governor Charlie Crist.

"Over the last 48 hours, we're beginning to meet with some significant success," Hayward said. (Reuters)

 

Cape Wind’s $0.21/kWh: Bad News for Buyers, as for U.S. Taxpayers

by Kent Hawkins
May 17, 2010

The Boston Globe recently reported that National Grid will pay 20.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for Cape Wind electricity production starting in 2013, with increases of about 3.5% a year for 15 years. This radically uneconomic cost figure  challenges the pro-wind studies of the project–and confirms the analyses of authors at MasterResource.

A Charles River Associates (CRA) report previously indicated that the Cape Wind projects would save electricity customers billions of dollars. This expectation was immediately challenged in a MasterResource post by Glenn Schleede, who documented the study’s out-of-date data, doubtful assumptions, and missing costs. His conclusion was that the electric customers in New England – as well as the taxpayers – deserve a far more complete and objective analysis of the potential cost impacts on them of the proposed Cape Wind project than was provided by CRA and released by Cape Wind. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Trouble in the wind

Away from the likes of Chris Huhne and his mad vision of a land covered with wind turbines, the real world is beginning to intrude.

According to the independent business intelligence service Wind Energy Update, wind turbine operation and maintenance (O&M) costs are increasing sharply, rising to two or three times more than first projected and causing a 21 percent decrease in returns on investments.

O&M costs were found to be especially high in the United States, now the world's largest wind power market, but the even the average world costs are coming out at 27 US cents per kilowatt hour, compared with the 20 cents earned in the US through production credits.

The report says that while close to 80 percent of the world's wind turbines are still under warranty, "this is about to change." R&D is focusing especially on gearbox reliability. Many gearboxes, designed for a 20-year life, are failing after six to eight years of operation, the report finds.

The bizarre thing is that, while Huhne is so insistent that nuclear should not be given any subsidy, even with the massive subsidy it already gets, wind cannot be made to pay. And yet, in the economics of the madhouse which characterises British energy policy, it is wind which is set to inherit the earth.

There must be a special kind of madness that inflicts politicians – clearly, their brains are not wired the same as in normal human beings. (EU Referendum)

 

 

Redistributing Health?

Medicine: The administration's nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid is a fan of Britain's National Health Service and rationing services. He believes in less discretion for your doctor, more power for your government.

'The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open" is what Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's nominee to head the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, said in an interview published in Biotechnology Healthcare in June 2009.

The question is whether the Senate will confirm Berwick with open eyes.

And how will that care be rationed? It seems Berwick is a great fan of Britain's National Health Service, specifically its Orwellian-named National Institute for Clinical Excellence, or NICE. NICE is the body that decides what health treatments are available in Britain and who is worth receiving them.

In the 2009 interview, Berwick opined: "We can make a sensible social decision and say, 'Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit (new drug or medical intervention) is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds." Sounds like denial of care to us. (IBD)

 

Small business group joins US health reform lawsuit

WASHINGTON - An influential small business lobby group said on Friday it had joined 20 states in a lawsuit arguing insurance coverage requirements in the newly enacted healthcare overhaul are unconstitutional.

The National Federation of Independent Business announced its decision ahead of a news conference in Florida with state Attorney General Bill McCollum to discuss the lawsuit.

McCollum is seeking the Republican nomination to run for Florida governor and was one of the first state officials to sue the federal government over President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare reform passed by Congress in March.

"The outpouring of opposition to this new law was overwhelming and our members urged us to do everything in our power to stop this unconstitutional law," NFIB President and chief executive Dan Danner said in a statement. (Reuters)

 

Russia confirms first polio case in 13 years

MOSCOW - Russia has confirmed its first polio case in 13 years in an infant visiting from Tajikistan, but there is no immediate threat of a wider outbreak, the country's main public health body said Friday.

The 9-month-old girl was diagnosed with the disease after arriving in the Siberian region of Irkutsk from the Central Asian state, where at least 12 people have died from a polio outbreak, said Rospotrebnadzor spokeswoman Lyubov Voropayeva.

"All the necessary epidemiological measures have been taken. There is not currently any threat the disease will spread," Voropayeva said.

Tests in a Moscow hospital found that a second girl from Tajikistan, also 9 months old, was carrying the polio virus but had not developed the disease, Voropayeva said. The last case of polio was confirmed in Russia in 1997.

Polio, which spreads in areas with poor sanitation, attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. Children under the age of 3 are most vulnerable.

The disease was practically eliminated as a public health problem in industrialized countries in the 1960s, but remains endemic in seven countries, including India, Nigeria and Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). (Reuters)

 

FDA: Rotavirus vaccines OK despite pig virus

WASHINGTON - Rotavirus vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Merck & Co Inc are safe to use despite being contaminated with a pig virus, U.S. health regulators ruled on Friday.

The Food and Drug administration, in a statement, said it was safe for doctors to resume giving patients Glaxo's Rotarix and continue using Merck's Rotateq. The agency said there was no evidence the contamination caused any harm and the vaccines were important in preventing hospitalizations and death.

Worldwide, rotavirus kills more than 500,000 infants each year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Deaths are rare in the United States, but severe illness that requires a hospital stay is possible. (Reuters)

 

Five-a-day won’t keep the doctor away

The idea that eating fruit and veg can help to ward off cancer is repeated over and over again. Despite not being true.

The American humourist Mark Twain said: ‘What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.’ Twain’s famous words rang especially true a fortnight ago when the latest study on the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer prevention landed on our desks.

It simply has to be true that eating fruits and vegetables helps to ward off cancer. After all, such purveyors of pristine science as the World Health Organisation, the National Health Service, Cancer Research UK and the American Cancer Society have all told us it is true. But behind these claims – and the catchy marketing campaign to eat ‘five a day’ – there is little solid science.

In a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the claim that eating daily amounts of fruit and vegetables can prevent cancer was revealed as nothing more than a piece of junk science. The study, led by Paolo Boffetta from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, followed almost half a million Western Europeans for over eight years in an effort to determine whether cancer can be prevented by high intake of fruit and vegetables. Strikingly, the study failed to find any significant statistical relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and reduced risk of cancer. Eating fruit and vegetables simply did not protect one from getting cancer. (Basham and Luik, spiked)

 

Homeopathy is witchcraft, say doctors

Homeopathy is "witchcraft" and the National Health Service should not pay for it, the British Medical Association has declared.

Hundreds of members of the BMA have passed a motion denouncing the use of the alternative medicine, saying taxpayers should not foot the bill for remedies with no scientific basis to support them.

The BMA has previously expressed scepticism about homoeopathy, arguing that the rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should examine the evidence base and make a definitive ruling about the use of the remedies in the NHS.

Now, the annual conference of junior doctors has gone further, with a vote overwhelmingly supporting a blanket ban, and an end to all placements for trainee doctors which teach them homeopathic principles. (TDT)

 

Burger & Fries Worsen Asthma, Study Suggests

A burger and fries are not only bad for the waistline, they might also exacerbate asthma, a new study suggests.

Patients with asthma who ate a high-fat meal had increased inflammation in their airways soon afterward, and did not respond as well to treatment as those who ate a low-fat meal, the researchers found. (LiveScience)

 

Study Pokes Holes in Air Bag Standards

New research into front air bags in automobiles is raising troubling questions about their effectiveness for drivers wearing seat belts.

The research suggests that when compared with the versions they replaced, the newest air bags, required in all vehicles beginning in 2008 and in some as early as 2004, may place belted drivers at greater risk of death.

About 80 percent of all drivers wear seat belts, according to federal estimates, but government standards for air bags are intended to maximize protection for unbelted drivers, a holdover from years ago when very few drivers buckled up.

The finding has surprised carmakers, which were required to install the so-called smart bags in response to concerns that older versions were injuring drivers and passengers, especially shorter and older ones. The carmakers, along with federal safety regulators, are now trying to determine if there is cause for alarm. (NYT)

 

HWGA: Landmark study set to show potential dangers of heavy mobile phone use

Prolonged mobile phone use could be linked to a type of cancer, the largest investigation of its kind will show next week.

A landmark study will include some evidence that those who regularly hold long conversations on handsets are at increased risk of developing potentially fatal brain tumours.

Its findings may lead the Government to update its health advice on the safety of mobile phones, which has remained unchanged for four years despite increased usage in Britain particularly among children.

But the scientists in 13 countries who contributed to the decade-long, £15 million Interphone project are likely to face criticism that despite the time and expense involved in their work, the data obtained are inconclusive and susceptible to error. (TDT)

 

WaPo does better: Cellphone cancer study inconclusive; researcher urges more stud

A large international study into the link between cellphone use and two kinds of brain cancer produced inconclusive results, according to a report to be released Tuesday in Geneva.

But researchers of the report noted flaws in the methodology of the long-awaited study. And they urge more investigation into the topic to account for how cellphone use is affecting the health of youths, who are among the fastest growing population of cellphone users. The head researchers of the project said the behavior of cellphone users has changed since the study was launched in 2000, which calls for fresh research on the topic. The study's results echo past research that the cellphone industry has cited for nearly two decades -- a murky picture that there is not a conclusive link between cellphone use and cancer nor conclusive results that such a connection isn't possible.

The U.S. was not a participating member of the 13-nation long-term epidemiological study.

The survey of almost 13,000 participants found cellphone use didn't increase the risk of developing meningioma — a common and frequently benign tumor — or glioma — a rarer but deadlier form of cancer.

The 10-year study, which was conducted by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, concluded there were "suggestions" that heavy use could increase the risk of glioma but "biases and error prevent a causal interpretation" that would directly blame cellphone radiation for the tumor.

Heavy use was defined as 30 minutes or more of calls a day.

But the leaders of the project acknowledged that the study had flaws. (Washington Post)

 

Federal Redesign of Hot Dogs?

Posted by Walter Olson

From a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial, the sort of passage you think at first must be satire:

At the instigation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, federal bureaucrats at the FDA, the Department of Agriculture, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are studying whether to require the nation’s hot-dog makers to redesign hot dogs to reduce the likelihood of choking.

But it’s not satire, as other news clips confirm.

Now, as every parent knows who makes sure to cut up a hot dog for the smallest eaters, the risk of choking on one of these food objects is not zero (though it is very, very low; 13 children’s deaths in 2006 were linked to hot-dog asphyxiation, but children eat nearly 2 billion hot dogs a year). In that sense, the proposal is less obviously batty than some other federal regulatory initiatives that have upended whole sectors of commerce over risks that have never been shown to have harmed anyone at all.

But notice that the only truly effective way to keep the familiar cylindrical hot dog off the plates of small children would be to ban it for everyone — the logical end point, perhaps, of a policy that infantilizes parents by assuming they cannot be trusted to watch out for their children’s safety. If on some future Memorial Day you find only squared-off frankfurters or triangular-prism bratwursts in the supermarket cooler, don’t say you weren’t warned. (Cato at liberty)

This is the kind of stupid government nannyism that always reminds us of "Just Say No to Toast"

 

Hmm... Race under fire: Is being white something you can learn?

What does it mean to be white? An explosive new book by an American academic argues that whiteness isn't biological at all – in fact, it can be learned. Precious Williams disagrees (The Independent)

Socially this might be quite correct and socially there is no real value in distinguishing by race or ethnicity but there are genuine biological issues that must be remembered, like the differing response to medications, for example.

 

The unjustified Facebook-fueled attack on Pampers Dry Max

It would be too easy to dismiss all this as a load of crap, but when you consider the broad media coverage given to a minute number of complaints on the product, is there a better descriptive phrase?

My latest HND piece takes a hard look at the complaints logged by some parents on the new diaper formulation, and suggests that empowerment of the clueless by social media might not be a good thing. Very telling is that Procter & Gamble is logging the same number of complaints (and that's a scant few) as it did with the old formulation of Pampers.

Here's a portion of a statement from Dr. Kimberly Thompson, founder of Kids Risk, Inc.—a non-profit organization dedicated to pediatric safety and risk issues—and adjunct associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health:

From a public health standpoint, parents need to know that the diapers are safe, they have been extensively tested, and that the millions of babies who have already used the over 2.2 billion Pampers diapers sold to date with the new technology do not appear to be experiencing any increase in the number, types, or severity of diaper rashes.

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

 

Senators lift exercise rule from obesity bill

Phys-ed mandate costly, would take away class time, educators say 

The fight against childhood obesity in Ohio will go on without a requirement that students get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day while in school.

Last week, a Senate committee approved a bill backed by a powerful coalition of businesses and health-care advocates that would increase nutrition standards for a la carte food and beverages served in schools and require students to get body-mass-index screenings.

After hearing strong pleas from public-education officials, sponsors removed a requirement that schools provide students with at least 30 minutes of exercise per day outside of recess, and that high schools add a half-unit of physical education to state graduation requirements. (Columbus Dispatch)

 

Combating childhood obesity may start in the womb

NEW YORK - Children whose mothers developed diabetes while pregnant are at increased risk of being overweight by age 11, a new study shows.

The study also found that children born to obese mothers are more likely to have a weight problem than children born to lean mothers.

"The best advice is to get lean and fit before you get pregnant," Dr. Lois Jovanovic of the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, California, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health. (Reuters Health)

 

Now an anti-binge nasal spray to tackle obesity

Tackling obesity may become a little easier as a nasal spray developed by a group of researchers can restrain people from having temptation of overeating and unhealthy foods. 

The anti-binge nasal spray that could help tackle obesity by removing the rewards the brain gets from gorging on unhealthy foods and drinks would benefit millions of people because it attacks the root cause of over-indulging, reports telegraph.co.uk. 

According to researchers, when people over-eat and drink the brain releases compounds known as endorphins which produce a ‘rush’ or feeling of well-being. 

Over time, this becomes a ‘craving’ or addiction and leads to unhealthy patterns of behaviour such as binge eating and binge drinking. (IANS)

 

How sad... David Cameron's coalition is off to a green start

The coalition agreement between the two parties has no less than 20 environmental commitments, nearly twice as many as in any other area, observes Geoffrey Lean. (TDT)

The U.K. has real problems and they are messing around with tinkerbell warm and fuzzies...

 

This stupidity again: A Hole in the Spring Sky

Twenty-five years ago this month, a small team of scientists discovered that the ozone layer above their Antarctic station was thinning more and more every spring. The layer protects life on earth from the sun’s ultraviolet light. The response to that discovery is a rare, happy environmental morality tale. (NYT)

The stratospheric ozone scare is and always has been a nonsense.

 

This could be inconvenient: Scientists forecast decades of ash clouds

Many more of Iceland’s volcanoes seem to be stirring

THE Icelandic eruption that has caused misery for air travellers could be part of a surge in volcanic activity that will affect the whole of Europe for decades, scientists have warned.

They have reconstructed a timeline of 205 eruptions in Iceland, spanning the past 1,100 years, and found that they occur in regular cycles — with the relatively quiet phase that dominated the past five decades now coming to an end.

At least three other big Icelandic volcanoes are building towards an eruption, according to Thor Thordarson, a volcanologist at Edinburgh University.

“The frequency of Icelandic eruptions seems to rise and fall in a cycle lasting around 140 years,” he said. “In the latter part of the 20th century we were in a low period, but now there is evidence that we could be approaching a peak.” (Sunday Times)

 

Ivy is good for walls, finds Oxford University study

Ivy is good for walls and helps to protect them against the elements, according to a new study which overturns years of popular belief that the plant destroys buildings. (TDT)

 

Israel Opens Largest Desalination Plant Of Its Kind

An Israeli consortium unveiled the world's largest reverse osmosis desalination plant on Sunday in the coastal city of Hadera, hoping to help alleviate the arid country's water shortage.

Israel's H2ID, which is jointly owned by IDE Technologies and Shikun & Binui, said its plant will supply 127 million cubic meters of desalinated water a year, or about 20 percent of the yearly household consumption in Israel.

It is the third in a series of five desalination plants being built over the next few years that will eventually supply Israel with about 750 million cubic meters annually as traditional water sources dwindle with a rising population and low winter rainfalls. (Reuters)

 

Move to regulate farms to ease nitrate problem

Farmers and state officials are exploring solutions to nitrate pollution in heavily impacted parts of the state, including regulating Central Valley farmers who rely on commercial fertilizer.

"The largest problem is irrigated agriculture," said Jean Moran, professor of earth and environmental science at Cal State East Bay and a former research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (Julia Scott, California Watch)

 

Genetically Engineered Distortions

A REPORT by the National Research Council last month gave ammunition to both sides in the debate over the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. More than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States is genetically engineered, and the report details the “long and impressive list of benefits” that has come from these crops, including improved soil quality, reduced erosion and reduced insecticide use.

It also confirmed predictions that widespread cultivation of these crops would lead to the emergence of weeds resistant to a commonly used herbicide, glyphosate (marketed by Monsanto as Roundup). Predictably, both sides have done what they do best when it comes to genetically engineered crops: they’ve argued over the findings.

Lost in the din is the potential role this technology could play in the poorest regions of the world — areas that will bear the brunt of climate change and the difficult growing conditions it will bring. Indeed, buried deep in the council’s report is an appeal to apply genetic engineering to a greater number of crops, and for a greater diversity of purposes.

Appreciating this potential means recognizing that genetic engineering can be used not just to modify major commodity crops in the West, but also to improve a much wider range of crops that can be grown in difficult conditions throughout the world.

Doing that also requires opponents to realize that by demonizing the technology, they’ve hindered applications of genetic engineering that could save lives and protect the environment. (NYT)

 

Bloomberg Plan Would Simplify Gun-Permits

The Bloomberg administration announced on Friday that it was moving to simplify the process for New Yorkers to obtain gun permits, thus speeding up a set of byzantine licensing requirements that gun-rights advocates have long criticized as among the most restrictive in the country.

Administration officials said that the move was forged by a City Hall focused on efficiency and that it would allow for better investigation of applicants who might not qualify for a gun while more swiftly satisfying those fit to have them.

But the timing of the decision was curious to some, as it follows a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of the gun-control law in the District of Columbia and subsequent challenges to gun laws in other places.

“If I were working for the mayor in New York, in the legal department particularly, I’d be saying: ‘Are we sure we can defend these laws? Are there things to do, ahead of time, that will make it easier for us to defend them?’ ” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “I would be surprised if that were not the thinking.”

The announcement was an unexpected turn for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has made national headlines with his efforts to take guns out of criminals’ hands and stem their trafficking, like using private investigators to pose as gun buyers in sting operations and suing gun dealers in several states. (NYT)

 

The Truth About Gun Sales to Terrorists

Months before he loaded his SUV with propane tanks and fireworks and drove to Times Square, police say, Faisal Shahzad went to a firearms store and bought a rifle. It was found in his other car at Kennedy Airport, where his name showed up on the no-fly list in time to keep him from escaping.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., is one of many people wondering why a suspected terrorist can be barred from flying but not from purchasing a gun. It "defies common sense," he says, that "the rights of terrorists are placed above the safety of everyday Americans."

Well, not exactly. Anyone convicted of terrorism has no right to buy a gun, since felons are barred under federal law. And Lautenberg neglects to mention that in denying constitutional rights to people merely suspected of dangerous connections, he would deny rights to lots of peaceable "everyday Americans." (Steve Chapman, Townhall)

 

 

Harrabin on Heartland

Roger Harrabin has posted a short report from the Heartland Conference which is actually not too bad. There are a couple of irrelevant asides about tobacco funding, but there is a definite change in tone.

I wonder why?

There's an MP3 attached below.

Harrabin on Heartland (Bishop Hill)

 

NYT... While the Senate Fiddles

You don’t have to look far for proof that this country must cut its dependence on fossil fuels and develop cleaner sources of energy.

It can be found in the oil-slicked Gulf of Mexico. It can be found in China’s aggressive efforts to win the global competition for green technologies and green jobs. And, most urgently, it can be found in the inexorable math of accumulating greenhouse gas emissions.

