Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another example of strange data selectivity by British climatologists

The official British Met office in this case. An email below from a reader -- noting that once again the best data for a location is ignored -- apparently in favour of something that suits Warmist assumptions better. There was a lot of that with the CRU treatment of the Russian data too. The record referred to below which the meteorologists do use has so many gaps in it that one suspects that the gaps are the attraction. Such gaps can be filled in by Warmist guesses

On this page station temperature files for several countries can be downloaded.

Living in the Netherlands Antilles, I checked: there are only records for Juliana Airport, St. Maarten (788660). That station was only opened in 1951 while records are available for Curaçao island since 1894 but are not listed here. St. Maarten temperature records are available from 1920, long before the airport opened its station.

St. Maarten lists a total of 187 "-99" [no record], figures out of 708 monthly averages. I am quite sure that the Curaçao, main island of the country, records are much more complete than that. One wonders then why records for Curaçao have not been used.

CRU now rejecting their own "landmark" findings

$10Mill worth of landmark IPCC climate research – now struck out at CRU

This CRU webpage where you can still download the CRUTEM3 datasets reveals the stunning fact that they no longer include the landmark paper Jones & Moberg 2003 in the list of references.

Instead, to keep their “chain of evidence” alive the CRU-Meisters now jump back to Jones et al 1999. CRU front page 29 Dec 2009: "Jones, P.D., M. New, D.E. Parker, S. Martin, and I.G. Rigor. 1999. Surface air temperature and its changes over the past 150 years. Reviews of Geophysics 37:173-199".

This raises all sorts of questions because the latest masterwork Brohan et al 2006 (Brohan, P., J.J. Kennedy, I. Harris, S.F.B. Tett, and P.D. Jones. 2006. Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850. J. Geophysical Research 111, D12106) is written as an evolution from Jones & Moberg 2003 – further and surprisingly there is NO REFERENCE to Jones 1999 in Brohan et al 2006.

Reading the Abstract and first paragraph of the Introduction to Jones & Moberg 2003 – the authors are clearly updating directly from Jones 1994, ignoring the more recent and we would assume improved over 1994 – Jones et al 1999.

So I am saying that there is much evidence here of striking out references to previously lauded Jones versions that one would expect to be naturally included in the “chain of evidence”. I can only conclude that for example, Jones & Moberg 2003 does not measure up now as a work that CRU or the UKMO wants to refer to. Taxpayers may never know the reasons for these odd visible twists and turns in the cloistered and highly secretive IPCC world.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Major northern hemisphere cold snap coming

Cold event setups in atmospheric circulation patterns are aligning. Two days ago I brought to your attention that there was a strong downspike in the Arctic Oscillation Index and that the North Atlantic Oscillation Index was also negative. See The Arctic Oscillation Index goes strongly negative

Yesterday, Senior AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi let loose with this stunning prediction on the AccuWeather premium web site via Brett Anderson’s Global warming blog:
What is facing the major population centers of the northern hemisphere is unlike anything that we have seen since the global warming debate got to the absurd level it is now, which essentially has been there is no doubt about all this. For cold of a variety not seen in over 25 years in a large scale is about to engulf the major energy consuming areas of the northern Hemisphere. The first 15 days of the opening of the New Year will be the coldest, population weighted, north of 30 north world wide in over 25 years in my opinion.

The Climate Prediction Center discussion for their forecast also concurs with both of the above:

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Obama official embarrassed by Democrat plans to convert cropland to forestry

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered his staff to revise a computerized forecasting model that showed that climate legislation supported by President Obama would make planting trees more lucrative than producing food.

The latest Agriculture Department economic-impact study of the climate bill, which passed the House this summer, found that the legislation would profit farmers in the long term. But those profits would come mostly from higher crop prices as a result of the legislation's incentives to plant more forests and thus reduce the amount of land devoted to food-producing agriculture.

According to the economic model used by the department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the legislation would give landowners incentives to convert up to 59 million acres of farmland into forests over the next 40 years. The reason: Trees clean the air of heat-trapping gases better than farming does.

Mr. Vilsack, in a little-noticed statement issued with the report earlier this month, said the department's forecasts "have caused considerable concern" among farmers and ranchers. "If landowners plant trees to the extent the model suggests, this would be disruptive to agriculture in some regions of the country," he said.

He said the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model (FASOM), created by researchers at Texas A&M University, does not take into account other provisions in the House-passed bill, which would boost farmers' income while they continue to produce food. Those omissions, he said, cause the model to overestimate the potential for increased forest planting.

Mr. Vilsack said he has directed his chief economist to work with the EPA to "undertake a review of the assumptions in the FASOM model, to update the model and to develop options on how best to avoid unintended consequences for agriculture that might result from climate change legislation."

The legislation would give free emissions credits, known as offsets, to farmers and landowners who plant forests and adopt low-carbon farm and ranching practices. Farmers and ranchers could sell the credits to help major emitters of greenhouse gases comply with the legislation. That revenue would help the farmers deal with an expected rise in fuel and fertilizer costs.

But the economic forecast predicts that nearly 80 percent of the offsets would be earned through the planting of trees, mostly in the Midwest, the South and the Plains states. The American Farm Bureau Federation and some farm-state Republican lawmakers have complained that the offsets program would push landowners to plant trees and terminate their leases with farmers. The model projects that reduced farm production will cause food prices to rise by 4.5 percent by 2050 compared with a scenario in which no legislation is passed, the department found.

A department spokesman declined to comment about how quickly the review would take place or whether Mr. Vilsack would revise the department's economic-impact projections.

The Senate has not taken action on climate legislation, although the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bill similar to the House's last month. That measure did not include agriculture provisions.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat and chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, has said she will hold hearings on climate provisions but has not indicated when those will take place.

The ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and his counterpart on the House Agriculture Committee, ranking Republican Rep. Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma, wrote to Mr. Vilsack and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson earlier this month to ask for new economic analyses of the House and Senate bills. "EPA's analysis was often cited during debate in the House of Representatives and the study had a great impact on the final vote. If there was a flaw in the analysis, then it would be prudent to correct the model and perform a more current and complete analysis on both [bills]," they wrote.

In a statement, the EPA said: "EPA looks forward to working with USDA and the designer of this particular computer model to continue improving the analytical tools that all of [us] use to predict the ways that different climate policies would affect agriculture."

Allison Specht, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said other studies have largely confirmed the results of the EPA and Agriculture Department analysis. "That's one of the realities of cap-and-trade legislation. The biggest bang for your buck for carbon credits is planting trees," she said.


Another Greenie industry in need of a handout

Large fuel cells at risk without U.S. aid. Fuel cells are not only of interest to Greenies but their "clean" energy gives them Greenie cred

The United States leads the world in manufacturing stationary fuel cells — large sources of clean energy — but the industry is warning Congress that the technology and expertise could be shipped overseas unless the federal government does more to encourage domestic production and use.

Stationary fuel cells are on-site power generators that emit almost no pollutants while producing energy. They are powerful enough to supply electricity, heating and air conditioning for a 1,000-room hotel, a 33,000-student college campus or large industrial structures such as the Pepperidge Farm plant in Connecticut and Sierra Nevada brewery in California.

The energy source is pricey, though, ranging in the millions of dollars per unit. Yet demand for the fuel cells in Japan and South Korea far outstrips domestic supply, partly because foreign governments provide tax incentives or subsidies to companies that import and use the stationary fuel cells. "We need legislation with provisions to promote deployment of fuel cells," said Bill Foster, vice president of government business development for FuelCell Energy Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of stationary fuel cells.

Mr. Foster said that including the industry among the many "green" technologies being supported by the federal government is critical to keeping jobs in the U.S. and ramping up the use of this clean energy supply. The Obama administration's main fuel cells focus has been on cars and buses, largely overlooking the stationary sources.

UTC Power, a division of United Technologies Corp. that manufactures stationary fuel cells, said the industry "needs the government to become a customer." "We need volume, we need customers, and I think the government could become a large consumer," said Michael Brown, vice president of government affairs and general counsel to UTC. "To have the government step up and say, 'We're going to buy 500 fuel cells a year' would jump-start the marketplace."

Mr. Foster said that his Danbury, Conn.-based company is working with Congress for special attention in upcoming bills. He asserts that allowing more energy from fuel cells to be counted as part of a federal renewable-electricity standard (RES) would also promote wider use. The standard is part of pending energy legislation and would mandate that a certain percentage of the nation's energy come from clean sources by a certain date. The proposed RES would only allow fuel-cell energy generated from qualified biofuel sources — not natural gas — to contribute to the standard.

In the meantime, in the absence of federal legislation to drive fuel-cell use, some states are using the federal Investment Tax Credit to promote the use of stationary fuel cells. California and Connecticut also have incentive programs that when coupled with the federal tax credit have helped expand the use of stationary fuel cells.

Mr. Brown said additional incentives and partnerships with energy companies and utilities also would benefit the young industry.

The industry is also targeting Connecticut lawmakers in Congress to include fuel-cell provisions in federal legislation. Mr. Foster said Democratic Rep. Christopher S. Murphy and Democratic Rep. John B. Larson have been fuel-cell champions because FuelCell Energy Inc. and UTC Power both have their headquarters in Connecticut.

Although the technology is commercially viable, it is still relatively unknown, posing a major roadblock for the industry, the industry asserts. Stationary fuel cells range in size, with some measuring about one-fourth the size of a tennis court. They are powered by biofuels — gasses from food processing, landfills and wastewater treatment — natural gas, ethanol, diesel and coal gas. The fuel cell is a combustion-free energy source, as it produces heat and electricity directly from chemical energy, somewhat like a battery. It also emits negligible amounts of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides as well as relatively small amounts of carbon dioxide compared to fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants.

Fuel cells are also a baseload power source and can compete with nuclear and coal-fired electricity to provide the minimum amount of power a utility must make available to its customers. In contrast, wind, solar and other renewable sources can only supply peak-load power, power largely demanded in the late afternoon when consumers return home from work.

The upfront capital cost to produce stationary fuel cells is high, so a larger customer pool, especially in the U.S., would help bring down the cost, the industry asserts.

