Archives - September 2009

September 30, 2009

 

Peter Foster: Climate policy bust

The Copenhagen meeting in December from which a successor to Kyoto was meant to emerge will obviously be a bust. The G20 has at last caught on that the global economy doesn’t really need another policy shock right now. Rich nations are reluctant to ship more billions to corruptly-governed poor nations under the cover of “green development.” China and India — rightly — aren’t going to curtail their growth in order to cater to the self-serving nightmares of would-be global governors.

Desperation was obvious last week in the appearance of yet another hysterical report from the UN. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wailed that, “The science has become more irrevocable than ever: climate change is happening. The evidence is all around us. And unless we act, we will see catastrophic consequences, including rising sea-levels, droughts and famine, and the loss of up to a third of the world’s plant and animal species.”

Ho hum. More irrevocable? In fact, the science is falling apart faster than the policy. Evidence is appearing not merely of major flaws in the computer models on which apocalyptic scenarios are based, but of blunders in the numbers behind the history of global temperatures. (Peter Foster, Financial Post)

 

Treemometers: A new scientific scandal - If a peer review fails in the woods...

A scientific scandal is casting a shadow over a number of recent peer-reviewed climate papers.

At least eight papers purporting to reconstruct the historical temperature record times may need to be revisited, with significant implications for contemporary climate studies, the basis of the IPCC's assessments. A number of these involve senior climatologists at the British climate research centre CRU at the University East Anglia. In every case, peer review failed to pick up the errors.

At issue is the use of tree rings as a temperature proxy, or dendrochronology. Using statistical techniques, researchers take the ring data to create a "reconstruction" of historical temperature anomalies. But trees are a highly controversial indicator of temperature, since the rings principally record Co2, and also record humidity, rainfall, nutrient intake and other local factors.

Picking a temperature signal out of all this noise is problematic, and a dendrochronology can differ significantly from instrumented data. In dendro jargon, this disparity is called "divergence". The process of creating a raw data set also involves a selective use of samples - a choice open to a scientist's biases.

Yet none of this has stopped paleoclimataologists from making bold claims using tree ring data. (Andrew Orlowski, The Register)

 

How the global warming industry is based on one MASSIVE lie

For the growing band of AGW “Sceptics” the following story is dynamite. And for those who do believe in Al Gore’s highly profitable myth about “Man-Made Global Warming”, it will no doubt feel as comfortable as the rectally inserted suicide bomb that put paid to an Al Qaeda operative earlier this week.

Now read on. (James Delingpole, Daily Telegraph)

 

What Does the Last Decade Tell Us about Global Warming? (Hint: the ‘skeptics’ have the momentum)

“Worldwide temperatures haven’t risen much in the past decade…. If you are a climate-change activist pointing to year after year of mounting climate crises, you might want to rethink your approach.”

- Richard Kerr, Science, May 2, 2008.

There has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks in the discussion as to the significance (scientific, political, social) of the evolution of the global average surface temperature during the past 10 years or so.

For those of you who don’t know, the surface temperature of the globe, as a whole, has not warmed-up by anyone’s calculation since at least the turn of the century (January 2001) and depending on your dataset and statistical technique of choice, perhaps as far back as January 1997. And all of this non-warming occurred over a period of time during which the global emissions of CO2 increased faster than ever before (thanks primarily to China). In fact, anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing is about 5 percent greater now than a decade ago (about 16 parts per million). (Chip Knappenberger, MasterResource)

 

Climate Changes for U.S. Chamber

Global warming has put the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the hot seat. In recent weeks, three utilities have announced plans to drop their membership or reduce their role in the powerful business organization because of the Chamber’s opposition to pending legislation that would cap carbon emissions.

First, there was Pacific Gas and Electric, whose chairman found it “dismaying that the Chamber rejects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored.”

Next came PNM Resources, which announced it was giving up its seat on the Chamber’s board because it disagreed with the Chamber’s position on climate change. Then on Monday, Exelon CEO John Rowe announced the utility will not renew its membership in the Chamber “because of their stridency against carbon legislation.” (Portfolio)

 

Exelon Joins U.S. Chamber of Rentseeking, says JunkScience.com in Mock Media Release

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 -- JunkScience.com issued a mock media release today spotlighting Exelon Corp.'s recent announcement that it was cancelling its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber's opposition to carbon dioxide emissions caps.

The mock release says that Exelon quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over global warming to form the U.S. Chamber of Rentseeking where, according to the mock release, big businesses can forego "free enterprise, free markets, risk, and competition," in favor of "getting in bed with big government in order to guarantee big profits."

"We issued the mock release to spotlight how Exelon CEO John Rowe is selling America down the river on cap-and-tax so that he can bask in the glow of unearned, windfall and government-guaranteed profits," said Steve Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com and author of the Amazon.com best-selling book "Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them." (PRNewswire-USNewswire)

 

Climate superstition with a 'net megaphone -- a really BAD idea:

Blog Action Day - Climate Change?

Why Climate Change?

Climate change affects us all and it threatens more than the environment. It threatens to cause famine, flooding, war, and millions of refugees.

Given the urgency of the issue of climate change and the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December, we think the blogosphere has the unique opportunity to mobilize millions of people around expressing support for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis. (BAD)

The BAD Blog

The official blog of B(log) A(ction) D(ay)
Why Blogging on Climate Matters Right Now (BAD)

About Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. (BAD)

 

Are Warmist-Journalists Helping Spread The Skeptical Word In The UK?

Who could have guessed…journalists are third from bottom in the list of trusted public figures in the UK, a poll has just shown. A great progress indeed (they had the pride of last place until now), apart from the fact that this year they have been beaten by scandal-plagued parliamentarians and Government ministers on their way down.

Now, consider also the vast amounts of AGW belief among British journalism (eg BBC, Guardian, Independent, most tabloids if not all of them, apart from a tiny number of mostly politically-motivated people at The Daily Telegraph).

Is it any wonder then that AGW skepticism is on the increase in the UK?

Perhaps the impact of all the rivers of ink and bytes dedicated by non-skeptical AGW British media should not be underrated… (OmniClimate)

 

Landmark 2nd Circuit Ruling May Open Gates for Climate Cases

Climate change lawsuits gained new urgency for environmentalists and industry groups alike last week when a federal appeals court issued a ruling that both sides see as a potential game changer.

In that case, Connecticut v. AEP, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' panel sided with a coalition of eight states, New York City and environmental groups that had filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the nation's largest coal-burning utilities (Greenwire, Sept. 21).

"A lot of observers thought that this kind of litigation was dead or nearly dead in the wake of some of the district court rulings that proceeded this case," said Bruce Myers, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law Institute. "But you've got a very respected circuit court coming forward with a panel of two [judges] appointed by conservative presidents saying, 'No, in effect, this kind of litigation can proceed.'"

Environmentalists hailed the decision, which created a new judicial remedy, holding greenhouse gas emitters responsible for causing a "public nuisance" in the form of global warming. (Greenwire)

 

Oh boy... Is 350 the New 450 When It Comes to Capping Carbon Emissions?

When it comes to fighting climate change, pick a number -- any number.

Nearly 200 countries have signed a U.N. treaty pledging to avoid "dangerous" climate change. But lately, it seems, "dangerous" is lost in translation. Fifteen years since that agreement took effect, scientists and governments are still grappling with what carrying out its promise means.

For the European Union, it means limiting Earth's warming to just 2 degrees Celsius hotter by the end of this century than it was before the Industrial Revolution. That's a goal many experts believe is roughly equivalent to capping atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million. But a growing number of countries -- mostly vulnerable ones and small island nations like the Maldives -- say that won't prevent rising sea levels from swamping their coasts.

They're calling for an even stricter standard: 350 parts per million, a number endorsed by NASA climatologist James Hansen.

Some scientists mapping out Earth's potential futures say both targets are arbitrary. What's essential, they insist, is that countries start cutting their greenhouse gas emissions soon and stay flexible in case the planet behaves in unexpected ways. (ClimateWire)

What they all overlook is that there is NO SAFE LEVEL OF CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS CONTROL.

What does that mean? It means that any and every attempt to limit, ration or make energy more expensive does more harm than good (in fact there is only potential for harm and no potential benefit at all).

Leave carbon alone. We mine it expressly for the purpose of combining with oxygen to liberate the energy bound within and the product of that combination feeds the world, both domesticated and natural.

 

These are the sort of scare stories that really annoy me: By 2050, 25m more children will go hungry as climate change leads to food crisis

Twenty-five million more children will go hungry by the middle of this century as climate change leads to food shortages and soaring prices for staples such as rice, wheat, maize and soya beans, a report says today.

If global warming goes unchecked, all regions of the world will be affected, but the most vulnerable – south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – will be hit hardest by failing crop yields, according to the report, prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

The children of 2050 will have fewer calories to eat than those in 2000, the report says, and the effect would be to wipe out decades of progress in reducing child malnutrition.

The grim scenario is the first to gauge the effects of climate change on the world's food supply by combining climate and agricultural models. (The Guardian)

Anti-biotech, anti-population, anti-everything useful Luddites interfere with development, fertilizer subsidies, crop improvement, divert land into growing "biofuels" and on and on -- then claim we won't manage to feed people because the planet might be less-cold.

Bottom line: the possible climate change we need to fear and take precaution against is dramatic cooling. If the planet warms then that's good since life loves warmth but we can't rely on it happening. The gorebull warming scam must stop though because it is doing real harm.

 

Sigh... CIA Opens Center on Climate Change and National Security

The Central Intelligence Agency is launching The Center on Climate Change and National Security as the focal point for its work on the subject. The Center is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology.

Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources. The Center will provide support to American policymakers as they negotiate, implement, and verify international agreements on environmental issues. That is something the CIA has done for years. “Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well positioned to deliver that intelligence,” said Director Leon Panetta. (CIA) [em added]

 

Senate Cap and Trade Bill Draft Released: Worse Than House Version

Back at the end of June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey cap and trade global warming tax bill.

This bill would cost millions of American jobs, raise our electric bills by 40% or more, hinder much-needed refining capacity, hurt foreign trade, block much-needed power plant development, require home inspections and environmental retrofitting before we can sell our homes, regulate how much water we can use in our own homes,

Courtesy of the Green Hell Blog, we have a look at the draft of the Senate version of the cap and trade global warming tax bill.

Apparently, not to be outdone by the asininity and hostility toward the American people of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate has upped the ante and called for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases, even more  egregious than the House bill.

All this to “fix” a problem that doesn’t even exist! (Bob Ellis, Dakota Voice)

 

Senators' Climate Draft Mirrors House Bill, With Some Exceptions

An early version of Senate climate legislation obtained today by E&E confirms that Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) largely plan to follow the path their Democratic colleagues pursued in the House-passed climate bill.

But the 684-page Senate draft bill (pdf) diverges from the House measure in its push for a 2020 emissions target of 20 percent, compared with the House's bill's 17 percent limit.

Both the House-passed bill, H.R. 2454 (pdf), and the preliminary Boxer-Kerry proposal contain the same longer-term emissions limits of 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and an 83 percent cut for 2050.

A senior Boxer aide cautioned that the draft bill does not reflect proposed changes that have recently been incorporated from senators both on and off the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The latest version, which the aide says stretches for more than 800 pages, is scheduled to be released tomorrow during a Capitol Hill press conference with about a dozen senators, veterans, environmentalists and industry officials.

"It's a snapshot in time of our restructure of the [House] bill, but it doesn't really reflect where the bill is now," the Boxer aide said. (Greenwire)

 

Funny, Most Americans Weren’t At The Bargaining Table

ClimateWire, via the New York Times, leads its Boxer-Kerry climate-change-bill story thusly:

Ending some nine months of closed-door deliberations, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) will release global warming legislation Wednesday that they hope will be the vehicle for broader Senate negotiations and an eventual conference with the House.

Odd. We don’t remember most Americans being at the table, so we’re curious to see what comes out. And, as we’ve stated time and again, it is us workers and consumers that will be hardest hit by the kind of cap and trade bill passed by the House of Representatives and whispered about in the Senate.

In fact, there’s new evidence of just how bad cap and trade will be for most of us. Andrew Chamberlain, lead author of a new analysis released for the Institute for Energy Research, said:

“Many of the current estimates of cap-and trade’s distributional impact are in direct contradiction to microeconomic theory. Using implausible assumptions about free emissions allowances, the government’s analysis concludes that the costs associated with cap-and-trade legislation are progressive. Unfortunately, they are almost certainly regressive, with America’s top income-earners profiting by more than $14 billion per year, and low- and middle-income households footing a large portion of the burden. What’s more, the free allowances distributed under Waxman-Markey will result in large windfall profits for the corporate allies of the legislation.”

So, hold onto your hats (and wallets) Wednesday. (The Chilling Effect)

 

E.U. Alone and Lonely on Carbon

BRUSSELS — Carbon trading put the European Union in the environmental vanguard.

Since 2005, the trade bloc has operated the world’s only continent-wide system that puts a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and that requires major polluters to hold tradable allowances.

But the system has also been the most “costly climate policy program in the world,” according to Jürgen R. Thumann, the president of BusinessEurope, a powerful confederation of industry and employer groups.

Mr. Thumann said European business leaders are desperate to expand the system to the United States and eventually across the globe to reduce the “dangers to our ability to compete internationally.”

But with talks on a new global climate treaty seemingly at a stalemate, and with climate legislation delayed in major polluting countries like the United States and Australia, those prospects look increasingly distant.

Meanwhile the E.U. shows no sign of abandoning the system, leaving business leaders like Mr. Thumann with little choice but to speak out at home and to press developed nations abroad to match Europe’s efforts when they gather at the U.N. summit meeting on climate change in December in Copenhagen. (NYT)

 

Costly Carbon Cuts - Proposed Strategies Would Hurt the Most Vulnerable

COPENHAGEN -- In speech after rousing speech at the United Nations summit on global warming last week, politicians emphasized the need to protect the world's most vulnerable, who will be hit hardest by climate change. The rhetoric did little to disguise an awful truth: If we continue on our current path, we are likely to harm the world's poorest much more than we help them.

Urged on by environmental activists, many politicians are vowing to make carbon cuts designed to keep expected temperature rises under 3.6 degrees (2.0 Celsius). Yet it is nearly impossible for these promises to be fulfilled.

Japan's commitment in June to cut greenhouse gas levels 8 percent from its 1990 levels by 2020 was scoffed at for being far too little. Yet for Japan -- which has led the world in improving energy efficiency -- to have any hope of reaching its target, it needs to build nine new nuclear power plants and increase their use by one-third, construct more than 1 million new wind-turbines, install solar panels on nearly 3 million homes, double the percentage of new homes that meet rigorous insulation standards, and increase sales of "green" vehicles from 4 percent to 50 percent of its auto purchases.

Japan's new prime minister was roundly lauded this month for promising a much stronger reduction, 25 percent, even though there is no obvious way to deliver on his promise. Expecting Japan, or any other nation, to achieve such far-fetched cuts is simply delusional. (Bjorn Lomborg, Washington Post)

Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this op-ed said plans to reduce carbon emissions worldwide to avoid expenses associated with climate change could cost $46 trillion in 2100. That estimate is the total cost in net present value. The annual cost in 2100 would amount to about $40 trillion.

 

It's too late to seal a global climate deal. But we need action, not Kyoto II

Climate is too complex an issue to get in one gulp. If Copenhagen can pave the way for practical steps, an agreement can wait (Jeffrey Sachs, The Guardian)

 

Oh... It's the climate, stupid

A deal at Copenhagen must have equality and social justice at its heart, or our time may be seen in future as the Age of Stupid


We know today that climate change is a global challenge that involves every nation on our planet. As a negotiator for the EU at the Kyoto 1997 conference on climate change, I can confidently say that these negotiations will be 10 times more difficult. The Copenhagen negotiations are Kyoto Part 2; an agreement will apply to 187 countries, not 47.

Not all developed countries delivered as promised on their Kyoto target. Only four did, out of the 15 countries in Europe that signed up so far; while the US, under President Bush, refused to accept it. (John Prescott, The Guardian)

This age is likely to be known as the age of stupid for being so climate superstitious but never mind...

Oh by the way John, in case you forgot, it was the Clinton/Gore Administration that neglected to submit Kyoto to the Senate for ratification in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000... .

Hardly Dubya's fault that Slick Willy subjected it to a hip pocket veto for all that time, is it?

 

'Nuts' To Copenhagen

As alternate-energy champ Spain's green economy slides into recession, a German professor says if American "climate illiterates" don't follow, the Copenhagen climate conference will fail. And the bad news is?

King Canute, the Viking king of England, Norway and Denmark, was the legendary king whose sycophantic followers praised his power and wisdom. As the story goes, he once stood on the shore and commanded the waves to halt. Rather than exercising his ego, he in fact was giving his followers a lesson in reality — the power of man over nature is finite and inconsequential.

In December, the world's kings and princes will journey to Copenhagen, Denmark, for climate change talks in hopes of replacing the failed Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto didn't change Earth's climate a wit, but it did burden the economy of any nation that embraced it.

Professor John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, an adviser to the German government, thinks Copenhagen may also be a failure, largely because the U.S. refuses to line up behind the rest of the climate lemmings and follow them over an economic cliff.

Speaking at an Oxford University climate science conference on Monday, Schellnhuber blamed the U.S. for a decade of inaction caused by President George W. Bush. Ironically, it was a decade where the sun grew quiet and the Earth cooled as result.

Yet, ignoring the empirical evidence, he says it's we American cowboys who are "climate illiterates" for actually looking at the Earth's thermometer and daring to notice the snow in Malibu.

The Oxford conference is centered on a study predicting a 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures as soon as 2060-2070. Schellnhuber mourns our failure to embrace economic ruin and pass cap-and-trade legislation such as Waxman-Markey, warning: "If the U.S. doesn't move then nothing will happen."

Gee, we hope so. (IBD)

 

It's always about the money: Cash is crucial to Bangkok talks

While delegates at the just-opened round of UN climate negotiations in the Thai capital are working their way through an extensive draft text for a global accord, the pressure is on rich countries to deliver finance for developing world’s adaptation. (CoP15)

 

Climate heating up at EU global warming talks

BRUSSELS – Europe, which hopes to be a model for the world at UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December, is squabbling internally over who cuts what and who pays for it.

On paper the EU commitment is good; agreeing last December to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent overall by 2020, and by 30 percent if the rest of the world agrees in Copenhagen.

But the three months leading up to the conference aiming to prevent devastating global warming could be fraught for Europe. (AFP)

 

Garnaut slams rural climate sceptics

Australia's top climate change expert has likened global warming sceptics in rural areas to sharks.

Ross Garnaut's comments come as a Newspoll shows the Rudd government losing support in regional Australia, with the Nationals benefiting from opposition to an emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Without mentioning the Nationals by name, Prof Garnaut said climate change sceptics in rural areas were exploiting the ignorant.

'That's a sad thing,' he told ABC television on Monday night from Beijing. 'There, you have climate sharks preying on the vulnerability of people who aren't in a position to be well informed themselves.'

Asked who the climate sharks were, Prof Garnaut said it was anyone who played on the human instinct to deny bad news.

'It's the sort of denial we see going on with a lot of tragic circumstances, but you never make a problem easier to handle by pretending it doesn't exist,' he said. (Sky News)

Funny how economists are "top climate experts" when it suits the warmy narrative...

 

Senator Boswell's response: GARNAUT NO SHARK HUNTER

“Rural areas have much worse sharks circling them than climate change sceptics,” said The Nationals’ Senator Ron Boswell today in response to Ross Garnaut’s recent comments on Sky News.

“The real sharks are those who want rural and regional areas to pay for climate change policy while professional climate change touts earn big bucks and resort to name calling to justify themselves.”

“The real ignorance is that of city based academics and professional elites refusing to see how their grand ideas impact on the small family farmer at the end of the day.”

“Labor’s ETS imposes a cost on these farmers and miners that their overseas competitors won’t have to pay so their markets, their livelihoods are threatened. There is plenty of hard evidence to back up these concerns.”

“It’s all very well for wealthy city dwellers who can afford a power price hike but that is only the beginning of the problems that will face many in rural and regional areas under Labor’s ETS.”

“The problem with public comment that relies on Treasury modelling to extinguish fears about the economic backlash of an ETS is that it ignores the key assumption of coordinated global action on emission reductions.”

“Without coordinated global action the Treasury model outcomes are worthless.”

“Skynews reports Garnaut as defining a climate shark as ‘anyone who played on the human instinct to deny bad news’. In that case, Garnaut should look at his own actions in denying the economic fallout from Labor’s ETS on rural and regional areas as detailed by many experts to Senate Committees.”

Senator Boswell said that his chief preoccupation and concern had nothing to do with the science but was all about the impact of Labor’s legislative response.

 

Back to the REDD scam: Conservation Groups Say Forest Carbon Market Critical to Climate Change Solution

Conservation groups say creating a global market for trading carbon credits from uncut forests is critical to fighting climate change and should be part of a United Nations-backed agreement being whittled down in Bangkok. But, there are many challenges to expanding the carbon market.

The conservation group WWF on Tuesday told journalists any global deal on climate change should take into account the importance of forests in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (VOA News)

 

Newly discovered critters are always newsworthy, at least from the novelty angle... Secret life of plants and animals vital in warming struggle

THE world must invest more in identifying plants and animal species in the wake of climate change, the author of a new audit of global species has warned. (SMH)

... so why hitch them to an absurd gorebull warming angle? Are critters and their ranges affected by changing mean temperatures? Of course. Are some of these as yet unnamed critters clinging precariously at the limits of their tolerated range waiting for a return of the conditions found in the Holocene Climatic Optimum? Undoubtedly. That means we need warming of 1 °C - 3 °C or even more to make those critters "safe". Which temperature are we going to make "optimum" and why? What is preferable about cold-adapted critters than warm ones? This is such a stupid game.

 

Shriek! Increase in sea levels due to global warming could lead to 'ghost states'

Global warming could create "ghost states" with governments in exile ruling over scattered citizens and land that has been abandoned to rising seas, an expert said yesterday.

Francois Gemenne, of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris, said the likely loss of small island states such as Tuvalu and the Maldives raised profound questions over nationality and territory. (The Guardian)

If States cease to exist, as they so frequently have in the past, then they cease to exist, don't they. Met any Carthaginians lately? Goths? Trojans? Vandals? Incans or Mayans maybe? Heck, for Slavic States you just about need a live update subscription for you atlas... What is it with these guys always seeking to pretend there has ever been stasis? It's a dynamic world, get over it.

 

Um, kind of... Two metre sea level rise inevitable

A leading sea level scientist says a rise of at least two metres in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable.

Stefan Rahmstorf from Germany's Potsdam Institute has told a climate conference at Oxford University that if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees sea levels would still rise two metres rise over centuries. (Radio Australia News)

Provided we don't head into an ice age in the next couple of thousand years then yes, sea levels are expected to rise by a couple of meters but that has nothing to do with human use of fossil fuels. It could even happen in as little as 1,000 years but that's about as quickly as such a rise can be anticipated.

 

Waist-deep in fieldwork - Anticipating global warming, scientists are measuring the long-term effect of extra carbon dioxide on marsh plants

This lush marsh south of Annapolis seems like an alien landscape - clear plastic bubbles dot the watery plain, with curved white pipes poking, periscope-like, out of the tall, green grass.

The odd-looking structures spread across Kirkpatrick Marsh are providing researchers with a peek into Earth's future, helping them understand how climate change could alter the world we live in.

For the past 23 years, Bert Drake and other scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Shady Side have been monitoring the growth of marsh grasses and plants encased in the clear plastic bubbles on the fringe of the Rhode River. Those patches have been fed a steady diet of air enriched with carbon dioxide - the gas scientists say is driving our climate toward irrevocable change as human activity spews more of it into the atmosphere.

What Drake and colleagues have found is good news, of a sort. These wetlands, which help protect the Chesapeake Bay from water pollution, might also offer some protection from the climate upheaval that experts expect to come with rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Three-square, or scirpus olneyi, a sedge blanketing this salt marsh and commonly found throughout much of North America, grows thicker and faster as it's fed more carbon dioxide, Drake says.

Scientists have known for quite a while that plants generally grow better when exposed to air with higher-than-normal concentrations of carbon dioxide. But some shorter studies suggested that the plants' growth spurt would tail off after a few years. With funding at first from the Department of Energy and more recently from the U.S. Geological Survey, Drake and colleagues tested the long-term effects by piping carbon dioxide into chambers enclosing the marsh plants. The clear plastic allowed sunlight to penetrate, so plants' photosynthesis was not affected. The researchers enriched the air inside to double the level of CO2 in the open air outside - about how concentrated the gas might be in the Earth's atmosphere by the end of the century, Drake notes, given current increases from burning fossil fuels.

They compared the number and size of plants inside the chambers with patches of vegetation outside in the open air, and they checked the carbon-dioxide effect on another marsh plant, Spartina patens, or saltmeadow cordgrass, which is known not to respond to elevated levels of the gas.

Now, after more than two decades of tracking in the longest-running field study of its kind, Drake can say, "The bottom line is these plants have taken up a lot more carbon over the course of the study." And they don't become saturated. (Timothy B. Wheeler, Baltimore Sun)

Green plants, totally dependent on atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and long known to thrive with increasing levels thereof, fair well exposed to... CO2. Boy, sure wish I paid more taxes to support more experiments like that...

 

From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 39: 30 September 2009

Editorial:
Water Quality and Warming-Induced Coral Bleaching: Are they related in any way?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 735 individual scientists from 431 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Lake 4, Southampton Island, Nunavut, Canada. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Floods (Europe): Climate alarmists are always claiming we will see more and larger floods in a warmer world. We here review several papers describing relevant studies in Europe to see if this claim has any merit.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: False Olive (Vitale et al., 2008), Peanut, cv. Georgia Green (Bannayan et al., 2009), Peanut, cv. Pronto (Bannayan et al., 2009), and Tropical Spiderwort (Price et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
The Relative Merit of Multiple Climate Models: Not even a model's close replication of past reality insures that its projections of future reality will prove equally accurate.

Landfalling Tropical Cyclones of the Philippines: Have they become more or less frequent in response to 20th-century global warming?

FACE-Based Crop Responses to Projected CO2 and Climate Changes in Germany: Does the future look rosy or bleak?

Corals vs. Macroalgae in a CO2-Enriched and Warmer World: Which is destined to predominate?

Plant Responses to Recent Warming in the Southern Alps: Have any of the predicted "biodiversity disasters" occurred? (co2science.org)

 

Further Support For Klotzbach Et At 2009 – Observational Evidence Of A Change Of Surface Radiative Forcing In A Paper: Philipona Et Al 2004

Urs Neu has alerted us to an observationally based paper that documents a change of surface radiative forcing  that is consistent with our studies {as well as further refutes claims to the contrary; e.g. see).

Pielke Sr., R.A., and T. Matsui, 2005: Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same?Geophys. Res. Letts., 32, No. 21, L21813, 10.1029/2005GL024407

and

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., in press (with edits still to be made in the final published version).

In the second paper we wrote

“…… if, for instance, there is a long-term positive trend in greenhouse gas concentrations or cloudiness over the observing site, it may introduce an upward bias in the observational record of minimum temperatures that necessarily will result in an upward bias in the long-term surface temperature record.”

The paper recommended by Urs Neu is

Philipona, R., B. Durr, C. Marty, A. Ohmura, and M. Wild (2004), Radiative forcing – measured at Earth’s surface – corroborate the increasing greenhouse effect, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L03202, doi:10.1029/ 2003GL018765.

The abstract reads

“The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and radiative forcing to increase as a result of human activities. Nevertheless, changes in radiative forcing related to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations could not be experimentally detected at Earth’s surface so far. Here we show that atmospheric longwave downward radiation significantly increased (+5.2(2.2) Watts per meter squared) partly due to increased cloud amount (+1.0(2.8) Watts per meter squared) over eight years of measurements at eight radiation stations distributed over the central Alps. Model calculations show the cloud-free longwave flux increase (+4.2(1.9) Watts per meter squared) to be in due proportion with temperature (+0.82(0.41) C) and absolute humidity (+0.21(0.10) g per meter cubed) increases, but three times larger than expected from anthropogenic greenhouse gases. However, after subtracting for two thirds of temperature and humidity rises, the increase of cloud-free longwave downward radiation (+1.8(0.8) Watts per meter squared) remains statistically significant and demonstrates radiative forcing due to an enhanced greenhouse effect.”

This paper documents that changes of 1 Watt per meter squared (or more) in the long wave fluxes that we examined in Pielke and Matsui (2005) are realistic. The Klotzbach et al (2009) paper demonstrates that a significant bias is introduced in the land portion of the global surface temperature trend which is used in the assessment of global warming, that can be explained, at least in part,  due to such changes in long wave radiative fluxes at night. (Climate Science)

 

Company Backed by Gore Gets Taxpayer Millions

A start-up automotive company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has been loaned more than half a billion dollars by the federal government.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Fisker Automotive Inc. has received $529 million in taxpayer money. The loan was intended to help Fikser produce a hybrid sports car to be sold in Finland.

"This is not for average Americans," Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, told the Journal. "This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It's a status symbol thing." (Newsmax)

 

Gas Taxes, Peak Oil and Long Range Energy Planning

Ed. note: This item originally ran in Robert Rapier's R-Squared Energy Blog.

I consider the level of dependence of the U.S. on imported petroleum to be a very large financial risk endangering the country's future. There are certainly other import-related risks as well, but here I want to talk about the financial risk.

I consider it similar to having a mortgage upon which you pay interest each month - but in which the interest rate can fluctuate wildly. If you typically pay 7% interest on your mortgage, but your rates quickly climb to 12%, a lot of people would find themselves in a deep financial hole. Come to think of it, a lot of people did when they found themselves in a similar situation. They gambled on the future and lost.

With respect to oil prices, we are also gambling on the future. We import a bit over 9 million barrels per day of crude oil (we also import gasoline, diesel, etc.) Each $10/bbl increase in the price of oil means that consumers pay $33 billion more each year for oil. We are now paying $100 billion more each year for oil than we were just a few short years ago, and that money comes out of all of our pockets. This acts as a tax upon the U.S. economy, albeit one that doesn't primarily benefit U.S. citizens.

The drain on the U.S. economy is one thing, but the risk is quite another. Why do we tolerate that sort of price risk? In my opinion, it is because tolerating the status quo is viewed by politicians as the cheapest, most politically safe option. And even if they are concerned about the risks, when economists say that oil might be going back down to $30, politicians are paralyzed from taking action. The uncertainty is a killer. (Robert Rapier, Energy Tribune)

 

Sadly, stupidity is a limitless resource: The Climate Bill is Already Killing Coal Plants

The largest utility company in Arizona has no plans to build another coal plant, despite the fact that energy demand is scheduled to rise 50% over the next 15 years. NV Energy, another utility with 2.4 million customers, is putting its only scheduled coal plant on hold indefinitely--until carbon capture becomes viable. These are just a couple of the utility companies that are willingly killing plans for coal power to prepare for laws that would put a price on carbon. Here's how the mere specter of a climate bill is phasing out coal--and how a good bill could finish the job without damaging the economy. (Brian Merchant, TreeHugger)

 

Researchers seek ‘preheater' for oil sands - Project hopes to explore the use of geothermal energy to help cut carbon emissions

A new international research partnership based in Alberta hopes to answer an intriguing question: Could the warm rocks of deep Earth wean the oil sands off their heavy natural gas diet?

The University of Alberta has linked arms with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany's largest scientific organization, in hopes of furthering research into this and other oil-sands-emissions-related questions.

The partnership, signed Tuesday, brings with it the promise of international financing and German expertise in research areas where Canada has not typically excelled. One area is the use of geothermal energy in the oil sands. (Globe and Mail)

 

Germany eyes nuclear revival

BERLIN, Sept. 28 -- Nuclear energy is set to be revived in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel can form her coalition of choice after this Sunday's elections.

Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union and the pro-business Free Democratic Party were in coalition negotiations Monday; a government will be formed within the next four weeks, the chancellor said.

With the CDU and the FDP both supportive of nuclear energy, their coalition agreement is slated to address the country's nuclear phase-out plan, which foresees all German reactors to be shut down by 2021.

Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert with the Berlin-based DIW research institute, said the phase-out, drafted and defended by the SPD and the Greens, should no longer hold. (UPI)

 

India to invest heavily in nuclear power

Nuclear energy will become a cornerstone of India’s efforts to supply its population with electricity while keeping down contributions to global warming, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. (CoP15)

 

Eye-roller: Steven Chu to greenhouse gases: We will bury you

The U.S. Secretary of Energy—channeling former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev perhaps?—has one thing to say in this week's Science to the greenhouse gases emitted by coal-fired power plants: We will bury you. Nobel laureate Steven Chu's department has funneled $3.4 billion in stimulus dollars to research and develop the technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

But to give you a sense of the challenge, here are his estimates of the scale of the challenge: six billion metric tons of coal burned every year, producing 18 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and requiring an underground storage volume of 30,000 cubic kilometers per year with untold consequences on subsurface pressure, mineral composition and the like. And we are nowhere near that scale: "We now sequester a few million metric tons of CO2 per year," he wrote, largely from cleaning natural gas or so-called "enhanced oil recovery" efforts, in which CO2 is pumped down to flush out more of the valuable petroleum (and therefore not as useful, from a climate perspective, as sequestration for its own sake).

But there is hope. This week the world's first carbon capture and storage at an actual power plant burning coal fired up near New Haven, W. Va. China is following suit, according to a news story in the same issue of Science, launching the Erdos coal-to-liquid plant in Inner Mongolia that will capture some of its 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and use it to flush out oil from nearby fields. (David Biello, SciAm)

Dopey on so many levels... By the way, enhanced oil recovery (a very good thing) is not much of a sequestration technique (which is good because sequestration is a serious waste of an environmental resource). That's because you get 60-80% of your CO2 back with the oil or gas you flush out with it, so you are not really wasting a lot of your essential trace gas, just slightly delaying its return to the atmosphere.

 

Expensive, wasteful, pointless: Canada asked to join nations in pumping greenhouse gases underground

OTTAWA – Canada is being courted to form a group of countries that will commit to permanently storing greenhouse gas emissions underground on a large-scale by 2020, pushing an expensive but promising technology into the vanguard of the global warming fight.

John Ashton, Britain's climate change envoy, stopped in Ottawa today to ask that Canada consider joining a "global partnership" of nations committed to the mass deployment of carbon capture and storage by the end of the next decade.

Carbon sequestration collects emissions from the fossil-fuel burning facilities where they are produced and pumps the gases deep underground into geological formations where they can be stored for thousands of years, according to scientists. The method is still controversial, though, because it takes up to 40% more energy to pump the gases to their geological reservoir.

The technology does show promise in the fight against climate change by allowing countries to bury up to 95% of carbon dioxide emissions underground. But it remains costly for individual companies. The only projects to have gone ahead so far are those funded disproportionately by the federal and provincial governments as demonstration projects. (Toronto Star)

 

Coerced vaccinations? For 'flu-A-H1N1? Seems a bit over the top but not particularly hazardous nor unreasonable: N.Y. Health Care Workers Revolt Over H1N1 Vaccine - Saying They Should Be Given A Choice, Employees Rally In Albany, Around State, Chant "No Forced Shots!"

They're upset over an ultimatum from the health department.

Workers are being told to either get the swine flu vaccine or lose their jobs.

New York is the first state in the country to mandate flu vaccinations for its health care workers. The first doses of swine flu vaccine will be available beginning next week. Much of it is reserved for state health care workers, but there is growing opposition to required inoculations. (CBS)

If I had to deal with a higher proportion of pregnant women or youths & infants then I'd have the vaccination simply to avoid being a carrier and infecting at-risk groups since this particular strain can be a problem for some. I can see it's much easier and safer for the State to simply say everyone who works in the health field and who wants to continue to do so must be inoculated (saves litigation problems with people claiming to have been harmed by exposure to potential carriers in the health service... ). Like so much to do with this declared pandemic this is a lot of noise with little substance. What's everyone's problem?

 

Cancer jab ‘was not to blame' for Natalie Morton's death

A vaccine to protect against cervical cancer was unlikely to have caused the death of the schoolgirl Natalie Morton, health officials said last night.

Preliminary results from a post-mortem examination suggest that the 14-year-old had a “serious underlying medical condition”.

Natalie died suddenly on Wednesday afternoon shortly after receiving the Cervarix vaccine, prompting fears about a vaccine that is being offered to millions of girls in Britain as part of a national immunisation campaign.

The national programme to deliver the vaccine was in disarray last night because up to 200,000 doses had been recalled by health authorities.

Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said: “The preliminary post-mortem examination results have revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death. We are awaiting further results that will take some time. However, indications are that it was most unlikely that the HPV \ vaccination was the cause of death.”

No further medical information was provided, but Dr Grainger added: “We would like to reiterate our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Natalie Morton.”

A spokesman for NHS Coventry said that he could not disclose the exact nature of the underlying health condition but that it was clearly identified in the initial assessment by a pathologist at University Hospital, Coventry.

“We are aware of the condition and we have spoken to the family, but we are not revealing any more details at this stage. It’s fair to say that in the pathologist’s examination that something was identifiable from the initial post-mortem activity. We wanted to get a message out as soon as possible to reassure any parents who are worried about giving their daughters this vaccine.” (The Times)

 

The world before vaccines is too easy to forget - All medical treatments have risks, but the dangers from immunisation are far outweighed by the number of lives saved

When I was 6, very shortly before polio vaccine was released, my best friend, from whom I was inseparable, contracted the disease, and was permanently paralysed from the waist down.

Unbeknown to me, my parents, lived many weeks of terrible anxiety on my behalf. This is an anxiety that no parent now has to experience, thanks to the vaccine.

But as a medical student, I saw a case of generalised vaccinia (the active virus in the smallpox vaccine) and never forgot it. A young man with severe eczema had, against all accepted practice, been immunised against smallpox and later died.

In the absence of perspective, information can be dangerous; and nothing is harder to assess than the proper significance of a single dramatic event. Such an event can be greeted by complacency when, in fact, it is the harbinger of disaster; or it causes panic when there is little to worry about. Panic itself can be more dangerous than what gives rise to it. We have, therefore, to control our first reactions by rational thought.

The death of a 14-year-old girl shortly after immunisation against cervical cancer is certainly a dramatic — and terribly tragic — event. It is increasingly unlikely that the vaccine was responsible for her death: one event following closely upon another is not in itself sufficient proof of causation. But let us, for the sake of argument, accept that the vaccine caused her death. What then? (Theodore Dalrymple, The Times)

 

Eating in America Still Unhealthy: CDC - State-by-state report finds too few people meet fruit and veggie guidelines

TUESDAY, Sept. 29 -- Most Americans don't eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, says a U.S. government study released Tuesday. And no state has achieved national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables, it found.

The goal for the Healthy People 2010 program is to get at least 75 percent of Americans to eat the recommended two or more daily servings of fruit and for at least 50 percent of Americans to consume three or more daily servings of vegetables.

But surveys from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that only 33 percent of adults meet the fruit consumption target and only 27 percent eat the recommended amount of vegetables. The statistics are worse for high school students -- only 32 percent eat the recommended amount of fruit and 13 percent meet the goal for vegetables. (HealthDay News)

And yet they are living longer than ever...

 

Skinny friends may make you eat more

NEW YORK - That friend who stays thin despite eating anything and everything is not just annoying. She might also wreck your diet, new research suggests.

Researchers found that when they had college students watch a movie and snack with either a skinny or overweight companion, the students typically followed the thin friend's lead when she overindulged.

In contrast, study participants used more self-control when snacking with a heavier companion who overate.

The findings, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, suggest that seeing a thin friend devour a big meal gives us implicit permission to do the same.

"We think 'if she can eat like that and stay thin, so can I,' or 'she is having cake, then I can too,'" explained Dr. Brent McFerran, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, Canada.

"In other words," he told Reuters Health in an email, "the most dangerous person to eat with is not someone who is obese, but a thin friend with a large appetite." (Reuters Health)

 

Obesity Alone Does Not Cause Arthritis In Animals, Scientists Find

The link between obesity and osteoarthritis may be more than just the wear and tear on the skeleton caused by added weight.

A Duke University study has found that the absence of the appetite hormone leptin can determine whether obese mice experience arthritis, no matter how heavy they are.

"We were completely surprised to find that mice that became extremely obese had no arthritis if their bodies didn't have leptin," said Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., director of orthopaedic research in the Duke Department of Surgery. "Although there was some earlier evidence that leptin might be involved in the arthritis disease process, we didn't think that there would be no arthritis at all."

In fact, the joints from the obese mice in the study appearing in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism looked better than those of the normal control mice, Guilak said. "However, in another study, we found that mice that gained half as much weight on a high-fat diet but processed leptin normally showed significant knee osteoarthritis." (ScienceDaily)

 

Nanny State Doesn’t Like Competition – the English Version

A previous post by David Boaz poked fun at bureaucrats in Michigan for threatening a woman for the ostensible crime of keeping an eye on her neighbors’ kids without a government permit. English bureaucrats are equally clueless, badgering two women who take turns caring for each other’s kids. The common theme, of course, is that bureaucrats lack common sense — but the real lesson is that this is the inevitable consequence of government intervention (especially when politicians say they are “doing it for the children). The BBC reports:

England’s Children’s Minister wants a review of the case of two police officers told they were breaking the law, caring for each other’s children.

Ofsted said the arrangement contravened the Childcare Act because it lasted for longer than two hours a day, and constituted receiving “a reward”.

It said the women would have to be registered as childminders.

…Ms Shepherd, who serves with Thames Valley Police, recalled: “A lady came to the front door and she identified herself as being from Ofsted. She said a complaint had been made that I was illegally childminding.

“I was just shocked – I thought they were a bit confused about the arrangement between us. So I invited her in and told her situation – the arrangement between Lucy and I – and I was shocked when she told me I was breaking the law.”

…Minister for Children, Schools and Families Vernon Coaker insisted the Childcare Act 2006 was in place “to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children”. (Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato at liberty)

 

Partly correct: Europe’s Socialists Suffering Even in Downturn

PARIS — A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.

Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II.

Voters also punished left-leaning candidates in the summer’s European Parliament elections and trounced French Socialists in 2007. Where the left holds power, as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack. Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless. (NYT)

Socialism is inevitably failing but it was not a failure of the right which so challenged capitalism recently, rather it was government (read: socialist) interference and corruption of a truly free market system. It always amazes me that socialists so misunderstand socialism that they do not recognize that it can only succeed as it does in nature (bees, ants, wasps...) -- as an enslaved population serving an elite class. I guess that's fine if you are one of the elite but a workers' paradise it is not and can never be. There is not and can never be anything remotely democratic about socialism.

See Capitalism is the worst system - except for all the ones that were tried before (Caroline Baum, Bloomberg)

 

US Navy boffins put an end to drought - Somewhat exacerbate energy crisis, however

Backroom lab boys in the US Navy say they have developed hugely more efficient desalination machinery, ideal for making seawater drinkable. The new tech, as well as saving space and energy aboard US warships, could also bring relief to water-poor areas around the world.

"They say that water is the next petroleum," comments J Paul Armistead of the US Office of Naval Research (ONR). "Around the globe there are a lot of countries with a lot of worse water problems than we have, so bringing down the cost to desalinate water should help a lot." (Lewis Page, The Register)

 

September 29, 2009

 

Winnowing the chaff: Exelon to Quit Chamber Over Climate Bill

Exelon, one of the country’s largest utilities, said Monday that it would quit the United States Chamber of Commerce because of that group’s stance on climate change. It was the latest in a string of companies to do so, perhaps a harbinger of how intense the fight over global warming legislation could become.

“The carbon-based free lunch is over,” said John W. Rowe, Exelon’s chief executive. “Breakthroughs on climate change and improving our society’s energy efficiency are within reach.” (NYT)

If they are moving to subsidy farming rather than commerce they really don't belong in the Chamber, do they? Enron tried to use climate hysteria to scam the world too, how'd that work out again?

 

I keep thinking Krugman is a gibbering nitwit... and he keeps proving me right: Cassandras of Climate

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you’ve been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

And here’s the thing: I’m not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire warnings aren’t the delusional raving of cranks. They’re what come out of the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years. Paul Krugman, NYT) [em added]

 

Look how outraged the Guardianiastas are over simple biological truths: CO2 is green: the TV advert making viewers choke

A TV advert paid for by an oil industry lobbyist telling Americans "more CO2 results in a greener earth" would be almost funny if it weren't so depressing

"Is this a joke?" splutters one of the comments underneath the YouTube video of a new 30-second TV advert that has started being aired in a handful of US states over the past few days telling viewers that "CO2 is green". Sadly not, it seems. (The Guardian)

I listened to the ad (on the provided YouTube link) and noted no questionable statements. Even NASA has well-established history pointing out the greening of the Earth with rising carbon dioxide levels. Left as a reader exercise to look up net primary production figures and relate them to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels -- tip: the Earth's garden is getting greener.

Bottom line though, the ad seems accurate and very tame. Wonder why simple truths upset the warmies so?

 

The people haters are wrong -- you just have to make do with less: Third World population controls won't save climate, study claims

The population explosion in poor countries will contribute little to climate change and is a dangerous distraction from the main problem of over-consumption in rich nations, a study has found.

It challenges claims by leading environmentalists, including Sir David Attenborough and Jonathon Porritt, that strict birth control is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The study concludes that spending billions of pounds of aid on contraception in the developing world will not benefit the climate because poor countries have such low emissions. It says that Britain and other Western countries should instead focus on reducing consumption of goods, services and energy among their own populations. (The Times)

 

Here's a novelty: Moonbat's at least partly correct: Stop blaming the poor. It's the wally yachters who are burning the planet

Population growth is not a problem - it's among those who consume the least. So why isn't anyone targeting the very rich? (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Yes George, you've finally got it -- people are not a problem.

 

Global Warming 'Science'

It was a startling admission. Prior to passage of "Cap-and-Trade" legislation by the House of Representatives, Mr. Henry Waxman (D, CA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and co-sponsor of the bill, in responding to a question from Mr. Joe Barton (R, TX) at a May 22 hearing, admitted the following:

I certainly don't claim that I know everything that's in this bill. I know we left it to ....we relied very heavily on the scientists on the IPCC and others and the consensus they have that there is a problem with global warming, it's having an impact, and that we need to reduce it by the amounts they think we need to achieve in order to avoid some of the consequences. That's what I know, but I don't know the details. I rely on the scientists.

Since then, the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate a major piece of legislation which both Republicans and Democrats agree will heavily tax certain industries, significantly raise prices on energy consumption, and increase the cost of almost all produced goods. President Barack Obama, in a September 22 speech at the United Nations "climate summit," said, "We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations."

Americans have been told that climate change legislation must become law based upon findings by scientists in a group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). If that "science" becomes the justification for all of the forecasted economic pain, doesn't it deserve scrutiny and independent validation? (John McLaughlin, American Thinker)

 

Calling on America to save the world, again: Fate of US climate bill casts shadow over Bangkok talks - Evidence of 'clear movement' on domestic front would lend weight to UN climate talks in Bangkok, says US chief negotiator.

The fate of US carbon emission cap and trade legislation weighed heavily on delegates at United Nations climate talks which started today in Bangkok, with the Americans saying delays in passing the bill could deter commitments from other nations. (Associated Press)

We see America as having a clear duty to lead the world away from the precipice -- Save the world - Kill the climate bills! Do it now. Do it completely. Do it permanently. Save us all.

 

Green Problems Give Democrats the Blues

Green is the new black – for chic environmentalists and eco-intellectuals, that is.

Yet the “green” movement also has the potential, in the form of a climate and energy bill, of being even more divisive than the health-care debate.

On one side, you have environmental activists who live, breathe, dress and eat green. It’s the other side that is a bit harder to define, with potent political consequences for the 2010 midterm elections.

With cap-and-trade (slang for the climate and energy bill), who are the enemies – coal miners? Factory workers? Farmers? Those constituencies are a lot harder to rail against, and they represent a lot of voters to alienate. (Salena Zito, Townhall)

 

Energy Secretary Steven Chu promotes cap-and-trade bill in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Senate version of controversial and far-reaching federal climate-change legislation is expected Wednesday with initial hearings possible later in the week and throughout October.

As passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, the so-called cap-and-trade law would remake American industry and change everyday life in ways that neither critics nor supporters have probably imagined.

Acceptance of the legislation in Ohio and other traditional manufacturing states is crucial -- and as if to prove that, the Obama administration sent U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to the state Monday to pass out energy stimulus dollars, talk up high technology and talk about the legislation. (John Funk, The Plain Dealer)

 

Seeing Red On Cap And Trade - Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on why he thinks the government's environmental policies are wrong.

WASHINGTON -- Energy and environmental policy returns to the spotlight on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and John Kerry, D-Mass., are expected to introduce legislation to curb climate change.

It's the Senate's version of a bill the House of Representatives passed in June known as "Waxman-Markey" for its primary sponsors. The House measure would establish a so-called cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

All the talk of energy and the environment in Washington means critics of climate change legislation are getting increasingly vocal. Among them is Don Blankenship, chairman and chief executive of Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Company ( MEE - news - people ), the largest coal producer in central Appalachia.

"I don't know how we let the enviros and the humanitarians off the hook, that they continue to stymie the development of other countries," he says. "You've got people dying of preventable disease every day, and yet we're getting ready to spend billions of dollars on climate change." (Brian Wingfield, Forbes)

 

To bury, or not to bury - Panelists bash government investment in carbon capture and sequestration

Experts gathered at the Munk Centre on Wednesday morning to discuss the merits of carbon capture and storage, which has emerged in the past several years as a key strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Professors, policy wonks, and industry representatives responded to a conference paper titled “Burying Carbon Dioxide in Underground Saline Aquifers: Political Folly or Climate Change Fix?”

Carbon capture and storage, known as CCS, involves capturing carbon dioxide and injecting it into rock formations deep inside the earth. The federal government has earmarked $140 million for eight CCS projects, and Alberta has allotted $2 billion to build three CCS plants.

“Instead of buying us time to find alternative sources of clean energy, CCS is buying politicians time to avoid making tough, unpopular decisions,” declared Graham Thomson, the author of the paper and a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. Thomson argued that CCS is too risky, expensive, and dangerous at its current stage of development to be worth heavy investment. Investing in CCS technology also diverts resources from energy efficiency and delays more durable reforms, Thomson said. He suggested alternative policies, such as systematic reduction of fossil fuel consumption.

Several panellists agreed with Thomson to some degree. “I really don’t think carbon capture and storage is worth the money we plan to spend on it,” said geology professor Andrew Miall. (The Varsity)

 

Cash sequestration - Alberta’s funding of carbon-capture technology is taxpayer-funded publicity for private companies

In an effort to blunt some of the criticism of Alberta’s tar sand industry, Premier Ed Stelmach has pledged to spend $2-billion to fund research on technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated by the oil sands industry. He hopes to take the greenhouse gas issue off the list of grievances.

But in many ways, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is, both literally and figuratively, a pipe dream. Rather than producing a viable greenhouse gas control technique, the taxpayers’ $2-billion “investment” will be little more than a free PR campaign for the tar sand industry.

Let’s review the problems with the idea of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which make it unlikely as an environmental saviour. Land-based CCS consists of three primary activities: capturing carbon dioxide out of an emissions stream, compressing it into a liquid, and then piping that liquid over land, and down into the Earth where, in theory, it will be retained in geological formations for hundreds or thousands of years. It sounds quite simple, until you dig into the details. (Kenneth P. Green, Financial Post)

 

The Union of Soviet Climate Change Writers

- a guest blog by Geoff Chambers

I have an unhealthy obsession with Guardian Environment and their Climate Change web site. As the unofficial voice of the worried middle classes, they have (of course) every right to express the consensus views of their readers on global warming – but twenty times a day?

In the year or so that I have been following their climate change coverage, the Guardian has foresaken all pretence of rational argument. Monbiot’s “Bullshit” campaign; the use of the terms “denier”, and “climate creationist”; and the savage censorship on the so-called “Comment is Free” blogs, all disgrace the reputation of this once respectable newspaper.

This weekend they have reached a new lowpoint with their invitation to “ten of our greatest writers” to treat the subject of Global Warming.

There’s a wonderful moment in “the Office” when a confused Brent is trying to dig himself out of the racist hole he’s dug for himself, and his colleague (the sane one) whispers “He’s going to mention ‘Melting Pot” – and sure enough he does.

You can get a similar buzz by clicking on Jane Winterton’s prose poem which begins:

I am your inner polar bear

or by reading Andrew Motion’s:

Here are the baffled species taking to high ground,
the already famously lonely polar bear and caribou

The most ardent warmist, the Greenest believer commenting on a Guardian blog would know better than to utter these ineptitudes, simply because a few hours on a climate change blog would make you savvy enough to know that polar bears are passé; everything that needs to be said about polar bears has already been said a million times.

The only people who don’t know that are the country’s greatest writers, apparently.

Not only is there not a single murmur of doubt or dissent from the consensus view of imminent catastrophe; but the sickening regurgitation of the tiredest warmist clichés demonstrates that not one of “our greatest writers” has spent a single hour researching the subject of AGW.

They don’t need to – They Know, and their warning to the doubters is terrible. Here’s Helen Simpson:

Nobody will be able to plead ignorance, either. We can all see what’s happening, on a daily basis, on television

That’s right. Our greatest writers know what’s going on, because they saw it on the telly.

These are proper writers, with talent. But so were the Union of Soviet Writers who extolled Stalin’s five-year plans. No-one is threatening our best writers with the labour camp if they don’t conform. So why do they do it? Are they too stupid, or too lazy, or too cowardly, to confront received opinion?

What’s happening to the intellectual life of our country? (OmniClimate)

 

Asking you to play Russian Roulette with an automatic -- but don't worry, there's only one bullet in the chamber ;-) Let's Have a Grown-Up Debate About Climate Change

If, like me, you have been confused, frustrated, dispirited or all of the above by the health care debate in Congress, get ready for more as the U.S. Senate prepares to take up climate-change legislation. The stakes are high. The debate will not be high-minded.

Expect opponents of mandatory carbon regulation to distort the science and economics of global warming, predicting an economic catastrophe if the bill passes, even as environmentalists promise a green jobs nirvana and warn of an environmental catastrophe if it doesn’t.

The fact is, any meaningful effort to regulate carbon will carry real but not catastrophic costs for businesses and consumers -- that’s part of the point, to raise the price of burning fossil fuels -- and that the transition to a clean-energy economy will be disruptive, under the best of circumstances. Solar-power manufacturers in China will gain at the expense of coal miners in West Virginia. That makes the politics of the bill a challenge, but so be it. (Marc Gunther, Greener World Media)

 

Bangkok delegates are met with stern pep talks

There is no plan B...If we do not realize plan A, we go straight to plan F, which stands for failure, says Thai Prime Minister. (CoP15)

 

Copenhagen negotiating text: 200 pages to save the world?

Draft agreement being discussed ahead of December's crucial Copenhagen summit is long, confusing and contradictory (The Guardian)

 

EU struggles to find common ground

Disagreement over EU's emissions trading scheme and over a French and German proposal to hold states accountable, if they fail to sign a new climate protocol in Copenhagen. (CoP15)

 

EU to propose climate action on planes, ships

BRUSSELS - Aviation and shipping should cut their respective carbon dioxide emissions to 10 and 20 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade, the European Union is likely to propose at global climate talks this week.

EU diplomats said the cuts might be linked to a tax on fuel to generate billions of dollars of revenues to help poor countries cope with climate change -- a key contribution to finding a global climate deal by December.

"We are concerned about the slow international negotiations and are keen to shift gear," said an EU diplomat involved with the proposal. "This is a concrete measure from the EU side in order to contribute to this step-up." (Reuters)

 

Australia will not have an ETS, before CoP15 or after: Majority of Liberals oppose ETS plan

MALCOLM Turnbull will be forced to stare down more than two-thirds of the Liberal back bench if he proceeds with his plan to negotiate with the government over amendments to the emissions trading scheme before December's Copenhagen climate change conference.

The Australian can reveal that two-thirds of his back bench disagree with the Opposition Leader's plan in what looms as a serious blow to Mr Turnbull's capacity to negotiate in good faith.

Over the past four days, The Australian contacted all 59 Liberal Party backbenchers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, asking: Do you think the opposition should negotiate amendments to the ETS with the government ahead of the Copenhagen conference?

Only 12 MPs said they supported Mr Turnbull's decision to negotiate, while 41 wanted the opposition to either not negotiate at all or to do so only on the guarantee that the legislation would not be passed ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December. Six MPs were either unwilling to disclose their position or unavailable.

Senior opposition frontbenchers have claimed for weeks that it is only a vocal minority of the Liberal partyroom that is critical of the negotiating position Mr Turnbull and his shadow minister Ian Macfarlane have adopted, and most media reports have reinforced this position.

But The Australian's survey proves that the so-called maverick Liberal parliamentarians Wilson Tuckey and Cory Bernardi are reflecting the views of an overwhelming majority of their colleagues when they publicly criticise the shadow cabinet for endorsing Mr Turnbull to negotiate with the government over the ETS. (The Australian)

 

Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide

Dust storms like the one that plagued Sydney are blowing bacteria to all corners of the globe, with viruses that will attack the human body. Yet these scourges can also help mitigate climate change. (John Vidal, The Observer)

 

Better politics, not better science

Science can prove global climate change is happening, but it won't tell us what to do about it, says professor of climate change.

Climate change raises many questions about development goals and practices. These can only be resolved through widespread social deliberation and hard political negotiation. Simply more or 'better' science won't be enough.

The idea that humans are changing the global climate system was first developed, elaborated and demonstrated by natural scientists. The scientific evidence backing this basic idea is now overwhelming, even if scientific predictions of future climate changes are still shrouded in uncertainty.

But although science is very good at revealing how things are, and suggesting what physical manifestations might follow a particular course of action, it has limited relevance and reach when deciding what should be done in the face of complex dilemmas - such as climate change.

Many voices are clamouring to be heard in the turbulent posturing and diplomacy ahead of this December's international climate negotiations in Copenhagen. One of the loudest says we must 'let the science speak for itself', that the science is clear, and that 'now is the time for action'.

But exactly what action is it that the science demands? And action by whom and by when? These are questions for politics to decide, not for science to dictate. (Mike Hulme, New Nation)

 

CLIMATE SHARKS!

Warming guru Ross Garnaut – one of many warming gurus who speak in a zombie monotone, for some reason – mourns rural doubt over climate change:

That’s a sad thing. There you’ve got climate sharks preying on the vulnerability of people who aren’t in a position to be well informed themselves. That’s a tragedy, the exploitation of people who would benefit from greater knowledge. I’m afraid that what’s going to happen in rural Australia is that the well-informed will make a lot of money out of the ignorant, and the ignorant include a lot of people who can’t afford to be skinned in that way.

Professor Garnaut seems to define money-making warming doubters as “well-informed”. Interesting. (He also says: “It’s the sort of denial we see in relation to a lot of tragic circumstances.” Care to name those circumstances, Prof?) Their well-informedness aside, I’m not aware of too many warming doubters who’ve turned their scepticism into massive dollars. Warming alarmists, on the other hand …

UPDATE. Rural voters – tragic, exploited rural voters – speak out. (Tim Blair)

 

Our Earth and climate change

As a geoscientist who works in that often strange area where government policy, academia and commercial practicality overlap I fully understand the quote, paraphrased from Heraclitus, circa 500BC, that "nothing is constant except change." I suspect Heraclitus had some geoscientist in him.

A recent article in EOS, the weekly magazine of the American Geophysical Union, by Kastens and others, describes a study, by a very diverse research group including theologians, anthropologists, sociologists, as well as earth scientists, about how geoscientists think. Geoscientists think temporally, in time, far into the past and future, think of the earth as a system of complex inter-related processes, stress learning based on observations of data from what the Earth tells us, and think spatially about how things are arranged in all dimensions. Change is inherent in a geologist's understanding of the Earth and is a principal tool for defining what happens between various observed events. Thinking like a geologist is a very good approach to understanding large-scale, complex problems and this includes climate change. (Doug Wyatt, Aiken Standard)

 

Schellnhuber... US inertia could scupper world climate deal in Copenhagen, says expert

Leading climate scientist criticises Bush administration and points to general ignorance of global warming in US public polls (The Guardian)

Wonder if he realizes Dubya has not only left the building but ridden into a whole bunch of sunsets since?

 

& more... Americans are 'illiterate' about climate change, claims expert

America's lack of knowledge on climate change could prevent the world from reaching an agreement to stop catastrophic global warming, scientists said in an attack on the country's environmental policy.

Professor John Schellnhuber, one of the world's leading global warming experts, described the US as "climate illiterate" (Daily Telegraph)

Translation: Schellnhuber finds Americans hard to panic with his baseless scare stories. And they & their neighbors keep breaking hockey sticks, too:

 

Breaking news: Cherry Picking of Historic Proportions

A big news day. It appears Steve McIntyre (volunteer unpaid auditor of Big-Government-Science) has killed the Hockey Stick a second time

Dead - Hockey stick and Son of Hockey Stick.

The details are on the last three days of Steve McIntyre’s site Climate Audit, and summed up beautifully on Watts Up.

The sheer effrontery and gall appears to be breathtaking.

The Briffa temperature graphs have been widely cited as evidence by the IPCC, yet it appears they were based on a very carefully selected set of data, so select, that the shape of the graph would have been totally transformed if the rest of the data had been included.

Kieth Briffa used 12 samples to arrive at his version of the hockey stick and refused to provide his data for years. When McIntyre finally got hold of it, and looked at the 34 samples that Briffa left out of his graphs, a stark message was displayed.  McIntyre describes it today as one of the most disquieting images he’s ever presented.

Tree Ring sequences Briffa used compared to those he didn't use.

 

Background

Since 1995 Kieth Briffa has been publishing graphs about temperature of the last thousand years. Like Michael Manns’ famous (and discredited) Hockey Stick graph, Briffa’s graphs were based on tree rings and appeared to show dramatic evidence that the current climate was extraordinarily warm compared to previous years. They were used in the infamous spagetti plots, and the IPCC 3rd Assessment Report, and recycled in other publications giving the impression they had been replicated. His work has even made it into school resources (Cimate Discovery, p4). His publications since 2000 are listed here.

Unaudited science

Suspiciously Briffa refused repeated requests to provide the Yamal data that his analysis was based on (something about the data belonging to the Russians). As Steve McIntyre points out, this kind of data should be archived and freely available after any peer reviewed paper is published.

Last year  Briffa published a paper in a journal (Philosophical Transactions of Biology, the Royal Society) that did maintain basic standards, (after being prodded), and a few days ago McIntyre noticed the data was finally up. This data had been used in papers going back as far as 2000. (And no one thought to politely inform McIntyre that the information he’d requested for years was now available.)

Hiding data in science is equivalent to a company issuing it’s annual report and telling the auditors that the receipts are commercial in confidence and they would just have to trust them. No court of law would accept that, yet at the “top” levels of science, papers have been allowed to sit as show-pieces for years without any chance that anyone could seriously verify their findings. In science, getting the stamp of Peer Review has become like a free pass to “credibility”.

Now we know why he might not have been so forthcoming with the data…

If all the tree rings are combined, the graph looks like this below. (I’ve added the black thick line to the original to make the merged data stand out). Obviously today is not as warm as things were 1000 years ago (at least not in far north Russia), and it’s also clear things have been warming since 1800 in Yamal.

Tree Ring sequences Briffa used compared to those he didn't use.

Here’s a map to help put places to the names. These are the four sites mentioned as sources of the tree ring data. Yamal and Taymir are roughly 400 km apart.

Russia, Yamal, Polar Urals, Taymir, Avam

In the mid 1990’s the Polar Urals were the place to be for interesting tree rings, but then as the data got updated and yielded a medieval warm period that Team AGW preferred to ignore, they moved their focus to the Yamal Peninsula. There was plenty of data to pick from, but that’s the point. They chose 10 data sets from 1990, and only 5 post 1995. Which seems curious as presumably there is no shortage of 20 year old trees on the Yamal Peninsula. As Ross McKitrick notes, a small sample may have been passable, but it appears that these trees were not selected randomly.

McKitrick expands:

Thus the key ingredient in a lot of the studies that have been invoked to support the Hockey Stick, namely the Briffa Yamal series (red line above) depends on the influence of a thin subsample of post-1990 chronologies and the exclusion of the (much larger) collection of readily-available Schweingruber data for the same area.

Honest scientists who believe in there is a crisis in carbon must surely be starting to ask questions about what’s going on with their colleagues. If the evidence is so strong, so undeniable; if the warming recently has been so unprecedented, why won’t people offer their data up freely so that science can progress as fast as possible? When is deluding the public, other scientists and our elected representatives ever a useful thing to do? People have invested money and careers,  governments have paid millions for reports, and billions for research; and companies have planned years ahead, all partly based on the Hockey Stick Graph.

If the data had been archived immediately for the public, the world could have had access to better information for nearly a decade.

Thanks to readers Francis, Charles, and Kreuger.  :-) Entertaining evening. (JoNova)

 

Four degrees Celsius in 50 years?

Last week, Yugratna Srivastava, a 13-year-old Indian girl, was hired by the United Nations to present a poem to the world's leaders and the humanity.

In the tradition of Nazi and Soviet methods of propaganda, a kid was asked to explain that our world is gonna fry unless everyone buys all the ideology and policies that her propagandistic employers wanted her to disseminate.

There apparently exist adults whose skulls are comparably unhinged. The girl wasn't strong enough to convince the world about the looming catastrophe - and they need much stronger "momentum" for the Copenhagen negotiations that should efficiently cripple the world's economy.

So most of the media, such as The Telegraph, have informed about a "research" of the British Met Office. These guys - no longer stupid girls from third-world countries but paid "expert" adults from the U.K. - predict 4 degrees Celsius of warming by 2060. I kid you not.

You may wonder why those articles in the media don't contain any graphs. Well, here is how the graph of the UAH MSU global temperatures between 1979 and 2059 has to look like, in order to support the claims in the media:



Click to zoom in...

I created the graph from the existing 1978-2009 data of UAH MSU combined with a Brownian noise that leads to the right difference between 2059 and 2009. Try to create your own graph. You won't be able to find one that looks more sensible than the graph above. Do you really believe that it is conceivable that the UAH graph that the people will have in 2059 will look like the graph above?

Clearly, the graph above shows that Nature was changing the temperature by a little bit between 1979 and 2009. But it suddenly lost Her mind in 2009 and started to warm up. Why did She stop obeying Her own laws? And how much more quickly will she warm up? Well, the net UAH warming between 1979 and 2009 has been around 0.4 degrees Celsius. If extrapolated, and such extrapolations of violent short-term trends are likely to be overestimates, that would produce 0.6 degrees Celsius by 2060.

Their figure, 4 degrees Celsius, exceeds this extrapolated figure by a factor of seven, despite the approximate constancy of the CO2 production since 1979. In reality, the warming by 2060 will almost certainly be smaller than 0.6 degrees Celsius.

These people must think that all the other people have the IQ of a pumpkin to buy such manifest nonsense. If they overstate the measured warming trend by a factor of seven, do they think that no one will notice? Why should Nature suddenly change a quantity - the decadal warming trend - by one order of magnitude relatively to all existing measurements and all sensible theories? Do they really believe that anyone but corrupt people trying to steal billions from the taxpayers, and/or mentally retarded individuals are ready to buy this crap?

Their projections are exactly as ludicrous as the "judgement day" warnings by the Jehovah's Witnesses. The only difference is that the Met Office religion lacks the tradition, even the short tradition of the other sect.



Click to zoom in. Another extrapolation of UAH MSU to 1979-2059. If you had to make a bet - your house - which projection among the two graphs you were offered would you expect to be more likely? (The Reference Frame)

 

The IPCC Claim Regarding A Linear Relationship Between The Global Average Surface Temperature Trends And Global Average Radiative Forcing Is Quantitatively Inaccurate

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., in press [with edits still to be made in the final published version; see],

we show that the surface and lower tropospheric temperature trends are diverging in time. We offer an explanation for some of this related to the use of minimum temperatures over land as part of the construction of the global average surface temperature trend. Other sources of bias and uncertainty are reported in our 2007 JGR paper [Pielke et al 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends].

This also means that the diagnosis of the radiative forcing using the surface temperature trends introduces errors. The assumption of a linear relationship between the radiatve forcings and surface temperature is clearly stated in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report (e.g. see Chapter 2 page 133), where it is written

“Radiative forcing [RF] can be related through a linear relationship to the global mean equilibrium temperature change at the surface (delta Ts): delta Ts = lambda * RF, where lambda is the climate sensitivity parameter (e.g., Ramaswamy et al., 2001).”

The lower troposphere is also expected to have a linear relationship to the radiative forcing although amplified relative to the surface; e.g. see Figure 5.6 for the tropics in CCSP 1.1. Chapter 5.

Our Klotzbach et al 2009 paper shows that there is not a temporally invariant linear relationship between the global average surface and lower tropospheric temperature trends.  Based on this paper, and our other papers such as JGR 2007, there is also not a linear relationship between the global average surface temperature trends and the radiative forcing. This view is at significant variance to the IPCC view, which used the CCSP 1.1 report in its assessment. In our new Klotzbach et al paper, we present additional observational evidence that the paragraph above from the IPCC report is not correct, and we discuss one of the reasons for the discrepancy.

The 2005 NRC report supports our view where it is written

“The simplification of complex, mechanistically disparate processes to the same radiative forcing metric, with the implication that positive forcings may cancel negative forcings, provides a way of easily communicating climate forcing factors and their relative importance to general audiences. However, a net zero global mean radiative forcing may be associated with large regional or nonradiative (e.g., precipitation) changes. Further, when forcings are added, uncertainties in individual forcings must be propagated, resulting in large uncertainties in the total forcing. Adding forcings also belies the complexity of the underlying chemistry, physics, and biology. It suggests that all effects on climate can be quantified by a similar metric without knowing, or needing to know, the details of the climate response as captured in feedback effects. Yet there are many aspects of climate change—including rainfall, biodiversity, and sea level—that are currently not related quantitatively, much less linearly, to radiative forcings.” (Climate Science)

 

Climate Science: Funding Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing” Edmund Burke

I experienced two apparently disparate events recently. Both speak to the magnificent hypocrisy Burke identifies. They also illustrate Burke is wrong when he said it costs nothing. We’re all paying and will continue to pay for hypocrisies in climate science and research funding.

The first event involved a stay in an upscale hotel. I’ve learned to ignore moral lectures in the bathroom – reuse the towels and save the planet - because I know the real beneficiary is hotel profit. Now it’s gone further. This time there was a “green” card I could hang on my door to stop the room being serviced at all. I didn’t use it because of the profit issue, but it would also put hotel support staff jobs in jeopardy. I have no problem with profit, free enterprise and capitalism; however, the hypocrisy of corporations exploiting the environment and people’s guilt purely for profit is obscene. (Tim Ball, CFP)

 

A California 'Black Gold' Rush

An amazing number of oil finds have been made this year, including the biggest in California in 35 years. If the world is running out of oil, why do we keep finding more of it?

The mantra of the anti-drilling crowd has been that oil companies like to sit on their leases and the oil in the ground, hoping to drive up the price. They should use the leases they have or lose them, these critics say. They also like to add that the world is running out of oil so it doesn't matter anyway.

Occidental Petroleum hasn't been sitting on anything. For the past decade it's been actively acquiring drilling rights and leases in California where the oil, at least on land, has been said to be an exhausted resource. (IBD)

 

We won't bother saying "we told you so..." China's wind farms bring coal plants

CHINA'S ambition to create "green cities" powered by huge wind farms comes with a dirty little secret: Dozens of new coal-fired power plants need to be installed as well.

Part of the reason is that wind power depends on, well, the wind. To safeguard against blackouts when conditions are too calm, officials have turned to coal-fired power as a backup.