And where is the Senate? After a year of talking, utterly nowhere. Paralyzed by partisanship, hobbled by indifferent leadership, it is unable to muster a majority (much less a filibuster-proof 60 votes) for even a modest energy and climate bill. (NYT)

 

Crank of the Week - May 10, 2010 - John Kerry & Joe Lieberman

After some last minute tweaking to overcome concerns raised by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the American Power Act, a bill proposing a Cap & Trade system for reducing US carbon dioxide emissions, was introduced in the Senate by John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent. Notable by his absence was South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham, who came to his senses just in time to back out of the bill writing troika. Purportedly, the bill aims to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020 and by over 80% in 2050. What it really does is levy a stealth tax on carbon based energy, hiding it behind a “carbon trading” market scheme that would have made Enron proud.

“Our bill will create jobs and transform the American economy; make our country more energy independent, which in turn will strengthen our national security; and improve the quality of the air we breathe,” Senator Lieberman said. “We are proud to have support from a growing and unprecedented coalition of business, national security, faith, and environmental communities, who are energized to work hard to pass this bill this year.” What Joe doesn't mention is that the “unprecedented coalition” only exists because of the unprecedented level of giveaways and special interest provisions in the draft legislation.

Senator Kerry said, “We can finally tell the world that America is ready to take back our role as the world's clean energy leader. This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs, and a bill to end America's addiction to foreign oil and protect the air our children breathe and the water they drink.” He should have added: A bill to raise the cost of everything in America and insinuate government control deeper into the lives of every US citizen. (The Resilient Earth)

 

Questions posed for Kerry, Lieberman on new climate-energy bill

The new Kerry-Lieberman climate bill mandates a 17% reduction in US carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. It first targets power plants that provide reliable, affordable electricity for American homes, schools, hospitals, offices and factories. Six years later, it further hobbles the manufacturing sector itself.

Like the House-passed climate bill, Kerry-Lieberman also requires an 83% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Once population growth and transportation, communication and electrification technologies are taken into account, this translates into requiring US emission levels last seen around 1870!

House Speaker Pelosi says “every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory,” to ensure that America achieves these emission mandates. This means replacing what is left of our free-market economy with an intrusive Green Nanny State, compelling us to switch to unreliable wind and solar power, and imposing skyrocketing energy costs on every company and citizen. 

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is implementing its own draconian energy restrictions, in case Congress does not enact punitive legislation.
It’s time to ask these politicians some fundamental questions. (Paul Driessen, CFACT)

 

Your action needed: Congress Must Stop EPA Takeover

Support the Murkowski Resolution

President Obama has now begun regulating how much energy Americans can use. Freedom Action supports Senator Lisa Murkowski's Resolution to stop his EPA from using the Clean Air Act to ration energy and raise prices. If Congress acts now, EPA will be stopped in its tracks. (Freedom Action)

Use the linked form to contact your U.S. Senators

 

Big Global Warming Case Hinges on Weird Procedural Technicality

Posted by Ilya Shapiro

Nearly two weeks ago, I blogged about some strange procedural developments in the big global warming case coming out of the Gulf Coast, Comer v. Murphy Oil USA.  On the eve of final briefing deadlines before the en banc Fifth Circuit, an eighth judge of that court recused from the case (we don’t know the reason, but the previous seven recusals were presumably due to stock ownership) and so the court was faced with an unprecedented situation: losing an en banc quorum after previously having had enough of one to vacate the panel decision and grant en banc rehearing in the first place.  We were all set to file our brief when the Clerk of the Fifth Circuit issued an order notifying the parties of the lost quorum and canceling the scheduled hearing — and nothing more.  Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to go ahead with filing late last week.

Again, here’s the situation: Mississippi homeowners sued 34 energy companies and utilities operating in the Gulf Coast for damage sustained to their property during Hurricane Katrina. The homeowners alleged that the defendants had emitted greenhouse gases, which increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which contributed to global warming, which accelerated the melting of glaciers, which raised the global sea level, which increased the frequency and severity of hurricanes, which caused the destructive force of Hurricane Katrina. The district court concluded that it lacked the authority to resolve the public debate over global warming and dismissed the case. A Fifth Circuit panel reversed this dismissal, holding that the homeowners have standing to raise some of their claims and that those claims are appropriate for resolution by the federal courts. The Fifth Circuit then granted rehearing en banc. (Cato at liberty)

 

Pachauri's talk to the meta-IPCC panel

Today, the meta-IPCC panel held the first public session in Amsterdam:

Webcast web page, TRF

Twelve members' bios

Acting IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri and his secretary Renate Christ gave PowerPoint talks:

Pachauri (PPT, 12 pages)

Christ (PPT, 17 pages)

AP, Google News

If you don't have MS Office, I recommend you to download the new and free PowerPoint viewer which is much faster than e.g. OpenOffice.

As AP mentioned, Pachauri "cautioned" the meta-IPCC panel not to "undermine the scientists' motivation". In other words, the railway engineer blackmailed the would-be independent panel and asked them not to dare to insult the AGW bigots' religious sensibilities and funding.

The slides are mostly about the "impressive" U.N. institutions and their complicated relationships. But let me choose slide 6 of 12 from Pachauri's talk. It shows the number of papers about climate change:



That's a pretty scary growth, especially if we appreciate the fact that the research hasn't found anything substantial about the climate in the last 15 years.

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

 

Change of tune: Climate body chief defends use of 'grey literature'

The head of the UN's climate change panel has defended the use of unproven science to justify climate change by saying the "grey literature" cannot be ignored. (TDT)

He has to defend it now despite previously claiming the IPCC used only peer-reviewed literature because people are finally beginning to check and have found how far that is from the truth.

 

Wounded Warmists Attack: It’s What Happens ‘When Prophecy Fails’

The AGW community is behaving exactly like the UFO cult studied by psychologist Leon Festinger in his classic study of cognitive dissonance.
May 16, 2010
- by Art Horn

The release of the Climategate emails has caused the world to look at the methods of leading climate scientists with much greater skepticism and concern.

The well-documented, thoroughly dissected emails revealed that data was manipulated to hide temperature trends that were not favorable to researchers’ intended outcomes. Using their positions of power in the field, leading climate scientists kept man-made global warming skeptics from publishing in scientific journals. They perverted the “peer review” process by reviewing their research papers among themselves. Emails were deleted to hide information from authorities after Freedom of Information Act requests were made (Nixonian behavior which made the “Climategate” moniker especially apt).

The list of questionable — and possibly criminal — activities goes on and on. (PJM)

 

Everybody does it

RP Jnr links to a review of the Climategate story by Der Speigel and has a fascinating discussion with his readers in the comments thread below.

The point at issue is Mike's Nature Trick and the question of whether it amounts to scientific fraud. Der Spiegel describe the trick as follows:

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)

 

More on fudge and fraud

RP Jnr says I've misrepresented his views in the post before last. If so, then I apologise.

I'm still not sure that I understand Roger's views precisely. I think the confusion may be based in the semantics of the terms "fudge" and "fraud" and I want to explore the subject again here.

Click to read more ... (Bishop Hill)

 

Climategate Taxpayer Fraud Investigation Draws Ideological Heat

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has used the power of government to seek documents from the University of Virginia regarding its former professor and Climategate figure of "hockey stick" fame, Michael Mann. Mr. Cuccinelli is investigating whether Professor Mann engaged in fraud to obtain taxpayer money to fund his research. (Mark J. Fitzgibbons, American Thinker)

 

Michael Mann on MWP spatial patterns

Michael Mann wrote an article about the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), as "it is sometimes called", and the Little Ice Age (LIA):

What we can learn from studying the last millennium (or so) (RealClimate)

Let me first start by saying that before science tries to learn something from the last millenium (to tell us about the future "climate change", which is the fashionable question that Mann is trying to promote), it may be a good idea to actually learn something about the last millenium.

But you know, paleoclimatology which used to be an academic subject about the truth concerning practically irrelevant questions has become an applied science: the main goal is how can we benefit from the answers, not necessarily true ones, to those questions. You know it's not about the truth at all: it's about something plausible.

But the TRF readers may be interested in the truth for its own sake. And as Mann's article clearly shows, pretty much nothing nontrivial has been learned about the spatial climate patterns in the last millenium, despite billions of dollars that are being invested into this discipline.

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

 

Boston Globe on Lindzen and Emanuel

Beth Daley of The Boston Globe wrote a story how the relationships between friends may be altered by the global warming confrontations:

A cooling trend (mobile version)
In the early 1980s, both Gentlemen would come to MIT. Richard Lindzen was a registered Democrat. Kerry Emanuel had just voted for Ronald Reagan, being more right-wing than Attila the Hun according to Lindzen. ;-)

Both men are relaxed and other things made them natural friends.

As their discipline found itself at the epicenter of a major political battle, times were getting harder. Kerry Emanuel was slowly transformed into an AGW believer, at least superficially. Now, Richard Lindzen gave us some hints that because of their special closer relationship, he knows something more about Emanuel's motivation. And Emanuel has explicitly told Lindzen that joining the AGW bandwagon could be good for their department, the funding, and so on.

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

 

After 12,000-mile flight to green meeting, there's MUTINY in the Climate Camp

A decision by a climate-change group to fly leading activists 12,000 miles to a conference threatens to tear the movement apart.

The leadership of Climate Camp – which is opposed to flying and airport expansion – have been accused of hypocrisy after they sent two members on a £1,200 round-trip to Bolivia.

The leaders argued it was necessary to attend the ‘transnational protest’ – even though the flights generated eight tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.

Now a furious backlash against the trip threatens to split the group, which in the past has blockaded Heathrow airport and clashed with police at demonstrations against coal-fired power stations. (Daily Mail)

 

Global Green Meltdown Gains Momentum

Volcanoes blast; glaciers melt; economies implode; currencies nose dive and voters revolt.  It is the worst of worlds for the climate change movement, and the outlook continues to darken.

None of this dimmed the glory of the majestic moment in Amsterdam yesterday as the part-time IPCC chair and part-time sleazy book author Rajendra Pachauri emerged from the seclusion in which he has unwillingly been lurking since international outrage over some high profile and amateurish errors at the IPCC and his vituperative and vindictive attacks on quite justified critics made him an international laughingstock at the beginning of the year.

The occasion for the prominent Indian novelist’s return to the limelight was the first open session of a review commission convened by the United Nations to examine the work of the IPCC and, hopefully, to make recommendations that will insure that the IPCC’s next report on climate change will be less vulnerable to critics than the document produced under Dr. Pachauri’s lackadaisical supervision last time.

Politically, the commission will fail.  That is, the panel will not satisfy the hundreds of engaged and vocal critics pushing back against the ‘consensus’ on climate change — and will do even less to convince an increasingly skeptical public opinion that a strict global treaty on climate change is humanity’s only hope of escaping devastating consequences in the near future.

Gallup_March_2010_Global_Warming

(American Interest)

 

Stotty's Corner:

Nuclear Fission: Hendry Versus Huhne?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

[Charles Hendry, Conservative MP for Wealden, and newly-appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Energy and Climate Change]

Perhaps there is a nuclear glow in the gloaming after all, despite the dispiriting appointment of Liberal Democrat, Chris Huhne, to the post of Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the newly-formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, an...

Read more... (The Clamour of the Times)

 

On Coalition Government - an Eighteenth Century Parallel

Sunday, 16 May 2010

[‘A Block for the Whigs - or, the new State Whirligig’ - the Fox-North Coalition, caricatured by James Gillray (1783).This vibrant cartoon shows a carousel, on which sit government ministers: Charles Fox, Lord North, Edmund Burke, and Admiral Keppel. In the centre of the carousel is a pillar topped by a bust of King George III, a wig, and Union Jack suspended over the bust. In the background, two...

Read more... (The Clamour of the Times)

 

Towards a New Politics and Economics for Climate Change?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

I herewith reproduce below the latest excellent ‘Newsletter’ (14/05/2010) from The Scientific Alliance. It seems to me that this makes a great deal of sense, and that it is well worth the read and promulgating to a wider public.

The Scientific Alliance was formed in 2001, and is a non-profit membership-based organisation, now based in Cambridge. It brings together both scientists and non-scientists...

Read more... (The Clamour of the Times)

 

New Scientist: Age of Denial

WUWT was the first sensible source to notice that Nude Socialist has jumped the shark once again (and recently they've been doing almost nothing else): the whole new issue is dedicated to "climate deniers" (and, more generally, some other "deniers").

After the scientific giants such as Garrett Lisi, Marcelo Gleiser, and Lee Smolin with their deep and likely "mainstream" theories of everything and nothing (who deny that there are any symmetries, laws of physics, or theorems - but they're surely not deniers, are they? They are so liberal!) were given most of the attention in the previous issues, it's great to be a part of a community described by this "prestigious" and "scientific" magazine. :-)

Among seven articles about the "denialists", there is even one written by our "friend". Michael Fitzpatrick says that the "deniers" shouldn't be called names because they deserve as much respect as those who think that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. ;-) Thank you so much for your generosity, Mr Fitzpatrick.

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

 

NRO’s Manzi Mischaracterizes Global Warming Debate

National Review Online contributing editor Jim Manzi, in an April 21 post, uses Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny as an example of conservative writers (quoting Ross Douthat) “offering bromides instead of substance, and … pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions.” I think he’s wide of the mark. (James M. Taylor, The Heartland Institute)

 

Rebuttal to "Crock of the Week - 32000 Scientists"

Peter Sinclair AKA "Greenman" a cartoonist and Al Gore disciple has been hard at work creating YouTube videos that smear skeptics and their arguments. The following is a complete rebuttal to his "Crock of the Week - 32000 Scientists" video challenging the petition of 31,486 scientists who reject global warming alarm. (Popular Technology)

 

Citizen Audit Report on IPPC 4th Report

Source: No Frakking Consensus

A printer-friendly PDF version of the Citizen Audit report I released last month is now available. It’s 30 pages in total, includes clickable links to supplemental online material, and at 500 kb isn’t too huge a file.

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

 

Dear Mr Abbott

Source: Quadrant

by William Kininmonth

May 12, 2010

[Open letter to Tony Abbott]

Mr Tony Abbott MP
Leader of the Opposition
Parliament House,
Canberra, ACT

Dear Mr Abbott,

Although I am travelling in the US at the moment I have become aware of the controversy over your comments at an Adelaide school last week, including the public response by [a] scientist with an alarmist global warming bent.

You might be interested in the graph below. The data are temperatures reconstructed from Greenland ice cores and published in the peer reviewed literature. The data confirm pre-IPCC understanding of the climate history of the Earth: Earth warmed from the last glacial maximum about 15,000 years ago when great ice sheets covered North America and northern Europe and sea level about 130 m lower than today. By 9,000 years ago Earth had warmed to the Holocene maximum when temperatures were warmer than today; the Holocene maximum lasted until about 4,000 years ago and there has been irregular cooling since.

The IPCC alarmist claim that Earth’s temperature has been steady for the last 10,000 years but this view is at odds with historical and archaeological evidence Read the rest of this entry » (via SPPI)

 

Shock-horror – climate skeptics spotted alive in Australian science academy

This article from today's Canberra Times – which so often reads like a GreenLeft news sheet – fumes at signs climate skeptic ideas are lurking within Australia’s peak science academy.

It seems The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering has circulated a short draft statement that is not 100% IPCC compliant.

Pro-IPCC sources are quoted in force by the Canberra Times whining about this lapse from orthodoxy.

My spies tell me that other science bodies downunder might also be harbouring climate skeptics.

From page 1 Canberra Times 14 May 2010
From page 2 Canberra Times 14 May 2010 (Warwick Hughes)

 

Crisis in New Zealand climatology

Source: Quadrant

by Barry Brill

The warming that wasn’t

The official archivist of New Zealand’s climate records, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), offers top billing to its 147-year-old national mean temperature series (the “NIWA Seven-station Series” or NSS). This series shows that New Zealand experienced a twentieth-century warming trend of 0.92°C.

The official temperature record is wrong. The instrumental raw data correctly show that New Zealand average temperatures have remained remarkably steady at 12.6°C +/- 0.5°C for a century and a half. NIWA’s doctoring of that data is indefensible. Read the rest of this entry » (via SPPI)

 

Africa's lake Tanganyika warming fast, life dying

Africa's lake Tanganyika has heated up sharply over the past 90 years and is now warmer than at any time for at least 1,500 years, a scientific paper said on Sunday, adding that fish and wildlife are threatened. (Reuters)

... But the paper admits that other factors, like overfishing, may be doing more harm than any warming.

 

In the virtual realm... Climate Change Threatens Health By Mediterranean

People in cities around the Mediterranean including Athens, Rome and Marseilles are likely to suffer most in Europe from ever more scorching heatwaves this century caused by climate change, scientists said on Sunday.

The number of heatwaves was likely to surge to almost 3 each summer from 2071-2100 in the Mediterranean region from just one every third year from 1961-1990, it said. Most other parts of Europe would suffer far less.

The number of Mediterranean summer days with temperatures above 105 Fahrenheit (40.6C), a threshold in the United States for public health warnings, would rise to about 16 a year from 1.6 in the same period.

Heat-related health problems would be felt most by people living near the coast or in low-lying river valleys, according to scientists in Switzerland and the United States writing in the journal Nature Geoscience about health and heat projections.

"Some of the most densely populated European regions, such as the urban areas of Athens, Bucharest, Marseilles, Milan, Rome and Naples, would experience the severest changes in health indicators," they wrote. (Reuters)

It's a good thing no one lives in climate models, eh?

 

El Nino Rapidly Fading, La Nina Just Around the Corner?

The most recent El Nino event is rapidly dying, as seen in the following plot of sea surface temperature (SST) variations averaged over the Nino3.4 region (5N to 5S, 120W to 170W) as measured by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite during its period of record, 2 June 2002 through yesterday, 13 May 2010:

The 60-day cooling rate as of yesterday was the strongest seen yet in the 8 year period of record for the Nino3.4 region.

A similar plot of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) data, based upon the sea level air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin is consistent with the SST cooling, showing an increase in the pressure gradient across the tropical South Pacific, which portends increasing trade winds and cooling of the ocean surface:

A plot of these two time series against one another (next plot) reveals that the most recent SSTs are unusually warm for the 60-day average SOI value:

There are at least three ways to interpret this excursion from the average relationship seen in the plot. One is that longer-term warming, whether natural or anthropogenic, has raised the temperature ‘baseline’ about which the El Nino/La Nina events oscillate.

A second possibility is that we are in for continued rapid cooling in the Pacific as the SSTs fall to values more consistent with the SOI index.

A third is that the current excursion toward La Nina territory is going to reverse, and SOI values will decrease to more neutral conditions, while SSTs remain relatively high.

As is always the case, all we can do is sit back and watch. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

India's 2010 Monsoon To Arrive On May 30: Government

Monsoon rains, critical to farm output in India's trillion-dollar economy, will arrive on May 30, two days before normal, India's Earth Sciences Minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Friday.

India's weather office has already forecast a normal June-September monsoon this year after the 2009 season saw the worst drought in nearly four decades.

The forecast will be updated next month.

A statement from the India Meteorology Department said monsoon clouds would appear over the Andaman Sea next week and move to the mainland ahead of the normal onset date of June 1.

"The model suggests the date of onset of south-west monsoon over Kerala is likely to be on May 30, with a model error of four days," the statement said. (Reuters)

 

Meandering solar cycle 23 to 24 transition

Ten months have passed since my last post on the slow transition between solar cycles 23 & 24 and my graphics series showing the utter failure of the April 2007 NASA/NOAA prediction. Seems just yesterday but it was Dec 2006 when we first talked about a slow transition to a cooler cycle 24.

Trying this new graphic (data from SWO) it looks to me as though cycle 23 is not yet out of the woods.

Solar cycle 23 to 24 transition

I must dig out the latest NASA/NOAA prediction and track this later in the year.

Currently at the SolarCycle24.com web pages they talk about a very quiet sun. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Hey dude, where’s my solar ramp up?