FuelCell Energy Inc. has sold or has orders for 91 megawatts of stationary fuel cells, with 68 megawatts of that sold to South Korea. The company said it is fearful that without government help, the domestic manufacturing industry will be transferred to nations with a greater demand — a fate that already has befallen wind turbine and solar panel makers. UTC Power, a South Windsor, Conn.-based company, also produces stationary fuel cells that can heat and cool commercial buildings and fuel cells for transportation.


Fireplace fascism in California

Burn wood in the Bay Area, and your neighbors will rat you out and send inspectors to your door who will slap you with a fine. Even on Christmas Day. From the Contra Costa Times:
Bay Area air pollution inspectors found 47 violators burning wood fires illegally during Christmas Day's Spare the Air alert — which was declared because cold, unhealthful air had been forecast. Violators get written warnings for a first offense and $400 fines for a second offense.

"We know a lot of people like to burn on this holiday, but it's our duty to protect public health," said Ralph Borrmann, the spokesman.

It demonstrates once again that there is no limit to how intrusive and destructive government can become in the name of protecting from real or imaginary public threats to safety and health.


Australia: Paint roofs white, says "Green" mayor

FORGET painting the town red - Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wants Melbourne's roofs painted white. Cr Doyle believed slathering the tops of inner-city buildings with a white coating would make them cooler and more energy efficient, according to a report in the Herald Sun. He said the whitewash could reflect the sun's rays, reducing temperatures inside skyscrapers, apartment towers, shopping centres and other city structures.

Cr Doyle hit on the city-wide paint job idea after talking to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Copenhagen climate summit. Mayor Bloomberg recently launched a "Cool Roofs" pilot scheme backed by former vice-president and environment campaigner Al Gore. Volunteers in New York will daub 10,000sq/m of roof space white to reduce air-conditioner use.

Cr Doyle has asked Melbourne council officers to investigate how the scheme could be implemented here. "I think it is a real alternative for us," Cr Doyle said.

US President Barack Obama's green guru has encouraged Americans to consider white roofs for the environmental and economic benefits. The special reflective white surface is rolled or sprayed on roofs and dries like rubber. White roofs are easier and more affordable than roof-top gardens, which are also promoted as a way of reducing a city's carbon footprint.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Britain's major Leftist newspaper, The Guardian, is at least good for a laugh!

Britain's Guardianistas really do take the cake. They are so wrapped up in their own little fantasy world that they have no idea how absurd they can sound to others. For example: This article blames China for the now universally acknowledged "failure" of the Copenhagen climate conclave (There's a tongue-twister for you!).

As the writer himself acknowledges, it is an unwritten rule that the holier-than-thou crowd must never blame poor countries for anything. Only the "rich West" can do wrong. But apparently China is now rich and powerful enough to have lost that protection. So our climate apostle has got daring.

But the funny bit comes towards the end of his article when he concludes in sorrow and in anger that China is not playing the Guardianista game at all. He seems surprised that he has to conclude: "This is fast becoming China's century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower's freedom of action".

China is not interested in global governance! How awful! How concerning! How disillusioning! What is left? Fancy China wanting to run its own affairs! How can those nice Communists be so awful? It's all a terrible shock to a Guardianista!

The Guardian has its flock, however. My first wife (the first of four) has always been Left-leaning and she has just emailed me to tell me that she is now very angry with China! LOL! She would once have turned a deaf ear to any criticism of China.

It reminds me of Israel. For a couple of decades after WWII, the Left were supportive of Israel. But after Israel won the six-day war, that steadily eroded and Israel is now regarded with widespread hostility among Leftists. Leftists just hate other people doing well for themselves. They only like people that they can look down on and patronize. One of the reasons I support Israel is that it gives me pleasure to see other people doing well -- but that makes me a conservative, of course. No Leftist would understand that. I even think highly of Bill Gates!

Oh, Yes, Copenhagen

by Paul Greenberg

The other day a friend asked us if I'd written about the Copenhagen conference on climate change, carbon control, environmental technology, the ecological future of Spaceship Earth, cabbages and kings, and the 101 other Very Important Things covered by that huge, long-awaited and now suddenly fizzled international gabfest.

No, I hadn't written about it. Maybe because it ended not with a bang but with a whimper heard 'round the world: a flurry of non-binding agreements, aka vague misunderstandings. It was the biggest anticlimax since Geraldo the Great Rivera opened Al Capone's vault to find little more than dust. Any actual policies to come out of Copenhagen promise to be as empty.

To sum up the essential deal made at Copenhagen: The developed world sort of promises to give the undeveloped one $30 billion over the next three years -- plus $100 billion a year after 2020 -- in exchange for its separate but equally nebulous promise not to develop too quickly. As with Obamacare, the theoretical benefits are to come first, then the real pain by some always-delayable deadline. It's more convenient that way. Just charge it to some future generation.

Besides the cocksure confidence the delegates displayed in man's ability to reset the world's thermostat, this kind of deal-making in which no one takes the deal made very seriously was the one consistent thread in the tangled web woven at Copenhagen.

There is consolation to be taken in the grand fizzle at Copenhagen. For there is something worse than the conference's failure. And that would have been its success at slowing the world's economic recovery and so dooming still more in the Third World to the bitter fruits of abject poverty: more malnutrition, more disease, and more chaos and instability in general.

Doing nothing has certain advantages over doing the wrong thing, especially on a grand and confusing scale. Besides, the failure of this lavish conference means the delegates can now anticipate many more equally elaborate confabs around the world on the public's tab, complete with equally hyped media coverage and just as inconsequential results. Nice work -- or play -- if you can get it.

Maybe I hadn't written anything of substance about the grand conference at Copenhagen because it proved so insubstantial. My long established policy is, when I have nothing to say about a subject, I try not to say it. Maybe because I've read too many editorials over the years that, having nothing to say, make the grave mistake of saying it. At length. It doesn't exactly make for fascinating reading.

There were doubtless plenty of agreements made at Copenhagen but the major ones were non-binding. Those are the kind of deals that delegates embrace enthusiastically in their speeches but take care not to sign lest their countries be held to their word. They're the kind of oral agreements that the irrepressible Sam Goldwyn, Hollywood mogul and Mr. Malaprop himself, once described as not worth the paper they're written on. Or rather not written on.

Almost coincident with the grand conference at Copenhagen a treasure trove of leaked documents appeared out of the very center of global alarmism over climate change, the Climatic Research Unit of East Anglia University at Norwich, England, which is "widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change," according to its Web site. These days it's widely recognized as a center for the suppression of any and all dissenting views about the causes of global warming. If this is science, what would dogma be?

Conspiracies to suppress scientific dissent scarcely ended with Galileo's trial, but at least the church eventually repented and begged pardon. There is little if any sign that the wannabe Al Gores at East Anglia, more politicians than scientists, have been chastened by what's come to be known as Climategate. Instead, they have adopted a variation of the Dan Rather defense: falsified maybe but accurate.

Barack Obama's appearance at the last minute was the final, flashy touch at Copenhagen as he made much ado about much of nothing. The president hasn't demonstrated his diplomatic finesse so convincingly since he went to the same city not long ago to not get the Olympics for Chicago. Which may have been a blessing in disguise, too. (The traffic in the Loop is already bad enough.)

Naturally the president and his handlers came back from Copenhagen declaring a great victory -- Carbon Control in our Time! But surely even they didn't believe it. Certainly the Europeans didn't. As soon as the Grand Conference concluded, the market for carbon-control permits on the European continent dropped dramatically, as if investors were confirming that the countries represented at Copenhagen weren't serious about controlling carbon emissions. No poll is more reliable than the market, where people put their money where their opinions are. It's a great test of sincerity.

The final accord at Copenhagen didn't specify, not in writing, how much big countries like the United States and mainland China are now supposed to reduce their carbon emissions. Nor did the conference decide precisely how much all the other countries were going to sacrifice in order to clean up the world's climate. Just about the only thing the delegates could agree on was to jet off to the next world climate-change conference, which is already scheduled for Mexico City, the one sure effect of which will be to add still more carbon to the Earth's atmosphere.


Britain's official meteorologists goof again

In line with their Warmist ideology they keep predicting warm dry seasons -- but the weather fails to oblige

Met Office predictions of a mild winter have begun to fall flat as more snow is forecast in parts of Britain tomorrow and temperatures are expected to drop to below freezing over the New Year period. With many people heading back to work after the Christmas break, drivers were warned to take extra care.

Up to four inches of snow is forecast in the Midlands, and falls of up to a foot were predicted on higher ground in Wales. Passengers due to fly from Cardiff Airport today were advised to check flights were on schedule if there was snow.

The turn of the year is set to offer no respite with freezing conditions forecast across Britain. Temperatures are expected to plunge to minus 3C in most of England and Wales on Thursday night, New Year's Eve, and minus 8C in Scotland, with widespread snow showers also predicted. New Year's Day will also be chilly, with the northern half of Britain struggling to get above freezing during the day.

In October, the Met Office predicted Britain would have a mild winter, despite the inaccuracy of its “barbecue summer” forecast which drew strong criticism, after heavy rainfall saw the wettest July for almost 100 years. It said the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 were likely to be “milder than last year” and that there was an 85 per cent chance of normal or above average conditions. Preliminary forecasts for December predicted that temperatures would be above the 38.6F (3.7C) average.

However, after the predictions for the summer turned out to be inaccurate, the forecasters sounded a note of caution, saying there was still a “one in seven chance” of a cold winter. A Met Office spokesman said: “That forecast was dealing with the whole of the winter. December has certainly been cold but the prediction is for December, January and February.” He believed the “climate team” was updating the prediction “perhaps over the course of the next week.” The spokesman added: “It has certainly been a cold winter so far in most parts but the seasonal forecast has not been proven one way or the other.”

He said the weather was expected to remain cold for “the next week or so” but he could not comment on the longer term....

The Met Office defended its forecast of a “barbecue summer” and said its long term prediction was mainly accurate, in particular that temperatures would reach 30C.