China wants renewable energy like wind to meet 15 per cent of its energy needs by 2020, double its share in 2005, as it seeks to rein in emissions that have made its cities among the smoggiest on Earth.

But experts say the country's transmission network currently can't absorb the rate of growth in renewable-energy output. Last year, as much as 30 per cent of wind-power capacity wasn't connected to the grid. As a result, more coal is being burned in existing plants, and new thermal capacity is being built to cover this shortfall in renewable energy.

In addition, officials want enough new coal-fired capacity in reserve so that they can meet demand whenever the wind doesn't blow. This is important because wind is less reliable as an energy source than coal, which fuels two-thirds of China's electricity output. Wind energy ultimately depends on wind strength and direction, unlike coal, which can be stockpiled at generators in advance.

Further complicating matters is poor connectivity between regional transmission networks, which makes it hard for China to move surplus power in one part of the country to cover shortfalls elsewhere.

China may not be alone in having to ramp up thermal power capacity as it develops wind farms. Any country with a combination of rapidly growing energy demand, an old and inflexible grid, an existing reliance on coal for power, and ambitious renewable energy-expansion plans will likely have a similar dilemma. What marks China out as different is the amount of new coal-fired capacity that needs to be added. (Wall Street Journal)

 

Cleaning Up on Dirty Coal - A novel gasification process for low-quality coal heads to China.

The industrial boomtown of Dongguan in southeast China's Pearl River Delta could soon host one of the country's most sophisticated power plants, one that uses an unconventional coal-gasification technology to make the dirtiest coal behave like clean-burning natural gas. Its developers, Atlanta-based utility Southern Company and Houston-based engineering firm KBR, announced the licensing deal with Dongguan Power and Chemical Company this month. (Technology Review)

 

Germany eyes nuclear revival

BERLIN, Sept. 28 -- Nuclear energy is set to be revived in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel can form her coalition of choice after this Sunday's elections.

Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union and the pro-business Free Democratic Party were in coalition negotiations Monday; a government will be formed within the next four weeks, the chancellor said.

With the CDU and the FDP both supportive of nuclear energy, their coalition agreement is slated to address the country's nuclear phase-out plan, which foresees all German reactors to be shut down by 2021. (UPI)

 

Could Hummer Be Headed for the Heap?

GM's Hummer division has commanded attention ever since the vehicles first appeared on American highways at the height of the sport-utility boom.

The Hummer brand, however, could be on the road to extinction if GM cannot soon finish a deal with China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, the only bidder for the controversial brand. GM announced plans to spin it off while reorganizing under bankruptcy protection this past summer. (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)

GM spokesman Chris Preuss acknowledges GM won't complete the sale of Hummer by the end of September as it originally planned, but it still hopes to finish the negotiations soon, he says.

The tentative plan is for GM to continue building Hummer vehicles through a transitional period. The length of the transition is one of the unresolved issues. Longer term, Hummer is hoping to replace its gas guzzlers with new models that use lighter-weight materials and advanced power trains, and maybe even hybrid vehicles. The plan is to continue building Hummers in the U.S., not in China where the prevailing wages, $12 to $25 per day, are significantly lower.

For now, the Hummer H3 is built at a GM plant in Shreveport, La., which is scheduled to close sometime next year, while the hulking H2 is made at a plant in Mishawaka, Ind., belonging to AM General, which also builds the Humvee for the U.S. Department of Defense. (Joseph R. Szczesny, Time)

 

Whoa! Swine flu prompts changes to Mental Health Act

The government plans to rush through measures allowing people with suspected mental health issues to be quickly detained because of fears over staff shortages in any forthcoming swine flu outbreak, it has been revealed.

The temporary changes to the Mental Health Act, as laid out in an unusually short consultation lasting just one month, would mean it would only take one doctor, rather than two, to have a person sectioned and put on medication without their consent.

The measures could have a serious effect on the thousands of patients with psychiatric issues who currently live outside state care, meaning many could be detained against their will on the word of just one health professional.

With very little information on the proposed changes published, many mental health experts have warned the government that they risk side-lining an already vulnerable community and have called on it to spell-out the full raft of changes proposed in the consultation. (Management in Practice)

Don't believe in gorebull warming, eh? Have we got a doctor for you!

 

Don’t Blame Flu Shots for All Ills, Officials Say

As soon as swine flu vaccinations start next month, some people getting them will drop dead of heart attacks or strokes, some children will have seizures and some pregnant women will miscarry.

But those events will not necessarily have anything to do with the vaccine. That poses a public relations challenge for federal officials, who remember how sensational reports of deaths and illnesses derailed the large-scale flu vaccine drive of 1976.

This time they are making plans to respond rapidly to such events and to try to reassure a nervous public — and headline-hunting journalists — that the vaccine is not responsible.

Every year, there are 1.1 million heart attacks in the United States, 795,000 strokes and 876,000 miscarriages, and 200,000 Americans have their first seizure. Inevitably, officials say, some of these will happen within hours or days of a flu shot.

The government “is right to expect coincident deaths, since people are dying every day, with or without flu shots,” said Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine and co-author of “The Epidemic That Never Was,” a history of the 1976 swine flu vaccination campaign.

Officials are particularly worried about spontaneous miscarriages, because they are urging pregnant women to be among the first to be vaccinated. Pregnant women are usually advised to get flu shots, because they and their fetuses are at high risk of flu complications, but this year the pressure is greater. Expectant mothers are normally advised to avoid drugs, alcohol and anything else that might affect a fetus. (NYT)

 

Keeping Your Doctor Will Be as Easy as 1, 2, 3…1,788, 1789, 1,790

This simple little chart shows the steps needed to keep your doctor if the health care plan put forth by Senator Baucus becomes law. For a closer look, click this link.

Choose your doctor (Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato at liberty)

 

Reform Unraveling

What kind of country would imprison citizens who felt it was in their best interest not to purchase health care insurance? We may soon find out.

Sen. John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, got an interesting handwritten note last week from the chief of staff of Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation. Tom Barthold told Ensign that an American who did not buy health care insurance or pay the fee — up to $1,900 — that is required from those who opt out would find themselves in deep trouble with the government.

"Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead," Politico reported. (IBD)

 

Uh-huh... poverty & starvation are like, good dude! Recession may be good for your health: study

NEW YORK - The economic downturn may not be good for your bottom line, but it might be a boon to your health, a study on health trends during the Great Depression suggests.

Looking at U.S. death rates between 1920 and 1940, researchers found that during the bleakest years of the Great Depression, death rates dipped when compared with years of economic expansion. The patterns were seen among men and women, and across age groups.

At the same time, life expectancy generally increased during the recession years and declined during years of growth.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may seem counterintuitive.

However, they add to previous research showing correlations between economic woes and health improvements in various countries.

Many people may assume that the health of the general population takes a hit during recession, noted lead researcher Dr. Jose A. Tapia Granados, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"But it is very clear that this is not the case," he told Reuters Health.

This study could not look at the reasons why. However, Tapia Granados speculated on some potential factors.

Economic expansions have been linked to population increases in smoking and drinking, as well as less sleep and more stress. (Reuters Health)

 

Schoolgirl dies after being given cervical cancer jab

A 14-year-old schoolgirl has died after being given a vaccine to protect against cervical cancer as part of the national immunisation programme. Some of her classmates suffered side-effects such as dizziness and nausea.

Natalie Morton, a pupil at Blue Coat Church of England school in Coventry, died yesterday afternoon at the city’s University Hospital hours after receiving Cervarix. The NHS in Coventry said that no link had been made between her death and the HPV jab, but that it had quarantined the batch used at the school as a precaution.

Cervarix guards against certain strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that causes up to 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. In the UK, 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year and about 1,000 women die from the disease.

More than 1.4 million have been given the jab since the vaccination programme began last year. This is believed to be the first death. By 2011 all girls under 18 will have been offered the vaccine. The public awareness campaign about cervical cancer was boosted by the death of the reality television star Jade Goody, 27.

Health officials said that they had begun an urgent investigation and that the death could not be linked directly to the vaccination until after a post-mortem examination.

Julie Roberts, head of the school, which has 1,350 pupils, said in a letter to parents that the girl had suffered a “rare but extreme reaction to the vaccine”. She added: “A number of other girls also reported being unwell and some were sent home.” She asked parents to be vigilant. It is understood that none of the other girls who reported side effects was admitted to hospital.

Britain is the only country to have picked Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, for a mass public health programme, instead of Gardasil, a more expensive vaccine made by Merck that also protects against strains of HPV that cause genital warts. (The Times)

 

Dealing with mercury the right way

That's the title of my latest HND piece, and the good guys here are Lafarge's Ravena, NY cement plant. One of the largest such plants in the country, it is also about the best in terms of mercury emissions, coming in at one percent or less of allowable levels.

For some reason, Erin Brockovich targeted this facility and town, while trolling for clients. Memo to Erin: Try researching the plant you pick on, before you give your dog and pony show. It might help if the plant in question is actually a polluter.

For those who never saw it, here is Walter Olson's masterful takedown of this incredible phony.

I don't even mention Erin in my HND piece, since she is completely irrelevant. In fact, John Reagan, my contact over at Lafarge, said that nothing seemed to come of her visit. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

More women having a healthy breast removed

NEW YORK - A small but growing number of women with breast cancer are choosing to have the unaffected breast removed in an effort to prevent a recurrence, researchers reported Monday.

Using data from New York State hospitals, the researchers found that between 1995 and 2005, the prevalence of preventive mastectomy among women with a history of cancer in one breast more than doubled.

The procedure was performed in about 2 percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and 1996 -- rising to just over 4 percent by 2005.

In contrast, there was only a small increase in preventive mastectomies among women who had no personal history of breast cancer but were considered at risk because of a strong family history of the disease.

The findings suggest that while the number of preventive mastectomies performed each year in New York was small, the procedure is becoming more common, the researchers report in the journal Cancer.

The more marked increase among women with a history of breast cancer raises some concerns, senior researcher Dr. Stephen B. Edge, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, told Reuters Health.

The central issue, he explained, is that there is no evidence that removing the unaffected breast improves long-term survival. (Reuters Health)

 

Another “Victory” in the War on Drugs

A grandmother in Indiana has been arrested for purchasing cold medicine. We can all sleep more safely now that this hardened criminal has been taught a lesson. The Terre Haute News reports:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

…Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. (Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato at liberty)

 

Nanny State Doesn’t Like Competition

“A Michigan woman who lives in front of a school bus stop says the state is threatening her with fines and possibly jail time for babysitting her neighbors’ kids until the bus comes,” CNN reports.

Lisa Snyder of Middleville, Mich., says she takes no money for watching the three children for 15-40 minutes each day so that the neighbors can get to work on time.

The Department of Human Services, acting on a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home, demanded she either get a license, stop watching the kids or face the consequences, WZZM says.

Snyder calls the whole thing “ridiculous” and tells the Grand Rapids TV station that “we are friends helping friends!”

A DHS spokesperson tells the station that it has no choice but to comply with state law, which is designed to protect Michigan children.

She’s not getting paid. She’s possibly not even letting the neighbor kids into her house. The kids are waiting for a school bus in front of her house, and she’s told her neighbors she’ll keep an eye on their kids. And the government wants her to get a license. (Something similar is happening in Britain.)  This is what people mean when they warn that an ever-expanding government threatens the values of neighborliness and community. When the government provides services for free, or when it erects obstacles to individuals’ providing those services, it reduces private provision and simultaneously increases the demand for government services. If you make it illegal for neighbors to watch one another’s kids, you weaken ties of neighborhood and community.

Our nanny-state government not only wants to take care of us from cradle to pre-K to K-12 to homebuying to medical care to retirement to grave, it not only considers adult Americans “just like your teenage kids, [not] acting in a way that they should act,” it not only wants to “nudge” us into acting the way it thinks we should, now it thinks that neighbors should have to get a license to keep an eye on the kids congregating in front of their homes. It’s enough to make you think we have too much government. (David Boaz, Cato at liberty)

 

Senescent Crone's decline continues... Out-Foxing The Times

The New York Times, still smarting after losing scoops to Fox News, has thrown in the towel, vowing to avoid future embarrassment by monitoring the cable channel. We have a better idea — it's called reporting.

An Illinois senator rises to the highest office in the land on pillars of a spectacularly slimy political organization, a group with a long record of voter fraud, theft, thuggery and partisanship. As sexy as such a story might seem, the New York Times didn't consider it news.

That's why the Times got scooped by outlets such as Fox News, for which it has nothing but contempt, on revelations that led to the fall of community organizing behemoth Acorn.

The wound was self-inflicted, rooted in little more than the partisanship of protecting a favored president. It left the field clear for a couple of journalism students to show that Acorn staffers openly encouraged pimping, child prostitution, human trafficking, mortgage fraud and tax evasion.

It's right there on tapes posted to Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. Unlike the disdainful Times, Fox ran with it, toppling a behemoth of political power.

Fox's judgment now seems to play the role the Times' once did, and the Times is no doubt left wondering how it could have lost out on yet another one.

It's not the first: It missed the John Edwards mistress and baby scandal in campaign 2008; it missed the National Endowment for the Arts press conference shilling for Obama; it also missed the debacle over the seamy background of "green jobs" czar Van Jones.

Now it's missed the Acorn scandals — all because of its "insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues dominating Fox News and talk radio," according to managing editor Jill Abramson, who will now "assign an (unnamed) editor to monitor opinion media."

Baloney. Those Fox stories had impact because they were fact-, not opinion-based. The public agreed, and the politicians were forced to act. The Times' "monitor" idea smears Fox as an opinion outfit whose product must be handled with tongs.

In fact, it's ideological bias that keeps Times journalists from covering the news with impact. The newspaper of record should be reporting the news "without fear or favor," as its motto says — not simply by accepting the liberal line.

If they happen to hit their favorite politicians, too bad. Because if they don't do this, they aren't newsmen. By taking a cheap shot at Fox and then bitterly following it instead of leading, the Times blows its credibility even more than its missed scoops do. (IBD)

 

SCIENCE TO SAVE THE CHESAPEAKE BAY

CHURCHVILLE, VA: The Chesapeake Bay is in eco-collapse. The once-clear waters are clouded with sediment, so the eel-grass cannot grow across the bottom for baby crabs to hide in. The oysters, which once filtered every bit of the bay’s water twice daily, have mostly succumbed to such viral diseases as MSX and Dermo.

The bay that yielded 25 million bushels of oyster per year in the 1940s has lately produced only about 200,000 bushels annually. Chesapeake seafood restaurants mostly import their crabmeat and oysters. Watermen have left for other jobs. A massive federal restoration project began in 1983, aiming to cut “over-fertilization” in the Bay by 40 percent—but regulating sewage plants and farm fertilizer has failed to make much difference.

We hadn’t done the science. Blaming “pollution” was no adequate prescription for restoring the Bay’s health. But research has apparently now found the key. A recent massive experiment in the Great Wicomico River found that oysters on high shell reefs (16–18 inches above the bottom) are thriving. The test-bed oysters are fighting off the diseases and grow above the sediment, while oysters on the river bottom and on lower shell mounds failed again.

The Great Wicomico now has as many oysters as all the waters of Maryland—185 million. The journal Science reports “unprecedented restoration of a native oyster population.”

It wasn’t pollution. It was the gradual permission for power dredges in the Bay, which traditionally had permitted only sail-powered dredges. The power dredges tore at the shell piles that were vital to the health of the oysters and the baywater they filtered. Viruses attacked successfully because the oysters were no longer growing high up at optimum-flow depths. After the oysters failed, the water then clouded, hampering the eelgrass and the baby crabs.

The eco-activists’ cries of “overharvesting” and “pollution” led us in the wrong direction. The money spent on the bay’s restoration up until now has been largely wasted. But now the future of the by looks bright: give the oysters high starter-reefs, protect them from harvest until they reach sustaining numbers, and guard the shell reefs against power dredging.

Obviously, we need a better way to harvest oysters—which will provide major benefits to oyster populations in Europe, Australia and affluent regions around the world where oysters and their water-filtering have been 90 percent lost.

It seems so simple suddenly! Since we did the research.

The environmental movement hasn’t been much help at fixing things:

  • Farmers, not environmentalists, invented the herbicide-based no-till farming that cuts soil erosion by up to 95 percent.
  • The behavior of the ozone hole in the Arctic hasn’t changed since we banned the supposedly-evil CFCs.
  • School children found frogs with too many legs or too few, and the activists blamed it on pesticide runoff. Science has shown the deformities were caused by natural parasites burrowing into the leg joints of the tadpoles—and dragonfly larvae eating them off.

Conservation is a wonderful thing, but it is science that gives us the capacity to achieve it.

Resource:
D.M. Schulte et al; “Unprecedented Restoration of a Native Oyster Population, Science, vol. 325, August 28, 2009; pp. 1124–1127.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net (CGFI)

 

Okay... The UN is united again

On climate change, nuclear weapons and poverty, the world's nations are showing a new spirit of multilateralism (Ban Ki-moon, The Guardian)

...  but is being equally irrelevant really anything to crow about?

 

September 28, 2009

 

Climate groups dismayed by G20's lack of interest

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — Climate change campaigners expressed dismay on Friday after the leaders of the world's most important economies failed to earmark funds to pay for a deal to cut carbon emissions.

States are due to hold a global summit -- billed as the last chance to halt global warming -- in Copenhagen in December in order to agree on ambitious new targets for cutting the production of greenhouse gases.

Emerging economies, led by a skeptical India, have insisted that they can not sign up to such a deal unless the rich-world nations whose industry caused the problem pay billions to finance their transfer to new clean technologies.

Campaigners had hoped that under the chairmanship of US President Barack Obama the Group of 20 summit might agree to set aside 150 billion dollars to pay for this work and convince emerging economies to sign the deal.

The final summit statement agreed by the leaders, however, was fairly vague.

"We will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations," it said, without going into specifics of how the funding gap might be met.

Hopes that the world's leading powers would get behind measures to help poorer countries fight climate change were raised in July in L'Aquila, Italy, when G8 leaders sent their finance ministers to seek sources of cash.

On Friday, however, the broader G20 group promised simply to "intensify our efforts" and sent the ministers back to do some more research. (AFP)

 

G-20 not a forum to negotiate climate change issues: India

India today declared that the G-20 was not a forum for negotiating climate change issues, although it was aware that its leaders assembled here for the Summit were expected to convey a significant commitment to move away from the current pattern of economic activity through promotion of renewable and clean sources of energy.

In a press briefing here today, Shyam Saran, Special Envoy of the Indian Prime Minister, said India believed that the G-20 was not the forum for discussing either the extent of cuts to be enforced by countries on emission of greenhouse gases or the financing pattern for mitigating the adverse climate-related effects of the current pattern of economic activities.

“The sole negotiating forum for climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC),” Saran said. Nevertheless, a strong political message from the G-20 leaders that they were committed to a comprehensive, balanced and equitable outcome at the Copenhagen summit on climate change to be held later this year would have a favourable impact on the negotiations, he said.

He also clarified that as far as India was concerned, it was not under any threat or demand from any country on enforcing an absolute cut in its gas emission levels. On the contrary, India’s stand that developing countries should not be expected to agree to absolute cuts in their gas emission levels had received endorsement from 37 countries including China and Brazil. India continued to stick to its earlier position that by 2020, the developed countries should agree to a 40 per cent reduction in their gas emission levels, assuming 1990 as the base year. At the same time, India stood by its commitment that its emission levels would not cross those of the developed countries, thereby putting on them the onus of determining an effective cap on emissions for all developing countries. (Business Standard)

 

We won’t be able to save the world in 74 days - That’s how long until the Copenhagen climate change summit. But the serious players are already looking farther ahead

When the panda smiles the world applauds. Or so it seemed on Tuesday after President Hu Jintao’s speech at the UN. From the way that much of the media reported his words it was as if China had actually made an important announcement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

It hadn’t. All Mr Hu actually said was that China would now “endeavour” to curb its carbon emissions by a “notable” margin. But how does one measure “endeavour” or “notable”? As someone with close links to the Chinese administration told me when pressed: “What was said was actually pretty meaningless.”

There were no specific targets and, as any China watcher knows, this green story is old news. Official Chinese policy over the past couple of years has been to make GDP growth more green. But not at the expense of growth itself — and China plans to grow pretty fast.

At least, I suppose, the panda smiled. Poor Barack Obama didn’t even have that to offer. There was no pledge to cut emissions, and with vote-sapping battles already afoot over healthcare reform, one wonders how much time and energy the President will have for environmental imperatives.

I fear, therefore, that all we got at the UN this week was insubstantial rhetoric. The bad news is that we are likely to get more of that today at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. When I asked one finance minister what he expected to be delivered on climate change there, he said, rather wistfully: “Words, just words.” (Noreena Hertz, The Times)

 

Barack Obama plays down the need to finalise a deal on climate change

The G20 did agree to back Obama's efforts to end the annual subsidies on fossil fuels, which globally cost $300bn. Photograph: Frank Krahmer/Getty Images

Barack Obama has talked down the importance of sealing a global deal on climate change before the end of the year, world leaders said yesterday.

Obama's comments, made in private talks at the G20 summit, downplay the need to reach a strong deal at UN talks in Copenhagen in December and contradict the United Nations and others, who have billed the meeting as a crucial moment for the world to avoid catastrophic global warming. The president did win a partial victory on his signature climate issue at this G20 summit – removing fossil fuel subsidies – but there was no headway on the much bigger issue of climate finance, which Obama had taken up as his issue at the last G20.

Barring small but significant steps forward from China and India, there has been little progress this week at a UN summit or the G20 towards a deal at Copenhagen. Obama's remarks yesterday resonated among world leaders, who have been looking to America – as historically the world's greatest polluter – to lead on climate change.

"I would cite what President Obama said to us at our meetings and that is that while Copenhagen is a very important meeting we should not view it as a make or break on climate change. It will be a step, an ongoing step, in an important world process to deal with this critical issue," Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said yesterday. Harper cited the comments when he said he was not inclined to take up Gordon Brown's challenge to attend the meeting himself, in order to add political weight to the negotiations.

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak also referenced Obama's remarks. "The Copenhagen climate summit meeting is not the end, but it is going to be the start of a new beginning, and having that kind of perception is more realistic," he said. There was no immediate comment from the White House on Obama's remarks. (The Guardian)

Well duh! There never was a need for one in the first place.

 

Barack Obama is cooling on global warming - The President's speech to the UN on climate change was commitment-lite, says Christopher Booker.

Just as President Obama was exciting the frustration of the greenies by making his conspicuously commitment-free speech to the UN about global warming, a Bloomberg poll reported that, asked what was the most important issue facing their country today, 46 per cent of Americans replied "the economy".

This was followed by health care (23 per cent), the budget deficit (16 per cent) and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (10 per cent). Way at the bottom of the list, on 2 per cent – as Obama is doubtless aware – was "climate change". As he dithers around over Afghanistan and so many other issues, it seems that, now the great campaigner is in office, his slogan has subtly morphed from "Yes we can" to "No we can't". (Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph)

 

UN climate summit: Sea change needed at Copenhagen

Cumbersome at the best of times, UN procedures seem unable to bear the weight of an issue as important, urgent, and complicated as climate change, says Geoffrey Lean. (Daily Telegraph)

So, Lean is finally figuring out that the U.N. is an organization devoid of value? Took him long enough...

 

The Crone, wrong on all counts, of course: The Climate Improves

This week’s speeches at the United Nations by President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China raised hopes that — with vision, political will and a lot more work — the world may eventually reach a new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the struggle continued on a retail level.

The Senate’s Democratic leadership managed to beat back an extraordinarily mischievous amendment to a spending bill offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican. The amendment would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from major sources like power plants and vehicles.

The amendment was in clear conflict with a landmark 2007 Supreme Court decision giving the agency explicit authority to regulate such gases from vehicles and implicit authority to regulate them from other sources. With a global climate summit in Copenhagen less than three months away, the move would also have sent a terrible signal about Washington’s lack of commitment. (NYT)

 

Liberal Senators Dodge Tough Climate Votes

At the United Nations, President Obama tried desperately to convince the international community we have entered a “new era,” one in which the United States was serious about tackling global warming. His allies in the U.S. Senate do not appear eager to address the issue, as they used parliamentary procedures to dodge tough climate-related votes on the Interior-Environment Appropriations bill. (The Foundry)

 

Dem campaign anxiety: Vulnerables say they lack cover from Pelosi

Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress.

Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.

Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed.

“She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.” (The Hill)

 

Climate change bill may drift - A wary Senate might not decide measure’s fate until next year

WASHINGTON — Although President Barack Obama confidently assured world leaders last week that the U.S. was determined to combat global climate change, that resolve isn't shared in the U.S. Senate.

The chamber has instead been consumed by other domestic priorities — including the administration-backed push to overhaul health care — and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is months behind her original timetable for introducing legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

With all of the obstacles, it is increasingly likely the Obama administration will not have a new climate change law — or even a preliminary version passed by the Senate — to bring to international negotiations on a global warming pact this December in Copenhagen.

“I don't think there's any chance you can have a complete bill passed by the Senate and the House and signed by the president in time for him to head to Copenhagen with the bill in his coat pocket,” lamented Jim DiPeso, an environmentalist who backs the effort.

Even the odds of Senate passage are 50-50, DiPeso said, adding: “It's chancy that the Senate will pass a bill this year.”

Boxer and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., are set to introduce a climate change bill Wednesday, after months of delays and negotiations aimed at appeasing moderate Democrats worried that new emissions caps could impose hefty economic costs on the energy industry, struggling manufacturers and coal mining.

Boxer and Kerry are modeling their bill after a broad measure that passed the House in June and aim to get the legislation approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee by the end of October. (Houston Chronicle)

 

G-20 Pledges to End "Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies" — What Does That Mean?

One of the few surprises to come out of the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh this week was the sudden emphasis in the group statement on ending "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies." At first glance, this doesn't appear to be a big deal. I mean, who would be for inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, other than the oil and gas industry?

Well, it depends on how you define, "inefficient." A useful guide to what's being talked about here is a recent report from the Environmental Law Institute, which concludes that the U.S. has spent approximately $72 billion on fossil fuel subsidies over the last eight years. The bulk of that — $54 billion — consists of various tax breaks. The rest is direct spending on programs that liberals like, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($6 billion), and programs that the government is unlikely ever to get rid of (even though it should), such as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (another $6 billion). The study also counts funds spent on carbon-capture research ($2 billion) as a subsidy to Big Coal, even though the Democrats' climate-change bill would vastly increase those expenditures.

So when Obama pledges to end inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, he's not talking about the spending; he's talking about the tax breaks. There are two points to make here: First, getting rid of all the tax breaks listed in the ELI report would constitute a huge tax increase on oil and gas consumers — that's you — thus violating Obama's campaign pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. Obama would counter that by saying that scrapping the breaks would only raise taxes on oil and gas companies, not consumers. This would be an evasion: Corporations are tax collectors, not taxpayers. The corporate income tax is paid by the customers, employees and shareholders of corporations. (Stephen Spruiell, NRO)

 

Climate tax functionaries derailed by a decade of observed climate records

World leaders who met on Tuesday at the United Nations to discuss climate change were challenged by 10 year records showing no climate change. This makes enactment of a Climate Treaty tedious. Skeptics use the 10 year temperature plateau as evidence that global warming is a chimera. Scientists say the climate stability results from cyclical variations in ocean conditions and is unrelated to the effect of greenhouse gases. Next decade may be even cooler. The public does not care. (Michael Lynch, GLG)

 

China Claims Edge Over US in UN Climate Change Talks

In spite of the fact that President Obama is facing an uphill battle - in his own party - on domestic climate change legislation; and, with China taking every opportunity to hide behind their "developing" status, both the US and China used the UN General Assembly to ramp up rhetoric on climate change. To misquote the Bard, "methinks they doth protest too much."

With every new splashy promise made, the December climate change conference in Copenhagen is threatening to become little more than a public relations event with little real concerted action. More climate talks are on the agenda for the G20 in Pittsburgh, but Obama and his team should avoid making the push for global leadership on climate change into a new breed of arms race because its a battle that the US cannot win. (Joe Walsh, CleanTechies)

 

Europe wrangles over carbon emissions quotas

BRUSSELS - France, Italy and several other European Union countries weighed their chances of haggling up their EU carbon emissions quotas on Thursday, one day after Poland and Estonia successfully challenged theirs in court.

The two east European countries won their appeal on Wednesday for more generous caps on industrial emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the EU's main tool for ratcheting down gases blamed for climate change.

The ruling by the European Court of First Instance, the bloc's second highest court, threw European carbon markets into uncertainty and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) asked countries to refrain from challenging their own quotas.

European carbon markets closed 4 percent lower, leading to a two-day fall of nearly 9 percent.

"We call on all member states to hold back from attempting to make use of a loophole that simply has to be closed for the carbon market, and European climate policy, to continue on a sound footing," IETA said in a statement. (Reuters)

 

The baseline year is high on the agenda next week in Thailand - Thailand minister hopes to break the stalemate at the Bangkok talks, starting next week.

Extreme humidity and high temperatures are awaiting almost 3,000 senior officials and climate negotiators from 192 countries during the 12-day long climate change talks that start in Bangkok on Monday. However, it is not only warm weather.

Heated debates between industrialized and developing countries over greenhouse gas emission cuts are expected to dominate the climate change talks, says Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, according to the Bangkok Post. (CoP15)

 

PREVIEW-U.N. hopes climate talks speed up towards finish line

BANGKOK, Sept 28 - Delegates from about 190 nations meet in the Thai capital from Monday to try to refine a draft text of the world's most comprehensive pact to fight climate change, with time running out to try to seal a deal.

The Sept. 28 to Oct. 9 U.N. gathering is the last major negotiating session before environment ministers from around the globe meet in Copenhagen in December to produce a broader, tougher, agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

The United Nations says the negotiations are far too slow, with many major issues still to be resolved by year's end. (Reuters)

 

More Krugman propaganda: It’s Easy Being Green

So, have you enjoyed the debate over health care reform? Have you been impressed by the civility of the discussion and the intellectual honesty of reform opponents?

If so, you’ll love the next big debate: the fight over climate change.

The House has already passed a fairly strong cap-and-trade climate bill, the Waxman-Markey act, which if it becomes law would eventually lead to sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But on climate change, as on health care, the sticking point will be the Senate. And the usual suspects are doing their best to prevent action. (Paul Krugman, NYT)

Since Paul is now apparently a climate scientist (he'd have a better idea than Al, after all, at least Paul managed to complete his education), perhaps he'd be so kind as to tell us the "correct" temperature for the planet? Then maybe he can tell us what it is now. No? That's alright, neither can anyone else.

You have to forgive Paul -- he's an economist and thinks models output data.

 

Climate Change and Health Care: Free Lunches?

In the debate over health care reform, advocates of expanded government health insurance suggest we can pay for this by making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient.

In Paul Krugman’s most recent column, he makes a similar claim about reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

The evidence suggests that we’re wasting a lot of energy right now. That is, we’re burning large amounts of coal, oil and gas in ways that don’t actually enhance our standard of living — a phenomenon known in the research literature as the “energy-efficiency gap.” The existence of this gap suggests that policies promoting energy conservation could, up to a point, actually make consumers richer.

Both claims of a “free lunch” are heroic, at best.

In the case of health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid are inefficient, but to make them more efficient we have to reduce government subsidy for health insurance, not expand it.

In the case of energy efficiency, more energy-efficient practices exist (e.g., replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs), but they are expensive: if they actually made consumers richer, most would be using them already.

Now the fact that expanded government health insurance and increased energy efficiency would cost more, not less, does not prove they are bad ideas (that’s a separate discussion). But it means society must evaluate a tradeoff, not just assert we can have something for nothing.

C/P Libertarianism, from A to Z (Jeffrey A. Miron, Cato at liberty)

 

California OKs fee to pay for global warming program

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Despite industry objections and threats of lawsuits, California air regulators on Friday approved the nation's first statewide carbon fee on utilities, oil refineries and other polluting industries.

The money raised by the California Air Resources Board, which voted 9-0, is intended to pay for the bureaucratic expenses of carrying out the state's 2006 global warming law, which requires greenhouse gas emissions statewide to be reduced by 25 percent over the next decade.

"It's never pleasant to be in the position of asking consumers to pay," chairwoman Mary Nichols said at the board's meeting in the Southern California city of Diamond Bar. "While we asking for investments here, these are investments being made as our economy begins to come back from the worst recession since the Great Depression." (Associated Press)

 

Analysts warn Hatoyama after success debut - Japan’s new prime minister will soon have to face the political consequences of his pledge to reduce Japanese greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.

After a debut week packed with international meetings, Japan's new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama is winning applause from world leaders for his ambitious target on climate change.

But analysts warn that the honeymoon of Yukio Hatoyama's government may not last long as he must soon live up to the political consequences of his promises, AFP reports.

"Hatoyama made an ideal debut as the 25 percent reduction has a great impact," said Tetsuro Kato, a professor of politics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

"But at the same time the pledge, now turning out to be an international one, is weighing heavily on his shoulders."

Some business leaders have warned the 25 percent reduction may force ailing manufacturers to flee overseas and estimated the burden at 4,000 dollars (360,000 yen) per Japanese individual each year.

"I know some industries are saying it's impossible, but I believe we can make it by fully making use of our science and technology," Hatoyama said. "I believe in the Japanese people. I'm confident." (CoP15)

 

Sad nonsense from the world of make-believe: 4 degrees warming "likely" without CO2 cuts-study

LONDON, Sept 28 - Global temperatures may be 4 degrees Celsius hotter by the mid-2050s if current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, said a study published on Monday.

The study, by Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre, echoed a U.N. report last week which found that climate changes were outpacing worst-case scenarios forecast in 2007 by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Our results are showing similar patterns (to the IPCC) but also show the possibility that more extreme changes can happen," said Debbie Hemming, co-author of the research published at the start of a climate change conference at Oxford University. (Reuters)

This is what we said about a similar fantasy last week & we see no reason to waste more time on this one:

We wish there was a serious chance of the world warming 3.5 °C, making it similar to the Holocene Climatic Optimum but there is no such possibility (at least not from enhanced greenhouse). Even if we could manage a double-doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from the current approximately 385 to 1,540 ppmv (4 x current levels) that would still only theoretically deliver a maximum of about 2 °C (less than 3.5 °F, not °C), see information on Earth's natural negative feedbacks. Their hysterical claims have gone way beyond the ridiculous.

 

From the guys who couldn't predict summer: Met Office: catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years - Catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years, five decades earlier than previously predicted, according to a Met Office report.

An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems, it warns.

The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C). (Daily Telegraph)

 

Stunts are becoming more absurd, too: Maldives cabinet all wet on climate change

PARIS — Politicians rarely admit when they sink to new depths but for the Maldives government, it's a badge of honour when fighting global warming is concerned.

President Mohamed Nasheed is to host an underwater cabinet meeting on October 24 to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Indian Ocean archipelago, his office told AFP on Friday.

"The purpose of the underwater cabinet meeting is to show commitment from the highest political level to the 350.org Global Day of Climate Action," it quoted Deputy Undersecretary Aminath Shauna as saying.

350.org is a grassroots group campaigning for present levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) to be reduced to 350 parts per million (ppm) to restore Earth's atmosphere to safe levels.

Clad in scuba gear and communicating by whiteboards and hand signals, the 14 cabinet members will approve a statement "from Maldivian citizens" that will be presented at the December 7-18 UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

"We call upon all citizens from all countries, big and small, rich and poor, high and low, to join hands and reduce carbon emissions and bring down the level of carbon in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm," the statement will read.

350.org's founder, Bill McKibben, an environmentalist who wrote "The End of Nature," said some ministers were diving neophytes and would undergo scuba training to attend the motion-in-the-ocean meeting. (AFP)

 

Eye-roller: The world's building sector offers vast and cheap energy savings - Across rich and poor nations, the average cost of cutting a ton of carbon from buildings is only 25 US dollars, a new study says.

The worldwide building sector accounts for almost 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also the cheapest source of emissions cuts. Improving energy efficiency can cut one third of global emissions with investments that largely pay for themselves, a new study says.

An economic analysis by Trevor Houser, visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economic, estimates that reducing building sector emissions in line with global goals would cost an average of 25 US dollars per ton of CO2.

Trying to squeeze the same cuts out of industry or transportation would cost 210 or 300 US dollars per ton, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reports. (CoP15)

But every penny spent with the exclusive view of limiting carbon dioxide emissions is by definition wasted and hence expensive. There is absolutely no purpose in denying the biosphere its required resource.

 

His dark materials: The man behind Green & Black’s chocolate wants to save the planet – with charcoal

Craig Sams made his fortune – and changed our eating habits – with Green & Black's chocolate. Now he has his sights set on saving the Earth... using soil. Rhiannon Harries meets the eco entrepreneur at his kiln to find out how (The Independent)

By choking the place with smoke? Nice...

 

Emergency Climate Control: Geoengineering Risks

With the news that climate change is occurring at a faster rate than climate models have predicted, geoengineering solutions have been brought to the fore and are being taken more seriously. The main focus of these emergency geoengineering strategies is a reduction in “shortwave” radiation entering the Earth’s atmosphere via the solar wind. (Michael Ricciardi, Ecoworldly)

Yes, if it ever proves necessary then we could alter planetary albedo (most rapidly and cheaply through sulfate aerosols but not necessarily). Yes, we should engage in development and testing of these techniques regionally, if only to see whether they might be useful in reducing the severity of approaching tropical cyclones or tweaking precipitation levels. Yes, potential problems should be investigated and discussed but that doesn't mean falling for the acid rain farce all over again.

At least it is good to see the other half of Earth's energy balance equation under discussion instead of remaining fixated on enhanced greenhouse effect and outgoing longwave radiation (OLR).

 

The Military-Industrial-Environmental Complex

President Obama, speaking to the United Nations this week, cast climate change unequivocally as a threat to national security. He told the General Assembly, "Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine." The President echoed the sentiments of hawkish-sounding lobby groups, such as the Partnership for a Secure America and the American Security Project, that are promoting cap-and-trade “energy legislation” as vital for national security. Catastrophic climate change, they claim, could become a “threat multiplier” as droughts, pestilences, floods, and famines purportedly caused by global warming spark and exacerbate conflicts overseas.

Behind this movement is an unlikely alliance of national security hawks hoping to boost their budget while reducing American dependence on foreign oil and greens looking to enhance their credibility with centrists and conservatives.

The Pentagon’s tendency toward mission creep could make this a formidable coalition. The Department of Defense now has a financial incentive to incorporate climate change into its risk assessments, in order to secure increasing appropriations from a Democratic Congress and administration committed to fighting global warming. It is all part of the dynamic which the great British Prime Minister the Marquess of Salisbury summed up so well: "If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe the military, nothing is safe."

The “national security” imperative for this policy rests on flawed or non-existing scientific evidence, and prescribes a cure that would be worse than the disease. (Iain Murray and Roger Abbott, Washington Examiner)

 

No doomsday

Framing global warming as an emergency is not effective in mobilising governments or citizens, as happened with the anti-nuclear movement. It may even have the opposite effect.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed of the world’s leading climate scientists, human-induced climate change presents a serious and growing danger to human societies. Inertia in the climate system means that much of the warming and associated impacts of past and current greenhouse-gas emissions are yet to be experienced. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the US space agency, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), has argued that business-as-usual would bring about the collapse of major ice sheets, with several metres of sea-level rise this century alone. Continued emissions and further warming could also trigger natural ‘positive feedback’ mechanisms in the climate system – when the ramifications of climate change leads to further change. The warming effect could thus be exaggerated and sustained even after human greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced.

Recently, some scientists have argued that positive feedbacks may begin at lower levels of warming than previously anticipated. Indeed, melting of the arctic ice cap is already creating a positive feedback by reducing the Earth’s albedo, or the amount of sunlight that is able to reflect. This in turn is beginning to melt the permafrost, with its own positive feedback of releasing previously frozen greenhouse gases. Given that most global emissions arise from economic activity underpinned by long-lived capital investments in fossil-fuel energy systems, delays in restructuring current global energy systems to low or zero-emissions technology could have profound consequences in the longer term. Yet little structural change is apparent in governments and bureaucracies. For example, energy and industry departments are still approving new coal mines and coal-fired power stations in countries such as the Australia, Britain, China and the US.

Some climate campaigners argue that the lack of action on climate change means governments and the public do not fully understand the urgency of the situation. Framing climate change as an emergency is one way to draw attention to the dire nature of the problem. But are there disadvantages to the emergency approach? How effective is it in terms of actively engaging people in changing their behaviour over the long term, and bringing sustained pressure to bear on governments to change their policies? (Patrick Hodder and Brian Martin, Himal)

Gorebull warming is not an effective agent for mobilizing social change simply because it is not a credible threat. Nuclear war was a significant risk and motivated a peace movement but what really is the risk a of a slightly warmer, wetter, more productive world? "Look out! Food and habitat will grow better!"? Just not that compelling, especially considering the "cure" is extreme privation.

 

New Groups Revive the Debate Over Causes of Climate Change

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) may be grappling with health care, but in Montana a new advocacy group opposed to climate legislation called C02 Is Green is taking aim at the next big battle for Congress.

The group is already running television ads: "This will cost us jobs," one says. "There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant. In fact higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the Earth's ecosystems." It urges voters to contact Baucus, who in the past has backed bills to cap emissions and allow companies to trade pollution allowances.

The man behind the latest entry to the climate legislation wars is H. Leighton Steward, a veteran oil industry executive, co-author of the "Sugar Busters!" dieting books, and winner of an Environmental Protection Agency award for a report on damage being done to Mississippi wetlands. Now retired, he says he wants to "get the message out there" that carbon dioxide, which the Supreme Court has ruled a pollutant and which most scientists regard as a dangerous greenhouse gas, "is a net benefit for the planet." (Washington Post)

 

Lawrence Solomon: Hot and cold - If a new Little Ice Age soon sets in, as many scientists believe, Arctic shipping will not happen in our lifetimes.

The Arctic ice “is melting far faster than had been previously supposed,” we heard this week from the UN’s Environment Program, in releasing its 2009 Climate Change Science Compendium.

This same week, National Geographic reported that the Arctic ice is probably melting far slower than previously supposed. After ramping up the rhetoric — two years ago National Geographic told us that “the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions,” and last year that “Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer” — National Geographic now advises that “the Arctic probably won’t experience ice-free summers until 2030 or 2040.”

If you’re confused by stats on Arctic melting, you have lots of company. Arctic stats are easy to misunderstand because the Arctic environment is unlike our own — the Arctic magnifies the changes we experience in the temperate regions. In summer, our days get longer and theirs get really, really long, just as in winter, when our days gets shorter, theirs all but disappear. By analogy, the Arctic also magnifies temperature variations, and resulting changes to its physical environment.

In the Arctic, the ice has indeed been contracting, as the global warming doomsayers have been telling us. But it has also been expanding. The riddle of how the Arctic ice can both be contracting and expanding is easily explained. After you read the next two paragraphs, you’ll be able to describe it easily to your friends to set them straight. (Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post)

 

A sprinkling of history, a lot of make-believe... High tech may pinpoint Antarctica sea rise risks

OSLO - Dismayed by ice and storms, British explorer Captain James Cook had no regrets when he abandoned a voyage searching for a fabled southern continent in 1773.

Finding only icebergs after he was the first to cross the Antarctic Circle, he wrote ruefully that if anyone ventured further and found a "land doomed by nature...to lie for ever buried under everlasting ice and snow":

"I shall not envy him the honor of discovery, but I will be bold to say that the world will not be benefited by it."

Things may be worse than he thought.

Climate change is turning Antarctica's ice into one of the biggest risks for coming centuries. Even a tiny melt could drive up sea levels, affecting cities from New York to Beijing, or nations from Bangladesh to the Cook Islands -- named after the mariner -- in the Pacific.

Scientists are now trying to design ever more high tech experiments -- with satellite radars, lasers, robot submarines, or even deep drilling through perhaps 3 kilometers of ice -- to plug huge gaps in understanding the risks.

"If you're going to have even a few metres it will change the geography of the planet," Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said of the more extreme scenarios of fast ocean rise.

"Greenland and Antarctica are two huge bodies of ice sitting on land that could really have very serious implications for the levels of the seas," Pachauri told Reuters.

Eventually discovered in 1820, Antarctica locks up enough water to raise sea levels by 57 metres (187 ft). Greenland stores the equivalent of 7 metres.

Worries about sea level rise are among the drivers of 190-nation talks on a new U.N. deal to combat climate change, mainly by a shift away from fossil fuels, due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December. (Reuters)

 

Antarctic ice is growing, not melting away

ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water, The Australian reports. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades". (The Australian)

 

Forecast: A cooling trend on climate change

The United Nations is pulling out the “big guns” in an attempt to create a climate of urgency about climate change so that the meeting of over one hundred world leaders in Copenhagen some 75 days from now can produce an agreement to replace to failed Kyoto accord.

Nature, however, is not co-operating. (Stephen Murgatroyd, Troy Media Corporation)

 

UN Climate Scientists Speak out on Global Warming

What follows is a small sampling of quotations from the much larger U.S. Senate Minority Report by Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It quotes various experts regarding the claims by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about human caused global warming.

Many scientists quoted – but not all – volunteered their statements for the Minority Report and consider themselves climate skeptics. Some are among the 2,500 UN scientist reviewers of the IPCC Reports who the UN claims support IPCC conclusions. The statements by the UN scientists below prove there is not a consensus, even at the UN, on the IPCC conclusion that “Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years.” In truth, the chapter of the IPCC Report making that conclusion was reviewed by only 62 scientists.

Major media sources continue to parrot the assertion that, except for a few fringe scientists, a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Here, the UN IPCC scientists and others speak for themselves. I invite you to make your own judgment as to their qualifications and whether their views should be considered or their voices even heard. - Senator Orrin G. Hatch (SPPI)

 

Jeremy Clarkson: 'People are bored of climate change'

Jeremy Clarkson has claimed that people are "bored" of hearing about climate change and would rather watch Top Gear than worry about the environment.

The outspoken television presenter, who was targeted by environmental campaigners last week, said people should be able to enjoy sunny days without feeling guilty about global warming.

Clarkson, 49, made the claims at the launch of Top Gear's Live World Tour, which will include flaming rally cars, underground street racing and stunt driving led by The Stig.

Speaking at London's Royal Geographical Society on Friday, Clarkson said he was not concerned what people might make of the environmental effects of his long-haul flights to complete the tour.

He said: "Every time they put a climate change programme on, 42 people will watch that, eight million or seven million will watch Top Gear.

"I think people are rather bored with the idea of climate change and, when we do get a lovely day, let's just enjoy it, not get guilty." (Daily Telegraph)

 

Climate-Change Study Cites Role of Ancient Farming

Has climate change been around as long as the pyramids?

It is an odd-sounding idea, because the problem is usually assumed to be a modern one, the product of a world created by the Industrial Revolution and powered by high-polluting fossil fuels.

But a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia has suggested that people began altering the climate thousands of years ago, as primitive farmers burned forests and built methane-bubbling rice paddies. The practices produced enough greenhouse gases, he says, to warm the world by a degree or more.

Other scientists, however, have said the idea is deeply flawed and might be used to dampen modern alarms over climate change.

Understanding the debate requires a tour through polar ice sheets, the inner workings of the carbon molecule, the farming habits of 5,000-year-old Europeans and trapped air bubbles more ancient than Rome.

"The greenhouse gases went up, and they should have gone down" many thousands of years ago, said U-Va.'s William Ruddiman. "Why did that happen?"

His answer is based on circumstantial evidence. Ruddiman said two events in world history -- an apparent shift in the composition of the atmosphere and the first explosion of human agriculture -- took place at nearly the same time.

"Greenhouse gases do something they never did before," Ruddiman said. "And humans do something the Earth [had] never seen before."

Ruddiman first presented his idea of ancient climate change in 2003. But he returned to the subject last month, in a paper intended to rebut one major criticism -- that there were not enough people on the planet thousands of years ago for their emissions to make a difference.

Ruddiman's response: yes, there were. And in those days, one farmer was as destructive as multiple farmers are today. (Washington Post)

In answer to the first question, yes, there has been climate change as long as there has been climate. Goes downhill from there, though... . What makes him think a few slash and burn farmers had more effect than wild fires of the era? Perhaps he hasn't seen what dry electrical storms can do to parched grasslands and forests in the absence of people but there is nothing at anthropogenic about burning bushland, nor is it trivial in scale. and what makes him think small-scale paddy agriculture compared with the methane emissions of flood deltas or the natural methane seeps found around the world? Even worse, temperate forests have a net warming effect, so early clearance would be expected to cool the planet due to changes in albedo.

Imaginative fail.

 

Media ecoevangelists

Our ABC: mired in a moral morass

A broadcaster is in trouble when it, rather than the news that it carries, becomes the story. And thus it now often is with the ABC.

Why are today’s media directors and reporters so incapable of making accurate critical judgements on environmental issues? (Bob Carter, Quadrant)

 

Spot the Hockey Stick #n+…

UNEP CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE COMPENDIUM 2009 on page 5 uses the following graph from Wikipedia (not the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report):

CO2 concentration and mean global temperature during the past millennium. CO2 levels (blue line, lefthand axis) are given in parts per million, temperatures (red line, right-hand axis) in degrees Celsius. Source: Hanno 2009 Page 5

Hanno is the pseudonym for a Wikipedia contributor. The graphic itself compares CO2 levels from Mauna Loa and Law Dome ice core to a splice of the HadCRU temperature index and the Jones and Mann 2004 reconstruction (dominated by Graybill bristlecone chronology).]

The latter splice is, of course, the splice that Mann has informed us is never done by responsible climate scientists, further informing us that the allegation that such splices are done is disinformation by fossil fuel companies.

No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, "grafted the thermometer record onto" any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.

(Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit)

 

The 2007-2008 Global Cooling Event: Evidence for Clouds as the Cause

As I work on finishing our forcing/feedback paper for re-submission to Journal of Geophysical Research – a process that has been going on for months now – I keep finding new pieces of evidence in the data that keep changing the paper’s focus in small ways.

For instance, yesterday I realized that NASA Langley has recently updated their CERES global radiative budget measurement dataset through 2008 (it had previously ran from March 2000 through August 2007).

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this update because of the major global cooling event we saw during late 2007 and early 2008. A plot of daily running 91-day global averages in UAH lower tropospheric (LT) temperature anomalies is shown below, which reveals the dramatic 2007-08 cool event.
UAH-LT-during-Terra-CERES

I was especially interested to see if this was caused by a natural increase in low clouds reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed by the climate system. As readers of my blog know, I believe that most climate change – including “global warming” – in the last 100 years or more has been caused by natural changes in low cloud cover, which in turn have been caused by natural, chaotic fluctuations in global circulation patterns in the atmosphere-ocean system. The leading candidate for this, in my opinion, is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation…possibly augmented by more frequent El Nino activity in the last 30 years.

Now that we have 9 years of CERES data from the Terra satellite, we can more closely examine a possible low cloud connection to climate change. The next figure shows the changes in the Earth’s net radiative balance as measured by the Terra CERES system. By “net” I mean the sum of reflected shortwave energy (sunlight), or “SW”, and emitted longwave energy (infrared) or “LW”.
Terra-CERES-LW-SW

The changes in the radiative balance of the Earth seen above can be thought of conceptually in terms of forcing and feedback, which are combined together in some unknown proportion that varies over time. Making the interpretation even more uncertain is that some proportion of the feedback is due not only to radiative forcing, but also to non-radiative forcing of temperature change.

So the variations we see in the above chart is the combined result of three processes: (1) radiative forcing (both internal and external), which can be expected to cause a temperature change; (2) radiative feedback upon any radiatively forced temperature changes; and (3) radiative feedback upon any NON-radiatively forced temperature changes (e.g., from tropical intraseasonal oscillations in rainfall). It turns out that feedback can only be uniquely measured in response to NON-radiatively forced temperature changes, but that’s a different discussion.

The SW component of the total flux measured by CERES looks like this…note the large spike upward in reflected sunlight coinciding with the late 2007 cooling:
Terra-CERES-SW

And here’s the LW (infrared) component…note the very low emission late in 2007, a portion of which must be from the colder atmosphere emitting less infrared radiation.
Terra-CERES-LW

As I discuss at length in the paper I am preparing, the physical interpretation of which of these 3 processes is dominant is helped by drawing a phase space diagram of the Net (LW+SW) radiative flux anomalies versus temperature anomalies (now shown as monthly running 3-month averages), which shows that the 2007-08 cooling event has a classic radiative forcing signature:
Terra-CERES-vs-LT-phase-plot-3-mon

The spiral (or loop) pattern is the result of the fact that the temperature response of the ocean lags the forcing. This is in contrast to feedback, a process for which there is no time lag. The dashed line represents the feedback I believe to be operating in the climate system on these interannual (year-to-year) time scales, around 6 W m-2 K-1 as we published in 2007…and as Lindzen and Choi (2009) recently published from the older Earth Radiation Budget Satellite data.

The ability to separate forcing from feedback is crucial in the global warming debate. While this signature of internal radiative forcing of the 2007-08 event is clear, it is not possible to determine the feedback in response to that temperature change – it’s signature is overwhelmed by the radiative forcing.

Since the fluctuations in Net (LW+SW) radiative flux are a combination of forcing and feedback, we can use the tropospheric temperature variations to remove an estimate of the feedback component in order to isolate the forcing. [While experts will questions this step, it is entirely consistent with the procedures of Forster and Gregory (2006 J. Climate) and Forster and Taylor (2006 J. of Climate), who subtracted known radiative forcings from the total flux to isolate the feedback].

The method is simple: The forcing equals the Net flux minus the feedback parameter (6 W m-2 K-1) times the LT temperature variations shown in the first figure above. The result looks like this:
Terra-CERES-rad-forcing-6.0

What we see are 3 major peaks in radiant energy loss forcing the system: in 2000, 2004, and late 2007. If you look at the features in the separate SW and LW plots above, it is obvious the main signature is in the SW…probably due to natural increases in cloud cover, mostly low clouds, causing internal radiative forcing of the system

If we instead assume a much smaller feedback parameter, say in the mid-range of what the IPCC models exhibit, 1.5 W m-2 K-1, then the estimate of the radiative forcing looks like this:
Terra-CERES-rad-forcing-1.5

Note the trend lines in either case show a net increase of at least 1 W m-2 in the radiant energy entering the climate system. The anthropogenic greenhouse gas component of this would be (I believe) about 0.4 W m-2, or a little less that half. I’ll update this if someone gives me a better estimate.

So, what might all of this mean in the climate debate? First, nature can cause some pretty substantial forcings…what if these occur on the time scales associated with global warming (decades to centuries)?

But what is really curious is that the 9-year change in radiative forcing (warming influence) of the system seen in the last two figures is at least TWICE that expected from the carbon dioxide component alone, and yet essentially no warming has occurred over that period (see first illustration above). How could this be, if the climate system is as sensitive as the IPCC claims it to be? (Roy W. Spencer)

 

To Study The Sun, Go To The Moon

or “On The Surface Of The Moon, a Four-billion-year Record of Solar Activity Awaits Us”

[UPDATE : More evidence of the "imprint" of solar wind into lunar soil]

In her 2007 article “The Sun and the Earth’s Climate” published in “Living Reviews in solar physics” (Living Rev. Solar Phys. 4, (2007), http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2007-2 cited on Sep 25, 2009), Professor Joanna D. Haigh writes in the Conclusions:

One important issue is to establish the magnitude of any secular trends in total solar irradiance (TSI). This may be achieved by careful analysis and understanding of the satellite instruments [and] continued [with] current and new satellites. For longer periods it requires a more fundamental understanding of how solar magnetic activity relates to TSI. This would not only facilitate more reliable centennial-scale reconstructions of TSI, from e.g. sunspot records, but also advance understanding of how cosmogenic isotope records may be interpreted as historical TSI.

Actually, there is another source of information for the history of solar activity, and it could open possibilities of discovery and understanding of an almost unheard-of scale.

I am talking about the surface of the Moon.

As per my notes about my (yes, peer-reviewed!) 2005 article “W.W.W. MOON? The why, what and when of a permanent manned lunar colony” (Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. 58(3-4):131-7):

The [...] lunar soil’s regolith contains also an at-least-billion-year-long record of the solar activity [22] [23] [24] that would help a lot in the understanding of the behaviour and evolution of our star. Just as well, buried regolith deposits are expected to preserve traces of the very young Sun [25].

These are the references for the above

[22] H Y Mc Sween, Jr., Stardust to Planets‘, St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p136

[23] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p196

[24] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[25] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p115

One doesn’t need to be a hardcore skeptic or AGW believer to understand the enormous worth of getting such information, awaiting us at a distance that can be covered in a mere 3 days. (OmniClimate)

 

More Water Vapor Woes For Climate Modelers

Using satellite infrared spectroscopy to provide an almost global perspective on the near-surface distribution of water vapor, a new report in Science has identified more water vapor inaccuracies in current general circulation models (GCM), the computer programs used by climate scientists to predict future climate trends. The researchers uncovered anomalies in the Hadley circulation and its misrepresentation in GCM. Looks like climate theory and the IPCC's error ridden models are in for another round of corrections.

Following hot on the heals of my last column that reviewed a study on water vapor latent heat transfer and climate modeling modeling (see “Climate Models Blown Away By Water Vapor”), a new report has identified even more places where current climate models get atmospheric circulation and the hydrological cycle wrong. Christian Frankenberg of the SRON-Netherlands Institute for Space Research, et al., in a paper entitled “Dynamic Processes Governing Lower-Tropospheric HDO/H2O Ratios as Observed from Space and Ground,” used a previously overlooked technique to obtain global information with high sensitivity near ground level. This part of the lower troposphere, the bottom 1-2 km of the atmosphere, has previously been missed because earlier satellites used thermal infrared frequencies lacking sensitivity in that area. At the start of the report the authors explain the motivation for their work:

Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. As saturation vapor pressure increases exponentially with temperature, a positive feedback effect with respect to the current global warming trend is expected and confirmed by satellite measurements over the ocean. However, highly complex interactions via cloud formation and the release of latent heat, impacting convection, complicate matters and seem not to be well represented in climate models, especially in the tropics. Land-atmosphere coupling adds further uncertainties. An accurate knowledge of hydrological cycles and feedback mechanisms is therefore indispensable for reliable weather and climate predictions.

Evaporation, precipitation and atmospheric circulation are all part of the hydrological or water cycle that constantly recirculates water throughout the biosphere. People have kept rainfall records on land for centuries, but there are many isolated regions and vast expanses of ocean for which no records are available. Isotope measurements of water vapor can give important information regarding precipitation and evaporation. Using remote sensing from satellites, proxy readings from even Earth's remotest regions can be gathered. Atmospheric applications have traditionally focus on isotopes as a proxy for exchange processes in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere and few models incorporated any water vapor components for other factors. The results of this report, which extends observations to the lower atmosphere, will hopefully allow current models to be corrected.


The water cycle is complex and not fully understood.

The trick here is that part of the water vapor in Earth's atmosphere has, as one of its molecule's two hydrogen atoms, an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium or D. Such isotropic water molecules are referred to as Hydrogen Deuterium Oxide, or HDO for short. Owing to the large spectral displacement of the rotational and vibrational modes of HDO, it has spectroscopic absorption lines distinctly different from those of H2O. This allows simultaneous measurements of the relative abundance of HDO and normal H2O by the SCIAMACHY (Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography) instrument aboard the European Space Agency (ESA)’s environmental research satellite ENVISAT.

For the first time a global picture of near surface HDO/H2O levels can be constructed. The HDO abundance relative to standard mean ocean water (SMOW) in delta-notation (δD) is shown below. Figure 1A from the Sciencereport shows the global δD distribution as derived from 3 years of SCIAMACHY spectra. From these data, the isotopic fractionation of water provides deeper insight into the global hydrological cycle as evaporation and condensation processes deplete heavy water in the gas phase.


Figure 1A from Frankenberg st al., Science, Sept. 11, 2009.

Over the large ocean basins, where few surface stations are located, the high δD values typical for the tropics extend farther north than over land. This is most striking in the north Atlantic, where zonal symmetry is broken and δD iso-lines point northeast (see the arrow). This feature can be attributed to the warm Gulf Stream and strong evaporation, associated with storm tracks efficiently transporting vapor northeastward.

Strong continental gradients were observed in North America and, to a lesser extent, in Eurasia. The smaller gradient in Eurasia can be explained by the relatively efficient transport of Atlantic water vapor into the continent. In North America, by comparison, the Rocky Mountains and their associated precipitation obstruct the propagation of oceanic moisture further inland.


There is more evaporation up north than suspected.

Some of the most interesting data are from comparisons of direct measurements with model results for several northern locations. The researchers suggest that the contrast of sea surface temperature against air temperature in the lower troposphere results in maximum ocean evaporation and more local moisture origin of precipitation in winter. Particularly at Ny Ålesund, in the Norwegian high arctic (78.9°N 11.9°E), where the monthly predictions of the IsoGSM model underestimate the amplitude of seasonal change. Quoting from the report:

In the Ny Ålesund area, δD seasonality is, compared with other models, best represented by IsoGSM. Although data are only available for a coastal station, this indicates that moisture transport largely influences high-arctic isotopic variability and that its misrepresentation in general circulation models (possibly due to differences in storm track activity between reanalysis data and general circulation models) can be critical.

The researchers also observed an unexpectedly high seasonal change in the HDO/H2O ratio in the inner Sahel region of Africa. Such seasonal δD variations provide important insights into dynamic changes in evaporation, precipitation, and general atmospheric circulation. Conditions similar to the “continental effect” appear in tropical regions such as the Amazon basin or central Africa, where continental water vapor is least depleted.


Figure S12: Comparison of modeled monthly precipitable water content (left panel) and isotopic composition (right panel) in the southern Saharan region.

In addition to comparing measured results with the IsoGSM model other models were run. These included ECHAM-4 and GISS-E, a favorite of the IPCC. In simulations of the Sahara region, the GISS-E model captured the large isotopic seasonal changes well but was too moist during the Northern Hemisphere summer. ECHAM-4 also missed the mark on summer moisture content. This can be seen in Figure S12, taken from the report's online supplement.

So to sum up, here is yet another scientific report identifying the shortcomings of current GCM programs. In this case better empirical data has shown things in the lowest parts of the atmosphere to not behave as the models describe. Evaporation rates are higher up north and precipitation predictions inaccurate in many regions. These are not minor factors, the report's authors termed them “critical” to correctly modeling the atmosphere and hydrological cycle.

Tie these findings to the new revelations regarding latent heat, insolation effects and aerosols and you have to ask why mainstream climate science has bet its reputation on climate modeling. The siren call of easy grant money and media acclaim has lured many otherwise sensible scientists onto the rocks of politically motivated consensus science. They have forgotten that science demands they adhere to the truth as dictated by nature, and nature cannot be negotiated with or ignored. We can expect the clamor from global warming true believers to rise during the run-up to Copenhagen, the last shrill outcries defending a discredited theory.

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

 

Our Paper “Impact Of Land Surface Heterogeneity On Mesoscale Atmospheric Dispersion” By Wu Et Al 2009 Has Been Published

Our new paper

Yuling Wu, Udaysankar S. Nair , Roger A. Pielke Sr., Richard T. McNider, Sundar A. Christopher and Valentine G. Anantharaj, 2009: Impact of Land Surface Heterogeneity on Mesoscale Atmospheric Dispersion. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. 10.1007/s10546-009-9415-1,

has appeared in print [this was first weblogged on in August; see]

The abstract reads

“Prior numerical modelling studies show that atmospheric dispersion is sensitive to surface heterogeneities, but past studies do not consider the impact of a realistic distribution of surface heterogeneities on mesoscale atmospheric dispersion. While these focussed on dispersion in the convective boundary layer, the present work also considers dispersion in the nocturnal boundary layer and above. Using a Lagrangian particle dispersion model (LPDM) coupled to the Eulerian Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS), the impact of topographic, vegetation, and soil moisture heterogeneities on daytime and nighttime atmospheric dispersion is examined. In addition, the sensitivity to the use of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-derived spatial distributions of vegetation characteristics on atmospheric dispersion is also studied. The impact of vegetation and terrain heterogeneities on atmospheric dispersion is strongly modulated by soil moisture, with the nature of dispersion switching from non-Gaussian to near-Gaussian behaviour for wetter soils (fraction of saturation soil moisture content exceeding 40%). For drier soil moisture conditions, vegetation heterogeneity produces differential heating and the formation of mesoscale circulation patterns that are primarily responsible for non-Gaussian dispersion patterns. Nighttime dispersion is very sensitive to topographic, vegetation, soil moisture, and soil type heterogeneity and is distinctly non-Gaussian for heterogeneous land-surface conditions. Sensitivity studies show that soil type and vegetation heterogeneities have the most dramatic impact on atmospheric dispersion. To provide more skilful dispersion calculations, we recommend the utilisation of satellite-derived vegetation characteristics coupled with data assimilation techniques that constrain soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer (SVAT) models to generate realistic spatial distributions of surface energy fluxes.”

In terms of climate, this paper is another example of the major role of landscape heterogeneity in local and regional climate patterns. (Climate Science)

 

New California rules allow timber firms to sell carbon credits - Environmental groups criticize the Schwarzenegger-backed changes, which allow the companies to benefit from the fight against global warming while continuing to clear-cut forests.

The Schwarzenegger administration pushed through new rules Thursday allowing California's biggest timber firms to cash in on the fight against global warming even as they clear-cut parts of their forests.

Forest owners stand to reap tens of millions of dollars in the coming decades by selling the capacity of their woods to cleanse the air of carbon dioxide, offsetting greenhouse gases belched by industrial polluters.

But the administration's successful effort to allow loggers to sell their carbon credits to industry while also clear-cutting their lands sparked intense opposition from several conservation groups. ( Eric Bailey, LA Times)

We agree hot air trading is a total nonsense but there is actually nothing wrong with clear cutting, any more than there is with fires contributing to the diversity and health of ecosystems. If it helps forestry survive until society returns to its senses then, I guess...

 

SPECIAL ENERGY REPORT: Flawed intelligence guides the Obama energy plan

President Obama has embarked upon a costly and potentially dangerous energy path that may threaten our quality of life, our place in the world, and even our economic and national security.

As a result, the energy most Americans depend upon will become more foreign, more expensive, and more scarce, and the U.S. may find its national security interests compromised in order to secure the supplies necessary to run our economy.

The singular tragedy of this looming threat is that it is based upon the false but oft-repeated premise that the U.S. and North America is running out of energy while the government’s own documents and the energy industry’s experience has shown that it is not.

Under Obama and President George W. Bush before him, the main impediment to reducing foreign imports of oil has been the government itself, and flawed intelligence.

Obama’s intelligence about energy resources is flawed because it has come mostly in sound bites from the very groups most opposed to more domestic energy development. These are the groups who condemned Bush for a mad rush to drill at any cost during his eight years.

Their false claims about reckless leasing and drilling for oil and gas on government lands and waters have convinced Obama to slow down or in some cases, stop domestic energy leasing.

But here are the facts regarding leasing, courtesy of the Congressional Research Service: The administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore offered more lands for lease than the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In fact, on western government lands, the Clinton Administration offered 50% more acreage for leasing than the Bush Administration.(46 million acres Clinton/Gore; 31 million Bush/Cheney. (Daniel Kish, Washington Examiner)

 

America: A World Leader in Oil Exports!

There has never been a more global, more integrated, more transparent market than the modern crude oil and oil products market. And yet, the calls for America to be “energy independent” continue to be heard from both the Right and the Left.

The most persistent of the advocates for “energy independence” are the neoconservatives affiliated with Set America Free, a Washington-based group that has been touting the mirage of independence since 2004. And the highest-profile member of that group is former CIA director James Woolsey. Woolsey and his allies at Set America Free have written several articles, and have even recently published a book, claiming that the US should take the lead by, as they put it, “turning oil into salt.” Their claim: oil’s importance as a strategic commodity will end if only the US would get more aggressive in its use of plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, as well as the use of more “methanol, butanol, and other alternative fuels produced from grasses and even waste.”

While Woolsey and his allies are focusing on turning petroleum into various condiments, a look back at the federal efforts to create alternatives to petroleum shows an unbroken record of failure, i.e., the Synthetic Fuels Corporation and the corn ethanol scam.

Of course, the neoconservatives at Set America Free seldom let the facts get in the way of their demagoguery. Nor have they bothered to pick up a dictionary to examine the word “fungible.” Were they to do so, they might begin to understand the global nature of the oil industry. Alas, the neoconservatives aren’t alone in this regard. Most of the energy talking-heads on TV and elsewhere (T. Boone Pickens, Thomas Friedman, etc.) only talk about US oil imports. Few bother to look at the amount of oil leaving US ports. And fewer still bother to look at just how many trading partners the US has when it comes to oil and oil products. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

 

Only "may be"? Bogus bidder's green defense may be blocked

A federal judge said Friday he is unlikely to allow a University of Utah student to testify before a jury that he spoiled an oil and gas lease auction to combat the global climate crisis.

But U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said he would allow Tim DeChristopher's lawyers to spell out in advance what they would want a jury to hear if he could mount such a defense.

Given what he sees as a straightforward criminal charge, Benson said he is "reluctant to open my courtroom to a lengthy hearing on global warming."

"I wouldn't hold out hope," he warned, "for an in-court evidentiary hearing."

DeChristopher faces up to 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines under felony charges he organized and participated in a scheme to "defeat" federal law and made a fraudulent statement when he registered as a bidder at the Bureau of Land Management's Dec. 19 lease sale in Salt Lake City. He has freely admitted he disrupted the auction as an act of civil disobedience. If he cannot claim principle in his defense, he is unlikely to prevail. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Consider the state of anarchy that would exist if mere belief (or statement of belief) was a sufficient defense for criminal acts. What a "killer defense" for killers: "Dr Ehrlich and others showed me that people are the greatest threat to the planet, so I killed some to save the world...". How about: "I killed the woman because she was pregnant and her child would have increased human's carbon footprint. Al says we mustn't do that!"?

I have no problem with anyone attempting to live their principles -- as long as they accept the consequences of their actions. Hammer DeChristopher with the maximum penalty and if that is not sufficient to deter would be mimickers then increase the penalties.

 

Scammers declaring their positions: Another Utility Leaves U.S. Chamber Over Climate Policy

A New Mexico electric utility will leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the business group's position on climate change.

"We see climate change as the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time," PNM Resources Inc. spokesman Don Brown said in an e-mail. "Given that view, and a natural limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation and want to push that agenda forward in Congress."

The Albuquerque-based company (NYSE: PNM), which is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, is the second major electric utility this week to say it will not renew its chamber membership next year. Fellow U.S. CAP member PG&E Corp. sent the chamber a letter Tuesday, criticizing the business association for taking an "extreme position" on climate change. (Greenwire)

Now you are getting a clearer picture of who thinks they can make more money from government-sponsored theft than honest enterprise. All you need to do is make your business decisions accordingly -- take your business to those who openly want to steal your money or elsewhere...

 

Climate debate leads to Chamber of Commerce rift

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A rift widened between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some utilities as another major power provider quit over the business group's hard stance on pending climate regulation.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state's largest utility, quit the chamber Friday just days after California's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., said it was leaving because of the chamber's "extreme" positions.

Both sides of the climate change debate are escalating campaigns to sway national and global policy at a critical juncture. (AP)

Another case of good riddance...

 

Looking for a change on climate policy in Copenhagen - A Q&A with Richard A. Bradley (by Richard Bradley)

In December, climate scientists, policy makers and other representatives of 192 nations will convene at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In advance of that meeting, Science News earth sciences writer Sid Perkins spoke with Richard A. Bradley, head of the Energy Efficiency and Environment Division of the International Energy Agency in Paris. An intergovernmental organization that counts 28 industrialized nations as members, the IEA analyzes and facilitates global energy policy. (Richard Bradley, Science News)

He's looking to a change in policy? We're looking to avoid one altogether...