Guest post by David Archibald

The prognostications based on spotless days are now a distant memory. From here, given that the green corona brightness indicates that solar maximum will in 2015, the big unknown is what the maximum amplitude will be. We are now eighteen months into a six year rise to solar maximum. What is interesting is that in the last few days, the F10.7 flux has fallen to values last seen in late 2009:

The red line is a possible uptrend based on the data to date. That uptrend would result in a maximum F10.7 amplitude in 2015 of about 105. Using the relationship between F10.7 flux and sunspot number, that in turn means a maximum amplitude in terms of sunspot number of 50 – a Dalton Minimum-like result. Dr Svalgaard has kindly provided a graphic of the relationship between sunspot number and F10.7 flux:

Dr Svalgaard has also done the work to show that Solar Cycle 24 is looking less and less like Solar Cycle 19:

The red line is the Solar Cycle 18 to 19 minimum, and the blue is the Solar Cycle 23 to 24 minimum. Dr Svalgaard updates this graphic daily at: http://www.leif.org/research/F107%20at%20Minima%201954%20and%202008.png (WUWT)

 

Geologist Declares 'global warming is over' -- Warns U.S. Climate Conference of 'Looming Threat of Global Cooling'

'Expect global cooling for the next 2-3 decades that will be far more damaging than global warming would have been'

CHICAGO -- A prominent U.S. geologist is urging the world to forget about global warming because global cooling has already begun.

Geologist Dr. Don Easterbrook's warning came in the form of a new scientific paper he presented to the 4th International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago on May 16, 2010. Dr. Easterbrook is an Emeritus Professor at Western Washington University who has authored eight books and 150 journal publications. Easterbrook's full resume is here.

Dr. Easterbrook joins many other scientists, peer-reviewed research and scientific societies warning of a coming global cooling. Easterbrook is presenting his findings alongside other man-made global warming skeptics at the three day conference in Chicago. (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)

 

IPCC-UKMO-Jones et al errors with Russian temperature trends Lake Baikal region

A decade ago I wrote my “USSR High Magnitude Climate Warming Anomalies 1901-1996″. In January I posted “Surface minus satellites – some differences look political” finding that for the huge Asian gridbox 40 to 70 North – 60 to 130 East; HadCRUT3 warmed over UAH MSU lower troposphere 1979-2008 giving a possible surface error of 0.13 deg C per decade – an error in excess of the rate of IPCC GW.

Out of curiosity I looked at what the UKMO/Jones et al are using for Irkutsk now and compared to gridbox data. Because Irkutsk is at 104.3 East I took the two 5 deg gridboxes 50 to 55 North – 100 to 110 East , puts Irkutsk fairly central.

The difference between CRUT3 and UAH MSU 1979-2009 for the gridbox 50 to 55 North – 100 to 110 East is now 0.137 deg decade and for Irkutsk station minus UAH MSU 0.159 deg decade.

To wrap up for now, a graphic of Irkutsk and smaller regionals UKMO station data compared to satellite lower troposphere and a graphic of Irkutsk UKMO minus Barguzin. Note both Barguzin and Zigalovo have identical huge gaps from 1990-2008 so we have just 2009 building the time series again. Maybe some Russian readers might know where the missing data may be. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Left-coast loons: Western Senators Propose Ban on Pacific Drilling

WASHINGTON — The political ripples from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster spread in the capital on Thursday as six West Coast senators proposed a permanent ban on drilling in the Pacific and another group tried to raise oil company liability in a spill to $10 billion from the current $75 million.

The move by senators from California, Oregon and Washington, all Democrats, was largely symbolic because there are no plans at present to open the West Coast to drilling. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, withdrew a modest plan for new offshore drilling shortly after the gulf accident. (NYT)

 

Obama Vows End to ‘Cozy’ Oversight of Oil Industry

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday angrily assailed the finger-pointing among the three companies involved in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a “ridiculous spectacle,” even as his own administration came under criticism for failing to do enough to prevent an environmental calamity.

In remarks during an appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama also criticized what he called the “cozy relationship” between the government and the oil industry that has existed for decades, even into his own administration. He acknowledged that federal agencies had failed to ensure that safety and environmental standards were being met and announced a thorough review of the oversight process. (NYT)

 

U.S. Said to Allow Drilling Without Needed Permits

WASHINGTON — The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.

Those approvals, federal records show, include one for the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and resulting in thousands of barrels of oil spilling into the gulf each day.

The Minerals Management Service, or M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half-dozen current and former agency scientists.

Those scientists said they were also regularly pressured by agency officials to change the findings of their internal studies if they predicted that an accident was likely to occur or if wildlife might be harmed. (NYT)

 

Lawrence Solomon: A US$13-billion business

Is it any wonder that the BP calamity occurred? Here’s what has been preoccupying its environmental regulator, the Minerals Management Service, ever since MMS was established in 1982.

“Record for number of lease sales in a year,” MMS crowed, referring to its success in 1983. “Greatest high bid dollar amount received in a lease sale,” it added, displaying its haul to the very last digit: “US$3,469,214,969 in the Central Gulf of Mexico.” In 1984, more records: “Most tracts offered at a lease sale (8,868 tracts in Eastern Gulf of Mexico)”; “Record number of exploratory wells drilled in a year (597)”; and “Record number of platform installations in a year (229).”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Court Backs Oil Project

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected an effort by environmental and Native American groups to stop exploratory oil drilling off the coast of Alaska that could begin this summer.

The decision, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, rejected several claims by the groups, including that the United States Minerals Management Service did not adequately consider the possibility that the project could cause a large oil spill in the remote Arctic.

The project is led by Shell Oil, which paid $2.1 billion in 2008 for rights to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, off Alaska’s north coast. (NYT)

 

BP says tube is sucking oil from Gulf well

In the first significant progress in nearly a month toward stopping a massive Gulf of Mexico oil leak, BP said a 1.6km-long tube was siphoning most of the crude from a blown well to a tanker ship after three days of wrestling to get the stopgap measure into place on the seafloor.

BP spokesman Mark Proegler said the contraption was hooked up successfully and sucking most of the oil from the leak. Engineers remotely guiding robot submersibles had worked since Friday to place the tube into a 53cm pipe nearly 1.6km below the sea.

Previous attempts to use emergency valves and a 100-tonne container had failed to stop the leak that has spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, threatening sea life, commercial fishing and the coastal tourism industry from Louisiana to Florida. BP has also been burning small amounts of floating oil and spraying chemical dispersants above and below the surface.

Researchers, meanwhile, warned on Sunday that kilometers-long underwater plumes of oil from the spill could poison and suffocate sea life across the food chain, with damage that could endure for a decade or more. (AP)

 

Coast Guard Sees Less Threat Of Huge Oil Landfall

The oil slick from the huge uncontrolled spill in the Gulf of Mexico has broken into smaller parts, and while potentially catastrophic, may pose less threat of a massive landfall, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen said on Friday.

"The character of the slick has changed somewhat, it is disaggregated into smaller patches of oil," said Allen, who is leading the response to contain what could be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

"It's not a monolithic spill, we're dealing with oil where it's at," Allen added.

Thin surface oil "sheen" and globs and balls of tar from the spill so far mostly have affected outlying parts of the Louisiana coastline. Tar balls also have washed ashore on Alabama's Dauphin Island. (Reuters)

 

Power games

Polonius. To England send him, or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.

King. It shall be so.
Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.

Exeunt.

Once again Christopher Booker is a lone voice in pointing out the most egregious and dangerous appointment in the cobbling together of the UK Con-Lib coalition. This is the appointment of Chris Huhne to be Minister for Energy and Climate change. We have seen before how cavalier Huhne is with data misrepresentation. If he is allowed to carry on with his pro-wind and anti-nuclear campaign from a position of Governmental authority, power cuts are inevitable and will be dire. People are going to die. (Number Watch)

 

Campaigners believe war on climate change will be stymied

The parties are divided over nuclear power, offshore oil drilling and many other green issues - and critics say that will hinder the fight against global warming

Fears that the UK's fight against climate change will be lost in the confusion of the Liberal-Conservative coalition were underlined yesterday when divisions between the two parties were exposed over nuclear power, renewable energy, airport expansion and offshore oil drilling.

It emerged that the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne – one of the most senior Lib Dems in the Cabinet – is to cede responsibility for civil nuclear energy policy to his Tory deputy, Charles Hendry, who will steer any legislation through Parliament. Mr Huhne is opposed to nuclear power on public spending grounds. (The Independent)

This Huhne bloke seems to be either serially misquoted or a total loon: "Mr Huhne yesterday reiterated his opposition to nuclear power. He told The Times: "This is an island surrounded by sea; we can use offshore tidal power, wind power, and we are sitting on enormous stocks of coal. We ought to be able to put together a policy that is non-carbon and independent from foreign sources.""

A policy as non-carbon as coal? Works for us...

 

Power Density Primer: Understanding the Spatial Dimension of the Unfolding Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation (Part V – Comparing the Power Densities of Electricity Generation)

by Vaclav Smil
May 14, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the conclusion of the series that provides an essential basis for the understanding of energy transitions and use. The previous posts in this series can be seen at:

Part I – Definitions

Part II – Coal- and Wood-Fired Electricity Generation

Part III – Natural Gas-Fired Electricity Generation

Part IV – New Renewables Electricity Generation

America’s dominant mode of electricity generation is via combustion of bituminous and sub-bituminous coal in large thermal stations. All such plants have boilers and steam turbogenerators and electrostatic precipitators to capture fly ash, but they burn different qualities of coal that may come from surface as well as underground mines, have different arrangements for cooling (once-through using river water or various cooling towers) and many have flue gas desulfurization to reduce SO2 emissions. Consequently, these conversions of chemical energy in coal to electricity feature widely differing power densities: for the power plants alone they are commonly in excess of 2 kW/m2 and can be as high as 5 kW/m2. When all other requirements (coal mining, storage, environmental controls, settling ponds) are included, the densities inevitably decline and range over an order of magnitude: from as low as 100 W/m2 to as much as 1,000 W (1 kW)/m2.

In contrast, compact gas turbines plants (the smallest ones on trailers and larger facilities that can be rapidly assembled from prefabricated units), which can be connected to existing gas supply, can generate electricity with power density as high as 15 kW/m2. Larger stations (>100 MW) using the most efficient combined-cycle arrangements (with a gas turbine’s exhaust used to generate steam for an attached steam turbine) will operate with lower power densities, and if new natural gas extraction capacities have to be developed for their operation then the overall power density of gas and electricity production would decline to a range similar to that of coal-fired thermal generation or slightly higher, that is in most cases to a range of 200-2000 W/m2. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Heritage Foundation Windpower Study: Response to Center for American Progress

by David Kreutzer
May 15, 2010

[David Kruetzer is research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.. This is his first post at MasterResource.]

Building on the misconception that renewable energy is cheap, some legislators and activists propose mandating that minimum fractions of our electric supply come from designated renewables. Wind and solar are at the top of this list. Al Gore wants 100 percent renewables in less than a decade; others propose less ambitious targets.

The problem is that renewables are expensive, not to mention unreliable and environmentally questionable. Mandates would only force consumers to pay ever higher electric rates as this minimum in an renewable electricity standard (RES) grows year by year.

The Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation recently analyzed the economic impact of an RES, such as proposed in federal legislation. We found that starting with a 3 percent mandate in 2012, and ramping it up by 1.5 percent each year, will by 2035:

  • Reduce national income (GDP) by over $5 trillion even after adjusting for inflation, which translates to an average annual loss of $2,400 for a family of four.
  • Destroy a million jobs.
  • Raise electric rates by 35 to 60 percent (after adjusting for inflation).

These impacts are driven by the fact that the cheapest renewable electricity source costs twice as much per megawatt-hour as the most economical conventional sources. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

More money please! Stakeholders Team Up To Expand Europe's Super-Grid

In order to incorporate more renewable energy – especially offshore wind – into the European grid, financing and technological questions must be addressed. (Renewable Energy World)

 

 

Guess What Greece Has To Jettison?

Policy Failure: Greece was told that if it wanted a bailout, it needed to consider privatizing its government health care system. So tell us again why the U.S. is following Europe's welfare state model.

The requirement, part of a deal arranged by the IMF, the European Union and the European Central bank, is a tacit admission that national health care programs are unsustainable. Along with transportation and energy, the bailout group, according to the New York Times, wants the Greek government to remove "the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors."

This is not some cranky or politically motivated demand. It is a condition based on the ugly reality of government medicine. The Times reports that economists — not right-wingers opposed to health care who want to blow up Times Square — say liberalizing "the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe."

Of course most of the media have been largely silent about the health care privatization measure for Greece, as it conflicts with their universal, single-payer health care narrative. (IBD)

 

NYT: Attorneys General Advance “a Credible Theory for Eviscerating” ObamaCare

Posted by Michael F. Cannon

The New York Times‘ Kevin Sack reports on the legal challenge to ObamaCare’s individual mandate launched by 20 state attorneys general:

Some legal scholars, including some who normally lean to the left, believe the states have identified the law’s weak spot and devised a credible theory for eviscerating it…

Jonathan Turley, who teaches at George Washington University Law School, said that if forced to bet, he would predict that the courts would uphold the health care law. But Mr. Turley said that the federal government’s case was far from open-and-shut, and that he found the arguments against the mandate compelling.

“There are few cases in the history of the court system that have a more significant assertion of authority by the government,” said Mr. Turley, a civil libertarian who acknowledged being strange bedfellows with the conservative theorists behind the lawsuit. “This case, more than any other, may give the court sticker shock in terms of its impact on federalism.”

Supporters claim the individual mandate will pass muster with the Supreme Court because in the past the Court has declared that the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause authorizes Congress to regulate non-commercial activity that affects interstate commerce. Sack writes:

Lawyers for the government will contend that, because of the cost-shifting nature of health insurance, people who do not obtain coverage inevitably affect the pricing and availability of policies for everyone else. That, they will argue, is enough to satisfy the Supreme Court’s test.

But to [the attorneys' general outside counsel David] Rivkin, the acceptance of that argument would herald an era without limits.

“Every decision you can make as a human being has an economic footprint — whether to procreate, whether to marry,” he said. “To say that is enough for your behavior to be regulated transforms the Commerce Clause into an infinitely capacious font of power, whose exercise is only restricted by the Bill of Rights.”

Sack’s article contains an inaccuracy.  He writes:

Congressional bill writers took steps to immunize the law against constitutional challenge…They labeled the penalty on those who do not obtain coverage an “excise tax,” because such taxes enjoy substantial constitutional protection.

In fact, the law uses the term “excise tax” several times, but never in reference to the penalty for violating the individual mandate.  It describes that penalty solely as a penalty.  (The law does refer to the penalty for violating the employer mandate as a tax, but not an excise tax.)

As my Cato colleague Randy Barnett explains, that means supporters cannot reasonably claim that the individual mandate’s penalty is a tax, because that’s not what Congress approved.  As Cato chairman Bob Levy explains, even if supporters do claim that penalty is a tax, it would be an unconstitutional tax, because it does not fit into any of the categories of taxes the Constitution authorizes Congress to impose.

The “substantial constitutional protections” afforded to excise taxes do not protect the individual mandate. (Cato at liberty)

 

FDA needs new tools to check food, drugs: experts

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is stuck using crude tools to measure the benefits of food, drugs and supplements and needs a whole new set of standards, a panel of experts said on Wednesday.

Relying on so-called biomarkers is confusing the entire process of drug development, the public and doctors alike, they said.

The FDA also needs to use the same strict standards for assessing health claims of food and supplements as it does for drugs, said the panel appointed by the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government.

The committee recommended a new framework the FDA could use for judging studies that companies provide to support health and safety claims for their products.

"Congress may need to strengthen FDA authority to accomplish this goal," the institute's report reads.

The Obama administration is tackling the issue of food and health on several fronts. On Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama released a 70-point plan for reducing childhood obesity, including a call for marketing healthier food.

The committee's report focuses on biomarkers, which can include measures as simple as temperature. Common biomarkers include levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.

Drugs to treat diabetes are often approved simply because they lower blood sugar and heart drugs can win FDA approval because they lower cholesterol. But the report said this does not mean they make patients healthier.

"This is a groundbreaking report that tells us we should really think carefully about the use of biomarkers and surrogates," Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University who sat on the panel, said in a telephone interview. (Reuters)

 

Perchlorate not tied to pregnancy thyroid problems

NEW YORK - Everyday exposure to perchlorate, an industrial chemical found in drinking water and a range of foods, may not impair thyroid function in pregnant women, a new study suggests.

"Our data are reassuring," lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth N. Pearce, of Boston University School of Medicine, told Reuters Health in an email. "Although low-level perchlorate exposure was ubiquitous in the pregnant women we studied, perchlorate exposure was not associated with alterations in their thyroid function."

Perchlorate is used to manufacture rocket propellant, fireworks, flares and explosives. It is also found as an impurity in some industrial and consumer products, like cleaners and bleaches. In the environment, perchlorate is found at low levels in drinking water and foods such as milk, wheat and a range of fruits and vegetables, and a 2002 U.S. government study found perchlorate in urine samples from all 2,820 adults included.

In the body, sufficiently high levels of perchlorate slow down the transport of iodine to the thyroid gland, which churns out hormones that regulate metabolism and requires iodine. So there are concerns that perchlorate exposure could impair thyroid function -- an effect that would be particularly troubling during pregnancy, as adequate thyroid hormone is necessary for fetal brain development. (Reuters Health)

 

Benefits of prenatal vitamin A last a decade: study

BOSTON - Children whose malnourished mothers took vitamin A during pregnancy had stronger lungs throughout childhood, with the benefits measurable well past the age of 9, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Lung capacity was about 3 percent higher in children whose mothers took vitamin A compared to those whose mothers received a placebo, the study of 1,371 children in Nepal showed.

"Early interventions involving vitamin A supplementation in communities where undernutrition is highly prevalent may have long-lasting consequences for lung health," Dr. William Checkley of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

When mothers were given beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, their children did not score higher on the lung capacity test.

The benefits are believed to have come from treatment during pregnancy because all the children received regular vitamin A supplements after birth. (Reuters)

 

Cancer scare headlines are not new

Scientists and journalists have been publishing overblown reports for a century – no wonder people still don't trust them

"It would be difficult to think of any article of diet which has not, at one time or another, been blamed as a cancer-producing substance. The list includes tea, coffee, cocoa, white bread – and also brown bread – cheese, butter, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry."

This is a quote from the Times newspaper, and many people will empathise with its sense of exasperation at the steadily increasing and sometimes contradictory list of things we are told apparently either causes or prevents cancer.

After all, how many of us have not at some point picked up a newspaper with a cancer-related headline and muttered something about scientists always changing their minds?

But what people might find surprising is that this quote appeared in the Times way back in 1927.

We tend to think of the idea that your diet affects your risk of cancer as being a relatively new thing, and it is true this area of science has only really come into its own in the last 30-odd years. But this quote suggests that while the evidence has been strong enough to form the basis of solid lifestyle advice only relatively recently, the feeling of being bombarded with health messages has a longer history.

Again, most people would not be surprised to see the Daily Mail run a story headlined "The truth about cancer", citing the reason for many cases as apparently a lack of potassium in the body. But what people might not expect is that this story was published in 1916.

The Guardian, meanwhile, was reporting in 1927 that "there does not appear to be any hereditary disposition to cancer", and that "cancer, as far as we know, is not caused by any special food or foods, nor by the absence of special foods". Research has since shown this is incorrect. When you realise that newspapers have been publishing these sorts of stories about cancer for at least a century, it is understandable that people are cynical about what scientists tell them. (Richard Evans, The Guardian)

No, they are not new and they are still not right, either. The simple fact is most cancers are a perfectly natural result of aging as imperfect cell copies proliferate over time.

 

Skin condition more likely in educated parents' kids

NEW YORK - Children of highly educated parents may be more prone to an irritating skin disorder than peers from less educated families, a new study suggests.

Austrian researchers note in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology that as many as one in five children between the ages of 6 and 14 suffer from atopic dermatitis, a common type of eczema, which causes itchy and scaly rashes.

According to the study's authors, Dr. Gerald Haidinger and his Medical University of Vienna colleague, Dr. Andrea Weber, children whose parents had a high school or college diploma were, on average, about 30 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with eczema than children whose parents had less education. (Reuters Health)

Hmm... higher education is also associated with higher income levels and a greater affordability for and propensity to seek treatment for mild conditions and irritations. Could it be that mothers with lower qualifications and commensurate incomes are simply more likely to seek OTC remedies rather than actually having their kids officially diagnosed and treated?