The "Consistent With" Fallacy: How Not to Compare Predictions and Observations

Over at Real Climate there is a misleading post up about IPCC global temperature projections as compared with actual temperature observations, suggesting success where caution and uncertainty is a more warranted conclusion.

The scientists at Real Climate explain that to compare a prediction with observations one must assess whether the observations fall within a range defined as 95% of model realizations. In other words, if you run a model, or a set of models, 100 times, you would take the average of the 100 runs and plot the 95 individual runs closest to that average, and define that range as an "envelope" of projections. If observations fall within this envelope, they you would declare the projection to be a predictive success.

Imagine if a weather forecaster said that he ran a model 100 times and it showed that tomorrow's temperature was going to be between 25 and 75 degrees, with 95% confidence, with a "best estimate" of 50 degrees. If the temperature came in at 30 degrees you might compare it to the "best estimate" and say that it was a pretty poor forecast. If the weather forecast explained that the temperature was perfectly "consistent with" his forecast, you'd probably look for another forecaster. If the true uncertainty was actually between 25 and 75 degrees, then one might question the use of issuing a "best estimate."

Gavin Schmidt explains how this works in the context of the current "pause" (his words) in the increase in global average surface temperatures over the past 11 years (emphasis added):
The trend in the annual mean HadCRUT3v data from 1998-2009 (assuming the year-to-date is a good estimate of the eventual value) is 0.06+/-0.14 ºC/dec (note this is positive!). If you want a negative (albeit non-significant) trend, then you could pick 2002-2009 in the GISTEMP record which is -0.04+/-0.23 ºC/dec. The range of trends in the model simulations for these two time periods are [-0.08,0.51] and [-0.14, 0.55], and in each case there are multiple model runs that have a lower trend than observed (5 simulations in both cases). Thus ‘a model’ did show a trend consistent with the current ‘pause’. However, that these models showed it, is just coincidence and one shouldn’t assume that these models are better than the others. Had the real world ‘pause’ happened at another time, different models would have had the closest match.

Think about the logic of "consistent with" as used in this context. It means that the larger the model spread, the larger the envelope of projections, and the greater the chance that whatever is observed will in fact fall within that envelope. An alert reader points this out to Gavin in the comments:
I can claim I’m very accurate because my models predict a temperature between absolute zero and the surface temperature of the sun, but that error range is so large, it means I’m not really predicting anything.

Gavin says he agrees with this, which seems contrary to what he wrote in the post about 11-year trends. Elsewhere Gavin says such statistics are meaningful only for 15 years and longer. If so, then discussing them in terms of "consistency with" the model spread just illustrates how this methodology can retrieve a misleading signal from noise.

About 18 months ago I engaged in a series of exchanges with some in the climate modeling community on this same topic. The debate was frustrating because many of the climate scientists thought hat we were debating statistical methods, but from my perspective we were debating the methodology of forecast verification.

At that time I tried to illustrate the "consistent with" fallacy in the context of IPCC projections using the following graph. The blue curve shows a curve fit to 8-year surface temperature trends from 55 realizations from models used by IPCC (the fact that it was 8 years is irrelevant to this example). With the red curve I added 55 additional "realizations" produced from a random number generator. The blue dot shows the observations. Obviously, the observations are more "consistent with" the red curve than the blue curve. We can improve consistency by making worse predictions. There is obviously something wrong with this approach to comparing models and observations.

What should be done instead?

1. A specific prediction has to be identified when it is being made. A prediction in this case should be defined as the occurrence of some event in the future, that is to say, after the prediction is made. For the IPCC AR4 this might generously be defined as starting in 2001.

2. Pick a quantity to be forecast. This might be global average surface temperature as represented by GISS or CRU, the satellite lower tropospheric records, both or something else. But pick a quantity.

3. Decide in advance how you are going to define the uncertainty in your forecast. For instance, the IPCC presented an uncertainty range in its forecast in a manner differently than does Real Climate. Defining uncertainty is of critical importance.

For instance, eyeballing the Real Climate IPCC Figure one might be surprised to learn that had there been no temperature change from 1980 to 2010, this too would have been "consistent with" the model realization "envelope." While such uncertainty may in fact be an accurate representation of our knowledge of climate, it is certainly not how many climate scientists typically represent the certainty of their knowledge.

If any of 1, 2 or 3 above is allowed to vary and be selected in post-hoc fashion it sets the stage for selections of convenience that allow the evaluator to make choices that pretty much show whatever he wants to show.

4. A good place to start is simply with IPCC "best estimate" One can ask if observations fall above or below that value. Real Climate's post suggest that actual temperatures fall below that "best estimate."

5. You can then ask if falling below or above that value has any particular meaning with respect to the knowledge used to generate the forecast. To perform such an evaluation, you need a naive forecast, some baseline expectation against which you can compare your sophisticated forecast. In the case of global climate it might be a prediction of no temperature change or some linear fit to past trends. If the sophisticated method doesn't improve upon the naive baseline, you are not getting much value from that approach.

The bottom line is that with respect to #4 Real Climate shows that actual temperatures are running below a central estimate from the IPCC AR4 as well as below the various scenarios presented by Jim Hansen in 1988. What does this mean? Probably not much. But at the same time it should be obvious that this data should not be used as evidence to announce the successes of climate predictions, as Real Climate does: "the matches to observations are still pretty good, and we are getting to the point where a better winnowing of models dependent on their skill may soon be possible." Such over-hyping of the capabilities of climate science serves neither science nor policy particularly well. The reality is that while the human influence on the climate system is real and significant, predicting its effects for coming years and decades remains a speculative enterprise fraught with uncertainties and ignorance.


French carbon "leadership" crumples

France's new carbon emission tax ruled illegal -- too much corruption even for France

FRANCE'S new carbon emission tax, due to have gone into effect on Friday, has been ruled illegal by the country's constitutional court on the grounds it exempted too many polluters. The Conseil Constitutionnel struck down the tax as the exemptions "create a breach of the principle of (tax) equality."

It estimated that 93 per cent of industrial emissions outside of fuel use, including the emissions of more than 1000 of the country's most polluting industrial sites, would be exempt from the tax of 17 euros ($30) per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.

The ruling is a severe blow for President Nicolas Sarkozy as the measure was one of his flagship initiatives to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses that fuel climate change.

It also leaves the government scrambling to plug a hole of 4.1 billion euros ($6 billion) in the 2010 budget.


GROW UP, GREENS! Greenie founding father says we need nukes and G.M. crops

A BOOK REVIEW of "Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto" By Stewart Brand. Review by Bryan Appleyard, a journalist on 'The Sunday Times' of London

In 1968 Stewart Brand produced the first edition of the Whole Earth Catalog. It had a picture of the earth seen from space on the cover and inside were lists of useful tools for transforming the planet by distributing power to the people. I remember seeing it in bookshops. Thrilling and demanding, it called on me to join my generation. Like Woodstock, student demos, dope, tie-dyed T-shirts and improbably flared trousers, the Catalog told us we were different.

We were. But now different has become mainstream. The Catalog was, above all, Green. It treated the planet as a single, finite system whose contents could be catalogued. Now the whole world is Green and the Internet lists its contents. David Cameron and Ed Miliband believe what only doped-out freaks in sandals and Afghan coats believed in 1968. And so Stewart Brand returns to take stock.

Whole Earth Discipline is immensely entertaining, moving and slightly confusing. The confusion is twofold. First, Brand is an unreconstructed cataloguer. The book is, at one level, simply a list of developments in biotechnology, climate science, urbanisation, agriculture and so on. This tends to leave one wondering if these things do tie together in quite the way Brand says they do. Secondly, much of the book is about the author's changes of mind. He is now, for example, pro-nuclear power and genetically engineered foods. This is honourable but it does cast a slight shadow of doubt over his latest enthusiasms.

That said, the book brilliantly defines our present predicament - our need to deploy science to clean up the mess made by science. The modern world was made by burning half a trillion tons of carbon since the Industrial Revolution. The next half trillion will be burned in about forty years at present rates of increase. If that happens, then global temperatures will rise by up to 4 degrees and it is reasonable to assume, on the basis of current scientific thought, that our species' continued existence will be at risk.

As Brand, heavily influenced by James Lovelock, perceives, this means that the Greens are going to have to reverse some of their primary positions. In the giddy days of 1968, eco-awareness was an aspect of the ideological package that included resistance to the Vietnam War and to The System, often defined as the military-industrial complex. We wanted to get 'back to the garden', to a condition of pastoral simplicity. This pastoralism seemed to be the way to save Spaceship Earth and it still clings to the Green movement with its belief in organic foods, wind power and sustainability in general. None of this will work because climate change is happening too quickly.

'That means', writes Brand, 'that Greens are no longer strictly the defenders of natural systems against the incursions of civilization; now they're the defenders of civilization as well. It's a whiplash moment for everyone.'

Climate change really means Mother Nature is preparing to rid herself of humans. If we are to survive, we can no longer worship her, we must fight back with smart weapons. So we have to embrace nuclear - there is no other source of clean energy which can sustain our societies - and genetically engineered 'Frankenfoods'. Ideally, these would be synthesised in laboratories. Farming, as Lovelock has pointed out, is a planetary catastrophe, stripping out biodiversity and filling the atmosphere with the methane from cow farts.

The Green dream must thus become a very hi-tech dream rather than the muddy paradise of Woodstock. Brand's conversion to this view is the central drama of this book and it sends him off on a genial and enthusiastic safari through wild science and cool facts.

Did you know, for example, that only a tenth of the cells in your body are you? The rest are microbes - 'We are a portable swamp.' Did you know that Stora Enso in Sweden is the oldest surviving corporation? King Magnus IV granted its charter in 1347. Did you know that in a fifth of a teaspoon of seawater there are a million bacteria and ten million viruses? Well, now you do.

This is all good fun but the heart of the matter is the word 'ecopragmatist' in the subtitle. Brand's big point is that we must do what works without prejudice. Green prejudices have, in the past, often been on the wrong side of the argument. The campaign to get DDT banned because of its effects on birdlife, for example, may have cost the lives of 20 million children in Africa who were left to die of malaria. And The System we all hated in the Sixties and Seventies produced Norman Borlaug, the man behind the very capitalist Green Revolution - increased crop yields - which may have saved a billion lives.