 

Federal energy commissioner checks on Alaska pipeline projects

If Alaska's natural gas ever flows to markets in Canada and the Lower 48, the pipeline carrying it must secure the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

This week, one of FERC's four commissioners is in Alaska for an update on proposals for the estimated $30 billion to $40 billion pipeline.

FERC Commissioner Phil Moeller met Friday in Anchorage with officials with Denali - The Alaska Gas Pipeline (a partnership between BP and Conoco Phillips), and Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. Each is pursuing separate large-diameter pipelines linking the North Slope's vast natural gas reserves with Outside markets.

Pipeline projects will have to earn from FERC what is called a "certificate of public convenience and necessity," which would allow a company to build and operate a line. Moeller doesn't hold back in his assessment that only one of the two projects will ever be built. Yet, both Denali and TransCanada have pre-filed applications for the FERC certificate, and both are undertaking costly and extensive environmental studies.

FERC is charged with evaluating environmental issues, checking off on project plans, and approving tariffs. FERC commissioners will weigh the risks each party - shippers, producers and end customers - are taking against their prospective payouts. In the end, FERC has oversight on how much profit is allowed. (Alaska Dispatch)

 

Taxing the fuel-poor to bolster subsidised companies is a waste of energy - Energy policy in the UK is as badly flawed as banking regulation proved to be.

We have a regressive tax that takes hundreds of millions of pounds from customers – including the fuel-poor – and redistributes it to major companies that have already received subsidies for generating renewable energy.

Equally, the policy fails to address carbon emissions because a tilted playing field transfers this money to some of the least dependable low-carbon generation while providing no financial support to the most reliable.

Of the two low-carbon forms of power generation, renewables – including the use of wind and solar – receive subsidies and are set to do so until 2037. Nuclear, by contrast, is unsubsidised. Moreover, these subsidies are not paid by the Government, but by all electricity customers through Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which are incorporated into their bills.

According to the most recent figures from the industry regulator, Ofgem, there were more than 16m ROCs in the year to March 2008, worth £872m. That is an extra £872m on the bills of every household and business in the UK supplied with electricity – in just one year. Of this, £565m subsidised renewable generation. The remaining £307m related to so-called "buy-out" payments. Suppliers – in reality, their customers – paid this £307m as penalties for failing to meet "renewable obligations". (Daily Telegraph)

 

China’s Threat Revives Race for Rare Minerals

HONG KONG — A Chinese threat to halt exports of rare minerals — vital for high-performance electric motors in wind turbines, hybrid cars and missiles — appears to have backfired.

With control of more than 99 percent of the world’s production of these minerals, China could try to use a ban to force other countries to buy the crucial motors for these high-tech end products, instead of just the minerals, directly from China.

But other governments and businesses reacted quickly as word of the proposed ban spread late this summer.

The Chinese threat has touched off a frenzied international effort to develop alternative mines, much as the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo’s repeated increases in oil prices prompted a global hunt for oil reserves.

In Washington, the House and Senate amended their defense budget authorization bills to require the Defense Department to review the military’s almost complete dependence on Chinese supplies of rare-earth minerals. In Australia, the government blocked a Chinese state-owned company on Thursday from acquiring a majority stake in a large mine being developed for these minerals, also called rare earths.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is financing exploration as the share prices of rare-earths mining companies soar — as much as sevenfold since March.

“Because of China’s focus on maximizing the benefits of its rare-earth resources for its own industry, there is now a focus on identifying alternatives elsewhere,” said Dudley J. Kingsnorth, a rare-earths production consultant in Perth, Australia.

Unleashing funding elsewhere has undercut China’s ability to take big stakes easily in new mines.

“You couldn’t borrow 10 cents from anybody in the financial community” to develop a rare-earths mine just three months ago, said James B. Engdahl, the chief executive and president of the Great Western Minerals Group, a rare-earths mining and processing company in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “We get inundated with calls offering financing these days.”

International pressure — including the possibility that the plan violated World Trade Organization rules — has forced the Chinese ministry drafting the ban to call for further review. (NYT)

 

Solar Energy Hits the Dust

dust.jpg

A dust storm on 25th September 2009 viewed from the office of the Carbon Sense Coalition.

Read more: http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/dust.pdf [PDF, 271KB]

 

Wind farms cause decline in bird population - RSPB

Wind farms can reduce bird numbers by up to half, according to a new study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that raises questions about the charity's support of the new technology.

The study, in conjunction with the Scottish Natural Heritage, looked at 12 upland wind farms in the UK during the breeding season for a dozen common species including rare species such as hen harriers and skylarks.

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, found seven species were found less often than would be expected close to the turbines. The breeding population of buzzard, hen harrier, golden plover, snipe, curlew, wheatear and meadow pipit were reduced by up to half within 500m of the turbines. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Solar sector held back by foggy energy policy

WHEN Kevin Rudd returns to Australia to translate the grand rhetoric of the international stage into action on the domestic front, he could start by trying to sort out the mess and the confusion in the country's solar ambitions.

The government is driving the solar industry to the point of exasperation because of the lack of clarity, constant changes, and delays in its policy for supporting large-scale solar development.

The industry has already urged the government to rework its Solar Flagships program, after pointing out that the $1.5 billion scheme unveiled in May was ill-conceived, unworkable and simply wasn't enough to fund the 1000MW target.

That program, proudly unveiled by Rudd, was for four large-scale solar thermal and solar PV installations located in a single project that would be the largest in the world. But as this column pointed out in July, the idea of creating four 250MW projects was strategically suspect, locating them in a single location was technically impossible, and there was simply not enough money to match the megawatts.

Now, while the government considers whether it wants to double its funds or halve its ambitions, an accompanying scheme that was to support smaller but still significant installations in the 10-80MW range is also in doubt. (The Australian)

 

Lack Of Carbon Policy Prevents Emissions Innovation

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao both were criticized because their climate change speeches last week at the United Nations lacked solid commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

One reason for their reluctance to promise big cuts is that they share a huge climate change challenge. They're trying to figure out how to keep producing electricity from their abundant stores of coal without spewing the massive quantities of greenhouse gases that usually come from burning coal.

In recent weeks, Chinese officials have been visiting some projects in the United States that are experimenting with technologies to capture carbon dioxide from the exhausts of existing coal plants. So far, the costs make these technologies impractical. (NPR)

Not merely impractical but entirely purposeless...

 

Sigh... Coal ETFs Are Here to Stay

Despite the recent push for clean energy, coal and its exchange traded funds could still find a home as more nations join the fight to combat global warming.

In fact, coal is the world’s fastest-growing fuel based on consumption. So much so that it leaves crude oil and natural gas in the dust. The demand is on the rise, too: consumption of coal grew by 5.7% over the past five years, compared to 1.4% for oil and 3% for natural gas. This trend is expected to remain in place as populations grow. Global demand for the dark commodity is expected to grow 55% by 2025, states Sham Gad of Investopedia.

There is an abundant supply of coal, enough to last the United States for decades, if not centuries, and it is one of the most inexpensive energy sources around. Lastly, as industrial production improves and the demand for steel increases, the demand for coking coal, the coal used in making steel, is expected to increase, states the Associated Press.

Although coal seems like a winner, there are negative aspects of the energy producing commodity. The biggest disadvantage of coal is the hazardous gases it produces in the atmosphere when it is burned. However, clean technology has come a long way, such as carbon-capture technology, which many hope will mitigate the negative effects of coal. (seekingalpha)

 

Be grateful: Britain bellyflops over green power as rows at the Department of Energy cost dear

Dithering by the Department of Energy has probably cost Britain the chance to become a world leader in green power station technology, killing off hopes of creating thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of export orders.

Internal rows at the department coupled with fractious negotiations with the Treasury mean that a decision on the winner of a competition to build an environmentally friendly coal-fired plant is running three years late.

The Government is subsidising a £1billion competition between Eon, ScottishPower and RWE. Two finalists will be chosen by Christmas, but they will then be given another year to come up with detailed plans. A final decision is unlikely before 2011.

When the competition was first announced by then Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, he promised that a winner would be revealed in 2008 and that the 'green' power station would be built between 2011 and 2013. His department boasted that Britain would be a world leader by being the first to build a carbon captured coal-fired power station on a large scale.

But since then at least five other countries - Canada, Germany, Norway, Australia and France --have announced similar competitions or ordered the construction of post carbon capture plants. (Daily Mail)

CCS is an expensive waste of effort and energy.

 

Carbon Capture Pipe Dreams

There is now a special magazine called “Carbon Capture Journal” devoted to carbon capture pipe dreams.

But despite all the hype, there still isn’t any commercial scale power plant (1000 MW) operating anywhere in the world that captures and stores CO2.

There are gas and oil rigs that pump it back down into reservoirs, there one small 200 MW pilot/demonstration generator in Germany that captures the CO2 and then trucks the CO2 halfway across Germany to an injection point (but is it a real commercially viable plant anyway – or just a heavily subsidized exercise in PR?).

All a big fronted farce designed to gather lots of Government funding (our tax money!!)

JB, NSW, Australia

 

Britain explores undersea carbon capture

Geological formations under the North Sea could store more than 100 years' worth of emissions from British power stations, energy officials said.

The process, known as carbon capture and storage, could reduce airborne carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled power plants by up to 90 percent, Ed Miliband, Britain's minister for energy and climate change, said.

Without carbon capture and storage, there is no solution to climate change, he said.

The technology, which has yet to be tested on a large scale, could be a massive industry for Britain, replacing what it now takes in from North Sea oil, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Miliband's office is to host a meeting of energy and environment ministers in London in October and already has begun identifying potential sites where the technology could be explored.

"We are also working closely with Norway and other North Sea Basin countries to ensure the North Sea fulfills its potential in the deployment of (carbon capture and storage) in Europe," Miliband said. (United Press International)

 

Obama's OSHA Nominee Will Be Bad for Business, Critics Say

President Obama's choice to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an "aggressively anti-business" proponent of junk science who should not be confirmed by the Senate, his critics say. (Joshua Rhett Miller, FOXNews.com)

 

Is the CDC wrong about who should get the swine flu vaccine first?

Modeling how disease spreads shows that the most vulnerable to H1N1 are those who aren’t being urged to get the vaccine.

When the swine flu first hit the news media, it was as a menacing, deadly virus that was just about to getcha! People bought face masks, schools closed, and emergency rooms were inundated with people worried that they were a sneeze and a cough away from dying. The fear was that H1N1 Influenza – as swine flu is formally called – was going to be another Spanish Flu, bequeathing a pandemic similar to that of 1918, which killed more than 50 million people out of an estimated 500 million people infected. With one-in-ten infected people dying from the flu (and one in three people in the world infected), the 1918 flu pandemic was one of the deadliest viral outbreaks in modern history. (Rebecca Goldin, STATS)

 

NEW FEARS OVER HEART PILL TAKEN BY MILLIONS

FEARS over the side-effects of heart drugs used by four million Britons have sparked a two-year investigation.

Statins have been hailed as a “wonder drug” for reducing cholesterol and preventing tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes.

But experts are becoming worried by the unpleasant reactions that some patients are experiencing.

Scientists at Nottingham University have been given £250,000 to investigate the problem. They want patients over 65 who suffer from muscle aches – a common side-effect – to help them with their work.

Statins are already known to cause tummy upsets, liver problems and muscle pains in some users as well as a rare but serious lung disorder.

Packets warn patients of these side-effects but last year manufacturers were forced to add new cautions, telling patients that statins can sometimes cause memory loss, sexual problems, depression and disturbed sleep.

The research team wants to discover why people are suffering such unpleasant reactions to the drugs and how widespread the problem is.

The side-effects have not deterred the use of statins by the National Health Service.

Later this year, family doctors will be asked to screen everyone over the age of 40 for their risk of cardiovascular disease and prescribe statins to those most at risk – an estimated 1.4 million more Britons. (Express)

 

Blast form the past: The Great Cholesterol Myth - We all know that a high cholesterol diet is bad for you, right? Wrong, says this medical writer.

If you eat too much cholesterol, or saturated fat, your blood cholesterol will rise to dangerous levels. Excess cholesterol will then seep through your artery walls causing thickenings (plaques), which will eventually block blood flow in vital arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes….

Scientific hypotheses don’t get much simpler than this: the cholesterol, or diet-heart, hypothesis, which has broken free from the ivory towers of academia to impact with massive force on society.

It has driven a widespread change in the type of food we are told to eat, and consequently the food that lines the supermarket shelves. Many people view bacon and eggs as a dangerous killer, butter is shunned, and a multi-billion pound industry has sprung up providing ‘healthy’ low-fat alternatives.

At the same time, millions of people are prescribed statins to lower cholesterol levels, and each new set of guidelines suggests that ever-more lowering of cholesterol is needed. When it comes to explaining what causes heart disease, the cholesterol hypothesis reigns supreme.

But as the US editor and critic HL Mencken put it, ‘For every complicated problem there is a solution that is simple, direct, understandable and wrong.’ This is how we might view the diet-heart hypothesis: just because it is dominant does not mean it is right, and just because it looks simple does not mean that it actually is. (Malcolm Kendrick, sp!ked)

 

No link seen between meat and risk of brain cancer

NEW YORK - Despite theories to the contrary, adults who eat a lot of meat may not have a heightened risk of the most common type of malignant brain tumor, a new study finds.

The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the potential link between brain tumors called gliomas and people's intake of meat and compounds called nitrosamines.

Nitrosamines, which are potentially cancer-promoting, are present in certain foods, or are formed in the body other chemicals we eat called sodium nitrites and nitrates. These compounds are used in preserving and flavoring processed and cured meats -- like hot dogs, bacon, sausage and ham -- which makes those foods major sources of dietary nitrosamines. (Reuters Health)

 

Diagnosis: ADHD—or Is It Trauma? - Hyperactive, yes. Attention problems, check. But it's not ADHD.

When Dawn adopted her 7-year-old nephew, Dylan (not their real names), she expected a difficult initial adjustment. The 51-year-old Wisconsin homemaker, who is married to an attorney, has 10 children—8 adopted, 2 biological—and jokes that her occupation is "laundry." She knew that Dylan had been starved and neglected by his cocaine-addicted mother.

But what Dawn didn’t expect was for her nephew to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. "He was climbing the walls," she says. "He couldn't even sit still to eat." At school, he wasn't learning because he was in constant motion.

Dawn suspected that Dylan's main problem wasn't really ADHD. Her pediatrician wanted him evaluated and suggested medication. "It was tempting," she says, but "I had a gut feeling I should wait." Dawn believed that her nephew's inattention and over-activity were linked instead to his disrupted parental relationships and chaotic early experience.

Identifying trauma

Dawn's maternal intuition about the effects of trauma on attention is increasingly backed by science. "The big problem is that people just don't identify trauma in kids," says Claude Chemtob, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York City, who recently published a study of children who were attending preschools near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Though we tend to think of traumatic experiences as rare, in fact, by age 16, seven of 10 children have been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event—such as a natural disaster, severe car accident, child abuse or the loss of close family member—according to a study of a representative sample of more than 1,400 children living in North Carolina published in 2007.

In Chemtob's 9/11 study, even children who saw people jump from the towers tended not to have lasting problems. But preschoolers who had experienced multiple traumatic events were 16 times more likely to have attention problems—and 21 times more likely to be overly emotionally reactive and/or to show symptoms of depression and anxiety—than children who had not had such experiences. (Maia Szalavitz, MSN Health & Fitness)

 

Sweet Lies About Kids and Smoking

At least since 1994, when seven tobacco executives testified before Congress that they didn't think cigarettes were addictive, the public has not put great trust in those who sell carcinogens for a living. What Americans may not realize is that they also shouldn't believe the people who are supposed to protect us from tobacco. When it comes to cigarettes, the federal government can blow smoke with the best of them.

That became clear the other day, when the Food and Drug Administration announced it was prohibiting the sale of cigarettes with candy or fruit flavors. "These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The ban, said Howard Koh, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, "will break that cycle [of addiction] for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily."

Sure it will. And I'm Megan Fox. (Steve Chapman, Townhall)

 

Can A Soda Tax Really Curb Obesity? The numbers don't say so.

The momentum for federal taxes on soda is growing. President Barack Obama recently said he thought Congress "should be exploring" the idea of a tax on sugared drinks as a way of tackling the nation's ever-expanding waistline. Thomas Frieden, the president's nominee for director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, argued in an article for the New England Journal of Medicine last April that "a penny-per-ounce excise tax could reduce consumption of sugared sodas by more than 10%."

And now, in a new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, and a bevy of public health experts, reiterate the litany of studies correlating our increasing girth to our increased appetite for sugared soda. In "The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages," they argue that the government should intervene in the market because people do not appreciate the health consequences of drinking soda and, in particular, that children's thirst for instant gratification prevents them from appreciating the potential long term harm.

A tax on soda, therefore, seems like a no-brainer. "If it costs more, people will drink it less," as Frieden has said. But is it actually that simple? Those who advocate taxing soda as a way to tackle obesity often point to cigarette taxes as a model for success. The relationship between smoking and cancer is linear: If you smoke, you increase your risk of lung cancer by 1,000%; if you smoke two or more packs a day, the risk is even greater--1,500% to 2,500%--and you increase your risk of other cancers too. So, when you impose punitively high taxes on cigarettes, you see both a decline in the number of cigarettes sold and a decline in cancer rates.

The problem is that it's not clear whether there is a similar linear relationship between soda and obesity, or that one can be established without first taxing sugared soda out of existence and then assessing the impact on the nation's waistline. Our consumption of soda may have increased, per capita, by 500% over the last 50 years, according to the Department of Agriculture, but that still only represents 7% of our collective energy intake. (Trevor Butterworth, Forbes)

 

Your boss will weigh you now

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Annual Report, claims in 2008 reached $10.7 Billion — half the entire budget for the state of North Carolina. Claims increased nearly three times the growth in health plan members. Claims also cost the State Health Plan more than $200 million over that budgeted. Politicians had believed that preventive wellness and managed care in the State Health Plan, administered by BCBSNC, would save the state money.

Participants in the State’s Health Plan pay more out-of-pocket expenses for medical care than those in any other major health plan in the state, and that’s about to go up even more for some of them. They believed that wellness care and healthy lifestyle benefits were free.

Employers will now perform random tests of employees for evidence that they’ve smoked outside of work and will weigh employees in the workplace and report their BMIs to the state. Employees deemed noncompliant with the State Health Plan’s employer wellness initiative, will pay one-third-more for health insurance. Employers believed that eliminating smokers and fat people would lower health costs.

Employers, politicians and participants believed the marketing. The results were easily predictable. When decisions work from false beliefs, rather than sound evidence, the end results aren’t likely to be very good. (Junkfood Science)

 

We don't want the gu'mint in our bedrooms or our pantries -- get lost! Anti-obesity group calls for diet survey

Australia needs a government-funded nutritional survey to better determine which fatty foods are consumed most and which junk-food items should be taxed, according to anti-obesity campaigners.

Health groups argue that there has been a lack of comprehensive data on the national diet for more than a decade, despite the nation's rising obesity rate.

The Obesity Policy Coalition, which includes VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria and Diabetes Australia, believes a yearly national survey such as the one recently conducted in Denmark is needed to understand what foods pose the highest risk.

''What we haven't had, since 1995, is an understanding of what adults are eating,'' coalition senior adviser Jane Martin said. (The Age)

 

Does air conditioning blunt pollution's ill effects?

NEW YORK - Air conditioning is certainly welcome during hot summers. But could it actually be good for your health?

According to a new study, maybe: People living in communities where more homes have air conditioning are less likely to suffer ill effects of air pollution, new research in the journal Epidemiology suggests.

But because air conditioning can also contribute to pollution by using energy, it's not clear whether it provides a net benefit for health, Dr. Michelle L. Bell of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and her colleagues say. And climate change may mean even more people end up installing air conditioners. (Reuters Health)

What a stupid response! To see the hazards of not having air conditioning just look at the European disaster of 2003 where a combination of a warmer than usual August and neglect of the elderly and vulnerable during the summer vacation period led to somewhere north of 30,000 fatalities. Subsequent heat waves have not been similarly lethal simply because a sensitized population now ensures the vulnerable are taken to shopping malls or other air conditioned public places for respite from periods of hot weather. Handling heat is not a significant problem provided you make energy available cheaply (and reliably) enough and your population can afford to have and use air conditioning. It's poverty and lack of affordable energy that is a problem and a lethal one.

 

What Can Parents Learn From The Dugard Family Ordeal?

Jaycee Dugard's tale will be seared in our memories forever. Unfortunately, so will the ridiculous advice we're getting now on how to avoid this same fate -- advice that makes it seem as if abduction/rape/enslavement is something we just have to be ever-prepared for, like the possibility of overcharges on our credit card bills.

Dugard, as you undoubtedly know, was kidnapped 18 years ago at age 11 and kept imprisoned since then, bearing her rapist/captor two daughters, who also were imprisoned until just recently, when Jaycee walked into a police station.

This is, of course, every parent's -- every human's -- worst nightmare. So naturally, our first instinct is to think, "How can I make absolutely sure this never happens to MY child?" But as Trevor Butterworth, an editor at the think tank STATS, points out: Preparing for very unlikely events is impossible. It's like preparing for the possiblity of being hit by a frozen turkey through the car window while you're driving on the expressway.

Yes, that is something that really happened, at least once. But should you live your life on the constant lookout for flying turkeys? That would be inconvenient, if not insane, because what could you do? Never drive on the expressway again? Avoid all overpasses? Get your car window replaced with lead? Sure, you couldn't see through it, but at least you'd be protected from frozen airborne Butterballs!

One post-Dugard advice article, on a Web site called Associated Content, earnestly suggested that from now on, we simply "never go anywhere alone." That's not asking too much, is it?

Alas, this kind of over-the-top suggestion leads to over-the-top situations, such as parents' getting picked up by the police for letting their 10-year-old walk solo to soccer, for having their 9-year-old wait in the car while they ran inside the pharmacy, etc. These are real stories, brought to us by a society increasingly convinced that any moment a child is left alone easily could be his last. One mom I know was reading a book on her lawn, kids cavorting around her, when a neighbor walking by yelled: "Put down that book! Your children could be snatched at any second!" (Post Chronicle)

 

Note: obvious dangers can be dangerous

The fight for freedom has many fronts, observes Trevor Butterworth of Stats.org, pointing to the work of a libertarian protest group in Britain. Members of the Manifesto Club ("For Freedom in Everyday Life") may not need the same bravery as the protesters in Tehran, to put it mildly, but they have targeted for rollback an inarguable area of creeping government intervention: warning-sign overkill.

As part of a project called Freedom Summer, the Manifesto Club is publicizing its "Attention Please" project. The project began last year with a photo essay by Tom Mower, a young graduate of the of the Royal College of Art, featuring signs warning Brits against, for example, approaching a jagged tree stump in a park, stumbling over a tiny crack in a tiled floor, and walking mindlessly into traffic. ("Caution: Vehicles in Road.")

Commenting on the photo-essay, the University of Kent sociologist Frank Furedi wrote: "The photos provide striking illustrations of how risk management has turned into a performance."

The club subsequently asked for more photographic examples from the public, and many of these--ranging from the arguably overcautious to genuine theater-of-the-absurd--can be found on the Web site attention-please.co.uk. Most of the examples are British, but a few Americans chimed in, too. (Boston Globe)

 

Looking distressingly like "climate science": Particle feud goes public

An ongoing split within the HARP experiment at CERN in Geneva has come out into the open – with fierce differences of opinion between rival groups within the collaboration over how to analyse their data. One of the groups accuses the other of research that "violates standards of quality of work and scientific ethics on several counts", and its leader, CERN’s Friedrich Dydak, believes this to be a reflection of a more general decline in scientific standards at the lab. (Physics World)

 

In praise of progress

Progress means different things to different people, particularly when they are not from the same culture. When asked what he thought of Western civilization, Gandhi famously said that he thought it would be a good idea. More recently, some have questioned the dominance of economic measures of prosperity such as GDP as indicators of progress, suggesting that some measure of overall contentment would be better. And, of course, economic growth is not necessarily a good in itself, but it is by any measure the greatest enabler of all aspects of progress. Money does not necessarily bring happiness, but lack of it is certainly the cause of much misery.

Richer societies have the wherewithal to support their disadvantaged members, to open museums and fund cultural activities, and to build physical and societal infrastructure which benefits everyone. Perhaps most notably is the desire by more prosperous people to protect and enhance their environment. Despite the many concerns regularly raised, air and water quality in Europe have improved enormously in the last half century. After the fall of the Berlin wall, ex-Communist bloc countries could also at last begin to share in these benefits.

But in much of the developing world, including large swathes of Africa and the Indian sub-continent, the situation is very different. Water supplies, even if assured, are often contaminated, large numbers of trees have been felled to provide fuel, and the consequences of cooking over inefficient, smoky wood stoves or fires is a very high level of indoor air pollution and resultant respiratory disease, particularly among women and children. Insecure subsistence farming, coupled with such environmental pollution, malnourishment, lack of educational opportunities (the list could continue) can only be overcome if the necessary resources are available. And resource cost money. (Scientific Alliance)

 

Green and confused: How safe are incinerators?

Q: I was persuaded to sign a petition as part of a successful campaign preventing the building of a local incinerator. Now I’m wondering if I was too hasty: I know that we can’t continue just dumping waste in the ground — is incineration safe?

A: A petition is thrust at you. An incinerator will be harmful to health — think of your children. It will emit a serious pong. It will be unsightly and, the final weapon in the anti-incinerator armoury, having one nearby is sure to bring down the value of your house.

Amid all the emotion and Nimbyism about waste disposal, the facts tend to go up in smoke. Modern incinerators are far more efficient and well-designed than those of only 15 years ago.

According to a recent report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), air pollution — expressed in volumes of what’s called particulate matter — is a tiny fraction of that caused by the exhaust fumes from cars and lorries.

“The evidence suggests that any potential damage to the health of those living close to incinerators is likely to be very small, if detectable,” the HPA says.

The Germans, Swedes and Danes have been happily incinerating on a big scale for years. The UK at present has 23 incinerators in operation, with another 70-80 planned. Burn it, don’t bury it is the new catchphrase: as you say, we can’t go on shoving our refuse into holes in the ground. Landfill creates large amounts of methane, one of the most potent of greenhouse gases. If we don’t find alternative ways of dealing with waste, the EU will clobber us with ever-bigger fines. (The Times)

 

California's 'green' ink-cartridge recycling fails to cut pollution, or costs

On paper, the recycling program was touted as a bold step toward California's green, climate-friendly future.

A mountain of plastic and metal would be diverted from landfills. Greenhouse gas emissions would tumble. And one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate change goals – trimming power use in state buildings by 20 percent – would nudge closer to reality as agencies snapped up new, more efficient office printers.

That is what state and Hewlett-Packard officials said last year when they joined forces to ship used HP printer ink cartridges from state offices to Virginia to be ground up and recycled into auto parts, serving trays, clothes hangers and other products.

But a Bee investigation, based on more than 100 pages of e-mails and other records, has found that 17 months after it was created, the program has delivered few if any of its promised climate benefits.

Almost from the start it ran into opposition from the state's purchasing specialists at the Department of General Services, who were not consulted about it and who – once they started asking questions – turned up other concerns, including allegations of unfair competition and ink waste.

They also favored reusing cartridges by refilling them at local businesses, a process known as remanufacturing.

"It is to HP's advantage to get as many remanufacturable cartridges off the market as possible," Robert Tetz, manager of the department's environmentally preferable purchasing program, said in an e-mail to his boss last year. "I don't believe that this partnership arrangement passes the smell test." (Tom Knudson, Sacramento Bee)

 

Fish Vs. Farmers

Sen. Dianne Feinstein votes to deny water to California's drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley. Farmers, families and food are being held hostage to an endangered fish called the delta smelt.

There was a time when the San Joaquin Valley was the most productive agricultural region in the world. It was a large part of what made the Golden State golden.

Now it's a place where farmers no longer farm, but instead line up at food banks to feed the families of those who once fed the rest of the country and a good chunk of the world.

The largest man-made agricultural disaster since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s is unfolding in the valley due to yet another attempt to protect a fish declared to be threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This damage is being done to protect the hypomesus transpacificus, otherwise known as the delta smelt.

Last December the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in its finite wisdom, issued something called a biological opinion imposing water restrictions on the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas to protect the habitat of this tiny fish. The authorities forget the species homo sapiens, also part of the ecosystem, is threatened.

Its habitat is being destroyed — by government edict. (IBD)

 

Ecological 'motorways' to help endangered species

The Government is expected to create a network of ecological “motorways” that will allow animals to migrate when climate change affects their current habitats. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Chris Packham: 'Giant pandas should be allowed to die out'

Giant pandas should be allowed to die out, BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham has said.

The television presenter said that the species was not strong enough to survive on its own and that the millions spent preserving them could be better spent elsewhere.

Mr Packham, who hosts BBC2’s Springwatch, also argued that breeding the animals in captivity for later release was pointless because there is not enough habitat left to sustain them.

He said: “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. (Daily Telegraph)

 

Are so-called 'extinct' species really extinct, and will we rediscover any?

Why are we asking this now?

Because ornithologists have just launched an international quest to rediscover a large group of "lost" bird species – believing that some may not be lost after all.

Why does that matter?

Because the human pressure on the natural world is increasing to such an extent that more and more creatures face being wiped out. According to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 12 per cent of the world's birds, 21 per cent of mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians, 31 per cent of reptiles, 37 per cent of fishes and 70 per cent of the world's plant species are now threatened with extinction. Extinction is one of the great blights of our times. Any creatures that are labelled extinct, but which can be rediscovered, offer enormous hope for conservation.

Are there likely to be many?

More than you might think. In the past few years there has been a whole series of rediscoveries of birds, mammals, fish, insects and other creatures that were supposed to have died out.

For example, the mahogany glider, an Australian possum, was rediscovered in 1989 after an absence of more than 100 years, while the New Zealand storm petrel, a seabird, was thought to have vanished a century and a half ago – it was only known from museum specimens – until it was rediscovered in 2003, and India's large-billed reed warbler was thought to have died out a similar time ago, until it was rediscovered in 2006.

Why have we labelled so many things extinct when they are not?

Perhaps because of the old sin of the pride of knowledge (which was Adam's sin, if you remember); we really enjoy saying I know. It is much more tempting for humans to express certainty about a point than to express doubt, and because we are generally anthropocentric – that is, we put ourselves at the centre of the universe – we tend to think that if we can't see something, then it's not there.

We forget that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – it's harder to prove something isn't, than it is to prove something is. And we also forget that while life in the natural world can be fragile, it can also be astonishingly resilient, and capable of clinging on against all expectations.

There have been so many recent rediscoveries of supposedly vanished birds – five in New Zealand alone – that, last month, BirdLife International, the Cambridge-based global partnership of bird protection organisations, was prompted to launch a campaign to try to confirm the continued existence of no fewer than 47 bird species, which have not been seen for up to 200 years. (The Independent)

 

Forecast: Fishy

'CLOUDY With a Chance of Meat balls" doesn't lack for ideas. It's the Food Network meets The Weather Channel meets . . . the Scary Doomsday Preachers Channel.

The animated movie greatly expands on the kids' book on which it's based in a clever and engaging first half. But the second half leaves a foul aftertaste. Slapdash action scenes play against dreary warnings to fear wealth and beauty.

Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is a genial young genius whose inventions always go wrong. The latest is a machine that converts water to food. Although ridiculed by the townsfolk (Mr. T makes a funny contribution), he could save his decaying island home, whose only industry is sardines. Things go bonkers, and the gizmo winds up in the clouds, raining food on the delighted town. A foxy weather girl (Anna Faris) hurries to the scene: "My forecast: Sunny! Side up!"

Flint ignores the warnings of his humble dad (voice of James Caan, looks of G. Gordon Liddy). Dad is poor -- he spends his days grinding sardines into chum at his bait shop. He's also verbally inept, technologically illiterate and stuck in the past -- and he's the voice of reason. He's the only one who sees the aporkalypse coming.

The island has an environmental problem (excess food goes to a dump that threatens to overflow) and people are getting obese. Dad wants Flint to save the day by shutting down his machine.

But that would plunge the island back into rusty destitution. The town problem isn't complacency or greed -- it's just growth. When steaks the size of Priuses rain down, the father's point is proved: The population is being buried by its own prosperity, and the solution is not to manage the resources but to cut them off.

Why not export the surplus and get rich? Because then there'd be no message about our collective guilt. It's telling that the gadgets in the film are relics from the 1970s and '80s (loved the use of the old Simon electronic party game). The movie is a high-tech celebration of Luddism, not because the filmmaking digerati are actually nostalgic for low tech themselves, but because they think it, like poverty and ugliness, suits the sweaty throngs out beyond the 310 area code who are messing up the planet. (NY Post)

 

Scientists warn on Antarctic fishing

HOBART: Moves into the last great untapped resources of the Antarctic have led leading scientists to raise the alarm about the validity of the world's premier stamp of approval for sustainable fishing.

The Marine Stewardship Council's blue tick is appearing increasingly on seafood sold in Australian supermarkets - and will be the focus of a global sustainable seafood lunch next week.

But the scientists say the council's certification process is flawed, and is encouraging further depletion of already severely damaged fisheries.

At a time of crashing wild fish stocks and wary consumers, a blue tick on a seafood label is becoming sales gold.

Australians can find the council's tick for sustainable fishing on a tin of John West's Alaska pink salmon or a yellow-eyed mullet lunch in the upmarket restaurant Rockpool.

Globally, council-approved fisheries already catch more than 5 million tonnes of seafood. Such is its success that, with 50 fisheries certified, another 100 are in assessment.

However, scientists say certification may do the opposite of what was meant, and encourage the depletion of fisheries. (SMH)

 

Suzuki... More science needed on effects of genetically modifying food crops

In gearing up for the 2010 release of its super-genetically modified corn called "SmartStax", agricultural-biotechnology giant Monsanto is using an advertising slogan that asks, "Wouldn't it be better?" But can we do better than nature, which has taken millennia to develop the plants we use for food?

We don't really know. And that in itself is a problem. The corn, developed by Monsanto with Dow AgroSciences, "stacks" eight genetically engineered traits, six that allow it to ward off insects and two to make it resistant to weed-killing chemicals, many of which are also trademarked by Monsanto. It's the first time a genetically engineered (GE) product has been marketed with more than three traits. (David Suzuki with Faisal Moola, LondonTopic.ca)

 

Farmers told to stop ploughing land to protect soil

The ploughed field, one of the most cherished images of the English countryside, could become a rare sight under government plans to protect soil.

Farmers are being urged to adopt technology that allows “no tilling and low tilling” in a move that would also reduce the environmental impact of food production. The suggestion is part of a “soil strategy” published yesterday by Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary.

“Precision farming” is already widely used by the traditional “barley barons” who in recent years have invested in machines that do not churn up the earth. Instead the equipment merely turns over the top layer and new seed is planted on soil that includes stubble from the previous crop. Ministers want the technique to become standard practice.

Bob Watson, chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said that safeguarding soil was critical to allow food production to double in the next 20 to 30 years. (The Times)

 

Paganism? Is biodynamic the new organic? - The biodynamic movement, advocating food that is grown and harvested in accordance with lunar cycles, is taking off.

Organic food has had a terrible recession. Before the crunch, the organic sector had been growing steadily year on year – but sales came to a crashing halt when cost-conscious customers began to look for cheaper alternatives.

Last week, sales of organic vegetables were revealed to be down by a fifth, while demand for organic wine and bread sales has halved in 12 months. On top of the dip in sales, the Food Standards Agency's Organic Food Report this summer concluded that the nutritional benefits of organic food were negligible.

So you might think that now is no time to get into biodynamic food, a spin-off of the organic revolution.

Biodynamics embraces a holistic view of nature: it is by definition organic but it also involves biodiversity and – strangest of all – astronomy. Food is grown, harvested and sometimes even consumed in accordance with lunar cycles. (Daily Telegraph)

 

September 25, 2009

 

Low vitamin D may be deadly for older adults

NEW YORK - Low levels of vitamin D appear to increase the risk of death in older adults, researchers report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Skin produces vitamin D when directly exposed to the sun. But older people, particularly those living in northern regions, rarely obtain sufficient sun exposure for adequate vitamin D production and need supplements to achieve healthy vitamin D levels.

Increasingly, evidence points to health risks from inadequate vitamin D. (Reuters Health)

 

WHO probes whether seasonal shot raises H1N1 risk

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation said on Thursday it was looking into an unpublished Canadian study indicating that a seasonal flu shot could increase the risk of catching the H1N1 virus.

Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO's initiative for vaccine research, said no other researchers had presented similar findings and it could be a "study bias", although the Canadian investigators were well known and capable.

"The reason why this may be different in Canada and in this particular study than in other places of the world is not yet identified. It may be a study bias, it may be that something is real," Kieny told a teleconference from the WHO headquarters.

She said all drug manufacturers who produced seasonal influenza shots will be able to make H1N1 vaccine, for a total annual output of 3 billion doses. Health workers, who make up 2 percent of the world's population, should be a priority. (Reuters)

 

Oh... Fat caused 124,000 cancer cases in Europe: experts

BERLIN - More than 124,000 people in Europe developed cancer last year because they are overweight, and rising body fat levels threaten to add tens of thousands more to their ranks, experts said on Thursday.

A study of cancer among overweight people in Europe showed the proportion of new cases of the disease caused by people being fat was highest in women and in central European countries like the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

The most common cancers linked to excess body weight were endometrial, breast and colorectal cancers.

"It is possible that obesity may become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade," lead researcher Andrew Renehan, of Cardiff University in Britain, told the ECCO-ESMO European cancer congress in Berlin. (Reuters)

 

The myth of the smoking ban health miracle - Restrictions on smoking around the world are claimed to have had a dramatic effect on heart attack rates. It's not true.

‘Heart attacks plummet after smoking ban’ declared The Sunday Times earlier this month, as it reported that England’s smoking ban has ‘caused a fall in heart attack rates of about 10 per cent’ (1). A few days later, The Scotsman upped the ante, informing its readers that ‘Smoking ban slashes heart attacks by up to a third across world’ (2).

Tales of heart attacks being ‘slashed’ by smoking bans have appeared with such regularity in recent years that it is easy to forget that there is a conspicuous lack of reliable evidence to support them. It is almost as if the sheer number of column inches is a substitute for proof.

The most recent reports are a case in point. Although The Sunday Times claimed a 10 per cent drop in heart attacks, nowhere in the 500 word article was a source mentioned and no one was quoted giving this figure. The ‘study’ the newspaper referred to does not exist, and the anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) – not renowned for downplaying the risks of passive smoking – went to the unusual lengths of posting a notice on its website the following day to point out that ‘the figures reported in The Sunday Times yesterday (and now circulating elsewhere) are not based on any research conducted to date’ (3).

Although the story quickly went around the globe, no one seems to know where the figure came from. It’s all rather strange. Basing journalism on anonymous sources is commonplace in the world of politics, but it is surely not necessary in the realms of science.

The second story – reported by a host of news organisations, including the BBC – also had no new data to report. Instead, it took its cue from an article in the journal Circulation which examined previous smoking ban/heart attack studies. If nothing else, the Circulation paper offers an opportunity to reflect on just how feeble the collected evidence is on this issue (4). (Christopher Snowdon, sp!ked)

 

Going Back In Time

What sort of future are green groups pushing us toward? If they get their way, it will be one that won't look much different than the world our great-grandparents were born into.

While some want to put an end to soft toilet paper, the Brits are moving toward a regime in which workers who discharge "more than their fair share of carbon emissions" will have their pay docked. Meanwhile, in California, regulators are hoping to ban big-screen TVs.

There are no limits to which environmentalists won't go to, to put limits on human freedom and progress. Not even our personal choice of toilet paper is beyond what they believe to be their business. The Washington Post reported Thursday that environmentalists have been campaigning against soft toilet paper because of the timber needed to make it. (IBD)

 

Not new but definitely worth recycling: WARNING! Excessive use of the Precautionary Principle may be bad for you

The Precautionary Principle basically says that we should not do something unless we are sure it will have no harmful or potentially harmful side-effects.

On the face of it, that may sound reasonable, but in reality it is a one-sided consideration, which completely ignores the benefits or potential benefits of any action/product/invention. The Principle does not weigh benefits against costs; it just says that if there are any costs at all, the action should not be carried out. For example, a new invention which could benefit millions of people, but also might possibly harm a few (people or other species) in the process, should be banned according to the Precautionary Principle.

If the Precautionary Principle had been enforced at the time of the invention of the wheel, the wheel would surely have been banned, especially if the people of that time had had the imagination to foresee all the death and destruction this invention has caused in terms of traffic accidents, contamination, environmental destruction, obesity, etc.

A more modern example is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which have the potential to substantially increase crop yields, to reduce the need for expensive and dangerous herbicides and pesticides, and to make food products healthier, tastier and more nutritious, as well. This should be good news if you are worried about hunger in the third world, protection of the environment, and/or your own health. Still, many people and organizations are opposed to the use of genetically enhanced crops, frequently citing the Precautionary Principle.

Every single invention (indeed every single action) between the invention of the wheel and the GMOs has some risk associated with it. If it were not for billions of brave persons willing to take a risk and willing to violate the Principle, we would all be living in the stone-age, walking around paralyzed.

Unless stone-age living is your ideal way of living, you should be very cautious in the application of the Precautionary Principle. (Lykke E. Andersen, Institute for Advanced Studies)

 

Truly appalling: Science advocacy in full flight:

Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Steven Chu

Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have caused the climate to change, and a dramatic reduction of these emissions is essential to reduce the risk of future devastating effects. On the other hand, access to energy is the basis of much of the current and future prosperity of the world. Eighty percent of this energy is derived from fossil fuel. The world has abundant fossil fuel reserves, particularly coal. The United States possesses one-quarter of the known coal supply, and the United States, Russia, China, and India account for two-thirds of the reserves. Coal accounts for roughly 25% of the world energy supply and 40% of the carbon emissions.* It is highly unlikely that any of these countries will turn their back on coal any time soon, and for this reason, the capture and storage of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants must be aggressively pursued.

Carbon Capture and Storage: How Green Can Black Be?
R. Stuart Haszeldine

The capture of carbon dioxide at the point of emission from coal- or gas-burning power plants is an attractive route to reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. To commercialize carbon capture, as well as transport of liquified carbon dioxide and its storage in exploited oil fields or saline formations, many technological, commercial, and political hurdles remain to be overcome. Urgent action is required if carbon capture and storage is to play a large role in limiting climate change.

Why Capture CO2 from the Atmosphere?
David W. Keith

Air capture is an industrial process for capturing CO2 from ambient air; it is one of an emerging set of technologies for CO2 removal that includes geological storage of biotic carbon and the acceleration of geochemical weathering. Although air capture will cost more than capture from power plants when both are operated under the same economic conditions, air capture allows one to apply industrial economies of scale to small and mobile emission sources and enables a partial decoupling of carbon capture from the energy infrastructure, advantages that may compensate for the intrinsic difficulty of capturing carbon from the air.

Amine Scrubbing for CO2 Capture
Gary T. Rochelle

Amine scrubbing has been used to separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from natural gas and hydrogen since 1930. It is a robust technology and is ready to be tested and used on a larger scale for CO2 capture from coal-fired power plants. The minimum work requirement to separate CO2 from coal-fired flue gas and compress CO2 to 150 bar is 0.11 megawatt-hours per metric ton of CO2. Process and solvent improvements should reduce the energy consumption to 0.2 megawatt-hour per ton of CO2. Other advanced technologies will not provide energy-efficient or timely solutions to CO2 emission from conventional coal-fired power plants.

Storage of Carbon Dioxide in Offshore Sediments
Daniel P. Schrag

The battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change will be waged across multiple fronts, including efforts to increase energy efficiency; efforts to deploy nonfossil fuel sources, including renewable and nuclear energy; and investment in adaptation to reduce the impacts of the climate change that will occur regardless of the actions we take. But with more than 80% of the world’s energy coming from fossil fuel, winning the battle also requires capturing CO2 from large stationary sources and storing that CO2 in geologic repositories. Offshore geological repositories have received relatively little attention as potential CO2 storage sites, despite their having a number of important advantages over onshore sites, and should be considered more closely.

This suite is just about too stupid for words. Science should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Even if you could do this for $1/MWh (and it's way more expensive than that with a price tag somewhere north of 900 trillion per alleged saving of 1 °C and that doesn't include the 30% energy penalty) it still isn't worth the cost because there is no upside. Throw in the fact that you need an area the size of Maine for just the sequestration from one 500MW plant and you begin to get the idea of just how ridiculous CCS really is. It might wear a fancy suit but this is no more than an assault on coal and affordable energy supplies. Worse, carbon dioxide is an environmental asset without which green plants cannot survive and thus none of us could. Historically current levels are really quite low, far from presenting a danger to life on Earth increasing levels are an absolute boon. This is a really stupid game.

 

Senate Democrats to unveil climate bill Sept 30

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats will unveil legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions next Wednesday, kicking off what is likely to be a battle in Congress as lawmakers tussle over the economic impact of controlling global warming.

The bill has not been released formally but will be coauthored by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Congressional source said on Thursday.

"The overall architecture of the Senate bill is going to be very similar to the House version of the bill," a separate source at an environmental group said via telephone from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

The proposal will add to an already full plate for lawmakers in Congress who are still working to hammer out details on healthcare and financial reforms. (Reuters)

 

Case Study in How to Use Your Position as a Reporter to Advocate

Over at Greenwire, Anne C. Mulkern has written a superb article demonstrating how a reporter can can use a "news" story to editorialize, advocate and attack a position that s/he personally disagrees with. It should be required reading for anyone wanting to learn how to editorialize through news stories.

The subject of Mulkern's attack is The Breakthrough Institute (disclaimer: where I am a Senior Fellow) and the reason for the attack appears to be to generally discredit a recent analysis that shows that emissions allowances in the Waxman-Markey Bill are overallocated, a substantive point that is unimpeachable, even in the article. Maybe Mulkern has other issues with The Breakthrough Institute beyond this. (Roger Pielke, Jr.)

 

Hysteria abounds: Climate change threatens entire planet: UN report

Damage being caused by climate change is a real threat to the entire planet and is no longer a matter of debate, according to a new report from the United Nations.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was blunt in his comments in the 2009 Climate Chance Science Compendium, released Thursday. (Canwest News Service)

 

What an embarrassment CSIRO has degenerated into: Hot air over CSIRO's new enviro diet

The CSIRO seems about as confused as Colonel Gadaffi.

It wasn't so long ago that the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet became a publishing triumph, allegedly outselling Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code for a golden period.

It championed a high animal protein plan - lots of beef, lamb and dairy - which was perhaps not surprising, given that the research behind it was partly funded by the Meat and Livestock Industry and Dairy Australia.

But now, with climate change all the rage, the CSIRO has had a re-think.

Out with the steak, in with vegetarianism, indeed.

Its latest publication - the CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook - gives the big tick to "high-carbohydrate, healthy heart and vegetarian diets".

The reason? They "all combine healthy eating patterns with lower greenhouse gas impacts". (SMH)

 

I call Bullshit! New Analysis Brings Dire Forecast Of 6.3-Degree Temperature Increase

Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world's leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.

The new overview of global warming research, aimed at marshaling political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the year, highlights the extent to which recent scientific assessments have outstripped the predictions issued by the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report's scientific findings, said the significant global temperature rise is likely to occur even if industrialized and developed countries enact every climate policy they have proposed at this point. The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change. (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

We wish there was a serious chance of the world warming 3.5 °C, making it similar to the Holocene Climatic Optimum but there is no such possibility (at least not from enhanced greenhouse). Even if we could manage a double-doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from the current approximately 385 to 1,540 ppmv that would still only theoretically deliver a maximum of about 2 °C (less than 3.5 °F, not °C), see information on Earth's natural negative feedbacks. Their hysterical claims have gone way beyond the ridiculous.

 

More nonsense claims: Climate-related disasters forced 20 million out of homes in 2008 - Last year, 4.6 million people were displaced by conflict and violence, but four times as many fled their homes due to climate-related disasters.

In 2008, at least 36 million people were displaced by sudden-onset natural disasters including over 20 million displaced by climate-related, rapid-onset disasters, according to a new report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

According to the study "Monitoring Disaster Displacement in the Context of Climate Change", climate changes are already increasing the frequency and intensity of natural hazards, and the numbers of natural disasters reported and people affected are rising.

"Had it not been for the Sichuan earthquake in China, which displaced 15 million people, climate related disasters would have been responsible for over 90 percent of disaster-related displacement in 2008," the study commented.

The estimates do not include the number of people displaced by slow-onset disasters such as drought and rise in sea level. (CoP15)

 

Why we can all stop worrying about 'Global Warming' for a bit

Three months to go until the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Three months in which we will be repeatedly assured by climate fear promoters such as Al Gore, George Monbiot, Ed Miliband and the risible Ban Ki-moon that this really is absolutely, definitely, totally and irrevocably the very last chance the world’s leaders will have to save the planet from ManBearPig.

(Just like they said at Rio and Poznan and all the other “let’s see who can rack up the biggest carbon footprint” global shindigs that eco-campaigners insist on staging, the better to stoke up their self-flagellatory eco-guilt).

But, for the global warming deniers among us at least, the panic’s off. Nothing scary or dangerous is going to happen as a result of the Copenhagen summit. It will be a talking shop, abundant with airy platitudes and earnest pieties, but signifying less than ****er all as far as economy-damaging Kyoto-style legislation goes. There will be a political statement of intent. But no binding “agreement”.

Here are few reasons why: (James Delingpole, Daily Telegraph)

 

Court decision threatens to unravel Europe's carbon market

Estonia and Poland have scored deeply significant wins in their battle with the EU over carbon quotas. In a decision that threatens to scupper Europe's cap and trade scheme, the Court of First Instance annulled the European Commission's decision to lower the carbon emission quotas of both countries.

The court said setting carbon limits is a matter for member states rather than the EU. The ruling could force the European Commission to review its quotas and undermine the fledgling carbon market.

Estonia and Poland have been fighting for more generous national caps on industrial carbon emissions, arguing that their industry would be hamstrung under the EU scheme.

A Commission spokesperson said the EU executive would consider appealing the decision, which was described as "extremely disappointing". An appeal process could take more than a year. (EurActiv)

 

European carbon trading market takes hit

The Europe-wide carbon trading market suffered a severe blow yesterday when a European court issued a ruling that will weaken carbon prices and undermine efforts by the European Commission to curb carbon emissions further.

In a landmark decision, the European Court of First Instance ruled in favour of an appeal by Poland and Estonia for the right to be more generous in granting carbon emission allowances. In its surprise annulment of a Commission decision to cut the carbon quotas of the two countries, the court said: “The Commission exceeded its powers.”

The decision is expected to weaken prices in Europe’s troubled carbon market and undermine efforts by the Commission to impose a stricter regime on carbon polluters. (Carl Mortished, The Times)

 

Cracks in the Wall?

Hot on the heels of an EU court ruling that the EU cannot dictate national emissions allowances over the objections of national governments, Italy now wants to renegotiate its allowances, from Reuters:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has written to the European Commission asking to renegotiate the caps on his country's carbon dioxide emissions, an Italian government official said on Thursday.

The official made the comments one day after Poland and Estonia made headway in a court challenge to their own emissions caps.

"The cap assigned to Italy was excessively low and we have difficulty meeting it as our industry is already very efficient, especially our power generation system," the official said.

"The letter was meant to raise a problem that has also become evident in the European Court of Justice decision on Poland and Estonia's caps," the official added.

"We are making no proposal, just looking to discuss this problem with the Commission." (Roger Pielke, Jr.)

 

Europe Warming to Carbon Tax

European governments are warming to the idea of taxing end-users directly for their carbon emissions. France, despite popular opposition, has announced it will introduce a so-called carbon tax next year, and Ireland has suggested it may do the same.

But why now? And is this a trend that could spread throughout Europe or to other countries? (Andres Cala, Energy Tribune)

 

Planet Cooling Down Amid Global Warming Madness

Let’s get this straight. The planet is not warming. Hasn’t warmed since around 1998. Instead, it’s cooling, and scientists say that it’s going to continue to cool for at least the next 20 or 30 years. Some even warn that based on the lack of sunspots evidenced on the sun’s surface, a reliable indicator of future climates, we may be on the verge of another little ice age.

The global warming alarmists assure us that we shouldn’t worry — global warming has simply gone on vacation and will surely be back, hotter than ever, sooner or later.

I’ll tell you where global warming is hiding. It has taken refuge in the computer models where it was first discovered and where it has been since. (Phil Brennan, Newsmax)

 

"The only tipping point to come is the tipping point of public opinion against the alarmist falsity of Climate Change Policy" says climate scientist

"Obama's speech to the UN's Global Warming Summit on 22 Sept was a shameful pack of alarmist falsity. The integrity of the so-called science he espouses is as low as that preached by scientists under the thumb of totalitarian regimes or certain tobacco companies in the past" said Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction long range forecasters.

"But haven't we been here before? Remember the UN Security Council Feb 2003 hearing 'evidence' of Weapons of Mass Destruction to justify the Iraq war?

Further information and pre-discussion at WeatherAction Press Conference Friday Sept 25th 12noon.

Click to read FULL report from Piers Corbyn at WeatherAction.Com. (Climate Realists)

 

Op-ed: "Scientific consensus" should be put on the stand

An issue for which the science is supposedly "settled" by a complete "consensus" of scientists would seem to offer the perfect opportunity to win over a skeptical public once and for all. But look no further than global warming movement's effort to ignore the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's call to put the science on trial, involving cross-examinations, witnesses, and a judge to make a final ruling.

Climate fear promoters, knowing that they will lose an open, honest public debate, fear a trial more so. There are some important pieces of evidence that cast into serious doubt the case for manmade global warming. (Marc Morano, AXcess News)

 

Has gorebull warming struck at last? The World's Highest Ski Run Has Melted

Photo By: Carsten Drossel/Flickr

Back in 2005, we told you about Bolivia's Chacaltaya Glacier, which contained the world's highest ski run at 17,388 feet -- the ropetow attached to an old auto motor, the little shack where the locals drink chicha cochabambina, a strong corn-based alcohol, the dedicated ski club that made the trek up to Chacaltaya in mismatched ski boots and decades-old skis. We also told you it was going to disappear soon due to global warming -- and we were right. As of May 2009 the glacier had completely melted away. In 1999, a team of researchers studying the glacier predicted it would die in 2015, but the rate of melting tripled in the last decade, wiping out the glacier in just 10 years.

Photo by Carsten Drossel

See more photos of Chacaltaya (Ski)

 

Nope: Climate Change in Bolivia - Expect Surprises

Climate change has suddenly become a hot research topic in Bolivia (1). The glaciers in the highlands are melting, the lowlands are flooded, and the government has declared a state of national emergency due to natural disasters. It is a good time to ask how climate change might be affecting the poor Bolivians.

But first let's check exactly what climate changes we are talking about.

The National Meteorological Service (www.senamhi.gov.bo) provides useful data for 33 different stations across Bolivia. They provide daily minimum and maximum temperatures since 1/1/2004 until yesterday, as well as historical monthly averages for the 1961-1990 period, which can be used for comparison. It is therefore relatively simple to calculate daily temperature anomalies for different parts of Bolivia.

The results of such an exercise might surprise you.

Of the 33 Bolivian weather stations, 7 experienced significant warming, 6 experienced no significant change, and 20 experienced significant cooling. Most of the cooling took place in the highlands (-1.5 degrees Celsius in Charaña, -1.2 in Oruro, -0.5 in Potosí, and -0.3 in El Alto, for example), while the lowlands experienced much more modest changes (about -0.2 degrees in most places). (Lykke E. Andersen, Institute for Advanced Studies)


Figure 1: La Paz (El Alto): Average Daily Temperature Anomaly 1/1/1995 – 12/3/2008, compared to average monthly temperatures for 1918-1989.

 

Replication of Pielke (2007)

In 2007 I published a paper on the relative roles of climate change and societal change in future hurricane losses:

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Future Economic Damage from Tropical Cyclones: Sensitivities to Societal and Climate Changes, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Vol. 365, No. 1860, pp. 1-13.

Last month a group of German authors, including several associated with Munich Re, published a discussion paper online that replicated this analysis, confirming its results. The paper, by Silvio Schmidt, Claudia Kemfert and Eberhard Faust adopts a similar approach to that which I used, which was simply to assume that tropical cyclones will become more intense in the future, and then compare the expected damage from that intensity increase with the effects of projected societal change.

As I found in Pielke (2007), they also found that societal factors are overwhelmingly dominant in coming years, even assuming a direct and significant relationship of greenhouse gas emissions and tropical cyclone intensity and under a range of socio-economic scenarios. They find that about 90% of the increase in losses to 2015 and 96% to 2050 will be due to societal factors even when assuming a greenhouse gas effect on tropical cyclones. In other words, assuming a direct greenhouse gas-tropical cyclone link, reducing greenhouse gas emissions such that they have no effect addresses a maximum of only 4% of the increased losses in 2050, under the assumptions of the study. Obviously therefore, damage from tropical cyclones is primarily an issue of adaptation to climate, not mitigation.

Interestingly, they find in their literature review that the only studies that quantitatively compare the expected costs of human-caused climate change on tropical cyclones with the effects of societal change are the two studies that I have conducted. Schmidt et al. 2009 is thus the third. While I do have some quibbles (e.g., their study focuses on the U.S. and mine is global), I am happy to report that their results are entirely consistent with my own. Schmidt and colleagues have replicated other work that I have done on hurricanes and I welcome this confirmatory work.

You can see their paper here in PDF. Here is the citation:

Silvio Schmidt, Claudia Kemfert and Eberhard Faust, 2009. Simulation of Economic Losses from Tropical Cyclones in the Years 2015 and 2050 – The Effects of Anthropogenic Climate Change and Growing Wealth, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, August. (Roger Pielke, Jr.)

 

A look at the Thompson et al paper – hi tech wiggle matching and removal of natural variables

Thompson et al (2009) – High-Tech Wiggle Matching Helps Illustrate El Nino-Induced Step Changes

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

Thompson_et_al

INTRODUCTION

In “Identifying signatures of natural climate variability in time series of global-mean surface temperature: Methodology and Insights”, Thompson et al (2009) remove the effects of three natural variables from the Global Surface Temperature record (January 1900 to March 2009). Those three natural variables are El Nino-Southern Oscillation, stratospheric aerosols emitted by explosive volcanic eruptions, and “variations in the advection of marine air masses over the high latitude continents during winter”, which they condense to “dynamically induced variability” or Tdyn in the paper. Thompson et al use “a series of novel methodologies to identify and filter out of the unsmoothed monthly-mean time series of global-mean land and ocean temperatures the variance associated with ENSO, dynamically-induced atmospheric variability, and volcanic eruptions.”

Thompson et al (2009) Link:
http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2009JCLI3089.1

Preprint Version:

http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/ao/ThompsonPapers/TWJK_JClimate2009_revised.pdf

Thompson et al (2009) also provided a link to five of the datasets they used and created while preparing the paper. The webpage is identified as “Data for Thompson, Wallace, Jones, Kennedy”:
http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/~davet/ThompsonWallaceJonesKennedy/

OVERVIEW

This post briefly discusses the data made available by Thompson et al (2009), it illustrates the ENSO and volcanic aerosol residuals that remained in the global temperature anomaly data after the effects of ENSO, volcanic aerosols, and dynamically induced variability were said to be removed, and it illustrates the El Nino-induced step changes that resulted from the significant El Nino events that occurred since 1976.

The post does not discuss the erroneous assumption made by Thompson et al (2009), which is that the relationship between ENSO and global temperature is linear. It is not. The non-linear relationship between ENSO and global temperatures was discussed in the following three posts, which all cover the same subject, fundamentally, though there are differences in the presentation:
1. The Relationship Between ENSO And Global Surface Temperature Is Not Linear
2. Multiple Wrongs Don’t Make A Right, Especially When It Comes To Determining The Impacts Of ENSO
3. Regression Analyses Do Not Capture The Multiyear Aftereffects Of Significant El Nino Events.”

The data furnished by Thompson et al actually reinforces the fact that the global temperature response to El Nino events is not linear. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Ooops, Dutch Meteorological Institute caught in weather station siting failure – moved station and told nobody

KNMI has been measuring the wrong temperature for years

debilt_newspaper

WUWT reader Mike writes with this little bombshell on one of the world’s leading meteorological agencies. It seems they can’t get their thermometer siting correct which resulted in a bias to the record. Hmmm. Where have we heard this before? The newspaper “AD” in the Netherlands has picked up the issue with two separate stories.Mike writes:

Dear Anthony,

I left this on the “tips” thread on WUWT, but since it is also relevant to surface stations, I felt you should hear of it directly.  It probably deserves a whole story on WUWT.

As you probably already know, KNMI De Bilt is the only station in the Netherlands used for GISTEMP. The nearest long-term station is in a suburb of Brussels, hence is undoubtably UHI-polluted. De Bilt is the only long record stn in NL & within 150km in any direction would be a useful correction.

Two stories caught my eye in the Dutch papers today about a 0.5-degree error in the De Bilt record which was miraculously corrected this summer with a station move of 200 m without anyone being told of it. Here are the links to and my translations of the articles.

Mike’s translations of the newspaper stories are below, I’ve added relevant graphics. – Anthony


DE BILT – Weather Institute KNMI has been measuring the years incorrect temperatures on its grounds in De Bilt due to an incorrect setup of a thermometer.

The instrument stood too close to a line of trees, due to which on average half a degree (Celsius) too high was measured.

After discovery of the fault the thermometer was moved to an open spot on the measurement field before last summer, the KNMI has confirmed. Due to the change the average measured temperature fell half a degree. This measurement should be reliable. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Exile for Non-Believers

The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field. What follows is an example of a scientific group that not only stopped a leading researcher from attending a meeting, but then-without discussing the evidence-applauds the IPCC and recommends urgent policies to reduce greenhouse gases. What has science been reduced to if bear biologists feel they can effectively issue ad hoc recommendations on worldwide energy use? How low have standards sunk if informed opinion is censored, while uninformed opinion is elevated to official policy? (Joanne Nova, SPPI)

 

An epidemic of OCD: Obsessive Carbon Dogma

From living in virtual darkness to minutely measuring their water-use, greens’ fixation with carbon counting is verging on a mental illness. (Austin Williams, sp!ked)

 

Green Gas - Obama says he wants a climate change bill. But can he get it?

Bill Clinton's presidency has served as a roadmap for Barack Obama's—a roadmap, that is, of what not to do. Don't try to pass health care reform without congressional input. Don't tackle controversial social issues early in your presidency. Don't alienate the military. Now there's another lesson: Don't promise the world you're going to fight climate change when you can't. (Christopher Beam, Slate)

 

Obama’s Ability to Deliver Climate Law Questioned (Update1)

President Barack Obama, who challenged world leaders to overcome “doubts and difficulties” and reach a global accord on climate change, faces skepticism over whether he can deliver legislation in his own country. (Bloomberg)

 

Pressure mounts on Harper and other G20 leaders over climate change

PITTSBURGH — New climate-change commitments from China and Japan have ratcheted up pressure on Canada and other countries to put money and measures on the table at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined other leaders of rich and emerging market economies Thursday following ground-shifting talks on climate change in at the United Nations in New York.

The host of the Pittsburgh meeting, U.S. President Barack Obama, has seen his carbon cap-and-trade commitment stall. Harper and the other leaders will be watching to see whether Obama will make some kind of firm commitment on greenhouse gases to reciprocate the goodwill shown by the two Asian powers. (CP)

 

At summit, doubts grow on reaching climate deal

European leaders voiced growing doubts Thursday on whether the world will meet a December deadline for a new climate deal as a summit here looked set to take up global warming in generalities.

Twenty leaders who represent 90 percent of the global economy were holding two days of talks in the eastern US city of Pittsburgh, itself billed as a model of transition from decaying steel town to a green technology hub.

The summit opened two days after a high-powered climate meet at the United Nations, where Japan and China offered new pledges on how to save the world from rising temperatures predicted to threaten entire species if unchecked.

But with just a little more than two months before a conference in Copenhagen -- designated two years ago as the venue to seal the successor to the landmark Kyoto Protocol -- pessimism was growing. (AFP)

 

EU says rich states must pay up to save climate agreement - José Manuel Barroso outlines what is needed for an agreement on global warming at Copenhagen

The EU set aside diplomatic language and issued a bare-boned challenge to industrialised countries to come up with the cash developing countries need to deal with climate change today.

The unusually blunt language from the European commission's president, José Manuel Barroso, on what was needed for an agreement on global warming at Copenhagen was delivered as leaders began arriving in Pittsburgh for a G20 summit of major economies.

In a speech at Pittsburgh University, Barroso said the industrialised economies would have to make significant reductions in emissions as well as make "a credible financial commitment" to help developing states obtain new greener technology. "In other words, no money, no deal," he said. (The Guardian)

So, since we don't want any such deal all we need do is cut off the cash?

 

Has China Really Gotten Serious About Climate Change?

To get a sense of how far the Chinese leadership has come on the issue of climate change in a relatively short period, consider a conference held two years ago on the tropical island of Hainan, where, every year, China invites the high and mighty from around the world to address the weighty issues of the day at a plush resort. The theme of the conference was "Green China," and if there was a single underlying idea, it was that China, having just become the world's largest emitter of CO2 gases, was going to jump wholeheartedly on the global bandwagon to combat climate change. But on the conference's final day, during the main event and keynote address, President Hu Jintao talked about China's commitment to economic reform, to maintaining its extraordinary pace of economic growth, to opening China's market further to foreign investment and products — but only the barest nod in the direction of climate change. A confused American environmental consultant left the speech sputtering. "What was that about?" he asked former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was walking out with him. Powell laughed. "You know what the first thing is that Hu Jintao doesn't think about when he wakes up every morning?" Powell joked. "Climate change." (Bill Powell, Time)

China has always been deadly serious about climate change -- they are going to milk western ecochondria for all it's worth.

 

Is China's Energy Intensity Story A Myth?

Recently I've seen a number of claims made about China's plans to improve the energy intensity of its economy. Here are some examples:

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Considering the country already has reduced its economy’s energy intensity by 20 percent over the past five years, the shift to carbon intensity with a meaningful goal attached “would be significant and impressive,” says Reid Detchon, vice president for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation in Washington.

From Climate Progress:

China appears to be making steady progress toward its goal of achieving a 20-percent reduction in energy intensity by 2010.

Yesterday, Chief UN climate diplomat Yvo de Boer even said of China's policies:

"This suite of policies [alluded to today at the UN] will take China to be the world leader on addressing climate change," he said. De Boer told reporters: "It will be quite ironic to hear that tomorrow expressed in a country (the United States) that is firmly convinced that China is doing nothing to address climate change."

But such claims -- and there are many these days -- are made with absolutely no reference to data, so I decided to have a look. Getting data on China's economy and energy use can be tricky, so I have relied on two reliable sources, the BP Statistical Energy Review for energy consumption and the IMF for GDP. I used GDP expressed in constant national currency because the 11th Five-Year Plan of the Chinese government expressed its GDP numbers in terms of market exchange rates and not in terms of PPP. The plan seeks to reduce energy intensity of GDP by 20% from a 2005 baseline.

Energy intensity is thus energy consumption divded by GDP. The graph below shows Chinese energy intensity for the period 1998 to 2008, with 2005 (the Plan's base year) set to 1.0.


A few things stand out. One is that China's energy intensity in 2008 is about the same as it was in 2001. Any claim that China's energy intensity has improved by 20% over the past five years is incorrect. The second is that energy intensity has improved by only about 7.4% since 2005, meaning that it has a long way to go to reach a 20% target by 2010 (i.e., 0.80 on this graph). Can it happen? Sure. But to say that China is "well on its way" does not square with the data. It would be "ironic" indeed if China has figured out how to grow its economy at 9% per year while increasing energy use by only 3% and decarbonizing its economy at an even lower amount. If this were true, then China would have discovered the holy grail of emissions reductions and we can all forget about the challenges of climate policy.

With all of the talk of China now being the "world leader" on emissions reductions, is this story just another myth of climate policy? It sure looks that way. (Roger Pielke, Jr.)

 

Little fish from a tiny pond... Hard for Kevin Rudd to kick up a storm in the US

THE dust storm that swept through Sydney has hit the headlines in the US, but Kevin Rudd has been struggling to kick up enough dust on his latest New York trip to attract American media attention.

A quaint blogging column from The New York Times website called City Room reported yesterday that the city's Argosy bookstore kept its doors open past closing time on Monday for the Prime Minister.

That is the newspaper's only mention of Mr Rudd's five-day New York visit before he heads to the G20 meeting of world leaders today.

Mr Rudd has received no coverage from the Times or other respected newspapers that would indicate he is an influential player in climate change negotiations or the push for a new world order. None appear interested.

Some of the breathless reporting in Australia suggests otherwise: one day Mr Rudd is pressuring world leaders to accept a new climate treaty, the next he is advocating a new global power shift or praising China's efforts on carbon emissions.

The difficulty for Mr Rudd -- unless the US media's reflections are hopelessly wrong -- is that he does not appear to have much impact.

Almost all the focus during climate change summit talks in New York has been on the big players -- Barack Obama and China President Hu Jintao.

Even Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have scored more media hits, even if they are for notoriety.

One US journalist told The Australian: "He is not getting media attention here because he is just not doing much on the world stage." (The Australian)

 

Drought News From Australia (Guess The Date!)

Date: (try to guess!)

(Reuters) – A drought that has parched Australia’s rich eastern farmlands for the last few years is now forcing the nation’s cities to take drastic measures to save water.

Melbourne, the second largest city and the leading commercial center, has sharply restricted the use of water after an unusually dry winter that has left its reservoirs only half full.

Official cars will prowl the streets looking for people illegally watering their lawns or washing their cars. Anyone doing so risks a fine of $950.

The water board has warned the city’s 2.8 million residents that tighter limits will be imposed during the normally dry summer months unless the new measures succeed in cutting consumption.

With no seasonal rain due for almost six months, fears are growing that the drought could turn much of eastern Australia into the sort of dust bowl seen in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Dust Blankets Town

The first signs appeared recently when the remote mining town of Broken Hill in New South Wales reported its first dust storm in decades.

A cloud of red dust, swept by hot dry winds from the interior deserts, settled over the town, cutting visibility to less than 1,000 yards for several hours.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, still has adequate water supplies, but a city official said the situation could change if a recent run of above-average temperatures continued and brush fires now smoldering around the suburbs burst out of control.

It is the rural areas, however, that are bearing the brunt of the drought, now in its fourth year in some areas. Prime Minister XXX has described it as the worst in living memory. YYY, president of the National Farmers Federation, said last weekend that the drought had become a disaster for the Australian economy as well as farmers. Government figures show that four out of five farms are affected by the drought.

The federation estimated the value of crops lost in the drought at $2.4 billion. Since economists say that every dollar of farm income generates two dollars in the rest of the economy through related industries, the total loss would be around $7 billion.

(this is the link if you want to know the original publication date…) (OmniClimate)

 

Greenpeace global warming claim lost without Yellow River map

A correspondent has pointed to this gem of a mistake by Greenpeace who have claimed since 2005 !! – that

The Yellow River is relied upon by 120 million Chinese for food irrigation, industry and other uses. Global warming at the source of the river is already leading to it drying up.

This simple map and accounts below shows there are sizeable catchments between the Yellow River headwaters and the Tibetan Plateau.


I suppose the attraction of the buzzword “Tibetan” dulled any urge the Greenpeace apparatchiks might have had to get their facts correct.