 

Gibbering nutcase du jour: Chemtrails: The Consequences of Toxic Metals and Chemical Aerosols on Human Health Part I

by Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri

For decades, we have known that heavy metals and chemicals can cause grave physical harm. Going back to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” we have known and been amply warned of the serious consequences of using or being exposed to these poisons in our daily activities. Thousands of these are well-documented carcinogens.

Building on Carson’s ground-breaking research, ... (Global Research)

 

Ban sugary soda from US food stamps- food expert

WASHINGTON, May 13 - Congress should ban sugary sodas from the $58 billion-a-year U.S. food stamp program as a step to combat the obesity crisis, the House Agriculture Committee was told on Thursday.

Wellesley College professor and food expert Rob Paarlberg suggested the ban during a hearing to review the 2008 farm law, which includes food stamps as well as crop subsidies. Food stamps help low-income people buy food. One in eight Americans receives food stamps.

The anti-hunger program accounts for 40 percent of Agriculture Department spending and outweighs crop subsidy and land stewardship spending of $10 billion this year.

"I would argue caloric soda should be made ineligible for purchase under SNAP, like tobacco and alcohol," said Paarlberg, using the new name for food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He later said sugary sodas are "a huge part of the obesity problem." (Reuters)

 

Guess Who’s Behind the New Fire-Sprinkler Mandates

Posted by Walter Olson

California just adopted effective next year a requirement that all new one- and two-family dwellings include indoor sprinkler systems. Other states are debating similar mandates, spurred by changes to national building code standards. Earlier legal mandates have required the inclusion of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, but the cost of those devices is relatively minor, whereas full-blown sprinkler systems add measurably to the cost of a new home, as well as posing challenges in such areas as maintenance, aesthetics, and risk of property damage through accidental activation.

It will surprise not a single reader of these columns, I suspect, to learn that the fire sprinkler industry has been a major force in pushing the new mandate. As for the opposition, home builders have managed to mount a bit of resistance — New Jersey, for example, saw the current depressed state of the residential construction business as reason to postpone its mandate for a year. But the builders are pretty much on their own in the fight, since future buyers of new homes are a group with no organized political presence whatsoever.

Real estate blogger Christopher Fountain writes that he’s “never heard of a home buyer voluntarily ordering this equipment when building a house, so it sounds to me like one more instance of people who know better dictating to those who don’t.” Exactly. A South Carolina paper quotes a state official as saying if buyers feel priced out of the new home market by the cost of the mandate, they have other ways to save money “such as choosing less expensive flooring or countertops, or not installing yard sprinklers”. Easy to make someone else’s budget decisions for them, isn’t it? And shouldn’t the “affordable housing” community be taking more of an interest? (Cato at liberty)

 

Vehicular Homicide

“Congress is designing everything from the braking system in your next car to the loan with which you’ll finance it. Be very afraid.”

Today Paul Ingrassia points out that the government is making sure that your next car will cost you much more.

“Having spent more than $100 billion to rescue the American auto industry, Congress now seems intent to destroy what it saved.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W. Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) demand even more safety regulation. They want elaborate and expensive electronic data recorders, or "black boxes” to be installed in all new cars within two years.

“The legislation is prompted by the fast-fading furor over unintended acceleration in Toyotas. It's about as necessary as a law protecting people from elephant stampedes in Central Park.”

That, plus America’s existing CAFE standards, suggest that the politicians wish to force car companies to produce vehicles that most Americans don’t want to buy.

"In most businesses that's a recipe for losing money. But if it happens to the car companies, well, Congress can always mount another bailout.”

(John Stossel, Fox Business)

 

More Job-Killing Regulation

Today’s New York Times carries the headline: “With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion”

You bet.  Were there cheers and high-fives in the newsroom when they wrote that?  It’s like Tiger Woods announcing: “More women at PGA events.”

The Times suggests that the Bush Administration’s “deregulatory agenda had gone too far.”

To that I say, what deregulatory agenda?  Bush talked about deregulation, but his bureaucrats added more pages to the Federal Register than any other administration. Bureaucrats never stop passing rules.

The Times quotes the new activist head of OSHA: “We have to turn up the volume to make it very clear that OSHA is on the job.”

What nonsense. Agencies like OSHA are job-killers that rarely make us safer. Here’s a graph showing that workplace deaths declined since OSHA was created:

OSHA administrators like showing that graph. It looks impressive if you don’t look at the next graph, which shows that deaths had dropped just as fast before OSHA existed.

In a free country, things get better on their own. Big Government lovers cannot fathom that idea. (John Stossel, Fox Business)

 

NEW VIDEO: Heritage’s Entry to the EPA Video Contest

In case you had any doubts about whether Washington bureaucrats were completely out of touch with ordinary Americans, the Environmental Protection Agency is here to reassure you—they are.

While Americans across the country have been tightening their belts and dealing with a wave of new taxes, fees, and regulations, the EPA has launched a video contest to celebrate their brand of over-regulation. They are offering $2,500 to whomever puts together the best video lauding the merits of regulation in American life. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Expecting the UN to adhere to the rule of law? Angry Australian judge keeps UN chief's lawyers at bay

AN AUSTRALIAN judge has torn strips off the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, accusing him of ''wilful disobedience'' in a case involving a senior UN official who claimed he was unfairly denied a promotion.

The NSW Supreme Court judge Michael Adams has refused to allow Mr Ban's lawyers to speak in court until they comply with an order to produce internal documents related to the case.

''In my review the refusal constituted an attack on the rule of law embodied in the statute of the tribunal,'' he wrote in a ruling on March 8.

The UN lawyers have argued that Justice Adams has no authority to interfere with Mr Ban's appointment of top officials, comparing Mr Ban's decision-making powers to those of a head of state appointing a member of cabinet.

Mr Ban has refused to comply with numerous orders from a new UN personnel tribunal to hand over confidential documents and other sensitive information needed to resolve legal claims by UN employees of unfair treatment, according to court documents. (SMH)

 

Um...no: Green-collar army invades job market

ELECTRICIANS installing roof-top wind farms, plumbers advising on waste recycling and suburban accountants calculating the carbon footprint of the corner store.

It will all be part of the service once a sizeable chunk of the workforce has been transformed into a green-collar army, new research reveals.

The Skills for Green Jobs in Australia project from Sydney University's Workplace Research Centre has found traditional blue- and white-collar jobs are going green as demand for energy-efficient products and services increases. (SMH)

 

Benefits of bike network far outweigh cost, says study

AN INNER-CITY network of bike paths would deliver economic benefits more than triple the cost of building it, according to the first full economic appraisal of cycleways in Australia.

The report, commissioned by the City of Sydney and to be released today, says the 293-kilometre network proposed by 15 councils would deliver $506 million in economic benefits to the community over 30 years, $3.88 for every dollar spent. (SMH)

Getting road lice out of the real transport system is definitely a plus. What we really need is for punitive registration and taxation of any of the hazardous things that interfere with actual road transport, something commensurate with the societal costs imposed by their slowing thousands of journeys and wasting hundreds of potentially productive man hours with every mile they are on the roads. Where to start? One bicycle registration about the same cost as 10,000 passenger vehicles or maybe 1,000 semitrailers? Nowhere near their nuisance value, I know but you have to start low and give people time to convert to more socially appropriate transport methods.

 

Club of Rome recycled: the apocalyptos wail on... Yes, we can change society before global crises overwhelm us

We should be neither too pessimistic nor complacent about environmental collapse (Simon Lewis, The Guardian)

Let's see, dazzling examples of the wonderful environments provided by Socialist central planning and control, coupled with marvelously reduced standards of living would be: the former USSR; North Korea and; Zimbabwe? Capitalism is just so environmentally terrible, isn't it?

 

Is Hickman naïve or just woefully ignorant? Glenn Beck holds up Maurice Strong as evidence of 'global government' conspiracy

Ideologically fuelled climate sceptics, such as Fox News' Beck claim global warming is being used by malevolent forces to achieve their master plan (Leo Hickman, The Guardian)

Maybe Leo should try a little back grounding -- say start with "International Man of Mystery: Who is Maurice Strong?" by Ron Bailey. Perhaps check out the UNEP agenda from the 40th session, 1988, where so many of the nonsense environmental issues were promoted to seize world governance (they are all there, acid rain, ozone depletion, global warming and deforestation and none of them are real global issues).

Whatever, here's a link to the rush transcript of 'Glenn Beck': Climate Cloaking a Hidden Agenda

 

Wishful whacko thinking: Opinion Polls Underestimate Americans' Concern about the Environment

When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing the country, fewer than 3 percent mention the environment. But when asked to name the most serious problem facing the planet if left unchecked, the environment and global warming rise to the top, according to a May 2010 study by Woods Institute Senior Fellow Jon Krosnick.

Krosnick and colleagues from Stanford and the Associated Press analyzed the results of a recent Internet survey of 906 adults. When asked "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?" about 49 percent of respondents answered the economy or unemployment, while only 1 percent mentioned the environment or global warming.

But when asked, "What do you think will be the most serious problem facing the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it?" 25 percent said the environment or global warming, and only 10 percent picked the economy. In fact, environmental issues were cited more often than any other category, including terrorism, which was only mentioned by 10 percent of respondents. (Woods Institute for the Environment) [not to be confused with the prestigious research institute Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)]

I wonder what kind of pleading it took: "But, imagining every real problem has been fixed, what would you worry about then? It'd be the environment, right, like global warming, you'd worry about it then, wouldn't you? Come on, you'd have to be worried about stuff like that sometime... please?"

 

Preserve an Ecosystem, or Preserve an EPA Rule?

Prescribed fires are necessary to preserve a prairie ecosystem, but the smoke causes regulatory problems for cities downwind. It's the EPA versus nature.
May 14, 2010
- by Patrick Richardson

Representative Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced legislation in the House to require an exemption to the Clean Air Act for prescribed burns of the Flint Hills region of Kansas and Oklahoma.

The exemption is needed because the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring something impossible — a plan which would lay out the time, location, and frequency of the burns which are required to keep the prairie healthy and intact. Given the variability of weather in Kansas, these three things are simply impossible to predict in an area that stretches hundreds of miles from northeast Kansas to northeast Oklahoma. (PJM)

 

Scientists offer new take on selective fishing

A new, less selective approach to commercial fishing is needed to ensure the ongoing productivity of marine ecosystems and to maintain biodiversity, according to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. (CSIRO)

 

From the "Gosh they come up with some twaddle" files: Rising CO2 levels threaten crops and food quality

Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide interfere with plants’ ability to convert nitrate into protein and could threaten food quality, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The scientists suggest that, as global climate change intensifies, it will be critical for farmers to carefully manage nitrogen fertilization in order to prevent losses in crop productivity and quality. (UC Davis)

Quite literally thousands of studies have been performed over the years on CO2 growth enhancement in green plants -- that it is particularly good for them is the reason commercial growers spend good money generating CO2 to increase diurnal levels in their greenhouses. Now here we have some Left-coast loons so determined to follow the teachings of the prophet Al on the evils of CO2 they've contrived a "plant food is bad for plants" piece.

Well guess what? Nature just doesn't seem to share their particular enthusiasms as even NASA has made releases on increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels so greening the world it's observable from space.

Sigh...

 

Uh-huh... Pest Munches Up China Fields After GM Crop Sprays Halt

A once minor pest has ravaged fruit orchards and cotton fields in China after farmers stopped spraying insecticide in crops of a genetically-modified type of cotton resistant to bollworms, experts said.

China started growing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in 1997 because it gave better yields and stood up to bollworms, but a key fallout has been a thriving population of mirid bugs, which were earlier just an insignificant pest.

"Entire swathes of agricultural land that never had any problem with this pest are facing a major problem," said Kongming Wu at the State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests in Beijing.

The bug had infested plantations of apples, strawberries, pears, peaches and vegetables, Wu told Reuters by telephone, adding that the problem emerged after regular insecticide spraying had been halted.

"Bollworms love to go to cotton fields in June," he said. "So when we were cultivating normal cotton in the past, we would spray insecticides every June. That meant every June, other pests were also eradicated.

"After we started cultivating Bt cotton, we no longer needed to spray insecticides. That's why other pests like the mirid bug are thriving in cotton fields and have become a major pest." (Reuters)

Growing Bt cotton reduces pesticide applications and incidental non-target insect kill (wasn't that what enviros wanted?) and this is supposed to be a bad thing because it has reduced pesticide applications and incidental non-target insect kill... And this is different from the side-effects of reduced pesticide organic agriculture how, exactly?

 

Companies Put Restrictions On Research into GM Crops

A battle is quietly being waged between the industry that produces genetically modified seeds and scientists trying to investigate the environmental impacts of engineered crops. Although companies such as Monsanto have recently given ground, researchers say these firms are still loath to allow independent analyses of their patented — and profitable — seeds. (Bruce Stutz, e360)

 

UN Determined to Destroy America’s Second Amendment

The United Nations wants to control small arms in order to promote peace and security, but their own research contradicts this rhetoric.

- by Howard Nemerov

The United Nations declared the week of May 10-16 to be the “Global Week of Action against Gun Violence.”

According to the UN, guns destroy personal freedom:

Governments have a responsibility to ensure public safety, and a vested interest in providing human security and an environment conducive to development to their citizens. However, the excessive accumulation and universal availability of small arms negatively impact on security, human rights and social and economic development in many parts of the world.

The UN seeks a “comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.”

Last October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared the Obama administration’s support for the United Nations plan to regulate “convention arms transfers.” Brady-endorsed Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D, CA-10) was chosen as under secretary for arms control and international security in the State Department.

Fortunately, sufficient data exists among UN non-governmental organizations to determine if civilian firearms ownership will “negatively impact on security, human rights and social and economic development.”

The Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, publishes an annual report entitled “Small Arms Survey.” This organization doesn’t support civilian firearms ownership. Its mission page illustrates its agreement with the UN’s goals:

The proliferation of small arms and light weapons represents a grave threat to human security. The unchecked spread of these weapons has exacerbated inter- and intra-state conflicts, contributed to human rights violations, undermined political and economic development, destabilized communities, and devastated the lives of millions of people.

The 2003-2005 and 2007 editions of “Small Arms Survey” contain estimates of civilian firearms ownership rates in 59 surveyed countries.

Freedom House, founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and others “concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy,” is a leading international advocate for personal liberty. Their annual report, Freedom in the World,” rates each country’s level of individual political rights and civil liberties, defined as follows:

Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process, including the right to vote freely for distinct alternatives in legitimate elections, compete for public office, join political parties and organizations, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate. Civil liberties allow for the freedoms of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy without interference from the state.

Freedom House rates countries on a scale of 1 to 7 for each category, with 1 equating with the most rights. Countries are “Free” if they attain an average score of 1 to 2.5 (for both political and civil rights). Countries averaging between 2.5 and 5 are “Partly Free;” countries over 5 are “Not Free.”

The chart below collates countries’ average political and civil rights ratings with their level of civilian firearms ownership. The overall trend line shows the general correlation between firearms ownership and freedom. As civilian firearms ownership increases, freedom ratings decrease: more guns, more political and civil rights.

According to UN rhetoric, as firearms ownership increases, people should be less free: the trend line should slope up as it travels from left to right.

The Heritage Foundation is America’s “most broadly supported public policy research institute,” promoting “public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Each year, the Heritage Foundation publishes the “Economic Freedom Index,” which analyzes ten economic variables for each country. The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as:

[I]ndividuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.

The Heritage Foundation rates countries by the following grading scale: Economically “Free” countries have an overall score of 80-100; “Mostly Free” between 70 and 79.9; “Moderately Free” between 60 and 69.9, “Mostly Unfree” between 50 and 59.9; and economically “Repressed” countries average an overall score under 50.

The Heritage Foundation explains the difference between economic freedom and repression:

All government action involves coercion. Some minimal coercion is necessary for the citizens of a community or nation to defend themselves, promote the evolution of civil society, and enjoy the fruits of their labor…

When government coercion rises beyond the minimal level, however, it becomes corrosive to freedom—and the first freedom affected is economic freedom.

The chart below collates countries’ economic freedom with civilian firearms ownership. The overall trend line shows that as civilians firearms ownership increases, people have more economic freedom: more guns, more prosperity.

According to the UN, “excessive accumulation and universal availability of small arms negatively impact … economic development.”

Transparency International is a “politically non-partisan” global organization “leading the fight against corruption.” They publish an annual report entitled Corruption Perceptions Index,” which evaluates “the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians.”

The index “defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain.” The ideal government would score a 10: organized government corruption doesn’t exist; there’s no manipulation of political and economic processes for personal gain by bureaucrats or their families and associates.

The chart below collates countries’ corruption indices with civilian firearms ownership. The overall trend line shows that as civilians firearms ownership increases, governments are less corrupt: more guns, better-behaved government.

In the face of such facts, the UN’s agenda becomes obvious: By disarming civilians, governments will have free reign to abuse public office for private gain. Moreover, people won’t be able to do anything about it, because civilian disarmament also correlates with reduced political and civil rights. Disarmament also correlates with reduced economic freedom.

When added together, the result is feudalism, which historically is the most common socio-economic system, where the elite few control the vast majority of arms, power, and resources.

In case you think our Second Amendment will protect you, consider Obama’s perspective regarding our unique right to liberty as you watch him bow to the Saudi king and China’s president.

Instead of bowing to the UN’s global aspirations, we should share our hard-earned lessons of liberty with the rest of the world.

(The UN plans to take the next step on their arms treaty at the meeting planned for July 12-23, 2010.)

For more in-depth analysis of this topic, see “Is There a Relationship between Guns and Freedom? Comparative Results from 59 Nations,” co-authored with Professors David B. Kopel and Carl Moody.

Former civilian disarmament supporter and medical researcher Howard Nemerov investigates the civil liberty of self-defense and examines the issue of gun control, resulting in his book Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working? He appears frequently on NRA News as their “unofficial” analyst and was published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics with David Kopel and Carlisle Moody.

 

 

Kerry-Lieberman’s great American rip-off

There are only three things you need to know about the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill that was released Wednesday—it will accomplish nothing for the environment; it will cost a lot of money and it will financially enrich and politically empower a host of scoundrels.

Regardless of what you think about manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, it is undeniable that the emissions reductions contemplated by Kerry-Lieberman don’t amount to a hill of beans. The goal of Kerry-Lieberman, like the goal of the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, is to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.

But rather than such paltry emissions cuts, let’s say that starting next year, we just shut down America—zero emissions—and kept it shut down for the next 100 years. What difference would that make atmosphere-wise?

Roughly speaking, U.S. energy use (at 2005 levels) adds to atmospheric CO2 at a rate of about 1 part per million every three years. So after 100 years, U.S. energy use would add about 33 ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere. Is that a lot?

Well, atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 35 ppm since 1995 without producing any global warming at all—that’s according to IPCC contributor and Captain Climategate himself, the University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones. Moreover, physicists agree that every molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere has less global warming potential than the molecule that preceded it. So the next 35 ppm of atmospheric CO2 will have less impact than the preceding 35ppm, which had no discernible effect.

None of this is a secret, the EPA did this analysis for itself in 2007. ( Steve Milloy, Daily Caller)

 

 

Senate Gets a Climate and Energy Bill, Modified by a Gulf Spill That Still Grows

WASHINGTON — The long delayed and much amended Senate plan to deal with global warming and energy was unveiled on Wednesday to considerable fanfare but uncertain prospects.

After nearly eight months of negotiations with lawmakers and interest groups, Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, produced a 987-page bill that tries to limit climate-altering emissions, reduce oil imports and create millions of new energy-related jobs.

The sponsors rewrote the section on offshore oil drilling in recent days to reflect mounting concern over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, raising new hurdles for any future drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts while allowing it to proceed off Louisiana, Texas and Alaska.

Mr. Kerry said the United States was crippled by a broken energy policy and falling behind in the global race for leadership in clean-energy technology. (NYT)

 

A Bad Bet on Carbon

ON Wednesday, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman introduced their long-awaited Senate energy bill, which includes incentives of $2 billion per year for carbon capture and sequestration, the technology that removes carbon dioxide from the smokestack at power plants and forces it into underground storage. This significant allocation would come on top of the $2.4 billion for carbon capture projects that appeared in last year’s stimulus package.