Now the Greens are threatening to do more damage. They're suckers for anything labelled 'natural'. 'In the marketing world,' remarks Brand, '"natural" now means anything the seller wants to charge extra for or distract your attention with.'

They also resist nuclear power and persist in deluding people into thinking all we have to do is build wind farms and cycle to work. They also go on about the loss of the rainforest when, in fact, fifty-five times more is growing back each year than is being cut. Perhaps worst of all, for Brand, they advocate the Precautionary Principle which requires that any new technology has to be shown to do no harm. This is, of course, impossible. It is also self-fulfilling because it effectively prevents the testing of new technologies to establish risk. Greens have not escaped the pastoralism of their roots and thus find themselves not just on the side of nature, but on the side of nature against humans.

But Stewart Brand lives in hope and this is a very upbeat book. He plainly thinks we'll get there in the end. The Greens are going to have to grow up. This book should help get them out of the nursery.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Warmist foghorn George Monbiot admits that Warmism is really about changing people

It is just another variation on the old and arrogant Leftist aim of creating "a new Soviet man". Warmists and Leftists both hate the world they live in -- particularly its people. They are misanthropes. Monbiot's own headline on the article below reads: "This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity"

It's hard for a species used to ever-expanding frontiers, but survival depends on accepting we live within limits. This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become. It chooses whether to continue living as it has done, until it must make a wasteland of its home, or to stop and redefine itself. This is about much more than climate change. This is about us.

The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy. We are the universal ape, equipped with the ingenuity and aggression to bring down prey much larger than itself, break into new lands, roar its defiance of natural constraints. Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks.

The summit's premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accommodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow.

This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially by environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvellous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

I fear this chorus of bullies, but I also sympathise. I lead a mostly peaceful life, but my dreams are haunted by giant aurochs. All those of us whose blood still races are forced to sublimate, to fantasise. In daydreams and video games we find the lives that ecological limits and other people's interests forbid us to live.

Humanity is no longer split between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, though both sides are informed by the older politics. Today the battle lines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments and those who believe that we must live within limits. The vicious battles we have seen so far between greens and climate change deniers, road safety campaigners and speed freaks, real grassroots groups and corporate-sponsored astroturfers are just the beginning. This war will become much uglier as people kick against the limits that decency demands.

So here we are, in the land of Beowulf's heroics, lost in a fog of acronyms and euphemisms, parentheses and exemptions, the deathly diplomacy required to accommodate everyone's demands. There is no space for heroism here; all passion and power breaks against the needs of others. This is how it should be, though every neurone revolts against it.

Although the delegates are waking up to the scale of their responsibility, I still believe they will sell us out. Everyone wants his last adventure. Hardly anyone among the official parties can accept the implications of living within our means, of living with tomorrow in mind. There will, they tell themselves, always be another frontier, another means to escape our constraints, to dump our dissatisfactions on other places and other people. Hanging over everything discussed here is the theme that dare not speak its name, always present but never mentioned. Economic growth is the magic formula which allows our conflicts to remain unresolved.

While economies grow, social justice is unnecessary, as lives can be improved without redistribution. While economies grow, people need not confront their elites. While economies grow, we can keep buying our way out of trouble. But, like the bankers, we stave off trouble today only by multiplying it tomorrow. Through economic growth we are borrowing time at punitive rates of interest. It ensures that any cuts agreed at Copenhagen will eventually be outstripped. Even if we manage to prevent climate breakdown, growth means that it's only a matter of time before we hit a new constraint, which demands a new global response: oil, water, phosphate, soil. We will lurch from crisis to existential crisis unless we address the underlying cause: perpetual growth cannot be accommodated on a finite planet.

For all their earnest self-restraint, the negotiators in the plastic city are still not serious, even about climate change. There's another great unmentionable here: supply. Most of the nation states tussling at Copenhagen have two fossil fuel policies. One is to minimise demand, by encouraging us to reduce our consumption. The other is to maximise supply, by encouraging companies to extract as much from the ground as they can.

We know, from the papers published in Nature in April, that we can use a maximum of 60% of current reserves of coal, oil and gas if the average global temperature is not to rise by more than two degrees. We can burn much less if, as many poorer countries now insist, we seek to prevent the temperature from rising by more than 1.5C. We know that capture and storage will dispose of just a small fraction of the carbon in these fuels. There are two obvious conclusions: governments must decide which existing reserves of fossil fuel are to be left in the ground, and they must introduce a global moratorium on prospecting for new reserves. Neither of these proposals has even been mooted for discussion.

But somehow this first great global battle between expanders and restrainers must be won and then the battles that lie beyond it – rising consumption, corporate power, economic growth – must begin. If governments don't show some resolve on climate change, the expanders will seize on the restrainers' weakness. They will attack – using the same tactics of denial, obfuscation and appeals to self-interest – the other measures that protect people from each other, or which prevent the world's ecosystems from being destroyed. There is no end to this fight, no line these people will not cross. They too are aware that this a battle to redefine humanity, and they wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.


Democrats pose threat to President Obama’s cap-and-trade climate Bill

Less than ten days after claiming a breakthrough on climate change in Copenhagen President Obama is facing a mutiny from senior Democrats who are imploring him to postpone or even abandon his cap-and-trade Bill.

Democratic Senators, fearful of a drubbing in the mid-term elections next year, are lining up to argue for alternatives to the scheme that is the centrepiece of the carbon reduction proposals that Mr Obama hopes to sign into law. With the Congressional battles over Mr Obama’s healthcare reforms fresh in their memory senior Democrats are asking the Administration to postpone the next big climate change push until at least 2011.

Senators from Louisiana, Indiana, Nebraska and North Dakota, some with powerful energy companies among their constituents, are falling out of love with the idea of a large-scale cap-and-trade scheme — which seeks to allocate tradeable permits to major polluters — in favour of less ambitious proposals that put jobs and the economy first.

Each of their Senate votes is vital for any climate change Bill to have a chance of being passed, and a firm American commitment to cap and trade is essential for similar carbon reduction mechanisms to be effective on a global scale.

Asked if she has urged the White House to abandon cap and trade — at least until after the mid-terms — Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana told the Politico website yesterday: “I am communicating that in every way I know how.”

At least five other high-ranking Democrats have lobbied the Administration in similar terms. Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota said that winning passage of climate change legislation in an election year had “very poor prospects”, and Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska said that he would “just as soon see [climate change] set aside until we work through the economy”.

Even more significant — as indicators of the majority party’s resolve to pass climate change legislation in the face of almost unanimous Republican opposition — were remarks from Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, and John Kerry, the Massachusetts Senator who is in the process of drafting a climate change Bill favoured by the White House.

“At this point, I’d like to see a complete Bill but we have to be realistic,” Senator Durbin said. Senator Kerry, speaking at the Copenhagen climate conference this month, said: “I can’t tell you the method or the means by which we might price carbon. We haven’t resolved that issue yet.”

Proponents of cap and trade argue that allowing polluters to trade carbon permits gives them a powerful incentive to emit less than the maximum imposed by the cap — and ensures that these emission reductions are achieved by the most cost-effective means available, whether by investing in new, clean technology at home, or in offsetting schemes in developing economies where greater reductions can be achieved per dollar spent.

Critics of the system point to teething problems in the European pilot scheme, begun under the auspices of the Kyoto Protocol, when the price of carbon collapsed because of excessive free allocations of carbon permits to big, politically connected polluters such as the power generation industry.

Mr Obama has been a personal convert to cap and trade since witnessing the success of a scheme limited to the control of sulphur dioxide emissions in the 1990s. The creation of a market in tradeable sulphur dioxide permits cut emissions of the gas so swiftly that the acid rain it produces has disappeared from the Midwest as a serious environmental issue.

Congress will return from its winter break with healthcare reform unfinished, Democrats wary of any new proposals that can be presented as a further burden on the economy and Republicans eager to depict cap and trade as just such a burden.

The official position of the White House remains that “a cap-and-trade mechanism is the best way to achieve the most cost-effective reductions” — but it is not yet embedded firmly in the Senate Bill being drafted by Senators Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman.

That Bill is one of nine competing proposals before the Senate and while most Democrats can be relied on to support it, a half-dozen defectors would leave the party short of the 60-vote majority that they need to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Senator Graham, a Republican, has said that he believes others from his party can be won over. If so, they have gone to ground.

Senator John McCain, once a vocal supporter of cap and trade, now wants huge federal backing for the nuclear industry in return for his vote. Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska has called the scheme “a death sentence” for farming.

Mr Obama put his political prestige on the line in Copenhagen to reach agreement on a pact to curb carbon emissions while trying to shore up his domestic flank amid rising scepticism about a new climate Bill in the US.

He declined to offer new sweeteners to get a deal, rebuked China’s reluctance to allow outside scrutiny of action on greenhouse-gas emissions and warned developing states that they could forget aid that had no strings attached.


Who's in denial now?

By Kenneth P. Green (Former IPCC reviewer Kenneth P. Green, has his doctorate in environmental science and engineering)

Responses to "Climategate"--the leaked e-mails from Britain's University of East Anglia and its Climatic Research Unit -- remind me of the line "Are your feet wet? Can you see the pyramids? That's because you're in denial."

Climate catastrophists like Al Gore and the UN's Rajendra Pachauri are downplaying Climategate: it's only a few intemperate scientists; there's no real evidence of wrongdoing; now let's persecute the whistleblower. In Calgary, the latest fellow trying to use the Monty Python "nothing to see here, move along" routine is Prof. David Mayne Reid, who penned a column last week denying the importance of Climategate.

Unfortunately for Reid, old saws won't work in the Internet age: Climategate has blazed across the Internet, blogosphere, and social networking sites. Even environmentalist and writer George Monbiot has recognized that the public's perception of climate science will be damaged extensively, calling for one of the Climategate ringleaders to resign.