More maps – and I am sure readers can find more online. (Warwick Hughes)

 

Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries

The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries that have rekindled a sense of excitement across the petroleum sector, despite falling prices and a tough economy.

These discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose, and of new technologies that allow explorers to drill at greater depths and break tougher rocks.

“That’s the wonderful thing about price signals in a free market — it puts people in a better position to take more exploration risk,” said James T. Hackett, chairman and chief executive of Anadarko Petroleum.

More than 200 discoveries have been reported so far this year in dozens of countries, including northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, Australia, Israel, Iran, Brazil, Norway, Ghana and Russia. They have been made by international giants, like Exxon Mobil, but also by industry minnows, like Tullow Oil.

Just this month, BP said that it found a giant deepwater field that might turn out to be the biggest oil discovery ever in the Gulf of Mexico, while Anadarko announced a large find in an “exciting and highly prospective” region off Sierra Leone.

It is normal for companies to discover billions of barrels of new oil every year, but this year’s pace is unusually brisk. New oil discoveries have totaled about 10 billion barrels in the first half of the year, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. If discoveries continue at that pace through year-end, they are likely to reach the highest level since 2000.

While recent years have featured speculation about a coming peak and subsequent decline in oil production, people in the industry say there is still plenty of oil in the ground, especially beneath the ocean floor, even if finding and extracting it is becoming harder. They say that prices and the pace of technological improvement remain the principal factors governing oil production capacity. (NYT)

 

Smaller refiners pull climate support

Executives at small oil refiners who broke with the industry to support the House climate bill now oppose it advancing in the Senate, illustrating the stiffening resistance to the sweeping legislation.

The relationship between the oil sector and the majority party in Congress is often antagonistic. But climate deliberations in the House made frenemies — if not friends — of Democrats and small-refinery executives, even though the bill seeks to drive down the market for fossil fuels.

That’s so because House Democratic leaders added a provision to their cap-and-trade bill that could mean billions of dollars for small oil refiners as they searched for support in the days before the critical floor vote. (Jim Snyder, The Hill)

 

Real industry whining about green cuts? Industry warns against "disastrous" carbon capture funding cuts

Reports of funding U-turn prompts stark warning from carbon capture industry (Tom Young, BusinessGreen)

There shouldn't be any encouragement at all for such a stupid activity as CCS -- to begin with atmospheric carbon dioxide is a beneficial byproduct of modern society gifted to the biosphere. Moreover, CCS is an enormously expensive waste of energy with exactly no hope of controlling global climate. We don't want anyone to do it and we sure don't want to pay for it.

 

Coalminers recruit Kevin 07 guru Neil Lawrence to shaft ETS

THE creator of the "Kevin 07" advertising campaign, Neil Lawrence, has been recruited by coalmining companies to design a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign against the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme, to be launched next week in key marginal seats.

Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman said the "key message" of the campaign - to be targeted at mining regions, including Labor-held marginal seats - would be the "major job losses" the regions could suffer if the ETS were passed without significant changes in its treatment of coalmining.

Mr Hillman said the campaign was designed to inform workers in coalmining regions and was not a political campaign, nor aimed at marginal seats. (The Australian)

 

“Green Jobs in the Brown Haze”.

Dust on a solar panel will reduce its efficiency by up to 50%.

In the brave green Australia of 2020, just a decade away, Canberra has mandated that about half the Simpson desert will be covered in solar panels.

Have they allowed for the army of cleaners and the giga-litres of water that will be needed to clean the panels after every dust storm?

Maybe this where the Green jobs are coming from, and where the Cubbie Station water is going to?

For more info on dust on solar panels see: http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dfhw7d9z_0gtk9bsgc

Viv Forbes
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition
info@carbon-sense.com
www.carbon-sense.com

 

September 24, 2009

 

The President’s Health Care Tax

As Michael Cannon discussed in an earlier post, the White House is trying to claim that health care “reform” does not mean higher taxes. This is a two-pronged issue. First, there is a mandate to purchase health insurance. Second, there is a tax (the White House calls it a fee) on people who fail to purchase a policy.

The White House claims this mandate is akin to state-level requirements for the purchase of health insurance, and that the newly-insured people will be getting some value (a health insurance policy) in exchange for their money. These assertions are defensible, but that does not change the fact that a tax is being imposed.

It might be plausible to argue that the mandate is not a tax if the value of the insurance policy to the individual was equal to the cost. But since these are people who are not buying policies, their behavior reveals that this obviously cannot be true. So this means that they will be worse off under Obama’s plan and that at least some of the cost should be considered a tax.

The Social Security payroll tax allows a good analogy. Labor economists correctly argue that the payroll tax functions, in part, as a “premium” for what can be considered a government-provided annuity. As such, when we try to measure the disincentive effect of the payroll tax, it is appropriate to include the perceived value of future Social Security benefits (for most Americans, especially with average or above-average incomes, the “rate of return” is very low or negative, so a substantial share of the payroll tax is a tax both in the legal sense and economic-distortion sense). The same is true of a mandatory health insurance policy (even if the money does not go through the government’s hands).

On the broader issue of paying money and getting something of value in return, another analogy is helpful. A share of the gasoline excise tax is used for road construction and maintenance. We all benefit from roads, even if we don’t drive (let’s set aside issues such as whether the benefits equal the costs, whether the federal government should be involved, etc). Does that somehow mean the gasoline excise tax is not a tax? Of course not.

Turning now to the excise tax, the Administration’s argument that this is a fee is even less defensible. The Baucus legislation in the Senate Finance Committee explicitly references an excise tax. Equally revealing (and even more ominous), the IRS is charged with collecting the fee. The White House can argue that the tax – in the economic sense – is lower than the fee if something of value is exchanged. But the tax is still there.

Rather than play games, the White House should make an open argument for bigger government. The fact that the Administration prefers to be deceptive says a lot about the underlying merits of their proposal. (Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato at liberty)

 

Hmm... NHS hospital deaths rise on day junior doctors join wards, study finds - The NHS has its very own black Wednesday, when death rates go up by an average of 6%

There is never a good time to have a heart attack, but the wise person afflicted with clogging arteries might want to be especially careful in future to avoid stress and watch the diet as August rolls around.

The NHS, it is revealed today, has its very own black Wednesday, when death rates go up by an average of 6%; and there is a somewhat disturbing underlying cause – the arrival on the wards of a new intake of junior doctors.

On the first Wednesday in August every year, a freshly qualified set of junior doctors arrives on the wards. Pristine and eager and brilliant they no doubt are, but while they are finding their way around something unexplained and slightly perplexing appears to happen.

Researchers from the Dr Foster unit and the department of acute medicine at Imperial College London say there has been a suspicion for years that more people die on the day the new doctors arrive, but for the first time they have established that it happens – although they say the rise in deaths is very small.

They do not blame the doctors' inexperience or confusion in the hospital and say it is also possible that only the severest cases are admitted in that week, because of the changeover. (The Guardian)

... and "hmm..." again. Haven't seen the underlying "study" so there is no way of telling whether this merely reflects a reduction in elective treatments on the day.

 

Funny how activist campaigns against supermarket chains are not mentioned in obesity complaints... A Plan to Add Supermarkets to Poor Areas, With Healthy Results

The Bloomberg administration, in its ever-expanding campaign to make New Yorkers eat better, has already clamped down on trans fats, deployed fruit vendors to produce-poor neighborhoods and prodded corner bodegas to sell leafy green vegetables and low-fat milk.

Now, in a city known more for hot dogs and egg creams than the apple of its nickname, officials want to establish an even bigger beachhead for healthy food — new supermarkets in areas where fresh produce is scarce and where poverty, obesity and diabetes run high. (NYT)

... and here we are with gum'mint campaigns to install the very supermarkets activists claimed were bad for communities, on health grounds.

 

Big effect unlikely for UK rules on kid food ads

NEW YORK - Two-year-old UK regulations designed to cut down on TV ads that pitch unhealthy foods to kids are likely to only prohibit only a tiny fraction of food advertising, new research shows.

TV advertising of junk food is believed to contribute to the obesity epidemic among kids, note Dr. Jean Adams of Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, and her colleagues, in their report. With this in mind, in 2007, the UK implemented regulations on food advertising during children's programming.

However, "Only about 5% of food adverts would have been prevented by the regulation," Adams told Reuters Health, because roughly half of the ten percent of ads targeted to kids were for food considered "unhealthy." The rules, she explained, define programs "of particular appeal to" children in a way that's simply too narrow to have much of an effect. (Reuters Health)

 

Doctor's office weigh-ins no help to heavy kids

NEW YORK - Having doctors routinely weigh overweight children and give parents advice on diet and exercise may have little impact on kids' weight gain or lifestyle habits, a new study suggests.

The findings call into question national policies in countries like the US, UK and Australia, researchers report in the medical journal BMJ.

According to those policies, pediatricians and family doctors should be at the front lines of combating childhood obesity -- monitoring children's weight and, when needed, giving parents advice on weight control.

The problem is that there is little evidence that these strategies work, according to the researchers on the current study, led by Dr. Melissa Wake of Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

One recent research review, for instance, found that no clinical trials have been done to see whether the common practice of weighing children at school has any effects on their odds of becoming overweight.

What's more, even when screening spots children with weight problems, little is known about what types of treatments are effective. (Reuters Health)

 

More employers looking at their roles in obesity

It's 6 p.m. and you still have tons of e-mail to answer. You find yourself grabbing a bag of chips from the office vending machine and settling in for another hour or two -- again.

Is there any wonder half of America's employees haven't exercised in the past 30 days and obesity levels are climbing?

In the midst of the most vigorous national healthcare debate in 15 years, the link between our work life and our weight is intensifying. Two-thirds of the U.S. workforce is overweight.

The economic crisis has exacerbated the obesity epidemic: Workers are putting in longer hours, afraid of losing their jobs. With less time to exercise, more than a third of employees report that work drains them of energy, leaving nothing for their personal lives.

At the same time, pay cuts and rising food prices, particularly for more nutritious foods, are making fast food and vending machines a quick and cheaper option during a lunch break. (Miami Herald)

 

10 million Brits 'unaware they are obese'

Ten million Brits are unaware they are obese because being fat is now seen as the 'norm', according to new research. (Daily Telegraph)

You ain't fat!

 

Turning a blind eye to obesity

A survey suggests the vast majority of those who are obese do not realise they are so. How is this possible amid what some see as saturation coverage of the nation's burgeoning bellies? (BBC News)

 

An Open and Honest Debate About Drug Policy in El Paso, Texas

El Paso

Last January, the city council of El Paso, Texas, unanimously approved a resolution urging the federal government to support “an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics.” Soon afterwards, the mayor of El Paso received a call from Washington, DC demanding that he veto the resolution, otherwise his city would be cut off from some federal money. He did. However, the city council approved a new resolution calling for a conference assessing U.S. drug policy and the War on Drugs.

That led to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) organizing a two-day conference on the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs with leading experts from all over the world in the field of drug policy. The event was heavily attended by students, journalists and people interested in the subject. I had the chance to speak on the first panel, addressing the “History, Successes and Failures” of the War on Drugs. Not surprisingly, I failed at pointing out a single success from the current prohibitionist approach to drug policy. A summary of that first panel is available here.

Unfortunately, two Obama czars (on border and drugs) called off their participation just days before the conference. It was a missed chance to find out if there’s any change going on with the new administration regarding drug policy. In his opening remarks, Beto O’Rourke, the city councilman who introduced the original resolution that was later vetoed, said that he never imagined that calling for an “open and honest debate” on drug policy was going to be so controversial.

El Paso is at the crossroads of the War on Drugs. One of the safest cities in the Unites States, it’s just across the Rio Grande from one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, where so far this year more than 1,000 people have died in drug related violence. El Paso is not isolated from this carnage. Both cities are deeply intertwined economically, culturally and by blood ties. “Todos somos juarences” (we are all Juarezians) was the most common phrase from residents of El Paso expressing concern about the situation in their sister city.

Needless to say, the participants at the conference were highly critical of the War on Drugs. Some speakers focused on the empirical evidence coming from countries with flexible drug laws, such as the Netherlands and more recently Portugal. Luis Astorga, a professor at the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) gave an interesting presentation on the history of drug cartels in Mexico. Other presentations dealt with the social consequences of prohibition, and how the War on Drugs is affecting communities in Mexico and the United States.

As I’ve written earlier, in Latin America there have been growing calls in recent months to reconsider the War on Drugs. It is about time that this discussion also takes place in the United States. Kudos to UTEP and the city of El Paso for taking that step. (Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Cato at liberty)

 

No matter how often Malthusians are proven wrong they just keep coming back with this rubbish: Scientists Outline 'Safe Operating Space' For Humanity

New approaches are needed to help humanity deal with climate change and other global environmental threats that lie ahead in the 21st century, according to a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists.

The scientists propose that global biophysical boundaries, identified on the basis of the scientific understanding of the earth system, can define a "safe planetary operating space" that will allow humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. This new approach to sustainable development is conveyed in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature. The authors have made a first attempt to identify and quantify a set of nine planetary boundaries, including climate change, freshwater use, biological diversity, and aerosol loading.

The research was performed by a working group at UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), in cooperation with the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

One important strand of the research behind this article is based in the global project known as IHOPE. The goal of the Integrated History and future Of People on Earth (IHOPE) project is to understand the interactions of the environmental and human process over the ten to hundred millennia to determine how human and biophysical changes have contributed to Earth system dynamics. The IHOPE working group is assembled at NCEAS today.

The scientists emphasize that the rapid expansion of human activities since the industrial revolution has now generated a global geophysical force equivalent to some of the great forces of nature.

"We are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological era in which our activities are threatening the earth's capacity to regulate itself," said co-author Will Steffen, professor at the Australian National University (ANU) and director of the ANU Climate Change Institute. "We are beginning to push the planet out of its current stable Holocene state, the warm period that began about 10,000 years ago and during which agriculture and complex societies, including our own, have developed and flourished. The expanding human enterprise could undermine the resilience of the Holocene state, which would otherwise continue for thousands of years into the future." (ScienceDaily)

 

And despite acknowledging warm is good, Walsh produces this: How Much Human Activity Can Earth Handle?

The scientific name is the Holocene Age, but climatologists like to call our current climatic phase the Long Summer. The history of Earth's climate has rarely been smooth. From the moment life began on the planet billions of years ago, the climate has swung drastically and often abruptly from one state to another — from tropical swamp to frozen ice age. Over the past 10,000 years, however, the climate has remained remarkably stable by historical standards: not too warm and not too cold, or Goldilocks weather. That stability has allowed Homo sapiens, numbering perhaps just a few million at the dawn of the Holocene, to thrive; farming has taken hold and civilizations have arisen. Without the Long Summer, that never would have been possible. (Bryan Walsh, Time)

 

Inhofe, Barrasso Urge EPA to Provide Answers Before Finalizing EPA Endangerment Finding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wy.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the EPA not to finalize the Agency’s Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (proposed rule) until it provides answers to letters that the Senators sent regarding the process behind EPA’s proposed endangerment finding for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

“In order for the public to have a complete understanding of the scientific process behind the endangerment finding, we request that you should not finalize the endangerment rule or any further related affirmative findings under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act without developing a response to these transparency issues outlined in our August 4th letter,” the Senators wrote. “In this instance, there is no legally imposed deadline by which the Agency must finalize the proposed rule. So we believe the Agency has ample time to respond to the transparency issues outlined in our letter and place the response in the record to receive public feedback. Our investigation focuses on the process EPA used to determine the credibility and relevance of scientific data and studies that support its proposed endangerment finding.” (Press Release)

 

CBO KO: Waxman-Markey hurts the economy more than “doing nothing”

The CBO has issued a new report [.pdf] that summarizes the economic effects of greenhouse-gas legislation, relying on previously published analyses. The report shows just how weak the case for the proposed cap-and-trade plan really is. In fact, the CBO demonstrates that the theoretical benefits of Waxman-Markey to the United States fall far short of its costs.

Even more surprising, the CBO report reveals (without trumpeting the result, of course) that the costs borne by the U.S. may exceed the benefits to the entire world. This should be surprising indeed to the casual observer who thought there was a “clear consensus” on the net benefits of the cap-and-trade component of Waxman-Markey. (Institute for Energy Research)

 

You tell 'em, Granny! Letter of the moment: Climate-change sceptics, read on

From Ms Annie Walker.

Sir, The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research finds that 20 per cent of the population are hardened sceptics about man-made global warming ("Public scepticism takes the steam out of debate", September 22). Could it be that this is the top 20 per cent of the population who are able to read? The others simply believe any rubbish that they are told. I am a 70-year-old granny. I have actually read Ian Plimer's book Heaven and Earth. I have read David Archibald's Solar Cycle 24 and I have read Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder's The Chilling Stars . These serious scientific books are trashed by the believers, but those of us who can read and have done GCE chemistry and physics can follow the science, and can make up our own minds.

I would have thought that most of the readers of the FT fall into the top 20 per cent of the population in levels of IQ. No wonder your readers are tired of reading the stupidities which, like me, they know to be without proper scientific basis.

Annie Walker,
London NW11, UK (The Financial Times)

 

State by State, Selling the Lie

As part of a well thought out and executed plan to convince the public there is global warming despite the cold and snow records of the last two years, get state climate action plans approved, keep the grant gravy train rolling through the university systems, and get government legislation or carbon control legislation approved that will benefit Wall Street and the government at our expense is underway.

Detailed well produced reports are being dribbled out state by state warning of a ridiculously warm and severe climate future. They are based on the same climate models which have failed miserably in the first decade showing strong warming while the globe cooled, sea levels accelerating up while they have stopped rising and heat records increasing in frequency while we have had fewer heat records in any decade since the 1800s, and disappearing snow while all time snow records occurred in the last two years. But don’t confuse the issue with facts. These reports are timed to affect the decisions made by congress w/r to Cap-and Tax. (Joseph D’Aleo, Icecap)

 

Global Warming Suits Are A Hard Sell, Attorney Advises

NEW YORK—Companies sued for creating damage by contributing to global warming have a major defense available against such charges, according to an attorney at a legal session for policyholders.

The remarks were made last week by Finley Harckham, a senior litigation shareholder in the New York office of Anderson Kill & Olick and president of Anderson Kill Insurance Services, LLC at the law firm’s 12th Annual Policyholder Advisor Conference.

He explained that plaintiffs need to establish two levels of causation. They must prove that something has happened to the environment other than what would have happened naturally, and that the defendant is responsible for that action.

“It’s a huge hurdle,” he said, noting that a lawsuit would have to distinguish why a given condition was caused by a single entity as opposed to greenhouse gases emitted by the population at large. (National Underwriter)

 

More wasted funds from a total waste of oxygen... U.N. Sets an Example by Offsetting Its Carbon Emissions

Like most large international conferences, the United Nations climate summit meeting in New York this week generated a hefty dose of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hundreds of presidents, prime ministers and officials from across the globe this week took airplanes to the United Nations meeting, some accompanied by dozens of people. Limousines and motorcades ferried the dignitaries from airports to meetings to hotels and back, often getting stuck in Midtown Manhattan gridlock.

But since the goal of this meeting was to reduce the global emissions that have been linked to global warming, the United Nations decided to try to do something about all the carbon dioxide produced by the delegates: it bought carbon offsets. (NYT)

 

Uh-huh... Gore: Climate change laws 'crucial step' in crisis

NEW YORK — Former Vice President Al Gore told attendees Wednesday at the Clinton Global Initiative to reach out to U.S. senators and urge them to pass climate change legislation, saying it was the "crucial step" in solving the climate crisis. (AP)

... What "crisis" would that be, Al? The one where your carbon scam finally falls on its butt, leaving you somewhat short of being the first multibillionaire robber carbon baron?

 

Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu on Warming

Of more than 100 world leaders who gathered Tuesday at the United Nations for a summit meeting on climate change, two mattered most: Barack Obama and China’s president, Hu Jintao. Together their countries produce 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Together they can lead the way to an effective global response to this clear global threat. Or together they can mess things up royally. (NYT)

Mess what up... and how? We've run the IPCC's numbers again and again but the answer is always the same -- carbon dioxide is an innocent bit player on the climate stage. Even if humans could drive a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide since Hansen's 1988 testimony (i.e., from 350 to 700 ppmv), that is still only a maximum potential warming of 1.1 °C if the sun constantly delivers recent solar cycle peak wattage, otherwise the warming will certainly be lower.

 

Right... China considering carbon tax

Four to five years from now China could launch a tax on greenhouse gas emissions if proposal from Chinese energy research institute wins political support. (CoP15)

 

Obama Speech to the UN: The Data

Myron has already pointed out how most of what the President claimed were the threats from global warming are exaggerated.  Here’s the data to back that up.

“…[T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”  Reality: global mean temperatures increased slightly from 1977 to 2000.  Temperatures have been flat since then.

“Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.”  Reality: sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago.  The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the nineteenth and twentieth century average.

iain1

iain2

“More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”  Reality: there is no upward global trend in storms or floods.

iain3

iain4

“More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”  Reality: there is no upward global trend in major droughts.  Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.

“On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.”  Reality: some Pacific islanders may want to emigrate to New Zealand or Australia and are claiming that their islands are disappearing as the reason, but shrinkage has been minimal in recent decades because sea level rise has been minimal.

droughts-atolls

Charts from SPPI’s Monthly CO2 Reports and from Indur Goklany, “Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events: Global and U.S. Trends, 1900–2006,” 2007. (Iain Murray, Global Warming)

 

D'oh! Proposals Lag Behind Promises on Climate

UNITED NATIONS — World leaders gathered here for a global summit meeting on climate change made modest proposals on Tuesday for combating the problem, underscoring the way domestic political battles still trump what United Nations officials had hoped would be a sense of global urgency. (NYT)

 

What planet is this guy on? China and India are leading the way. Yes, I'm optimistic

This week's summit on climate change offered cause for confidence. But all nations now need to redouble their efforts (Nicholas Stern, The Guardian)

 

Just a small step in the right direction

World leaders tried to jump start climate negotiations at UN summit on Tuesday, but did not break the deadlock. (CoP15)

 

A quiet bombshell on Copenhagen climate treaty?

All eyes are on New York today, for the latest political moves ahead of the make-or-break conference in Copenhagen in December seeking a global climate deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

And last night it looked as if Danish prime minister and host of the talks, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was about to drop a quiet bombshell.

He was expected to make clear that he is no longer looking to Copenhagen to deliver a "treaty", that is a document with legally enforceable emissions cuts, but only "a political declaration" - an altogether different outcome.

But overnight reaction from European countries has now put a question mark over that, suggesting that he may now defer his announcement.

Downgrading from a treaty to a political declaration would be a bitterly disappointing result for those pinning their hopes on Copenhagen, despite all the warning signs that a meaningful deal looks perilously close to impossible. (Susan Watts, BBC Newsnight)

 

Keeping the gravy train rolling: New targets for Copenhagen

No deal in Copenhagen might not be a disaster for the global climate, as long as the UN climate conference reaches agreement on important issues leading to a deal in 2010, says Head of the Climate Panel at Aarhus University in Denmark. (CoP15)

 

We will back a global deal to cut emissions, says Obama

President signals intention to abandon intransigence of his predecessor – but admits it will be tough to get treaty through the Senate (The Independent)

Perfectly safe statement given there won't be one...

 

Awkward: Senators move to rein in EPA as Obama talks tough on climate

How’s this for awkward timing? Even as President Obama tries to persuade other countries gathered at the U.N. climate confab and upcoming G-20 meeting that the U.S. will take action on climate change, senators from both parties are moving to limit what his administration can do to fight climate change.

At issue are two amendments to a huge government spending bill nearing a vote in the Senate that would pare the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate various industries’ greenhouse-gas emissions.

Associated Press
Totemic opposition from Alaska.

One amendment, drafted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and backed by ethanol companies, would limit how the EPA could measure the global-warming impact of growing corn and other crops for fuel. It would prohibit the agency from considering the emissions that are said to result when farmers overseas clear grasslands and cut down forests in response to higher food prices. What do those farmers’ decisions have to do with ethanol production in the U.S.? Well, according to some researchers, there are some nasty ripple effects when farmers in the U.S. convert their farmland to growing corn for fuel.

Still, why would the EPA want to go down this road, given the U.S. government’s traditional support for ethanol? Because a 2007 energy law says it has to! More about this debate here and here.

Another amendment, being circulated by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), would prohibit the EPA for one year from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, factories and small businesses. Sen. Murkowski says she’s worried about the economic toll of any regulations that EPA might set; environmental groups say her measure would render the EPA toothless and undermine U.S. efforts to convince other countries to reduce their emissions.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration is speaking out against Sen. Murkowski’s proposal. “We don’t think trying to legislate on an appropriations bill is a good idea,” Carol Browner, the President’s assistant on energy and climate change issues, tells WSJ’s Jonathan Weisman. So does that mean President Obama would veto the entire spending bill if Ms. Murkowski succeeds in attaching her amendment to the final bill? Ms. Browner said she’s not in a position to comment.

Our sources predict a close vote in the Senate, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon. Stay tuned … (WSJ)

 

NAM Urges Senate To Support EPA "Time Out" From Regulating Greenhouse Gases

WASHINGTON, D.C., ' The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has sent a Key Vote letter to U.S. Senators urging them to support an amendment by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing an "endangerment finding' for carbon dioxide in an attempt to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG) under the Clean Air Act. (Manufacturing and Technology)

 

The Dog Ate Global Warming - Interpreting climate data can be hard enough. What if some key data have been fiddled?

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.

Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense. (Patrick J. Michaels, NRO)

 

Inhofe: I’m Bringing a ‘Truth Squad’ to Copenhagen

Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), tells NRO that he plans to “lead a truth squad” at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

The Oklahoman predicts that he probably will not be welcomed with open arms. Inhofe, as you may remember, led a similar group of conservative legislators in 2003, during the U.N.’s climate-change negotiations in Milan, Italy. “I was the outcast at that time,” recalls Inhofe. “Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate. Some people, like Senator Barbara Boxer, will tell the conference, with Waxman-Markey having passed in the House, that they can anticipate that some kind of bill will pass EPW.” Such statements, Inhofe says, deserve a bold response. “Look,” he says, “there is no bill that is bad enough to not pass out of our committee. There may be enough votes to get a bill out of EPW, but there is far from enough support in the Senate. The Democrats don’t have the votes. There are too many newly-elected Democrats in the Senate who don’t want to go home and tell voters that they just voted for the largest tax increase in American history.”

Six years ago, when Inhofe was in Milan, global-warming activists were so infuriated by his mere presence that they papered “Wanted” posters with his picture across the conference center, emblazoned with his famous quote about global warming: “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” That was the “first time the environmentalists have ever quoted me accurately,” he quipped at that time. (Robert Costa, The Corner)

 

U.S. groups lower sights for global climate progress

WASHINGTON - U.S. groups pushing for a new international accord on climate control are scaling back their expectations for an end-of-year deal, openly talking on Wednesday about either pushing for an "interim" plan or a simple extension of negotiations set for December in Denmark.

With fewer than 75 days remaining before an international conference convenes in Copenhagen to determine the next steps on curbing destructive greenhouse gas emissions, some climate change experts are assessing the lack of progress and crafting what might be called a "Plan B."

"A blitz of high-level diplomacy might yet conjure a miracle, but ... the odds of a final, ratifiable deal by the time the clock hits zero appear virtually nil," wrote Elliot Diringer of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, in a recent Internet posting.

That assessment comes as developed and developing countries remain deeply divided over the burden each should shoulder in reducing carbon emissions and the U.S. Congress has yet to settle on legislation that would commit one of the world's largest polluters to significant reductions. (Reuters)

But atmospheric carbon dioxide is a resource, not a pollutant...

 

What utter nonsense: The full climate change tale - Carbon dioxide emissions are a significant cause of global warming. But that’s only half the story

Think “climate change” and “carbon dioxide” is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. “Copenhagen”, symbolizing all of the tension and nuance of international action, is probably a close second. “Catastrophe” might be another association, as reports about glacial melting, monsoon disruption, sea levels rising and other environmental changes pile up.

But the truth is that the CO2 emissions at the centre of international discussions only account for half of global warming to date. Half is big and CO2 should be at the centre of the debate, especially since what we emit today will contribute to warming for centuries. But it’s still just one half. The other half offers precious opportunities to tackle climate change and see the positive effects quickly while at the same time meeting development goals. (Jessica Seddon Wallack, LiveMint)

The numbers are actually readily available and carbon dioxide-driven warming is trivial and diminishing. Moreover, we have not the slightest indication that it is in any way harmful. No action should ever be taken against such an essential trace gas and marvelous resource.

 

Global warming = more tornadoes | Not happening this year

With the onset of the Autumnal Equinox today at 21:18 UTC, the severe weather season winds down. I reported earlier on the finding of Ryan Maue, who showed that we’ve reached a 30 year low in Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) which is a measure of global hurricane activity.

Now it appears the 2009 tornado season is significantly lower as well, which is a very, very, good thing.  The actual number of tornadoes so far this year is only 850 compared to the previous three years, all above 1000.  2008 saw 1691 tornadoes in the USA, almost double. The three year average is 1297 tornadoes. Tornado related deaths are also way down with only 21 so far this year compared to 126 last year and a 3 year average of 91.

Going from last year’s La Niña  to a weak/fading  El Niño this year had more of an impact on this than any measure of global warming in the USA because as we’ve seen from the NCDC announcements this year, we had a cool summer despite supposedly record sea surface temperatures. Our quiet sun may also be a factor.

click for larger image

click for larger image

Source: http://www.spc.ncep.noaa.gov/wcm/

It seems that we are well below last year, and close to 2005/2006 values.

Here’s the 2009 tornado map from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)

 

Global Warming = more hurricanes | Still not happening

So far the hurricane season for the Atlantic has been pretty quiet for 2009. Ryan Maue from Florida State University explains why. In related news, Al Gore has dropped the [hurricane frequency] related slide in his traveling PowerPoint show. – Anthony

Great Depression! Tropical Cyclone Energy at 30-year lows

FSU-ACE_vs_GISS-oceantemp4

Global hurricane frequency versus global ocean temperatures - Top image from FSU ACE, bottom image from GISS ocean data plotted by WUWT - click for larger image

Both Northern Hemisphere and South Hemisphere AND therefore overall Global hurricane activity has continued to sink to levels not seen since the 1970s. Even more astounding, when the Southern Hemisphere hurricane data is analyzed to create a global value, we see that Global Hurricane Energy has sunk to 30-year lows, at the least. Since hurricane intensity and detection data is problematic as one goes back in time, when reporting and observing practices were different than today, it is possible that we underestimated global hurricane energy during the 1970s.

Using a well-accepted metric called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index or ACE for short (Bell and Chelliah 2006), which has been used by Klotzbach (2006) and Emanuel (2005) (PDI is analogous to ACE), and most recently by myself in Maue (2009) , simple analysis shows that 24-month running sums of global ACE or hurricane energy have plummeted to levels not seen in 30 years.

Read the rest of this entry » (WUWT)

 

Coral Atolls and Sea Level Rise

- a guest blog by Willis Eschenbach

Much has been written of late regarding the impending demise of the world’s coral atolls due to sea level rise. Recently, here in the Solomon Islands, the sea level rise has been blamed for salt water intrusion into the subsurface “lens” of fresh water under some atolls. Beneath the surface of most atolls, there is a lens shaped body of fresh water which floats on the seawater underneath. The claim is that the rising sea levels are contaminating the fresh-water lens with seawater.

These claims of blame ignore several facts. The first and most important fact, discovered by none other than Charles Darwin, is that coral atolls essentially “float” on the surface of the sea. When the sea rises, the atoll rises with it, and when the sea falls, they fall as well. Atolls exist in a delicate balance between new sand and coral rubble being added from the reef, and sand and rubble being eroded by wind and wave back into the sea.

When the sea falls, more sand tumbles from the high part, and more of the atoll is exposed to wind erosion. The atoll falls along with the sea level. When the sea level rises, wind erosion decreases. The coral grows up along with the sea level rise. The flow of sand and rubble onto the atoll continues, and the atoll rises. Since atolls go up and down with the sea level, the idea that they will be buried by sea level rises is totally unfounded. They have gone through sea level rises much larger and much faster than the current one.

Given that established scientific fact, why is there water incursion into the fresh water lenses? Several factors affect this. First and foremost, the fresh water lens is a limited supply. As island populations increase, more and more water is drawn from the lens. The inevitable end of this is the intrusion of sea water into the lens. This affects both wells and plants, which both draw from the same lens. It also leads to unfounded claims that sea level rise is to blame. It is not. Seawater is coming in because fresh water is going out.

The second reason for salt water intrusion into the lens is a reduction in the amount of sand and rubble coming onto the atoll from the reef. When the balance between sand added and sand lost is disturbed, the atoll shrinks. This has two main causes — coral mining and killing the wrong fish. The use of coral for construction in many atolls is quite common. At times this is done in a way that damages the reef as well as taking the coral. This is the visible part of the loss of reef, the part we can see.

What goes unremarked is the loss of the reef sand, which is essential for the continued existence of the atoll. The cause for the loss of sand is the indiscriminate, wholesale killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef-grazing fish. A single parrotfish, for example, creates about half a tonne of coral sand per year. Parrotfish and other beaked reef fish create the sand by grinding up the reef with their massive jaws, digesting the food, and excreting the ground coral.

In addition to making all that fine white sand that makes up the lovely island beaches, beaked grazing fish also increase overall coral health, growth, and production. This happens in the same way that pruning makes a tree send up lots of new shoots, and in the same way that lions keep a herd of zebras healthy and productive. The constant grazing by the beaked fish keeps the corals in full production mode.

Unfortunately, these fish sleep at night, and are easily wiped out by night divers. Their populations have plummeted in many areas in recent years. Result? Much less sand.

The third reason for salt water intrusion into the lens is the tidal cycle. We are currently in the high part of the 18 year tidal cycle. The maximum high tide in Honiara in 2008 was about 10 cm higher than the maximum tide in 1996, and the highs will now decrease until about 2014. People often mistake an unusually high tide for a rise in sea level, which it is not. There has been no increase in the recorded rate of sea level rise. In fact, the global sea level rise has flattened out in the last couple years.

What can be done to turn the situation around for the atolls? There are a number of essential practical steps that atoll residents can take to preserve and build up your atoll, and protect the fresh water lens:

1. Stop having so many kids. An atoll has a limited supply of water. It cannot support an unlimited population. Enough said.

2. Catch every drop that falls. On the ground, build small dams in any watercourses to encourage the water to soak in to the lens rather than run off to the ocean. Put water tanks under every roof. Dig “recharge wells”, which return filtered surface water to the lens in times of heavy rain. Catch the water off of the runways. In Majuro, they have put gutters on both sides of the airplane runway to catch all of the rainwater falling on the runway. It is collected and pumped into tanks. On other atolls, they let the rainwater just run off of the airstrip back into the ocean …

3. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Use seawater in place of fresh whenever possible. Use as little water as you can.

4. Make the killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef grazing fish tabu. Stop fishing them entirely. Make them protected species. The parrotfish should be the national bird of every atoll nation. I’m serious. If you call it the national bird, tourists will ask why a fish is the national bird, and you can explain to them how the parrotfish is the source of the beautiful beaches they are walking on, so they shouldn’t spear beaked reef fish or eat them. Stop killing the fish that make the very ground under your feet. The parrotfish and the other beaked reef-grazing fish are constantly building up your atoll. Every year they are providing tonnes and tonnes of fine white sand to keep your atoll afloat in turbulent times. You should be honoring and protecting them, not killing them. This is the single most important thing you can do.

5. Be very cautious regarding the use of coral as a building material. An atoll is not solid ground. It is is not a constant “thing” in the way a rock island is a thing. An atoll is an eddy, an ever-changing body constantly replenished by a (hopefully) unending river of coral sand and rubble. It is a process, wherein on one side healthy reef plus beaked coral-grazing fish plus storms provide a continuous stream of coral sand and rubble. This sand and rubble are constantly being added to the atoll, making it larger. At the same time, coral sand and rubble are constantly being eaten away, and blown away, and eroded away from the atoll. The shape of the atoll changes from season to season and from year to year. It builds up on this corner, and the sea washes away that corner.

And of course, if anything upsets that balance of sand added and sand lost, if the supply of coral sand and rubble per year starts dropping (say from reef damage or coral mining or killing parrotfish) or if the total sand and rubble loss goes up (say by heavy rains or strong winds or a change in currents) the atoll will be affected.

So if coral is necessary for building, take it sparingly, in spots. Take dead or dying coral in preference to live coral. Mine the deeps and not the shallows. Use hand tools. Leave enough healthy reef around to reseed the area with new coral. A healthy reef is the factory that annually produces the tonnes and tonnes of building material. You mess with it at your peril.

6. Reduce sand loss from the atoll in as many ways as possible. This can be done with plants to stop wind erosion. Don’t introduce plants for the purpose. Encourage and transplant the plants that already grow locally. Reducing water erosion also occurs with the small dams mentioned above, which will trap sand eroded by rainfall. Don’t overlook human erosion. Every step a person takes on an atoll pushes sand downhill, closer to returning to the sea. Lay leaf mats where this is evident, wherever the path is wearing away. People wear a path, and soon it is lower than the surrounding ground. When it rains, it becomes a small watercourse. Invisibly, the water washes your precious sand into the ocean. Invisibly, the wind blows the ground out from under your feet. Protect your island. Stop it from being washed and blown away.

7. Monitor and build up the health of the reef. You and you alone are responsible for the well-being of the amazing underwater fish-tended coral factory that year after year keeps your atoll from disappearing. Coral reseeding programs done by schools have been very successful. Get the kids involved in watching the reef. Educate the people that they are the guardians of the reef. Talk to the fishermen.

8. Expand the atoll. Modern coastal engineering has shown that it is quite possible to “grow” an atoll. The key is to slow down the water as it passes by. The slower the water, the more sand builds up. Slowing the water is accomplished by building low underwater walls perpendicular to the beach. These run out until the ends are a few metres underwater. Normally this is done with a geotextile fabric tubes which are pumped full of concrete. In the atolls the similar effect can be obtained with “gabbions”, wire cages filled with blocks of dead coral. Wire all of the wire cages securely together in a triangular shape, stake them down with rebar, wait for the sand to fill in. It might be possible to do it with old tires, fastened together, with chunks of coral piled on top of them. It will likely take a few years to fill in. Here’s a before and after picture of the system in use on a beach (not an atoll), taken three years apart. Note the low height and triangular shape of the wall extending out from the beach and continuing underwater (made of 3 concrete-filled geotextile fabric tubes). This triangular shape does not attempt to stop the water currents. It just slows them down and directs them toward the beach to deposit their load of sand. Eventually, the entire area fills in with sand.

Of course to do that, you absolutely have to have a constant source of sand … like for example a healthy reef … with lots of parrotfish. That’s why I said above that the single most important thing is to protect the fish and the reef. If you have beaked fish and a healthy reef, you’ll have plenty of sand and rubble forever. If you don’t, you’re in trouble.

Coral atolls have proven over thousands of years that, if left alone, they can go up and down with any sea level rise. And if we follow some simple conservation practices, they can continue to do so and to support atoll residents. But they cannot survive an unlimited population increase, or unrestricted fishing, or overpumping the water lens, or unrestrained coral mining.

FURTHER REFERENCES:

On sea level rise in Honiara: Pacific Country Report Sea Level & Climate: Their Present State Solomon Islands June 2006

On global sea level rise levelling off: University of Colorado at Boulder’s Sea Level Change

On Darwin’s discovery: Darwin, C., The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, 1887

No other work of mine was begun in so deductive a spirit as this; for the whole theory was thought out on the west coast of S. America before I had seen a true coral reef. I had therefore only to verify and extend my views by a careful examination of living reefs. But it should be observed that I had during the two previous years been incessantly attending to the effects on the shores of S. America of the intermittent elevation of the land, together with the denudation and deposition of sediment. This necessarily led me to reflect much on the effects of subsidence, and it was easy to replace in imagination the continued deposition of sediment by the upward growth of coral. To do this was to form my theory of the formation of barrier-reefs and atolls. (Darwin, 1887, p. 98, 99)

On the results of coral mining and changing the reef: Xue, C. (1996) Coastal Erosion And Management Of Amatuku Island, Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, 1996, South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC)

On the same topic: Xue, C., Malologa, F. (1995) Coastal sedimentation and coastal management of Fongafale, Funafuti, Tuvalu, SOPAC Technical Report 221

On parrotfish creating sand: this link

On the cause of erosion in Tuvalu: Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise, Willis Eschenbach, Energy & Environment, Volume 15, Number 3, 1 July 2004 , pp. 527-543

On expanding island beaches: Holmberg Technologies

On the dangers of overpopulation: Just look around you … (OmniClimate)

 

Expect a lot more Copenhagen-themed nonsense: Ancient glaciers are disappearing faster than ever - Satellite laser measurements show change in environment for the first time

Melting ice is pouring off Greenland and Antarctica into the sea far faster than was previously realised because of global warming, new scientific research reveals today.

The accelerating loss from the world's two great land-based ice sheets means a rise in sea levels is likely to happen even more quickly than UN scientists suggested only two years ago, the findings by British scientists suggest.

Although floating ice, such as that in the Arctic Ocean, does not add to sea-level rise when it melts as it is already displacing its own mass in the water, melting ice from the land raises the global sea level directly. At present it is thought that land-based ice melt accounts for about 1.8mm of the current annual sea level rise of 3.2mm – the rest is coming from the fact that water expands in volume as it warms. But the new findings, published online today in the journal Nature, imply that this rate is likely to increase. (The Independent)

Oddly enough, sea level rise has currently stalled, despite it being a normal part of our post-ice age world and will be so until the next ice age.

 

JPL’s Patzert: “It’s actually eroding the credibility of long-range forecasters and climatologists”

The 2009 “super El Nino” predicted by some may be a “fizzle” according reports attributed to NASA JPL’s Climatologist Bill Patzert. I wonder who he might be referring to when he says “eroding the credibility”? Hansen’s prediction perhaps?

GONE? The reddish-orange satellite markings visible at the equator during a class El Nino seem to have disappeared, says JPL. The red spots shown here, above the equator, depict a current.

GONE? The reddish-orange satellite markings visible at the equator during a class El Nino seem to have disappeared, says JPL. The red spots shown here, above the equator, depict a current. Image courtesy of NASA.

Excerpts from three different articles below:

This year’s El Nino expected to be mild

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-09/21/content_12086294.htm

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) — This year’s El Nino would be mild, resembling the pattern of 2006 and 2007, weather experts said in remarks published on Sunday.

The oscillation of hot water in the eastern Pacific Ocean is going to be a let-down, in terms of precipitation over a parched California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) researcher Bill Patzert told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“This El Nino is definitely puny,” Patzert said , adding that this year’s pattern resembles the mild El Nino of 2006-2007, which left California’s snowpack and reservoirs short of what water experts had coveted: an end to five years of drought.

Although the jet stream pattern still shows that California might get a wet winter, the likelihood of floods and massive rains is diminishing, the paper quoted climatologists as saying.

“We’re planning for a dry 2010,” said Elissa Lynn, senior meteorologist for the state Department of Water resources, in an interview with the paper. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Climate Is Weather When It Is Not Climate, Weather Is Climate When It Is Not Weather. Or Not?

or…”Climate Belief In Disarray”

Front-page article today by Andrew C Revkin on the International Herald Tribune about the problem of “selling” any urgency for warming-stopping CO2 emission cuts to the public in a non-warming planet (now that that concept has been accepted even by the hardest climate integralist).

Parts of what is reported by Revkin is interesting as it appears there is no shortage of scientists providing all sorts of opinions on why the world has not been warming as expected. Trouble is, if the recent 10-year-long set of observations showing “non-warming” cannot be used to falsify AGW, then no 10-year-long set of any observation showing anything can be used to demonstrate AGW either.

Therefore there is no meaning in the just-released climate forecasts by the Met Office talking about “the odds of a 15-year pause” after analysing “how often decades with a neutral trend in global mean temperature occurred in computer modelled climate change simulations” (my emphasis).

In fact, some are fond to say that climate is a 30-year-long average of weather. Well, if that is true, all we should be scientifically able to talk about with any amount of knowledge, is the climate trends for… 1979.

Everything else is (interesting, but just) speculation.

ps Dr Mojib Latif says he “gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year“. There are 365 days, in most years. At what times during the year is then “climate science” studied at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, Germany? And shall we worry about the absence of private life for AGW scientist-advocates?

pps Shame to Revkin for publishing this absurdist remark by Joe Romm: “We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get“. Why? Because Romm is a known “muffler” himself. (OmniClimate)

 

Unusual for them to not blame gorebull warming... Dust storm: unclear if climate change to blame

Global warming may not be the cause of the most severe dust storm to blight eastern Australia in 70 years, an Australian climate scientist says.

Monash University geography and environmental science head Nigel Tapper said that, while a decade of drought and a month of strong westerly winds combined to send possibly millions of tonnes of dust from the Lake Eyre basin over NSW, Victoria and Queensland, the jury was still out on whether climate change was responsible.

"We've always had dust storms," Professor Tapper said.

"There's plenty of evidence that, during the last ice age, there was lots of dust being blown around the southern hemisphere, a lot of it coming from Australia.

"So to that extent you can't say that it's related to greenhouse-induced climate change in the last few years. (SMH)

Just because it wouldn't be true has never stopped them before.

 

Comment On Andy Revkin’s August 3 2009 article “Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel”

There was an interesting article on August 3 2009 by Andy Revkin [thanks to Benny Peiser for alerting us to this] titled  “Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel”.  This article includes the following text:

 ”…… scientists who question the likelihood of a calamitous disruption of the Earth’s climate accuse the panel of cherry-picking studies and playing down levels of uncertainty about the severity of global warming.

‘It just feels like the I.P.C.C. has gone from being a broker of science to a gatekeeper,’ said John R. Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a former panel author.

In an interview, Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the I.P.C.C., rejected the charge of bias, noting layers of transparent peer review. “

John Christy is completely correct on his view of the IPCC as a gatekeeper. The IPCC WG1 report is a biased advocacy document.  I have documented the gatekeeper format of  the WG1 2007 IPCC report in my Appendix in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.

There was a useful proposal in the Revkin news article that should be pursued. In the article, it states

“……..Dr. Nicholls, a climate scientist at Monash University in Victoria, Australia [proposed] that the group [in his proposal this would be the IPCC scientists] write more focused, expeditious reports on issues relevant to setting policy. Dr. Nicholls suggested that the panel could eventually shift to reviewing the flow of research on more basic questions through a constantly updated Wikipedia-style system.”

This is an good idea, but the ability to update a Wikipedia-style system must be available to all climate scientists,  not just a cherrypicked subset of this community. (Climate Science)

 

Greens Vs. Solar

The ditching of a desert renewable-energy project shows just how difficult it is to maintain our standard of living while pleasing the purists. Maybe we shouldn't even try.

Anyone who has set foot on a dry lake bed in California's Mojave Desert knows the meaning of barren. There's not much growing or moving there — just hot sun beating down on parched earth. So why not use it for a solar farm, since nothing else can be done with it?

That train of thought has led a number of solar power companies, backed by utilities and encouraged by the federal government, to propose big energy facilities in the wide-open spaces between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Huge swaths of that land are under federal ownership, and a law passed in 2005 opened up most of those federal holdings for solar and wind energy projects.

A land rush has ensued, with firms such as Oakland Calif.-based BrightSource Energy staking out sites to develop solar power plants.

The technology to be used is called "solar thermal." Rather than convert sunlight directly into electricity (photovoltaics), solar thermal plants use mirrors to heat water with sunlight and create steam to power electric generators.

Of all the solar technologies in use or on the drawing board, solar thermal is the cheapest per watt. With the right economies of scale, it also seems to stand the best chance of getting the price of its power down to that of coal-fired plants.

But those economies of scale are part of the problem for the dominant left wing of the environmental movement. One activist, Santa Monica attorney Sheila Bowers, told the Los Angeles Times that the new solar power firms "are trying to perpetuate the old Big Energy paradigm into the renewable-energy era ... They have a monopoly agenda."

Then there are the preservationists of the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) school. (IBD)

 

September 23, 2009

 

Cap and Trade Legislation Would Increase Uninsured By Millions

Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate can increase the number of Americans with health insurance by tens of millions -- at zero cost to taxpayers -- by rejecting cap-and-trade legislation passed by the U.S. House, according to a policy analysis just released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act – commonly referred to as the Waxman-Markey bill after its principal sponsors, Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) – which seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050.

The National Center for Public Policy Research contends the Waxman-Markey bill would increase energy prices, slow the economy and result in higher unemployment. This, in turn, the group says, would increase the number of uninsured.

"For every one percentage point increase in unemployment, 1.1 million Americans lose their health insurance coverage," said David A. Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "With the Waxman-Markey legislation projected to cost an average of 1.15 million jobs annually between 2012 and 2030, this could translate into tens of millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage. The best health care reform is doing nothing at all – at least on cap-and-trade."

Loss of health insurance coverage, however, is only one of the negative health consequences that would result from a Waxman-Markey-style bill, according to Ridenour. (Press Release)

 

Cui bono? WHO slashes radon limit in homes, cites lung cancer

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has drastically cut the maximum amount of radon -- a naturally occurring gas -- that should be permitted in homes because of strong evidence it causes lung cancer.

In a WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon issued on Monday, it called for public health authorities and the construction industry to make great reductions in exposure to radon, calling it a "major and growing public health threat in homes."

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that humans cannot see, smell or taste. It arises from the natural decay of uranium and can seep into homes through cracks in basements or cellars. (Reuters)

 

Ethylene oxide (EtO) techie stuff

Our newest Knowledge Base article gets into measurement ranges for EtO monitoring instrumentation. In so doing, we had to take a hard look at certain OSHA documents, as well as examine some literature references.

More often than you would think, references cited in a particular article don't necessarily support the contention being made. We link to a comprehensive report from 1989, and most of its content is still excellent. Too bad the authors who referenced it couldn't quote it properly.

Enjoy. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

We've spiffed up the gas detection applications primer

One of the more popular pages on Interscan's website has been built out with more content and more links. Check it out. (Shaw's Eco-Logic)

 

Demonizing, and/or Taxing, Soda

Over the past 30 years, Americans have gotten a lot heavier thanks primarily to technological progress in the food industry, which has provided an abundance of tasty, caloric treats. The champions of public health are now fighting fat with the same tools that helped turn the smoky city of the “Mad Men” era into the clean-aired boroughs of Bloomberg.

New York City is running anti-soda ads where a brown liquid streaming out of a bottle turns into fat in a glass. The New York Times editorial page wants sterner stuff. It suggests that these ads are distinctly inferior to “the best move when it comes to soft drinks — a tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.”

Many public interventions can be readily dismissed because they are costly and ineffective. Yet the battle against cigarettes has taught us that taxes and advertising together can dramatically reduce an unhealthy habit. The public sector could indeed dramatically drive down the consumption of sugary sodas, but should it? Is public paternalism appropriate? If the state wants to champion health, should it use stomach-churning public service messages or sin taxes? (Edward L. Glaeser, NYT)

 

Linking obesity with leukemia relapses - Fat may offer sanctuary for cancerous cells, a study in mice shows

In leukemia patients, excess fatty tissue allows cancerous cells to avoid destruction by chemotherapy drugs, a study in mice suggests.

The findings, combined with tests on human leukemia cell lines, may explain why previous studies have shown that obese children and adults with leukemia are more apt to relapse than their leaner counterparts, scientists report in the Oct. 1 Cancer Research.

Other research has hinted that obesity may play a role in other cancers as well, says Steven Mittelman, an endocrinologist at the University of Southern California and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. (ScienceNews)

 

New links among alcohol abuse, depression, obesity in young women found

There is new evidence that depression, obesity and alcohol abuse or dependency are interrelated conditions among young adult women but not men.

Using data collected when young adults were 24, 27 and 30 years of age, a team of University of Washington researchers found that nearly half the sample of 776 young adults tracked during the study met the criteria for one of these conditions at each of these time points.

"The proportion of people with all three of these conditions at any one point is small," said Carolyn McCarty, the lead author of a new study and a UW research associate professor of pediatrics and psychology. "For women there is a great deal of overlap between these common emotional and health problems that span early adulthood. Men may develop one of these conditions but they don't tend to lead another one later on."

"These conditions are major public health problems. They take a toll on families and community and are not subject to quick fixes. It requires a lot of time, money and energy to treat them." (University of Washington)

 

Beer for brain injury? Maybe

NEW YORK - People who suffer a traumatic brain injury from a car crash or other mishap are more apt to survive if they had been drinking at the time of the injury, according to a study published Monday.

The finding "raises the intriguing possibility" that giving alcohol to brain injured patients may improve outcome, the study team suggests in the Archives of Surgery.

Alcohol and driving "is and will always continue to be bad -- it contributes to over 40 percent of traffic-related fatalities," first author Dr. Ali Salim of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles emphasized in an email to Reuters Health.

"However, of those patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury who survive their initial insult, those with alcohol in their system seem to have a slight survival advantage compared to those without alcohol in their system," Salim noted. (Reuters Health)

No, this doesn't mean you should take alcohol prophylactically before driving -- not the same as the old "wear clean underwear in case you have an accident" thing at all.

 

Mediterranean diet trims the wallet

NEW YORK - Sticking to a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, olive oil, legumes, fruit and vegetables is heart healthy, but expensive, maybe even prohibitively so, new research from Spain hints.

Consequently, "upstream" measures -- such as taxes on unhealthy foods and/or subsidies on healthy foods -- may be needed to "increase the probability of adopting a healthy dietary pattern leading to better health and disease prevention among the population," Dr. Maira Bes-Rastrollo told Reuters Health. (Reuters Health)

 

Experts say cancer wave threatens poorer nations

BERLIN - Cancer is a bigger killer in developing countries than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined and a "tsunami" of the disease threatens to overwhelm the nations worst equipped to cope, experts said on Tuesday.

While only about 5 percent of global resources for cancer are spent in developing countries, the burden of the disease is far greater there, they said, with 60 percent of last year's 7.6 million cancer deaths occurring in poorer nations.

Women-specific cancers like breast and cervical cancer, which account for more than a quarter of all female deaths worldwide, could be dramatically cut in low and middle-income nations by improving awareness and detection, they said.

"There are tens of millions of people living with cancer or at risk of cancer in low and middle-income countries who do not benefit from all these advances," said Anne Reeler, who launched a report on cancer in poorer countries at the ECCO-ESMO European cancer congress in Berlin. (Reuters)

 

Weather shifts may spark asthma attacks in kids

NEW YORK - People who say their asthma gets worse when the weather changes are on to something, new research hints.

Dr. Alan Baptist of the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor and his colleagues found that pediatric emergency department visits for asthma attacks jumped after increases -- or decreases -- in humidity, while rises in temperature also sent more asthmatic kids to the ER.

"When we ask patients what set off your asthma...they'll say it was the change in the weather," Baptist noted in an interview with Reuters Health. And while the National Institutes of Health lists weather changes as a risk factor for worsening of asthma symptoms, he and his colleagues note in their report, no one has yet investigated whether this is true, independent of known asthma aggravators like pollution and airborne allergens. (Reuters Health)

 

Tanning may up skin cancer risk for palest kids

NEW YORK - Very light-skinned children who tan in the sun develop significantly more moles than their peers who stay pale in the sun, new research shows.

The number of moles a person has is among the strongest risk factors for developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, so the findings suggest that parents of these children should take extra care to protect them from the sun's rays, Dr. Lori A. Crane of the University of Colorado in Denver and her colleagues conclude in a report in the Archives of Dermatology.

While sunburns are known to increase melanoma risk, Crane and her team note in the report, the effect of tanning on skin cancer risk isn't clear; in fact, some studies suggest it's protective. (Reuters Health)

 

EPA Sues VF's North Face Over "Pesticide" Shoes

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint against VF Corp, owner of the North Face brand, on Tuesday, claiming that more than 70 styles of shoes advertised as bacteria-killing by the company had not been registered with the agency.

"The company sold the products making unsubstantiated claims that the footwear would prevent disease-causing bacteria," said the EPA in a statement.

In order for a manufacturer to make such claims, the EPA first tests, and then registers the pesticide.

The brands from North Face included "Fury Gore-Tex XCR," "Hedgehog SCR" and "Off-Chute," advertised as preventing bacterial and fungal growth for their wearers.

Although North Face did incorporate registered pesticides into the shoes, the claim that they would protect users against bacteria went too far, the EPA said. (Reuters)

 

Too funny for words... Shrinking ozone hole hailed as global treaty success story

STRONG evidence is emerging that, together, governments have probably dodged another environmental bullet at a time when global climate change agreement is under threat.

Human-induced ozone depletion, which once threatened massive disruption to life on Earth, is lessening on a global scale, the European Space Agency said yesterday.

''We found a global slightly positive trend of ozone increase of almost 1 per cent per decade in total ozone from the last 14 years,'' said Diego Loyola, of the German Aerospace Centre.

Their finding comes as this year's Antarctic ozone hole appears likely to level out below the worst 2006 benchmark, confirming predictions that repair is likely, though distant. (SMH)

You can see some of the real story here, in case you are not familiar with it.

 

Hmm... We Should Fund NASA to Search for ‘Killer Rocks’

In 2005, the US Congress gave NASA a deadline of 2020 to detect, track and characterize 90% of near-Earth objects bigger than 140 meters. This is the size of objects thought to pose a significant risk if they strike in urban areas.

In 2008, NASA spotted a total of 11, 323 objects of all sizes. However, the goal of 90% of near-Earth objects larger than 140 meters across can’t be reached without additional funding. NASA has calculated that to spot the asteroids as required by law would cost about $800 million between now and 2020, either with a new ground-based telescope or a space observation system. (Jack Dini, Hawaii Reporter)

I find myself somewhat ambivalent... On the one hand funding NASA to perform such busy work is infinitely preferable to funding them to produce absurd climate scares but on the other it's a dreadful waste. So-called "planet killers", asteroid impacts sufficient to decimate life on Earth arrive on average about every 65 million years. Assuming you live for 80 years then you have something less than one in eight hundred thousand (1/800,000) risk of such an impact in your lifetime. The chance of today being the day is about 1 in 24,000,000,000 (your lottery odds are way better). Even sneaky little ones that arrive so much more frequently are not very likely to get you (heck, they could explode over 95% of the planet & only frighten sea birds, fish or maybe some bugs or livestock). Humans only live on a dispersed 3% of the planet's surface and are at far greater risk from volcanoes than space rocks.

 

Barack Obama's problem: eco-worry is for those with excess cash

Pity Britain’s organic farmers. According a full-page report in today’s Guardian, they’re close to going bust. Sales of organic produce have fallen 13% per cent in a year (organic vegetables, for example, are down £34.1 million). So Green and Blacks, Rachel’s and Yeo Valley are all fighting for their survival, and the firms are meeting today in London to help co-ordinate a fightback.

...

But what has caused the demise of the organic food industry? Well, no surprises, it was the recession. Andrew Baker, the chief executive of Duchy Originals (the Prince Of Wales’s expensive food company) told the Guardian: “The organic industry hasn’t done a good enough job of informing consumers about the benefits, so it was vulnerable in recession when the choices we make are based on price.”

Aha! So the recession has forced people to make choices based on price, has it? Welcome to planet earth, Andrew. That’s what most of us have been doing our entire consumer lives. And it seems the well-off, organic brigade, are now learning how to look after the pennies too. Sure, they won’t admit at their trendy soirées that the chicken they are serving is Waitrose own-brand battery hen - but then the guests won’t able to tell it’s not organic, Normandy-raised, and corn-fed either. (I wonder, what the hell else are you supposed to feed a chicken?) We know that organic food isn’t more nutritious. And it’s also pretty obvious that it doesn’t taste any better. It’s clear, then, that the organic food industry has been quiet over consumer benefits because, besides feelings of righteous smuggery, there aren’t any.

But the decline of organic food has broader implications. It shows that when you are strapped for cash, eco-worry simply moves further down your list of priorities. You want to pay the electricity bills, you don’t want to default on your mortgage, and the kids need to be fed - so what if their vegetables are coated with insecticide? (Will Heaven, Daily Telegraph)

 

UK Organic Food Needs To Be Cheaper: Trade Board

LONDON - Organic food in Britain is often too expensive in comparison with non-organic products and the price gap must narrow if the struggling sector is to return to strong growth, the Organic Trade Board said.

Organic bread costs nearly a third more than non-organic, while the differential for Gala apples was 69 percent.

"More than a 60 percent premium is a big decision for any shopper," Finn Cottle, trade director for the organic sector umbrella body, told a conference on Tuesday.

After years of double-digit growth the organic sector, which also includes products like make-up and clothes, hit a barrier last year when the economic downturn kicked in. (Reuters)

 

NGOligarchy

The BBC reports that…

Eight of the UK’s leading environmental groups have joined forces to urge political parties to adopt a joint approach on green issues.

These eight are the usual suspects - Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, the Woodland Trust, WWF, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Greenpeace.

Speaking on behalf of all the groups, Stephen Hale, director of Green Alliance, said: “Action in the next parliament is critical if we are to simultaneously reduce our CO2 emissions whilst improving the resilience of our natural environment to avoid the looming crises of food, energy and water shortages by 2030.

“It’s now or never. Support for the common cause declaration will be the threshold for credibility at the next election on environmental issues.

“The commitment to decisive action must be endorsed by all parties.

“The real contest will be over specific policies, so we urge them to include our 10 manifesto asks for 2010 in their forthcoming manifestos.”

We’ve written before about the influence of NGOs in today’s world, and the roles they seem to have positioned themselves into. When Conservative leader, David Cameron gave a press conference at Greenpeace’s HQ, the relationship between the political establishment is (symbolically, at least) transformed. Once the thorn in the side of Western governments, the organisation was now operating as a de-facto PR consultancy, lending the Tories’ energy policies the appearance of legitimacy.


In October last year, we asked whether the arguments made by Oxfam’s campaigns were consistent with reality, and suggested that in fact they end up encouraging a very selfish understanding of ‘injustice’ in the world, as though it were experienced, not by people actually suffering injustice or inequality, but by the organisation’s would-be donors. More worryingly, the development agency increasingly appeared to be taking an anti-development line, pushing for policies that seemingly aimed to ‘protect’ traditional lifestyles on the basis that they were ‘environmentally sustainable’. But as we pointed out, this may well preclude the possibility of the ‘beneficiaires’ of Oxfam’s campaigns from asserting their own political interests, as well as realising their own ambitions for development.

There is no denying that the NGO has increased its influence over the past few decades. The questions we have concern the legitimacy of the new configuration of domestic and international politics, and the kind of elite politics it generates, and why this is happening.

The power of NGOs begins with people putting cash in tins rattled at passers by on the High Street. Increasingly, this process - once an activity of concerned citizens giving up their spare time - has become professionalised, and now consists of teams of people employed to accost shoppers with direct-debit forms, and stories and pictures about the plight of animals and African babies. They want to you to sign up, now, and rarely have any literature which you may take away with you. When the shopper gets home, he or she still is likely to be contacted by the same fund-raising teams who make calls on behalf of the same NGOs with the same stories, on the basis that they earn a commission.

Handing over cash to an organisation that putatively aims to protect Things with Wings seems like an innocuous gesture. Who wouldn’t want to protect the whale/dolphin/puffin? And indeed, if you’re worried about donkeys or elephants, there is nothing wrong with giving money to an organisation which goes about making life comfortable for creatures. But, increasingly, organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (the RSPB - part of the Green Alliance) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF - also part of the alliance) aren’t engaging in the simple provision of sanctuary for bunny rabbits, nor even lobbying for a bit more recognition for the rights of grasshoppers, but are instead directing their campaigning funds at the entire business of politics. These green NGOs turn a routine concern for fluffy and feathered animals into a political force. Did the pensioner who signed up to a £5 a month direct debit to ’save the creature’ imagine that it would be spent directly on a tiger, owl, and badger, or were they aware that it would be spent on delimiting the possibilities of democratic expression? And did those who forked out cash to aid Third World development imagine that it would be spent on precisely the opposite?

It ends with governments funding NGOs to lobby them. Groups such as Friends of the Earth and WWF are the beneificiaries of £millions of EU funds.

Back to the demands of the Green Alliance. The intention is to get each of the UK’s political parties to include the following statements in their manifestos: (Climate Resistance)

 

No Science Without Skepticism, Just Intolerance and Despotism

(a slightly different Italian version of the below has been published by Climate Monitor)

Skeptically-challenged AGWers are hardly the best examples of tolerance. Arguably, some among them don’t seem to be bothered with supporting dictatorships. If one talks to others, a barrage of insults will be fired back.

What if the underlying problem is exactly their rejection of the value of skeptical / unorthodox / anti-dogmatic thinking?

And what if by that very rejection, they are actually revealing nasty undertones that risk placing AGW centuries against Science and against centuries of philosophical advances too, starting from the Enlightenment if not from the times of Ancient Greece?

That is one’s feeling having read an extraordinary page in Italy’s biggest business daily “Il Sole24Ore”, in particular in its separate Sunday section dedicated to cultural and scientific matters. In the Sunday, August 2 2009 edition, page 35 is an almost solid praise of skepticism, described as

  • a more reasonable approach to Knowledge (including “Scientific Knowledge” )
  • a defense shield against dogmatism and intolerance
  • an essential component to help one improve oneself from an ethical point of view.

That’s the skepticism that has reached us through the Enlightenment. Those that refuse skepticism in the realm of science then, and denigrate it, and recklessly rely on an “Unquestionable Authority“, they are ultimately placing themselves outside of Science itself, and outside of nearly four hundred years of philosophy if not more.

What is obvious is that the “skeptical attitude” of ancient and modern philosophers is antithetical to current fashionable AGW, where an incredibly dogmatic rigidity leads to cries of lese-majeste for example when anybody dares to doubt prophecis of upcoming catastrophes, or some of the conclusions of the latest IPCC report, or even the very dangers of anthropogenic climate change.

(All articles appear here in my own translation. Unfortunately they do not seem to be available on the internet)

Let’s start from Remo Bodei’s  “An Enlightenment to turn back on“. UCLA’s History of Philosophy Professor Bodei invites readers to rediscover some oft-forgotten aspects of the Enlightenment, such as being aware of the “limits of Reason“, and of the importance of a skeptical approach to Knowledge.

The Enlightenment has its firmest roots in modern skepticism represented by Bayle along the traditional lines of Pyrrhonism, Montaigne’s relativism, the achievements of Hobbes’s “New Science” and French libertinism. However, the Enlightenment emphasizes the “corrosive”and”destructive” nature of Reason, ready to doubt even of itself.

Bayle is Pierre Bayle, a famous-no-longer XIX-century French philosopher. Bayle considered knowledge as an endless process whose only “true source” is reality rather than formal logic. “General theories” are therefore impossible, and Bayle dedicates large swaths of his 1697 “Dictionnaire historique et critique” to sarcastically compare wisdom and stupidity in order to debunk seemingly unassailable “truths”. Because what is “true” today is almost certain to become “false” sometimes in the future.

As reported by Bodei, Pierre Bayle is also mentioned in the following diary entry by Italian maître-à-penser Giacomo Leopardi (“Zibaldone”, September 1, 1826):

Bayle’s argument that reason is an instrument of destruction rather than construction, applies very well. Indeed, it reminds me of what I have observed in other areas: that from the Renaissance onwards, and especially recently, the advances of the human spirit have consisted, and mostly consist, not in the discovery of positive truths, but of negative ones. In other words, progress has been achieved in knowing the falsehood of concepts in the recent or faraway past considered as solid truth, or in appreciating our ignorance of other concepts that we had presumed to know already [...] And therefore the Ancients, in fields such as metaphysics, morality, and even in politics […] could be considered as more advanced than us, merely because they lived before certain “positive truth” claims and discoveries had been made, claims that we now try to shrug off slowly and with great effort […].

According to Leopardi, “to know” means “to discover which truth has now become false”, that is, “to learn more about our own ignorance”. And so as time progresses, we will know more and more, that is less and less, because each new “positive truth” will eventually join this paradoxical increase in the “knowledge of ignorance“.

It is customary at this stage to stop and wonder if all the above be an invitation to let go of Knowledge, since we will never be able to reach any “Truth“. But the answer can only be a resounding “No”. In fact, Bodei mentions “pyrrhonism“, the ideas of ancient Greek philosopher Pyrrho, unwilling to choose between the existence (dogmatism) and the denial of existence (stoicism) of an Absolute Truth.

We can have opinions, but certainty and knowledge are impossible“, Pyrrho said. This would make it absurd to be offended by people having different opinions than ours. If anything, the skeptical invitation is to avoid all dogmatisms, even and perhaps especially those related to scientific discoveries, and to allow us instead the luxury of the possibility to change our mind.

It t all gets explained in Professor of Philosophy of Knowledge Nicla Vassallo’s “Who’s afraid of skepticism?

In ancient times skepticism was a practical, as well as theoretical attitude: doubt preserves us from the “dogmatic certainties” with which we conduct our lives, and provides us with greater happiness: the certainties crash as shipwrecks against rocks, whilst doubt allows us to suspend judgement, hence to lead a life sheltered from anxieties, and to reach a higher level of ethics through greater tolerance to different opinions.

Contemporary skepticism seems instead intent on something almost opposite, a purely theoretical concern against which only life can provide soothing… But is that really true? Even the theoretical application of modern / contemporary skepticism has relevant practical consequences: indeed, in order to be reasonable, we have take as legitimate only the “knowledge” that can pass the “skeptical challenge”. In other words, we can only defend what we say if we have the ability to reject the explanations of our beliefs that are compatible with their falsehoods.

For example, if we are not able to tell a rabbit from a hare, how can we claim to have seen a rabbit?

There is no sense, no legitimacy in claims that do not pass the obstacle represented by the virtuous “skeptical challenge”. So for example we can not take as incontrovertible dogma, or even as scientific knowledge, AGW claims that are compatible with everything and its opposite, able to explain the warming and then the cooling too, and any future heating and/or cooling.

That’s because if we are not able to tell a natural warming from an anthropogenic one, how can we then claim to have seen AGW?

Rigidity, dogmatism, the claim of possessing an absolute truth that no one may dare challenge, they all do not belong to the wise, the philosopher, the sensible person.

Neither can they be legitimate tools for the scientist. (OmniClimate)

 

Speaking volumes about climate change superstitions: Revival of the rainmakers

In Kenya, a country severely affected by climate change, meteorologists cooperate with traditional rainmakers. The idea is both to benefit from their understanding of nature and to create public awareness.

A century ago, British colonial authorities would put them in jail for sorcery, but in an age of global warming, the Kenya Meteorology Department (KMD) has decided to partner up with the traditional rainmakers of the Nganyi community. (CoP15)

Interestingly, when British colonial authorities jailed sorcerers there was no gorebull warming...

 

The Best Health Reform May Be to Kill Cap-and-Trade

If you worry about what Congress could do in its health care legislation, you should be terrified by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which could cost millions of Americans their health insurance.

Nearly 15 million Americans are now looking for work, bringing the official unemployment rate to 9.7% – the highest in 26 years. If the Senate passes Waxman-Markey, that rate will go much higher.

And employment and access to health insurance are inextricably linked.

There’s no debating a cap-and-trade system would harm the economy. The only question is how costly it would be.

The CBO low-balled the costs of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed by the House in June, saying it would cost just $175 per household per year. This is the “less than the price of a postage stamp per day” figure we keep hearing.

But to arrive at this number, the CBO had to ignore employment and income losses from cap-and-trade – costs estimated to be thousands of dollars per household per year. After figuring that in, yes, cap-and-trade would cost less than a postage stamp per day, but only if you’re buying a $17.50 Express Mail stamp.