That’s a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering. Lawmakers should stop perpetuating the hope that the technology can help make huge cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions. (Robert Bryce, NYT)

 

EPA Issues Rules On Biggest Carbon Polluters

The Obama Administration finalized rules on Thursday to cut greenhouse gas emissions from big factories and power plants starting next year aimed at giving momentum to the troubled climate bill.

Starting next year, the Environmental Protection Agency rules would require large power plants, factories and oil refineries that add capacity or do plant work to get permits proving they are using the latest green technology to cut emissions. The rule sets emitters up to face a host of future regulations if the climate bill fails.

"It's long past time we unleashed our American ingenuity and started building the efficient prosperous clean energy economy of the future," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

Although mounting industry lawsuits question EPA's authority on climate, President Barack Obama hopes the measure will push lawmakers in states heavily dependent on fossil fuels to support the climate bill. (Reuters)

Just legislate the EPA out of the picture and be done with it.

 

Peter Foster: Birthers, truthers and warmers

No paranoid fantasy of the Birthers ranks with the conviction that industrial society threatens life on Earth

The world is filled with wacky ideas. Some are much more dangerous than others. A tiny minority refuses to believe that President Obama has a U.S. birth certificate. Another fringe group holds that 9/11 was an inside job. And then there’s the conviction that man-made climate change threatens life on earth and demands vast new restrictions on wealth and freedom. This latter belief is preached by the same governments and supranational organizations that led the world into the current regulatory and sovereign debt morass, and are responsible for the even greater threat implied by unfunded welfare commitments. Climate catastrophism is also enthusiastically embraced by virtually all giant corporations (including the currently much-troubled BP and Toyota) and by state-funded and UN-promoted eco NGOs.

So let me see, where should we concentrate our political concerns: the “Birthers,” the “Truthers,” or the “Warmers?”

Read More » (Financial Post)

 

There's no right and wrong to tackling climate change

Mike Hulme says we need to stop looking for climate change scapegoats and start engaging in honest discussion (Mike Hulme for ChinaDialogue, part of the Guardian Environment Network)

Great! How about we start with: "What is the expected temperature of the planet?" There's some background information and references here for everyone to get started and even a scripted calculator to help you out.

 

Green Movement Hits Yellow Light on Climate

If a climate scientist falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

Not if the old media have anything to do with it. Thankfully, in 2010, their hold on the news has started to weaken.

But it’s not like they didn’t try. For more than five months, from Nov. 20, 2009, to April 1, 2010, the broadcast networks did all they could to hide a crisis in the climate alarmist movement.

That first event, now called Climate Gate, has grown into a series of global warming scandals that have shaken faith in both the science we are fed on a regular basis and the scientists who do the feeding.

This week in Chicago, the Heartland Institute is bringing together the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, a meeting of hundreds of scientists and policy experts who dare to challenge so-called conventional wisdom on global warming.

Instead of having a meeting, they should be having a celebration.

Not that they’ve won. They haven’t. But for the first time in many years, there is a public understanding that our daily diet of climate propaganda might be somewhat or even entirely bogus. That’s due in a large part to the embarrassments that came out of the initial Climate Gate report where e-mails from University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were leaked to the world. (Dan Gainor, Townhall)

 

Harper rejects UN chief's plea to make climate change G20 agenda's top priority

OTTAWA - Canada brushed aside a direct public demand Wednesday by the visiting United Nations chief and reiterated that it will not make climate change a priority agenda item when it hosts the G20 summit next month.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper stuck to his G20 plan to keep the summit's focus squarely on the global economic recovery after he met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his Parliament Hill office.

Ban said he wanted climate change front and centre on the agenda when Canada hosts the G20 summit next month in Toronto. Ban also exhorted the Conservatives to live up to the greenhouse-gas reduction targets Canada negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol.

"Canada has a special role and special responsibility to play. That is what I am going to emphasize here," Ban told about 500 diplomats, civil society leaders and academics in a packed hotel ballroom before meeting Harper.

"I urge Canada to comply fully with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. You can strengthen your mitigation target for the future."

Harper has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated by the previous Liberal government and calls for a six per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 based on 1990 levels. (Canadian Press)

 

Headline Story: Did a Secret Climate Deal Launch the Hockey Stick Fakery?

The investigation into the alleged global warming data fraud by Virginia’s Attorney General may soon have a whole new angle. This comes from a previously overlooked connection between discredited tree-ring proxy researcher, Michael Mann and Yale’s now deceased climate professor, Barry Saltzman.

Despite his legacy, outside of climate science few people will have heard of Saltzman. It was only right at the end of his 40-year career that this esteemed analyst produced his greatest achievement: a unified theory of climate that drew worldwide plaudits.

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) and Journal of Climate among others posthumously gave Saltzman the ultimate accolade, “father of modern climate theory” on the publication of his ground breaking ‘Theory of Climate’ (2002). 

The AMS tells us, “Barry Saltzman led the revival of the theory that variations of atmospheric CO2 are a significant driver of long-term climate change.”

As Professor of Geophysics, Saltzman served Yale University with distinction from 1968 until his death in 2001. Michael E. Mann’s position in the highly politicized sphere of climatology has since grown to be just as significant-but far more controversial. But we may have stumbled upon a sinister connection between the two researchers. (John O'Sullivan, Climate Realists)

 

IPCC Cites an Unpublished Journal 39 Times

We read a lot of magazines in our house. Occasionally, an issue arrives in which nearly every article is engaging and (in the case of cooking magazines) every recipe sounds amazing. In short, the issue is a keeper.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had an experience like that. It was so impressed by one edition of the academic journal Climatic Change that it cited 16 of the 21 papers published that month. The journal editors should take a bow. When three-quarters of a single issue of your publication is relied on by a Nobel-winning report, you're doing something right.

Except for one small problem. The issue in question - May 2007 - didn't exist yet when the IPCC wrote its report. Moreover, none of the research papers eventually published in that issue had been finalized prior to the IPCC's cutoff date.

As the IPCC chairman recently reminded us, that organization's 2007 report:

...was based on scientific studies completed before January 2006, and did not include later studies...
That's what the rules say. And that's what was supposed to have happened. But according to the online abstracts for each of the 16 papers cited by the IPCC and published in the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change (see my working notes here):
  • 15 of them weren't accepted by the journal until Oct. 17, 2006
  • the other wasn't accepted until May 18, 2006
The first date is highly significant. As the second box on this page makes clear, the IPCC expert review period ended on June 2, 2006 for Working Group 1 and on July 21, 2006 for Working Group 2. This means the expert reviewers had offered their comments on the second draft and had already exited the stage. It means the IPCC had reached the utmost end of a process that represented years of collective labour.

So how could 16 papers, accounting for 39 new citations across fours chapters and two working groups, have made it into this twice vetted, next-to-finalized IPCC report? Those citations don't reference research papers the wider scientific community had already digested. They don't even reference papers that were hot off the press. Instead, in 15 of 16 cases, no expert reviewer could possibly have evaluated these papers since they hadn't yet been accepted for publication by the journal itself.

Where do these 39 citations of the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change turn up in the IPCC report? [working notes here]
  • Chapt. 11 by Working Group 1 references ten papers (20 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 12 by Working Group 2 references nine papers (15 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 2 by Working Group 2 references two papers (2 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 3 by Working Group 2 references two papers (2 citations in total)
Among the 10 papers cited in Chapter 11 three were co-authored by Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen. I'm sure it's sheer coincidence that this gentleman served as one of two coordinating lead authors for that chapter.
  • see the first abstract here (cited twice as Jacob et al. 2007 on this page of the IPCC report)
  • second abstract is here (cited as Déqué et al. 2007 on this page)
  • third abstract is here (cited as Christensen et al. 2007 on this page)
I'm equally certain there's no connection whatsoever between the fact that Jørgen E. Olesen was a lead author for the IPCC's Chapter 12 and that a paper he co-authored in the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change got cited four times in that chapter. (That abstract is here. Cited as Olesen et al., 2007 four times on this page.)

Welcome to the strange world of the IPCC. Whenever one turns over a new rock there's something shady beneath.

..

Coming soon: the research paper that wasn't accepted for publication until May 2008, yet got cited seven times in the IPCC's 2007 report (No Consensus)

 

They've gone "all in" with this one: As global temperatures rise, the world's lizards are disappearing

20 percent of all lizard species could be extinct by 2080, researchers say

For many lizards, global climate change is a matter of life and death. After decades of surveying Sceloporus lizard populations in Mexico, an international research team has found that rising temperatures have driven 12 percent of the country's lizard populations to extinction. An extinction model based on this discovery also forecasts a grim future for these ecologically important critters, predicting that a full 20 percent of all lizard species could be extinct by the year 2080.

The detailed surveys of lizard populations in Mexico, collected from 200 different sites, indicate that the temperatures in those regions have changed too rapidly for the lizards to keep pace. It seems that all types of lizards are far more susceptible to climate-warming extinction than previously thought because many species are already living right at the edge of their thermal limits, especially at low elevation and low latitude range limits.

Although the researchers' prediction for 2080 could change if humans are able to slow global climate warming, it does appear that lizards have crossed a threshold for extinctions—and that their sharp decline will continue for decades at least. (AAAS)

I've seen at least four releases on this one today. Thing is, it's absurd in its basic hypothesis. Earth temperatures are simply not homogeneous or even stable but vary, inter alia, by hour of day, season, altitude and latitude, let alone trends induced by solar cycle, multi-decadal oceanic cycles and who yet knows what else.

Lizards are here now. They have been here for millions of years. Earth has had warm periods and cold ones while lizards have survived on the planet. Just since the last great glaciation the world has warmed at least 6 °C and it was probably a couple or even three degrees warmer still about 6,000 years ago, at a time when the Sahara and Sahel were lush and wet (see, e.g.). How did lizards survive such enormous changes if they are so fragile that they are supposedly extirpated by an alleged +0.4 °C change since the late 1970s? Inter annual variations are much, much greater than that, so how do these poor little critters survive those changes? The "researchers" have built a hand-waving model too ridiculous for words.

 

Political, Media, and Bureaucratic Distortions of Weather and Climate

Mainstream television has extreme or severe weather reports when they are actually reporting natural events.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards are all natural events and warnings for potential loss of life are commendable, but the focus creates a false impression. It reinforces the false IPCC claims of more severe weather with global warming.

The syndrome created is comparable to when you are introduced to someone and it seems every time you turn around they are there. They were always there but just not part of your perception. This is reinforced by the advent of cameras and video so that many more events are recorded, reported and seen. How many tornadoes occurred when nobody was watching? How many would have died if current population densities existed? Of course, we also have the benefit of fewer deaths because of advanced warming. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, May 13th 2010

Al Gore invokes the memory of Elvis to sell the global warming hoax, which is awkward because Elvis might be the only thing deader than Al’s favorite scam. A hippie blames an airline’s cheap flights for his traveling habit, the UK gets a Green MP and Ed Begley Jr. hates the planet. (Daily Bayonet)

 

They forget the most important point: Strategies for increasing carbon stored in forests and wood

Scientists review the benefits and tradeoffs of current methods in forest carbon storage

While the U.S. and other world leaders consider options for offsetting carbon emissions, it is important to take into account the role forests play in the global carbon cycle, say scientists in a paper published in the spring edition of Issues in Ecology. Currently, the carbon stored in forests and harvested wood products offsets 12-19 percent of U.S. fossil fuel emissions—growth primarily the result of recovery from the large scale harvesting that occurred around 100 years ago. These high offsets are not permanent but have the potential to increase; however, not without tradeoffs.

"Several strategies for offsetting carbon emissions have been proposed or are currently being implemented in the U.S.," says Mike Ryan from the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service and lead author of the paper. "Some of the important tradeoffs are worth mentioning because many people have viewed forests as a simple and uncomplicated partial solution to reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, and they are not."

Mike Ryan and colleagues discuss eight strategies being used or proposed in the U.S., and the risks, uncertainties and tradeoffs of each. These include avoiding deforestation, afforestation (planting or replanting forests), decreasing harvests, increasing the growth rate of existing forests, using biomass energy from forests to reduce carbon emissions, using wood products in place of concrete or steel for building materials, implementing urban forestry and using fuel management to reduce fire threats.

The tradeoffs of these strategies need to be taken into account accordingly. By reducing harvests, avoiding deforestation or afforestation, for example, we could increase the amount of forest carbon in the U.S. But the demand for forest products would still remain, so tree harvesting or other current land use may move to other areas, canceling out the carbon benefit to the atmosphere of the changes in the U.S. (Ecological Society of America)

Locking more carbon away from biological availability is exactly the wrong thing to do. More atmospheric carbon dioxide is a major benefit for life on Earth. Leave it alone or, better still, add more to it.

 

Investors Wary Of "Green" Forestry

Forests have a growing value as a result of climate policies, but the complexity of carbon markets coupled with the effects of the financial crisis are deterring investment, investors and analysts said in London on Thursday.

In plantation forests, new demand for wood to generate low-carbon renewable power generation to replace fossil fuels is adding to traditional pulp and paper demand, potentially fuelling values.

For managers of natural and virgin forests, new carbon markets to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) are emerging to pay owners not to chop down trees.

But investors said they were deterred by the complexity of those new markets, and were wary of making investments in plantation forests for bio-energy.

"We see potential in the REDD process, but from an investor perspective it's difficult to make a convincing case right now," said Marko Katila, a partner at Finland-based timber fund Dasos Capital, which raises money from institutional investors.

"Our fund right now is not looking seriously at these types of investments," he added, referring to payments for not chopping natural forests, speaking on the sidelines of an Environmental Finance forestry conference in London. (Reuters)

 

Venus: Chris Colose vs Steve Goddard

Chris Colose (click) thinks that Steve Goddard - and, to a lesser extent, your humble correspondent - are reinventing climatology as well as astrophysics.



"Venus and Cupid" by Lorenzo Lotto, late 1520s

Well, you can say it in this way: after these fields, especially the first one, have been contaminated by an ideological pseudoscience, the only way to proceed is to reinvent the disciplines.

Unfortunately, the flooding of the disciplines by poorly verified and "morally driven" myths has already begun in the modern, rather than postmodern, era, and it was initiated by as likable characters as Carl Sagan. He was nice but very far from infallible.

One must carefully check which insights are legitimate science and which things were politically imported myths - and when it's necessary, you have to start from scratch. But I don't want to degenerate into these moralist rants, so let's jump onto the physics of the problem.

Colose's criticism is simple: he claims that Goddard and I do not realize that the linear functions (of one variable) have two terms (rather than one), the slope term and the intercept:

y = mx + b
We think that there is one term only, we learn. That's a nice hypothesis and it's always nice to learn new things about my own brain :-) but thank you, I understood linear functions when I was 3 years old.

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

 

Sun & Cycles Heat Up Ice Age Interglacials

Since the Mid-Brunhes Event, around 430,000 years ago, interglacial periods have grown warmer and their CO2 levels higher. Research confirms that Croll and Milankovitch were right: Earth's orbital cycles seem to be the cause of these documented cases of true global warming, with CO2 playing a supporting role, not the lead. Many of the catastrophic events warned of by climate change alarmists turn out to be well within the range of natural variation. Moreover, new findings indicate that the effects of the cycle induced changes, through their impact on the environment in the Southern Hemisphere, are not correctly accounted for in the IPCC models.

One of the big questions in climate science comes from studying recent interglacial periods—those relatively warm periods between bouts of ice age glaciation. It has been known for some time, that average temperatures during recent interglacials were warmer than during older ones. Writing in the April, 2010, edition of Nature Geoscience, Q. Z. Yin and A. Berger propose an answer as to why the amplitude (i.e. warming) of the glacial interglacial cycles increased significantly after the Mid-Brunhes Event (MBE) with cooler interglacials before the MBE than after. In their paper, entitled “Insolation and CO2 contribution to the interglacial climate before and after the Mid-Brunhes Event,” they describe their work as follows:

In parallel to the reconstruction of palaeoclimate based on proxy records, climate models are used to better understand past climate behaviour. In particular, efforts have been made over the past decade on modelling the most recent interglacials, namely the Holocene, the Eemian and the past five interglacials. Here, we focus on the forcing and global response of the climate system at the interglacial peaks of the past 800 kyr, using snapshot simulations to try to understand the difference between the post-MBE and the pre-MBE interglacials. The model used is LOVECLIM, with the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and vegetation components interactively coupled and the ice sheets kept as today.

The Mid-Brunhes Event, ~430,000 years ago, signaled significant long-term changes in global atmosphere and ocean circulation. As a consequence, there was a transition to more humid interglacial conditions in equatorial Africa, and in the Northern Hemisphere to more glacial oceanic conditions. In a paper in Science, “A Mid-Brunhes Climatic Event: Long-Term Changes in Global Atmosphere and Ocean Circulation,” J. H. F. Jansen, A. Kuijpers, and S. R. Troelestra document the event through marine and continental records from various latitudes. Their conclusion was that the change was probably due to a change in the eccentricity of Earth's orbit.

“We present evidence of a global climatic change 4.0 x 105 to 3.0 x 105 years ago on a time scale of 1 x 105 to 1 x 106 years which is superimposed on the glacial and interglacial cycles,” they report. “Unlike other Late Cenozoic climatic variations reported so far, the change shows opposite trends in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.” The trends referred to are warmer Northern Hemisphere winters and Southern Hemisphere summers, accompanied by the opposite for Northern Hemisphere summers and Southern Hemisphere winters, which are cooler. This shift also brought an increase in humidity to the south.

It was Jansen et al. who first proposed a mid-Brunhes transition to more humid, interglacial conditions in the southern hemisphere. Over the millions of years of the Pleistocene ice age, slow changes in ocean basin circulation due to tectonic activity (i.e. shifting continents) caused recognizable changes in climate, but the mid-Brunhes change represents something different. Both Jansen et al. and now Yin and Berger concluded that small changes in the pattern of solar radiation energy received at Earth's surface, insolation, were responsible. This was triggered by a change in one of the three Croll-Milankovitch cycles that affect Earth's orbit and attitude, primarily eccentricity. (Doug L. Hoffman, The Resilient Earth)

 

Interview With A Global Warming Skeptic: Dr. Roy Spencer

It is no secret that a majority of the peer-reviewed climate change literature lays blame for global warming on human greenhouse gas emissions. 

But despite the abundance of research supporting anthropogenic global warming, there is a sizable community of qualified scientists who believe the so-called consensus view on global warming is completely wrong. I wanted to find out why, so I contacted one skeptical researcher to ask.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. For many years he served as a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and his research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Geophysical Research Letters and The Journal Of Climate. Dr. Spencer was kind enough to explain to me what convinced him that the consensus view on global warming is incorrect and what he believes is responsible for the rising temperatures we have observed. (Cameron J English, Scientific Blogging)

 

Global Warming’s $64 Trillion Question

Edited 1:35 p.m. CDT 5/13/10: Trivia question added, at the end of the post.

Despite its relative simplicity, I continue to find myself trying to explain to experts and lay persons alike how scientists made the Great Global Warming Blunder when it comes to predictions of global warming.

On the bright side, this morning I received an e-mail from a chemist who looked at the math of the problem after reading my new book, and then came to the understanding on his own. And that’s great!

For the most part, though, the climate community continues to suffer from a mental block when it comes to the true role of clouds in global warming. All climate models now change clouds with CO2 warming in ways that amplify that warming, some by a catastrophic amount.

As my latest book describes, I contend that they have been fooled by Mother Nature, and that in fact warming alters clouds in ways that mitigate – not amplify — the small amount of direct warming caused by increasing atmospheric CO2.

The difference between clouds magnifying versus mitigating warming could be the difference between global warming being little more than an academic curiosity…or a disaster for life on Earth.

So, once again I find myself trying to explain a concept that I find the public understands better than the climate experts do: when it comes to clouds and temperature, the direction of causation really does matter.

Why Are There Fewer Clouds when it is Warm?

The “scientific consensus” has been that, because unusually warm conditions are observed to be accompanied by less cloud cover, warming obviously causes cloud cover to decrease. This would be bad news, since decreasing cloud cover in response to warming would let more sunlight in, and amplify the initial warming. That’s called positive cloud feedback.