What's catastrophic about Climategate is that it reveals a science as broken as Michael Mann's hockey stick, which despite Reid's protestations, has been shown to be a misleading chart that erases a 400-year stretch of warm temperatures (called the Medieval Warm Period), and a more recent little ice-age that ended in the mid-1800s. No amount of hand-waving will restore the credibility of climate science while holding onto rubbish like that.

Climategate reveals skulduggery the general public can understand: that a tightly-linked clique of scientists were behaving as crusaders. Their letters reveal they were working in what they repeatedly labelled a "cause" to promote a political agenda.

That's not science, that's a crusade. When you cherry-pick, discard, nip, tuck, and tape disparate bits of data into the most alarming portrayal you can in the name of a "cause," you're not engaged in science, but in the production of propaganda. And this clique tried to subvert the peer-review process as well. They attempted to prevent others from getting into peer reviewed journals -- thus letting them claim skeptic research wasn't peer-reviewed -- a convenient circular (and dishonest) way to discredit skeptics.

Finally, people know that a fish rots from its head. The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia was considered the top climate research community. It was the source of a vast swath of the information then that was funnelled into the supposedly "authoritative" reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If scientific objectivity is corrupt at the top, there's every reason to think that the rot spreads through the entire body. And evidence suggests it has. A Russian think-tank recently revealed the climate temperature record compiled by the Climatic Research Unit cherry-picked data from only 25 per cent of Russia's climate monitoring sites, the sites closest to urban areas, biased by the urban heat island effect. The stations excluded data from 40 per cent of Russia's total land mass, which is 12.5 per cent of all the Earth's land mass.

Reid's indignation about Climategate is beyond ludicrous. "It is wrong," intones Reid, "to castigate people for things said in private, and often taken out of context." He equates the response to Climategate with a "lynch mob." Funny, the professor seems to have highly selective indignation; he is apparently unaware of the unremitting attacks on people skeptical of climate science or policy by climate scientists and politicians.

People skeptical of any aspect of climate change have long been called "deniers," an odious linkage with Holocaust denial, and various luminaries have called for them to be drowned, jailed, and tried for crimes against humanity. One prominent columnist called skepticism treason against the very Earth itself.

As for indignation about the release of private correspondence, where was Reid's indignation when Greenpeace, looking for something to spin into an incriminating picture, stole skeptic Chris Horner's trash? Where was his indignation a few years ago when scientist Steve Schroeder showed a routine letter of mine to another climate scientist (Andrew Dessler), who posted it to the Internet where it was spun into the scurrilous accusation that I was trying to bribe UN scientists? Reid's indignation is the chutzpah of a man who kills his family then wants pity because he's an orphan.

The Climategate scandal, like others in biology and medicine erodes the credibility of both the scientists involved, and the institution of scientific research. And it should: it has become evident that there is a lot of rot going on in the body of science, and too little effort made to fix it.

A start could be made. They should start by practicing the scientific method: release all data, and release all assumptions and methods used to process the data at the time of publication. Make it available to researchers (even lay researchers) who are outside the clique so the work can be checked. Had the researchers involved in Climategate done this from the beginning, instead of circling their wagons and refusing to allow outsiders to check their work, they would have taken less hectoring. As a bonus for them, Climategate would never have happened.


Get the U.N. Out of the Climate Business

The political theater in Copenhagen shows that we need realistic answers that don't require economic suicide to the challenge of rising global temperatures


In the aftermath of the Copenhagen Climate conference, it is clear that the United Nations-driven process is a bust, and that any similar process requiring economic suicide and massive wealth transfers will go nowhere. It is long since time to drop this charade, take the question of climate change out of the hands of the U.N., and implement more reasonable policies.

Fostering the resilience of societies around the world in case climate disaster strikes would be a start. Central to this process is for governments to stop making things worse, as they do when they subsidize risk-taking.

One reason that predicted damages from rising sea-levels and more powerful storms are so high is because of the popularity of coastal locales for high-density business and upscale residential development. As a result, damages from extreme coastal weather events have been fantastically expensive. The damages from Hurricane Katrina for example, reached over $150 billion. The question, however, is why there was so much value that was so badly protected against completely predictable events? Why were levees and sea-walls so under-designed? Why were so many houses and businesses uninsured? As Charles Perrow observes in "The Next Catastrophe," "Even in areas known to be hazardous, only about 20% of homeowners purchase flood insurance, and less than 50% of businesses purchase flood and earthquake insurance in risky areas."

In many cases, the answer is that governments stand as insurance stop-gaps, allowing the uninsured to depend on grants to rebuild in vulnerable areas should disaster strike, or otherwise cushioning the real costs of exposure to extreme weather.

Researchers at the Wharton Risk Center observed in a 2007 paper: "Highly subsidized premiums or premiums artificially compressed by regulations, without clear communication on the actual risk facing individuals and businesses, encourage development of hazard-prone areas in ways that are costly to both the individuals who locate there (when the disaster strikes) as well as others who are likely to incur some of the costs of bailing out victims following the next disaster (either at a state level through ex post residual market assessments or through federal taxes in the case of federal relief or tax breaks).

Stripping government measures from the risk market would help reveal the real costs of building in disaster-prone areas, and likely encourage development in more stable locales.

Another near-term option is privatization of infrastructure. Governments are quite good at building infrastructure. After all, what politician doesn't enjoy a ribbon-cutting ceremony for some new element of name-bearing infrastructure? But governments are dismal at maintaining infrastructure. They rarely establish revenue streams to keep up with repairs, nor do they set up systems to provide feedback on whether a particular road should be raised, or power-capability increased, or a water-treatment facility expanded. Roadways, electricity infrastructure, water-treatment infrastructure, and flood-control infrastructure would all benefit from such systems—the kind that private owners have an incentive to develop, since ensuring that future changes in climate do not disrupt their long-run cash flow is critical to their current financial performance.

Over the mid-term, we should consider the proposal of Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist, who has suggested what he calls a Tropical Tropospheric Temperature (T3) tax—that is, taxing carbon dioxide emissions based on changes in the global average temperature. Ideally, this would be a revenue-neutral tax with all revenues rebated to the public in the form of reduced distortionary taxes, such as income tax.

A T3 tax has the advantage that should be attractive to both global warming skeptics and those who fear Climageddon: If temperatures remain low, as skeptics believe, the tax will stay low. If temperatures rise sharply, the tax will rise also, and incentives will grow to decarbonize energy systems around the world. Carbon taxes are a vastly superior policy option when compared either to cap-and-trade, or command-and-control regulation. Indexing the tax to the temperature of the atmosphere that shows anthropogenic change most clearly is only common sense. Mr. McKitrick suggests starting out small with something politically innocuous, on the order of 10 to15 cents per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

In the long term, we should trust in resilience and a carbon price, but tie up our camel. We should insure against the possibility that temperatures rise toward the higher-end scenarios of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by speeding the development of a robust geoengineering tool box, with multiple techniques that have been tested long before they might be needed. Such research should be accelerated now, to give us an insurance policy against the calamity predictions. There is at least one well-known mechanism by which Mother Nature cools the planet, and that is when volcanic eruptions launch sulfur dioxide high into the atmosphere, brightening clouds, and increasing their reflectivity. Some scientists have estimated that this could be done extremely inexpensively without harmful environmental impacts.

What went on in Copenhagen was more political theater than an effort to think about realistic approaches to managing the risk of climate change, whether man-made or natural. The world would be better off with a fresh start and a process that isn't run by U.N. bureaucrats for whom every problem is an excuse to expand their power.


The New Climate Litigation

How about if we sue you for breathing?

Fresh from the fiasco in Copenhagen and with a failure in the U.S. Senate looming this coming year, the climate-change lobby is already shifting to Plan B, or is it already Plan D? Meet the carbon tort. Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that's not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under "nuisance" laws.

A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. "My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions," Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. "We're trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature."

Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn't suing to right a wrong. He admits that he's suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public's elected representatives choose.

Cap and trade or a global treaty like the one that collapsed in Copenhagen would be destructive—but at least either would need the assent of a politically accountable Congress. The Obama Administration's antidemocratic decision to impose carbon regulation via the Environmental Protection Agency would be even more destructive—but at least it would be grounded in an existing law, the 1977 Clean Air Act, however misinterpreted. The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.

And now that you mention it, the U.S. appeals courts seem more than ready to arrogate to themselves this power. In September, the Second Circuit allowed Mr. Blumenthal's suit to proceed, while a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court's dismissal of the Katrina case in October. An en banc hearing is now under consideration.

But global warming is, well, global: It doesn't matter whether ubiquitous CO2 emissions come from American Electric Power or Exxon—or China. "There is no logical reason to draw the line at 30 defendants as opposed to 150, or 500, or even 10,000 defendants," says David Rivkin, an attorney at Baker Hostetler and a contributor to our pages, in an amicus brief in the Katrina case. "These plaintiffs—and any others alleging injury by climatic phenomena—would have standing to assert a damages claim against virtually every entity and individual on the planet, since each 'contributes' to global concentrations of carbon dioxide."

In other words, the courts would become a venue for a carbon war of all against all. Not only might businesses sue to shackle their competitors—could we sue the New York Times for deforestation?—but judges would decide the remedies against specific defendants. In practice this would mean ad hoc command-and-control regulation against any industries that happen to catch the green lobby's eye.

Carbon litigation without legislation is one more way to harm the economy, and the rule of law. We hope the Fifth Circuit will have the good sense to deflect this damaging legal theory before it crash-lands at the Supreme Court.



Three current articles below:

Man dying because of Warmist laws

As his health begins to fail, protesting farmer Peter Spencer swore yesterday he would die before giving in to a Federal Government decision to make his farm a carbon sink. That vow came as his four children and newborn grandchild arrived in Canberra from the US to support the 58-year-old on day 37 of the protest, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Mr Spencer, who is chained to a wind tower more than 20m above ground, claims the government declared his property in Shannons Flat, north of Cooma, a carbon sink without offering any compensation. He says the move has left him unable to earn a living because he cannot clear land and redevelop the farm, and he is demanding a personal meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss the issue.