The Heritage Foundation provides a more comprehensive estimate, projecting a family of four would pay an additional $4,609 per year by 2035. Annual job losses would average 1.15 million between 2012 and 2030, with job losses rising to nearly 2.5 million in 2035. (David A. Ridenour, Townhall)

 

Why I am an Anthropogenic Global Warming Sceptic: Michael Hammer

I HAVE been asked several times ‘why am I so sceptical of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis’? There are many reasons, some of which I have documented in previous articles at this weblog, but these have relied on sometimes complex calculations which I admit can be difficult to appreciate. So I would like to outline here a few of my reasons based only on simple consistency with the AGW proponents’ own data. (Michael Hammer, JenniferMarohasy.com)

 

Poor gibbering Gideon is still at it: Climate Lies Doom Planet

The First World’s biggest Climate Liars are gathering at the UN in New York. Their Big Lies are the EU and now G8 “targets” of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C (now inevitable whatever we do) and of limiting atmosphere greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration to 450 ppm CO2-e (it is already at a dangerous 475 ppm).

A further Big Lie is that an atmospheric GHG concentration of 450 CO2-e will ensure a safe planet – a recent report from the prestigious UK Royal Society informs us that the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 level must be returned “to 320ppm [about 370 ppm CO2-e] to ensure permanent planetary health”.

The Mainstream media won’t generally report the utter falsity of these 3 Big Lies for obvious reasons – perhaps there would be rioting in the streets. The racist, genocidal leaders of the First World are pretending to tackle climate change while cementing in place a worsening climate genocide that is predicted to kill 10 billion non-Europeans this century due to unaddressed, First World-imposed global warming. (Gideon Polya, MWC)

Actually total GHG concentration regionally ranges from 1,000-40,000 ppm with an average of about 10,000 ppm and that's just the H2O content of the atmosphere. There are other greenhouse gases of course but they don't matter much. Wonder if Gibbering Gideon really believes the planet was "unhealthy" for all the hundreds of millions of years it had much higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels?

 

Wonder if he's really this stupid? Apparently he thinks Indy readers are: Johann Hari: Collapse or survive: the stark choice facing our species - We all know what has to happen. But are we too primitive and irrational to do it?

We are – at the same time – thrillingly close and sickeningly far from solving our planetary fever. The world's leaders huddled in New York City yesterday to discuss man-made global warming, in a United Nations building that will soon be underwater if they fail. They all know what has to happen: their scientists have told them, plainly and urgently.

As man-made warming rises by up to 2.4C, all sorts of awful things happen – whole island-states in the South Pacific will drown, for example – but we can stop it. If we turn off the warming gases, the temperature will stabilise. But if we go beyond 2.4C, global warming will run away from us, and we will have lost the "Stop" button. The Amazon rainforest will dry out and burn down, releasing all the carbon stored in the trees; the vast amounts of warming gases stored in the Arctic will be belched into the atmosphere; and so 3C will turn ineluctably to 4C, which will turn to 5C, and the planet will rapidly become a place we do not recognise. (The Independent)

 

Oh... U.S. To Track Greenhouse Gases For First Time

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government will begin requiring big companies to monitor and report greenhouse gas emissions, officials said on Tuesday, a move that could make it easier for federal regulators to cut emissions if Congress does not pass a climate change bill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its new reporting system will help it understand where greenhouse gas emissions originate and ultimately help reduce emissions.

"This is a major step forward in our effort to address the greenhouse gases polluting our skies," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "The American public, and industry itself, will finally gain critically important knowledge and with this information we can determine how best to reduce those emissions." (Reuters)

But greenhouse gases are not atmospheric pollutants...

 

OK, as far as baby steps go... Murkowski Mulls Stopping EPA Climate Moves

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would be prohibited for one year from clamping down on some new carbon dioxide pollution under legislation being crafted on Tuesday by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. (Reuters)

 

Hearing focuses Texas opposition to climate bill

AUSTIN — Scores of Texas politicians, regulators and industry representatives took aim Tuesday at proposed federal legislation to combat climate change, saying it would cripple the state's economy.

The proposed bill would “make every product that uses energy more expensive, forcing hardworking Texans to bear substantial new costs, and kicking a hole in our state's economic strength,” Gov. Rick Perry said.

Perry's comments opened a daylong hearing hosted by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, Public Utility Commission and Railroad Commission.

It came on the same day as President Barack Obama and other world leaders met at the United Nations in an attempt to build momentum for an international deal to cut emissions of gases linked to global warming. (Houston Chronicle)

 

Nobody Does Climate Change Gimmicks As Badly As Gordon Brown

UK Prime Minister (unelected) Gordon Brown, whose ascent to power has sadly coincided with the start of the global financial crisis, has given a little less than three minutes of his time to a blatantly orchestrated gimmick related to Avaaz.org’s “The Global [AGW] Wake Up Call“.

Mr Brown has agreed to appear in a video taking up a phone call from an Avaaz.org’s activist.

Of course it was just perchance that video recording facilities were available exactly where Mr Brown happened to pick up his phone. And of course the visage of the Avaaz.org activist was remarkably well lit, again due to chance.

The video has several low points: first Mr Brown is just too eager to agree on everything, thereby defying the point of the “wake-up call” (it’s like bringing a bucket of sand to the Sahara…).

Secondly, there is a pathetic attempt to claim that “hundreds of people” had shown up in Parliament Square. Despite plenty of video recording equipment, we are only shown a handful of the “hundreds”. There is mention of 300 activists in this eWeek article, but again no pictures or videos of them. Here’s a flickr page full of them (I wonder if there were more than 100 people at most?).

According to Google News, the eWeek article has been published at around 12.30PM London time, remarkably only a few minutes after the Brown phone call took place. And finally, what did Mr Brown promise? Why, to go to Copenhagen himself…the very thing Avaaz.org wanted to persuade him to do.

How strange. (OmniClimate)

 

Obama’s climate fantasies

President Barack Obama’s speech on global warming to the United Nations yesterday was based on fantasy. Here are some quotes from the speech followed by the reality.

Obama “…[T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”

Reality Global mean temperatures increased slightly from 1977 to 2000. Temperatures have been flat since then.

Obama “Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.”

Reality Sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the 19th and 20th century average.

Obama “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”

Reality There is no upward global trend in storms or floods.

Obama “More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”

Reality There is no upward global trend in major droughts. Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.

Obama “On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.”

Reality Some Pacific islanders may want to emigrate to New Zealand or Australia and are claiming that their islands are disappearing as the reason, but shrinkage has been minimal in recent decades because sea level rise has been minimal.

President Obama’s policy prescriptions are energy rationing and energy poverty disguised as growth and prosperity. The emissions reductions that he promises the United States will make through cap-and-trade legislation are dead in the water in the U. S. Senate and would not survive a second vote in the U. S. House. If enacted, cap-and-trade would consign the economy to perpetual stagnation and make the U. S. into a second-rate economic power.

His policy prescription for poor countries is to promise them massive “financial and technical assistance”. The track record of paying off poor countries is that it has lined the pockets of corrupt leaders and bureaucracies with billions and tens of billions of dollars, but has done nothing to help those countries become prosperous. What these countries need is free markets and abolishing barriers to trade. The global warming policies advocated by the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress would raise trade barriers and foster energy poverty throughout the world. Energy rationing is not the way forward and is not a message of hope for the poorest people in the world, who lack access to electricity and modern transportation. (Myron Ebell, Financial Post)

 

Europe fears Obama going cold on climate battle

European leaders who once saw Barack Obama's election as a new dawn in the battle against global warming are becoming concerned, three months ahead of a key UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

One sign of this is the revival of the idea for a "carbon tax" to protect Europe's industry and environment, amid fears that Europe's commitments on tackling climate change will not be matched in the United States and elsewhere.

"I confess that I am very worried by the prospects for Copenhagen (in December). The negotiations are dangerously close to deadlock at the moment," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told a think-tank in New York on Monday.

"This may not be a simple negotiating stand-off that we can fix next year. It risks being an acrimonious collapse, delaying action against climate change perhaps for years. And the world right now cannot afford such a disastrous outcome," he warned. (EUbusiness)

 

Terence Corcoran: Growth first, climate later

In this week’s battle of the summits, Pittsburgh wins. As the world’s top 20 political figures, leaders of the so-called G20 group of nations, open two days of summit work in Pittsburgh tomorrow, it can now safely be concluded that one issue has been resolved.

In the great public policy battle between global economic growth and global climate change, the G20 is going for growth. And if growth trumps climate at the G20, that spells the end of any hope of a major climate agreement in Copenhagen in December.

Copenhagen was essentially sidelined yesterday at another event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Change Summit in New York. There, along with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, U.S. President Barack Obama more or less shuffled climate control policy off into the great dreamscape of unattainable plans and long range objectives. Like equality for all and peace in our time, the world will have to wait for sweeping and binding climate policy.

On the urgency of climate policy, Mr. Obama used language with enough drag coefficient to stop an ocean liner, even one with the momentum and power of climate change.

“The journey is long and the journey is hard,” said Mr. Obama, leaving his audience bogged down in rhetorical sludge. “Difficulty is no excuse for complacency,” said Mr. Obama. “Unease is no excuse for inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress.” And, in another exhortation, he said: “Each of us must do what we can when we can to grow our economies without endangering our planet — and we must do it together.”

While Mr. Obama repeated many of the usual dramatic claims of looming climate disaster and catastrophe, growth comes first, climate second. “We seek sweeping but necessary change in the midst of a global recession, where every nation’s most immediate priority is reviving their economy and putting their people back to work.” (Financial Post)

 

US-EU rift clouds climate summit

A growing rift between the US and Europe is overshadowing Tuesday’s United Nations climate change summit in New York, further damping hopes for a breakthrough at the Copenhagen talks in December.

Connie Hedegaard, the Danish environment minister, lowered expectations, saying: “Things are looking difficult and too slow, that is the fact.”

The downgrading of expectations comes as relations between the US and Europe, which started the year of talks as allies, near breakdown.

In Brussels, European Union officials have grown increasingly frustrated at the US stance, saying it has fallen short on both its level of ambition to reduce emissions and on offering aid to developing nations.

“So far, we thought the basic problem was the Chinese and the Indians. But now I think the problem appears to lie most clearly with the US,” a European Commission official said. Talks were “not going well”. (Financial Times)

 

Gap Holds Between Climate Stances of Rich and Poor

As world leaders and their top advisers convened in Manhattan for Tuesday’s United Nations summit on global warming, there were hints of accord on a few issues that could form the basis for a climate deal in December in Copenhagen – something less that a full-blown treaty but sufficient to avoid total breakdown of an international effort. (More on those hints can be found below and on our Green Inc. blog.)

But in remarks by officials, there were also displays of the deep rifts that persist between rich countries and emerging powers. How this all shakes out in the 77 days leading up to the Copenhagen meeting remains to be seen. But for the moment, the familiar roadblocks to a climate deal appear to be strong and holding.

Most notable today was the continuing insistence by top officials from developing countries, including the president of South Korea and representatives of China and India, that the world’s established powers need to provide money and technology to help developing countries shift away from fossil fuels. (dearth)

 

Chinese rope-a-dope: Now China lays down challenge to Obama on climate - UN hopeful that Beijing initiative will kick-start talks on deal to curb emissions

Beijing will raise the stakes in the race to agree a global climate change treaty by using a summit of world leaders in New York today to announce that China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is ready to take new measures to cut pollution.

Although more than 100 leaders will attend today's conference, the focus will be on China's premier, Hu Jintao, and US President Barack Obama, who together may hold the fate of the treaty in their hands. (The Independent)

 

Can China make a great green leap forward? - The world’s most polluting country has pledged to end its energy-squandering ways. Beijing’s commissars have the power to do it

The Chinese once rode to work on bicycles. Millions of pedalling commuters in Chinese cities would, decades ago, crowd out ancient lorries and limousines carrying Communist Party officials. The choice of two wheels wasn’t a fashion for Lycra-clad ethically green mobility. It was poverty. Given the choice, today’s Chinese commuters would rather burn petrol while seated in air-conditioned cars than inhale the foul fumes of China’s cities, while burning body fat.

The Chinese need to get back on their bikes. Not back-pedalling to a bleak past of rural poverty and backyard steel mills but a great leap forward. It must leapfrog from a neo-Victorian world of metal-bashing heavy industry to a low-intensity, low-carbon world of electric vehicles, wind turbines, light industry, organic farming and bicycles.

That is what many in the rich world would like. At the UN in New York, Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, yesterday made a gesture that might begin to bridge the gap between our carbon-neutral fantasy and the real world of energy choices. He set out targets to reduce China’s energy intensity by pledging to “cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020”.

The first point to make is that this is not a pledge to cut emissions. If China’s economy is expanding at a rate of 7-8 per cent per annum, China’s carbon dioxide emissions will increase because the country is powered by coal: it must burn more tonnes as it moves forward. China’s leaders have made clear that their primary goal is to lift people out of poverty. Up until yesterday, the best China had offered the UN climate talks was a vague promise that CO2 emissions will plateau before 2050. (Carl Mortished, The Times)

 

China diminishes hope for global climate deal - Copenhagen summit set for failure as major polluters fail to break new ground toward a treaty

World leaders have failed to break new ground in climate talks, making the chance of finalizing a full global treaty in Copenhagen in December remote.

The stalemate followed brief optimism that China's President had travelled to a one-day UN climate summit in New York with firm commitments to reduce the growth in the emissions China produces.

But the hype about a new direction from the biggest developing economy – which would have pressured developed countries, notably the United States, Europe and Canada, to commit to binding cuts and offer huge sums to compensate poorer nations for restraining emissions – was not fulfilled.

Instead, Chinese President Hu Jintao left his promises vague or emphasized domestic measures rather than binding international commitments – and the focus for December's negotiations turned toward a pared-down, Plan B agreement-in-principle, rather than a treaty. (Globe and Mail)

 

Rudd switches tack on emissions legislation

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has undermined his own argument that his emissions trading legislation must be passed before Copenhagen, admitting its defeat has not hampered his role in international climate-change talks.

The Government has previously insisted the legislation's early passage is needed to maximise its muscle for Copenhagen as well as to provide business certainty.

But Mr Rudd, in New York for United Nations climate talks, drew on his recent Senate defeat to refute suggestions US influence is weakened by the stalling of legislation in the US Senate.

''Let me give you a parallel,'' he told CNN. ''Australia is very active in climate change … We are into these negotiations big time. But you know something? Our domestic emissions trading scheme was also voted down by our Senate a very short time ago. That doesn't impede me from being active in these negotiations, and my observations of President Obama is that it doesn't impede him either.''

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Mr Rudd was ''telling Australians one thing at home and telling Americans another thing abroad''. Mr Rudd's statement to the Americans ''takes away his own argument for a [trading] system before the world comes to an agreement,'' he said. There should be global agreement first ''so as our action is not futile by merely acting alone''.

Mr Hunt said Mr Rudd's case for the legislation passing in November was also weakened by the shaky state of the international negotiations. ''Copenhagen is looking a little less certain. It is likely to be a process rather than an outcome on the day,'' Mr Hunt said. The US legislation was not likely to be passed until early next year, he said. (The Age)

 

Another eye-roller from Andy: Momentum on Climate Pact Is Elusive

The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.

The plateau in temperatures has been seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the threat of global warming is overblown. And some climate experts worry that it could hamper treaty negotiations and slow the progress of legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

Scientists say the pattern of the last decade — after a precipitous rise in average global temperatures in the 1990s — is a result of cyclical variations in ocean conditions and has no bearing on the long-term warming effects of greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere.

But trying to communicate such scientific nuances to the public — and to policy makers — can be frustrating, they say. (NYT)

 

U.N. climate meeting was propaganda: Czech president

UNITED NATIONS - Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticized a U.N. meeting on climate change on Tuesday at which U.S. President Barack Obama was among the top speakers, describing it as propagandistic and undignified.

"It was sad and it was frustrating," said Klaus, one of the world's most vocal skeptics on the topic of global warming.

"It's a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem," he said. "It's simply not dignified."

At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change.

Klaus said there were increasing doubts in the scientific community about whether humans are causing changes in the climate or whether the changes are simply naturally occurring phenomena.

But politicians, he said, seem to be moving closer to a consensus on climate change.

"The train can't be stopped and I consider that a huge mistake," Klaus said. (Reuters)

 

Future coffee: scarce, expensive – but tasty

In Guatemala, farmers growing coffee are forced to move production to higher altitudes where less land is available. The good news: conditions for high quality coffee are actually better. (CoP15)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 38: 23 September 2009

The Scientists Speak:
Al Gore: Master of Truth or Politics?: A New Zealand climatologist discusses the Nobel Prizewinner's climate science credentials. Featuring Dr. Chris de Freitas, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


Click here to watch other short videos on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution.

Editorial:
On the Potential Extinction of High-Elevation Species: If the world were to begin warming again, would earth's high-altitude plants and animals find themselves "in danger of being pushed off the planet," as NASA's James Hansen has claimed they would be?

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 732 individual scientists from 429 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Rawson Lake, Northwestern Ontario, Canada. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Extinction (Real-World Observations - Plants: Stationary): In addition to migrating to more suitable locations, earth's plants have other ways of successfully responding to various pressures that might otherwise lead to their extinction.

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Dropwort (Nagy and Tuba, 2008), Orchardgrass (Nagy and Tuba, 2008), Rice (Yang et al., 2009b), and Robusta Poplar (Lagomarsino et al., 2009).

Journal Reviews:
The Status of Earth's Ocean Heat Content: Is it going up, down or holding relatively steady? ... and what is the significance of the result?

Warming and Cooling in the Bay of Biscay: What does the multi-decadal sea surface temperature cycling of the past century and a half reveal?

Genetic Adaptation to Extreme Environmental Change: Can it work its wonders with respect to global warming?

Alpine Plants Threatened with Warming-Induced Extinction: Can phenotypic plasticity save the day?

Biological Soil Crusts, Seed Germination and CO2: How are the three related?

CO2: Undergirding Modern Science
Fossil Fuels -- A Quickie Divorce is Not an Option

Click here to watch additional videos on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution. (co2science.org)

 

New Paper “Albedo Effect On Radiative Errors In Air Temperature Measurements” By Huwald Et Al 2009

There is a new paper which addresses the issue of surface albedo and how this affects surface air temperatures (thanks to Dev Niyogi for alerting us to it!). The article is

 Huwald, H., C. W. Higgins, M.-O. Boldi, E. Bou-Zeid, M. Lehning, and M. B. Parlange (2009): Albedo effect on radiative errors in air temperature measurements, Water Resour. Res., 45, W08431, doi:10.1029/2008WR007600.

The abstract reads 

“Most standard air temperature measurements are subject to significant errors mainly due to sensor heating by solar radiation, even when the measurement principle is accurate and precise. We present various air temperature measurements together with other measurements of meteorological parameters using different sensor systems at a snow-covered and a vegetated site. Measurements from naturally ventilated air temperature sensors in multiplate shields are compared to temperatures measured using sonic anemometers which are unaffected by solar radiation. Over snow, 30 min mean temperature differences can be as large as 10°C. Unshielded thermocouples were also tested and are generally less affected by shortwave radiation. Temperature errors decrease with decreasing solar radiation and increasing wind speed but do not completely disappear at a given solar radiation even in the presence of effective ventilation. We show that temperature errors grow faster for reflected than for incident solar radiation, demonstrating the influence of the surface properties on radiative errors, and we detect the albedo as a variable with major influence on the magnitude of the error as well as a key quantity in possible error correction schemes. An extension is proposed for an existing similarity regression model to correct for radiative errors; thus, surface-reflected shortwave radiation is identified as a principal source of error and the key variable for obtaining a unique nondimensional scaling of radiative errors.”

This paper further documents one of the  sources of spatially non-representative temperature data that we highlighted in our papers

Pielke Sr., R.A. J. Nielsen-Gammon, C. Davey, J. Angel, O. Bliss, N. Doesken, M. Cai., S.  Fall, D. Niyogi, K. Gallo, R. Hale, K.G. Hubbard, X. Lin, H. Li, and S. Raman, 2007: Documentation of uncertainties and biases associated with surface temperature measurement sites for climate change assessment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 88:6, 913-928.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

The Huwald et al 2009 paper shows that if the local surface characteristics, such as albedo, change over time, the long term trends in surface temperatures will have a non-spatially representative component if the larger scale landscape did not have the same changes. (Climate Science)

 

Iceberg Stories Are a Wet Lettuce

In the Guardian yesterday, the paper’s US Environmental correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg writes:

The world’s ocean surfaces had their warmest summer temperatures on record, the US national climatic data centre said today.

Climate change has been steadily raising the earth’s average temperature in recent decades, but climatologists expected additional warming this year and next due to the influence of El Niño.

However, as Bob Tisdale and Anthony Watts point out at the latter’s blog, there are many reasons to be cautious about taking the claim at face value. It is the product of one dataset, and is not supported with data from satellites. Indeed, according to the UAH satellite record, the average temperature of the world in August was just 0.23°C above the average.

But that’s not what really piqued our interest. Goldenburg’s story finishes,

The report also noted the continuing retreat in Arctic sea ice over the summer. Sea ice covered an average of 6.3m sq kilometres (2.42m sq miles) during August, according to the national snow and ice data centre. That was 18.4% the 1979-2000 average.

The press release from which Goldenburg lifts her story says

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice covered an average of 2.42 million square miles during August. This is 18.4 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent, and is generally consistent with a decline of August sea ice extent since 1979.

The difference between ‘18.4 percent’, and ‘18.4 percent below’ is 63.2 percent. But of course, it may well just be a typo than a reflection of Goldenberg’s misunderstanding of the science. But notice another interpretation. The original quote speaks of the 2009 ice extent representing the continuation of a general trend, ‘consistent with a decline of August sea ice extent since 1979′, ie, not as much ice as there was, once. But this is transformed in Goldenberg’s copy, and becomes ‘the continuing retreat in Arctic sea ice over the summer’, which is palpably not true.

Perhaps you think we’re nit-picking by pulling Goldenberg up for what might well be the result of an honest misunderstanding married to a slack rewording of the press release. But what is strange is her apparent complete lack of surprise at the notion that summer ice has declined by a factor of five in such a short time. And that’s after two years of recovery. … (Climate Resistance)

 

Chu wants you to pay more: Electricity Costs Should Move To Reflect Demand: Chu

WASHINGTON - As the United States' power grid becomes more sophisticated, electricity rates will need to rise to reflect periods of intense energy use and to encourage consumers to change their electricity habits, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Monday.

Chu said currently most local electricity rate commissions view themselves as consumer advocates and try to keep electricity prices as low as possible.

"Hopefully that will evolve somewhat, so that they begin to fold in some of the real costs of electricity generation and electricity use," Chu said at conference focused on creating a "smart grid." (Reuters)

In reality supply should increase to meet demand (and usually does, in the absence of government interference) but Chu wants to ration you through punitive pricing. Have you got a message for Doctor Chu?

 

Market the crude or don't but you can keep your scam: Ecuador Would Protect Oil-Rich Rainforest For Cash

UNITED NATIONS - Ecuador, a member of OPEC, is willing to preserve a tropical forest with reserves of 900 million barrels of oil if rich countries pay it about $360 million a year to keep the petroleum in the ground.

Under the proposal, the international community would pay Ecuador an annual fee equal to about half of the total cash it would generate from selling the crude. Leaving the oil under the Yasani rainforest would prevent the release of up to 410 million tons of carbon. (Reuters)

Actually the biosphere would prefer the carbon was released as carbon dioxide, it is an essential trace gas, after all.

 

CCS: all about the ‘right rocks’ - A report from the Third Annual Coal Tech conference, held on September 15-16, on steps to carbon storage in Australia.

The Third Annual Coal Tech conference hosted a range of insightful presentations on coal related technologies, including clean coal and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies; coal-to-liquids; underground coal gasification; and syngas.

James McGregor, energy systems manager, CSIRO Division of Energy Technology, gave a timely update on the organisation’s progress with CCS for coal fired power generation.

And, global specialist in geological storage solutions for carbon dioxide, Schlumberger Carbon Services, shared its expertise on the parameters of capture and storage. The company’s Andrew Garnett drew from its 80 year history in subsurface evaluation in the oil and gas industry, to provide a picture of what development may look like in Australia’s coal fired electricity sector. (AJM)

No, it's actually all about whether there's any plausible reason for wasting roughly one-third of your generated energy depriving the biosphere of the one really beneficial byproduct of human activity. There is absolutely no excuse for doing this.

 

Good! Spending crisis could put brake on clean coal project

The government's claim to be a world leader in developing clean coal technology has been dented after officials warned privately that public spending constraints could force them to cut the £10bn programme.

The Guardian has learned that Ed Miliband's energy and climate change department is under pressure from the Treasury to scale back its ambitions for new carbon capture and storage (CCS) coal plants.

Officials have admitted that securing the necessary investment is "challenging in the current climate". (The Guardian)

The last thing we should be doing is burying carbon we have spent time, effort and energy mining in the first place.

 

Biofools... Senator Would Drop Land-Use From U.S. Biofuels Rule

WASHINGTON - A senator from the U.S. Corn Belt filed an amendment on Tuesday that would bar federal regulators from considering how land is used overseas when they write rules to expand use of biofuels.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin filed the amendment while the Senate was considering the annual funding bill for the Interior Department and related agencies, said an aide. It was not immediately clear when the amendment would be debated. (Reuters)

 

Wave electricity generator capsizes in sea

A power company's plans to create energy by harnessing power from sea waves suffered a setback after an 80-tonne generator capsized off the coast.

A spokeswoman for Trident Energy, who developed the pioneering technology, said the experimental wave generator was being towed out to sea to begin a year-long offshore trial when the accident happened yesterday near Southwold, Suffolk.

The technology, which was featured in Leonardo Di Caprio's eco-documentary, The 11th Hour, was being tested in the sea to gather detailed information on how the machine performed.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman added the floating generator was being towed to its new location five miles off Southwold when it capsized at 12.35pm yesterday. (Press Association)

Except for the "floating" part...

 

September 22, 2009

 

The backward attacks on Norman Borlaug - Who could possibly think that Borlaug’s ideas for feeding millions were a bad thing? Green activists, that’s who.

The death of Norman Borlaug on 12 September was widely marked as a sad loss. Borlaug’s development and introduction of high-yielding crop varieties into Mexico, India and Pakistan in the mid-twentieth century helped avert a humanitarian disaster of biblical proportions. Instead of hundreds of millions of people starving, food production in these and other developing countries shot up as a result of his work.

Nobody could complain about that, right? In fact, in amongst the lavish praise for Borlaug there has been an environmentalist critique of his work – and the underlying message is that, somehow, Borlaug helped to make things worse rather than better. It takes some extraordinarily twisted thinking to conclude that the preservation of hundreds of millions of lives could be a bad thing, but green commentators have given it their best shot. (Rob Lyons, sp!ked)

 

BORLAUG: FEEDING THE HUNGRY, SAVING THE WILDLIFE, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY

CHURCHVILLE, VA—It was 1950. World War II, with its 40 million deaths, was over. Doctors were conquering smallpox with vaccines, protecting millions from malaria and typhus with new pesticides, and treating infections with the miraculous new antibiotics.

Then we realized that humanity was still at massive risk—from hunger. With death rates falling radically, there was suddenly a real possibility that medical progress could be overwhelmed by lack of food. Experts predicted a billion people would soon starve in Asia, followed by similar disasters in Latin America and Africa.

Enter Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution. The young plant breeder from the University of Minnesota had been hired by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation, because Mexico could no longer feed itself.

The semi-dwarf wheat that made him famous was a cross between Mexican wheats and a dwarf Japanese variety that didn’t fall over even under the weight of enormous seed heads. It was also disease-resistant. Given fertilizer, the new wheat could produce four times as much food per acre. It was also indifferent to day-length, so it could be planted widely across the world’s good soils. The International Rice Research Institute used the same semi-dwarf strategy for similarly high-yielding new rice varieties. .

The Green Revolution was born. Over the ensuing decades, crop yields were tripled with improved seeds, industrial fertilizer, irrigation pumps and pesticides. The Atlantic Monthly estimated that Borlaug’s seeds, and the research stations and agricultural extension services he founded, saved a billion human lives.

Tragically, Borlaug’s triumph has been tarnished by complaints from the environmental movement that should have applauded him. The Greens complained the high-yield seeds benefited big farms more than small ones. Studies show both benefited, but the biggest gains went to billions of consumers worldwide through lower-cost food abundance. And to the wildlife that wasn’t displaced by their habitat being destroyed for cropland.

The Greens complained the new seeds needed too much fertilizer. But high-yield wheat takes no more fertilizer per ton of food than low-yield wheat—high yields just grow the grain on far less land

Borlaug told writer Gregg Easterbrook that “most Western environmentalists have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. . . . If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals. . .”

I suspect much of the environmental movement blames Norman Borlaug for preventing the massive famines that would have solved the “population problem” quickly in the 1960s—with starvation. But the starving would have raped the wildlife habitat before they allowed their children to die. Today, we’ve solved the population problem with affluence.

Not surprisingly, Borlaug spent the last decades of his richly productive life working to bring the Green Revolution to Africa. He hadn’t yet succeeded when death claimed him. Fortunately, however, the challenge of a second Green Revolution has now been picked up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with enormous support from the Warren Buffet family.

Hopefully, they will be able to lead the completion of Dr. Borlaug’s work: feeding the hungry and saving the planet’s wildlife with science. It’s the only food-success strategy humanity has ever found. (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)

 

Obama: ‘Nobody’ Considers Health Care Mandate a Tax Increase

President Obama argued on TV talk shows this weekend that his proposed mandate for everyone to buy health insurance – or face a large financial penalty – is not a tax increase:

In a testy exchange on ABC’s “This Week,” broadcast Sunday, Obama rejected the assertion that forcing people to obtain coverage would violate his campaign pledge against raising taxes on middle-class Americans.

“For us to say you have to take responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” Obama said in response to persistent questioning, later adding: “Nobody considers that a tax increase.”

Well, I consider it a tax increase, so I guess that makes me nobody.

The real question is whether this tax increase is a good idea. My answer is no. If others disagree, then fine, let’s have that debate. But denying plain truths suggests that advocates of Obamacare are trying to pass something that Americans would not endorse if it were structured and explained clearly.

Watch:

 (Jeffrey A. Miron, Cato at liberty)

 

Nobody Considers Health Insurance Mandates a Tax? Really??

As my colleague Jefferey Myron noted earlier today, when grilled by George Stephanopolous on whether the so-called “individual mandate” is a tax increase, Obama replied, “Nobody considers that a tax increase….You can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase…My critics say everything is a tax increase.”

Where do Obama’s critics get these wacky ideas?  From a bunch of nobodies, that’s who!

Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt, quoted by Larry Summers (1987):

[Just because] the fiscal flows triggered by mandate would not flow directly through the public budgets does not detract from the measure’s status of a bona fide tax.

Economist Larry Summers, Obama’s National Economic Council chair (1989):

Economists have generally devoted little attention to mandated benefits regarding them as simply disguised tax and expenditure measures… Essentially, mandated benefits are like public programs financed by benefit taxes… [If] the mandated benefit is worthless to employees, it is just like a tax from the point of view of both employers and employees…There is no sense in which benefits become ‘free’ just because the government mandates that employers offer them to workers.

Columbia University economist Sherry Glied, Obama’s appointee to HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in the New England Journal of Medicine (2008):

The mandate is in many respects analogous to a tax. It requires people to make payments for something whether they want it or not. One important concern is that the government will provide insufficient funds for the subsidies intended to accompany the mandate. In that case, the mandate will act as a very regressive tax, penalizing uninsured people who genuinely cannot afford to buy coverage.

Congressional Budget Office (2009):

Under some proposals, firms would be required to make payments to the federal government if they chose not to offer health insurance to their employees, and individuals who did not comply with the requirement to  obtain insurance would have to pay a penalty. Such payments would be equivalent to a tax or a fine, and the government’s receipts should be recorded in the budget as federal revenues.

Here’s a question: if an individual mandate is not a tax, why exempt anybody?  If an employer mandate isn’t a tax, why exempt small businesses? (Michael F. Cannon, Cato at liberty)

 

Symposium tackles obesity and food issues - The Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute held its first annual symposium on health and food issues.

The world is fat, which is part of the reason that processed foods — the kind that can sit in the cupboard for three years without going bad — have been demonized. Instead, health advocates claim fresh fruits and vegetables are the key to healthy living.

And while eating fresh fruits and vegetables may be ideal, it isn’t always realistic, Eric Decker , a professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst said.

Decker, one of 15 experts who spoke about the current state of food and public health at the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Symposium at the University of Minnesota on Monday, said America’s fattest people also tend to be its poorest, and while fresh organic foods may be more nutritious, they don’t come cheap. (Minnesota Daily)

 

Call for early intervention to prevent child obesity

THE CRITICAL time to intervene to prevent the development of obesity is during the pre-school years and in early adolescence, a conference on sport and exercise medicine has been told.

With one in five Irish teens either overweight or obese, Cork GP Dr John O’Riordan argued strongly that it was vital to intervene early in a child’s life with healthy eating and activity programmes.

He recommended the widespread use of programmes like littlesteps.eu – a guide to eating well and being active – as well as An Bord Bia’s Food Dudes initiative and the Action for Life exercise programme for primary schools.

Dr O’Riordan was addressing the sixth annual conference of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, RCPI and RCSI in Dublin at the weekend on the topic of Obesity in Childhood: Primary Care Perspective. (Irish Times)

 

ASBMR: New Reference Values Set to Gauge Obesity

DENVER -- Normal values for 10 body composition parameters -- including a proposed replacement for body mass index (BMI) -- have been established from NHANES data, a researcher said here.

Separate reference values were calculated for three major racial groups and both genders for such measures as total body bone mineral content, trunk-limb fat mass ratio, and total body fat percentage, reported Thomas Kelly, PhD, of Hologic in Bedford, Mass.

In a poster presentation here at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting, and in a full publication this week in the PLoS ONE online journal, Kelly and colleagues provided normal ranges for the body composition measures based on whole-body dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) studies conducted as part of the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Kelly and colleagues were particularly enthusiastic about one of these measures, the ratio of fat mass to height squared, also known as the fat mass index (FMI).

In their PLoS ONE report, they suggested it could eventually replace BMI as a more accurate Action Points
Explain to interested patients that many clinical decisions as well as research depends on knowing the normal range of body composition including the relative amounts of fat, muscle, bone, and other tissue for people of the same age and height.

Explain that these data were taken from a high-quality survey of about 20,000 people who underwent detailed physical exams as well as interviews.
indicator of excess body fat and, therefore, of obesity-related health risks. (MedPage Today)

 

Editorial: Soda tax will curtail obesity, bolster health care

Under the contentious proposed tax on soft drinks, a can of soda might cost more than that crumpled dollar bill in your pocket.

The tax, which has yet to make its way through Congress, on sugary soft drinks won’t be limited to soda pop, however. Energy drinks, sports beverages, juices and iced-tea will be taxed, as well, according to The New York Times. Diet sodas are exempt from the tax despite their potentially harmful artificial sweeteners.

As Americans, we’re somewhat accustomed to governmental regulation of what goes into our bodies. Cigarettes and alcohol are far from healthy — we’ve known that for decades. To dissuade our intake of such products, the government has affixed sin taxes — special taxes levied on products viewed as objectionable — to these goods. Sugar-laced beverages might not carry the carcinogenic toxins of a smoldering cigarette, but they’re still a prime culprit responsible for America’s expanding waistline and a contributor to our millions of cases of heart disease.

Some — particularly, the soda pop industry — view this new tax as unnecessary and question its real effectiveness. The causes behind obesity are complex and diverse. (Pitt News)

So how do you stop wannabe social engineers? Are they the ones you're supposed to fill their mouths with rock salt and sew their lips together or something?

 

Soda tax is no sure cure for childhood obesity

The video shows dozens of children playing “Red Rover” and singing “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” It is a summer scene that took place nearly 50 years ago.

The video is adapted from a 15-minute home movie taken in 1960 at a vacation Bible school. The First Baptist Church in my hometown, Rome, Ga., found the movie and posted it on its Web site as part of preparations for its 175th anniversary.

As the film moves from a church classroom to a rolling lawn outside, it offers quick glimpses of childhood friends and my mother, who was one of the teachers. You can tell the movie’s age by the clothes (all of the girls wear dresses) and the tail fins on the cars. But one other big difference becomes evident as more and more kids scamper across the frame — not a single one is overweight.

I don’t think of 1960 as being a particularly health-conscious time. More than half of American men smoked, and cholesterol was not a common term.

But it also was not a time when childhood obesity was a public health concern. Today it is a virtual epidemic. (Robert Powell, Virginia Business)

 

Prosecutors Should Not Be Allowed to Fabricate Evidence

In 1977, county attorney David Richter and assistant county attorney Joseph Hrvol worked side by side with police to investigate and “solve” the notorious murder of a former police officer in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. The prosecutors fabricated evidence and used it to charge and convict Curtis McGhee and Terry Harrington, sending them to prison for 25 years.

After the convictions were overturned for prosecutorial misconduct, McGhee and Harrington sued the county and prosecutors. The defendants in that civil suit invoked the absolute immunity generally afforded prosecutors to try to escape liability. After the Eighth Circuit ruled against them, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

On Friday, Cato joined the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the ACLU on a brief supporting the men unjustly imprisoned. We argue that prosecutors should be responsible for their role in manufacturing a false “case,” just as police officers would be under the same circumstances. As the Court has held, prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity only during the prosecutorial phase of a case, not its investigatory phase. Were prosecutors to receive absolute immunity here, citizens would have no protection from or recourse against prosecutors who frame the innocent by fabricating evidence and then using that evidence to convict them.

To read Cato’s brief in the case of Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, see here. (Ilya Shapiro, Cato at liberty)

 

The Indy's green suicide is near complete (how long before The Guardian follows?): O'Brien sees London's Independent closed by Dec

DUBLIN, Sept 18 - Independent News & Media is likely to close its flagship London title The Independent by Christmas, the publishing group's second biggest shareholder Denis O'Brien said on Friday.

"There's no point in us as a company subsidising a newspaper that really nobody wants to read in the United Kingdom," O'Brien told Bloomberg TV in an interview on the sidelines of the Global Irish Economic Forum.

"It's not a relevant newspaper anymore and this newspaper's going to be closed by Christmas," said O'Brien, who has been at odds with the company's board over plans to refinance a 200-million-euro debt issue that was meant to be paid in May. (Reuters)

 

Greenies Against Greenwash!

A couple of interesting “greenie” articles…if only because one doesn’t have to follow through to each and everyone of their conclusions to agree with their observations: much of what is being touted as solution to (alleged) planetary environmental problems is “a way of making you think” begging the question of “what difference does it make?

From RISMedia: “All This Talk about ‘Green’…It’s Enough to Turn ‘Ye Puce” by George W Mantor (March 17, 2009):

You can bet that in the next few months someone will chastise you for not being “green” enough. [...] Car companies are going “green” and so are refineries, builders, and just about every other industry with any exposure to the public. As a matter of fact, even manufacturers of ammunition are producing “green” bullets. These would be particularly appropriate, I suppose, for shooting environmental activists. So, what is this “green?” Is it new? Where did it come from and, why now?

[...] “Green” isn’t a thing as much as a way of thinking. Or, a way of making you think.

[...] Being Greener. The first phase had already taken place. They switched to “greener” office products: recycled paper, bamboo paper clips, solar powered calculators; a bold switch from chemical adhesives to certified organic muselage ground from the bulbs of renewable wild Hyacinth.

I was musing about some of the consequences, like the move to far costlier refillable pens. They still buy the same number of pens. What they didn’t consider was that the pens weren’t wearing out or running dry, they would “disappear” long before they ever ran out of ink. It would have been greener to simply chain the disposable pens to conveniently located writing surfaces.

As I waited for the light to change, my eyes were drawn to the gutter where the exact composition of the decaying soggy mass was indiscernible, but I did notice that some of it was turning green. And, it sort of begs the question, what difference does it make [...]

From Orion magazine: “Forget Shorter Showers – Why personal change does not equal political change” by Derrick Jensen (July/August 2009)

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

[...] An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. [...] See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings.

[...] Or let’s talk energy. [...] “even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

[...] Or let’s talk waste. [...] Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States [...] . (OmniClimate)

 

Top companies to avoid: NEWSWEEK Launches Ranking of Greenest Companies in America

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 -- Newsweek launched a ranking of the greenest companies in America in its current issue and Hewlett-Packard took top honors. The Newsweek Green Rankings is the first-ever report based on companies' actual environmental footprint, policies and practices. The twelve-page report in the September 28 issue, (on newsstands September 21), features a green ranking of America's 500 largest publicly-traded companies as measured by revenue, market capitalization and number of employees. On Newsweek.com, can search and sort the data in several ways, analyze the detailed methodology of the study and submit and review comments. (PRNewswire)

 

Oh... Fed judge says grizzlies still threatened

BILLINGS, Mont. — Facing the combined pressures of climate change, hunters and lax protections, 600 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park are going back on the threatened species list under a federal court order issued Monday.

The ruling highlighted climate change's devastation to whitebark pine forests, which produce nuts that some grizzlies rely upon as a mainstay. (AP)

 

After all their efforts to terrorize people out of using biotech... Biotechnology Could Cut C02 Sharply - Report

Industrial biotechnology has the potential to save the planet up to 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year and support building a sustainable future, a new WWF report found.

Industrial biotechnology applications are already widely used in everyday life. They help reduce the amount of time needed to bake fresh bread, increase the yield in wine, cheese and vegetable oil production and save heat in laundry washing. Industrial biotechnology could help create a true 21st century green economy, the report states.

WWF Denmark identified the potential to be between 1 billion and 2.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2030, more than Germany's total reported emissions in 1990.

"Low carbon biotech solutions are a good example of hidden or invisible climate solutions that are all around us already today but are easy to overlook for policymakers, investors and companies." says John Kornerup Bang, Head of Globalization Program at WWF Denmark and coauthor of the report. (Reuters)

 

<chuckle> Record fall in carbon emissions

The recession and political initiatives to cut emissions lead to significant decline in carbon emissions this year, a study from the International Energy Agency shows. The world has seen nothing like this for 40 years. (CoP15)

I guess political initiatives could be seen as largely responsible for the loss of confidence and attendant global recession which, coupled with fairly mild conditions in both hemispheres reducing the need for heating/cooling energy use, did lead to reduced emissions. Don't know if they should be crowing about it though since it is a very good proxy for reduced economic activity and increasing populations sliding into [deeper] poverty.

 

Poor indoctrinated dupes... Firms Start to See Climate Change as Barrier to Profit

As the real-world impacts of climate change begin to materialize and regulation of greenhouse gases appears more likely, corporate America has begun to grapple with a challenging question: How do you quantify the risks associated with climate change?

The answer depends on one's perspective. But companies are beginning to show increased willingness to disclose the extent to which they're contributing to global warming and what they're doing to keep it from harming their business. (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

See the previous item for the association between reduced emissions and business activity. The only real risk is the misguided belief life-sustaining carbon dioxide is a bad thing.

 

Time to expunge all environment "anythings" from law: US appeals court revives pollution lawsuit

NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court ruled Monday that states trying to combat global warming can sue six electric utilities to force them to cut the greenhouse gases emitted by their power plants in 20 states.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reinstated the lawsuits after a lower court judge tossed out the actions brought in 2004 by eight states, New York City and three land trusts.

The lawsuits accuse the companies of being among the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world and sought to force them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

The appeals court said the lower court judge erred in ruling that the issue was a political one that was not meant to be decided by the courts. (Associated Press)

 

Ideology trumps ecology for many climate change doubters

As the U.S. Senate gears up to consider the Waxman-Markey climate protection bill this fall, we should expect to hear heightened denials about the reality of human-induced global warming.

New research suggests, however, that the global warming debate is much less about science than it is about ideology.

The Center for Climate Change Communications at George Mason University recently joined former Eugene resident Tony Leiserowitz, now director of the Yale University Project on Climate Change, to produce a study describing where Americans stand on global warming. It found that the public can be grouped into six audiences, each of which responds to the issue in its own unique way.

The first group, which the researchers call the Alarmed, constitutes 18 percent of Americans. Members of this group are convinced of the reality and seriousness of global warming and are addressing the problem through their personal, purchasing and political activities. (Bob Doppelt, The Register-Guard)

Probably could have called that demographic the perpetually terrified since they are basically the same group concerned anything with a chemical name is going to "get" them and who possess a plethora of nameless fears. Gorebull warming is nothing but well-exploited "future fear" (fear of that which we have not already survived, even though there is no state or past which was not someone's unknown future before it was experienced). How sad it is that almost 1 in 5 people fear the coming day rather than viewing it with delicious anticipation of new challenge, learning and experience awaiting.

 

Iceland: Wetlands should count as mitigation

The North Atlantic nation wants wetland restoration to be assessed for emission reduction units at December's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. (CoP15)

Yeah... so should dams. After all, land impoundments keep runoff water from raising sea levels, so they should count big for mitigation credits ;-)

 

This from the guy that helped then-chancellor Gordon Brown tax and spend Britain into its current hole... Former British prime touts 10 million jobs from climate action

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stresses that 10 million jobs could be created by 2020, if developing nations agree to big cuts in greenhouse gases. (CoP15)

So Tony, how many jobs are created in a "normal" year? Would these 10 million jobs be additional jobs or ones that displace 100 million real jobs? Another version of the Left's "great leap 'forward'"... and developing countries are supposed to take economic advice from such people?

 

Is he really this stupid? Chu: More Bipartisanship On Climate Change Than Health Care

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today that he sees more bipartisan support for climate change legislation than for health care reform.

Chu, who spoke to reporters this morning during a conference on the smart grid, was asked whether Congress would rally around energy better than it has around health care. "Oh yeah," Chu said emphatically, adding that there was an intrinsic, vital link between the U.S. economy, its role in global efforts to curb greenhouse gases and domestic climate change legislation.

"This is the prosperity of the United States," Chu emphasized. "I see agreement on both sides of the aisle... that the United States should be leading the way in the green energy economy and that that is going to be the basis" for future growth. (Energy & Environment)

 

Idiots! Of course politicians will pay the price for stealing people's jobs and homes: Green groups open 'climate war room'

The cap-and-trade movement, spooked by the pounding health care reform took over the August break, is scrambling to persuade nervous Democrats they won’t suffer politically for taking another tough vote this year.

“When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind,” said Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign. “We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on — even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.”

Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn’t have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states.

A “climate war room” — funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups — has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications. (Politico)

 

Australia suggests compromise between rich and poor

The way to get a deal in Copenhagen is to accept that the developing countries should not make the same commitments as the rich countries, says the Australian Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong. (CoP15)

Developing countries should not limit their development in any way, shape or form. Then again, neither should developed ones.

 

Wonder if he's any good as a railway engineer? Canada should put oil sands on hold: climate change expert

MONTREAL — Canada should be doing much more to tackle climate change, and consider closing down the oilsands projects in northern Alberta, the head of an international scientific panel on climate change said Monday.

Canada should follow the European Union, which has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In contrast, Canada’s plan is to only cut emissions by 20% below 2006 levels by 2020, a target that many scientific and environmental observers say is far too low.

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions climbed 26% between 1990 and 2006. (Canwest News Service)

We certainly think it'd be a lot better for the world if he went and found out...

 

On Global Warming, an Ambitious Agenda - Domestic Politics Could Thwart U.N. Push for Commitments From Leaders

The United Nations' commitment to securing an international climate deal will be on full display Tuesday, as world leaders come together in New York to discuss how best to address global warming. But the event, arranged by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlights both the possibilities and obstacles Ban and his deputies face in orchestrating the historic pact.

Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, will be chairing the pivotal U.N. climate talks in December and is in New York this week. She said in an interview that people often fixate on the world's major carbon emitters, and forget that any final agreement must involve powerful and small countries alike.

"It's not just a bilateral U.S.-China thing, or even a trilateral U.S.-China-Europe thing," Hedegaard said. "It's 192 countries."

Ban has made a binding, international commitment to cutting greenhouse gases a central pillar of his tenure. (Juliet Eilperin and Colum Lynch, Washington Post)

 

Denmark and Google to cooperate on climate

A new YouTube channel is aimed at opening up the UN climate conference in Copenhagen (COP15) to the public. Google Maps and Google Earth offer guided video tours that illustrate climate change.

A new YouTube channel will allow users of the online video sharing website to share their thoughts on climate change before and during December’s UN climate change conference (COP15) in Copenhagen.

Through the channel, users can contribute their own opinions and questions, and view and respond to videos by climate change opinion makers. The channel will also allow users to watch videos that go behind the scenes of the conference itself. (CoP15)

 

Gifting the scammers: The Market Solution For Global Warming - Chief of Enel argues for unlimited market for carbon offsets.

Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Enel, Italy's largest power utility, says that the U.N. needs to give market forces free rein as it designs the next phase of a global carbon cap and trade market. "Common sense," says Conti, dictates that Western companies have unlimited ability to reduce their carbon footprint as cheaply as possible, namely by investing in offset projects in developing countries like China, where carbon dioxide reduction projects are relatively inexpensive. (Andy Stone, Forbes)

 

Remember we warned you about looming idiotic scare stories? Here ya go... Scientific consensus over dire consequences

A sense of urgency that has led to Tuesday’s meeting of world leaders in New York has been driven by an increasingly troubling consensus of scientific opinion.

Nearly all scientific experts agree that allowing greenhouse gas emissions to continue to rise, unchecked, will lead to substantial – some say dramatic – warming.

“The biosphere that provides us with life is being put under enormous pressure,” says Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK and holder of distinguished academic posts at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

“Changes are already occurring – increased desertification, changes to rainfall patterns.”

The gap between the glacial pace of negotiations and the rapid progress of global warming is now endangering the safety of the planet, scientists are warning. Martin Parry, of Imperial College, London, says: “That is what is at stake. I don’t think people have realised. We are nowhere near tackling this.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the body of the world’s leading climate scientists set up by the UN – warming beyond a level of about 2ºC above pre-industrial levels would lead to severe damage to natural systems, provoking floods, droughts, storms and sea level rises. (Financial Times)

 

This recycled pap, again: Small island nations urge rich to limit warming

NEW YORK, Sept 21 - Small island states that could face devastating storms and floods from climate change urged on Monday that global temperature increases be sharply curtailed from goals set recently by industrialized countries.

Leaders of the Alliance of Small Island States, or AOSIS, a group of 42 island countries, said the rest of the world should agree to agree to cut emissions at a U.N. meeting later this year to limit temperature increases well below 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels.

Temperatures have already risen about 0.8 degree C from pre-industrial times. (Reuters)

 

Activist stunts could be shafting themselves: Fake New York Post on Climate Change: “We’re Screwed”

We're ScrewedLet it not be said that no one is using eye-catching stunts to raise awareness about global warming. The activist group the Yes Men is distributing 85,000 free copies of a “special climate edition” of the New York Post throughout New York City today, with the goal of, well, terrifying people into action against climate change.

The full paper is available online here, and each article is also online. Here’s an excerpt from the front-page story:

It’s official. It’s getting hot down here. And if we don’t stop burning oil and coal, the Big Apple will be cooked.

According to a high tech study commissioned by a concerned Mayor Bloomberg and generously funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, climate change caused by human-created greenhouse gases is threatening the health, livelihood and security of New Yorkers—especially those who take the subway to work…

According to the panel’s report, if all nations don’t drastically cut their carbon emissions, then Gotham will suffer in the following ways:

• Deadly heat waves will become more frequent, more intense and longer. Because cities are a lot hotter than their surrounding areas, we’ll see more of the sorts of heat events that killed 600 people in 5 days in Chicago in 1995…

• With coastal flooding, our water supply will be in trouble…

• Along with coastal flooding, droughts will also increase…

• The strain on our power grid will be drastically increased during the summer months.

Granted, there is some light at the end of the pitch black tunnel:

So what can we do about it? Plenty. And it’s not even that hard.

On the City level, NASA scientists have the answers, and they’re simple: plant lots more trees (to cool the air through “evapotranspiration” and shade), and paint the roofs white to reflect the sun’s heating rays (See “New York’s all white with me”).

But MOST IMPORTANTLY, we need to put pressure on government—local, state and federal—to convert our entire energy systems to sustainable sources like solar and wind.

Well, lets hope all those stimulus checks can kick that process into gear. (Discover)

Well no, we're not "screwed" yet, although we will be if the misanthropists manage to gain control of the energy supply through the global warming fraud. Carbon dioxide simply cannot produce the effects all this nonsense is supposed to "address".

 

Global Warming Sophistry

The popularly promoted accounts reduce a complex climate change process to a simplistic global warming argument based on carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere that absorb infrared (IR) radiation. The promoters employ atmospheric temperature measurements of relatively short term trends, extenuate the influence of natural events and emphasize a greenhouse-related rationale. But their greenhouse analogy is scientifically incorrect, and they offer no clean supporting data from experiments carefully designed to minimize confounding by natural influences. Their scientific transgressions originate from misapplication of the electromagnetic spectrum, disregard for three fundamental laws of physics, and the misrepresentation of greenhouse operation and absorption behavior of photons. (Tom Kondis)

 

Unearthed video: Global warming alarmist Stephen ‘we have to offer up scary scenarios’ Schneider caught on a May 1978 episode of the TV show In Search Of…The Coming Ice Age

I’ve unearthed from the YouTube dustbin what I believe to be some significant video of man-made global warming alarmist extraordinaire Stephen Schneider’s appearance on a May 1978 episode of the old television series, In Search Of…. For this episode, the show was In Search Of…The Coming Ice Age.

I used to watch In Search Of… when I was a kid. I loved it. It was mystery documentary series, and one of the things that made it cool was that it was hosted by Leonard Nimoy, i.e. Spock. In Search Of… did shows on such topics as Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, UFO captives, and The Ogopogo Monster. As a skeptic looking back on the show today, I find it hilarious that the show included climate alarmism alongside those campy topics.

The episode in question, titled, The Coming Ice Age, has much that is worthy of discussion, and features several scientists warning of a coming ice age, including Dr. Gifford Miller, Chester Langway, and Dr. James Hays. But for the purposes of this post I’ll focus on Stephen Schneider who is featured in Part Three. (Gore Lied)

 

Monbiot Challenged To Debate – By “Chill”’s Peter Taylor

On the heels of the Plimer debacle, deep among the comments to one of Monbiot’s blogs our own Geoff Chambers has “discovered” this new invitation for a debate, by Peter Taylor, author of “Chill, A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory: Does Climate Change Mean the World is Cooling, and If So What Should We Do About It?

PeterTaylor

George – I’m an old and seasoned environmentalist, older than yourself, and so I should not be surprised or disappointed when political zeal over-rides science and the quest for truth – but I am, and most particularly by your continued reference to critics as ’sceptic’ and ‘deniers’ – suggesting some quasi-religious or psychological failing, and thus enabling you not to actually take seriously any of the scientific arguments they may raise.

In this latest blog, you presume to arbitrate on areas of science you know little about (along with the IPCC who classified knowledge of natural variability – for that you can read ‘cycles’, a bit of a bogey word, as ‘very poorly known’). Yet despite the poor science, you and the IPCC presume to know that the recent warm period was not naturally driven.

I understand that Professor Plimer has not met your request for a debate. I am willing to step in. My arguments are laid out in my recent book

Chill: a reassessment of global warming theory

If you would do me the courtesy of reading the book, and taking advice on its arguments from acknowledged experts in each of the fields I cover – natural cycles, polar ice, cosmic rays, satellite data etc., and on my conclusion that the global warming signal that is currently being ‘masked’ by natural cooling, was also first amplified by the same natural cycles peaking – leaving an 80/20 split natural/GHG – then I would gladly debate with you. It is my only condition.

To encourage you, I quote from W.Jackson Davis, author of the first draft of the Kyoto Protocol (and former colleague of mine on UN committees regarding ocean pollution), who has endorsed my book:

‘Taylor raises issues and questions that must be addressed conclusively before global warming can be genuinely regarded as ”truth”, inconvenient or otherwise. The book is a must-read for everyone on all sides of the climate change issue’

If I am right – and recent science suggests I am – then CO2 from industrial and consumer emissions represents less then 15% of the driving force. If you cut it by half, you affect 7-8% of the driver. This will have virtually no effect on what the climate does on any policy-relevant timescale. Vast sums of money aimed at mitigation will be misdirected.

It would not matter so much if that money was put to good use and was not needed elsewhere – but if I am right about the prospects for cooling (which the Latif paper only touches the surface of, then that money is needed for adaptation. Great suffering is ahead. The renewable energy programme for biofuels heads in entirely the wrong direction, adding to food supply issues.

These are debates and arguments that we could usefully have. I want to change your mind and to change government policy. But for that you need to have an open mind – open enough to read my book. It took three years to write and is based entirely on peer-reviewed science, with full references. As a committed environmentalist I would not have spent that time if I thought there was not much at stake and that the truth needed to direct policy.

“Chill” is reviewed at HarmlessSky. I haven’t read that review as yet. (OmniClimate)

 

Boy, have these guys been led up the garden path... Global Businesses Demand Ambitious New Climate Deal

LONDON - A coalition of more than 500 international companies on Tuesday urged rich countries to commit to "immediate and deep" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at U.N. climate talks to help combat global warming.

The group of some of the world's biggest energy companies, retailers and manufacturers said a failure to agree a strong new climate deal at U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December would erode confidence and cut investment in low-carbon technology.

In a statement issued as nations met for a climate summit at the United Nations in New York, the coalition said economic development will be impossible without a stable climate. (Reuters)

So, when has Earth ever had a "stable climate"? Never mind... These guys really need to learn a lot more about the physical sciences or to have a great deal less to say about policies dealing with the physical world. Their idiotic adherence to gorebull warming faith is eroding confidence as wasting money on "low-carbon" destroys useful investment and severely damages development. They've got it exactly wrong.

 

Uh-huh... UN climate chief says China poised to lead

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. climate chief says China is poised to join the European Union in claiming "front-runner" status among nations battling climate change.

Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press that China is leaping ahead of the United States with domestic plans for more energy efficiency, renewable sources of power, cuts in vehicle pollution and closures of dirty plants.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will announce new plans to fight global warming at a U.N. summit on climate change on Tuesday. (AP)

 

West urges India to junk Kyoto pact

NEW DELHI: In what could turn into a deal-breaker at the climate talks, US and other industrialized countries in the Major Economies Forum meet
at Washington this week told India that they wanted to do away with the Kyoto Protocol, a move opposed by India.

The industrialized countries proposed that the developing world should agree to the Australian proposal, which demands all countries, regardless of development levels, take on commitments and fix timetable by when they start reducing emissions. It demands that all key countries, including India, curb their emissions by 2020.

The Indian delegation led by the PM’s special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran, pointed out that the official negotiations at UN were already grappling with the question of strong mid-term targets for rich nations under the second phase of Kyoto Protocol and to do away with the protocol was not part of the mandate of negotiations. US and some other industrialized countries have for long opposed strong mid-term targets and demanded China and India get on board on a long term agreement. (Times of India)

 

Crank of the Week - September 21, 2009 - Gisele Bündchen

In an effort to revive the rapidly fading global warming climate scam, the UN has enlisted fossil fuel-guzzling supermodel Gisele Bündchen to lead the counter attack. Ms. Bündchen has been named an official UN Environmental Ambassador by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one of the parent organizations of the infamous IPCC.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director said: “Gisele is among a handful of talented individuals and personalities that have a truly global reach. She is also a committed and passionate environmentalist. UNEP is delighted to welcome her on board as a Goodwill Ambassador so that with her help, we can make environmental action a global brand and a life-style choice, from New York to Nairobi and from Sao Paolo to Shanghai.”

Director Achim Steiner announced Gisele's new position as UNEP's new Goodwill Ambassador, with Girl Scouts in the background wearing life vests to symbolize rising sea levels. How adorable! The Brazilian supermodel herself said, “Climate change is something we can't deny? It affects all of us. At the end of the day, it's our planet ? we all have to feel accountable.” She went on to ask developing countries including China and India to invest more in green technologies.

So what's wrong with the beautiful Gisele wanting to help save the planet from the ravages of CO2 induced global warming? Well her message might be more convincing if she showed signs of understanding the tripe she is shilling for. If she truly believes that the world is at risk from demon CO2 she has a strange way of demonstrating it. According to the Boston Globe:

Gisele Bundchen has bought herself a sweet new ride, and we're not talking about a sports car. Word is Tom Brady's globe-trotting girlfriend has joined the ranks of the rich and famous who have their own jet. We're told the supermodel, who spends a ton of time each year traveling to photo shoots around the world, has purchased a Gulfstream G550 for $50 million. The super-fast jet, which can carry up to 19 people, will enable Bundchen to bop from the US to Sao Paulo to Paris without worrying about connections or waiting in lines.

Evidently Ms. Bündchen is also in the process of getting her helicopter pilot's license. We guess that for celebrity supermodels “going green” means driving a Prius to the private helicopter pad for a quick hop to the airport, then boarding your private Gulfstream jet for a little international climate change fighting. Someone should clue the eco-bimbo in—living large and jetting around the world in your own private aircraft is not exactly leading by example. Reportedly, the UN will be publishing a web-based cartoon series called “GiGi and the Green Team,” portraying Gisele as a pollution-busting superheroine, an “environmental heroine, aiming to empower girls to protect the environment.” We think she's already cartoonish enough. Congratulations Gisele, this Crank of the Week is for you.


Fighting Global Warming near you soon.

(The Resilient Earth)

 

The Vulnerability Perspective

I am working to encourage the adoption of the assessment of vulnerability as a focusing approach for the climate community (as well as for colleagues that are involved in other types of environmental research).  This is a much more useful and comprehensive bottom-up, resource-based approach to reduce societal and environmental risk to climate variability and change than relying on the use of multi-decadal global climate model  projections.

I recently summarized this perspective in the following short text:

There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.

The advantage of the bottom-up, resource-based perspective is summarized in Table E.7 in

Pielke, R.A. Sr., and L. Bravo de Guenni, 2004: Conclusions. Chapter E.7 In: Vegetation, Water, Humans and the Climate: A New Perspective on an Interactive System. Global Change – The IGBP Series, P. Kabat et al., Eds., Springer, 537-538.

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2004: Discussion Forum: A broader perspective on climate change is needed. IGBP Newsletter, 59, 16-19 (Climate Science)

 

Groups Spar Over U.S. Offshore Drilling Plan

WASHINGTON - Environmental and pro-drilling advocates pitched dueling messages about expanded offshore oil and natural gas production to the U.S. Interior Department on Monday, as the comment period on a Bush-era energy plan came to a close.

The draft five-year offshore drilling proposal offered in the last days of the Bush administration would allow drilling along the East Coast and off the coast of California.

Drilling was banned in most of the offshore areas of the United States outside the Gulf of Mexico for more than 20 years until Congress allowed the prohibition to expire last year.

Environmental groups and some lawmakers have raised concerns about the impact increased drilling would have on coastal areas. (Reuters)

 

Partly right: Research called key to slicing coal emissions

The nation and the coal industry must get more serious about research to ensure the use of so-called "clean coal," especially if the United States wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050, a Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor said Monday.

Stabilizing the world's climate and preventing damage from global warming will require a "portfolio of strategies and technologies" to cut emissions, Granger Morgan told about 250 people at the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference in the Westin Convention Center, Downtown.

"Coal with carbon capture and sequestration will be an essential part of the solution," Morgan said.

Two other experts in coal usage agreed with Morgan, saying that capturing emissions from coal-fired power plants needs to be part of the solution because the nation relies on coal to generate about 50 percent of its energy needs. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

We do need coal but carbon dioxide is irrelevant.

 

Wasting so wonderful a resource as carbon dioxide can never be condoned: Scientists Examine Injecting Liquid Carbon Dioxide Underground

While carbon capture and sequestration technology remains controversial, studies to delve deeper into it are ongoing in hopes of presenting one way to alleviate emission levels. A team from MIT has been studying a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technique called pressurized oxy-fuel combustion. This process converts the carbon dioxide emissions of a power plant into a pressurized liquid stream meant to be pumped underground. Team leader Ahmed Ghoniem of MIT claims that his team is the only one conducting an academic study of "pressurized combustion system for carbon dioxide capture."

A huge setback for this kind of technology that prevents it to be used widely is the need for energy in order to separate pure carbon dioxide from the mixture of gases emitted by a power plant. "Nobody in their right mind will jump into this and do it unless we can reduce the energy penalty and the extra cost, and only if it is mandated to reduce CO2 emissions," Ghoniem says. But the technology under observation promises to be more efficient than other systems, with the possibility of becoming 10 to 15 percent more efficient (it's now rated at three percent more efficient) than unpressurized CCS systems. MIT claims this could pave way for widespread acceptance of the CCS technology, although it needs to be demonstrated first to prove itself economically viable. (CleanTechnica)

 

Why don't they ever look at the numbers? Cleaner Coal Plants May Use Pressurized Combustion System To Capture Carbon Dioxide

Researchers at MIT have shown the benefits of a new approach toward eliminating carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions at coal-burning power plants.

Their system, called pressurized oxy-fuel combustion, provides a way of separating all of the carbon-dioxide emissions produced by the burning of coal, in the form of a concentrated, pressurized liquid stream. This allows for carbon dioxide sequestration: the liquid CO2 stream can be injected into geological formations deep enough to prevent their escape into the atmosphere.

Finding a practical way to sequester carbon emissions is considered critical to the mitigation of climate change while continuing to use fossil fuels, which currently account for more than 80 percent of energy production in the United States and more than 90 percent worldwide. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are projected to rise by more than 50 percent worldwide by 2030. (ScienceDaily)

You'd think these guys would try a calculation or two, at least for novelty value. Using the IPCC's deltaForcing formula and the known mass of CO2 required for each part per million of the atmosphere it is not difficult to calculate just how trivial will be the effect on global mean temperature of given amounts of CO2 sequestration, even using Hansen's absurdly high climate sensitivity estimates (nor is it hard to show just how ridiculously inflated they are). Trapping all the CO2 from all of the U.S.'s current coal-fired electricity generation for the remainder of the century can only make a difference of about one-twentieth of one degree (see the workings). Currently about six-tenths of that CO2 is being utilized by green plants and nourishing the biosphere. Why would you want to deny it that gift for the sake of an immeasurably small temperature "saving"? And why would you think one temperature is preferable to another so similar temperature?

 

Oh... Refitted to Bury Emissions, Plant Draws Attention

NEW HAVEN, W.Va. — Poking out of the ground near the smokestacks of the Mountaineer power plant here are two wells that look much like those that draw natural gas to the surface. But these are about to do something new: inject a power plant’s carbon dioxide into the earth. (NYT)

 

Should the U.S. Build Its Next Coal Plants Underground?

Might burning coal thousands of feet below the surface be the secret to making coal climate friendly?

That's what fans of underground coal gasification will be saying this week at several sessions and in the keynote speech at the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, which goes through Wednesday. Momentum is growing worldwide to look closely at the idea, a 150-year-old technique of igniting seams of coal deep under the ground to produce electrical power or chemicals. It's a proven technology: Joseph Stalin launched the first national research program into the idea in 1928 and the Soviets used it for 40 years to produce power. Since then, cheap natural gas and shallow, easy-to-mine coal burned in traditional power plants have prevented the technique from taking off.

But gasifying coal underground is now a hot topic among power companies and scientists, with at least 10 pilot projects around the world planned or underway. The cost benefits and climate advantages are among the reasons that five countries run national research programs on the technique; is the United States falling behind on the next big fossil fuel technology? (Eli Kintisch, Science Insider)

If it's the most economical way of extracting energy from the seam, great -- but not for the purpose of denying the biosphere its greatest asset!

 

Where do they find these fools? BA CEO To Pledge Aviation Sector C02 Cuts To U.N.

LONDON - British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh will tell world leaders at the U.N. climate summit on Tuesday the aviation industry could halve its carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, a spokesman for the airline said on Monday. (Reuters)

 

Opponents ask Salazar to halt offshore drilling

WASHINGTON—Opponents of offshore drilling—including some dressed as salmon and a polar bear—delivered more than 250,000 postcards and letters to the Interior Department Monday on a proposal to open vast waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and gas drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar invited public comments on a sweeping blueprint for expanded offshore drilling that was initially proposed in the final days of the Bush administration. He didn't rule out expanded offshore drilling. But he criticized "the enormous sweep" of the Bush proposal, which envisioned energy development from New England to Alaska, including lease sales in areas off California and in the North Atlantic that have been off-limits for a quarter century. (Associated Press)

 

September 21, 2009

 

Who will speak out for you?

Two New Mexico nurses have paid a heavy price for following their consciences and the basic tenet of the nurse’s Code of Ethics — the ethical duty to protect and advocate for the rights, health and safety of patients. After unsuccessfully going up the chain of command at the Winkler County Memorial Hospital, a small West Texas hospital in Kermit, Texas, they made an anonymous report to the Texas Medical Board with concerns about a doctor selling his own sham herbal remedies to patients in the hospital’s emergency department and at a health clinic.

When the Texas Medical Board contacted the doctor to investigate him for poor quality of care, the doctor went to the Winkler County Sheriff who left no stone unturned to learn the identity of the nurses, including accessing confidential patient records and issuing a search warrant to seize their work computers. The whistle blower nurses were fired from their jobs, imprisoned and criminally prosecuted, and later let out on $5,000 bonds. They will finally face a jury trial next week for third-degree felony charges, carrying potential penalties of two-to-ten years’ imprisonment and maximum fines of $10,000.

Experienced nurses, whose only “crime” was to report to the appropriate medical agency something they felt was medically unsound and unethical, were imprisoned, their livelihoods taken, and criminally prosecuted.

In America. (Junkfood Science)

 

Nonscientists Naive about Science

I like listening to journalists talk about science, as such fields have parochial tests and models that can take years of devoted study to fully appreciate. Some of these insiders, like Steven Pinker, are good at communicating to a general audience, but most of the translation to outsiders comes from non-scientists simply because there are more of them, and some write very well.

Yet, I find many times, when these journalists digress from a specific subject, to science in general they are extremely naive or duplicitous. If you go to The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, you invariably hear a bunch of caricatures of those who disagree with conventional wisdom on science—most of which truly are quacks, but not always—and they pedantically emphasize how these alternative views are 'not science': they have beliefs that do not have peer-reviewed tests supporting a falsifiable hypothesis. Or listen to Chris Mooney, a journalists who thinks the masses are insufficiently scientific, and argues that Republicans hate or are ignorant of science. He argues we should have more 'pro science' candidates, reflecting the 19th century progressive notion that with education, most disagreements and bad policy disappears. Most importantly, if the masses knew more, he surely thinks then popular opinion would converge to his. This from a journalist, a clan whose scientific proficiency is similar to the athleticism of mathematicians.

When journalists talk about science in general this is usually a pretext for saying those who disagree with their favorite idea are wrong, because they are unscientific. Who can be against science? There isn't a formal anti-science movement because it's indefensible in principle. They then caricature their opponents, taking the most inarticulate advocates from the other side, and skewering their illogic. They then sit back and take take inordinate pride in their scientific pretensions, as if their selective discussion was objective. The fact is, most 'big' scientific issues do not conform to the scientific method, where one puts out testable hypotheses, rejecting ones that are falsified. (Falkenblog)

 

H1N1 vaccine production far less than forecast-WHO

GENEVA - Production of H1N1 vaccine over the next year will be "substantially less" than the 4.9 billion doses previously forecast but one dose should provide adequate protection, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

Based on clinical test results from some 25 drugmakers, weekly production of the new vaccine will be less than 94 million doses, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

"The real figure will be substantially less than 4.9 billion (over the year)," Hartl told reporters.

But supply fears have eased as the northern hemisphere heads into winter and with major drug manufacturers reporting that a single dose is successfully providing immunity.

"All the clinical trial results that we have seen show that apparently one dose is enough," Hartl said.