But what they have difficulty understanding is that causation in the opposite direction (cloud changes causing temperature changes) gives the ILLUSION of positive cloud feedback. It turns out that, when less cloud cover causes warmer temperatures, the cloud feedback in response to that warming is almost totally obscured.

Believe it, the experts have not accounted for this effect. I find it bizarre that most are not even aware it is an issue! As far as I know, I am the only one actively researching the issue.

As a result, the experts have fooled themselves into believing cloud feedbacks are positive. We have demonstrated theoretically in our new paper now accepted for publication in JGR that, even if strong negative cloud feedback exists, cloud changes causing temperature change will make it LOOK like positive cloud feedback.

And this indeed happens in the real climate system. The only time cloud feedback can be clearly seen in the real climate system is when temperature changes are caused by something other than clouds. And in those cases, we find that the net feedback is strongly negative (around 6 Watts per sq. meter of extra energy lost by the Earth per deg. C of global-average warming).

Unfortunately, those events only occur on relatively short climate time scales: 1 month or so. Whether this negative feedback also exists for long-term climate warming is less certain.

Do Climate Models Agree With Satellite Observations of Clouds and Temperature?

The fact that all the climate models which produce substantial global warming also approximate what we measure from satellites is NOT a validation of the feedbacks in those models. So far, after analyzing thousands of years of climate model runs, I have found no convincing way to validate the climate models’ long-term feedbacks with short-term (approx. 10 years or so) satellite observations. The reason is the same: all models have cloud variations causing temperature variations, which then obscures the feedback we are trying to measure.

But there’s another test that could be made. The modelers’ case would be stronger if they could demonstrate that 20 additional climate models, all with various amounts of negative – rather than positive — cloud feedback, are less consistent with our satellite observations than the current crop of models, all of which had positive cloud feedback.

I suspect they do not spend much time on that possibility. A climate model that does not produce much climate change is going to have difficult time getting continued funding for its support.

Trivia Question to Illustrate the Point: Assume continually increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is the only source of climate variability, and we experience continuous slow warming as a result. Will the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR, or infrared) being emitted by the Earth increase…or decrease…during this process? (I will post the answer tomorrow.)

Technical Note: We have found from modeling studies that if the natural cloud variations were truly random in time, the error in diagnosed feedback would be random, not biased toward positive feedback, and would average out to near zero in the long term. But in the real climate system, these cloud variations have preferred time scales….in other words, they have some degree of autocorrelation in time. When that happens, there ends up being a bias in the direction of positive feedback. (Roy W. Spencer)

 

By Popular Demand: A Daily Global Average CERES Dataset

Since I keep getting requests for the data from which I do my analyses, I’ve decided to provide the main dataset I use here, in an Excel spreadsheet. The comments at the top of the spreadsheet are pretty self-explanatory and include links to the original data. After you click on and open the file with Excel, save it to your computer so you can analyze the data.

What’s In the File, Kenneth?

From original satellite data online at 2 sources, I have calculated daily global-average anomalies (departures from the average annual cycle) in (1) total-sky emitted longwave (LW, or infrared) radiative flux; (2) total-sky reflected shortwave (SW, or solar) radiative flux, and (3) UAH tropospheric temperatures (TMT).

The original radiative flux data that I computed these anomalies from are the Terra satellite CERES Flight Model 1 (FM1) instrument-based ES4 (ERBE-like) daily global gridpoint datasets, available here. These are large files in a binary format, and are not for the weak of heart.

The original UAH TMT temperature data come from here.

All of the original data were area-averaged over the Earth for each day during the 9.5 year Terra CERES period of record, March 2000 through September 2009. An average annual cycle was computed, filtered with a +/- 10 day smoother applied every day, and then anomalies were computed by subtracting the smoothed average annual cycle values from the original data. I program these calculations in Fortran-95, put the data in an Excel spreadsheet, then do all future calculations and graphical plots in Excel.

And remember, folks…“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.” (Roy W. Spencer)

 

Comments On The Scientifically Flawed Study “Researchers Find Future Temperatures Could Exceed Livable Limits” By Sherwood and Huber 2010

There is a  press release  from Purdue University by Elizabeth K. Gardner and Greg Kline regarding a study by Matthew Huber of Purdue and Steve Sherwood of the University of New South Wales. The press release is titled

Researchers find future temperatures could exceed livable limits

The news media have already uncritically picked up this story (e.g. see Climate change could make half the world uninhabitable).

The paper version of this study is

Steven C. Sherwood and Matthew Huber,2010: An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0913352107

with the abstract

“Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation. Peak heat stress, quantified by the wetbulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today. TW never exceeds 31 °C. Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12 °C are possible from fossil fuel burning. One implication is that recent estimates of the costs of unmitigated climate change are too low unless the range of possible warming can somehow be narrowed. Heat stress also may help explain trends in the mammalian fossil record.”

The article is edited by Kerry A. Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

The study has a major fault in that it has not properly assessed the actual behavoir of the atmosphere if such warming occurred in the lower troposphere. Moreover, this is another example of the publication of a paper with predictions that cannot be tested.

I discuss these issues in more depth below. (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

 

Transocean Aims To Cap Rig-Related Damages

Transocean Ltd, owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank last month killing 11 people, wants to limit its liability for the accident to about $27 million, according to a U.S. court filing on Thursday.

With analysts anticipating many years of legal jostling related to the Horizon disaster, Transocean is seeking to set an upper limit on the damages that might arise from more than 100 lawsuits already filed against the company.

Transocean said its liability under federal law should be limited to the value of its interest in the rig and its freight, including accounts receivable as of April 28, or $26,764,083, the document filed in U.S. District Court in Houston said.

The company, which had said last week that it was in "reasonably fluid" negotiations to renew its insurance for another year, said in a statement on Thursday that it was seeking the protection under the U.S. Limitation of Shipowner's Liability Act at the instruction of its insurers and to preserve insurance coverage.

"This step is necessary to protect the interests of its employees, its shareholders and the company," Transocean said in the statement. (Reuters)

 

The Price and Who Pays: Updates From the Gulf

An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20 left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Since then, attempts to shut off the flow of oil streaming into the Gulf of Mexico have been unsuccessful and the search continues for a cause and for ways to prevent such blowouts in the future. Questions persist about who will be liable for damage from the spill and the risks to local wildlife. Following is an updated oil spill primer. (NYT)

 

BP Says Leak May Be Closer to a Solution

After days of deepening gloom, BP and two Obama administration officials suggested on Wednesday that the company was closer to a solution that might halt the seemingly uncontrollable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The officials said engineers and scientists at BP’s command center in Houston had drafted plans to work on and around an underwater blowout preventer, a massive safety device that is designed to seal an oil well in an emergency but failed to do so after the explosion at the rig on April 20.

The oil giant has “increasing confidence that we can intervene directly in the B.O.P. at acceptably low risk,” a BP spokesman, Andrew Gowers, said. Successive efforts to plug the spill over the past three weeks have failed.

Sent by President Obama to Houston, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met with top engineers and scientists at the BP command center for several hours on Wednesday.

“Things are looking up,” Dr. Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, told reporters after the meeting. “Progress is being made.” He cautioned that the situation was still not under control and declined to detail the reasons for his optimism. But when pressed, he said, “I’m feeling more comfortable than I was a week ago.” (NYT)

 

Canadian Legislators Grill BP Over Arctic Drilling

Exasperated Canadian legislators grilled the head of BP Plc Canadian unit on Thursday, concerned about the risks of the company's plans to drill in Arctic waters after the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

But Anne Drinkwater, president of BP Canada, offered few answers at a hearing at Parliament's Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the safety of drilling in the Far North.

Drinkwater, who has also run BP operations in Indonesia, Angola and Norway, declined to answer technical questions and said she had not compared Canadian and U.S. drilling regulations, straining the credulity of some on the committee.

"You'd think coming to a hearing like this that British Petroleum would have as many answers as possible to assure the Canadian public. We got nothing today from them," said Nathan Cullen of the left-leaning New Democrats.

"I was very disappointed. I think British Petroleum is going to have to do a lot better job if they want to drill in Canadian waters," Cullen told reporters afterward. (Reuters)

 

Power Density Primer: Understanding the Spatial Dimension of the Unfolding Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation (Part IV – New Renewables Electricity Generation)

by Vaclav Smil
May 13, 2010

Editor’s note: This is Part IV of a five part series that provides an essential basis for the understanding of energy transitions and use. The previous posts in this series can be seen at:
Part I – Definitions
Part II – Coal- and Wood-Fired Electricity Generation
Part III – Natural Gas-Fired Electricity Generation

Photovoltaic Electricity Generation

Satellite measurements put the solar constant – radiation that reaches area perpendicular to the incoming rays at the top of the atmosphere (and that is actually not constant but varies with season and has negligible daily fluctuations) – at 1,366 W/m2. If there were no atmosphere and if the Earth absorbed all incoming radiation then the average flux at the planet’s surface would be 341.5 W/m2 (a quarter of the solar constant’s value, a sphere having four times the area of a circle with the same radius: 4πr2/πr2). But the atmosphere absorbs about 20% of the incoming radiation and the Earth’s albedo (fraction of radiation reflected to space by clouds and surfaces) is 30% and hence only 50% of the total flux reaches the surface prorating to about 170 W/m2 received at the Earth’s surface, and ranging from less than 100 W/m2 in cloudy northern latitudes to more than 230 W/m2 in sunny desert locations.

For an approximate calculation of electricity that could be generated on large scale by photovoltaic conversion it would suffice to multiply that rate by the average efficiency of modular cells. While the best research cells have efficiencies surpassing 30% (for multijunction concentrators) and about 15% for crystalline silicon and thin films, actual field efficiencies of PV cells that have been recently deployed in the largest commercial parks are around 10%, with the ranges of 6-7% for amorphous silicon and less than 4% for thin films. A realistic assumption of 10% efficiency yields 17 W/m2 as the first estimate of average global PV generation power density, with densities reaching barely 10 W/m2 in cloudy Atlantic Europe and 20-25 W/m2 in subtropical deserts. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Oh no! It’s Chris Huhne!

One desperately wishes to give the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government the fairest of winds. The debt crisis demands that it must succeed, and that some compromises must be made to achieve this. But one Cabinet appointment beggars belief, and is a compromise too far and too dangerous for the country.

The lamentable fact that David Cameron has appointed Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh, Hampshire, as the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, underscores one’s profoundest fears that our leading politicians have still still not grasped, despite all the red flag warnings, the depth and urgency of the UK energy crisis. This, after all, is the man who is avowedly opposed to the development of a new generation of nuclear powers stations, who believes that we can fill our looming energy gap with wave, wind, and waffle, and who is totally uncritical of the ‘global warming’ message. (Philip Stott, The Clamour of the Times)

 

Countryside to sprout solar farms as firms cash in on subsidy scheme

Fields in Gloucestershire’s rolling countryside, immortalised by Laurie Lee in Cider With Rosie, may soon be covered by thousands of solar panels.

Despite the lack of guaranteed sunshine, the solar farms will make a guaranteed profit because of a generous subsidy funded through increases in household energy bills.

The rate of installation of solar panels will increase five-fold in Britain this year because of this feed-in tariff, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ecotricity, a renewable energy company based in Stroud, is planning dozens of solar farms and is considering sites near its headquarters. (The Times)

 

Czech president vetoes a biofuel amendment

Václav Klaus returns an amendment to the Air Protection Act to the deputies

Dear Chairwoman Ms Němcová,

I am using the competency given to me by Article 50 of the Czech constitution and I am returning a bill to the lower chamber of the Parliament. The bill in question is an amendment to Bill No 86/2002 Collection, which was a law about the protection of the atmosphere and about the change of some additional bills, the so-called Air Protection Act, as articulated by newer directives. The amendment was approved by the chamber on April 28th, 2010.

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

 

 

Obamacare: A Hard Pill to Swallow for Physicians

The negative effects of Obamacare will impact every American.  However, it is those who are the very backbone of the United States’ high-quality health care system who will be most severely affected: physicians.  In a recent paper, Heritage’s health policy expert Robert Moffit, Ph.D., details the changes American doctors can expect to see in the way they practice medicine as a result of the recently-passed law.

Moffit outlines the following as being most detrimental to the practice of medicine:

Medicaid Expansion and Payment. As it is, doctors receive heavily reduced pay for treating Medicare patients, and reimbursement for Medicaid is even lower.  In many areas, doctors who accept Medicaid do so at their own loss, as reimbursement rates do not even cover the expense of seeing the patient.  Writes Moffit, “Medicare payment

has resulted in sporadic access problems for Medicare patients, and the lower Medicaid payments have already contributed to serious access problems for low-income persons and worsened hospital emergency room overcrowding.”  By adding an estimated 18 million people to this system, Obamacare will aggravate these existing dilemmas.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

So Much For ObamaCare's Savings

Health Care: The Democrats' reform is barely out of the gate and the Congressional Budget Office already says its previous cost estimate was too low. Either the bill's supporters lied or they're profoundly ignorant.

Either way, they are not fit to serve the country, much less rule it, which many of them seem to believe is their divine right.

As noted on these pages and elsewhere, government programs always cost far more than their original projections. Medicare has cost more than 10 times as much as initially estimated. It took Medicaid, the government's other mammoth health care program, a mere five years to spend twice as much as early estimates said it would. (IBD)

 

Morning Bell: The Road to Repeal is Well Under Way

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told us just weeks before Congress passed President Barack Obama’s health care plan. Well, the nation’s post-passage Obamacare education continued yesterday when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that the federal government will have to spend an additional $115 billion implementing the law, bringing the total estimated cost to over $1 trillion. The estimate had been requested before passage of the bill by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), but the CBO was too overwhelmed with the Democrats’ other constant revisions to the law to get back to Lewis before the final vote.

This is by far not the only nasty little surprise that has come back to bite Obamacare after passage. Shortly after it became law, U.S. employers began reporting hundreds of millions if dollars in losses thanks to tax changes in the bill. AT&T and Verizon alone pegged their Obamacare tax losses at around $1 billion each. At first, Democrats in Congress were outraged by the announcements and threatened to hold hearings persecuting these companies. But then the Democrats not only found out the companies were obligated by law to report their Obamacare related losses, but that the losses were a signal these companies might have to dump their employees’ and retirees’ health care coverage all together.

Then the Obama administration’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final cost projections for Obamacare, finding that, contrary to White House claims, the legislation will increase national health care spending by $311 billion over the next decade. The CMS report also revealed that: 1) 18 million Americans will pay $33 billion in penalties for failing to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate and still receive no health care; 2) U.S. employers will pay $87 billion in employer mandate penalties; 3) 14 million Americans will lose their current employer-based health coverage; 4) 7.4 million seniors will lose their current Medicare Advantage benefits; 5) 15% of all Medicare providers will be made unprofitable, thus “jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.”

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Today’s Greece, Tomorrow’s America: How Obama’s Health Care and Energy Agendas Really End

The most troubling aspect of the West’s current policy turmoil is not the European meltdown led by Greece and Spain. It is instead President Barack Obama’s unflinching insistence on rushing America headlong into the very mandates, and resulting debt levels, that precipitated that meltdown.

Obama is scripting a repeat of Europe’s disaster, here, by cramming down on the American people the same policy fetishes our Left has obsessed about for decades, and which Europe used to bring this down upon itself: statist management of health care and energy. (

 

Indebted nation

By Richard Salsman

U.S. debt will soon be equal to 100% of GDP. Health spending will only make that worse

In the past four years — 2007 to 2010 inclusive — U.S. budget deficits have totalled $3.6-trillion and are projected (by the White House’s OMB and Congress’s CBO) to total just as much over the coming four years, even with an economic upswing. Whereas the deficit was 1.2% of GDP in 2007, at the end of 2010 it’ll be 10.6% of GDP.

For comparison, consider that Greece, which is now getting a bailout of $160-billion, currently has a deficit-to-GDP ratio of 13.6%. Unlike Greece, which participates in the euro and thus has no power to print its own money, the United States does have such power and is exercising it (as it has since 1971). Washington will default on its debt surreptitiously, by inflation. Not only does destructive Fed policy create new federal debt, it also then recklessly monetizes it, causing inflation. Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Europe Faces Reality

The European economic model is dead. Don’t believe us? – Ask The Washington Post. Yesterday’s front-page story reported that the loans being made to stave off the debt crisis come with conditions which, if enforced, would require “European governments [to] rewrite a post-World War II social contract that has been generous to workers and retirees but has become increasingly unaffordable for an aging population.”

There is an obvious and painful connection to the U.S. and our economic direction. Unless we adopt a much better set of economic policies, the American version of Europe’s crisis is inevitable.

What’s worse, the Post and many other commentators have understated the failure of the European model. For two generations after post-war reconstruction, Europe and America have moved in different economic directions. The American model favored growth, income, and vibrancy; the European model was said to favor fairness, equality, and stability. The long-term superiority of the American model with regard to growth was well-established before the financial crisis, but the extent of that superiority may be surprising to some. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Europe fixes debt with more debt

By Terence Corcoran  May 10, 2010 – 8:46 pm

The great muddle of Keynesian economics is crashing in on statists everywhere

Anybody remember the last G20 Summit? Hard to forget. It’s only been — what? — six months since the event, held in Pittsburgh last September. The words of our leaders, triumphant and self-congratulatory, still ring out today. Boasting of having launched “the largest and most co-ordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus ever undertaken,” the G20 looked back at the London Summit, where Gordon Brown, the soon to be former PM of Britain, orchestrated a rousing session around the theme of spend, spend, spend to get the world out of economic crisis. “At that time [in London], our countries agreed to do everything necessary to ensure recovery, to repair our financial systems and to maintain the global flow of capital. It worked.”

Yesterday, the subprime government debt crisis, the direct product of the above-mentioned summits and other meetings of the world’s economic and political leaders, produced another threat. The European Union, its members sliding into stimulus debt and losing market confidence, would again do “whatever is necessary” to end the crisis, restore confidence and protect the euro. Read More » (Financial Post)

 

Nightmare on Main Street

By Peter Foster  May 11, 2010 – 7:23 pm

The taxation required to keep the Ponzocracy of Fannie and Freddie afloat saps the U.S. private sector

‘Canada is not an island,” declared Finance Minister Jim Flaherty last week. He was presumably alluding to Elizabethan poet John Donne’s famous meditation “no man is an island,” which concludes with those ominous words “and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Certainly, no country is outside the range of the current contagion, but if Mr. Flaherty had wanted to use a more up-to-date — and perhaps relevant — cultural reference, he might have chosen the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. That’s because danger to Canada comes not merely, or even primarily, from the prospective disintegration of the European Union, but from the related crisis to our south. Symbolic of that mess — and its government origins — is a monster called “Freddie” (different spelling, same nightmare slasher principle), which, along with its twin sister “Fannie,” is threatening to further shred U.S. public finances.

Read More » (Financial Times)

 

Infections cause 68 pct of child deaths, study finds

May 12 - More than two thirds of the estimated 8.8 million deaths in children under five worldwide in 2008 were caused by infectious diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, according to a study on behalf of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The study, published in the Lancet on Wednesday, found that infectious diseases caused 68 percent of deaths in under fives, led by pneumonia (18 percent, 1.58 million children), diarrhoea (15 percent, 1.34 million) and malaria (8 percent, 0.73 million). (Reuters)

 

Doubt Is Cast on Many Reports of Food Allergies

A new report, commissioned by the federal government, finds the field is rife with poorly done studies, misdiagnoses and tests that can give misleading results.

While there is no doubt that people can be allergic to certain foods, with reproducible responses ranging from a rash to a severe life-threatening reaction, the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent for children and less than 5 percent for adults, said Dr. Marc Riedl, an author of the new paper and an allergist and immunologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Yet about 30 percent of the population believe they have food allergies. And, Dr. Riedl said, about half the patients coming to his clinic because they had been told they had a food allergy did not really have one.