Aaron, Emma, Kahn and Sarah Spencer, who were all raised on the property, arrived home on Christmas Day and intend to stay until January 8. Sarah, 30, a registered nurse in her adopted home of Grand Rapids, Michigan, planned to examine her father yesterday after introducing him to her four-month-old son Saxon. "I've got my stethoscope and blood pressure cuff so I want to assess him," the farmer's daughter said. "I want to listen to his lungs, check his blood pressure and look at the swelling on his ankles. The problem is even if I tell him that I think he's coming down with pneumonia or that his kidneys are weakening ... he won't come down.

"It's heartbreaking ... but he's still very much with it mentally and is the same father we've always known. I just don't know how quickly he'll deteriorate. We're going to support him. He will come down if [Mr Rudd] makes an agreement or he'll die waiting." Aaron and Kahn climbed the tower to give their father warm clothes and helped set up a tent to protect him from heavy rainfall.

A spokesperson for Mr Rudd yesterday said the Government had "urged" Mr Spencer to stop the protest. "The Agriculture Minister responded to Mr Spencer's letter on the Prime Minister's behalf, however the Government believes this matter should be settled through the legal system and urges Mr Spencer in the strongest possible terms to end his protest and seek medical attention," the spokesperson said. "The Government sets policy in the national interest. This policy will not be changed by threats of violence or self-harm."


More evidence that CO2 is not the culprit for warming

By Michael Asten (Michael Asten is a professorial fellow in the school of geosciences at Monash University, Melbourne)

THE Copenhagen climate change summit closed two weeks ago in confusion, disagreement and, for some, disillusionment. When the political process shows such a lack of unanimity, it is pertinent to ask whether the science behind the politics is as settled as some participants maintain.

Earlier this month (The Australian, December 9) I commented on recently published results showing huge swings in atmospheric carbon dioxide, both up and down, at a time of global cooling 33.6 million years ago.

Paul Pearson and co-authors in a letter (The Weekend Australian, December 11) took exception to my use of their data and claimed I misrepresented their research, a claim I reject since I quoted their data (the veracity of which they do not contest) but offered an alternative hypothesis, namely that the present global warming theory (which was not the subject of their study) is inconsistent with the CO2-temperature variations of a past age.

Some senior scientists, who are adherents of orthodox global warming theory, do not like authors publishing data that can be used to argue against orthodoxy, a point made by unrelated authors with startling clarity in the Climategate leaked emails from the University of East Anglia.

In the scientific method, however, re-examination of data and formulation of alternative hypotheses is the essence of scientific debate. In any case, the debate on the link between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature will continue since it is not dependent on a single result.

Another example is a study by Richard Zeebe and colleagues, published in Nature Geoscience, of a release of CO2 and an increase in temperature 55 million years ago. At this time there was an increase in global temperature of between 5C and 9C, from a temperature regime slightly warmer than today's (that I will call moderate Earth) to greenhouse temperatures. It can be argued this example may have a message for humanity because the rate of release of CO2 into the atmosphere at the time of this warming was of a similar order to the rate of anthropogenic release today.

However, the analogy turns out to be incomplete when the data is compared with present estimates of climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2, and Zeebe and his colleagues conclude that the large temperature increase cannot be explained by our existing understanding of CO2 temperature linkage. Indeed, they write, "our results imply a fundamental gap in our understanding of the amplitude of global warming associated with large and abrupt climate perturbations. This gap needs to be filled to confidently predict future climate change."

I argue there are at least two possible hypotheses to explain the data in this study: either the link between atmospheric CO2 content and global temperature increase is significantly greater (that is, more dangerous) than the existing models show or some mechanism other than atmospheric CO2 is a significant or the main factor influencing global temperature.

The first hypothesis is consistent with climate change orthodoxy. Recent writings on climate sensitivity by James Hansen are consistent with it, as was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its pre-Copenhagen update, The Copenhagen Diagnosis.

Indeed, the 26 authors of the IPCC update went a step further, and encouraged the 46,000 Copenhagen participants with the warning: "A rapid carbon release, not unlike what humans are causing today, has also occurred at least once in climate history, as sediment data from 55 million years ago show. This `Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum' brought a major global warming of 5C, a detrimental ocean acidification and a mass extinction event. It serves as a stark warning to us today."

We have to treat such a warning cautiously because, as Pearson and his colleagues pointed out in their letter two weeks ago, "We caution against any attempt to derive a simple narrative linking CO2 and climate on these large time scales. This is because many other factors come into play, including other greenhouse gases, moving continents, shifting ocean currents, dramatic changes in ocean chemistry, vegetation, ice cover, sea level and variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun."

Sound science also requires us to consider the second of the above two hypotheses. Otherwise, if we attempt to reconcile Zeebe's observation by inferring climate sensitivity to CO2 is greater than that used for current models, how do we explain Pearson's observation of huge swings in atmospheric CO2, both up and down, which appear poorly correlated with temperatures cooling from greenhouse Earth to moderate Earth?

The two geological results discussed both show some discrepancies between observation and model predictions. Such discrepancies do not in any sense reduce the merit of the respective authors' work; rather they illustrate a healthy and continuing process of scientific discovery.

In addition, unrelated satellite data analyses published in the past two years by physicist David Douglass and distinguished atmospheric scientist John Christy in two journals, International Journal of Climatology and Earth and Environment, provide observational evidence that climate sensitivity associated with CO2 is less than that used in present climate modelling, by a factor of about three.

Thus we have two geological examples and two satellite data studies pointing towards a lesser role of CO2 in global warming. This argument does not discount the reality of global warming during the past century or the potential consequences should it continue at the same rate, but it does suggest we need a broader framework in considering our response.

The Copenhagen summit exposed intense political differences in proposals to manage global warming. Scientists are also not unanimous in claiming to understand the complex processes driving climate change and, more important, scientific studies do not unambiguously point to a single solution. Copenhagen will indeed prove to be a historic meeting if it ushers in more open-minded debate.


Warmist bribes will cost the country dearly

It is no surprise that the government doesn't count on the altruism of the Australian voter in framing policies. Rather, it relies on providing favours to powerful constituencies to buy support. Nowhere is this clearer than in its proposed emissions trading scheme, with the government strenuously proclaiming that 70 per cent of households will be "more than compensated" for any adverse effects. Generous compensation also will be provided to business.

Far from the "hard reform" the Prime Minister keeps announcing, what is promised is therefore a painless warm glow. That promise is, of course, too good to be true. In fact, the compensation, far from offsetting the harm, will add to it. This flows from some basic properties of taxes on "bads", such as pollution.

In theory, these are the most efficient taxes, for they raise revenue not by distorting market choices but by correcting them. However, these taxes typically raise a great deal of revenue relative to the change they purport to make. This is because while the tax is collected on every unit, the overall fall in output of the bad is small. In the case of the ETS, each emission requires the purchase of a permit, but each year total emissions fall by only a few per cent. As a result, how a tax on a bad affects efficiency depends to a large extent on what is done with the revenues. When those revenues are wasted or used to distort markets, society is worse off, even if the harm done by the bad is reduced.

In the proposed ETS, there is the Swiss cheese of payments to polluters, aimed at buying the acquiescence of a business community that, for more than a century, has more than made up in rent-seeking prowess for all it lacks in insight and backbone. These payments will distort economic activity for decades to come. For example, firms that obtain free permits cannot sell them on exit from the industry. This encourages them to continue to operate even if their output could be more cheaply supplied by others.

The compensation to households is even worse. Those payments will be income-based, phasing out as income rises. This will increase marginal tax rates that are already high, with the lost compensation meaning that each additional dollar in pre-tax earning could translate into less than 60c of take-home pay. Combined with the increase in prices relative to wages caused by the ETS itself, the effect will be to reduce the incentive to work. If this departs from self-interest, it is not out of altruism but folly.

How great are the resulting costs? Unfortunately, none of the distortions arising from the compensation package are captured in the published Treasury modelling. As a result, that modelling provides little guidance as to the efficiency effects of the ETS.

This is not to suggest that a pure ETS, pristine in its underlying economic intent, is politically possible. What it does mean is that the comparison to be made is not between a textbook ETS and less perfect alternatives. Rather, it is between an ETS mired in sordid deals and other options that may be better or worse.

Were altruism to break out, goals such as reducing emissions might be achieved without give-aways and concessions. We know tragically little about how to produce some of life's most important goods, such as mutual respect, tolerance and a genuine interest in the welfare of others. Until that secret is unlocked, government interventions will be shaped by rent-seeking and will often impose costs far greater than its benefits.

Business's search for handouts has long been a primary factor in this respect. Environmental fundamentalism adds dangerous impetus to the pressures. As the ETS shows, our political system, under the guise of public beneficence, panders all too readily to these single-issue voters, while shifting costs around, including on to future generations, in ways that are as opaque and inequitable as they are inefficient.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


Monday, December 28, 2009

More Warmist pseudo science: "CO2 unleashes more warming than thought"

They assume what they have to prove: That CO2 is the cause of warming. And they are supposed to be paleoclimatologists -- yet paleoclimate data indicate that CO2 rises FOLLOWED temperature rises -- so could not be the cause of the temperature rises. The study is no more than a grovel to the established faith. It is not science

Carbon dioxide indirectly causes up to 50 percent more global warming than originally thought, a finding that raises questions over targets for stabilising carbon emissions over the long term, a study said on Sunday. In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, British scientists said a tool commonly used in climate modelling may have badly underlooked the sensitivity of key natural processes to the warming caused by CO2. As a result, calculations for man-made global warming on the basis of carbon emissions may be underpitched by between 30 and 50 percent, they said.

The study was coincidentally published on the eve of a 12-day UN conference in Copenhagen aimed at providing a durable solution to the greenhouse-gas problem. The authors stressed that the more-than-expected warming would unfold over a matter of hundreds of years, rather than this century. The findings do not mean that the predictions for temperature rise by 2100, established notably by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), should be rewritten, they said. "We don't want to be overly alarmist here," said lead author Dan Lunt of Britain's University of Bristol. "But if people are thinking about stabilising CO2 at a certain atmospheric level, or putting together a treaty, or having a debate about what the levels should be, it really is important to know what the long-term consequences of those emissions are going to be, because CO2 hangs around for so long."