The United Nations agency previously forecast one third of the world's nearly seven billion people could be affected by the H1N1 pandemic, but so far the vast majority of victims are suffering only mild symptoms. (Reuters)

 

U.S. health workers worry about swine flu vaccine

WASHINGTON - Health department staffers scrambling to answer 100 calls a day. Harried hospital workers rushing to swab hundreds of sore throats. Out of practice school nurses learning how to give vaccines all over again.

City and state health department officials from across the United States say that while the H1N1 swine flu pandemic may be mild in terms of mortality rates, it is killing them in terms of workload.

And they are dreading the task of vaccinating tens of millions of people against the new virus beginning in October.

"We do not have the resources we need and we haven't for a while," Dr Jeffrey Duchin of Public Health in Seattle & King County and the University of Washington said in an interview.

"The problem is we don't have a coordinated healthcare system in this country. We don't have a national framework that allows these interventions."

Duchin said the first wave of the pandemic, which swept across the United States in May and June, is just a foretaste of an unpleasant autumn flu season.

"We needed over 200 staff and 40 volunteers for our outbreak response," he told a meeting of flu experts sponsored by the Institute of Medicine this week. The office was receiving 100 calls a day with reports of cases and requests for testing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization gave up keeping a precise tally of H1N1 cases, saying merely that there have been more than a million in the United States alone. (Reuters)

 

Here's a case where impetuous 'flu response really did cause a health hazard: Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs

CAIRO — It is unlikely anyone has ever come to this city and commented on how clean the streets are. But this litter-strewn metropolis is now wrestling with a garbage problem so severe it has managed to incite its weary residents and command the attention of the president.

“The problem is clear in the streets,” said Haitham Kamal, a spokesman for the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs. “There is a strict and intensive effort now from the state to address this issue.”

But the crisis should not have come as a surprise.

When the government killed all the pigs in Egypt this spring — in what public health experts said was a misguided attempt to combat swine flu — it was warned the city would be overwhelmed with trash.

The pigs used to eat tons of organic waste. Now the pigs are gone and the rotting food piles up on the streets of middle-class neighborhoods like Heliopolis and in the poor streets of communities like Imbaba. (NYT)

 

Educated family may mean higher eating disorder risk

NEW YORK - Girls whose mothers, fathers, and grandparents are highly educated may have an increased risk of developing an eating disorder, a new study suggests - particularly if the girls themselves do well in school.

The study, which followed more than 13,000 females born in Sweden between 1952 and 1989, found that as parents' or grandmothers' education increased, so did girls' risk of being hospitalized for anorexia or another eating disorder.

Similarly, the risk climbed in tandem with the girls' own grades in high school, researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The vast majority of girls in the study were never treated for an eating disorder, regardless of family education and grades; 55 out of 13,376 were hospitalized during the study period.

Still, the findings suggest that girls from families with higher academic achievement are at relatively greater risk, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Jennie Ahren-Moonga of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

It's possible, the researchers write, that these girls feel more pressure from family to succeed -- which for some could translate into an obsession with controlling their eating and body weight.

In addition, higher-achieving girls may be more likely to have certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, that make them relatively more vulnerable to eating disorders. (Reuters Health)

 

Mosquito-Borne African Virus A New Threat To West

WASHINGTON - The United States and Europe face a new health threat from a mosquito-borne disease far more unpleasant than the West Nile virus that swept into North America a decade ago, a U.S. expert said on Friday.

Chikungunya virus has spread beyond Africa since 2005, causing outbreaks and scores of fatalities in India and the French island of Reunion. It also has been detected in Italy, where it has begun to spread locally, as well as France.

"We're very worried," Dr. James Diaz of the Louisiana University Health Sciences Center told a meeting on airlines, airports and disease transmission sponsored by the independent U.S. National Research Council.

"Unlike West Nile virus, where nine out of 10 people are going to be totally asymptomatic, or may have a mild headache or a stiff neck, if you get Chikungunya you're going to be sick," he said.

"The disease can be fatal. It's a serious disease," Diaz added. "There is no vaccine."

Chikungunya infection causes fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, rash and joint pain. Symptoms can last a few weeks, though some suffers have reported incapacitating joint pain or arthritis lasting months. (Reuters)

 

Curious: Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells

MORRISON, Wis. — All it took was an early thaw for the drinking water here to become unsafe.

There are 41,000 dairy cows in Brown County, which includes Morrison, and they produce more than 260 million gallons of manure each year, much of which is spread on nearby grain fields. Other farmers receive fees to cover their land with slaughterhouse waste and treated sewage.

In measured amounts, that waste acts as fertilizer. But if the amounts are excessive, bacteria and chemicals can flow into the ground and contaminate residents’ tap water. (NYT)

As most regular readers realize, I'm from down-under -- don't you chlorinate your drinking water supplies as a matter of course? And if not, why not? In the land down-under people either have the sense to treat well & tank water or they suffer the consequences (town supplies are chlorinated by the municipal authority). Fancy drinking or bathing in raw water, you must be mad!

 

Oh my giddy aunt... World's deltas subsiding, says study

Two-thirds of the world's major deltas, home to nearly half a billion people, are caught between sinking land and rising seas, according to a new study.

The new findings, based on satellite images, show that 85% of the 33 largest delta regions experienced severe flooding over the past decade, affecting 260,000 square kilometres. (AFP)

Well, flood deltas are subject to... flooding. How do they do it? No, I don't mean "how do they come up with these startling revelations?" Rather, I had in mind "how do they get such mind-numbingly basic grade school observations published in Nature Geoscience? Silt and detritus that compose flood deltas compact and subside -- that's what they do. When we channel seasonal floodwaters out to sea rather than over the flood plains on which we build then we cut off the supply of silt that keeps these flood deltas above sea level (shockin' innit?). The truly distressing part is that this seems to constitutes news to the editor of a geoscience journal.

 

Australian eruption 'overdue'

A significant volcano eruption in Australia is ‘well overdue’ and emergency authorities must better prepare themselves and the wider community to respond to it, the recipient of the prestigious Geological Society of Australia (Victoria Division) Selwyn Medal for 2009 has warned.

“We can’t say with 100 per cent certainty that a significant volcano will strike tomorrow, next week, next year, or even 100 years down the track—but these geo-hazards are real and they must be given much more focus by emergency management authorities” Associate Professor Joyce said. (Geological Society of Australia)

 

Mostly emotional pap: The Extinction Knot: A Hidden Crisis in Northern Australia

As I walked back the other night from dinner at a lodge near the Van Diemen Gulf on the north coast of Australia, I accidentally stepped on a toad in the dark. When I looked down, I realized there were toads all around me and that they were cane toads — Bufo marinus — natives of Central and South America. Tens of thousands were released in Australia in the 1930s to control a beetle that preyed on sugar cane, another introduced species.

The toads have marched slowly ever since from the Queensland cane fields into New South Wales and the Northern Territory, reaching the country around Darwin, on the north central tip of the continent, only a couple of wet seasons ago. Cane toads are poisonous, from tadpole to adult. They kill whatever eats them, including birds, reptiles and carnivorous mammals.

Cane toads are only one of the pressures on Australia’s small and increasingly endangered species — others include large grazing (non-native) herbivores, ferocious late-season wildfires and feral cats.

It’s estimated that there are between 4 million and 12 million feral cats in Australia, the progeny of former house cats. Just in the Kimberley — a region of northwestern Australia that is about the size of California — feral cats are eating as many as 300 million small mammals, especially small nocturnal marsupials, a year.

What is happening is a population crash. Scientists surveying native mammals in northern Australia, widely regarded as an oasis of biodiversity, report that they are finding it almost impossible to catch native mammals. During a recent study, it took an average of 1,000 trap-nights to trap 3 mammals.

The scale of this crisis is partly the result of Australia’s unusual and particularly vulnerable ecology. It has always been a predator-poor country — no bobcats, no weasels — so the effect of feral cats has been especially devastating. And though there are many poisonous reptiles in Australia, the advent of a new poisonous amphibian — one so apparently edible as a cane toad — has completely upset nature’s balance. Some birds, crows especially, have already learned how to flip cane toads over and eat their stomachs, avoiding the poisonous glands near the head. But nothing is really stopping the cane toads.

And in most places, nothing is stopping the cats. There is an exception: Australia’s native dogs, the dingoes. They, too, are under attack. Since dingoes sometimes kill sheep, the owners of pastoral stations have tried to exterminate them by using poison bait — a practice once called “dog stiffening.” (NYT)

Cats & foxes are a problem that is difficult to deal with now that animal nutters have screwed up the fur trade (they weren't so much when their pelts were valuable, a trade that saved untold billions of native critters). Camels, donkeys, horses, rabbits and other feral grazing animals are also a huge problem (you know, dealing with which had some of your media personalities calling our Prime Minister a "mass murderer" when really he's only a dopey Socialist). Cane toads, well there's another matter since native critters do learn to deal with them after some exposure and they become just another part of the ecosystem.

For the most part Australia's feral problems (at least the four-legged kind) can be dealt with by treating them as a resource -- always providing we can stop the loonies from trashing the markets and indirectly causing massive extinction of native wildlife.

 

Brazil proposes banning sugarcane in Amazon

A government plan unveiled Thursday would limit sugarcane plantations to 18 percent of Brazilian territory. (CoP15)

 

Attack of the zombie protocol: EU hails ratification of Montreal Protocol on ozone layer protection

In a move which could signal a strategic shift by many of the world’s leaders The Swedish Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission welcomed the universal ratification of the Montreal Protocol announced on September 16, following ratification by Timor-Leste.

This announcement coincides with International Day for the preservation of the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol, which bans the production of ozone-depleting substances, is widely recognized as a success story which has put the ozone layer on the road to recovery. The Protocol has also helped significantly to protect the global climate since ozone-depleting substances are also potent greenhouse gases. The EU is keen to ensure the Montreal Protocol plays a continued role in combating climate change in co-operation with the UN climate convention, particularly regarding possible action on HFC industrial gases. HFCs are increasingly being used to replace ozone-depleting substances but are themselves powerful greenhouse gases. (New Europe)

This farce just goes on and on... there is not now nor has there ever been any anthropogenic threat to some wondrous, fragile, life-preserving "ozone layer". Stratospheric ozone levels are highly dynamic and a function of solar activity. They are also of no particular relevance to life on Earth, despite all the absurd claims. See some basic ozone facts here and for heaven's sake grow up and get over the ozone fairy story.

 

Big mistake: Worldwide Dairy Industry to Sign Global Declaration on Climate Change

ROSEMONT, Ill., Sept. 18 -- On 24 September, the dairy industry will make history signing a Global Dairy Agenda for Action during the World Dairy Summit in Berlin, Germany.

Signed by seven organisations on behalf of the world's dairy associations and companies, the Global Dairy Agenda for Action is an industry pledge to reduce carbon emissions as part of its contribution to help address global warming. This pledge builds on past performance to address climate change. (PRNewswire)

 

For absolutely no purpose: Electricity prices will quadruple: TransCanada CEO

BANFF, Alta. -- Electricity prices will quadruple as countries toughen their stance on greenhouse gas emissions, and governments need to brace the public for the price spike, a chief executive of a major power generating company said Friday.

Further, as jurisdictions search for cleaner energy sources, Hal Kvisle, chief executive of TransCanada Corp., said Alberta should use its vast coal resources rather than burn natural gas, a plentiful and exportable fossil fuel in Canada and considered a cleaner alternative to oil.

"Electricity consumers have to get used to paying $200 a megawatt hour rather than $50 a megawatt hour," he told reporters at the Global Business Forum in Banff. "It is time we get that message out to people. They need to be prepared for it."

The price jump, Mr. Kvisle said, will come as countries wean themselves off dirty energy sources such as coal-fired power plants and implement expensive projects designed to help stem greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). Experts believe CCS can be applied across the energy sector, from coal plants to oil sands projects.

Alberta, a province stuffed with both natural gas and coal, should burn coal rather than gas in order to keep the value of its exports healthy, he said.

"There's a hungry North American market for natural gas... There's really no market outside of Alberta for our coal," Mr. Kvisle said. "So to stop using the coal and start burning the natural gas, it dramatically reduces the value of our exports." (Carrie Tait, Financial Post)

With CCS costs headed towards a quadrillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000,000.00) per hypothetical degree "saved" (and no real expectation of achieving even that) who expects their energy costs to inflate by a mere factor of 4? He's right that they should burn their coal but dead wrong about any need to "address" gorebull warming. Increasing energy prices to not address a non-problem is simply unacceptable.

 

Adapting To Climate Change Through Technology: Norman Borlaug’s Legacy Lives On, Offering Hope To Billions

“Since when did you become a global warming alarmist?” I kidded Norman midway into our telephone conversation a few weeks before this amazing scientist and humanitarian died. “What are you talking about?” Dr. Borlaug retorted. “I’ve never believed that nonsense.”

I read him a couple sentences from his July 29 Wall Street Journal article. “Within the next four decades, the world’s farmers will have to double production … on a shrinking land base and in the face of environmental demands caused by climate change. Indeed, [a recent Oxfam study concludes] that the multiple effects of climate change might reverse 50 years of work to end poverty.”

I mentioned that my own discussions of those issues typically emphasize how agricultural biotechnology, modern farming practices and other technological advances will make it easier to adapt to any climate changes, warmer or colder, whether caused by humans or by the same natural forces that brought countless climate shifts throughout Earth’s history, including the Ice Ages, Dust Bowl and Little Ice Age.

“You’re right,” he said. “I should have been more careful. Next time, I’ll do that. And I’ll point out that the real disaster won’t be global warming. It’ll be global cooling, which would shorten growing seasons, and make entire regions less suitable for farming.”

I was amazed, as I was every time we talked. Here he was, 95 years old, “retired,” still writing articles for the Journal, and planning what he’d say in his next column.

The article we were discussing, “Farmers can feed the world,” noted Norman’s deep satisfaction that G-8 countries have pledged $20 billion to help poor farmers acquire better seeds and fertilizer. “For those of us who have spent our lives working in agriculture,” he said, “focusing on growing food versus giving it away is a giant step forward.”

Our previous conversations confirm that he would likewise have applauded the World Bank’s recent decision to subsidize new coal-fired power plants, to generate jobs and reduce poverty, by helping poor countries bring electricity to 1.5 billion people who still don’t have it. For many poor countries, a chief economist for the Bank observed, coal is the only option, and “it would be immoral at this stage to say, 'We want to have clean hands. Therefore we are not going to touch coal.’” Norman would have agreed.

As he argued in his WSJ article, “governments must make their decisions about access to new technologies … on the basis of science, and not to further political agendas.” That’s why he supported DDT to reduce malaria, biotechnology to fight hunger, and plentiful, reliable, affordable electricity to modernize China, India and other developing nations.

His humanitarian instincts and commitment to science and poverty eradication also drove his skepticism about catastrophic climate change. He was well aware that recent temperature data and observations of solar activity and sunspots indicate that the Earth could be entering a period of global cooling. He had a healthy distrust of climate models as a basis for energy and economic policy. And he knew most of Antarctica is gaining ice, and it would be simply impossible for Greenland or the South Pole region to melt under even the more extreme temperature projections from those questionable computer models.

He also commented that humans had adapted to climate changes in the past, and would continue to do so. They would also learn from those experiences, developing new technologies and practices that would serve humanity well into the future. (Paul Driessen, Townhall)

 

Here's Lomborg's more conservative numbers: Climate Change: A Perilous Path

Evidence is growing that relatively cheap policies like climate engineering and non-carbon energy research could effectively prevent suffering from global warming, both in the short and long term. Unfortunately, political leaders gathering at a special meeting of the United Nations in New York this week will focus on a very different response.

They will make many of the most important decisions on how to respond to climate change over the next decade. They are expected to thrash out political disputes like how much carbon rich and poor nations should agree to cut. The real question that must be addressed is: Do we want to be the generation that promised so much but failed to solve global warming? We will not be judged by our descendants on our rhetoric, nor on the scale of our promises. We will be judged on what we deliver.

We have failed to rein in emission rises despite sincere and well-meaning promises made in Kyoto in 1997 and earlier, because carbon cuts are expensive to enact. That problem is only going to grow as our promises become more ambitious.

Research by climate economist Professor Richard Tol shows that carbon cuts big enough to keep temperature rises lower than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)--a target that the G-8 and many others argue is necessary--could cost a staggering 12.9% of global GDP in 2100. That is the equivalent of $40 trillion a year. Available estimates show that the welfare loss induced by global warming will be just $3 trillion per year by 2100. For each dollar spent on global carbon cuts, we buy two cents worth of avoided climate damage. The solution is far more costly than the problem. (Bjorn Lomborg, Forbes)

Still a massive expense for no return, even though his numbers are based on far more hopeful assumptions.

 

Cap-and-Trade Is Dead. Long Live Cap-and-Trade

President Obama’s risky perseverance on health care is running over another of his pet government expansions—the cap-and-trade bill sent by the House on June 26 for Senate consideration. Recall that cap-and-trade is complex legislation with a very simple premise: make energy so expensive to consume that Americans use less of it, and “greenhouse gas” emissions are thereby curtailed.

But even though it’s now clear the bill is not getting out of Congress, look for the Obama Administration to saddle our economy with this huge new energy tax through other means. (Patrick J. Michaels, Townhall)

 

Regulating Carbon - The EPA is getting ready. Congress? Not so much. And that's about to become a huge problem.

THE MOST effective way for the United States to fight global warming is for Congress to put a price on carbon, either through a cap-and-trade system or, as we'd prefer, a carbon tax that rebates the revenue to taxpayers. But last month the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced a delay in introducing its climate change bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that such legislation might not be acted on until next year. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act. As Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) once warned, EPA action would create "a glorious mess" of regulation. How much of a mess is only beginning to become clear.

Gradually raising the cost of carbon, which Congress but not the EPA can do, would send signals throughout the economy that would help shift the nation to fuels and practices that wouldn't warm the planet. Research into such fuels and practices would become attractive to investors, and new technologies would emerge. Efficiency would become cost-effective. The government would set the goal, but the market, science and common sense would dictate how the country reached it.

EPA regulation has none of those advantages. The Clean Air Act gives the agency the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as "pollutants." But that means only that the agency can go plant by plant, refinery by refinery, and issue orders ostensibly intended to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. Since almost all human activity emits some greenhouse gas, the EPA in theory also could go shopping mall by shopping mall, apartment building by apartment building. It says it is devising new rules to prevent that from happening. (Washington Post)

The correct thing to do is have legislature remove EPA authority to regulate essential trace gases -- end of problem. There is absolutely no value on regulating or restricting emission of such a marvelous atmospheric resource.

 

Um, no: Achieving climate prosperity

The debate over climate change has spent too much time describing the problem and debating its causes. Too little time has been spent on distributing solutions. It is possible to substantially reduce the global carbon footprint by profit-driven companies. (Richard N. Swett, Washington Times)

In fact provably too little time has been spent discussing the problem since some people still atmospheric carbon dioxide is something other than a really good thing. Using the IPCC's own formula demonstrate atmospheric carbon dioxide can not cause the absurd results output by activists' climate models -- just see the sidebar here to note anyone could have checked Hansen's homework but no one did. Even if the IPCC's inflationary formula are correct then each doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide delivers a mere 3.7 W/m2 but to achieve the absurd warming estimates of models would require not one doubling of atmospheric CO2 to 560 ppmv but a completely unachievable seven doublings to more than 35,000 ppmv! Hansen's missing 20 Watts per meter squared are hardly a surprise given that models are off by 20-50 W/m2 over huge chunks of the planet. Carbon dioxide simply can not do what activists claim and carbon constraint stands no hope of adjusting the climate in any meaningful way -- it just starves the green plants that form the foundation of our food chain.

 

Deneen Borelli: Cap and trade is a ball and chain for poor Americans

As Congress considered the Waxman-Markey "cap-and-trade" bill, President Obama rallied House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats at the White House. In making a point, he gestured to Abraham Lincoln's portrait and said, "He had a chance to affect history. You, too, have a chance to affect history."

How ironic.

Lincoln is remembered for liberating blacks from slavery. Cap-and-trade legislation supported by Obama, allied lawmakers and now the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would, conversely, enslave all Americans.

Billed as a way to combat global warming, cap-and-trade legislation already passed by the House and now under consideration in the Senate is -- at its most basic level -- a tax that punishes those who rely on fossil fuels. That unfortunately means virtually every American.

Higher energy costs, higher unemployment and slower economic growth expected from cap and trade would reduce living standards, increase dependency and likely chain Americans to government programs. (Deneen Borelli, Examiner)

 

Better if they pushed 'em right of the planet but it's a start: Obama Administration Pushes Climate Talks Into 2010

Top U.S. energy and climate leaders yesterday began to openly plan for international global warming talks to trickle into 2010.

Experts have predicted for months that a major U.N. summit in Copenhagen this December -- billed as the place 192 nations would complete a new emissions pact -- would not deliver by deadline. With health care reform now sucking all the political oxygen out of the U.S. Senate, and with countries still bickering over fundamental issues, completing a new treaty within three months is looking more and more improbable.

Key leaders are starting to say it out loud, and are putting the best face on what some are calling "Plan B."

"The mission is to get the most ambitious, most far-reaching accord that we can in Copenhagen, and to the extent that there's some things that need to be completed after that, then that will happen," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters yesterday. (ClimateWire)

 

US climate legislation may wait to 2011-Duke CEO

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept 18 - Climate change legislation is unlikely to pass the U.S. Congress until the first half of 2010, and maybe not until 2011, Duke Energy Corp Chief Executive Jim Rogers said on Friday.

Rogers is one of the biggest supporters of national carbon-cutting rules among power utility executives and is active on Capitol Hill both in relations with lawmakers and as a Congressional witness.

Rogers said he has not ruled out passage of legislation this year, but believes that it is highly unlikely.

If the bill does not pass in the first half of 2010, Rogers said 'it won't be done until 2011 because 2010 is an election year.'

Rogers made his comments at an energy symposium at the University of Michigan. (Reuters)

 

Kevin Rudd set for climate failure at Copenhagen

KEVIN Rudd has talked down prospects of international agreement at a crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, amid fresh predictions the conference is doomed to failure. (The Australian)

 

Australia plans Copenhagen climate pact compromise

Developing economies shouldn't be locked into carbon lowering targets under a new global climate pact, Australia said on Monday, outlining a deal it hopes will avert failure at make-or-break talks in Copenhagen. The plan by the world's biggest per-capita carbon polluter would give India and China flexibility to lower emissions through a "national schedule", potentially taking some of the heat from near-gridlocked talks between rich and developing countries. "We simply won't get the broad participation from major developing economies that the climate needs and that Australia, in terms of our national interest, needs," Climate Minister Penny Wong said of Canberra's compromise proposal. (Reuters)

 

Gosh they talk some nonsense: UN plans 'shock therapy' for world leaders on environment - Pared-down summit will force heads of rich states to listen to those of third world in hope of kickstarting radical action

The United Nations is planning a form of diplomatic shock therapy for world leaders this week in the hope of injecting badly needed urgency into negotiations for a climate change treaty that, it is now widely acknowledged, are dangerously adrift.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and negotiators say that unless they can convert world leaders into committed advocates of radical action, it will be very hard to reach a credible and enforceable agreement to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change. (The Observer)

The most worrying aspect is that idiotic attempts to "address" gorebull warming are the real threat to developing nations (and the rest of us, too).

 

Sorry climate change tale looming for Copenhagen

THE Copenhagen tourist board is facing a PR disaster. Its symbol is the small copper statue of the Little Mermaid but, after December, the city is likely to be better known as the place where the world failed to agree on a deal to prevent catastrophic climate change. (The Australian)

 

Climate Change to Take Center Stage at U.N. Talks

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama promised strong action on climate change from his first day in office, but he is heading into a series of meetings with other world leaders this month under growing pressure to deliver on his rhetoric.

More than 100 world leaders, including Mr. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the 64th United Nations General Assembly to talk about fighting climate change, in a prelude to the Pittsburgh Group of 20 meetings starting Thursday.

While the talk will be about the environment, the substance will be about money. Poor nations say that if rich nations want them to stop burning coal or cutting down forests, they should be willing to pay.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made global warming a focus, and he is worried that the meeting won't move the ball forward toward a new global climate-change treaty in Copenhagen this December to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"We want world leaders to show they understand the gravity of climate risks, as well as the benefits of acting now," Mr. Ban said. "We want them to publicly commit to sealing a deal in Copenhagen." (WSJ)

Perhaps they fully understand the "gravity of climate risks", which is why they are willing to do exactly nothing? That would be good.

 

EU's Barroso warns climate talks in dangerous state

WASHINGTON - U.N. climate change talks are "dangerously close to deadlock," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will warn on Monday, kicking off a week that could prove critical for efforts to halt global warming.

The head of the European Union's executive will challenge developing nations to commit to greenhouse gas emissions curbs to get financial support from industrial nations, according to excerpts of his remarks obtained by Reuters.

"Europe's message to the developing world is that if you are serious about the challenge of cutting emissions, we will be there to help," Barroso will say at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"Our message to the developed world is that we need to make a credible financial commitment to the developing world," he continues. "The equation is straightforward: no money, no deal. But no actions, no money!" (Reuters)

 

U.S. Reluctance on Climate Change Persists

NEW YORK — Last Tuesday, Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader of the U.S. Senate, was asked by a reporter to appraise the odds that Congress, in the throes of debating health care changes, would manage to pass climate legislation in 2009 — including provisions for an emissions cap-and-trade plan.

“So, you know, we are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year,” Mr. Reid replied. “And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to.”

That is, one might guess, the last thing many people in the international community want to hear as they round the final turn and tumble headlong, ready or not, toward a climate meeting in Copenhagen in December.

A statement from the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, John Bruton, was unambiguous in its displeasure.

“It is suggested that the U.S. Senate may not, after all, deal with the climate change issue until next year, when the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen is over and the delegates have gone home,” Mr. Bruton said. “If this were to happen, it would open the United States to the charge that it does not take its international commitments seriously and that these commitments will always take second place to domestic politics.”

Mr. Bruton added: “Is the U.S. Senate really expecting all the other countries to make a serious effort on climate change at the Copenhagen Conference in the absence of a clear commitment from the United States?” (Green Inc)

Well, no, you're right... In fact you should take your ball and go home, refusing to play the silly climate game ever again ;-)

 

Clever move to sabotage any possible pact? Sarkozy, Merkel want carbon tax on imports

PARIS — The leaders of France and Germany called Friday for the United Nations to support a carbon tax on imports from countries who fail to back international efforts to fight global warming.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arguing that states that fail to back a deal at a climate summit in Copenhagen in December should be held accountable.

"It would be unacceptable for the efforts of the most ambitious countries to be undermined by the carbon emissions released by lack of or insufficient action by other countries," reads the letter released by the French presidency.

"For that reason, it should be possible to put in place appropriate adjustment measures targeting the countries that do not implement or fail to support this accord," they wrote. (AFP)

 

US group urges "peace clause" in Senate climate bill

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 - The U.S. Senate should act to head off a potential trade war by adding a "peace clause" to a climate change bill that threatens China and other countries with a tariff on their goods, a business group said on Friday.

The House of Representatives included a carbon tariff in its climate change bill to address concerns that U.S. steel, cement and other big energy-consuming industries could be badly hurt unless big developing countries also take major steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

But many U.S. exporters are worried the provision will backfire on the United States by inviting countries to impose their own tariffs on U.S. goods.

"Border measures, or carbon tariffs, are a sleeping giant ... in the climate change debate" with a tremendous potential to disrupt trade, said Jeremy Preiss, chief international trade counsel at United Technologies Corp.

Preiss is also chair of the climate working group for the National Foreign Trade Council, a leading business group that represents exporters ranging from Caterpillar to Microsoft .

The group urged the Senate to include language calling for a peace clause against carbon border taxes while countries negotiate an international framework for dealing with trade-related climate concerns.

The Senate also should give the president more discretion not to impose carbon tariffs than allowed in the House version of the bill, the National Foreign Trade Council said.

Both China and India have harshly criticized the House measure as an unfair attack on their trade. (Reuters)

 

Misguided? Misinformed? Either way, just plain wrong! Danish Conservative Prepares for Climate Debate

COPENHAGEN — Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s minister of climate and energy, feels little kinship with the green end of the political spectrum — people who stage sit-ins at power plants or vote for the Green parties in elections.

“I’ve never understood why the environment should be a left-wing issue,” said Ms. Hedegaard, with an exasperated sigh. “In my view there is nothing as core to conservative beliefs — that what you inherit you should pass on to the next generation.”

Denmark — and Ms. Hedegaard — will play host in December to hundreds of nations that will gather in Copenhagen for the United Nation-sponsored global climate treaty negotiations. The meetings are tasked with finalizing a new global plan to tackle climate change. Ms. Hedegaard, who two years ago offered her city as the site for the negotiations, will be the president and the chairwoman of the 12-day event.

“It’s a very, very important job,” said John Hay, a spokesman for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, noting that the president of the climate meeting is the one who “hammers through the deal.”

Ms. Hedegaard, he said, “fully appreciates that role and is taking it very seriously.” The placement of Ms. Hedegaard, a lifelong conservative, at the center of the preparations reflects in large part the shifting of global environmental issues from the fringe into the political mainstream. A movement whose symbols were fuzzy endangered animals is now more concerned with oil futures and budget sheets.

Unlike Germany, the Netherlands and France, Denmark has never had a Green party, Ms. Hedegaard points out. In fact, she said, she sees herself as an environmentalist in the model of Theodore Roosevelt, a lifelong hunter who campaigned ardently for protecting natural resources.

“People say environment is a soft issue, but it’s not,” she said recently, sitting in her spartan office in a pink sweater and neatly pressed slacks. “It’s about where we get our energy from, about security, about growing economies. I’m a conservative, I worry about that.” (NYT)

Climate is not an issue. Then again, neither is "environment", only development and wealth generation can deliver what misnamed "environmentalists" claim to want but actively obstruct.

 

No Leader on Climate Change as Nations Prepare to Meet

UNITED NATIONS — Economists point to powerhouse countries like India to illustrate the hurdles facing some 100 world leaders due to gather in New York this Tuesday for the highest level summit meeting on climate change ever convened.

The Indian government has announced a major commitment to solar power as a renewable means of bringing electricity to more than 400 million people now living without it. Yet the government was pilloried at home last summer for accepting the international goal of preventing a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above present temperatures by limiting emissions. Opposition parties accused it of selling out the country’s future development.

While virtually all of the largest developed and developing nations have made domestic commitments toward creating more efficient, renewable sources of energy to cut emissions, none want to take the lead in fighting for significant international emissions reduction targets, lest they be accused at home of selling out future jobs and economic growth.

The negotiations for a new climate change agreement to be signed in Copenhagen in December are badly stalled. With the agreement running more than 200 pages — including what negotiators estimate are a couple of thousand brackets denoting points of differences — diplomats and negotiators fear that the document is too unwieldy to garner a consensus in the coming months. (NYT)

 

Copenhagen will be a bust for climate change

It's becoming increasingly clear that the demands of domestic politics in several key countries ensure that there isn't going to be a substantive treaty agreement on climate change from December's Copenhagen summit. No government will want the blame --but Washington is the most likely to take a diplomatic black eye. (Ian Bremmer, Foreign Policy)

 

The three stooges of climate change

Reading the international climate change news recently has reminded me more than a little of The Three Stooges, those kings of physical comedy that permanently warped at least one generation of Americans. Sadly, our modern day climate stooges are toying with something far more important than our sense of humor as they jostle for position and generally play politics leading into December’s Copenhagen conference.

The stooges are, of course (in alphabetical order): China, India, and the US. (Lou Grinzo, The Energy Collective)

 

“Ditch the Emissions Trading Scheme”.

Link to this statement: http://carbon-sense.com/2009/09/19/ditch-the-ets/

The Carbon Sense Coalition today called on Australian politicians to ditch the Emissions Trading Scheme and dismantle the expensive Global Warming empire they have created.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense” Mr Viv Forbes, said that the scientific case had collapsed and the political coalition was evaporating, but still the major political parties continue to serve vested interests and fish for Green preferences.

He comments:

“The case for action on global warming is essentially this: “Man’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing dangerous global warming”. This scare has been disproved in triplicate.

“Firstly, both long term and short term temperature records show that CO2 does not control temperature. This destroys the whole basis for the global warming hysteria.

“Secondly, recent temperature records show that, despite constantly increasing aerial CO2, world temperature is falling, not rising alarmingly.

See: http://carbon-sense.com/2009/09/19/temp-vs-co2/

And: http://carbon-sense.com/2009/08/15/isolated-australian-temperatures/

“Thirdly, it is clear that global cooling is a far bigger threat to all life on earth than global warming – there are many benefits of a warmer world with plenty of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“The global political support is also collapsing, although few politicians will yet admit it.

“It has suffered three major political reverses.

“Firstly, the US Senate is not going to pass their Ration-N-Tax Scheme this year, probably not next year, maybe never.

“Secondly, there is scant political support for capping carbon dioxide in Eurasia or South of the Equator. There are many countries lined up looking for billions of dollars in carbon credit handouts, but none want to cap or tax their own emissions.

“For example, China has announced that it doubts the science and the economics of caps (but it is keen to build heaps of windmills and solar panels for anyone silly enough to buy them).

See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/17/climate-rise-fears-china

“India will burn more coal, and will not accept caps, and Russia is only interested in selling carbon credits.

“Finally, even in Europe, the citadel of global warming, public support is evaporating.

“The British public is “tired, bored and resentful” of the hysteria and cost of the low carbon vision.

See: http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=698

“And, despite their heavy reliance on nuclear power, two thirds of French voters oppose their new carbon tax.

“Both Australian political parties cite “pressure for certainty from big business” as the main justification for rushing into the Ration-N-Tax Scheme.

“The sad fact is that a majority of big businesses look to benefit from the whole new tax-subsidise-and-trade empire that will be created. Banks, commodity traders, lawyers, accountants, regulators, academics, solar, wind and gas entrepreneurs, and the carbon sequestration lobby are all planning to profit from trading hot air certificates. They also see opportunities to profit from increasing energy prices or they need special subsidies and tax breaks to justify some foolish gambles they have taken in the alternate energy business.

“And the hidden agenda of both major political parties is to gain or retain power by courting green preferences.

“These are all grubby reasons for saddling ordinary Australians with a scheme that will increase the costs for everything, particularly electricity, food and travel, as well as destroying real jobs and slashing the value of their superannuation funds.”

Viv Forbes

info@carbon-sense.com
www.carbon-sense.com

Viv Forbes is Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, an Australian organisation which opposes waste of resources, opposes pollution, and promotes the rational and sustainable use of carbon energy and carbon food.

 

Egregious example of target fixation: Geoengineering- a last ditch response to climate change?

In its recent report on Geo-engineering, the Royal Society argues that ‘air capture’ carbon dioxide absorption techniques are probably the best geo-engineering option in that we should ‘address the root cause of climate change by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere’. Solar heat reflector techniques were seen as generally less attractive. It may well be true that carbon dioxide absorption is the best type of geo-engineering option, but surely, geo-engineering of whatever type in no way deals at source with the ‘root cause’ of climate change- which is the production of carbon dioxide in power stations, gas boilers and vehicles. (ERW)

As we've shown you here and here, carbon constraint is absolutely useless if you are trying to cool (or avoid warming) the world. No amount results in any meaningful difference (which kind of kills their silly claims about carbon overheating it but never mind...). Typically, these guys forget the other half of the Earth energy balance equation. If you really want to mess about with the planet's temperature and you can't achieve your aims through tampering with OLR (outbound longwave radiation) then you need to look at blocking some of the incoming shortwave radiation from the sun. That we could do with minimal expense through increased sulfur levels in fuels and it is controllable (stop doing it and the effect wears off in a matter of weeks).

 

From the original Gaia nut: Such drastic climate therapy could make things worse

Better, perhaps, to let the earth look after itself than try to regulate its system through mirrors, clouds and artificial trees (James Lovelock, The Guardian)

For perhaps the first time I find myself in agreement with Lovelock -- people should not be trying to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Apart from that I have no particular problem with people engineering Earth to make it more suitable for our purposes -- always provided we can agree on what those might be.

 

He's right in one respect... Nick Clegg: Eco politics for the real world

A vote for the Green Party would be a wasted vote, as only one party has both the will and the power to tackle climate change

The threat of climate change rivals any the modern world has faced. No challenge for our generation is greater than averting a climate catastrophe. The best predictions science offers suggest that, if the planet warms by more than C, it will tip us into the nightmare scenario of climate chaos we cannot control. It will affect not only the world's prosperity, but also our very ability to feed ourselves, threatening resource wars and mass migration on an unprecedented scale.

Time is of the essence in taking on this enormous threat. Campaigners and scientists alike are now clear: the next government is the last government that will be able to act. If the government chosen in next year's election doesn't take the action necessary to change the way Britain uses energy, it will probably be too late. That means next year's election is our best chance – probably our last chance – to get a government that will protect our planet for our children. (The Independent)

... voting green is really stupid. Apart from that Nick is not on the planet. So, Nick, what does: "... if the planet warms by more than C, it will tip us into ..." mean? If the planet warms more than one hundred degrees? Granted, that would be kind of unpleasant but it's not very likely, nor could we do anything about it. Presumably Nick meant to go back and fill in some vaguely plausible yet scary number. Don't sweat it Nick, we don't know from one year to the next whether to expect a warmer or cooler one (we always hope for warmer though, because a cooling world present far greater difficulties). About the only "last chance" looming is for AGW to be useful for scaremongering -- its course is about run.

 

People-haters seize any excuse: Contraception vital in climate change fight: expert

LONDON - Contraception advice is crucial to poor countries' battle with climate change, and policy makers are failing their people if they continue to shy away from the issue, a leading family planning expert said on Friday.

Leo Bryant, a lead researcher on a World Health Organisation study on population growth and climate change, said the stigma attached to birth control in both developing and developed countries was hindering vital progress.

"We are certainly not advocating that governments should start telling people how many children they can have," said Bryant, an advocacy manager at the family planning group Marie Stopes International, who wrote a commentary in the Lancet medical journal on Friday.

"The ability to choose your family size...is a fundamental human right. But lack of access to family planning means millions of people in developing countries don't have that right," he told Reuters.

Bryant's study of climate change adaptation plans by governments in the world's 40 poorest countries showed that almost all of them link rapid population growth to environmental impact, but only six had proposed steps to tackle it. (Reuters)

If they are really worried about population growth then the way to address that is development -- wealthier populations have fewer kids (because they don't need a lot of kids to ensure survival of a few nor more kids to support the parents as they age). Ironically, the moves of the antis directly inhibit the very things they seem to desire by hampering development and wealth generation. What a bunch of losers...

 

Poor naive young fellow: A new direction for climate campaigning

The Senate’s rejection of the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in August presents the Australian climate community with the opportunity to reassess and recalibrate their messaging and advance an effective policy agenda. Regardless of whether the Senate approves the bill when it is reintroduced this November, the climate movement must be prepared for the next stage of climate and energy advocacy - one that will focus on renewable energy deployment.

A new and improved policy agenda must do several things: it must unite the nation's climate movement that has been split by Labor’s flawed CRPS; it must be politically palatable for both the government and the public; it must exclude powerful fossil fuel interests intent on thwarting progress; it must be politically feasible to pass the senate; and all importantly, it must have a positive climate impact. (Leigh Ewbank, On Line Opinion)

What a shame Leigh didn't study real science rather than "Bachelor of Social Science Environment", then he'd know enough to actually hold an intelligent opinion. In case anyone manages to clue young Leigh in, fossil fuel interests are not out to thwart progress, they support and fund a great deal of it all the time and no policy agenda has any relevance to the planet's climate -- it can only make people more vulnerable to whatever the climate does.

 

Sometimes The Economist can produce some really good stuff... and then there's now: A bad climate for development - Poor countries’ economic development will contribute to climate change. But they are already its greatest victims

IN LATE April Mostafa Rokonuzzaman, a farmer in south-western Bangladesh, gave an impassioned speech at a public meeting in his village, complaining that climate change, freakish hot spells and failed rains were ruining his vegetables. He didn’t know the half of it. A month later Mr Rokonuzzaman was chest-deep in a flood that had swept away his house, farm and even the village where the meeting took place. Cyclone Aila (its effects pictured above) which caused the storm surge that breached the village’s flood barriers, was itself a plausible example of how climate change is wreaking devastation in poor countries. (The Economist)

All else regardless, development is defensive and underdeveloped regions need all the development they can get. Moreover, The Economist really needs to pay some attention to Ryan Maue's meticulously assembled data (note that we have just suffered through silly claims of really warm contemporary sea temperatures and yet there is little tropical cyclone activity to talk about):

Ryan Maue's Seasonal Tropical Cyclone Activity Update

September 15: Global Hurricane Frequency [storms with maximum intensity greater than 64 knots] has dramatically collapsed during the past 2-3 years. When measured using 12 or 24 month running sums, the number of tropical cyclones at hurricane intensity is clearly at a 30-year low. HOWEVER, the number of tropical cyclones with intensity greater than 34-knots has remained at the 30-year average (83 storms per year). More on the distinction in an upcoming paper currently submitted for publication.

 


September 13: Still waiting for a message from Accuweather about using my research unattributed on the O'Reilly Factor!

Global Tropical Cyclone ACE valid September 18, 2009 12Z

BASIN 2009 Current YEARLY CLIMO
Thru Oct 31
CLIMO
Thru Sep 30
CLIMO
Avg Sep
N Hemisphere 240.7 563 493.2 402.8 154
N Atlantic 41.6375 106 99.2 85.0 51.6
W Pacific 105.8 309 254.5 197.9 65.2
E Pacific 88.7 132 130.1 112.6 36.8
N Indian 4.6 17 9.3 7.3 0.3
S Hemisphere 107 229 Out of Season ---

Northern Hemisphere ACE for the month of July struggled across the finish line, with the lowest recorded value since at least 1970. The monthly ACE value of 15.6 is truly remarkable in its ineptitude considering the average of the previous 40 years is 73! See text file for the previous 40-years ranked according to July ACE activity.

May - June - July Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone Activity: the three month ACE sum for 2009 just missed being the lowest since at least 1970, by less than one ACE point behind the truly anomalous year of 1977.


Sorted monthly data: Text File

Tropical Cyclone ACE Update


Figure: 24-month running sum of tropical cyclone accumulated cyclone energy for the entire globe (top black squares / time series) and the Northern Hemisphere only (bottom green squares / time series). The difference between the two time series is the Southern Hemisphere total. Data is shown from January 1979 - August 15, 2009 mainly because intensity estimates of SH cyclones are often missing in the JTWC best-tracks prior to 1980. See notes.


Figure: 24-month running sums of tropical cyclone ACE for a combination of basins of the Northern Hemisphere. The Western North Pacific, Eastern North Pacific, and the Northern Indian Ocean typically sees more activity than the Eastern Pacific and North Atlantic combined. However, during the strong La Nina event of 1998-1999, the very quiet WPAC TC activity was exceeded by the NATL and EPAC combined. The two time series are correlated at R = 0.56 but of course are not independent.

The quality of the historical tropical cyclone records becomes more suspect in the past. However, for the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, the NHC vis the only reporting agency for the last 30-years, in general. Thus, for Northern Hemisphere tallies, the variability in the Western North Pacific (and Indian / S. Pacific) best-tracks from different agencies (i.e. JTWC, Hong Hong, Tokyo, Reunion) could of course lead to somewhat different seasonal totals. However, since the ACE metric is dominated by the duration component, which does not vary between the datasets, small changes in the seasonal totals are expected. Future research of course continues to quantify the effects of database choice on TC trends, i.e. IBTrACS.

Note: climatology is based upon the past 30-years of tropical cyclone activity (1979-2008). Historical tropical cyclone tracks are obtained from two sources: National Hurricane Center (NHC) for Eastern Pacific and North Atlantic basins and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) for the Western Pacific, Northern and Southern Indian Oceans, and the South Pacific including the Australian region. Best-track data when cyclones are in an extratropical phase are disregarded, where this is included in the datasets.

While there are several other sources of best-track hurricane data for the different basins around the globe, it is not apparent which source of tropical cyclone intensity estimates is the best, most correct, or most consistent throughout the past 30-years. Until that research is completed, it is my policy to use NHC and JTWC data for global tropical cyclone data. I will attempt to use RSMC (Tokyo) and the IBTrACS merged database for comparison purposes in the near future. (Update: June 24, after calculating ACE using the IBTrACS mean intensity, which can include from 1-4 different reporting centers, the differences are negligible. Therefore, it is appropriate to use the NHC+JTWC for global studies on yearly time scales. Naturally differences crop up when examining storm by storm and observation by observation differences. This is a disasterous complication when doing count/frequency studies such as Webster et al. (2005) but is mitigated with accumulated cyclone statistical studies (i.e. Emanuel 2005; Maue 2009)).

© Research property of Ryan N. Maue Florida State University, COAPS, Tallahassee, FL 32306 | 850/644-6935
Comments & broken link reports to rmaue@met.fsu.edu

 

Climate Models Blown Away By Water Vapor

Contrary to what is said in the popular media, water (H2O) is the most important greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere, not the small amount of demonized CO2. But aside from acting as a greenhouse gas, water vapor plays an active role in shaping global atmospheric circulation and thus Earth's climate. Water does this by undergoing state changes—from liquid to vapor and back again—allowing water vapor to carry significant amounts of latent heat from the warm equatorial regions toward the poles. The importance of this heat transfer mechanism in climate regulation is poorly understood but new data have begun to show the impact is major. One thing is certain, most widely used climate models do not correctly account for the complex dynamics of water vapor.

In a detailed study of the mechanisms and effects of water vapor, to be published in Reviews of Geophysics, Tapio Schneider and Xavier Levine of the California Institute of Technology, and Paul A. O’Gorman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have expanded our knowledge of water's role in climate regulation while showing just how poorly understood the Earth climate system really is. Our level of collective ignorance is explained at the start of the paper:

Although the mechanisms are not well understood, it is widely appreciated that heating and cooling of air through phase changes of water are integral to moist convection and dynamics in the equatorial region. But that water vapor plays an active and important role in dynamics globally is less widely appreciated, and how it does so is only beginning to be investigated.

As we reported in The Resilient earth, the role of water as a greenhouse gas was first methodically investigated by Irish scientist John Tyndall in the mid 19th century. An accomplished mountaineer, Tyndall was fascinated by Louis Agassiz's daring proposal of ice ages, in which glaciers once covered enormous parts of the world. Looking for mechanisms to explain climate change, he established the absorptive power of clear aqueous vapour—water vapor. To investigate this phenomenon he constructed the first spectrophotometer, shown below.


Tyndall's spectrophotometer apparatus.

Tyndall's experiments showed that, in addition to water vapor, a number of other atmospheric gases can absorb heat energy. Correctly identifying water vapor as the strongest absorber of radiant energy, Tyndall marveled at the ability of transparent, colorless gas to trap heat. He suggested this phenomenon was linked to changes in climate—changes that caused glaciers to advance and retreat. In his own words, he stressed the importance of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Aqueous vapour is a blanket more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man. Remove for a single summer-night the aqueous vapour from the air which overspreads this country, and you would assuredly destroy every plant capable of being destroyed by a freezing temperature. The warmth of our fields and gardens would pour itself unrequited into space, and the sun would rise upon an island held fast in the iron grip of frost.

When it comes to climate change carbon dioxide is pretty much a one trick pony. It acts as a greenhouse gas, delaying the re-radiation of energy from the Sun back into space and thus raising the average temperature of the atmosphere. It can have secondary effects on plant cover—CO2 is basically plant food—but it does not contributes directly to climate regulation in any other significant way. H2O on the other hand, is not just our atmosphere's major greenhouse gas, it is a multi-talented climate regulator.

When scientists talk about heat in the atmosphere they refer to two major types: sensible heat and latent heat. Sensible heat is thermal energy that causes dry bulb temperature changes in the air. Dry bulb here means that the change in temperature occurs without a change in water vapor content—no state change is involved. In contrast, latent heat requires a state change in a substance. Ice turning into water, or water turning into water vapor are state changes that require the input of energy. The energy becomes latent heat energy during the state change and can be released by reversing the state change. In other words by condensing water vapor back into liquid or freezing liquid water into ice. If you have ever boiled away a pot of water to make steam it should be obvious that water changing state can absorb a lot of thermal energy.


Latent heat potential for water state changes.

The input of energy required by a change of state from liquid to vapor at constant temperature is called the latent heat of vaporization. At normal atmospheric pressure this is 2257 kilo-Joules/kg for water (970.4 Btu/lb for the metric challenged). Energy from the Sun evaporates a lot of water from Earth's oceans, particularly from the tropical zones around the equator. Water vapor, being lighter than air, tends to rise from the surface and is then carried along by currents in the atmosphere. As the water vapor is transported toward the poles it carries with it the latent heat of its state change from liquid to gas. This latent heat is released when atmospheric water vapor condenses and more captured by the cooling of air through evaporation or sublimation of condensate. Both affect atmospheric circulation.

As water vapor is transported by atmospheric circulation it also affects circulation patterns. This in turn impacts atmospheric stability and storm formation. As the study's authors explain: “We discuss how latent heat release is implicated in such circulation changes, particularly through its effect on the atmospheric static stability, and we illustrate the circulation changes through simulations with an idealized general circulation model. This allows us to explore a continuum of climates, constrain macroscopic laws governing this climatic continuum, and place past and possible future climate changes in a broader context.”

Focusing on water vapor dynamics—the study of the dynamic effects of heating and cooling of air through phase changes of water—the study emphasis large scales, from extratropical storms (~1000km) to the planetary scale of the Hadley circulation. Again quoting the researchers, “This allows us to examine critically, and ultimately to reject, some widely held beliefs, such as that the Hadley circulation would generally become weaker as the climate warms, or that extratropical storms would generally be stronger than they are today in a climate like that of the LGM with larger pole-equator surface temperature contrasts.” Here LGM stands for Last Glacial Maximum, which occurred around 20,000 years ago.

The Hadley circulation pattern dominates the tropical atmosphere. Named after George Hadley, who first described it as an explanation for the trade winds, these circulation cells consists of rising motion near the equator, poleward flow 10-15 kilometers above the surface, descending motion in the subtropics, and equatorward flow near the surface. This circulation is intimately related to the trade winds, tropical rainbelts, subtropical deserts and the jet streams. Hadley circulation is so important to Earth's climate system that entire scientific conferences are held to study it.


Atmospheric circulation patterns showing the Hadley cells. NASA.

This long and fascinating paper (22 pages) has much more to say about water vapor, latent heat and changes in the Hadley circulation. Other topics are touched on as well, far to many to cover in a single blog post. One topic that I found particularly interesting was in section 4, regarding extratropical circulations, which the rest of this post will concentrate on.

While water vapor's role in tropical dynamics is fairly well known, its role in extratropical dynamics is less clear. “The unclear role of water vapor in extratropical dynamics in the present climate and its changed importance in colder or warmer climates are principal challenges in understanding extratropical circulations and their response to climate changes,” state the authors. In the present climate, about half of the total atmospheric energy flux in mid-latitudes can be attributed to latent heat release in extratropical circulations. Clearly water vapor must play a significant role in the extratropical atmosphere of the mid-latitudes. Interestingly, not all of the results of this study are as simple as previously assumed.

One unambiguous result was that extratropical storm tracks generally shifted toward the poles in simulations of global warming scenarios. A number of possible mechanisms for this effect are discussed but in the end “there currently is no comprehensive theory for the position of storm tracks.” As an example of how complex and confusing the effects of water vapor have on a changing climate consider the report's findings regarding storminess:

The extratropical transient eddy kinetic energy, a measure of storminess, scales with the dry mean available potential energy. Near the present climate, both energies decrease as the climate warms, because meridional potential temperature gradients decrease and the static stability increases as the poleward and upward transport of latent heat strengthens. In colder climates, however, both energies can also decrease as the climate cools.

Because water vapor has a big impact on atmospheric circulation it also impacts tropical storm formation. As stated by Hye-Mi Kim et al.: “Strengthening or weakening of the vertical wind shear occurs largely through changes in the upper-level westerly flow and is thought to be a major factor inhibiting or enhancing the formation and intensification of cyclones” (see “Impact of Shifting Patterns of Pacific Ocean Warming on North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones”). In particular, this has been tied to vertical wind shear, which can inhibit the formation of tropical cyclones. Now it seems that a warming climate doesn't result in more storms outside of the tropics either. But in an example of how counter intuitive and complex atmospheric circulation can be, a colder climate can also reduce the amount of storminess. As with the erroneous predictions of increased frequency and intensity for tropical storms by global warming proponents, simple blanket statements about how changes in temperature affects our environment are most often wrong.

In the end this paper raises more questions than it answers, something many good scientific investigations do. At the end of the paper the authors pose the question, “what controls the static stability of the subtropical and extratropical atmosphere?” After listing five major unsettled questions regarding atmospheric circulation and the dynamic effects of water vapor, the study's authors summarize their findings: “The lack of a theory for the subtropical and extratropical static stability runs through several of the open questions. Devising a theory that is general enough to be applicable to relatively dry and moist atmospheres remains as one of the central challenges in understanding the global circulation of the atmosphere and climate changes.”


Artistic image of water vapor using data from the Aqua satellite's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder. NASA.

Without such a theory it is impossible to predict changes in atmospheric circulation, it is impossible to predict changes in the hydrological cycle, it is impossible to predict storm frequencies, intensities and tracks. Future climate cannot be predicted without a theory explaining how climate works, yet the IPCC has confidently made predictions regarding changes in storms, precipitation and climate for decades, even centuries into the future.

If something as seemingly simple as water vapor can have such complex and bewildering impacts on Earth's climate why does the IPCC and the climate crisis crowd continue to insist that all fault lies with CO2? It could be that even they realize that blaming global warming on water vapor would give them no political leverage. After all, 70% of our planet's surface is covered with water and not even the most wild-eyed geoengineering proponent would propose we attempt to control the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

What does this have to say about all of those general circulation models (GCM) used by the IPCC to divine the future of Earth's climate? It means they can't accurately simulate our planet's climate engine because they don't know how the atmosphere works. If they don't know how climate works today, how can they tell us what the climate will be like 100 years in the future? The predictors of future climate disaster may as well be using tarot cards.

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

 

Recent Paper “Influence Of Cloud Condensation And Giant Cloud Condensation Nuclei” By Cheng Et Al 2009

Cheng, W. Y. Y., G. G. Carrió, W. R. Cotton, and S. M. Saleeby (2009), Influence of cloud condensation and giant cloud condensation nuclei on the development of precipitating trade wind cumuli in a large eddy simulation, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D08201, doi:10.1029/2008JD011011.

“To investigate the effects of both cloud condensational nuclei (CCN) and giant CCN (GCCN), the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System was used to investigate the effects of various CCN and GCCN concentrations on the development of precipitating trade wind cumuli in a large eddy simulation (LES) framework. The sounding to initialize the LES was taken from the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean Experiment archive for 11 January 2005. Several sensitivity experiments were performed in which two levels of CCN (GCCN) concentrations were used: 100 (0.01) and 1000 (0.1) per [centimeter cubed] corresponding to low and high values, respectively. Both CCN and GCCN can affect the precipitation processes. With low GCCN concentration, raising the CCN concentration from low to high reduced the precipitation rate as well as the accumulated precipitation due to the presence of a large number of small cloud droplets that are inefficient in forming drizzle. However, GCCN can have a greater response in increasing the precipitation rate and accumulation when the cloud system has a high CCN concentration. The total cloud coverage (TCC) was reduced for the higher CCN concentration experiments because of the susceptibility of evaporation of cloud droplets in the upper parts of the cloud as a result of entrainment. On the other hand, the TCC was increased for the higher GCCN concentration experiments. For this trade wind cumuli case, the time‐ and domain‐averaged albedo changed very slightly with increased [CCN] and/or [GCCN] because of a compensating increase/decrease among the optical depth, liquid water path, cloud coverage, and cloud droplet concentration.”

The conclusions include the text

“Entrainment played a role in affecting the cloud properties and dynamics contrary to Albrecht’s second indirect effect in this case as a result of the different cloud droplet concentrations. The results further illustrate the nonlinear response of clouds to perturbations in aerosol concentrations and that changes in cloud dynamics are just as important as changes in cloud microphysics when examining the radiative responses of clouds to air pollution aerosols.”

This paper provides new insight into one of the complex roles of clouds within the climate system as affected by aerosols.  The indirect effect of aerosols was highlighted as a still very incompletely understood major climate forcing in NRC (2005); see page 40. (Climate Science)

 

About Peer-reviewed Dogmas, or ‘Meet The Peeritarians’

(this in response to yet another tired thread full of “but the findings of so-and-so have not been peer-reviewed!“)

I think I understand it now…it’s like a new religion…instead of the Pastafarians, we now have the… Peeritarians!

Those people can be recognized by their preferred way to communicate with anybody they disagree with:

Have your thoughts/proposals/findings/obvious-observations-nobody-in-their-right-mind-could-deny been peer-reviewed?

Sadly, there is no way to convince them to ask or say anything else.

If anything has not been peer-reviewed, Peeritarians will deny its very possibility of existence. Worse, if anything has been peer-reviewed it is then taken as their new dogma…because Peeritarians are characterized by being impervious to critical thinking upon reading peer-reviewed material.

Only hope is, the peer-review system will eventually publish something completely contradictory, thereby convincing to good Peeritarian to change his/her mind.

———————

In order to preserve their remaining sanity, everybody is strongly encouraged not to engage Peeritarians in discussions about hurricanes and global warming, or health and global warming, areas where there are peer-reviewed articles demonstrating pretty much everything and its opposite. (OmniClimate)

 

The Handbook spreads to Turkey

Turkey, where the local climate is normal and where nothing unusual happened in the time since the green bandwagon hit the road, signed on to Kyoto and will most likely sign on to the Copenhagen compromise, Kyoto II. So there is a need to spread the word about that the science the media won’t mention, hence The Skeptics Handbook

A 2007 survey showed that even in Turkey some 70% of people are familiarized with the theory that carbon affects the climate, which shows the remarkable reach of UN propaganda1. The UN may not have any evidence, but they have widespread influence. The Politburo would be impressed.

The Turkish translation of The Skeptics Handbook

Like most politicians, the Turkish representatives wouldn’t mind another excuse to tax everything that moves while being hailed as heroes (I ‘ll save you. Let me spend your money!). And with potential EU membership acting like a carrot with gold plating, there are reasons for Turkey to accept agreements it may not otherwise have chosen to.

It’s a country caught in a patchwork of third world unmechanized farming and modern megopolis development. Pop music has arrived in a big way; mass produced electronics goods are finding markets; and satellite and cable TV is common, but at the same time, people still chant five times a day — only now the most fanatical can do it with Bang and Olufsen megaphones. This is “modern” third world style. Adaptive Bass Linearisation meets the Koran.

The state may provide free hospital care, but you need to bring your own nurse. Seriously, family members may have to provide non-medical nursing.  Sewers are still uncovered and storm drains are inadequate. Infant mortality is surprisingly serious. Babies born in  places like Nicaragua or the Palestinian Territories have much better chances of survival. This is not a country where “going solar” is a top priority. People are dying from real preventable causes, and man-made climate change is not one of them.

Most people live in rural villages, and are dependent on coal and wood in winter, and gas for their cars, so the chances of “alternate energy sources” being affordable are seriously close to zero.

Turkey’s economy (like many others) hangs by a thread. It’s hard to imagine how they could seriously cut their emissions without crippling their economy. Current tax rates are at a level that almost every business struggles to meet. Income levels are much lower than the west, to the point where even children are breadwinners. Meanwhile unemployment is officially “above 13%”, and probably in reality, above 25%2. Those numbers have a special meaning in a land where there are no unemployment benefits. Hiking up food costs with an unnecessary carbon impost is dangerous for people already on a subsistence diet.

Energy-wise, Turkey has big gas reserves near the north coast of the Marmara and a well developed gas infrastructure, though not, it seems, a terribly well developed electricity network, as blackouts are still regular. There is plenty of work to do to get fossil fuel powered electricity running reliably before the country rushes into unproven and more risky alternatives.

Rather than establishing Research Centers in Atmospheric Chemistry, the Kurds in the east are more interested in establishing schools and hospitals, and, of course, their own government. This is a country that needs to spend money on health, on basic services, on education — not on inefficient energy sources, auditing carbon credits, or a new layer of bureaucrats.

The word from a cyber friend who lives there is that there aren’t many skeptics, but nor are there many AGW fans either. As I suspected, Turks view this mostly as a western creation and a western problem.

Once again, marvel at the worldwide grassroots network of volunteers. Email all your Turkish friends. Click on the image above to see The Turkish Skeptics Handbook.

Thanks to  Zulloch Ltd for the translation. They are a professional translation service in Istanbul, so this was an easy effortless process for me. I just had to give permission and the cogs turned…

And just in case you ever need to arrange a Turkish translation:

Zulloch Tercume (Translation and Print Services) Ltd, Istanbul.
Phone: (0212) 641 1840 – 41
Fax: (0212) 641 1839

The full printable top quality 17Mb version can be downloaded too. (For all your friends in Turkey with four color printing presses.)

Finally! – I’ve got a translation in a language that Brian Valentine can’t read.

References

1     2007 polls of countries and climate change attitudes and knowledge. http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbc_climate/backgrounder.html

2     Turkish Unemployment. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/mar2009/turk-m18.shtml (JoNova)

 

Better get busy making sure they can meet consumer demand for power then, eh? Plugged-In Age Feeds a Hunger for Electricity

With two laptop-loving children and a Jack Russell terrier hemmed in by an electric fence, Peter Troast figured his household used a lot of power. Just how much did not really hit him until the night the family turned off the overhead lights at their home in Maine and began hunting gadgets that glowed in the dark.

“It was amazing to see all these lights blinking,” Mr. Troast said.

As goes the Troast household, so goes the planet.

Electricity use from power-hungry gadgets is rising fast all over the world. The fancy new flat-panel televisions everyone has been buying in recent years have turned out to be bigger power hogs than some refrigerators.

The proliferation of personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles and all the rest amounts to the fastest-growing source of power demand in the world. Americans now have about 25 consumer electronic products in every household, compared with just three in 1980.

Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency, making it more difficult to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.

To satisfy the demand from gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants, according to the agency. (NYT)

Fortunately enhanced greenhouse is another problem that never was. Looming failure to meet exploding consumer demand, however, is criminally negligent.

 

Anadarko Group Makes Oil Find - Discovery Potentially Opens Up a New Frontier Off Sierra Leone

A consortium led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said it had discovered oil off the coast of Sierra Leone, potentially opening up a vast new petroleum province in the deep waters off West Africa.

It is the latest in a string of deep-water finds spurred by advances in drilling technologies and exploration strategies that are changing the face of the oil industry. It comes in the same month BP PLC announced it had made a "giant" new oil discovery below the Gulf of Mexico after drilling what is thought to be the world's deepest well. That field is estimated to contain three billion barrels of oil, although only a fraction of that may ever be extracted, BP said.
[Anadarko]

The steep run-up in the price of oil over the past few years has swelled Western oil companies' exploration budgets and encouraged them to push into high-risk areas once considered too costly to exploit, such as the Arctic, and the ultra-deep waters offshore Brazil.

Twenty-five years ago, oil companies struggled to operate in seas deeper than 600 feet. Now technological innovations mean they can pump crude in waters 6,000 feet deep. Anadarko's well in Sierra Leone, known as Venus B, was drilled in water more than a mile deep. (WSJ)

 

Where is the will to power?

Gouging, fleecing, ripping off small businesses, single mums and grannies, these utilities are a disgrace. Ofgem has caught the scoundrels red-handed, pinching pounds from our pockets.

Look at the figures — the wholesale price of gas is plunging but bills are not falling. Ofgem reckons that the cost of the gas component of an average gas bill will fall by £55 over the next six months. The gross profit margin on a typical dual fuel customer is now £170 compared with an average of £110 over the past three years, says Ofgem. And the utilities have the cheek to insist that small business owners pay bills in advance.

And so would you, if you ran a power company. Bad debts are a burden — RWE recently complained that it expected an extra €100 million cost in payment problems from NPower this year while E.ON says bad debt is running at “hundreds of millions”.

The recession doesn’t help but it doesn’t properly explain why the utilities appear to have abandoned the cut-throat competition that began ten years ago. The answer is in part that their costs are going up — grid connecton costs, renewable obligation to buy expensive wind power and the need to finance government schemes to insulate our homes. But the real reason for their grasping is that they are terrified of the future — the price of energy has become hugely volatile, Britain faces an alarming energy deficit over the next decade and the power companies fear that the cost and blame for blackouts, price surges and mayhem will all be laid at their door. (Carl Mortished, The Times)

 

ScottishPower in running for clean coal deal

SCOTTISHPOWER has moved a step closer to winning £1 billion of government aid after German energy giant E.ON hinted that it will struggle to meet the deadline to build Britain's first clean coal plant.

The companies are competing with RWE npower for funding support to develop technology that will capture dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that will be stored under the sea. (Scotland on Sunday)

"Dangerous greenhouse gas emissions"? They are talking about the essential trace gas, carbon dioxide.  What an idiotic game this is.

 

How cutting carbon emissions leads to wasting energy

ECONOMISTS can and do get it wrong. The lead-up to the sub-prime mortgage crisis being an obvious case in point. While some economists and regulators were convinced all was well, many people were alarmed at a system that enabled people to buy expensive houses with loans that were beyond their means of repaying. It just didn't pass the common sense test.

But have we learned our lesson about relying on complex economics that nobody really understands? In the context of climate change legislation, it would appear not.

Consider the following. If the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is introduced, it will actually be cheaper for the coal industry to burn the natural gas that is produced by coal mines than to use that same gas to generate electricity. (Richard Denniss, The Australian)

 

Electricity companies warn of time-use charging fees

ENERGY retailers are warning families to change the way they live or risk harsh hip-pocket punishment as the industry pushes to expand time-of-use charging.

They are being told to alter the way they use appliances such as dryers, dishwashers and pool pumps or face paying twice as much for power during peak periods, The Daily Telegraph reports.

 

Nuclear must be part of energy equation

ENERGY Secretary Steven Chu turned NIMBYism on its head recently when he told National Public Radio listeners that he would rather live close to a nuclear power plant than to a coal-fired power plant.

The nuclear energy industry’s safety record, Chu said, is “really very, very good.’’

The substance and timing of Chu’s comments are important, since the United States is at a crossroads with regard to energy policies. In the coming decades, we will witness dramatic change in the way electricity is produced and distributed, all while enhancing protection of our environment.

Electricity is the backbone of our nation’s economy, and the availability of reliable, affordable supplies has helped make it possible for Americans to achieve a standard of living envied and sought after around the world. (Marvin Fertel, Boston Globe)

 

September 18, 2009

 

'Junk science' expert sounds alarm on insurance study

Steve Milloy’s "junk science" detector started running high when he got hold of a new study in the American Journal of Public Health claiming nearly 45,000 Americans die from a lack of health insurance.

According to the study, titled "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," working-age Americans without insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts. It also includes a chart showing how many people have died state by state, supposedly because of lack of insurance. For example, researchers say 4,675 Texas have died because they didn’t have insurance during their study period.

Mr. Milloy, founder and publisher of Junkscience.com and co-founder and portfolio manger for the Free Enterprise Fund, said the study was created to boost President Obama’s health care agenda. Mr. Milloy reminded that Mr. Obama recently told Congress people would die if they didn’t have insurance. (Amanda Carpenter, Washington Times)

 

Political Science Strikes the Health Care Debate

An Obama administration-funded study to published Sep. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health claims that the lack of health insurance causes as many as 45,000 deaths per year.

This is political science at its finest: (Steven Milloy, JunkScience.com)

 

U.S. employers will defray health reform costs: study

NEW YORK - If U.S. health reform efforts lead to higher costs for employers, employees may end up bearing the brunt, according to a new survey.

Employers will not absorb higher costs, choosing instead either to reduce benefits, lower salaries or cut jobs, the survey from professional services firm Towers Perrin said on Thursday.

Eighty-seven percent of employers said they were very likely or likely to cut benefits if reform leads to higher costs. Only 11 percent said they would accept lower profits.

"They simply don't have money and margins today to absorb additional healthcare costs," said Dave Osterndorf, chief health actuary at Towers Perrin.

Should reform reduce benefit costs to the companies, 78 percent they were very likely or likely to retain the savings in the business. (Reuters)

 

Hmm... Threat of lead has not gone away for children

NEW YORK - Lead pollution in the environment remains a health hazard for children.

Research released today reveals that blood lead concentrations well below the accepted "safe" level harm youngster's intellectual and emotional development.

Researchers from University of Bristol in the UK measured blood lead levels in 488 youngsters at age 2 and a half and linked these levels to scores on standardized assessment tests at age 7 to 8.

There was a clear link between blood lead levels in early childhood and academic performance by the ages of 7 and 8, the researchers report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. (Reuters Health)

No control for socio-economic status? No mention of it at all? How do they know that these trivial lead levels are not merely markers of same then?

 

Until they change the criteria, again: Preschool obesity rate stable at 1 in 7: U.S. study

CHICAGO -- The U.S. obesity epidemic, which afflicts all age groups, has stabilized in the past five years among preschool-age children at about one in seven children, government researchers said on Thursday. (Reuters)

 

Bad idea: Fight Grows Over Labels on Household Cleaners

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Mr. Clean, is under pressure to come clean itself.

Manufacturers of detergents, household cleansers and furniture polish, like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and others, are facing questions from consumers about the chemicals in their products. While many of the chemicals are present only in small amounts, some have been associated with asthma, birth defects and fertility problems in higher doses. And even if the amounts are low, consumer groups say, what is the effect of using these products over a lifetime?

The questions have left the industry in an awkward position. It wants to be seen as environmentally sensitive and consumer-friendly. But at the same time, companies do not want to give competitors and makers of cheap knock-offs all the details of what goes into Pine-Sol, for instance, or Windex.

So they have been working with consumer groups to devise a plan that could satisfy both sides. Come January, the industry has said it will voluntarily start to disclose much of what is in its cleaning products, which now represent a $14 billion-a-year business. Consumers will be able to call an 800 number, look at a Web site or, in some cases, simply check the product label to find the ingredients.

The industry’s plan has been praised by consumer groups as a step in the right direction. “The voluntary plan is not perfect, but it is worlds ahead of where the industry was before,” said Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices for the Earth, a nonprofit group that published a study in 2007, “Household Hazards,” that catalogued potential health risks. “We had been talking about this issue for years, and now it is being fast-tracked.”

But whether it goes far enough for some critics is another question. (NYT)

Appeasement never works and giving any information (or anything else) to anti-chemical anti-everything and everybody "anything" groups is just plain stupid. These people are not your friends. They do not have your best interests at heart. Don't give them anything, ever.

 

As if California doesn't have real problems... California lawmaker plans hearings on soda-obesity link

LOS ANGELES - The California lawmaker who spearheaded a high-profile anti-obesity effort across the country's most populous state is now training his sights on sugar-sweetened drinks.

Sen. Alex Padilla, who led a campaign requiring big restaurant chains to disclose calories in meals, said on Thursday he planned to hold hearings in November on the link between soda consumption and obesity. (Reuters)

 

Airline workers may spread H1N1, expert says

WASHINGTON - Airline employees who report to work ill are more likely than sick passengers to spread infections such as the H1N1 swine flu virus aboard airplanes, with low-paid workers posing the greatest danger, a U.S. government expert said on Thursday.

Dr. Michael Bell, an expert on infectious disease with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said flight attendants and other employees who move through aircraft can leave germs on any number of surfaces, while sick passengers could be more likely to remain stationary.

But the greatest threat could come from low-paid airline contractors, such as cleaners, if slim wages and poor benefits make it difficult for them to take a sick day.