Dr. Riedl does not dismiss the seriousness of some people’s responses to foods. But, he says, “That accounts for a small percentage of what people term ‘food allergies.’ ”

Even people who had food allergies as children may not have them as adults. People often shed allergies, though no one knows why. And sometimes people develop food allergies as adults, again for unknown reasons. (Gina Kolata, NYT)

 

New theory of Alzheimer's explains drug failures

CHICAGO - Brain plaques, long considered the chief killer of brain cells and the cause of Alzheimer's disease, may actually play a protective role, under a new theory that is changing the way researchers think about the disease.

Instead of sticky plaques, free-floating bits of a toxic protein called amyloid beta may be what's killing off brain cells in Alzheimer's patients, U.S. researchers say.

If the theory is right, then drugs that target plaque, including bapineuzumab - being developed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Elan - may be aiming at the wrong target, they say.

"The plaque is not the main culprit in terms of toxicity," said Dr. Scott McGinnis of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who treats Alzheimer's patients and runs clinical trials testing new Alzheimer's drugs.

For more than two decades, the prevailing plan of attack for researchers and drug companies has been to find a way to remove sticky clumps of a protein called amyloid beta from the brain.

But several recent studies in mice and rats now suggest that floating pieces of amyloid beta called oligomers are the real bad actors in Alzheimer's disease.

And instead of being the chief toxin, several teams suspect, the plaques may be the body's way of trapping and neutralizing oligomers.

"If you say Alzheimer's, everyone immediately thinks that it's the plaques that actually cause the disease. That couldn't be further from the truth," Andrew Dillin, of the Salk Institute in California and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, told reporters in London this week at a conference on aging.

"The data actually suggest these plaques are a form of protection that the body tries to put on. So this is a sign that your brain was trying to do something very useful and helpful to you, and the remnant was the formation of amyloid plaques," Dillin said. (Reuters)

 

Sticky Study: Chocolate-depression link ignores actual chocolate content

Snickers has almost no real chocolate; Lindt Excellence has lots; so which did the depressed chocoholics actually eat?

Chocolate is a national, if not international, obsession. Two years ago, news stories abounded about the heart health benefits of antioxidants in chocolate; now, however, chocolate is coming under fire as a new study links it to depression.

Mood and chocolate have been associated with one another in countless films and images that pervade the American psyche – the awkward boy gives a box of chocolates to his crush, or the heart-broken young woman eating chocolates in bed as she cries over being jilted. No doubt the cultural obsession with chocolate (and its relationship to that our emotional lives) spurred on researchers to consider the possibility of a statistical association between chocolate and depression.

The study, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found a strong correlation: people who consume more chocolate are more depressed. The study was reported by the Los Angeles Times with some caveats about causality; even the researchers acknowledge that there is limited knowledge of whether eating chocolate leads to depression, depression leads to eating chocolate, or some third factor (such as stress) leads to both depression and chocolate consumption. Impressively, the author of the Los Angeles Times article noted the difficulty in making causal conclusions.

But a closer look at the study suggests that the results have little if anything to do with chocolate. Perhaps the LA Times should have had someone at the food desk take a look. (Rebecca Goldin, STATS)

 

Not-So-Risky Business

Two worst-case scenarios prove less deadly than expected.

The past few weeks have given 7 million people the opportunity to think about risk. They ruminated in train stations and on buses; they cogitated in hotels as they clocked up visa charges; but they could reassure themselves that they weren't plummeting from the sky, swatted down by ash from the great cloud of the world's most unpronounceable volcano, Eyjafjallajokull.

Or so they thought. But as the days passed and airlines began to envisage losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it became apparent that Europe wasn't exactly following a model of dispassionate risk evaluation: There was insufficient data to actually model the cloud; the U.S. had a different approach to dealing with volcanic ash which would, if it had been implemented, have negated much of the chaotic standstill; and airlines appeared to be able to run test flights without any signs of engine failure. These revelations all raised the question: Had there been a massive, costly over-reaction? (Trevor Butterworth, Forbes)

 

Recycling 'tiny trash' -- cigarette butts

A new study suggests expanding community recycling programs beyond newspapers, beverage containers, and other traditional trash to include an unlikely new potential treasure: Cigarette butts. Terming this tiny trash "one of the most ubiquitous forms of garbage in the world," the study describes discovery of a way to reuse the remains of cigarettes to prevent steel corrosion that costs oil producers millions of dollars annually. It appears in ACS' Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.

Jun Zhao and colleagues cite one estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. Studies show that cigarette butts are more than an eyesore. They contain toxins that can kill fish and harm the environment in other ways. Recycling could solve those problems, but finding practical uses for cigarette butts has been difficult.

The scientists showed that extracts of cigarette butts in water, applied to a type of steel (N80) widely used in the oil industry, protected the steel from rusting even under the harsh conditions, preventing costly damage and interruptions in oil production. They identified nine chemicals in the extracts, including nicotine, which appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect. (ACS)

 

 

Demonstrating how invested they are in gorebull warbling, here's the media on Kerry-Lieberman:

Interestingly, I haven't yet noticed any media pointing out that there's a bucket load of new spending in this "costless" bill. If it doesn't cost anything then where does the $7billion annually for infrastructure and efficiency come from? Same with the $5billion annual clean-technology incentives and what about the new $multi-billion revenue stream for agriculture? There's the couple of $billion annual carbon sequestration (CCS) R&D, the 'broad package" of nuke incentives and a host of "support" goodies and "pilot projects", all needing funding from somewhere. Where? See page 987 about compliance with PAYGO -- you get to pay for this crap upfront :-)

To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher: "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." (Interview with This Week, February 5, 1976)

 

Climate bill would slash US carbon output

A draft bill setting out sharp cuts in US greenhouse gas emissions was unveiled in the Senate yesterday, offering new incentives for nuclear power and offshore drilling at a time when the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes support for oil exploration politically difficult.

The draft, however, includes several new protections against spills, including one that allows states to veto drilling plans up to 75 miles from their shores or if they stand to suffer significant adverse impacts in the event of an accident. (Financial Times)

 

Climate bill has new drilling protections

WASHINGTON — Coastal states could veto offshore drilling plans under long-awaited legislation to curb global warming unveiled Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would allow states to opt out of federal drilling up to 75 miles from their shores, a concession to lawmakers concerned about offshore exploration in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill.

The measure also would allow states directly affected to veto drilling plans of nearby states if they could show that significant negative effects would result from an accident. (AP)

 

Bill aimed at stemming global warming, create jobs

WASHINGTON — Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled a long-awaited bill Wednesday that aims to curtail pollution blamed for global warming, reduce oil imports and create millions of energy-related jobs.

The 987-page bill, the product of more than seven months of negotiations and tweaked recently in response to the Gulf oil spill, also includes new protections for offshore drilling and for the first time would set a price on carbon dioxide emissions produced by coal-fired power plants and other large polluters.

The legislation aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and by more than 80 percent by 2050. Both targets are measured against 2005 levels and are the same as those set by a House bill approved last year.

"We can finally tell the world that America is ready to take back our role as the world's clean energy leader," Kerry, D-Mass., said at a news conference, surrounded by environmentalists and leaders from an array of energy companies. (AP)

 

Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill Generates Praise and Outrage

WASHINGTON, DC, May 12, 2010 - The American Power Act, a bill proposing a cap and trade system for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, was introduced today in the U.S. Senate. Written by Senators John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, the bill aims to reduce emissions by 17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050.

Senator Kerry said, "We can finally tell the world that America is ready to take back our role as the world's clean energy leader. This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs, and a bill to end America's addiction to foreign oil and protect the air our children breathe and the water they drink."

Senator Lieberman said, "The American Power Act is fundamentally different from previous energy and climate bills, and not just because it will be the one that actually passes." (ENS)

 

Kerry-Lieberman: Cap-and-Trade With a Gas Tax

Inhofe Says Bill Will Kill Jobs, Hit the Heartland Hard

Link to 'Discussion Draft' of Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act

Washington, D.C. - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented today on the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill and its eventual political fate in the Senate:  

"My first reaction to the Kerry-Lieberman bill is that it's the same old cap-and-trade scheme that the Senate has defeated three times since 2003," Senator Inhofe said. "In fact, it has a strong resemblance to the disastrous Waxman-Markey bill.  Only now, along with paying skyrocketing electricity prices, consumers will pay a gas tax. 

"The Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade proposal is just like Waxman-Markey in another key respect: it will destroy millions of good-paying jobs, many of which will be lost in regions, such as the Midwest, South, and Great Plains, which depend on coal for electricity. Given these facts, it's no wonder that this massive energy tax is opposed by Republicans and Democrats alike, and that is has virtually no chance of passing the Senate."

"The sooner we reject global warming cap-and-trade legislation, and get to work on an all-of the-above energy policy, the sooner the American public will have access to affordable, abundant, American-made energy."

###

 

Kerry's Powerless America Act

Regulations: Call it cap-and-trade or bait-and-switch, but John Kerry and Joe Lieberman continue to tilt at windmills with a bill to restrain energy growth in the name of saving the planet.

The bill introduced Wednesday and sponsored by the two senators is called the American Power Act, an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one. Like President Obama's offshore drilling program, for every "incentive" there is a restriction. It's as if Hamlet were to be appointed Secretary of Energy.

The legislation has little to do with developing America's vast domestic energy supply. It's cap-and-trade meets pork-barrel spending. It's about regulations, restrictions and research. It does not deal with exploiting America's vast energy reserves but with finding ways to mitigate their alleged harmful effect. (IBD)

 

Window Dressing Cap and Trade Won’t Make the Costs Go Away

Last year Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) rolled out a companion cap and trade bill to the Waxman-Markey version that passed in the House of Representatives. Boxer-Kerry was essentially dead on arrival so Senator Kerry went back to work, this time with Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Although Senator Graham is urging his colleagues to slow down, Senators Kerry and Lieberman are trudging forward and have introduced the American Power Act – the latest big climate change bill. Subtitled, “A New Start for Clean American Power and a New Economy,” this bill fails when it comes to energy production and job creation. APA is a new climate bill that tells the same old story: corporate handouts that raise energy prices for years to come.

John Kerry made his sales pitch in The Hill today saying, “There’s a reason why people and American businesses that have always opposed and fought against previous legislation – quite successfully! – are standing behind this one.” It’s because they were offered a seat at the table leaving the rest of America to pick up the tab. Take the words of one major electricity CEO who said, “We don’t flinch from the charge that, yes, some of our motivation and enthusiasm comes from the fact that we should make money on it if it happens.” As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner stresses, the handouts will go to the businesses that won the lobbying battle while the costs will be passed onto the consumer. It’s no surprise “influence spending” is up 25 percent for the first quarter of 2010 compared to last year.

Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

Oh No! Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill Would Create '60 new Programs, Studies, and Reports'

Climate Depot has obtained an advance memo circulating on Capitol Hill about the Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill. Below is a list of 60 new Programs, Studies, and Reports created by the Kerry-Lieberman bill. (Marc Morano, Climate Depot)

 

Full Text of Kerry-Lieberman (.pdf) -- almost 1,000 pages of train wreck

 

The Bootleggers are the Baptists’ last hope for passage of global warming bill

Three separate events late last year knocked the air out of international climate alarmism. Combined, they put the kibosh on global warming legislation in the United States for the foreseeable future. Now the only ones keeping such legislation alive are a handful of powerful special interests. Contrary to what you normally hear, big business is pushing, not opposing, climate legislation. (Iain Murray, Washington Examiner)

 

A $9 Million Villa for Al Gore, Sky-High Energy Costs for the Rest of Us

From his sprawling new $9 million ocean-view villa in Montecito, California, with its high ceilings, wine cellar, terraces, six fireplaces, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, pool and 6,500 square feet of living space, former Vice President Al Gore is asking a favor of the American people. He’d like you to tighten your belt and shell out big time for higher electric bills, all in the name of fighting global warming.

In a renewable electricity standard (RES) proposal now before Congress, those costs would be huge. A new Heritage Foundation study modeled the effects of a generic RES and found that the average family of four would lose $2,400 per year in national income, and their share of the national debt would increase by $11,000.

The Heritage analysis assumes an RES proposal that calls for 37.5% of the electricity we consume to be renewable energy by 2035; by contrast, Gore’s man-on-the-moon pipe dream calls for 100 percent renewable energy by 2018. Both would be incredibly costly to average Americans, which might be more palatable if you, like the former veep, can afford to add solar panels to the roof of one of your mansions. (Gore also owns a 10,000-square-foot mansion in Belle Meade, Tenn., where he has been depicted working in the soft glow of three 30-inch Apple cinema display monitors, which retail for a hefty $1,799 each.)

Continue reading...

 

The American Power Act: A Climate Dud

by Chip Knappenberger
May 12, 2010

“The global temperature “savings” of the Kerry-Lieberman bill is astoundingly small—0.043°C (0.077°F) by 2050 and 0.111°C (0.200°F) by 2100. In other words, by century’s end, reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% will only result in global temperatures being one-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit less than they would otherwise be. That is a scientifically meaningless reduction.”

Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman have just unveiled their latest/greatest attempt to reign in U. S. greenhouse gas emissions. Their one time collaborator Lindsey Graham indicated that he did not consider the bill a climate bill because “[t]here is no bipartisan support for a cap-and-trade bill based on global warming.” But make no mistake. This is a climate bill at heart, and thus the Kerry-Lieberman bill sections labeled “Title II. Global Warming Pollution Reduction.”

So apparently someone thinks the bill will have an impact on global warming. But those someones are wrong. The bill will have no meaningful impact of the future course of global warming.

That is, unless the rest of the world—primarily the developing nations—decide to play along.

In fact, the United States and the rest of the developed countries have little role to play in the future course of global warming except as developers of new energy technologies and/or as guinea pigs of making do with less fossil fuels.

Our attempts at domestic emissions savings will have only minimal direct climate impact, but instead they will serve as an example for the developing world of what, or what not, to do. So if Kerry and Lieberman were interested in directly tackling the climate change issue, they would be working with China’s National People’s Congress to draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not the U. S. Senate.

But, everyone already knows this, as we demonstrated the non-impact of U.S. emissions reduction efforts in Part I and Part II of our analysis of last summer’s Waxman-Markey offering. And as far as the global warming goes, Kerry-Lieberman’s The American Power Act of 2010 is similar to Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

Kerry-Lieberman’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction schedule is 17% below 2005 emissions levels by 2020, 42% below by 2030, and 83% below by 2050. Compare that to Waxman-Markey’s 20% reduction in emissions (below 2005 levels) by 2020, 42% by 2030, and 83% by 2050. Except for a bit of relaxation of near term targets, the bills’ long-term intentions are identical.

The impact of this slight emissions difference on the resulting future global temperature savings is not manifest until the third digit past the decimal point—in other words, thousandths of degrees C. Climatologically, in other words, the bills are identical. [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

As Chris Horner called it: Disgraceful Display of the Day

Today at 1:30 pm Eastern time Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will host a press conference announcing the fifth Senate reinvention of "cap-and-trade" global warming legislation since 2003, the "American Power Act". Call it the American Power Grab Act, instead, for reasons that will become obvious momentarily.
The orchestrated spectacle, with a cast expected to be in the dozens which massive alignment of special interest groups is apparently supposed to persuade you of the justness of their cause, is in fact a manifestation of all that is wrong with Washington and what Americans have become increasingly enraged by. (Chris Horner, Spectator)

 

And here's some of the pigs at the trough:

 

Exelon chief Rowe praises Senate emissions bill but gives it slim odds

Senate climate change legislation proposed Wednesday is a reasonable compromise, Exelon Corp. Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe said, but he put long odds on it going anywhere this year. (Crain's)

 

Pickens: Kerry-Lieberman Energy Bill Recognizes Economic and National Security Threat of OPEC Oil Dependence

DALLAS - T. Boone Pickens, energy expert and creator of the Pickens Plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, released the following statement regarding energy legislation unveiled today by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.): (Business Wire)

 

Insiders Cash In, Consumers Pay Under New Energy Bill

The Energy Costs Al Gore Would Like You to Pay

Major players in Washington cheered the latest version of an energy bill, which tries to buy votes with “something for almost everyone.”  But beleaguered consumers will get stuck with skyrocketing bills after others feast on new government benefits.

We can expect any new “green jobs” to be offset by a larger loss of existing jobs, possibly up to 3-million, depending on details of how the bill’s cap-and-trade system is implemented to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Continue reading... (The Foundry)

 

ENRON APPLAUDS SENATE CAP-AND-TAX PROPOSAL

by Robert Bradley Jr.
May 12, 2010

[Editor note: The following post, "Cap-and-Trade: The Temple of Enron," appeared one year ago in MasterResource.  It is being reprinted in conjunction with the release of the outlines of the Senate energy/climate proposal. Robert Bradley, formerly with Enron, further documents Enron's cap-and-trade shenanigans in other MasterResource articles listed at the end of this post. Two press releases from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Energy Research on the Senate outline are reproduced as well.]

“Since 1976, Enron [and predecessor company] employees have been at the forefront of developing air credit trading policies for governments and businesses…. Enron today is the largest and most sophisticated air emissions credit and allowance trading organization in the United States. Since 1990, Enron has participated in over 80 SOx allowance transactions and has also been active in establishing policies for trading NOx in the United States and carbon [dioxide] world-wide.”

- “Enron Corp.’s Participation in Air Trading,” Enron Capital & Trade Resources, November 4, 1996 (copy in files).

“If implemented, [the Kyoto Protocol] will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative…. The endorsement of [CO2] emissions trading was another victory for us…. This agreement will be good for Enron stock!”

- John Palmisano (December 12, 1997) from Kyoto, Japan. Quoted in Bradley, Capitalism at Work, p. 307.

“If anyone has environmental credit needs, that’s what we do. We want to be to be the clearing house to monetize available credits or to manage risk.”

- Kevin McGowan, director of coal and emissions trading, Enron Corp., (Enron Biz, November 29, 2000, copy in files)

“We are a green company, but the green stands for money.”

- Jeff Skilling, CEO, Enron Corp., quoted in Capitalism at Work, p. 310.

Enron is Exhibit A against Waxman/Markey’s [Kerry-Graham-Lieberman's] cap-and-trade proposal. Enron was poised to make money coming and going by being the nation’s and the world’s largest market-maker in CO2 permits, and the “smartest guys in the room” were ready to game and game for incremental dollars (remember California?).

Enron’s business model, in retrospect, had to do with regulatory complexity, as I note in the introduction to my book Capitalism at Work. Enron gamed the highly prescriptive accounting rules (GAAP), tax system (the corporate tax division was actually a profit center as told in an exposé in the Washington Post). [Read more →] (MasterResource)

 

Global Cap And Trade Decades Off, U.S. Unveils Plan

A grand vision of a global carbon market to limit greenhouse gas emissions may be decades off as U.S. senators unveiled a climate bill on Wednesday, facing tough Republican opposition.

But far from being dead, national and regional cap and trade schemes are emerging as a possible patchwork successor to the international Kyoto Protocol on global warming, whose present round ends in 2012, in the absence of workable alternatives.

Some policymakers outside Europe have downgraded their ambition for a new global treaty or protocol following a disappointing U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December.

Cap and trade schemes aim to limit greenhouse gases by issuing to industry a certain quota of tradable emissions permits, following a five year old European Union model.

Such schemes are emerging as an imperfect, international system for limiting carbon emissions after Kyoto, said Kjetil Roine, manager of carbon market research at Point Carbon.

U.S. legislation similar to the EU scheme would unite U.S. and EU climate diplomacy, said MIT economist Denny Ellerman. "That changes the game, it starts to look like a global system," he said. (Reuters)

 

That'd be like, tragic, man: Australia left behind by US emission trading bill

THE unveiling of a long-awaited US Senate bill to establish an American emissions trading scheme shows Australia is being left behind in terms of action on climate change, say environmentalists. (SMH)

 

I still want climate action: Kevin Rudd

A DECIDEDLY cranky Kevin Rudd has launched an impassioned defence of his handling of climate change policy.

Pressed by ABC 7.30 Report host Kerry O'Brien last night on why he had abandoned his climate change campaign, the Prime Minister said the Liberal Party had backflipped and voted down his emissions trading scheme legislation: "That is the reality we had to confront.

"The second reality is this: that when we got to Copenhagen, it didn't produce the sort of progress in the global agenda that we all had hoped. "Therefore, where do we go from here? Our commitment on climate change hasn't changed one bit. It's happening."