Lunt and colleagues decided to test a widely-used climate model on an epoch called the mid-Pliocene warm period, about three million years ago, when Earth heated up in response to natural processes. Cores drilled from ocean sediment provide a good idea about atmospheric carbon levels and temperature at the time. What the team found, though, was that the CO2 levels in the Pliocene -- around 400 parts per million (ppm) -- were not consistent with the warming, which was around three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than today.

The difference could only [ONLY??] be fully explained by the long-term loss of icesheets and and changes in vegetation, says the paper. These changes cause Earth's surface to absorb more solar radiation, which causes more warming, and so on.

When applied to what awaits us this century, the adjusted model suggests that nothing significantly different will happen compared to what has already been estimated. "In that time scale, we don't think the Greenland icesheet is going to melt completely or that East Antarctica will melt. That was what we saw in the model for three million years ago, but it is unlikely to take place in the next century," said Lunt.

Where it poses a dilemma, though, is how to fix a target for stabilising CO2 emissions so that future generations, centuries from now, are not hit by this long-term warming mechanism. A popular goal is to limit warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C (3.6 F), a figure that in mainstream climate models typically equates to about 450 ppm. At present, Earth's CO2 concentrations are at around 387 ppm.

Lunt says that today's level may already be too high in this context. "Our work says that at 400 parts per million, you are looking at more than two degrees C [3.6 F]. "To stabilise at two degrees C, you would have to aim for something like 380 ppm. But remember, this is the sort of level that applies if you want a long-term commitment that goes on for centuries, for generations to come."


Cap and Trade: An expensive Federal license will be required to sell your home

We encourage you to read the provisions of the Cap and Trade Bill that has passed the House of Representatives and being considered by the Senate. We are ready to join the next march on Washington! This Congress and whoever on their staffs that write this junk are truly out to destroy the middle class of the USA....

Thinking about selling your house - A look at H.R. 2454 (Cap and trade bill) This is unbelievable! Only the beginning from this administration! Home owners take note & tell your friends and relatives who are home owners!

Beginning 1 year after enactment of the Cap and Trade Act, you won't be able to sell your home unless you retrofit it to comply with the energy and water efficiency standards of this Act. H.R. 2454, the "Cap & Trade" bill passed by the House of Representatives, if also passed by the Senate, will be the largest tax increase any of us has ever experienced.

The Congressional Budget Office (supposedly non-partisan) estimates that in just a few years the average cost to every family of four will be $6,800 per year.

* No one is excluded. However, once the lower classes feel the pinch in their wallets, you can be sure these voters get a tax refund (even if they pay no taxes at all) to offset this new cost. Thus, you Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class America will have to pay even more since additional tax dollars will be needed to bail out everyone else.

But wait. This awful bill (that no one in Congress has actually read) has many more surprises in it. Probably the worst one is this:

* A year from now you won't be able to sell your house. Yes, you read that right. The caveat is (there always is a caveat) that if you have enough money to make required major upgrades to your home, then you can sell it. But, if not, then forget it. Even pre-fabricated homes ("mobile homes") are included.

* In effect, this bill prevents you from selling your home without the permission of the EPA administrator.

* To get this permission, you will have to have the energy efficiency of your home measured.

* Then the government will tell you what your new energy efficiency requirement is and you will be forced to make modifications to your home under the retrofit provisions of this Act to comply with the new energy and water efficiency requirements.

* Then you will have to get your home measured again and get a license (called a "label" in the Act) that must be posted on your property to show what your efficiency rating is; sort of like the Energy Star efficiency rating label on your refrigerator or air conditioner.

* If you don't get a high enough rating, you can't sell. And, the EPA administrator is authorized to raise the standards every year, even above the automatic energy efficiency increases built into the Act.

The EPA administrator, appointed by the President, will run the Cap & Trade program (AKA the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009") and is authorized to make any future changes to the regulations and standards he alone determines to be in the government's best interest. Requirements are set low initially so the bill will pass Congress; then the Administrator can set much tougher new standards every year.

* The Act itself contains annual required increases in energy efficiency for private and commercial residences and buildings.

* However, the EPA administrator can set higher standards at any time.


Sect. 202: Building Retrofit Program mandates a national retrofit program to increase the energy efficiency of all existing homes across America .

Beginning 1 year after enactment of the Act, you won't be able to sell your home unless you retrofit it to comply with the energy and water efficiency standards of this Act.

You had better sell soon, because the standards will be raised each year and will be really hard (i.e., ex$pen$ive) to meet in a few years. Oh, goody! The Act allows the government to give you a grant of several thousand dollars to comply with the retrofit program requirements if you meet certain energy efficiency levels. But, wait, the State can set additional requirements on who qualifies to receive the grants.

You should expect requirements such as "can't have an income of more than $50K per year", "home selling price can't be more than $125K", or anything else to target the upper middle class (and that's YOU) and prevent them from qualifying for the grants. Most of us won't get a dime and will have to pay the entire cost of the retrofit out of our own pockets. More transfer of wealth, more "change you can believe in."

Sect. 204: Building Energy Performance Labeling Program establishes a labeling program that for each individual residence will identify the achieved energy efficiency performance for "at least 90 percent of the residential market within 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act."

This means that within 5 years 90% of all residential homes in the U.S. must be measured and labeled. The EPA administrator will get $50M each year to enforce the labeling program. The Secretary of the Department of Energy will get an additional $20M each year to help enforce the labeling program. Some of this money will, of course, be spent on coming up with tougher standards each year.

Oh, the label will be like a license for your car. You will be required to post the label in a conspicuous location in your home and will not be allowed to sell your home without having this label. And, just like your car license, you will probably be required to get a new label every so often - maybe every year. But, the government estimates the cost of measuring the energy efficiency of your home should only cost about $200 each time.

Remember what they said about the auto smog inspections when they first started: that in California it would only cost $15. That was when the program started. Now the cost is about $50 for the inspection and certificate; a 333% increase. Expect the same from the home labeling program.

Sect. 304: Greater Energy Efficiency in Building Codes establishes new energy efficiency guidelines for the National Building Code and mandates at 304(d), Application of National Code to State and Local Jurisdictions, that 1 year after enactment of this Act, all state and local jurisdictions must adopt the National Building Code energy efficiency provisions or must obtain a certification from the federal government that their state and/or local codes have been brought into full compliance with the National Building Code energy efficiency standards.


Taxpayer Robbery Gate

Aside from ideologues, hydrocarbon haters, Gaia worshipers, profiteers and power-grabbing politicians, most of the sentient world now realizes that the hysteria over global warming disasters is based on dubious to fraudulent temperature data, analyses, models, reports and peer reviews.

Climate Research Unit emails, HARRY_READ_ME.txt computer memos, and blatant tampering with Australian, Russian, UK and US temperature data make the scandal impossible to ignore or explain away. They certainly helped Copenhagen descend into an expensive, carbon-emitting gabfest, and cause China and India to reject any deal that would force them to curtail their energy generation, economic growth and poverty reduction programs.

Senator Barbara Boxer is an exception. Not only does she ignore the obvious. She is doing her best to divert attention from the scandal, circle the alarmist wagons, cover up the fraud, obstruct justice – and ram through yet another legislative power grab. “This isn’t Climategate,” the California Democrat insists. “It’s email theft gate.” The problem isn’t the fraud; it’s that a hacker or whistleblower revealed the fraud.

Wrong, Senator. It’s not theft gate. It’s Taxpayer Robbery Gate. We, the taxpayers, We the people – paid for this “research.” We paid billions of dollars for it – and providing the data, computer codes and analytical methods is a condition of the employment and research grants for these scientists. The work belongs to us. We own it.

We the People, our elected representatives and our climate realist scientists have a right to examine this supposed evidence of planetary disaster, to ensure that it’s driven by science, and not ideology. That it’s complete, accurate – and honest. That it backs up the alarmist scientists’ call for draconian, life-altering restrictions on energy use. That the CRU Cabal did not alter, lose, ignore, toss or destroy “inconvenient” data and evidence that might get in the way of their agendas and predetermined results.

Not only were we stonewalled for years, while these UK and US scientists refused to divulge their data, computer codes and methodologies. Not only did the scientists who wrote these emails and did this bogus research refuse to let taxpayers, other scientists and even members of Congress (and Parliament) see their raw data and analyses. Not only did they prevent debate and replace peer review with a perverted system that allowed only a small network of like-minded colleagues to examine – and applaud – their work. They also excluded, denounced and vilified anyone who asked hard questions or challenged their actions. In short, we were robbed! They took our money, and defrauded us.

Even worse, the Taxpayer Robbery Gate scientists are working hand-in-glove to pressure the United States, Great Britain and world into spending trillions of dollars fighting “catastrophic manmade climate change” … slashing our energy use, living standards and employment base … enacting unaccountable global government … redistributing wealth and technology … restricting our liberties and civil rights … and keeping millions of families deprived of energy and in permanent destitution.

This is the same California Senator who berated an Air Force general for calling her Ma’am. Who treated scientist, physician and author Michael Crichton like a child molester, for daring to disagree with her on global warming and suggest that double-blind climate studies would guard against errors and fraud. Who displays an un-American intolerance for any witnesses before her committee who question her views.

The Boxer-White House effort makes the Watergate cover-up and obstruction of justice look like a juvenile offense. It’s paving the way for cap-tax-and-trade laws that would nationalize the entire US economy – by the same divisive, dictatorial elements that are nationalizing our banking and healthcare systems. They understand, even if the general populace still does not, that by controlling carbon they will control our lives. And if they need fraudulent science and Nixon-era tactics to achieve their goal, so be it.

Just imagine the Boxer, White House and media outcry and denunciations if these emails and fraudulent actions had involved oil companies and climate disaster “deniers.” But of course, if Boxer & Co. didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards.