"That individual may be just as effective at spreading infection as anybody else," Bell told a meeting sponsored by the independent National Research Council on the role that airports and aircraft play in transmitting disease.

Public health officials ask sick people not to travel and risk spreading infection to others and advise ill workers to stay home as well. (Reuters)

 

Australian Trade Scholars Offer Perfect Cure for ‘Protectionitis’

Earlier this month, the Lowy Institute in Australia published a paper offering some very sound and, obviously, very timely advice about how to contain, and ultimately, eradicate protectionism. The paper is being circulated among the G20 delegations, who will undoubtedly discuss the topic of trade and protectionism in Pittsburgh next week. So for those of you interested in getting a sense of what will probably be the single best idea on (or at least near) the table at the G20 summit, I highly recommend this 20-pager.

The solution proposed by the authors boils down to a two-word phrase: “Domestic Transparency.” What is meant by that phrase is that “defeating protectionism begins at home.” And by that slogan, the authors mean that the key to reducing, and ultimately eliminating, protectionism is not external pressure from other countries, mercantilist trade negotiations, or filing trade complaints at the WTO, but rather greater awareness at home of the real costs of protectionism. I couldn’t agree more. (In fact better transparency is one of our recommendations in this paper).

When governments impose trade barriers at the behest of special interests, they usually justify that protectionism with diversionary rhetoric concerning some vague conception of the “national interest,” and the imperative of shielding domestic business from unfair competition and other vagaries of the globalized economy. That the protectionist measure itself—the product of special interests diverting productive resources from economic to political ends—forces involuntary and usually unknowing subsidization of those protection-seekers by the same citizens at large who are expected to buy into the national interest canard is a detail about which most people remain in the dark.

The central theme of the Lowy paper is that once people become informed about the costs of protectionism, not only to the broader economy, but in terms of what it means for their own personal budgets, politicians and lobbyists will find it much more difficult to concoct protectionist schemes.

That this paper is written by Australians is no accident. The Aussies have experience and credibility implementing a successful domestic transparency regime, which entailed the establishment of an independent authority (independent from the levers of government and business) to provide advice to governments that is “disinterested, open to public scrutiny, and formulated from the perspective of national welfare rather than the needs of particular producer groups.” The establishment of that agency (oddly named the “Industries Assistance Commission”—one of the authors, Bill Carmichael, is the former Chairman of the IAC) in 1974 and its successor agency (also oddly named the “Productivity Commission”) are widely credited with exposing the costs of protectionism to Australians, who subsequently supported dramatic waves of trade liberalization and have since been skeptical of efforts of industries to secure protection.

In this country, the U.S. International Trade Commission is an agency with a stable of economists that measures the welfare effects of trade liberalization and protectionism. While it may have the resources to conduct the analyses, it doesn’t have the independence. Regrettably, ITC studies are often subject to the whims of politics, particularly when the objectivity and facts in their reports don’t comport with politicians’ “expectations.” We need something similar to Australia’s domestic transparency institution in the United States, and in other countries, too.

G20 members should seriously consider the proposal in this excellent Lowy paper. (Daniel Ikenson, Cato at liberty)

 

New approach could stop 6 mln African malaria cases

LONDON - A third of malaria cases in African babies can be prevented by giving them regular doses of antimalarial drugs even before the children are infected, researchers said on Thursday.

Research into intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infants (IPTi) found it helped children build better immunity to the disease and reduced the risk of the parasite becoming drug-resistant.

Both of these benefits decrease if treatment is given continuously as a prophylaxis, according to the research, published in The Lancet medical journal.

Pedro Alonso from the University of Barcelona, who led a study using data from 8,000 children and infants in Tanzania, Mozambique, Gabon and Ghana, said the research showed IPTi with the medicine sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) could save "tens of thousands of lives every year across Africa".

If IPTi using SP were expanded to other African countries, 6 million cases of malaria could be prevented each year in those most vulnerable to the disease, he told a London teleconference.

"International policy-makers and heads of national malaria control programmes should consider its immediate adoption and integration into existing programmes," he said.

Malaria is one of the world's most demanding public health problems. It kills around 1 million people a year and of an estimated 247 million cases of malaria in 2006, 86 percent were in Africa. (Reuters)

 

Explains a lot about NYT: Why I Still Oppose Genetically Modified Crops

Introduced more than a decade ago, genetically modified crops are now planted on millions of acres throughout the world. But the fundamental questions about them remain — both about their safety and their long-term impact on global food security and the environment. (Verlyn Klinkenborg, Yale 360)

Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board at the New York Times, where he regularly writes editorial opinions about rural life.

 

Looking back on Norman Borlaug's achievements

Norman Borlaug died on September 12th, aged 95. The name will be unfamiliar to many, but not to those concerned about food security in the developing world. Borlaug has been called the 'grandfather of the Green Revolution' for his breakthrough in breeding disease-resistant strains of so-called semi-dwarf wheat. This led to apocalyptic forecasts of global famine – given a high profile by Paul Ehrlich and others in the 60s and 70s – being proved dramatically wrong. In the 40 years from 1963, the world population doubled, and the number of chronically malnourished people (essentially a problem of poverty and infrastructure rather than overall food availability) hardly changed. Over 3 billion more people were fed from essentially the same total area of farmland.

The principle on which the new varieties of wheat were bred is simple in principle, but far-reaching in its consequences. Visitors to the Cambridge Botanic Garden can see an excellent display of old and new varieties of wheat grown side-by-side. Accustomed as we are to modern short-straw cereals, it comes as something as a shock to see that wheat varieties grown in the first half of the 20th Century were about shoulder height; more like maize plants. Rather than putting so much energy into straw production, dwarf wheats produce much more grain.

But to get the best yields, high levels of nitrogen are needed in the soil. This can be provided in principle by animal manure or a green manure of a leguminous crop which has been ploughed in, but this can only be achieved year after year in a consistent way by the use of manufactured fertilizer, in which atmospheric nitrogen is fixed via use of the Haber-Bosch process. The fact that this planet currently supports about 6.7 billion people, and will have the capacity feed the 9 billion or so who are likely to be alive by mid-century, is due to the use of high-yielding cereal crops and synthetic nitrogen fixation.

Borlaug's dramatic achievement was recognised by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. However, he had the misfortune to be working at a time when environmentalism was beginning to catch people's attention and gain support. To set against the success of the Green Revolution were the deep concerns being expressed about human impact on the environment, catalysed by the publication of Rachel Carson's iconic (and emotive) book 'Silent Spring'.

Over the years, the view that humankind should work 'with Nature' – and the implicit belief by the deeper greens that our species has no greater worth than any other – has become pervasive among those with the good fortune to live in prosperous societies and have enough to eat. While trying (with significant success) to change attitudes in their own countries, environmentalists have also created a belief among development agencies that poorer countries should not follow the same path to prosperity as the industrialised world had taken. As they put it, developing countries should not make the same 'mistakes' as we had already done.

One of these 'mistakes' was the development of highly productive intensive agriculture. The Green Revolution, kick-started by Borlaug's wheat breeding success in Mexico, has actually resulted in a greater production of food per capita than was the case half a century ago. In this period, the world's population has more than doubled. To feed the further 2 billion or more people likely to be alive by the time the population peaks will need more of the same progress, in this case also using the most recent technological advance, genetic modification.

Nevertheless, environmentalists, development agencies and the organic movement continue to preach from the gospel of small-scale, extensive farming. Although well-meaning, this is at best likely to result in the institutionalising of a somewhat more secure form of subsistence agriculture. Undoubtedly the rapid urbanisation seen in many developing countries creates problems and human miseries of its own, but the long-term continuation of a primarily rural economy is no better.

If food security can only be guaranteed by a productive, intensive farming system, so be it. First solve the problem of hunger, then deal with whatever other problems remain. Whatever critics may say, the industrialised world has been very successful at doing just this. Norman Borlaug did not want to deny developing countries the opportunity to do the same, and neither should we. (Scientific Alliance)

 

The malaria myths of climate change

Contrary to oft-repeated claims, climate change is unlikely to cause a major rise in malaria, says medical entomologist Paul Reiter.

Climate change is incriminated in a wide range of environmental and public health disasters. A contender for the top calamity is the idea that climate change is encouraging malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, and that this rise will become catastrophic in coming years.

To the layperson, the notion is persuasive because it is intuitive — malaria is rife where the world is hot, so if the world gets hotter there will be more of it.

Not so to the scientist. The epidemiology of the disease is highly complex, and the dominant factors are the ecology and behaviour of both humans and mosquitoes. (Paul Reiter, SciDev)

 

World Development Report demands immediate action on climate change

This year's World Bank WDR – Development and Climate Change – argues that poverty reduction remains top priority, but it must be combined with urgent action on climate change. The report prescribes massive investment in new energy technologies and renewal of generating systems to slash carbon dioxide emissions, and argues that continued growth alone would not be fast or equitable enough to enable developing countries to counter the effects of climate change.

It is inevitable that this year's report would address climate change, just a few months before the signatories of the UN Convention on Climate Change will sit down in Copenhagen to thrash out a post-Kyoto deal. The issue has become ubiquitous, and the stakes are high. Failure to at least agree a face-saving formula to permit further delay (in practice, the most likely outcome) would make a massive dent in the credibility and prestige of the climate change mitigation juggernaut.

But failure to agree might actually be a good thing. Intensive work on new energy generation and transport technologies would doubtless continue, and some of these will certainly become commercially viable before too long. But the first priority must surely be to rebuild national economies and encourage sustainable growth in the developing world, to create resilient societies which are more capable of dealing with any future threats.

But when might these threats materialise? According to a recent New Scientist article, Mojib Latif, a climate modeller and IPCC author, has suggested that we may be in for one or two decades of lower temperatures. This trend – ironically reported at a World Meteorological Organization conference on predictions of the short-term impacts of global warming – is, according to Latif, caused by natural variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation (AMO). The NAO was also blamed for at least part of the most recent warming trend.

At the same conference, it was reported that higher than usual summer losses of Arctic ice were partly due to natural cycles, and that this year's loss is likely to be much lower than for the last two years. It seems that some mainstream climate scientists are at last ready to discuss the relative contributions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and natural cycles in determining climate trends. Whatever the outcome of the debate, it is good for the scientific community that it is happening.

Meanwhile President Sarkozy, never lacking in ambition, has launched a new tax set at 17euro per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted to help 'save the human race'. If he also succeeds in introducing a proposed 'carbon levy' on imported goods to protect French industry from the anti-competitive effect of his tax, he will surely have put the cause of free trade back quite considerably in support of a cause which seems to becoming less pressing. (Scientific Alliance)

 

An inconvenient truth about global warming

The global warming narrative - that mankind's addiction to burning fossil fuels is rapidly changing the climate - may be about to go seriously off message.

Far from suggesting the planet will get warmer, one of the world's leading climate modellers says the latest data indicates we could be in for a significant period of steady temperatures and possibly even a little global cooling.

Professor Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, has been looking at the influence of cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. When he factored these natural fluctuations into his global climate model, professor Latif found the results would bring the remorseless rise in average global temperatures to an abrupt halt. (Tom Feilden, BBC)

 

We wish... Expert: World doomed to face warming

The world is "doomed to experience some global warming, and countries must prepare for those changes," warns an international expert, looking at upcoming global climate treaty meetings. In the current Nature, David Victor of the University of California, San Diego, calls for abandoning hopes for a global treaty on climate change in Copenhagen in December, arguing that the 192 nations involved cannot get their act together by then.

Instead, he suggests the major nations releasing greenhouse gasses, particularly China and the United States, cut their own separate deals to save time. "Copenhagen, at best, is a starting point for the most influential nations to make ambitious commitments," he says. "Luckily, just a dozen countries account for nearly all warming emissions." (USA Today)

Such "doom" would certainly be a boon to life on Earth (including humanity) but we have no reason to believe the planet is any more likely to warm than it is to cool.

 

Climate policies endanger U.S. national security

The global warming scare campaign goes through phases. Warmists are collectivists, and they buzz like a hive. The overall narrative of doom does not change, but every couple of months or so the hive settles on a different scare to buzz about most loudly.

That’s the best way to get media and public attention, after all. Single out one alleged global warming terror, publicize the heck out of it until ”everybody knows” the “crisis” is “even worse than scientists previously believed,” and then move on to the next scare-of-the-month. The intended effect, as H.L. Mencken put it, “is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Previously featured scares include killer heat waves, malaria epidemics, more powerful hurricanes, catastrophic sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and, my personal favorite, a shutdown of the Gulf Stream leading to a new ice age. Some of these have been scares-of-the-month more than once — a form of recycling, if you will.

You might think that after so many years of hearing about so many ways global warming is going to wreck the planet, the American people would be “clamorous to be led to safety” and demand cap-and-trade as the salvific path to a “clean energy future.”

But no, the American people aren’t buying it — at least not enough to overcome their repugnance to a massive new energy tax, which, many now understand, is what cap-and-trade boils down to. (Marlo Lewis, OpenMarket)

 

Not quite: Public bored by climate change, says IPPR

Government and business face a big challenge in changing the public's use of energy at home and reducing the UK's overall carbon emissions, report finds. From the Ecologist, part of the Guardian Environment Network

The general public are resentful, cynical and resigned when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to an IPPR report.

Unless they can be persuaded to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles, it will be impossible to meet new emissions targets, says the report. (The Guardian)

More like the public are waking up to the fact gorebull warming is a complete nonsense designed to rip them off.

 

Still confusing greenhouse gases with "pollution": World's big polluters kick off climate talks in Washington

WASHINGTON — Representatives of the world's 17 biggest carbon polluters kicked off a week of high-stakes talks on climate change Thursday with a discussion at the US State Department.

The main aim of the week of meetings is to bridge differences ahead of the UN December 7-18 climate change conference in Copenhagen, where a pact for curbing global warming beyond 2012 -- when Kyoto Protocol obligations on cutting emissions expire -- is to be crafted.

Negotiators will meet for two days at the State Department in Washington, then move to New York next week and then on to Pittsburgh.

The meetings come as Washington tries to resume a leadership role on climate change, and follow a warning from UN chief Ban Ki-moon that world leaders need to "get moving" on climate change.

Representatives from the European Union, France, Italy, Germany and Britain were at the State Department talks, along with officials representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and host, the United States.

The participants belong to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, an initiative that US President Barack Obama launched in March -- a sharp change from the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush, who rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the previous UN framework on climate change.

Together the countries are responsible for 80 percent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions. (AFP)

When are these guys going to wake up that our planet is life-friendly because our greenhouse gas-rich atmosphere delays nocturnal cooling and limits diurnal heating to keep our environment from being as hostile as the moon's? The moon's mean surface temperature by day is 107 °C (380 K, 225 °F) and by night drops to -153 °C (120 K, -243 °F), the Lunar surface temperature increases about 260 °C from just before dawn to Lunar noon. Why would we want to nudge our planet toward such extremes?

 

Are you really a leader if no one follows? Allies abandon U.S. at climate confab

GENEVA | Western nations that spent the past several years slamming the Bush administration for not doing enough to deal with climate change were conspicuously absent from a recent global climate conference.

The Obama administration sent a large entourage to the third World Climate Conference in Geneva earlier this month, trumpeting the return of the United States to the climate change debate.

But representatives from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Australia were nowhere to be found. The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-member European Union, also failed to send a commissioner.

In contrast, the United States sent a 41-member delegation, led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco, with representatives from eight agencies, the White House and Capitol Hill. They succeeded in fending off last-minute demands for Western concessions to developing nations, and their diplomatic footwork helped secure the establishment of a global framework for climate services that all nations will need if a carbon-reduction agreement is reached later this year. (John Zaracostas, Washington Times)

I'd send Jane Lubchenco and her climate cabal to the ends of the Earth too, but that's another matter.

 

Targets Demand Dogs Poor Nations' Steps To Cut CO2

SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON - In the game of climate poker, developing nations might feel they have the right cards on the table in U.N. talks after ramping up efforts to curb greenhouse gas output.

China, India, South Korea and other emerging economic powers have announced a series of measures this year to make their economies greener and limit the increase of carbon dioxide emissions from their farms, forests and factories.

The question is whether these domestic steps are enough to seal a new global climate deal, prompt rich nations to toughen their emissions reduction pledges and lead to billions in annual financing to help poorer countries fight global warming.

The measures, focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency, have drawn international praise and helped strengthen the hand of developing nations in talks to try to agree on a replacement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. (Reuters)

 

China and India warned over emissions

Todd Stern, the US’s climate change envoy, has warned countries such as China and India that they run greater risk of protectionist measures in the US Congress if they do not co-operate on international steps to hold down carbon emissions.

Speaking to the FT, he added that the US would still have a solid bargaining position even if, as is widely expected, the Obama administration fails to push its own emissions legislation through Congress before December’s intergovernmental conference at Copenhagen.

Asked about pressure from US legislators to incorporate protectionist measures into the cap-and-trade bill, which has passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate, Mr Stern, said: “The more there is a sense that the big countries are recalcitrant or unwilling to step up then the greater the pressure in Congress is going to be in that direction.”

But he said that in his view a preferable alternative to “border tax-type measures” would be carbon allowances for US trade-sensitive and energy-intensive businesses to help them avoid incurring bigger costs than their competitors in China and elsewhere. (Financial Times)

Someone please reassure me they are not really this stupid... anyone?

 

China's top climatologist stays cool over 2C rise

It is too early to determine the level of meteorological risk posed by global warming, says the director-general of the Beijing Climate Centre  (The Guardian)

Actually, they said a lot more than that:

 

China Fights Back: Scientists Find ''no solid scientific evidence to strictly correlate global temperature rise and CO2 concentrations''

The polluted skyline of Shanghai at dawn.

The polluted skyline of Shanghai at dawn.

On the way to the December climate conference in Copenhagen, Chinese scientists are tackling the issue of carbon emissions. To our knowledge this is the first time that this has happened. Until now, China has been sheepish or even defensive as to how they would address carbon dioxide emissions. Considering the strict media controls in China on anything that is published (the government owns all publishing houses) the article below should be viewed as reflecting the views of the Chinese government. China is now questioning the motives of the countries who are promoting limits on carbon dioxide and it sees those limits as an attempt by the developed world to stifle China’s economic growth.

Below is an abridged English translation of an article by Wang Jing that appeared in China’s Science Times on September 7, 2009.

The upcoming Copenhagen United Nations Climate Change Conference in December will have a deep impact on the economic development of every country. Many major, economically strong, countries will come together to discuss climate change and craft a greenhouse gas emission agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, signed in December 1997.

As the biggest carbon emitter in the world, China will certainly be pressured on carbon emission from developed countries. Currently China is at the peak of economic development and any reduction of carbon emissions is considered a fantasy by Chinese experts.

But what kind of gesture should Chinese make at the Copenhagen conference? How can China fight for its right to emit while continuing to develop its economy?

Recently, Ding Zhongli, an academician and the vice president of the Science Academy of China, published a research paper titled “2050 Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Control: Emission Rights Calculation for Each Country” on Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences (Vol. 39, No.8, 1009 -1027, 2009). That paper detailed the historical CO2 emission data of developed countries and their economic development and provides fresh thinking on how China can win the argument during the carbon emission negotiations.

Emission rights are development rights

All developed countries, without exception, became developed through high-speed industrial growth, and that growth inevitably resulted in intense utilization of fossil energy and massive CO2 emissions. In the US, CO2 annual per capita emissions increased by an average rate of 5 percent during 1901 to 1910; Germany averaged 9.9 percent during 1947 to 1957; Japan averaged 12 percent during 1960 to 1970. Therefore, emission rates correlate with development rates and emission rights are development rights. However, in exactly the era that China puts its full effort on economic development, some developed countries are proposing CO2 emission cuts.

The IPCC’s estimate of a global temperature increase of 2.5 degrees C due to CO2 emissions increase is an average value obtained by some meteorologists through multiple model calculations. Ding’s report found that there is no solid scientific evidence to strictly correlate global temperature rise and CO2 concentrations. Some geologists believe that global temperature is related to solar activities and glacial periods. At least human activity is not the only factor to cause the global temperature increase. Up to now not a single scientist has figured out the weight ratio of each factor on global temperature change.

However, the massive propaganda “human activity induced the global temperature increase” has been accepted by the majority of the society in some countries, and it has become a political and diplomatic issue. Why do the developed countries put an arguable scientific problem on the international negotiation table? The real intention is not for the global temperature increase, but for the restriction of the economic development of the developing countries, and for keeping their own advantageous positions.

Cumulative emission per capita reflects more fair and justified principle

… Ding’s research shows that cumulative emission per capita indicates the economic level of a country. By 1960, US emission per capita was 234.48 tC (tons of carbon); Britain’s level was 177.17 tC; Canada’s level was 149.49 tC; and France’s level was 73.56 tC. However, the cumulative emission per capita for China was only 24.14 tC from 1900 to 2005. China’s GDP per capita in 2005 was much lower than that of the average of the developed countries in 1960.

If the global temperature increase indeed is the result of human activity, controlling the CO2 concentration should be the historical responsibility of each country that has already emitted CO2. About 70 to 80 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere has been emitted by the developed countries. The cumulative emission per capita from Britain and US is about 1,100 tC, the cumulative emission per capita from China and India are only 66 tCO2 and 23 tCO2, respectively. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the historical emission of the developed countries directly resulted in the global temperature increase, if the claimed correlation is to be accepted.

Nevertheless, after emitting greenhouse gases for over a century and imagining a horrible consequence, the developed countries now strongly require that the developing countries also bear the historical responsibility. As is well known, the long time biggest emitter, the US first refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and then asked that China provides its emission reduction goal. On June 27, 2008, the then-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said in Tokyo that to avoid the risk of extreme climate change, all countries have to adjust their national economic structure. But only the promise of change by the developed countries is not enough for developing countries. It is truly hegemony.

Internationally there are two ways to control atmospheric CO2 concentration, one is to emphasize on reduction of emissions, another is to emphasize emission quotas. … Ding’s research indicates that whenever there are conflicts between the international climate framework and US domestic economic development, the climate policies are adjusted to protect the economic development and business interests. Since the 1950s, US academics led in global climate change studies and have made significant contributions on this issue. However, the US government policy started to change in the late 1980s. The first Bush administration appeared sluggish on the climate issue. The climate policy of the Clinton administration was active internationally, but inactive internally. The second Bush administration became even more hesitant and instead of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, they structured a replacement for Kyoto Protocol “Clear Skies & Global Climate Change Initiatives” to put the US in a good position for economic development. Therefore, it is necessary for China to insist on emission quotas to ensure a continuous economic development.

The G8 meeting held in Italy in July 2009 proposed to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent globally and by 80 percent for G8 countries by 2050. … It looks like the developed countries contribute more on reducing emission, but if using 1900 level as the baseline, the average cumulative emission per capita for G8 countries is 356.58 tC, compared to 59.95 tC per capita for all the other countries. Ding’s calculations indicate that the average cumulative emission per capital of G8 countries from 1990 to 2050 would be 3 times more than that of other countries. Therefore, the G8 proposal is extremely unfair….

Currently the need for fossil energy in China is enormous. China can use the “cumulative emission quota per capita” strategy to gain favorable status. Ding’s research categorized countries with population over 300,000 into four different groups according to four indices:

  1. due quota between 1900 and 2050,
  2. actual emission between 1900 and 2005,
  3. 2005 emission level, and
  4. emission average increase rate from 1996 to 2005.

He concluded that although China is in the group that needs to reduce the emission increase rate, China can strive for more emission rights since China could get over 30 percent of the global emissions quota. (Energy Tribune)

 

Nice one: India to set non-binding emissions targets: minister

NEW DELHI — India said Thursday it was ready to set itself non-binding targets for cutting carbon emissions in a bid to shed its image as an intransigent polluter ahead of UN climate change talks in December. (AFP)

Definitely learning to play the game.

 

<chuckle> South Africa: We’ll burn more coal, sorry

While admitting to be a ”culprit” on the climate scene, Africa’s largest economy can’t accept targets for its greenhouse gas emissions, minister states. (CoP15)

 

Oh dear... Scotland unveils world's first carbon budget

Scotland today unveiled the world's first "carbon budget" to link greenhouse gas emissions with government spending, revealing that its plans will emit the equivalent of four coal-fired power stations next year.

The Scottish government has estimated that its spending next year on £33bn worth of core services such as hospitals, schools, roads, local government and farming, will lead to the release of 11.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The "carbon budget" is being claimed as another world first by ministers in Edinburgh, after the Scottish parliament set the first legally binding CO2 reductions target of 42% by 2020 in a climate act in June. The UK Treasury has no plans to follow suit but officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are closely watching the Scottish government's efforts. (The Guardian)

 

Plan B for Copenhagen

In [10] days the curtain will rise in Bangkok for the penultimate round of negotiations before the climate change conference in Copenhagen. David Victor warns of the dangers of a rushed, stapled-together deal. (David Victor, Nature)

 

Abundant free "permits" don't cost anything? Imagine that... Businesses Unharmed So Far By EU CO2 Scheme: Survey

LONDON - The European Union's flagship emissions trading scheme has had no negative impact so far on business costs or competitiveness, a survey by non-governmental organization The Climate Group said on Thursday.

But costs could rise as the EU's ETS develops and free emissions permits are phased out for some emitters, the survey found. (Reuters)

 

What? China growth path could exceed planet's resources

If China's energy usage structure remains unchanged, its emissions of greenhouse gases would represent 60 percent of total global emissions and three times China's current production by 2050, a study says. (CoP15)

If they are talking about carbon dioxide emissions then that should read: "China [emission] growth path will boost planet's [bio] resources".

 

Off to an inauspicious start: Interior Launches Climate Strategy - New Council's Aim Is to Help Curb Warming

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar launched the Obama administration's first coordinated response to the impacts of climate change Monday, which he said would both monitor how global warming is altering the nation's landscape and help the country cope with those changes.

Salazar will lead a new "climate change response council" that will coordinate action among the department's eight bureaus and offices. A secretarial order will create eight "regional climate change response centers" in areas ranging from Alaska to the Northeast and build landscape conservation cooperatives that will create strategies for the eight regions with the help of state and local groups, and other federal agencies.

Interior manages one-fifth of the nation's land mass and nearly 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf. (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

Several people have written to query: "Cheat grass is a carbon source, and we'd rather see [the basin] as a carbon sink" since cheat grass is sourcing its carbon from the atmosphere just as the hallowed biofuels do. Well, they are right in that cheat grasses are not liberating previously sequestered carbon, nor are they directly fueled by combustion of coal, oil or gas. We should cut Interior a little slack, however, since cheat grass intrusion does apparently increase brushfire potential and so return atmosphere-sourced carbon embedded in sage brush a little sooner than would otherwise have occurred. Call Interior's claim trivially true -- kind of. If cheat grass is bad though, then biofuels are orders of magnitude worse from a carbon cycle perspective.

 

Left-Coasters with more money than sense... San Francisco Launches First Airport Carbon Kiosks

Today at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) we are launching the Climate Passport program allowing travelers to offset the impact of their air travel through an airport kiosk. This will be the world's first airport kiosk-giving people the opportunity to calculate the environmental impact of their flights and purchase carbon offsets to address that impact while at the airport. (Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco)

 

Canada Energy At Risk In Low-Carbon Standard: Group

WASHINGTON - Rules to add costs to fuels that emit the highest levels of carbon dioxide would deny millions of Americans access to stable Canadian energy and add to the nation's security risks, an interest group backed by oil companies said Thursday.

The Consumer Energy Alliance said a so-called low carbon fuel standard would restrict the use of fuel derived from Canada's oil sands, a major supplier of crude oil to the United States. The group called for an Obama administration study of of the issue.

"Considering the enormous investment involved and the serious security implications an LCFS entails -- greater dependence on unstable energy, greater volatility of supply -- it stands to reason that the National Security Council would want to take an active role in studying this issue," the alliance said in a letter to national security advisor James Jones.

A low carbon fuel standard would rank fuels, and potentially feedstocks like crude oil, by the amount of carbon dioxide they emit and levy fees on the dirtiest ones. (Reuters)

Dirtiest? Actually carbon dioxide is colorless, odorless and in fact essential to life on Earth.

 

NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer

From the NOAA press release, just in time for Copenhagen. Of course the satellite record for August tells another story that is not quite so alarming as NCDC’s take on it.

AMS Fellow and CCM, Joe D’Aleo of ICECAP has this to say about it:.

Icecap Note: to enable them to make the case the oceans are warming, NOAA chose to remove satellite input into their global ocean estimation and not make any attempt to operationally use Argo data in the process. This resulted in a jump of 0.2C or more and ‘a new ocean warmth record’ in July. ARGO tells us this is another example of NOAA’s inexplicable decision to corrupt data to support political agendas.
http://www.icecap.us/

- Anthony

East-west hemisphere anomaly.

Global surface temperature anomalies for the month of August 2009. Temperature is compared to the average global temperature from 1961-1990.

Visualization of world’s land and ocean surface temperature.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880.

NCDC scientists also reported that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for August was second warmest on record, behind 1998. For the June-August 2009 season, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was third warmest on record. (WUWT)

 

NOAA’s August global SST record is the result of one data set

Yesterday NOAA announced with much fanfare that:

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880.

Besides the UAH data for August I cited, Bob Tisdale shows that some other datasets don’t agree with NOAA’s conclusion. – Anthony

Record Sea Surface Temperatures Are Only In NOAA ERSST.v3b Dataset

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

The NOAA press release claims the August Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) was the warmest on record.

The record ERSST.v3b SST for August can be seen in Figure 1.
http://i32.tinypic.com/2jaiydh.png
Figure 1

And of course SST anomalies, Figure 2, were also at record levels in August 2009.

 

What a sad piece of reporting: Arctic Ice Melts To Third-Smallest Area

LOS ANGELES - The Arctic ice pack melted this summer to its third-smallest size on record, up slightly from the low points of the past two years but continuing an overall shrinking trend symptomatic of climate change, U.S. scientists said on Thursday. (Reuters)

"Arctic ice level continues to increase since wind reversal blew a lot of old ice out of the Arctic three years ago." "Arctic ice melts to third-smallest area noted in the few years satellite data has been available." I guess they are functionally equivalent and accurate -- what a shame the media didn't manage to do it.

 

NSIDC still pushing “ice-free Arctic summers”

This is the press release sent out by NSIDC today (sans image below). Instead of celebrating a two year recovery, they push the “ice free” theme started last year by Marc Serreze. There’s no joy in mudville apparently. My prediction for 2010 is a third year of increase in the September minimum to perhaps 5.7 to 5.9 million square kilometers. Readers should have a look again at how the experts did this year on short term forecasts. – Anthony

NOAA computer model output depicting the trend for the next 30 years

NOAA computer model output depicting the trend for the next 30 years

Image source: NOAA News
Arctic sea ice reaches minimum extent for 2009, third lowest ever recorded

CU-Boulder’s Snow and Ice Data Center analysis shows negative summertime ice trend continues

The Arctic sea ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the third-lowest recorded since satellites began measuring sea ice extent in 1979, according to the University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.

While this year’s September minimum extent was greater than each of the past two record-setting and near-record-setting low years, it is still significantly below the long-term average and well outside the range of natural climate variability, said NSIDC Research Scientist Walt Meier. Most scientists believe the shrinking Arctic sea ice is tied to warming temperatures caused by an increase in human-produced greenhouse gases being pumped into Earth’s atmosphere. (WUWT)

 

When Is A Climate Satellite Not Exactly A Climate Satellite?

I have just been at a beautiful presentation at the British Interplanetary Society in London, by Jessica Housden of EADS-Astrium about the upcoming ESA “EarthCARE” satellite (beautiful especially to us engineering boffins that is).

Designing a Spacecraft to Observe Climate Change

Understanding of the atmosphere is a continual process, with scientists all over the world endeavouring to determine how our atmosphere works and how it is changing. One such mission, EarthCARE, will be observing several processes which will help scientists. How will this be done and how will the spacecraft work?

Jessica Housden is a systems engineer for the EarthCARE mission, which will observe water content and aerosol distribution in the atmosphere.

Ms Housden said that EarthCARE, designed to look at clouds and aerosols, will be up there for 4 years from around 2013 (don’t bet your house on that though…there’s lots to learn before it can actually fly).

Upon hearing that I suddenly realised something confirmed during the Q&A session later: the climate-change EarthCARE satellite is not exactly a satellite to study the climate.

For a start, 4 years are way too short a time to see what climate is doing, let alone to see it changing.

You see, EarthCARE is a climate-change satellite. Its measurements will be used to (surprise, surprise!) help climate modellers improve their models (as everybody knows, clouds have been particularly badly modelled up to now).

After all, that’s what it “says on the tin” (”Spacecraft to observe Climate Change“, not “Climate“). Nothing to fault EADS-Astrium for…still, I suspect in the upcoming future one will have to be careful about this apparently minute distinctions.

What about the Climate then? Well, EarthCARE would be a good starting point. For example one of its instruments is designed to measure incoming and outgoing fluxes, thereby answering many of the questions we still have about the planetary energy budget.

But you’d need a constellation of EarthCAREs for proper climate research, perhaps 5 or 6, if only to observe a particular spot more than once a month. And you’d need also a steady supply, to have enough of them up there despite the relatively-short 4-year lifetime. (OmniClimate)

 

It comes from the Far Side..?

After being starved of any significant solar activity for so long, any detection of a sunspot very nearly becomes headline news. Therefore when a significant spot is detected on the solar farside, people start writing furiously.

So what to do? The first detection of a potential (and substantial) sunspot in more than a month came from GONG

But will it survive to the nearside?

There’s something that might be a spot on the far eastern limb of the latest STEREO image

But GONG now shows nothing at all

GONG data as of 16th September 2009

GONG data as of 16th September 2009

So what to believe? The next few days should show whether we’re looking at a spot or a plage. I confess that the sensitivity of the seismic results interpreted by GONG are often less accurate as to whether we are seeing a solar disturbance (like a coronal hole or a prominence) or a real sunspot.

I suspect that this is continuation of a pattern we have been seeing for many months, a single sunspot or very small group with SC24 polarity passes in front of us, but nothing else happens and the Sun’s activity quickly falls back to very low levels.

Because of this phenomenon, the most likely response from the solar science community is likely to be muted, after so many false dawns.

Solarcycle24.com has produced a graph showing the remarkable difference between the spotless days between solar cycles 22 and 23 and between 23 and 24.

Click for sunspot graph

There’s no end in sight for this minimum. (Solar Science)

 

NCAR: “number of sunspots provides an incomplete measure of changes in the Sun’s impact on Earth”

NCAR
Solar Cycle Driven by More than Sunspots; Sun Also Bombards Earth with High-Speed Streams of Wind

From an NCAR press release September 17, 2009

BOULDER—Challenging conventional wisdom, new research finds that the number of sunspots provides an incomplete measure of changes in the Sun’s impact on Earth over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. The study, led by scientists at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Michigan, finds that Earth was bombarded last year with high levels of solar energy at a time when the Sun was in an unusually quiet phase and sunspots had virtually disappeared.

“The Sun continues to surprise us,” says NCAR scientist Sarah Gibson, the lead author. “The solar wind can hit Earth like a fire hose even when there are virtually no sunspots.”

The study, also written by scientists at NOAA and NASA, is being published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics. It was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.

Scientists for centuries have used sunspots, which are areas of concentrated magnetic fields that appear as dark patches on the solar surface, to determine the approximately 11-year solar cycle. At solar maximum, the number of sunspots peaks. During this time, intense solar flares occur daily and geomagnetic storms frequently buffet Earth, knocking out satellites and disrupting communications networks.

(Illustration by Janet Kozyra with images from NASA, courtesy Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics.) click for larger image”]solar diagram

When the solar cycle was at a minimum level in 1996, the Sun sprayed Earth with relatively few, weak high-speed streams containing turbulent magnetic fields (left). In contrast, the Sun bombarded Earth with stronger and longer-lasting streams last year (right) even though the solar cycle was again at a minimum level. The streams affected Earth's outer radiation belt, posing a threat to earth-orbiting satellites, and triggered space weather disturbances, lighting up auroras in the sky at higher latitudes. [ENLARGE

Gibson and her colleagues focused instead on another process by which the Sun discharges energy. The team analyzed high-speed streams within the solar wind that carry turbulent magnetic fields out into the solar system.

When those streams blow by Earth, they intensify the energy of the planet’s outer radiation belt. This can create serious hazards for weather, navigation, and communications satellites that travel at high altitudes within the outer radiation belts, while also threatening astronauts in the International Space Station. Auroral storms light up the night sky repeatedly at high latitudes as the streams move past, driving mega-ampere electrical currents about 75 miles above Earth’s surface. All that energy heats and expands the upper atmosphere. This expansion pushes denser air higher, slowing down satellites and causing them to drop to lower altitudes. (WUWT)

 

Example of Scientific Bias

When reading a paper by Richard Lindzen Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions? I was struck by some comments towards the end by John P. Holdren, director of the Woods Hole Research Center about climate skeptics. He says:

First, they have not come up with any plausible alternative culprit for the disruption of global climate that is being observed, for example, a culprit other than the greenhouse-gas buildups in the atmosphere that have been measured and tied beyond doubt to human activities. (The argument that variations in the sun’s output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.)

Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven’t even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.

As to the first point, most skeptics have been maintaining that similar Arctic conditions were experienced recently, that the current climate state is similar to the Medieval Warm Period, and possibly temperatures have exceeded the present throughout the recent geologically warm 10,000 years called the Holocene. These issues as far as I know are still unsettled. Holdren is criticizing skeptics for not coming up with an explanation for a non-disruption that has not been observed.

OTOH, the record of alarmists of loudly proclaimed ‘disruptions’ that have subsequently been discredited provides numerous examples of scientific bias: that the climate system is ‘more sensitive than we thought‘, that the intensity of hurricanes and others storms are increasing, that droughts and floods are increasing, that the Walker circulation is weakening, a miserable record predicting Arctic ice extent, to name a few.

On his second point, skeptics have also “consistently affirmed modern science and interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere” by finding that the rate of underlying warming that can be attributed to increases in CO2 is consistent with the direct radiative effect of CO2, a paltry 0.05C/decade. The graph below lists some of the authors that have arrived at the same basic rate of warming through completely independent means (there are others as well such as Miskolczi and Nir Shaviv).

spencer_fig1_models-reality1

These sources of observational evidence suggest that the amount of warming will be 0.5C by 2100, not nothing, but not catastrophic and certainly well below the IPCC projections, produced by a chorus of climate simulations sharing many common aspects. The difference is due to the warming attributed to speculative and as yet unconfirmed positive feedbacks. Holdren tells us that:

the extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous.

One of the main reasons for persistent skepticism is that people look at the evidence and find it wanting, they look at the AGW proponents and find misrepresentation of the alternative arguments, and they look at the emotional appeals and see bias. When people of science like RealClimate start worrying that their lack of results is due to being ‘unlikable’ and ‘poor communicators’, its my experience that the real problem is the use of subjective vehicles to back up inconclusive science. Skepticism is healthy, and the way for AGW proponents to further their work is through greater openness and objectivity, not stronger emotional appeals. (David Stockwell, Niche Modeling)

 

World Bank spends billions on coal-fired power stations

The World Bank is spending billions of pounds subsidising new coal-fired power stations in developing countries despite claiming that burning fossil fuels exposes the poor to catastrophic climate change. The bank, which has a goal of reducing poverty and is funded by Britain and other developed countries, calls on all nations in a report today to “act differently on climate change”.

It says that the world must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, but it is funding several giant coal-burning plants that will each emit millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide a year for the next 40 to 50 years.

Britain is contributing £400million to a World Bank fund that claims to support “clean technology” but is financing coal power plants. (The Times)

Financing power stations is good but we can do without the gorebull warming nonsense.

 

"Liability" for an essential trace gas... Chevron Australia CO2 Liability Deal May Be Precedent

 Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to invest in the $37 billion Gorgon natural gas venture only after Australia’s government assumed liability for potential damages hundreds of years from now. That may set a precedent in this resource-rich nation.

The three oil companies said Sept. 14 they will proceed with the liquefied natural gas development, the continent’s biggest single investment, at Barrow Island off the northwest coast. The national and Western Australia state governments removed a key obstacle last month when they accepted “any long term liability” should carbon dioxide captured from the project escape sequestration, or storage, two kilometers underground.

“Letting taxpayers ultimately take responsibility for any problems with the CO2 sequestration is a calculated risk by the government,” said Craig Wallace, a senior associate of Lavan Legal in Perth who has advised companies on Australia’s draft climate-change legislation.

“It sets a precedent. It’s probably very likely other operations would get on the bandwagon.” (Bloomberg)

 

CO2 Regulations and Electricity Prices: Cost Estimates from Coal-Fired Power Plants

CO2 Regulations and Electricity Prices: Cost Estimates from Coal-Fired Power Plants
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Papers

This study examines the changes in electricity prices that are likely to result if in the future coal-fired power plants are regulated for their CO2 emissions. We focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that new power plants may adopt either because of a direct regulatory requirement or because the market price of CO2 emission permits is sufficiently high. Our analysis takes explicitly into account that in some jurisdictions the supply of electricity at the wholesale level (generation) is organized competitively, while in other jurisdictions a regulated monopolist (utility) provides both generation and distribution services. We find that for both the competitive and the regulated monopoly scenario an emission price in the range of $25-30 per tonne of CO2 would make it advantageous for coal-fired plants to adopt CCS capabilities rather than buy emission permits. The resulting increases in the retail price of electricity are projected to be near 25%. In contrast to the competitive power supply scenario, these price increases materialize only gradually, in fact almost linearly, over 30 years for the scenario of a regulated utility. This delay in price increases reflects that for regulated firms prices are principally based on historical cost rather than current cost.

+ Full Paper (PDF; 414 KB) (Docuticker)

 

German Mini Power Stations Augur Change For Big Firms

FRANKFURT - Energy conscientious Germans taking power production into their own hands may give a wake-up call to established utility firms, as innovators roll out new competition on the clean energy front to grab market share.

A daring plan by alternative power firm LichtBlick and carmaker Volkswagen to put mini power stations into people's basements from next spring shows big generators that their fossil-fuel-based power stations could become replaceable faster than they thought.

Germany faces elections this month and the country's four big suppliers have been banking on a conservative win that would give them time to adapt slowly to the low carbon emission future that is so dear to consumers in Europe's biggest energy market.

"The big power companies are still earning good money with the old structures but it is essential that the top managers can think up ways to put money from the generation business into investment areas closer to the customers," said Holger Krawinkel, energy expert at German consumer organization VZBV.

"That could be decentralized power and heat units in basements or solar panels on the roofs," he added.

Upstart green technologies have a mountain to move, though, as the big guns defend the status quo. (Reuters)

Not exactly. The mountain they have to move is that they don't have a viable product.

 

Adonis defends aviation industry over emissions

Transport secretary says it is 'perfectly credible' for airlines to continue to expand as new technology to control their carbon emissions becomes available (The Guardian)

Guess what? It's perfectly credible for them to expand regardless of carbon dioxide emissions.

 

Casting for new marks... Green Energy On A Roll But Experts Warn Of Bubbles

GENEVA - Investors betting on renewable or clean energy and related green themes are looking for healthy and sustainable returns, but the road is full of pitfalls for the unwary, investment managers warned on Thursday.

Attendees at the Jetfin Green 2009 alternative investment conference in Geneva heard that some alternative energy sources are now in a position to compete with more established sources, even in the absence of government subsidies.

"Renewable energy technologies are at a point where they are cost competitive with the grid, Copenhagen aside," said Walther Lovato, a portfolio manager at California-based asset manager Passport Capital.

He was referring to a summit to be held in Copenhagen in December, when world leaders will attempt to agree a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012, potentially leading to more subsidies for green energy. (Reuters)

 

September 17, 2009

 

Idiotic data dredge of the moment: Chemical pollutants linked to fewer female births

NEW YORK - High exposure to certain now-banned industrial chemicals may lead to fewer female births, a new study suggests.

The findings, reported in the journal Environmental Health, add to evidence that the two groups of related chemicals -- polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) -- may affect human reproduction.

PBBs were once widely used as flame retardants in plastics, electronic and textiles, while PCBs were used in everything from appliances and fluorescent lighting to insulation and insecticides.

While the chemicals were banned in the 1970s as potential health hazards, they remain a public-health concern because they linger in the environment and accumulate in the fat of fish, mammals and birds. (Reuters Health)

So, while busy trying to claim "endocrine disruptors" are feminizing the population they throw in defeminizing by increasing male birth rates? Did it occur to these dopey beggars that the intensely studied group received more medical supervision and the normally more-fragile male fetuses had a higher than normal success rate in this group for no other reason than micromanaged pregnancies?

 

Flu experts gear up for pandemic of vaccine worry

WASHINGTON - One million heart attacks, 700,000 strokes and 900,000 miscarriages -- U.S. public health officials want Americans to know these will happen every single year with or without a swine flu vaccine campaign.

Yet this year, they know a significant number will be blamed on the H1N1 vaccine, which will roll out within weeks, and they are struggling to be ready.

They expect an avalanche of so-called adverse event reports, which are reports of death, illness or other health trauma that occur within two weeks after receiving treatment -- in this case, the swine flu vaccine.

"We are going to be overwhelmed with potential events," said Mike Osterholm, a public health expert at the University of Minnesota.

"Anything that happens to anybody in the period of 7 to 14 days after vaccination will be reported." (Reuters)

 

Swine flu death rate similar to seasonal flu: expert

WASHINGTON - The death rate from the pandemic H1N1 swine flu is likely lower than earlier estimates, an expert in infectious diseases said on Wednesday.

New estimates suggest that the death rate compares to a moderate year of seasonal influenza, said Dr Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University.

"It's mildest in kids. That's one of the really good pieces of news in this pandemic," Lipsitch told a meeting of flu experts being held by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.

"Barring any changes in the virus, I think we can say we are in a category 1 pandemic. This has not become clear until fairly recently."

The Pandemic Severity Index set by the U.S. government has five categories of pandemic, with a category 1 being comparable to a seasonal flu epidemic.

Seasonal flu has a death rate of less than 0.1 percent -- but still manages to kill 250,000 to 500,000 people globally every year.

A category 5 pandemic would compare to the 1918 flu pandemic, which had an estimated death rate of 2 percent or more, and would kill tens of million of people. (Reuters)

 

20-somethings Will Pay for Big Government

A front-page Washington Post story today notes that the cost of Obama-style health care reform will fall disproportionately on young adults.

Younger workers are typically more healthy than the population at large, and a significant share of them quite rationally choose not to buy health insurance, as my colleague Mike Tanner explains in a recent op-ed. The major health care plans on the table in Washington would force them to buy coverage. As the Post story explains:

Drafting young adults into any health-care reform package is crucial to paying for it. As low-cost additions to insurance pools, young adults would help dilute the expense of covering older, sicker people. Depending on how Congress requires insurers to price their policies, this group could even wind up paying disproportionately hefty premiums—effectively subsidizing coverage for their parents.

I’m beginning to see a pattern. Those same young workers will be forced to pay the bills for soaring Social Security and Medicare expenditures when the Baby Boomers begin retiring en masse a decade from now. And of course, they will be the ones paying off the $9 trillion in additional federal debt expected to be wracked up from the current explosion in federal spending.

I always thought parents were supposed to support their kids, not saddle them with bigger bills and huge debts. (Daniel Griswold, Cato at liberty)

 

Proposed Tax on Sugary Beverages Debated

The debate over a tax on sugary soft drinks — billed as a way to fight obesity and provide billions for health care reform — is starting to fizz over.

President Obama has said it is worth considering. The chief executive of Coca-Cola calls the idea outrageous, while skeptics point to political obstacles and question how much of an impact it would really have on consumers.

But a team of prominent doctors, scientists and policy makers says it could be a powerful weapon in efforts to reduce obesity, in the same way that cigarette taxes have helped curb smoking. (NYT)

 

UN food aid hits 20-yr low as hunger soars

LONDON - Food aid is at a 20-year low despite the number of critically hungry people soaring this year to its highest level ever, the head of the United Nations relief agency said on Wednesday.

Josette Sheeran, UN World Food Programme's (WFP) executive director said the WFP is facing its biggest ever challenge.

"The problem with the food crisis and the financial crisis is that it has silently permeated throughout the world with the world's bottom billion (in terms of poverty) selectively hit the hardest because they're the most vulnerable," Sheeran told Reuters in an interview.

The number of hungry people passed 1 billion this year for the first time, she said, adding the WFP has barely a third of the funding it needs to feed 108 million people this year. (Reuters)

 

The Man Who Defused the 'Population Bomb' - One of America's greatest heroes remains little known in his home country.

Norman Borlaug arguably the greatest American of the 20th century died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America's Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture. (Gregg Easterbrook, WSJ)

 

The Crone still doesn't get it: Some Bad Climate News and Some Good

Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have delayed the introduction of their long-awaited climate change bill until the end of this month — one more sign that Congress will be hard pressed to get a bill to President Obama’s desk before the international summit on global warming in Stockholm in December.

The chances of action this year, never all that good, are even slimmer now that the White House and the Senate leadership have pretty much agreed to keep controversial issues — and a bill limiting greenhouse gas emissions certainly falls into that category — on the back burner until the health care debate is resolved.

Though smart politics, it is a disappointment to everyone who hoped that the United States would be able to go to Stockholm with a clear strategy in hand.

All is not lost. The Environmental Protection Agency is rolling out rules that, when fully effective, could place limits on at least half the greenhouse gas emissions emitted in this country. (NYT)

The entire "threat" of gorebull warming stems from someone taking it seriously. Turn off the computer models and the "threat" disappears entirely.

 

Attempts to shape climate bill in full swing

NEW YORK — Industry, economic and environmental groups are making a final push to influence a climate bill that may go before the Senate within weeks.

Investors managing more than $13 trillion in assets called for new global emissions laws Wednesday, illustrating how the issue has divided even groups that traditionally have opposed new curbs.

Speaking at the International Investor Forum on Climate Change, Lord Nicholas Stern, among Britain's most influential economists, said the global debate over curbing greenhouse gases has reached a critical point.

If the U.S. does not pass substantial climate legislation, few believe other nations, particularly developing countries, will cut emissions on their own.

"We have to act now," said Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. "Some things you can postpone. This is not one of them." (Associated Press)

Really? And just why is that, Sir Nic? Even IPCC-favored research groups suggest we are not going to see any warming worth mentioning for a decade or two, so what exactly is the rush? Even shutting down all U.S. coal-fired electrical generation now would "save" a mere 8/100 °C by the year 2100 (and that's under the ridiculous assumption that all post-LIA warming is due to atmospheric CO2 increase). That's a full order of magnitude smaller than our global mean temperature measurement error, so we'll never even know if it did what it was supposed to do. That is one huge expense to do nothing detectable.

 

This is encouraging: GOP gubernatorial candidates reject global warming science

St. Paul, Minn. — Nearly all of the Republicans running for governor next year say they don't believe in human-caused climate change.

In fact, eight of the nine declared GOP candidates say they view global warming science as an unproven theory that should no longer drive state policy. Environmental activists say the prevailing GOP view not only runs counter to the beliefs of most scientists, but also to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The global warning debate has not yet eclipsed the economy or health care as a campaign issue, but the topic has been coming up at Republican gatherings. (Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio)

 

Kirk Hits Reverse Thrusters On Cap and Trade

Rep. Mark Kirk’s “aye” vote in the House of Representatives was something of a surprise and something of a mistake, if one reads the tea leaves. Now his back-pedal is odd:

“About cap and trade: I voted for it because it was in the narrow interests of my congressional district. But as your representative, representing the entire state of Illinois, I will vote ‘No’ on that bill coming up.”

The logic, if one calls it that, is odd but the result is a positive. Frankly, we don’t imagine that most politicians understood the breadth and depth of anger that would follow cap-and-trade “yes” votes.”

Keep up the pressure! (Chilling Effect)

 

Hot Button: Energy office

Officials at the Treasury Department think cap-and-trade legislation would cost taxpayers hundreds of billion in taxes, according to internal documents circulated within the agency and provided to The Washington Times.

These estimates were made in Treasury memos, obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute through a Freedom of Information Act request that sought information related to proposals originated by Treasury involving "cap-and-trade schemes" that deal with "carbon," "carbon dioxide" or "greenhouse gases." The memos were given to The Times by CEI.

The House narrowly passed cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year, and now the Senate stands poised to take up its version of the bill at any time, although it has been largely overshadowed by health care reform efforts. The ultimate cost of the bill to taxpayers has been the subject of fierce debate between supporters and opponents of the legislation. CEI, a free-market think tank that opposes the bill, thinks the Treasury documents prove the legislation would pose a significant burden to the economy. (Amanda Carpenter, Washington Times)

 

Smoking Papers On Global Warming

A Treasury Department analysis says a cap-and-trade law could cost American families more than $1,700 a year. No wonder administrators tried to keep the study secret. (IBD)

 

Has Climate Porn Already Tipped?

At the BBC’s Earth Watch blog, Richard Black takes a different perspective on the recent survey of the British public (well, 500 of them, anyway) and Climate Porn that we covered in our last post.

Among the emails that arrive in my inbox regularly on climate change, one sentiment expressed regularly is that the language of climate catastrophism is getting shriller and shriller as the arguments for the phenomenon collapse.

It’s one that I disagree with.

I think the language of catastrophism, chaos, doom - whatever you like to call it - has actually sobered up, in the UK at least, having peaked about three or four years ago when newspapers such as The Independent ran dramatic front pages on a regular basis, a new umbrella body for activists called Stop Climate Chaos came into existence, Roland Emmerich had the Atlantic Ocean freezing in an instant in The Day After tomorrow, and a leading thinktank lambasted a portion of the British press for indulging in “climate porn”.

Some long-time observers warned at the time that this would “turn people off”; the Cardiff study suggests they may have been right.

So is Richard right that global warming hysteria has diminished?

Thirteen months ago, the New Economics Foundation, with a group of other organisations including the UK’s Green Party, launched its 100 Months campaign, claiming that:

We have 100 months to save our climate. When the clock starts ticking, we could be beyond our climate’s tipping point, the point of no return.

In January, the Guardian reported James Hansen’s claim that the

President ‘has four years to save Earth’ - US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster.

Last month, John Beddington, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor foresaw a global environmental crisis in 2031:

As the world’s population grows, competition for food, water and energy will increase. Food prices will rise, more people will go hungry, and migrants will flee the worst-affected regions.

Earlier that month, Paul Kingsnorth and George Monbiot did battle in the Guardian over whether the eco-apocalypse was inevitable or could just about be prevented if human nature could be contained by state institutions. Wrote Kingsnorth:

On the desk in front of me is a set of graphs. The horizontal axis of each represents the years 1750 to 2000. The graphs show, variously, population levels, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, exploitation of fisheries, destruction of tropical forests, paper consumption, number of motor vehicles, water use, the rate of species extinction and the totality of the human economy’s gross domestic product.

Wrote Monbiot, his brother in despair:

Like you I have become ever gloomier about our chances of avoiding the crash you predict. For the past few years I have been almost professionally optimistic, exhorting people to keep fighting, knowing that to say there is no hope is to make it so. I still have some faith in our ability to make rational decisions based on evidence. But it is waning.

2009 also saw the release of the film, The Age of Stupid, which claims to be a documentary, but is in fact a fiction set in the future, charting the fall of civilisation as it was torn apart by Gaia’s wrath. Environmentalism’s inability to construct an understanding of the present forces it to base its fantasies - climate porn - from a position in the future. The film’s director, Franny Armstrong, was met in several public meetings by the UK’s Climate Change Minister, Ed Miliband, who was entirely unable to challenge her catastrophism, as we reported, back in June:

… it isn’t a debate. Miliband and Armstrong’s positions are not counterposed. Miliband is nothing if not a committed environmentalist. Yet he recognises that what both he and Armstrong want ain’t a vote-winner, and the public remain unconvinced about the environmental issue. Knowing that environmental policies therefore lack the legitimacy such far-reaching policies ought to have, he recently called for the green movement to demonstrate the kind of mass-movement that has driven political change in the past.

Miliband needed Armstrong, we said. To give his government’s policies moral legitimacy, she had thrown at him the figure that, according to the UN, 150,000 people die each year as a result of climate change, for which the UK would be culpable if it failed to act on climate change. As we pointed out in the same post, the figure had just been raised by the GHF, to 300,000 - another case of climate porn in 2009 - but both figures were dubious. What they entirely failed to show is how few people in the developing world died of causes attributed to climate change compared to other causes. In fact, as a cause it ranked the lowest, beneath obesity - not something you’d expect people in the Third world to suffer from. Moreover, what the figure entirely omits is that these secondary effects of climate change, were they experienced in the industrialised world, would likely have resulted in no deaths at all. And yet these 300,000 deaths are used as the basis for an argument for the mitigation of climate change rather than as a good reason for industrialisation and economic development. Such is the distorting effect of climate porn on political discourse.

Expressing the thesame symptoms of disorientation, here are some headlines from the Independent over the past year.

Is the Independent less shrill thanit used to be? Hardly.

Back in March, we wrote about the coverage of the Copenhagen climate discussions in the Guardian, most of which was written by David Adam. The following headlines all appeared in the same week:

  • Global warming may trigger carbon ‘time bomb’, scientist warns.
  • Caught on camera: The Greenland tunnels that could speed ice melt.
  • Sea level could rise more than a metre by 2100, say experts.
  • Severe global warming will render half of world’s inhabited areas unliveable, expert warns.
  • Europe ‘will be hit by severe drought’ without urgent action on emissions.

Adam finished his week of misery with a podcast about what he took from the conference:

The message might sound familiar is that we have to act, and that we have to act now. But I think the scientists, they have been saying it for a while, and we’ve been saying it in the media for a while… but I think the scientists have lost a little bit of patience almost. I mean one said to me here that we’re sick of having our carefully constructed messages lost in the political noise. You know this is the scientific community standing up and saying enough is enough, we’ve lost patience, get your act together.

But as we pointed out at the time, in an echo of his criticism of climate porn in 2006, Professor Mike Hulme gives us reason to take Adam’s and the conference organisers’ claims to be reporting ’scientific opinion’ verbatim with a pinch of salt.

What exactly is the ‘action’ the conference statement is calling for? Are these messages expressing the findings of science or are they expressing political opinions? I have no problem with scientists offering clear political messages as long as they are clearly recognized as such.

[...]

But then we need to be clear about what authority these political messages carry. They carry the authority of the people who drafted them – and no more. Not the authority of the 2,500 expert researchers gathered at the conference. And certainly not the authority of collective global science. Caught between summarizing scientific knowledge and offering political interpretations of such knowledge, the six key messages seem rather ambivalent in what they are saying. It is as if they are not sure how to combine the quite precise statements of science with a set of more contested political interpretations.

Richard Black is perhaps a great deal more sensible in his reporting than his fellow journalists at the BBC, the Guardian, and the Independent. Yet he seems to have become immune to their sensational climate stories. They simply no longer register. But this desensitisation means a failure to reflect critically on environmentalism and its influence, and his journalism suffers as a consequence. With ‘a number of reports hinting that the pace of global temperature rise may have abated, for now at least’ in mind, Black considers whether this, rather than climate porn, may be having an influence over the direction of policy.

I wondered if this was being reflected in the intensive negotiations leading up to Copenhagen’s UN summit. After all, if governments were sensing a reason not to pledge difficult and potentially expensive transformations to their economies, you would expect them to take it.

Here, he misses the point that climate change isn’t something difficult for governments to cope with. It is actually convenient. The political establishment’s absorption of environmentalism allows it to substantially lower the standard by which it is measured, and gives authoritarianism a legitimising basis. The looming, inevitable environmental crisis instructs the public to lower their expectations accordingly. It means that rather than finding a way through problems such as energy supply, water and travel infrastructure, and of course, raising expectations, politicians can turn the normal business of politics around, and redefine the problem as one of individual morality. The statement that the public must use less electricity, must travel less, and must consume fewer resources is a statement that the public must expect less of politicians and politics, and behave themselves. The failure of the establishment’s collective imagination is what drives ‘climate change ethics’. The search for international agreements and legal frameworks to ‘combat climate change’ is a way of externalising what cannot legitimately be done domestically. Once in place, politicians can reasonably argue that punitive climate laws are a matter of international obligation; we are all bound by them, and cannot do anything about them. It defers politics and political accountability to the strange, undemocratic, inaccessible space that exists between states.

Black continues…

Last week I had the chance to ask someone intimately involved in those negotiations. “No” was the answer - not reflected at all - in fact, what was being reflected were fears that the picture would be worse than the IPCC painted.

Climate porn operates at these levels, not just in the media. According to Black’s un-named climate negotiator, we can’t even trust the consensus - represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - to paint a reliable picture of the future. Therefore there can be no parameters by which we can begin to rationally understand or criticise the governmental, or inter-governmental response to climate change. Things can be perpetually based, not on what has been observed, or produced by science, but on the possibility that ‘the picture would be worse than the IPCC painted’… Climate porn, just as Hulme warned.

Black concludes by taking a closer look at the results produced by the survey of the British public, and determines, weakly, that theirs “and their leaders’ perceptions of climate change, in the UK and elsewhere, are not significantly out of step”.

Here, again, Black sees the world upside down. He can point to as many opinion polls and interpret them in as many ways as he likes: environmentalism has never been tested in the UK at the only poll that counts - democratic elections. Fear (climate porn), and hashed-together international frameworks (Copenhagen) - not democracy - are the vehicles through which environmental ideology cements itself in public institutions. Environmentalism’s influence within the establishment is ascendant precisely because the political establishment has such trouble connecting itself with the public. (Climate Resistance)

 

Wouldn't you think they'd learned their lessons about relying on models by now? Investors call for action on global warming

More than 180 of the world's largest investors, with collective assets of $13tn, put their combined weight behind a passionate call for strong US and international action on global warming in New York today.

"We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change," said Thomas DiNapoli, who heads the $116.5bn New York state pension fund. "I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable." (Global Warming)

 

Cringe-worthy:  Climate change will damage your health - World's doctors unite in challenge to politicians over 'biggest health threat of this century'

Human society faces a global health catastrophe if climate change is not effectively tackled at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December, leading doctors from around the world warn today.

Calling on medical practitioners everywhere to put pressure on politicians in advance of the meeting, the doctors say that the world's poorest people will be hit first by the health effects of global warming, but add that "no one will be spared".

Their stark challenge to governments follows a report in May which said climate change would represent "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century". (The Independent)

Hopefully these doctors know a great deal more about medicine than they apparently do about climate and health. They would have been far better off remaining silent and thought fools rather than opening their mouths and proving it.

 

AGW and Health: 2 Journals, 18 Professional Medical Organizations…And Still They Can Be Wrong

More almost-pure nonsense about AGW and health, this time even bigger than last time, from two famous medical journals and 18 professional medical organizations.

Anybody could write them down by using a little catastrophical imagination (poverty, death, plagues, famines, the works). They should be titled “No University degree needed”.

I demonstrated that a few months ago. And I was only able to analyze the bits I am familiar with…who knows how many more articles have been left out.

  • There is however another sign that indicates there is something peculiar about all these reports.  They are supposed to be written by doctors for doctors, yet they don’t confine themselves to areas that require a doctor’s expertise. And so they end up in unsupported claims.

For example there are no “encroaching deserts in Africa” (the opposite might be happening…yet again, some say, because of global warming). And the forays into rainfall patterns and climate modelling in the earlier report can at best make one cringe.

Add to that some blatant untruths (there are no “clear facts…identified in relation to climate change;and especially so about health issues).

The result can only be a full rejection of the latest claims. That’s why, whatever the intentions (and professional competence) of those writing them, they are almost-pure nonsense. (OmniClimate)

 

SciDev.net’s Plea: Get The Science Straight!

Questioning the soundness of climate-related science should not be the realm solely of climate skeptics. That’s what makes the following even more welcome.

Get the science straight on climate change and disease – Climate change’s complex links with insect-borne disease need solid research — not alarmism that distracts from other crucial factors

That’s the start of a courageous, no-holds-barred Sep 9, 2009 editorial by Sian Lewis on SciDev.net (”a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world“).

In normal times, Lewis’ words would sound obvious in the extreme (and no: SciDev.net is not a hotbed of hard-core AGW skeptics – read also this). But these times of “climate porn” (see also here and here) are not normal times at all.

A few excerpts from Lewis’ article:

  • research agendas must both respond to social needs and offer good science
  • fulfilling the second condition is more tricky
  • There is clearly a link between insect-borne diseases and climate
  • But a whole host of non-climate factors also influence disease transmission…
  • So we mustn’t go overboard, reading too much into the role of climate change at the expense of research into other triggers of these major diseases
  • good science is crucial for good policy
  • The task is urgent — but this must not lead to short-cuts

The editorial is an introduction to

a series of articles [that] explore the evidence for (and against) the notion that climate change will worsen the burden of insect-borne disease, highlights gaps in our knowledge, and provides advice to policymakers

Interestingly, given that

how well models can predict these effects is a particularly thorny issue in the debate“,

then

the solution, according to Jonathan Cox, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is to forget predictive modelling for the moment and focus on research with a better chance of improving disease control“.

“Forget predictive modelling”…if only!! (OmniClimate)

 

No-o-o... North America backs plan to cut greenhouse gases

The United States, Canada and Mexico now support using the UN ozone treaty to require cuts in powerful greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. (CoP15)

The last thing we want to do is breath any more life into that idiotic Protocol. It is a nonsense designed to address a non-problem to benefit a few individuals at the expense of the many (yes, I do mean chemical patent holders versus the rest of us).

 

More than 4.5m children will die if money for aid is diverted to climate change - Oxfam

Millions of children could die because cash for food aid is diverted to tackle climate change, Oxfam has warned. (Daily Telegraph)

A lot more than that will die unnecessarily if the carbon cranks get their way and decimate affordable energy.

 

<chuckle> If Obama can't defeat the Republican headbangers, our planet is doomed

One year on, the world still looks to the US and holds its breath. The fate of a global climate treaty rests in American hands (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian)

 

Growing controversy between US and Europe?

Discussions between Europe and the US on whether or not an upcoming ”Copenhagen Protocol” should be build on the expiring ”Kyoto Protocol” may undermine a new worldwide treaty, sources say. (CoP15)

 

Kyoto II: Obama vs Eurocrats

An entertaining split between Europe and America has emerged concerning the question how the carbon emissions reductions should be achieved in individual nations.



Obama and Barroso in Prague, April 2009. Things may have been different then.

As The Telegraph, The Guardian, and everyone else reports, Europe and America differ in their opinion how the internal rules to reduce the CO2 production should be set.

The European politicians think that Kyoto I has been such an amazing success ;-) that it should be repeated and its successes should be amplified. Among other things, it means that all nations should adopt the same internal mechanisms to punish the CO2 emissions. The U.S. economy should be controlled by the Eurocrats in Brussels in the same way as any other decent EU country and Barack Obama should remain what he is appreciated for, namely a puppet of the global political correctness headquarters that should stay in Brussels.

On the other hand, Barack Obama himself dared to disagree. Kyoto I hasn't been a sufficiently huge disaster so the U.S. president wants to engineer an even better scheme. As the first post-Hoover protectionist president of a country that rejected Kyoto I and is going to reject Kyoto II as long as it is isomorphic (and gives a free pass to the poorer emerging markets), he thinks that every country should be allowed to decide about its own methods to achieve the targets and the carbon flows in America should remain uncontrollable by the EU and the U.N. That's quite a heresy for the EU, comrade Obama! ;-)

Even Steven Chu has warned that deep CO2 reductions cannot be achieved politically in the U.S. Why doesn't he follow the example of the tall and strong Napoleon in France who defeated 74% of the French citizens and imposed a carbon tax upon them? ;-) Sarkozy also wants to start a world trade war by a new CO2 border tax. Swedish EU presidency also urges the U.S. Senate to behave; if they won't, the U.S. Senators will be spanked just like any bad EU kids. ;-)

It's not hard to understand Europe's newly gained self-confidence with respect to America. The Made-In-America downturn has allowed Europe to surpass North America as the wealthiest region of the world. And the future fate of the U.S. dollar - whose reserve status is being questioned by all members of BRIC as well as others (everyone can see that the U.S. may suffer from the same kind of an irresponsible socialist government as everyone else) - may turn out to have something to do with this picture.



The declared purpose of the December 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen that will hopefully fail completely is to save the Earth if not the multiverse. The UAH AMSU data see the average annual and global brightness temperature of the Earth to be close to minus 15.5 °C. Ban Ki-Moon and similar stellar scientists have calculated that if the temperature exceeds f***ing frying minus 13.5 °C which is by 2 °C higher, all of us are going to evaporate or transform into plasma and the Universe may decay into a different state, too. And I don't have to explain you the staggering statistical implications for the whole multiverse. ;-)

During the year, the brightness temperature oscillates approximately between -17 °C in January and -14 °C in July - because the variations of the landmass, which is mostly on the Northern Hemisphere, are more pronounced than the variations of the oceanic temperatures. The recent, 30-year trends indicate that the temperature is increasing roughly by 1 °C per century, so the catastrophic level when the temperature will oscillate between -15 °C and -12 °C could occur around the year 2200 or so - whether or not we will continue to use fossil fuels.

If you have ever experienced how much brutally hotter -12 °C is relatively to -14 °C, you must agree with all these guys that we're all doomed already next year - because we can already predict that the year 2200 will come - unless Obama and his compatriots will join the EU as obedient members. :-) (The Reference Frame)

 

We can but hope: Senate Delay on Climate Bill Could Stymie Copenhagen Talks

Climate change activists reacted sharply yesterday to indications from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that cap-and-trade legislation may have to wait until 2010, warning that the delay could derail international negotiations in Copenhagen.

Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, said she fears the U.N. talks slated for December will flounder without a clear plan from President Obama to move climate legislation through Congress.

"The appearance to the international community would be that the U.S. Congress is just adrift," she said.

Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for Natural Resources Defense Council, said State Department negotiators need domestic legislation in order to convince China and other developing countries that the United States is prepared to act -- and to push those countries in turn to make emissions-cutting commitments.

"We're at a critical stage in the negotiations," Schmidt said. "Reid is sending signals, and it's not clear what they all mean."

Reid, speaking to reporters yesterday, said health care and regulatory reform may dominate the rest of the legislative session, and suggested cap and trade may not come until next year.

"So, you know, we are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year," Reid said. "And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to." (E&ENews PM, Sept. 15). (ClimateWire)

Let's get it out in the open: there is absolutely no possibility of environmental or societal good from any form of "climate treaty", only human misery and declining environmental standards. Don't do it.

 

Commission says farmers need help to cut carbon

European farmers must slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, primarily by producing biomass and storing carbon in the soil, but they risk ruin without outside help, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said yesterday (15 September). (EurActiv)

 

Sarkozy’s Carbon Tax and the French Media

Jean-Michel Bélouve, Institut Turgot, Paris
15 September 2009

French Public Opinion

First of all: French people are against it! Two recent polls point out that a large majority are dissatisfied:

According to IFOP Institute, which questioned 1011 persons on 3 and 4 September, 65% are against a carbon tax while 34% approve [see Paris-Match weekly magazine].

The French Consumers Union “UFC”, a very powerful consumers lobby, after having ordered a survey from the CSA polling institute, wrote in UFC’s review “Que Choisir” that 74% are rejecting a carbon tax. The main reasons are:

  • The carbon tax is unfair because it hurts people who must drive a car to go to work and who have no alternative choice; it also hurts those who live far away from a city and those who have fuel or gas heating.
  • The carbon tax hurts the poor who cannot afford changing their fuel or gas heating equipment.
  • The carbon tax will have no effect on climate change.
  • There are too many taxes in France; the government must spend less money, and not increase taxation.

Both surveys show that roughly the same proportion of right-wing and left-wing voters disapprove of a carbon tax. (CCNet)

 

<chuckle> Copenhagen begins in Beijing. The world waits - It could be the most crucial question we face today: just what is China's climate change strategy?