"But it . . ." interrupted O'Brien.

"Hang on, let me finish," said Mr Rudd, as the climate in the studio heated up noticeably. (Brendan Nicholson, The Australian)

 

CSIRO should establish if there was medieval warming Down-Under

THE deferral of Australia's emissions trading scheme for three years allows us time for additional scientific studies that may be critical in shaping future legislation.

A touchstone in the debate on causes of global warming is the record of global temperatures of past millennia. Most who follow this debate are familiar with the cooling from the 16th to 18th centuries known as the Little Ice Age; this is generally accepted as a global phenomenon. Most are also aware of the Medieval Warm Period covering much of the 9th to 15th centuries. This has been the source of greater debate because, while it is clear in anecdotal descriptions from Europe, such as Vikings growing crops in Greenland, it is less clear whether it is a global phenomenon. The debate has high stakes because the rate of warming and temperatures attained in Europe during the MWP are of similar order to the warming of past decades. If the MWP were to be proven to be global, then the basis of present science stating that industrial-era carbon emissions are the dominant cause of today's warming would be significantly undermined.

One of the giants of global warming science, Wally Broecker of Columbia University in New York, wrote a discussion in 2001 of evidence for the MWP being a global phenomenon, concluding tentative support for its global nature. Three years later, Phil Jones, now director of the Climate Research Unit, East Anglia, co-authored a review that concluded the MWP was a regional phenomenon. The IPCC4 report of 2007 concluded similarly; curiously, Broecker's paper did not get a mention. (Michael Asten, The Australian)

 

As if Britons didn't have enough troubles before: Green policies of new Government

A green investment bank and national programme of home insulation will be top of the agenda for the new Government.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP, will head up the department for Energy and Climate Change.

He will drive forward a number of policies in the first Queen's Speech to make the UK's out-dated building stock more energy efficient and boost renewable energy. Already environmentalists are celebrating a vow to scrap the third runway at Heathrow, although plans for nuclear power stations remain on course. (TDT)

 

Coalition pledges to cut central government emissions by 10%

Commitment by new government will account for 1% of all UK emissions - equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road (The Guardian)

 

GWPF Calls for Suspension and Review of Unilateral Climate Targets

In the national interest, the Global Warming Policy Foundation wishes the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government every success. We welcome the fact that its first priority is to reduce substantially the alarming and unsustainable deficit in the public finances, which is leading to a rapidly-growing burden of public debt. In the circumstances, it is clear that the UK cannot afford, above all unilaterally, to move to a low carbon, let alone a zero carbon, economy. A low carbon economy means a high energy cost economy. (Benny Peiser, GWPF)

 

Testimony of the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley Before Congress, 6 May 2010

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:21

For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

TESTIMONY OF THE VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY BEFORE CONGRESS, MAY 6, 2010 (SPPI)

 

Jimmy beginning to believe his own press? 'Climate dice' now dangerously loaded: leading scientist

PARIS — Evidence for global warming has mounted but public awareness of the threat has shrunk, due to a cold northern winter and finger-pointing at the UN's climate experts, a top scientist warned Wednesday.

James Hansen, a leading NASA scientist whose testimony to the US Congress in 1988 was a landmark in the history of climate change, said he was worried by "the large gap" in knowledge between specialists and the public, including politicians.

"That gap has increased substantially in the last year," Hansen told a press conference during a visit to Paris.

"While the science was becoming clearer, the public's perception became less clear, in part because of the unusually cold winter in both North America and Europe, and in part because of the inappropriate over-emphasis on small minor errors in IPCC documents and because of the so-called Climategate." (AFP)

This from the fellow who admits we have no agreement even on what we are attempting to measure with global mean temperature.

 

After brickbats, relief for Pachauri

NEW DELHI: If IPCC chief R K Pachauri remained under attack for the better part of last month, his reputation was more than resurrected in the last two days, with government heads and leaders from across the world voicing their support for the man and his organisation. 

With help pouring in from all quarters, it was, in fact, the climate change debate that benefited. Attending the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2010, ministers from across the world spoke about the necessity of creating a new energy future, where the role of renewable energy was highlighted. Government representatives from UAE, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, France and Belgium talked about individual targets, while emphasising the urgency to shift to new energy sources. (Times of India)

 

3 new climate change reports to be released at May 19 public briefing

As part of its most comprehensive assessment to date, the National Research Council – the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering – will release three new reports examining how the nation can combat the effects of global warming. One focuses on the science that supports human-induced climate change, and the others review options for limiting the magnitude of and adapting to the impacts of global warming. The reports are part of a congressionally requested suite of studies known as America's Climate Choices.

At a public briefing to discuss the reports, Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, will deliver opening remarks, and members of the panels that wrote the reports will discuss their recommendations and take questions. The briefing starts at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 19, in the Lecture Room of the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Those who cannot attend may watch a live video webcast and submit questions at www.national-academies.org.

Reports to be released on the 19th are:

  • Advancing the Science of Climate Change
  • Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change
  • Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change

###

Advance copies of the reports will be available to reporters only beginning at 2 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 18. THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED AND NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE BEFORE 10 A.M. EDT MAY 19. To obtain copies of the reports or to register for the briefing, contact the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail < news@nas.edu >.

America's Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change will examine how to best provide decision makers information on climate change, and an overarching publication will build on the previous reports to offer a scientific framework for shaping the policy choices underlying the nation's efforts to confront climate change. (NAS)

 

How Much Does Climate Change Naturally?

“…The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.” ~John Adams

Adams is talking about contrarians, people who challenge prevailing opinion whom he sees as a positive force in society. Now those pushing the myth that humans are causing warming or climate change want society to think it is a negative force. As Adams notes, in order to create a negative perception of contrarians they are subjected to nasty attacks. Collectively imply they don’t care about the environment, the planet, the children, or the future. 

This is part of the claim to the moral high ground by environmental groups and extremists. It also involves the claim that every change is caused by human activity, which reaches a height of illogic with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to humans and is almost the sole cause of global warming since the 1950s. The reality is the claim is not proven except in their computer models and cannot be proven until we understand how much climate varies naturally. The inverse of that is how much change is due to humans. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

Silent Spring For Mongolians After Winter Kills Herds

The winter camps of southern Mongolia are quiet during this year's breeding season, after an unusually harsh winter wiped out herds and left nomadic families with little but debt to their name.

The bitter winter killed an estimated 8 million animals, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), leaving exhausted, poverty-stricken herders struggling to survive and increasing demands on Mongolia's already-stretched national budget. (Reuters)

 

EPA's Role in Protecting Ocean Health Should Focus on the "Here-and-Now" Threats

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 19:36

 

For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

This statement provides my analysis of the effects of ocean acidification on our living resources and our economy. It lightly touches on the other topics of the Hearing: the oil spill and the EPA role in ocean health. (SPPI)

 

SPPI Monthly CO2 Report: April 2010

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:30

The authoritative Monthly CO2 Report for April 2010 discusses the panic among the climate-extremist faction as none of their  predictions of doom comes to pass – plus lots more.

For the Full Report in PDF Form, please click here.

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

The authoritative Monthly CO2 Report for April 2010 discusses the panic among the climate-extremist faction as none of their  predictions of doom comes to pass – plus lots more (SPPI)

 

Great Debate Part III – Glikson accidentally vindicates the skeptics!

I am impressed that Glikson replied politely, rose above any ad hominem or authority based arguments, and focused on the science and the evidence. This kind of exchange is exceedingly rare, and it made it well worth continuing. Links to Part I and II are at the end.

Depending on flawed models

by Joanne Nova
May 11, 2010

For a sentence, I almost think Dr Glikson gets it. Yes, it’s a quantitative question: Will we warm by half a measly degree or 3.5 degrees? It’s not about the direct CO2 effect (all of one paltry degree by itself), it’s the feedbacks—the humidity, clouds, lapse rates and other factors that amplify (or not) the initial minor effect of carbon.

Decades ago, the catastrophe-crowd made guesses about the feedbacks—but they were wrong. Instead of amplifying carbon’s effect two-fold (or more!) the feedbacks dampen it.

Dr Glikson has no reply. He makes no comment at all about Lindzen [1], Spencer [2] or Douglass [3] and their three peer reviewed, independent, empirical papers showing that the climate models are exaggerating the warming by a factor of six. (Six!) He’s probably unaware that the assumptions about positive feedback are wrong, and all the portents of disaster were built upon those guesses. Everything else is just an error cascade flowing from a base assumption that is implicit and essential (and wrong). Don’t expect the IPCC to explain it in an easy-to-read brochure though. More » (Jo Nova)

 

Recommended Reading – The Hartwell Paper

As posted on my son’s weblog today, there is a proposal to reform how climate policy is conducted. His post is titled The Hartwell Paper.

There is a Nature post on this important new contribution at

New, ‘relentlessly pragmatic’ approach to climate change needed?

The Hartwell Paper can be viewed at http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/mackinderProgramme/theHartwellPaper/.

The concepts presented are similar to what we recommend in our article

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

 

Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I noted on the news that there is a new plan afoot to cool down the planet. This one supposedly has been given big money by none other than Bill Gates.

The plan involves a fleet of ships that supposedly look like this:

Figure 1. Artist’s conception of cloud-making ships. Of course, the first storm would flip this over immediately, but heck, it’s only a fantasy, so who cares? SOURCE

The web site claims that:

Bill Gates Announces Funding for Seawater-Spraying Cloud Machines

The machines, developed by a San Francisco-based research group called Silver Lining, turn seawater into tiny particles that can be shot up over 3,000 feet in the air. The particles increase the density of clouds by increasing the amount of nuclei contained within. Silver Lining’s floating machines can suck up ten tons of water per second.

What could possibly go wrong with such a brilliant plan?

Continue reading (WUWT)

 

My Comment On The New Paper “Urban Heat Island Effects On Estimates Of Observed Climate Change” By David E. Parker

There is a new paper by David Parker

Parker, David E. , 2010: Urban heat island effects on estimates of observed climate change. Climate  Change 2010 1 123–133

The abstract reads

“Urban heat islands are a result of the physical properties of buildings and other structures, and the emission of heat by human activities. They are most pronounced on clear, calm nights; their strength depends also on the background geography and climate, and there are often cool islands in parks and less-developed areas. Some old city centers no longer show warming trends relative to rural neighbourhoods, because urban development has stabilised. This article reviews the effects that urban heat islands may have on estimates of global near-surface temperature trends. These effects have been reduced by avoiding or adjusting urban temperature measurements. Comparisons of windy weather with calm weather air temperature trends for a worldwide set of observing sites suggest that global near-surface temperature trends have not been greatly affected by urban warming trends; this is supported by comparisons with marine surface temperatures. The use of dynamical-model-based reanalyses to estimate urban influences has been hindered by the heterogeneity of the data input to the reanalyses and by biases in the models. However, improvements in reanalyses are increasing their utility for assessing the surface air temperature record. Highresolution climate models and data on changing land use offer potential for future assessment of worldwide urban warming influences. The latest assessments of the likely magnitude of the residual urban trend in available global near-surface temperature records are summarized, along with the uncertainties of these residual trends.”

The paper, however, has serious flaws. (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

New Paper “Biogeophysical Versus Biogeochemical Climate Response To Historical Anthropogenic Land Cover Change” By Pongratz Et Al 2010

There is a new paper which adds to the literature of the role of land surface processes within the climate system. It is

Pongratz, J., C. H. Reick, T. Raddatz, and M. Claussen (2010), Biogeophysical versus biogeochemical climate response to historical anthropogenic land cover change, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L08702, doi:10.1029/2010GL043010. (Roger Pielke Sr, Climate Science)

 

Further Confirmation Of The Inadequacies Of A Global Average Radiative Forcing To Monitor Climate Change

In the National Research Council report

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

 

Barack Obama plans to punish BP with tax hike as Gulf spill worsens

Oil companies face an immediate tax rise of 1 cent per barrel to help to pay for the clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico under proposed legislation rushed out by the White House yesterday.

The measure, unveiled as BP began a new attempt to contain the ruptured well that has leaked millions of gallons of crude oil into America’s southern coastal waters, would put an extra $500 million (£340 million) over ten years into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which covers damage caused by such disasters. (The Times)

 

Louisiana Warns Of Over-Reaction To Gulf Spill

Any effort to limit off-shore drilling in the wake of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be a "gross over-reaction" that would further batter the Louisiana economy, the state's treasurer said on Friday.

"I think that it would be a gross over-reaction to stop drilling," State Treasurer John Kennedy told Reuters. "Do we need to learn from our mistakes? Certainly we do."

Off-shore drilling drives nearly a third, or $65 billion, of the state's economy in direct and indirect revenue, Kennedy said. (Reuters)

 

U.S. to Split Up Agency Policing the Oil Industry

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed breaking up the agency responsible for both policing the oil industry and acting as its partner in drilling activities, seeking to end a decades-old relationship between industry and government that has proved highly profitable — and some say too cozy — for both.

The administration has been under pressure to address weaknesses in federal oil regulation since the BP well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago. (NYT)

 

More mandated waste and inefficiency: Australia Parliament Debates Amended Green Power Laws

Laws to overhaul Australia's renewable energy scheme were introduced into parliament on Wednesday in a move that should reassure industry and underpin billions of dollars in investments.

The laws are expected to pass a vote in the Senate in the coming weeks, a step that would be a rare victory for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's otherwise stalled efforts to fight climate change and a boost ahead of elections later this year.

Australia has laws to ensure 20 percent of electricity comes from renewable energy by 2020 and the three bills introduced into the lower house of parliament will refine this by splitting the scheme to separate the small-scale household market from larger renewable energy projects.

The new arrangements will start in January 2011. (Reuters)

 

Camelina: The Next Biofuel Wonder Crop or the Next Jatropha

We do love our wonder-crops. We want plants that yield large amounts of biofuel, and can do it on marginal soil. We want them to be drought resistant and require little fertilizer. And when one fails to deliver per the hype, we move right on to the next one without having learned the lessons of the last one. [Read More] (Robert Rapier, Energy Tribune)

 

Building the Internet of Energy Supply

The electricity industry is spending billions on building new, transnational power lines to harness electricity from renewable energy sources. The intelligent grid is designed to make distribution more reliable and efficient, but are consumers playing along? (Spiegel)

 

Subsidized Green Jobs Still Destroy Jobs Elsewhere

broken-window2.jpg

Last month Politico reported that the alternative energy sector had upped its lobbying efforts from $2.4 million in 1998 to $30 million in 2009. So what is the renewable power industry getting for its investment? Studies like this one by Navigant Consulting, Inc. for the Renewable Electricity Standard-Alliance for Jobs. The RES Alliance study found that “that a 25% by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more renewable energy jobs over no-national RES policy.”

Which is great news if you own a renewable electricity business. But what if you’re not? What if you manufacture widgets and you need inexpensive power to stay in business? The RES Alliance study tells you nothing about what happens to those jobs. It never even tries.

The reality is that Renewable Electricity Standards will cause energy prices to go up and that those higher energy prices will lead to job losses throughout the economy. Just ho many jobs will RES destroy on net? The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis crunched the numbers and found that an RES would reduce employment by more than 1,000,000 jobs. Continue reading...

 

The Wrong Way To Get to Green

Once you've carpeted the wilderness with wind-farm turbines, and crushed any guilt about the birds you're about to kill, prepare to be underwhelmed and underpowered.

Al Gore has a dream, a dream increasingly shared, according to opinion surveys, by people all over the world. It is that the 19th century, the age of steam and iron and coal, will finally end and that, as Mr. Gore wrote in an article for the New York Times in 2008, the time will soon come for "21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth."

It might be better, and much more realistic, says Robert Bryce in "Power Hungry," to imagine our journey toward a "green" energy Arcadia in units of Saudi Arabia. "Over the past few years," he writes, "we have repeatedly been told that we should quit using hydrocarbons. Fine. Global daily hydrocarbon use is about 200 million barrels of oil equivalent, or about 23.5 Saudi Arabias per day. Thus, if the world's policy makers really want to quit using carbon-based fuels, then we will need to find the energy equivalent of 23.5 Saudi Arabias every day, and all of that energy must be carbon free."

"Power Hungry" unfolds as a brutal, brilliant exploration of this profoundly deluded quest, from fingers-in-the-ears "la-la-la-ing" at the mention of nuclear power to the illusion that we are rapidly running out of oil or that we can turn to biomass for salvation: Since it takes 10,000 tons of wood to produce one megawatt of electricity, for instance, the U.S. will be chopping down forests faster than it can grow them.

Mr. Bryce also points to the link between cheap power and economic productivity and asks why we should expect much of the world to forgo the benefits of light bulbs and regular energy when we enjoy these privileges. But if "Power Hungry" sounds like a supercharged polemic, its shocks are delivered with forensic skill and narrative aplomb. (Trevor Butterworth, WSJ)

 

The Price of Wind: The 'clean energy revolution' is expensive.

The ferocious opposition from Massachusetts liberals to the Cape Wind project has provided a useful education in green energy politics. And now that the Nantucket Sound wind farm has won federal approval, this decade-long saga may prove edifying in green energy economics too: Namely, the price of electricity from wind is more than twice what consumers now pay.

On Monday, Cape Wind asked state regulators to approve a 15-year purchasing contract with the utility company National Grid at 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour, starting in 2013 and rising at 3.5% annually thereafter. Consumers pay around nine cents for conventional power today. The companies expect average electric bills to jump by about $1.59 a month, because electricity is electricity no matter how it is generated, and Cape Wind's 130 turbines will generate so little of it in the scheme of the overall New England market.

Still, that works out to roughly $443 million in new energy costs, and that doesn't count the federal subsidies that Cape Wind will receive from national taxpayers. It does, however, include the extra 6.1 cents per kilowatt hour that Massachusetts utilities are mandated to pay for wind, solar and the like under a 2008 state law called the Green Communities Act. Also under that law, at least 15% of power company portfolios must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved Cape Wind, placing it in the vanguard of "a clean energy revolution." A slew of environmental and political outfits have since filed multiple lawsuits for violations of the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, certain tribal-protection laws, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.

There's comic irony in this clean energy revolution getting devoured by the archaic regulations of previous clean energy revolutions. But given that taxpayers will be required to pay to build Cape Wind and then required to buy its product at prices twice normal rates, opponents might have more success if they simply pointed out what a lousy deal it is. (WSJ)

 

Mexico Eyes Up To 10 New Nuclear Plants By 2028

Mexico may build up to 10 new nuclear power stations by 2028 under one scenario being evaluated by the state electricity monopoly, the company said in a presentation on Wednesday.

Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE, currently has four scenarios for new power generation capacity from 2019- 28 that range from a heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants to meet growing demand to a low-carbon scenario that calls for big investments in nuclear and wind power, said Eugenio Laris, who is in charge of investment projects at the company.

Mexico currently operates a single nuclear power station at Laguna Verde in the state of Veracruz along the Gulf of Mexico. (Reuters)

 

North Korea boasts thermonuclear energy

Three weeks ago, North Korea celebrated the Earth Day:



Well, two weeks ago, it also celebrated the Earth Day. The perfect country celebrates the Earth Day all the time. ;-)

But today, there are even better news coming from the progressive country:

Phys Org, Reuters, Google News
The official Korean Central News Agency said:
The successful nuclear fusion by our scientists has made a definite breakthrough towards the development of new energy and opened up a new phase in the nation's development of the latest science and technology.
Congratulations, comrades. They may have burned the last piece of pork that was left in the country and decided that there was some hydrogen in it, too.

Technically, it was easy to achieve fusion: they chose the right day, the birthday of the holy founder of the state, Kim Il-Sung, also known as the "Day of the Sun".

Because the holy communist father is the Sun and there's fusion in the Sun, He gave them the gift of fusion, too.

Your humble correspondent is laughing but let me be honest: I feel pretty uncertain. They may have found something, after all. What do you think? ;-)

Hat tip: Olda Klimánek (The Reference Frame)

 

 

WHO panel to review H1N1 pandemic status

GENEVA - An expert panel advising the World Health Organization on pandemics will review the status of the H1