What is China playing at on climate change? That may be the most important question in the world right now, thanks alone to its status as the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gasses. But what Beijing is – or is not – prepared to do will also determine whether the rest of the world can reach a deal on combating global warming that is worth the paper it's written on. (Ian Katz, The Guardian)

Actually China has outplayed the West all ends up. Their strategy is to extort the maximum advantage from the West and they are doing it beautifully.

 

China Carbon Truths - Authoritarian government makes greenhouse emissions worse.

China is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, and countries around the world from the United States to Japan are pressuring Beijing to lower emissions and to introduce an absolute cap on emissions. But asking China's central government to impose a carbon cap is the wrong approach. Even if Beijing wanted to do so, such a decision would be almost impossible for the central government to enforce. Greater political freedoms are the key for real environmental improvements in China.

Since economic reforms began in China 30 years ago, local governments have been given wide autonomy in pursuing economic growth. One widely noted result is the inability of Beijing to implement tough planning, tax or environmental policies that might constrain that growth. To some extent, public pressures have forced the hand of local governments on environmental issues that have a direct impact on everyday quality of life air and water quality, waste disposal or food toxins, for instance.

But greenhouse gases, the most common of which is CO2, are different. Like the protection of a threatened animal or plant species, reducing greenhouse gases has little noticeable impact on the communities concerned. Reducing CO2 is rarely a pressing public priority in a country like China, where rapid development is a top goal and other pollution problems are more tangible. Add to that the fact that local governments are autonomous of top-down regulation from Beijing. In essence, the most critical government actors for controlling global carbon emissions are insulated from both top-down and bottom-up political pressures.

There are a few reasons why local governments in China may get more serious about climate change on their own, although these are probably insufficient to control emissions nationwide. One is the lucrative "clean development mechanism" administered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under which polluters in one country can buy carbon-emission credits from another country. China is expected to rake in about 59% of the global revenues (likely worth several billion dollars, depending on carbon prices) from this mechanism through the end of 2012, according to the U.N. Local governments and their companies will get most of this revenue. There are also first-mover advantages for cities and provinces that develop the technologies that will likely prove a growth industry in future. The city of Yangzhou, for instance, is pushing ahead with a low-carbon "eco-city" development model that, unusually, includes an immediate reduction in absolute emission levels, something the national government has not embraced.

Beijing itself could take the lead by making greenhouse-gas mitigation efforts one criterion in the evaluation of local cadres, who are currently judged mainly by their economic records and ideological rectitude. In April, the State Council required that all provincial and local governments consider climate change initiatives in their economic and social development policies. But the well-known ability of local governments to evade such top-down mandates is unlikely to be any different in the case of climate-change efforts.

Better yet would be to open up political space at the local level so that citizens and advocacy groups can create a public consensus on the need for action. While Beijing talks about "public participation" in its response to climate change, so far that has meant mainly authoritarian-style efforts to educate the public and encourage greater obedience. In a few places, however, citizens and groups have been brought into the making of policy. The northeastern city of Shenyang, for instance, has been experimenting with participatory approaches to environmental policy since passing a law in 2005 under which citizens must be included in the making of all environmental laws. So far, this has meant mainly public consultations on laws, but the city also tolerates an active community of environmental nongovernmental organizations. One result: its air quality has improved faster than almost any other similar city in China.

Another approach being considered is meetings of representative groups of citizens who deliberate on the best policy approach and then deliver their findings as binding policy mandates to the government concerned known in China as minzhu kentanhui or "sincere democratic forums." In China, experiments with this system, mainly in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province, have demonstrated that Chinese citizens place a high priority on environmental protection when asked to rank different government projects. In one forum in Wenling in 2005, citizens selected six environmental protection projects among the top 10 projects they wanted the government to fund.

Deliberation not only expands information but also expands the sense of common responsibility on which the willingness to embrace potentially costly carbon emission programs depends. If Beijing were to start targeting environmental performance in cadre promotions and expand political freedoms that would generate social pressures, more local governments would have an incentive to embrace this bottom-up approach to emissions control.

Despite these signs of progress on locally driven initiatives, many foreigners continue to misunderstand the causes of China's environmental-policy failures. Most foreign assistance, whether government-to-government or private sector, has replicated the top-down approach by giving money to Beijing. This aid has centered on helping central bureaucrats to develop national policy, transferring technology to energy users, or improving policy monitoring.

That's a mistake. While some well-known commentators have praised China's authoritarian approach to climate change, the truth is that Beijing is failing on the environment precisely because of the lack of political freedoms. Rather than leaning even more heavily on Beijing, the critical need is to invest in approaches that will hold local governments accountable to their citizens. Only then can China really tackle CO2. (Bruce Gilley, WSJ)

Mr. Gilley is assistant professor of political science at Portland State University and principal investigator of the Portland State University-Lanzhou University Global Warming Initiative.

 

Partly true: Chinese government adviser warns that 2C global warming target is unrealistic

China's emissions unlikely to fall low enough because 2C target 'does not provide room for developing countries (The Guardian)

We couldn't increase global mean temperature 2 °C even if we really wanted to.

 

Downloading Monthly Mean Australian Temperatures from the BoM

This is a funny story about getting monthly mean Australian temperatures from the Bureau of Meteorology. I hope for happy ending, but we have yet to see.

About 2 weeks ago I tried to download these data from the BoM website set up for the purpose.

I have noticed before that temperature is NOT available as a MONTHLY mean series, but this time I was very perplexed. It is available by season, by January, February, etc. but not all together.

To get the data into a monthly series would require me to download all 12 raw datafiles (one for each month) then interleave them to create a continuous list with 12 values for each month. This would be timeconsuming and a potential source of error.

Note that all of the major sources of global mean temperature data on the web are available in as a monthly temperature series, GISS, HadCRUT, RSS MSU, etc…

It would seem relatively easy to add an option for download of data to the selection menu.

So I contacted the help desk, and after some time, had a delightfully frustrating conversation along the lines of: “I would like the monthly data series.” “But all the months are there.” etc, etc. Finally, she agreed to send my enquiry on to the technical department I presume, and today I found out why Australian temperature is not available as a monthly series.

The monthly data are not available as a single file because the graphs are generated automatically from the data files and an all-months data file would contain too many data values to fit easily on one graph. We will see what we can do.

So the reason why stock standard monthly data series are not available is because they don’t look good as a barchart. Well, I would never have guessed. (David Stockwell, Niche Modeling)

 

Now here's a suspect claim: Ocean surfaces have warmest summer on record, US report finds

he world's ocean surfaces had their warmest summer temperatures on record, the US national climatic data centre said today.

Climate change has been steadily raising the earth's average temperature in recent decades, but climatologists expected additional warming this year and next due to the influence of El Niño.

Ocean surface temperatures were the warmest for any August since record keeping began in 1880. For the June to August summer months, average ocean surface temperatures rose to 16.9C (62.5F), which is 1.04F above the 20th century average, said the report from the climate centre, which is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (The Guardian)

 

Another Very Important Paper Which Illustrates Major Problems With Using Minimum Land Temperatures As Part Of The Diagnosis of Global Warming and Cooling: “Vertically Integrated Sensible-Heat Budgets For Stable Nocturnal Boundary Layers By Nakamura and Mahrt 2006

There is further evidence with respect to major issues in using minimum 2m temperatures as part of the diagnosis of climate system heat changes (i.e. global warming and cooling). [thanks to Jielun Sun for alerting us to it!].

It is

Nakamura, R. and L. Mahrt, 2006: Vertically integrated sensible-heat budgets for stable nocturnal boundary layers. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. (2006), 132, pp. 383–403 doi: 10.1256/qj.05.50.

The abstract reads

“The stable nocturnal boundary layer is commonly viewed or modelled as a balance between the temperature tendency (cooling) and vertical heat-flux divergence. Sometimes the radiative-flux divergence is also included. This perspective has dictated the design of field experiments for investigating stable nocturnal boundary layers. Tower-based micrometeorological data from three field campaigns are analysed to evaluate the vertically integrated sensible-heat budget for nocturnal stable conditions. Our analysis indicates frequent occurrence of large imbalance between the temperature tendency and vertical heat-flux divergence terms. The values of the radiative-flux divergence are generally too small and sometimes of the wrong sign to explain the residual. An analysis of random flux errors and uncertainties in the tendency term indicate that such errors cannot explain large imbalances, suggesting the importance of advection of temperature or possibly the divergence of mesoscale fluxes. The implied role of advection is consistent with circumstantial evidence. Even weak surface heterogeneity can create significant horizontal gradients in stable boundary layers. However, it is shown that existing field data and observational strategy do not allow adequate evaluation of advection and mesoscale flux divergence terms.”

As the authors write in the conclusions,

Even weak surface heterogeneity may induce important horizontal variations in the very stable boundary layer, and new approaches for measuring horizontal variation of temperature and fluxes are required.”

Thus minimum temperatures over land are very sensitive to their immediate local environments. Their use to characterize minimum temperatures  as being spatially representative over a larger area, such as used to diagnose global warming and cooling,  are not appropriate. (Climate Science)

 

Sunspot drought could cool temps

Earth is experiencing a sunspot drought which, if it persists, may deliver a make-or-break test of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Along with a dearth of sunspots, NASA reports other signs of a current lull in the sun’s activity, including a 50-year low in solar wind pressure and a 12-year low in the sun’s brightness.

Some scientists believe that these signs point to more than just a low point in the 11-year solar cycle. The sun may be entering a “deep solar minimum”.

Previous solar minimums – the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, the Sörer Minimum of 1460-1550 and the Dalton Minimum of 1790-1830 – coincided with periods when Earth’s climate was colder than average.

While the link between solar minimums and a dip in global temperature isn’t fully established, some believe a solar minimum over the next couple of decades may be a litmus test of whether greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of Earth’s sudden warming.

Among them is University of New England researcher, Dr Robert Baker, who has for several years worked on a theory that the sun is a key driver of Australian rainfall. (The Land)

 

Greenpeace ends protest at Shell oil sands mine

CALGARY, Alberta - Greenpeace activists who occupied mining equipment at Royal Dutch Shell Plc's Canadian oil sands project ended their protest on Wednesday after 1-1/2 days and were escorted away without facing charges, the environmental group said.

Shell said production at the Muskeg River mine, one of four oil sands projects in northern Alberta, operated at normal rates throughout the day as the demonstrators worked to spread their message that developing the oil sands hampers the fight against global warming.

The protest, which began with 25 activists and ended with 15, coincided with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said the group was allowed to leave the mine after leaders spoke with company officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Harper-Obama meeting did not produce the results that climate change activists hoped for. (Reuters)

They should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 

Coal execs listen to environmentalist

Like Daniel in the lion's den, Sierra Club representative Nachy Kanfer stepped to podium at the Southern Coals Conference meeting in downtown Cincinnati Wednesday.

He was there to explain why the environmental group wants coal to be replaced by cleaner forms of energy by 2030.

His 30-minute presentation didn't change the minds of the 70 or so coal industry executives in the room. But in a time when even the president isn't immune from abuse in the halls of Congress, both sides appreciated the chance to exchange views without rancor.

"The level of civility is so low in this country," said Kanfer, who said he appreciated the opportunity to share the Sierra Club's views. The Southern Coals Conference, consisting of sales and marketing executives from about 80 companies including coal producers, utilities, traders and rail and barge companies, has held twice-annual informational meetings here since 1962.

He acknowledged he'd have a hard time getting Sierra Club members to sit still for a meeting with a coal industry representative. But he didn't pull any punches either.

"We need to end coal's contribution to global warming by 2030," he told the group which meets here twice a year. That means opposing new coal-burning plants that don't sequester the carbon they produce, replacing existing coal plants with cleaner burning alternatives and "cleaning up egregious coal mining practices," he said.

But he also pointed out coal, which accounts for about half U.S. electricity production and more than 90 percent in Greater Cincinnati, has been an important contributor to America's standard of living. "We don't acknowledge that enough," he said. (The Enquirer)

Yes, coal has added significantly to human's standard of living but no, there is no evidence coal has a net warming effect on the planet. Even if it did carbon constraint is the least effective and most societally destructive way of attempting to mitigate any such effect.

 

Study: 'shocking' fossil fuel use

BEIJING | If China's economy continues to expand rapidly and rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels until the middle of the century, its power consumption would be unsustainable, according to a study by government think tanks released Wednesday.

The two-year study, supported by the U.S.-based Energy Foundation and the international environmental group WWF, also said if China's energy usage structure remains unchanged, its emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming would reach 17 billion tons a year by 2050. That would represent 60 percent of total global emissions and three times China's current production, it said.

"If the current mode of economic development drags on, the scale of China's fossil fuel consumption will be shocking," said the study, titled "China's Low Carbon Development Pathways by 2050." (Associated Press)

Good thing atmospheric carbon dioxide is a major boon for life and the environment then, eh? Parenthetically, note just how much U.S. carbon constraint could do (think: "nothing").

 

China think-tank charts costs of low-carbon growth

BEIJING, Sept 16 - China needs huge flows of clean technology investment to maintain hope of keeping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that could help push the planet deep into dangerous global warming, a Beijing energy think-tank has said.

China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from fossil fuels, and the nation's Energy Research Institute said in a new study that with enough money and the right policies, emissions could peak around 2030-35 and then by 2050 fall to the same level as 2005.

Such steps would help the world to avoid greenhouse gas concentrations likely to stoke worsening droughts, floods and sea-level rises caused by these gases retaining growing levels of the heat in the atmosphere.

But the Institute, which advises Chinese energy and climate change policy-makers, stressed such an undertaking would come with a big bill, one that it said rich nations should help pay. (Reuters)

 

Dopey: Energy transition: not for the faint-hearted - It will take both innovation and patience to change the energy game

All of us want to use energy and feel good about it. The challenge is to supply sufficient amounts of affordable energy to power our lives and build an energy system that can sustain future generations. (Globe and Mail)

There's no real reason to feel bad about using energy and we have been building an energy system to sustain future generations throughout history (first with firewood transported to towns, then on to coal, gas and baseload electricity over the ages). Until now we kept getting better at it but the current hysterics over imaginary problems threaten our energy supply and that of future generations.

 

Something Rotten

Uh oh. First President Obama pointed to Spain and Germany as models for how the U.S. could create a robust "green jobs" economy that even would lift us out of our current — an increasingly appropriate term — malaise.

Confronted by meddling academics who analyzed the Spanish situation and laid out the monitory lesson of its green-jobs regime, the White House quickly pivoted and said, uh, look to Denmark and Germany, yeah, that's it, Denmark.

OK. That's been done — by the establishment think tank CEPOS, and you can read it here. The answer is that the president's (repeat) claim that "Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power" is false. Denmark actually produces much less of its own electricity from wind, as low as 4 percent depending on the year, with the recent average of 9.7 percent. This despite a massive buildout of what they flatteringly call the "wind carpet," on some of the most hospitable terrain for wind power in the world.

It is also in return for its households paying the highest electricity rates in Europe. With a substantially lower per-capita energy use. That means, to get half of what Obama seeks, the U.S. would have to carpet itself twice over — which means lots of windmills where birds fly and Kennedys live — and pay Danish-style rates. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)

 

White House Wants Fuel Subsidy Cuts on G-20 Agenda

White House officials are calling for international efforts to end fuel and electric power subsidies as part of the agenda for next week's G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, according to a letter from a senior administration official.

The White House also says G-20 nations should take steps to improve oil market transparency and scale up financing for tackling climate change.

Michael Froman, the White House's deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said in a Sept. 3 letter that cutting the subsidies would improve energy security and help fight climate change by encouraging conservation and boosting new technologies. (Greenwire)

How about cutting energy subsidies in general? Sounds a much better idea to me -- especially as it would eliminate such parasites as wind, solar and biofuels...

 

Governor contenders toss around nuclear power

Top contenders for California governor interjected an unexpected issue today into the fledgling 2010 campaign: Most of them said they will at least consider expanding nuclear power to meet the state's growing energy needs and reduce carbon emissions.

California has banned new reactors since the late 1970s amid concerns over the disposal of nuclear waste. No new plants can be built in the state until industry finds a way to permanently dispose of its waste, according to state law.

Energy from California's four nuclear reactors, plus nuclear power imported from Arizona, provides 15 percent of the state's electricity supply. But California's next governor may be more amenable to expanding that amount.

The most enthusiastic supporter for nuclear power at today's forum at Santa Clara University was Republican Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who promised to make nuclear power a centerpiece of his campaign.

He said the state needs an alternative power source to meet the demand for 50 percent more electricity in the coming decade. (SF Chronicle)

 

Miliband: Tory councils are blocking wind farms (as they should)

The energy secretary has claimed that Conservative-run councils are frustrating plans for wind power.

Ed Miliband also told the TUC congress on Wednesday that he was "very sorry" for workers at the Vestas plant.

The Danish firm closed its plants on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton with the loss of 425 jobs, blaming a lack of demand in the UK.

Miliband said that in negotiations with Vestas "the issue for them was quite simple, they did not have the orders for onshore wind turbines to justify keeping the factory open".

"They did not have the orders because up and down this country local councils are turning down wind turbine applications; 60 per cent of applications made to Conservative councils are turned down," he said. (ePolitix)

Councils reject these applications because they represent the people who elected them and who don't want these useless white elephants erected in their locales (rightly so).

 

Toyota: Electric cars 'too expensive' for mainstream

Electric vehicles are the clear favored technology for concept cars at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. But Toyota, the leader in hybrid cars, thinks that the high cost of the lithium ion batteries will keep electric cars from penetrating the mass market for another decade.

Over the past three years, Toyota secretly tested lithium ion batteries as a potential replacement for the nickel metal hydride batteries now used in the Prius, according to a Bloomberg report

In its tests, Toyota concluded that lithium ion batteries were safe and reliable, but the higher cost doesn't justify a complete shift over for Toyota's hybrids, executives said. As a result, the company will remain with nickel-based batteries for most of its hybrid cars, according to the report. (CNET)

 

September 16, 2009

 

Need antibiotics? No prescription? Go online

NEW YORK - Think you need antibiotics to fight that cough or cold? Numerous Web sites are willing to sell them to you without a doctor's prescription -- a loophole, researchers say, that could undermine efforts to curb the problem of bacteria that shrug off powerful antibiotics.

In a simple Internet search, investigators found 138 online vendors that sell antibiotics without a doctor's prescription. More than one third supplied the drugs with no questions asked, while 64 percent made their own prescriptions after having prospective customers fill out an online health survey.

The problem, the researchers report in the Annals of Family Medicine, is that these antibiotics are likely to be used inappropriately.

And that, in turn, could contribute to the major and growing problem of antibiotic resistance -- where populations of bacteria become immune to the drugs that once controlled them.

Antibiotic resistance is a public-health concern worldwide, as bacteria that cause skin infections, meningitis and pneumonia, to name a few, have developed immunity to certain antibiotics.

Misuse of antibiotics -- using them for infections like the common cold that are caused by viruses, not bacteria, for example -- has helped fuel antibiotic resistance. So far, efforts to address the problem have mainly focused on changing doctors' prescribing practices.

But if people are diagnosing and treating themselves with the help of online vendors, then simply altering prescribing practices may not be enough, according to Dr. Arch G. Mainous, the lead researcher on the new study.

In an interview, he noted that many people may, after having a bacterial infection treated with antibiotics, feel they can recognize and treat the next one. Seeing the doctor may seem like a waste of time and money.

"Patients feel like they know what's wrong and what they need to take," said Mainous, of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. "But I would contend that that's probably inaccurate."

In addition to feeding the wide-scale problem of antibiotic resistance, taking the drugs without a prescription also presents more-immediate potential risks, Mainous noted -- like allergic reactions or interactions with other medications a person may be taking. (Reuters Health)

 

How much time, effort and finance must be wasted on this? U.S. senator vows look into cellphone-cancer link

WASHINGTON - Iowa senator Tom Harkin, newly empowered to investigate health matters as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, promised on Monday to probe deeply into any potential links between cellphone use and cancer.

Harkin, who took over the committee earlier this month after the death of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, said he was concerned no one has been able to prove cellphones do not cause cancer.

"I'm reminded of this nation's experience with cigarettes. Decades passed between the first warnings about smoking tobacco and the final definitive conclusion that cigarettes cause lung cancer," Harkin said.

Cell phones, used by an estimated 275 million people in the United States and 4 billion worldwide, use radio waves. Years of research have failed to establish any clear link between their use and several kinds of cancer, including brain tumors.

Recent worries have been raised by the Environmental Working Group, an activist group, and epidemiologist Devra Lee Davis of the University of Pittsburgh, who has written a book alleging the government has overlooked many potential sources of cancer. (Reuters)

 

Is there really a skin cancer epidemic?

NEW YORK - Is melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, on the rise, as is often reported? Maybe not, says a new study: The "melanoma epidemic" may simply represent a change in how doctors are diagnosing the disease.

Anti-skin cancer campaigns have highlighted the fact that the number of melanomas has doubled in the past two decades, and continue to rise. However, some have doubted whether there are actually more cases of the cancer.

"The main message is to be cautious about overstating messages about a melanoma epidemic to the public and media," study co-author Dr. Nick J. Levell from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, UK, told Reuters Health in an email. "Such behavior will tend to induce unnecessary anxiety and behavior that may cause distress and harm." (Reuters Health)

 

Traffic noise linked to high blood pressure

NEW YORK - Sitting in traffic can get your blood boiling temporarily, but living near it might raise your risk of long-term high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among more than 24,000 Swedish adults, those living near relatively noisier roads were more likely to say they had high blood pressure than those living in more peaceful surroundings. (Reuters Health)

But were they actually assessed?

 

Are we all autistic now?

Lumping Mozart and Einstein in with those who have severe socialisation problems is no help to sufferers or science. (Sandy Starr, sp!ked)

 

Zealotry without bound: New York Eyes ‘No Smoking’ Outdoors, Too

New York City’s workplace smoking ban six years ago drove cigarette and cigar puffers outdoors. But soon some of the outdoors may be off limits, too: The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said Monday that he would seek to ban smoking at city parks and beaches.

Dr. Farley said the ban — which officials said may require the approval of the City Council, but could possibly be done through administrative rule-making by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation — was part of a broader strategy to further curb smoking rates, which have fallen in recent years. The proposal, however, seemed to catch Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg off guard.

On Monday night, the mayor, who has championed antismoking programs but also is running for re-election, issued a statement that did not disavow the proposal but appeared to qualify it, saying he wanted “to see if smoking in parks has a negative impact on people’s health.”

He added, “It may not be logistically possible to enforce a ban across thousands of acres, but there may be areas within parks where restricting smoking can protect health.” (NYT)

 

Swine flu hid out in pigs for a decade, expert says

WASHINGTON - The new pandemic H1N1 influenza was circulating undetected in pigs for at least a decade before it jumped to people, and much better surveillance is needed among both pigs and people, an expert said on Tuesday.

Molecular tests show the swine flu virus made a mutational jump as it passed from pigs to humans, which apparently happened recently, Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona told a meeting of flu experts sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.

"This virus most likely has been circulating under the radar in pigs for the better part of 10 years," Worobey, who specializes in tracking viruses using a so-called molecular clock, told the meeting.

"Once it jumped into humans it probably circulated for months under the radar. There is lots of room for improvement of our surveillance of swine flu in pigs."

H1N1 was first detected in April and declared a pandemic in June. It has spread quickly around the world but so far causes moderate illness, to the relief of public health experts.

The Institute, an independent organization that advises the U.S. government and other bodies on health matters, called the meeting to examine the pandemic and look for ways to better prepare for the next one.

Influenza viruses mutate regularly and are easy to trace using their rate of change, Worobey said. He collaborated with researchers around the world who dug out samples from freezers.

By comparing recent gene sequences to older samples, Worobey was able to track the evolution of the pandemic. (Reuters)

 

Swine flu deaths show this flu is different-experts

WASHINGTON - Autopsies on people who have died from the new pandemic H1N1 flu show this virus is different from seasonal influenza, even if it has not yet caused more deaths, experts told a meeting on Tuesday.

Americans who died from swine flu had infections deep in their lungs, Dr. Sherif Zaki of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a meeting of flu experts, including damage to the alveoli - the structures in the lung that deliver oxygen to the blood.

This in turn caused what is known as acute respiratory distress syndrome - an often fatal development that leaves patients gasping for breath.

The World Health Organization has confirmed 3,205 deaths globally from swine flu but experts agree all estimates of the extent of the pandemic are grossly understated because so few patients are ever actually tested.

Seasonal flu kills, too - about 250,000 to 500,000 cases a year globally, according to the WHO. But not in the same way as swine flu, which unlike seasonal flu frequently causes severe disease in young adults and children.

"It is very rarely you see what we call diffuse alveolar damage in fatal seasonal influenza," Zaki told a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, which advises government on health matters.

Seasonal flu causes bronchitis and other upper respiratory disease. But Zaki, the chief infectious disease pathologist at CDC, said the new virus had burrowed into the lungs of the 90 or so people he examined after they died, and they had huge amounts of the virus in their blood.

"This is almost exactly what we see with avian flu," Zaki said. "This looks like avian flu on steroids." (Reuters)

 

Pandemic flu harder to survive in poor nations: WHO

GENEVA - H1N1 influenza is "a virus of extremes" likely to cause far more deaths in poor countries than affluent ones, the head of the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the pandemic flu virus caused mild symptoms in most patients, the overwhelming majority of whom recover fully within a week and without medical treatment.

But she warned the small subset of patients who developed serious illness from the strain widely known as "swine flu" needed very specialised, intensive care to survive infection.

"Clinically, this is a virus of extremes. It does not seem to have a middle ground," she told a WHO regional meeting in Copenhagen, according to the text of her remarks.

Pregnant women, diabetics and those with stressed immune systems have been most vulnerable to severe infection from H1N1, which was discovered in North America in April and declared a global pandemic in June. (Reuters)

Hate to rain on their parade but everything is harder to survive in poor nations, from childbirth onwards...

 

The new China syndrome: The threat to Canada

Though its money is welcome, we should have no illusions that China is a normal investor that plays by our rules

The “China Syndrome” describes a nuclear meltdown in which molten material from an American nuclear reactor blasts a hole through the Earth’s crust and reaches China. It could just as well describe the consequences of the U.S. financial and economic meltdown, which has left China with trillions of U.S. dollars that it is now using to go on a global shopping spree to meet its insatiable demand for oil, copper, iron ore, aluminum and other minerals while reducing its exposure to a fall in the value of the increasingly vulnerable U.S. dollar.

Should we be worried that China is eying Canada’s oilsands and mineral deposits? The short answer is yes. China is in the lead of those countries whose actions represent a return to state sponsored capitalism. (Fen Osler Hampson, Financial Post)

 

Blimey! A slop bucket in every home: Ministers plan to impose fines if you don't recycle food waste

Every home will be issued with a kitchen slop bucket under plans being drawn up in Whitehall.

Ministers aim to ban the dumping of food waste in landfill sites.

They insist that all the food collected by binmen is instead sent to recycling plants. (Daily Mail)

 

Some preliminary results from GOSAT – CO2 hot spots in interesting places

GOSAT_picture

GOSAT - click to enlarge

WUWT reader Anna V. alerts us to the preliminary report from the JAXA GOSAT Project. According to the project website:

The Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) Project is a joint effort promoted by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

NIES organized the research team dedicated to the GOSAT project within its organization in April 2004, and since then has been working for the research and development with respect to GOSAT “IBUKI”.

For a complete description of how GOSAT works, please read their summary here (PDF)

First let’s have a look at Global Methane (CH4):

GOSAT Worldwide Methane - click for larger image

GOSAT Worldwide Methane - Methane (column averaged dry air mole fraction) initial analysis (April 20-28 observation data)- click for larger image Source: JAXA

Note that the areas with the most concentration of methane are in China, Middle East, Southern Europe, and Africa.

The real surprise comes from the GOSAT CO2 data analysis. This first global CO2 map released from GOSAT is shown below:

20090829_ibuki_CO2

GOSAT Worldwide CO2 - Carbon dioxide (column averaged dry air mole fraction) initial analysis (April 20-28 observation data) - click for larger image Source: JAXA

While this is just a short data set comprising a few days from April 20-28th 2009, it does show some surprising features for hotspots of CO2 in the atmosphere over many of the same areas methane had higher concentrations. One difference is that some spots in the Eastern USA, presumably the larger cities, show CO2 hotspots also. From looking at the large CO2 map, it appears Atlanta, Charlotte, and NYC are the three cities in the USA with higher CO2 concentrations.

However, China, India, Southern Europe, the Mideast and Africa have the majority of the CO2 hotspots.

Here’s what JAXA has to say about their CO2 analysis:

Carbon dioxide column averaged dry air mole fractions (XCO2) for clear-sky scenes analyzed using observations at shortwave infrared bands (radiance spectrum uncalibrated data) from the IBUKI greenhouse gas observation sensor (TANSO-FTS). Clear-sky scenes at individual TANSO-FTS observation points are determined using measurements from the cloud/aerosol sensor (TANSO-CAI). Data are excluded where the associated radiance spectra are saturated, and where noise is relatively large due to weak ground surface reflection.

In the initial analysis, the late April observation data shows a hemispheric gradient, with larger values over the Northern Hemisphere (Note 1), consistent with other measurements. Derived XCO2 values are generally lower than model predictions (Note 2). This is thought to be due to the analysis involving uncalibrated radiance spectrum data and due to the parameter adjustment for the analysis method not being finalized. High concentrations are observed over continental China and Central Africa, which may be caused by measurement interference due to the presence of atmospheric dust. Asian dust (yellow sands) were observed over continental China during the observation period, and the existence of dust storm-like and smoke-like phenomena were observed in the relevant locations in Africa. Future investigation is required to understand these errors. Data calibration, processing parameter adjustment, and product validation required for quantitative discussion of the analysis results, will be carried out in the future.

(Note 1) The analysis showed Northern Hemisphere results to be on average around 10 ppm higher than Southern Hemisphere results. An atmospheric transport model calculation predicts the difference between north and south at this time to be 2-4 ppm.

(Note 2) Southern Hemisphere values were on average approximately 17 ppm lower than the model calculation, while Northern Hemisphere latitude band average values were approximately 7-12 ppm lower.

It will be very interesting to see if the hotspot CO2 distribution holds with more data from GOSAT. If it does we’ll be asking the question of why the USA seems to have less CO2 concentrations than other parts of the world. I’m sure it will fuel some political and policy debate.

We’ll be watching for releases of more complete data with better coverage. (WUWT)

 

Wanted: For Carbon Crimes

The global-warming industry would probably still be solely owned by assorted cranks and romantics (and the odd vice president) if it weren't for a bunch of CEOs taking a leaf from Enron's playbook and attempting to monetize the issue. Playing the bootleggers in a classic bootleggers and baptists alliance, these businessmen have realized that they can get the government to increase their profits by means of "cap and trade" and similar regulatory interventions, at the expense of other businesses and the paying public. Ordinarily, such shenanigans would have the corporate watchdog groups in arms, but by getting the "baptists" of the green movement on their side, they have shielded themselves from public disgust.

This has to stop, and the good folks at Junkscience.com are at the forefront of calling foul. They are releasing a series of "Wanted" posters for six corporate fat cats who want to grow fatter by means of the Waxman-Markey Bill. Junkscience describes the six and their crimes as:

* Exelon CEO John Roe, the "carbon bandit," who stands to make billions of dollars at taxpayer expense from Waxman-Markey's free carbon allowances;

* General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, the "carbon schemer," who would rather profit from lobbying for Waxman-Markey than innovating products that consumers actually want;

* Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, the "carbon betrayer," who is lobbying for higher energy prices and against his own customers and shareholders;

* Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, the "carbon extortionist," who threatens to send American jobs overseas unless Congress pays him off with free carbon allowances;

* Caterpillar CEO James Owens, who can only be considered as "carbon clueless" since he is lobbying against the coal industry, one of his biggest customers; and

* John Deer & Co. Chairman Robert Lane, the "carbon crapshooter," who seems to be betting that he can wreck the economy and profit simultaneously.

Form that posse and go get 'em, guys. (Iain Murray, The Corner)

 

A spotless record

The sun has gone quiet

IT IS almost exactly 400 years since Galileo turned his telescope on the sun and saw it to be an imperfect orb covered in spots, quite unlike the teachings of Greek cosmology. If his observations had been made four centuries later, he would have drawn a different conclusion. The sun has recently shed its spots, prompting sceptics to renew their claims that climate change is not anthropogenic but rather heliogenic.

Sunspots are a bit of a mystery. They appear as dark patches in the photosphere—the surface layer of the sun—that come and go. Normally the number of sunspots peaks every 11 years, coinciding with times when the sun’s magnetic field is at its strongest. As the field wanes, the number of sunspots falls to a trough at which point the sun’s magnetic field reverses direction and starts to regain its strength.

As early as 1801 William Herschel, a British astronomer, suggested that when sunspots were plentiful the Earth would be warmer. He supported his hypothesis by reference to variations in the price of wheat published in Adam Smith's “Wealth of Nations”.

More recently, solar scientists and climatologists have played down the role that sunspots might play in climate change. Certainly they do affect the amount of radiation coming from the sun. The dark sunspots are encircled by brighter areas, so when they are plentiful, the sun shines more brightly than when they are sparse. Yet the overall variation is tiny, just 0.1% of the sun’s total output, which seems insufficient to be the cause of a warming Earth.

Yet there is a curious historical correlation between sunspot cycles and global temperatures. Between 1645 and 1715, for reasons unknown, there were very few sunspots. At the same time, Europe and North America experienced bitterly cold winters in what has come to be known as the Little Ice Age. There is also some evidence that the southern hemisphere was similarly affected. But correlation is not causation.

Might the sun be going through another extended period of inactivity? Certainly it is the quietest that it has been for almost a century. Weeks and sometimes months go by without a single sunspot. Solar scientists have been waiting since December 2008 for signs that sunspot activity is picking up but so far without success.

That has prompted some to speculate that the Earth may be entering another cool period that could offset the warming caused by greenhouse gases trapping heat in the planet’s atmosphere. Only time will tell, but your correspondent is thankful that any influence of the sun on climate change would be benign. (The Economist)

Benign? If the sun does remain quiet and it does send us into another period similar to the Little Ice Age I suspect a lot of people will have a rather different outlook.

 

Counter propaganda, isn't there a rule or something against that? High School Teacher’s Assignment: “Expose the Myth of Global Warming”

I was sitting at home in my pajamas, glossily checking Facebook, when I saw a status update that caught my attention. It alluded to homework which forced a student to prove that global warming is a hoax. Eyebrow raised, I investigated. Turns out, a public school teacher in my state, Utah, gave this assignment to students last week:

“Write a 2-page paper exposing the myths of global warming, and giving scientific information show that global warming is not the major catastrophe the media would have us believe. Must include a full bibliography and include a copy of your highlighted sources.”

Of course, I had to sleep on this before I trusted myself to react.

The next morning, I decided I needed a couple of questions answered before I could decide what to do about this. Here’s what I asked and what I found out:

Q: Was the teacher giving some sort of clever lesson aimed at waking the students up to the overwhelming evidence in favor of global warming? A: No. In fact, the teacher specifically told the students that they could NOT turn in a paper to the contrary or they would receive no credit.

Q: How could the teacher get AWAY with this? A: The teacher isn’t getting away with it. Disciplinary action is being taken by the school. (itsgettinghotinhere)

Actually I disapprove of the preconception in the assignment (although it may be contextually based and thus appropriate). That said, it's probably understandable anyway since there is so much propaganda from the AGW camp (see, for example, Al & his climate evangelists and the insistence of so many ideologically-aligned teachers that their students view Inconvenient Truth in class time).

Should the teacher face disciplinary action for setting a mildly provocative research task? I say no, although again I suggest framing the exercise as compare and contrast without preconception. Thinking back on a lot of the debate positions I was assigned during my education I probably did as much research on positions I did not support as on those I did, if not more and there is no doubt this was educationally useful. Why are AGW advocates so distressed at the mere possibility people may look behind the curtain?

 

Newsweek’s Begley Flunks Calculus, Science and Politics

Sharon Begley, after a five-year stint at the Wall Street Journal returned to greener pastures at Newsweek in 2007, where she started her career. It was just in time to take part in Newsweek’s embarrassing August 13, 2007 issue “Global Warming is a Hoax” edition.

The cover story entitled, “The Truth About Denial” contained very little that could be considered ‘truth” by journalistic or scientific standards. In what could surely be considered one of the most one-sided coverage of any important issue in American journalism for decades, Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips purported to examine the “well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry that they… created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change.”

The only problem was -- Newsweek knew better. Eve Conant, who interviewed Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it was the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoyed a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics (a whopping $50 billion to a paltry $19 million for the skeptics). Newsweek contributing editor Robert J. Samuelson, called the piece "fundamentally misleading" and "highly contrived."

Begley’s next screed was “Climate Change Calculus” in the August 3, 2009 issue, subtitled “Why it’s even worse than we feared.” She begins: “Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: "that really shocked us," "we had no idea how bad it was," and "reality is well ahead of the climate models."[…] Although policymakers hoped climate models would prove to be alarmist, the opposite is true, particularly in the Arctic.”

What is the reality? Well the models are failing miserably, but in the wrong direction. Over the last eight years, the world has cooled in contrast with the forecast rise in all the IPCC scenarios. The Arctic ice extent as of September 10, 2009, climatologically close to the maximum melt date, is 21.7% greater than the minimum in September 2007. (Joe D’Aleo, Energy Tribune)

 

Media 're-open' North Eastern Passage - Thermageddon fever disappears 70 year trade route

One of Russia's commercial maritime trade routes for the past 70 years has been "re-opened" by a press hungry for dramatic Global Warming scare stories - but who failed to check the most basic facts.

I've traced this fascinating example of "eco-churnalism" - peddled by both BBC Radio and its website, the Daily Mail, The Independent, Reuters and many others - back to its origins, with a press release from a German shipping group. But first of all - what on Earth is the Northern Passage?

Also called the Northeast Passage or North Sea Passage, it's a trade route that in summer months links the North European and Siberian ports to Asia, around the Arctic Circle. Orient-bound traffic heads east, then South via the Bering Straight. Much of the Siberian North coast lies outside the Arctic Circle, and the route offered significant gains over the alternatives via Suez or the Cape. But until technological advances in the early 20th Century it was considered too hazardous for commercial operation.

Since the 1930s the route has seen major ports spring up, carrying over 200,000 tons of freight passing through each year, although this declined with the fall of the Soviet Union.

But none of this ever happened, we learned on Saturday. The Independent reported that the journey had been traversed for the very first time, proclaiming that two German ships had completed "the first commercial navigation of the fabled North-east Passage", proclaiming it "a triumph for man, a disaster for mankind". BBC Radio followed suit.

Others have followed the BBC.

Climate change: too good to be true

It didn't take long to trace the origin of the story. On Wednesday, German shipping group Beluga claimed "the first non-Russian commercial vessels to make it through the Northeast Passage from Asia to Europe".

You can still read their press release, here. Journalists failed to challenge Beluga's claim that the Northeastern Passage was "formerly impenetrable", but bloggers had debunked it within seconds.

(See An Englishman's Castle here - and the EU Referendum blog here and here.)

North unearthed a fascinating account of the past 80 years of this sea route (pdf, 17pg) by a retired mariner Jan Drent, who made the Europe to Asia Northeast Passage himself. Drent writes that the Soviet Union offered to open the route to global commerce in 1967, but with war in the Middle East closing the Suez, Russia didn't want to offend its Arab allies.

In their haste to bring us Thermageddon, journalists now simply manufacture the evidence. But wasn't the recent warming period - which started began in the mid-1970s and with temperatures peaking in the late-1990s - a contributory factor? Arctic Ice has recovered the past couple of years, but it's still down on 30 years ago.

As it happens, the thaw has helped, but isn't the primary reason, according to maritime historians.

"In the past ten years voyages between the northern coast and Japan and Canada have demonstrated how modern ice-strengthened vessels and contemporary ice forecasting have extended the navigation season."

Ignore all that, however. If the BBC is to remain trusted, we can only conclude that these are phantom ships, failing to penetrate a previously impenetrable trade route, dropping off phantom cargo at phantom port towns. (Andrew Orlowski, The Register)

 

Monbiot & Schmidt 0 – Plimer 1 (After Spectacular Own Goal)

Alternative titles: “Dear George, In Any Sport, No-Show Means Automatic Loss“, and “Don’t Mention Gish If You Can’t Debate

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

I am not at all surprised that George Monbiot (and by inference, Gavin Schmidt) have lost their public (virtual) debate against Ian Plimer even before having a public (real) debate. That’s because:

  • I have been following Monbiot’s antics for quite some time, and have never been struck by the power of his at-times-downright-silly arguments
  • Likewise concerning Schmidt, a known debate (sore) loser
  • Skeptic vs. Climatechanger debates are few and far between, and not for the lack of willing skeptical debaters (one suspects, it’s because skeptics invariably win, just like against homeopathy practitioners, UFO believers, creationist/ID proponents, chemtrails counter-conspirators, etc etc)
  • Plimer is no debate spring chicken, once described as having a “street-fighting style

Why has Plimer won the debate? Because the end result is that Monbiot has refused to publicly debate with him. And in any sport, failure to show up automatically makes you a loser.

This is too bad as Schmidt’s responses look even more impressive than Plimer’s bunch of heavily-sounding questions (the actual bait). And Plimer’s non-answers to Monbiot could have made the basis for a smooth, trouble-free attack/counterattack to Plimer’s argument.

If Monbiot could sustain a debate, that is. I have my doubts.

The Monbiot/Schmidt couple took the Plimer bait actually a tad too easily. Evidently knowing how to make opponents fall flat on their faces even when apparently much more powerful than him, all Plimer had to do is artificially concoct an “escape route” that would allow Monbiot to declare himself the winner without actually having won anything.

The “escape route” is Plimer’s refusal to answer in print. And Monbiot, shall I say OF COURSE, eagerly took it, unable to understand the consequences.

Isn’t it more heartwarming to be able to tell one’s own troops about how bad the enemy is, rather than getting into a dangerous, live debate with that same enemy?

Especially when one has extremely poor argumentative skills, like Monbiot when he includes the mention of the “Gish Gallop“, “named after [creationist] Duane Gish [...] a special case of fast talking (the technique famously employed by Snake Oil Salesman that confuses people with fast long strings of words long enough to convince them to buy snake oil“.

Yes, but: people like Michael Shermer (and Ian Plimer, by the way) have actually debated with Gish. They haven’t just sat at their desk whining about the Gish Gallop.

————–

Now we will only get Plimer on Thursday 12 November at 2 Savoy Place, London WC1, where he “will give a 30 minute lecture on global warming and then take questions/points from the audience for 60 minute“.

I will believe in that only when I see it happening, by the way…whose kneecaps is Plimer going to try to (figuratively) break? 8-) (OmniClimate)

 

The Funnier Side Of Monbiot & Schmidt’s “Plimer Débâcle”

It is clear that George Monbiot has made himself the loser by not agreeing to publicly debate with Ian Plimer about global warming in London in November. The rule is very simple and universal: a no-show is invariably a loss.

The whole thing looks like an elaborate trap prepared by experienced debater Plimer with the goal of convincing Monbiot to run away from the debate. And it looks like it worked.

Talk about the elephant being afraid of the mouse. Yet again, one is glad not have the likes of Monbiot (and Schmidt) on one’s side! 8-)

But wait…it gets even funnier. What I just wrote might have crossed a few minds already, of people unfortunately too eager to bite the bait, therefore missing the chance to take their own reasoning to its natural conclusions:

  • Take Schmidt’s blog on the topic, where he argues that Plimer’s list of questions “is quite transparently a device to avoid dealing with Monbiot’s questions and is designed to lead to an argument…” and then…marches on onto the device regardless!
  • Greenfyre defines Plimer’s questions as “pure juvenile bafflegab” that should not be “dignif[ied]…with repetition“. Perhaps. Why then repeat that very same concept FOURTEEN times? It certainly looks like dignifying them to me
  • Greenfyre even identifies as “possible answers…to answer them in the spirit in which they were asked…give answers equally convoluted and nonsensical“. If that is so, what is the meaning of going on and on with links to sites where Pilmer’s questions are taken instead at face value?
  • Likewise for Tim Lambert: “I suspect that this is a tactic so he can weasel out of answering Monbiot’s questions” before a link to RealClimate to respond to Pilmer’s questions nevertheless…
  • Chris Colose appears to have a vague idea that there is something going on: “all together this is jumbled up nonsense and shows that Plimer is intentionally trying to mislead others“. Mysterious cue then to “for other of Plimer’s questions, I’ll let commenters tackle those“. Isn’t that a way for Colose to participate in the misleading?
  • Tamino…well, Tamino is obviously too superior a human being to recognize a thing.

=======

Dear Schmidt/Greenfyre/Lambert/Colose: one suggestion if I may dare.

If you are debating with anybody, and they use any logical device of any kind, please oh please DO NOT follow through along the device, for any reason whatsoever.

Otherwise, it’s not going to look pretty… (OmniClimate)

 

Hello! Where were you? Climate Goals Must Be Achievable: U.S. Official

VIENNA - Nations aiming to agree on a new global climate deal should focus on achievable greenhouse gas emissions targets, to involve as many nations as possible, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Tuesday.

The world is meant to thrash out in December in Copenhagen a new international climate change pact beyond 2012, to replace the Kyoto Protocol. (Reuters)

Oh... Chu still thinks we can twiddle a few knobs and adjust the world's thermostat. Well, if required, we could cool the planet but not by tweaking so trivial a variable as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels but by direct manipulation of local solar absorption, which is doable, controllable and potentially very effective.

I wonder where complete cessation of all U.S. coal-fired electrical generation emissions falls on Chu's achievability scale? Wherever it is and even allowing Hansen's most ridiculously extreme climate sensitivity estimates yields a maximum potential saving of just 0.15 °C over 90 years. Who thinks that's worth spending any money on? A couple of you, really? OK, next week we might have a look at some of the additional CCS costs, say pipelines and injections wells, required to achieve that paltry adjustment.

 

Is Harry Reid bailing on climate legislation?

Harry Reid - the Senate Majority Leader who’s facing a potentially difficult reelection campaign and known for announcing legislative timetables that he can’t deliver on - told reporters Tuesday that the Senate might wait until next year to vote on legislation that would require companies to pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases. (Environmental Capital)

 

Cap-and-Trade: Run Over by the Healthcare Train?

President Obama’s risky perseveration on health care is running over another of his pet governmental expansions—cap-and-trade legislation sent by the House on June 26 for Senate consideration.

How soon we forget. By a squeaky 219-212 vote, the House rushed Congressman Waxman’s 1300-page opus out the door so the members could get back to the hustings for the Fourth of July. When many freshman democrats got home, those who voted for it experienced the first angry “town hall” of their careers. The blowback caused by Obamunism began over energy, not healthcare.

Obama is taking great risks with healthcare because he can’t cobble enough votes from his own party. About 50 congressmen won’t vote for anything with Public Option in it, while another 50 won’t vote for anything without it. There’s no doubt that this impasse is going to continue for some time.

Given that health care is bottled up in the house, why isn’t Obama pushing Cap and Trade in the Senate? Simple: the votes aren’t there. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), the new head of the Agriculture Committee calls cap-and-trade a “complete non starter” and said that it is not her “preference to move on cap and trade this year.”


Now the White House is providing cover for the Senate in order to keep Obama from another legislative embarrassment (assuming health care will be his first). When asked last week about cap-and-trade, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs completely ignored the question and segued into the need for major legislation to prevent some future financial crisis.

For cap-and-trade, “next year” translates as “never.” Senators know what touched off the town halls, and they know what fate awaits many of their democrat counterparts come November 2010. Voting for an unpopular Public Option healthcare program along with cap-and-trade will easily realign the Senate into its old filibustering self. (WCR)

 

Sen. Inhofe: GOP Beware: Though Now Stalled, Cap-and-Trade is Alive and Well

Senator James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma

September, 14, 2009

Now that the debate on cap-and-trade has stalled indefinitely in the Senate, inquiring minds are wondering: what’s next?  While there’s no question the Democrats have declared a cease fire on cap-and-trade—many of them want nothing to do with the issue—their allies outside the Beltway are preparing a massive $20 million campaign to push legislation forward.
 
This effort should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who believes cap-and-trade is dead and buried—it is very much alive.  So Republicans remain ever vigilant, preparing to defeat any cap-and-trade energy tax that will drive up unemployment, slow our economic recovery, and make America less competitive in the global marketplace.
 
A key component of this pressure group campaign will be the so-called “endangerment” finding now under review at the White House.  This finding under the Clean Air Act will declare that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, and thus will trigger a cascade of new regulations that will crush small businesses and raise electricity, food, and gasoline prices. 
 
Green groups and the Obama Administration are threatening Congress with this finding, arguing that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, or any cap-and-trade bill, will take care of it.  They argue that cap-and-trade is more efficient than command-and-control regulation. But this is a smokescreen for the truth: cap-and-trade would simply substitute one bad policy for another, as Congress would be replacing one energy tax with another.  Republicans reject both, and both should be defeated.
 
Meanwhile, EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) continues to seek votes for her climate legislation, the introduction of which has been delayed twice in the last two months.  This is no surprise, as the politics of climate legislation in the Senate are daunting.  Several members of the Democratic caucus have expressed outright opposition to cap-and-trade or hesitation about consideration of cap-and-trade this year.   The latter is due in large part to health care reform, which has, in the view of many, “poisoned the well” for cap-and-trade.  “It's a difficult schedule," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said last week, adding that many members are already “anxious” about health care reform.   "We have enough on our plate at the moment (with the fight over healthcare reform).  It's questionable to open another front,” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said.   Sen. Kent Conrad, (D-N.D.) added, “Given everything that has happened and all the things there are to do, it is a little hard to see how there is sufficient time on the floor to do it.”
 
So in the coming weeks, expect Sen. Boxer and her supporters to cut any and all deals to secure votes.  Those deals will appear to be major concessions on such issues as nuclear power, coal, trade, and manufacturing.  But once one scratches the surface, those concessions will come to light as nothing more than fig leaves.  For instance, one can legitimately question the sincerity of Sen. Boxer’s commitment to a nuclear title.  That’s because in 2005 she voted against the McCain-Lieberman bill specifically because it included pro-nuclear language.  As she said in a floor statement at the time, “Nuclear power is not the solution to climate change, and it is not ‘clean.’ The nuclear industry has not solved its waste and safety problems. By subsidizing the creation of new nuclear plants, we are condoning the creation of more waste and turning a blind eye to the hazards associated with nuclear power.”  
 
As Sen. Boxer looks for votes, the Administration will press forward with its strategy for international climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.  The key focus of that strategy will be to convince a skeptical U.S. Senate that China can agree to emissions reductions on a scale and timetable comparable to Waxman-Markey, or similar cap-and-trade legislation.  But China simply won’t agree to climate restrictions that meet the Senate’s Byrd-Hagel test, which states that no treaty can get 67 votes for ratification if it causes significant harm to the U.S. economy or if developing countries are left out. 
 
President Obama will travel to China in November, and will likely lay the groundwork for some sort of bilateral agreement, in which China will agree to implement a climate regime—but it won’t require mandatory reductions and won’t make a dent in global greenhouse gas concentrations. 
 
Those following the cap-and-trade debate should expect a busy fall, with lots of activity in the Administration, Congress, and beyond the Beltway.  Republicans will argue that cap-and-trade legislation is a bad idea that the Senate should reject.  Green groups are repackaging cap-and-trade as “clean energy legislation.”   But the American people won’t be fooled, and they will call instead for the GOP energy policy, which reduces our dependence on foreign oil, creates jobs, and grows our economy.

Inhofe is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. ()

 

EU climate change unit warns against geo-engineering

Hard geo-engineering is a temporary cure. Far preferable is geo-renovating, the sophisticated way of solving the problems of climate change.

Rockets that release dust particles into the stratosphere, plans to fertilize oceans, or huge mirrors that reflect the sun's radiation may sound like handy shortcuts to cool the earth.

“It's a temporary cure and doesn't solve anything, and the second thing is that we don't know the earth system enough to start playing with it,” says Frank Raes, head of the climate change unit at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in an interview with EurActiv.

He also warns against manipulation of the climate by large-scale reforestation programs in desert areas, since dark trees absorb sunlight previously reflected by sandy deserts and heat up the system. The climate benefits of removing CO2 from the atmosphere do not occur until years later, when the trees have grown, he explains. (CoP15)

Yeah, funny that, the benefits of carbon constraint not appearing for a very long time (probably ever). Nor do we encourage any large scale, long lived projects since the Earth cools rapidly (~4 °C from July to January, every year) but anthropogenic influences take centuries to warm it (0.7 °C over 250 years, or less since there is probably some natural component in that amount). Minor tweaks with increased sulfur content in aviation fuels on selected routes for specified periods should be able to provide the required benefit with minimal downside and can be flushed from the system in mere weeks should there be unanticipated undesired effects.

 

Um... no. To Save the Planet From Global Warming, Turn the Sahara Green

A team of researchers has come up with a simple plan to halt global warming: All we need to do is turn both the Sahara and the Australian outback into vast, shady forests. (Discover)

Another grand scheme which will not have the desired effect, although if we could warm the world it would likely further green the Sahara and Australian deserts. Only tropical forests have a net cooling effect while darkening currently high albedo deserts has a net warming effect.

 

China's Hu To Unveil New Climate Proposals To U.N.

BEIJING - China's President Hu Jintao will present China's new plans for tackling global warming at a United Nations summit on climate change later this month, the country's senior negotiator said on Tuesday.

"He will make an important speech," Xie Zhenhua told reporters ahead of Hu's trip next week to the United Nations and the G20 summit of major rich and developing economies in Pittsburgh.

Hu "will announce the next policies, measures and actions that China is going to take," added Xie, who steers China's climate policy as vice director of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Xie said China will strengthen its policies and take on responsibilities in keeping with its level of development and practical capacities, but declined to give further details. (Reuters)

 

I wonder how they'll blame Dubya for this? US planning to weaken Copenhagen climate deal, Europe warns

Exclusive: Key differences between the US and Europe could undermine a new worldwide treaty on global warming to replace Kyoto, sources say (The Guardian)

 

Thailand is against any replacement of the Kyoto Protocol

However, the country has not yet decided whether to support a sectoral approach to emissions reduction.

Despite calls from industrialized countries for developing nations to set emission reduction targets, Thailand and ASEAN does not want to make such commitment, says the Office of Climate Change Coordination in Thailand according to The Bangkok Post.

Thailand is also not prepared to create new commitments to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The country’s position on this issue is very unambiguous. (CoP15)

 

As all responsible governments should: Greenland's government wants to heavily increase its CO2 emissions

The world's largest island may remain outside a climate agreement if it impedes development. (CoP15)

 

The carbon casino caught with it’s pants down (again)

carbon credits catch fire

Another major carbon auditor goes down.

Norway’s DNV (Det Norse Veritas, “The Norwegian Truth”) was the largest auditor of the infamous CDM’s (Clean Development Mechanisms) until it was suspended last December when it was caught selling carbon credits for projects it hadn’t checked. At the time it was so large it had approved fully half of all CDM credits on the market. Its excess workload was transferred to number two auditor, SGS, and shock, this week, SGS has been caught and suspended because it couldn’t prove it’s staff had properly vetted projects either. Indeed it couldn’t show that they were even trained to do that vetting. (Did SGS not see this coming?)

When the West offered money to buy the rights to air-with-slightly-less-carbon-dioxide-than-it-could-have-had, China and India put up their hands and said “Yes please” 900 times. And why wouldn’t they? CDMs are worth about 20% of all emissions trades, which amounted to $126 billion in 2008. Up until the global financial crisis it was doubling annually, like all good ponzi schemes do.

This supposedly “free market” has none of the normal limits which make it hard for companies to get away with cheating … namely a connection to real material goods: usually if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it. But with carbon credits, customers can buy fake products and never know the difference — even after it’s “delivered”. That’s what you get when you deal in atmospheric nullities.

…with carbon credits, customers can buy fake products and never know the difference — even after it’s “delivered”.

It might be called a “carbon market”, but remember that no one actually trades carbon, they trade rights to emit air with less carbon, and it’s not even as physical as air with less carbon than it used to have (something we can measure). No, it’s worse than that: it’s air with less carbon than it might have had.

So it’s an underwhelming surprise that the top two auditors have both been caught selling “Credits for emitting air that might-have-had-more-carbon-in-it, which might-have-been-checked by people who might-have-been-qualified to check these things”. Selling bridges in Boston has more respectability.

Fortunately, because carbon doesn’t appear to make much difference to the climate, whether the schemes work or not is a moot point. Arguably, if The Point is assuaging western guilt for our successes, then an imaginary credit is just as good as a real one. It’s one of those rare occasions where the placebo effect is 90% effective.

Ultimately this is a market that depends on unknowable, unprovable motivations: I wouldn’t have cleaned up or closed down my dirty factory without all that money. Really. And by the way, I’m thinking of building another one just like it… (Oi! want to pay me not to build it?)

Mass marketing meets the Emperors new clothes —  with undertones of extortion. This is how we save the world?

Recent legislation has tried to close some of the loopholes, and like everything, there are honest operators out there among the crooks. But seriously. It’s like knitting a battleship and hoping to make it waterproof with bureaucrats. It’s not a question of closing loopholes — it IS a loophole. There is almost nothing we can actually pin down — it’s an open invitation for scammers and con-artists. The mat at the door says: “All Rorters Welcome. If we catch you cheating we’ll change the rules.  Next time you’ll have to cheat differently.”

“It’s not as if we’re printing money in a garage,” Yvo de Boer, U.N. climate chief, said of the credits. Which is true, there are no garages involved. Just large multinational corporations.

Mass marketing meets the Emperors new clothes —  with undertones of extortion. This is how we save the world?

And it’s not as if the funds transfer from the West to the Third world is helping the poor people in the street. The billions of dollars in payments often end up with the financial brokers in London, and with potentially corrupt bureaucrats in China. Interviews with locals near the Xiaoxi dam project suggest people were evicted from their homes, and were not paid enough compensation to buy new homes. The money for the credits associated with the  dam was supposed to reduce carbon emissions, yet construction for the Dam started a full two years before the application for CDM funding was even entered. What looks like a Dam, acts like a Dam, but isn’t…?

Bureaucrat-ite may work like a glue plugging holes, but it repels free-markets. Too many bureaucrats and too many rules makes a free market “fixed” in every sense of the word. But the carbon-that-might-have-been-released market can’t be a bureaucrat-free, free-market. It has to be a bureaucrat-rich. The only thing “free” about this market is the price people would pay for carbon-which-might-have-been-released-but-wasn’t.

Full stories:

DNV gets pinged Dec 2008

SGS busted Sept 2009

(Yvo de Boer’s quote about printing money.) (JoNova)

 

Another Problem With The Use Of Multi-Decadal Surface Temperature Trends To Diagnose Global Warming and Cooling – An Effect Due To The Elevation Where The Temperature Measurements Are Made

There have been a series of research papers which document major unresolved problems with the use of multi-decadal trends in surface temperature to diagnose global warming and cooling (e.g. see and see and references therein).

There is an early paper of mine which documents another effect in mountainous terrain, and, more generally, wherever there are significant elevation changes over relatively short distances.

Our paper that documents a variation of mean monthly temperatures as a function of terrain height is

Pielke, R.A. and P. Mehring, 1977: Use of mesoscale climatology in mountainous terrain to improve the spatial representation of mean monthly temperatures. Mon. Wea. Rev., 105, 108-112.

As shown in Table 1 of this paper, the variation within the year is estimated as ranging from -5.23C per kilometer in January to -6.61C per kilometer in July; a difference of 1.38C per kilometer of elevation change. If a station were moved an elevation change of just 100m, , for example, a monthly mean temperature change of 0.138C between January and July would be found even if there were no other effects. This effect  has nothing to do with long term climate change but is due the existence of an elevation dependence on anomalies due the change of location of the observation site.

In terms of constructing multi-decadal assessments of  temperature trends,  even relatively small elevation changes in station locations will introduce a change in temperature trends and anomalies which is just due to the variation of the elevation of the site. The Global Historical Climate Network (and see for a post on the new USHCN Version 2 analyses)  may be able to correct to some extent for this effect in their homogenization methodology if the change in the data sharply defined, however, it is a quite complicated issue since the effect varies within the year (due to the variation of the average change of temperature with elevation during the year) and due to the variability of individual months of this change of temperature with height (see Table 1 in Pielke and Mehring, 1977 for the statistics). This will mask the magnitude of this effect.

There is a second issue. The construction of an annual average of temperature trends and anomalies includes this seasonal variability. Thus for a temperature measurement of trends and anomalies at a single height to be representative of a deeper layer of the troposphere, it must be assumed that the trends and anomalies at all elevations in complex terrain must just be shifted by an equal amount (i.e. it does not matter what elevation the measurements are made at).  That is there needs to be an elevation invariance to the trends. This requires that the  monthly mean change of temperature with elevation that is presented in Figure 1 does not change over time under larger scale climate variability and change.  This stringent assumption needs to be tested but it does not seem likely.

As the issues with the use of the surface temperature to diagnose global warming and cooling continue to mount, it is imperative that policymakers who are using the global average surface temperature anomaly (e. g. the “+2C threshold; e.g. see) recognize the data has serious issues with its quantitative robustness. (Climate Science)

 

From CO2 Science Volume 12 Number 37: 16 September 2009

The Scientists Speak
CO2: Undergirding Modern Science: Its presence in the atmosphere reminds us of what the life-giving gas has done for us, and what it may yet do ... if we let it. Featuring Dr. John Christy, University of Alabama, USA.


Click here to watch other short videos on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution.

Editorial
Fat Folks Beware!: All those extra pounds are not only killing you, according to climate alarmists they're setting the world afire.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 732 individual scientists from 429 separate research institutions in 41 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from North Slope Central Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang, China. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary
Droughts (Global): Are droughts increasing in either frequency or severity throughout the world in response to global warming?

Plant Growth Data
This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Diazotrophic cyanobacterium (Fu et al., 2008), Olive Tree (Biel et al., 2008), Rice (Li et al., 2008), and Wheat (Veisz et al., 2008).

Journal Reviews
Disaster and Recovery of the Fringing Reefs of North Jamaica: How bad was the disaster? ... how strong the recovery?

Coral Response to Thermal Stress: Symbiont Shuffling Plus: Symbiont shuffling has a partner that helps corals survive bleaching episodes; and that partner is the coral host itself.

Soil Organic Carbon Response to Late 20th-Century Warming in the United Kingdom: Did soil organic carbon content gradually decline as temperatures rose?

The Impact of Elevated CO2 on Salinity Stress in Barley: How helpful is it? ... and how significant might the results be for world agriculture?

Crop Growth Response to Elevated CO2 in a Closed Ecological System: How strong is it? ... and what are the implications for deep space exploration, as well as for folks on the home planet?

Fossil Fuels -- A Quickie Divorce is Not an Option
A Great Role for Coal

Click here to watch additional videos on various global warming topics, to embed any of our videos on your own web page, or to watch them on YouTube in a higher resolution. (co2science.org)

 

The Energy Disconnect

Obama and United States Energy
Obama and United States Energy

You couldn’t make it up even if you try. One day the UK Energy Secretary Ed Milliband sets out his proposed expansion of the UK’s wind power-led alternative energy revolution, the next, Vestas, the UK’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, closes for business citing “low demand” and public opposition to onshore windfarms.

Just bad luck or bad PR? Not quite. Simply another blatant example of the on-going ‘disconnect’ over energy between those suffering from WTS (Wishful Thinker Syndrome) and the hydrocarbon-fuelled present and future energy realities.

Driven by panic-inducing IPCC theory on the man-made CO2 threat – after a decade where the scientific data shows a downward trend in global mean temperatures – and supplemented with irrational fears over early peak oil theories, Western politicians and others remain consistently obdurate to the energy (and economic) facts of life.

A compendium of prophetic failure

In 2006 Germany’s Angela Merkel was hailed as the ‘Green Chancellor’ for promising to rid her country of coal and nuclear power in its bid to give a clean energy and climate change “world lead”. Three years on and Merkel’s government actively supports the construction of a new generation of 26 coal-fired power plants as well as keeping Germany’s nuclear power stations open. In addition she wants special protection for German heavy industry via free cap and trade permits. A powerful German industry, the need to remain competitive and a desire to work with the lights on, all combined to help Ms Merkel ‘re-connect’.

In 2008, Italy, to everyone’s surprise, reversed its decades long ‘no nuclear power stations’ policy in the interest of their power needs. And Italy’s PM Silvio Berlusconi, along with leaders from Austria, Poland and a rolling bandwagon of other countries, also now demands protection for its heavy industry when it comes time to handing out free cap and trade permits. Across in the UK, the government has been wriggling out of its Kyoto ‘clean energy’ commitments for years as the country inches towards building an urgently needed new generation of coal-fired power plants. To help critics swallow the bitter pill of yet more coal usage, the UK Government is subsidizing ‘clean coal’ technology strategies via CCS (Carbon Capture Sequestration). But adding $1 billion to the cost of each plant for a hugely speculative unproven technology that may, as one recent study reveals, prove downright dangerous, has already created a politically paralysing impasse in the UK energy strategy. The spectre of the UK facing “South African-style power cuts” and being plunged into “third world darkness” now looms. Hence the UK’s grand wind power plan. Unfortunately, last December, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) was forced to scale down its calculation of harmful CO2 emissions “displaced”, from 860 to 430 grams for every kilowatt hour of electricity produced. With more coal use in prospect and less help from wind sources the UK has no chance of getting near its Kyoto CO2 commitments. In fact, with less than 2400 wind turbines in operation across Britain currently, the UK would still require a further 100,000 to meet its targets. Plenty of scope for massive wind turbine growth we might think. So why the Vestas pull-out?

Not that Eurocrats are easily deflated by wind power facts on the ground. Speaking at a key European wind power conference in March 2009, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, claimed, “Wind energy can replace a large proportion of the polluting and finite fuels we currently rely on. It makes good sense to invest in indigenous sources of power which hedge against unpredictable fossil fuel prices and in which Europe has a real competitive advantage.” Windbag Piebalgs adds pompously, “Wind energy is Europe’s contribution to peace, progress and prosperity.”

Mr Piebalgs’ claims entirely epitomise the energy disconnect. As Michael J. Trebilcock has shown, wind power is a complete disaster with the much-vaunted ‘Danish green energy miracle’ turning out to be a well-worn myth in an industry that would blow out tomorrow without on-going and massive public subsidy. And all for an energy source that can, in the next few decades, provide only a tiny amount of the world’s power. For all the political bluster, the best energy estimates suggest that by the year 2030 energy demand will rise by a further 50 percent and that oil, gas and coal will still fulfil 87 percent of the world’s energy needs. Shell has dumped its alternative energy program (except for biofuels) in part of a broader trend of European alternative energy companies already heading their ‘wagons’ West, drawn by the far richer cash pickings in prospect on the new frontier of President Obama’s stimulus billions. Germany’s REpower US subsidiary has just relocated its US HQ to Denver, Colorado to take full advantage of the “supportive business climate” – read government cash – along with (surprise, surprise) Vestas, late of the UK.

Today, the Obama White House is recycling all the same European political energy rhetoric so familiar to Europeans. Yet the US has its own instructive case study. One day billionaire T. Boone Pickens has a Grand Wind Plan for Texas, with further plans to forest the nation with turbines “from Canada to Mexico”. The next, T. Boone drops his wind plan in favour of ... a hydrocarbon (natural gas) solution instead.

Meanwhile the political energy disconnect has fuelled an almost ethereal, religious vision among those who seek to appease the earth and climate gods. In 2003 Al Gore predicted we had just 96 months (ten years) before fossil-fuel assisted climate Armageddon kicked in. We have just four years left. In 2006, Greenpeace’s Steven Guilbeault said, “Time is running out to deal with climate change. Ten years ago, we thought we had a lot of time.” Yet back in 1997, Greenpeace’s Chris Rose was claiming, “Time is running out for the climate.”

The UK’s Prince of Wales ruminates that, “Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse”. The Prince adds, “The age of convenience is over”. As international columnist Mark Steyn comments, “The Prince then got in his limo and was driven to his other palace.”

Meanwhile, NASA’s James Hansen, continues to lead the war against the green’s bête-noir of fossil fuels: coal, at the very time Europe and the UK, indeed much of the world, is again turning to the black stuff as the fuel for a new generation and to nuclear power stations. For millions in India and elsewhere cheap coal is the answer to ending their poverty. Yet, last year, Hansen was not at all concerned for what this key energy resource is doing to pull millions out of poverty, obsessing instead with his private vision that burning coal could “accelerate floods, droughts and heat waves” and “lock us into future climate disasters”.

For men like Hansen, the reality that coal power is a key energy resource in the war on global poverty means little if it clashes with his climate-appeasing, prophetic insights. And given the eco-alarmist capacity for failed prophecy thus far, we might offer the sage advice of one Lao Tzu, a 6th century BC Chinese poet that “Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict don’t have knowledge”.

Old fossils and Copenhagen

In August 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon ramped up the politico-energy disconnect further, claiming, “We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet. If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest even violence could follow.”

Moon’s ‘four months’ is a reference to December’s Copenhagen conference when alarmists want binding international CO2 targets to trigger a global switch to alternative sources of energy. As we have seen, however, national leaders will ultimately refuse to impoverish their industries even to save the planet. Neither will Copenhagen provide impetus for a speedier move to alternative energies. The still ‘disconnected’ flower power generation and its idealistic offspring would do well to grasp that the energy future is not green it is hydrocarbon, and will continue to be for another century, at least. Perhaps it’s just that we have yet to learn a language they’ll understand? Maybe we should run the energy stats past them one more time, make a peace V-sign and (gently) ask: “Re-connected yet, man?” (Peter C Glover and Michael J. Economides, Energy Tribune)

 

Protesters Target Oil Sands Before Harper Meets Obama

WASHINGTON/CALGARY - Environmentalists shut down a Canadian oil sands mine on Tuesday in a series of protests on the eve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit with President Barack Obama, aimed at pressing their case that the projects undermine the fight against climate change.

Green groups accused Harper's government of trying to hamper U.S. efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by seeking protections for Canada's oil sands industry, a major supplier of crude oil to the United States.

Harper meets with Obama at the White House on Wednesday, with climate and environmental issues expected to be on the agenda.

In northern Alberta, Royal Dutch Shell Plc suspended production at its Albian Sands Muskeg River mine after 25 activists from Greenpeace blockaded a massive dump truck and mining shovel to protest against oil sands development.

Shell, which owns 60 percent of the 155,000 barrel a day operation, said it temporarily shut down operation to ensure that the activists and its staff did not get hurt.

"Shell's No. 1 concern is their safety and our preference is for a negotiated end to this demonstration," the company said in a statement. "We have invited the group into our administrative building to sit down with management to discuss their concerns."

It said Greenpeace has not tried to contact Shell to discuss environmental initiatives it is employing at the site. (Reuters)

 

Rage!

Your bending author is a fairly placid sort of fellow, usually taking the whips and scorns of time and all that as they come. There are, however, certain phenomena of the modern world that stir him into intemperate rage. One of these is the use of spin to cover up Governmental insouciance in the face of inevitable disastrous consequences of its own perverse (or even absent) policies. There are two areas of policy that Number Watch has been banging on about since its birth. One is  debt (of which we have just begun to experience the consequences) and the other is energy. Over the same period it has also been repeatedly warning about the coming energy crisis and the inevitability of power cuts. With a few honourable exceptions (including, of course, the sainted Christopher Booker) journalists have largely ignored the subject, while politicians make only pious asides and do nothing. You can bet your sweet bippy that they will all be wise after the event.

The basic requirements of a sound energy policy are so self evident t