“We’re honest. We have nothing to hide,” the accused scientists keep saying. That’s wonderful. We’re glad to hear that. But then why don’t they just come clean. Stop hiding everything. Open all their emails. Cooperate with investigators. Honor FOIA requests. Share their data and computer codes. Stop attacking scientists who disagree with them. Put all climate studies, for and against manmade global warming disaster claims, in professional journals – subject to real peer review. Debate their critics. In short, help clean up the mess they created. Or suffer the consequences.

This bogus science and cover-up operation is behind every US, EU and UN proposal to restrict and control our energy, economy, living standards and most fundamental liberties – in the name of preventing alleged global warming disasters.

We need to get to the bottom of this mess. We need a full and complete investigation, by an independent, incorruptible team of knowledgeable scientists, modelers, lawyers and statisticians. We need to start over on the global warming science and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – with honest scientists who do everything in the open. We need to bring honesty, transparency, robust debate and accountability back to the legislative and public policy process.


Defund Taxpayer Supported Science Fraud

Trofim Lysenko was Stalin’s favorite scientist because he liked his meshing of evolution and Marxism. Comrade Lysenko “proved” that there is no such thing as a gene. A lot of money was dumped into the “research” of this crackpot, and woe to those who declared that the emperor had no clothes. Lysenko’s gene-free view of science led to claims that wheat plants could produce rye. Any disagreement was labeled as “political sabotage” -- similar to the contemporary global warming “elite” who libel and banish those who do not worship at their altar.

It turns out that Lysenko’s spiritual children are the global warming alarmists in today’s scientific establishment. The recent dumping of their emails on the internet exposed the fact that their “research” was as invalid as Lysenko’s. As an aside, it seems that the emails were posted from a server in Tomsk, a Russian secret police city. If the Ruskies did the deed, the best guess is that this major oil producer was alarmed by the West’s efforts to commit economic suicide by forcing a cutback in petroleum consumption.

The emails were parked on computers at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. But the scandal is not just a British booboo. America’s leading climate Casandras were also part of the scam.

Perhaps you have heard of the now-infamous “hockey stick” graph that supposedly proved the Industrial Revolution, which massively improved the lives of millions of people, was the cause of global warming? The “hockey stick” was a fraudulent representation of data which showed a straight line of constant temperatures with a sharp uptick at the end. That uptick is allegedly the time that industrialization supposedly started generating global warming. Well, it turns out the “hockey stick” graph was as valid as a three-dollar bill.

Those of us active in defending the right to keep and bear arms don’t find it surprising that when politicians fund research, you get political science, not real science. Dr. Arthur Kellerman is the Trofim Lysenko of research on guns and public health. He grabbed some of our money that was funneled by the drunken spenders in Congress through the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

In exchange for our hard-earned money, Kellerman came up with a study that “proved” that someone with a gun in their house is 43 times more likely to be killed than a disarmed householder. Kellerman’s “research” made a few questionable assumptions to ensure that his conclusions arrived at the proper outcome. For example, he stipulated that a successful self-defense use of a gun had to result in the death of a home invader. Cute. Real scientists such as Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University find that of the more than 2 million times a year that Americans use a gun in self-defense, they only fire their gun two to three percent of the time.

Kellerman’s methodology is equivalent to the “hockey stick” tricked up by Penn State’s Dr. Michael Mann. One way Mann “found” that global warming did not begin until the last 150 years was to overlook the centuries during the Middle Ages that were warmer than now (where they were growing vegetables in what is now Greenland’s tundra, for example). Like Kellerman, Mann simply ignored data that didn’t support his theory.

The chaps at East Anglia did the same thing that Kellerman did until he got caught. Their modus operandi is “don’t let the public see the data they paid for.” The British Lysenkos destroyed a lot of their data and otherwise refused to comply with British Freedom of Information laws. Kellerman withheld his data for years until Congress forced the Centers for Disease Control to tell him to cough it up.

Is it not time we cut off the looting of our pocketbooks with this kind of fraud?


"Earth-Friendly" Elements are Mined Destructively -- and are dependant on China

Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast. Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future. In Washington, Congress is fretting about the United States military’s dependence on Chinese rare earths, and has just ordered a study of potential alternatives.

Here in Guyun Village, a small community in southeastern China fringed by lush bamboo groves and banana trees, the environmental damage can be seen in the red-brown scars of barren clay that run down narrow valleys and the dead lands below, where emerald rice fields once grew. Miners scrape off the topsoil and shovel golden-flecked clay into dirt pits, using acids to extract the rare earths. The acids ultimately wash into streams and rivers, destroying rice paddies and fish farms and tainting water supplies.

On a recent rainy afternoon, Zeng Guohui, a 41-year-old laborer, walked to an abandoned mine where he used to shovel ore, and pointed out still-barren expanses of dirt and mud. The mine exhausted the local deposit of heavy rare earths in three years, but a decade after the mine closed, no one has tried to revive the downstream rice fields. Small mines producing heavy rare earths like dysprosium and terbium still operate on nearby hills. “There are constant protests because it damages the farmland — people are always demanding compensation,” Mr. Zeng said.

“In many places, the mining is abused,” said Wang Caifeng, the top rare-earths industry regulator at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China. “This has caused great harm to the ecology and environment.”

There are 17 rare-earth elements — some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare — but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 percent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 percent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.

China mines more than 99 percent of the world’s dysprosium and terbium. Most of China’s production comes from about 200 mines here in northern Guangdong and in neighboring Jiangxi Province. China is also the world’s dominant producer of lighter rare earth elements, valuable to a wide range of industries. But these are in less short supply, and the mining is more regulated.

Half the heavy rare earth mines have licenses and the other half are illegal, industry executives said. But even the legal mines, like the one where Mr. Zeng worked, often pose environmental hazards.

A close-knit group of mainland Chinese gangs with a capacity for murder dominates much of the mining and has ties to local officials, said Stephen G. Vickers, the former head of criminal intelligence for the Hong Kong police who is now the chief executive of International Risk, a global security company.

Mr. Zeng defended the industry, saying that he had cousins who owned rare-earth mines and were legitimate businessmen who paid compensation to farmers.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a draft plan last April to halt all exports of heavy rare earths, partly on environmental grounds and partly to force other countries to buy manufactured products from China. When the plan was reported on Sept. 1, Western governments and companies strongly objected and Ms. Wang announced on Sept. 3 that China would not halt exports and would revise its overall plan. But the ministry subsequently cut the annual export quota for all rare earths by 12 percent, the fourth steep cut in as many years.

Congress responded to the Chinese moves by ordering the Defense Department to conduct a comprehensive review, by April 1, of the American military’s dependence on imported rare earths for devices like night-vision gear and rangefinders.

Western users of heavy rare earths say that they have no way of figuring out what proportion of the minerals they buy from China comes from responsibly operated mines. Licensed and illegal mines alike sell to itinerant traders. They buy the valuable material with sacks of cash, then sell it to processing centers in and around Guangzhou that separate the rare earths from each other. Companies that buy these rare earths, including a few in Japan and the West, turn them into refined metal powders. “I don’t know if part of that feed, internal in China, came from an illegal mine and went in a legal separator,” said David Kennedy, the president of Great Western Technologies in Troy, Mich., which imports Chinese rare earths and turns them into powders that are sold worldwide.

Smuggling is another issue. Mr. Kennedy said that he bought only rare earths covered by Chinese export licenses. But up to half of China’s exports of heavy rare earths leave the country illegally, other industry executives said. Zhang Peichen, deputy director of the government-backed Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, said that smugglers mix rare earths with steel and then export the steel composites, making the smuggling hard to detect. The process is eventually reversed, frequently in Japan, and the rare earths are recovered. Chinese customs officials have stepped up their scrutiny of steel exports to try to stop this trick, one trader said.

According to the Baotou institute, heavy rare-earth deposits in the hills here will be exhausted in 15 years. Companies want to expand production outside China, but most rare-earth deposits, unlike those in southern China, are accompanied by radioactive uranium and thorium that complicate mining.

Multinational corporations are starting to review their dependence on heavy rare earths. Toyota said that it bought auto parts that include rare earths, but did not participate in the purchases of materials by its suppliers. Osram, a large lighting manufacturer that is part of Siemens of Germany, said it used the lowest feasible amount of rare earths.

The biggest user of heavy rare earths in the years ahead could be large wind turbines, which need much lighter magnets for the five-ton generators at the top of ever-taller towers. Vestas, a Danish company that has become the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, said that prototypes for its next generation used dysprosium, and that the company was studying the sustainability of the supply. Goldwind, the biggest Chinese turbine maker, has switched from conventional magnets to rare-earth magnets.

Executives in the $1.3 billion rare-earths mining industry say that less environmentally damaging mining is needed, given the importance of their product for green energy technologies. Developers hope to open mines in Canada, South Africa and Australia, but all are years from large-scale production and will produce sizable quantities of light rare earths. Their output of heavy rare earths will most likely be snapped up to meet rising demand from the wind turbine industry.

“This industry wants to save the world,” said Nicholas Curtis, the executive chairman of the Lynas Corporation of Australia, in a speech to an industry gathering in Hong Kong in late November. “We can’t do it and leave a product that is glowing in the dark somewhere else, killing people.”


Australia's proposed Warmist laws: Grocery industry attacks fraudulent government cost estimates

THE grocery industry has sided with the Coalition's claim the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme will be a big tax.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said yesterday that claims by the Australian Food and Grocery Council that food prices would be pushed up by 5 per cent overstated the reality by seven times. "The Treasury modelling found that in 2013, the average price impact of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme on food bills will be around $68 a year -- less than 1 per cent of household food bills," Mr Garrett said.

However, the council chief executive Kate Carnell said this was not realistic, given the role of electricity in the processed food supply chain. "The average shopping basket is about $200 a week, so the government's modelling suggests a barely 0.5 per cent increase off the back of increases in electricity prices of 20 to 40 per cent. That is not even vaguely credible in a manufacturing industry," she said.

Her estimate of a 5 per cent rise was based on internal modelling by food companies. She said the modelling had been presented to Coles Myer and Woolworths. "They didn't suggest we were off the money," she said.

Mr Garrett said that throughout the debate on climate change, "various industries have paid for modelling designed to suit their lobbying purposes".

A spokesman noted that Woolworths had rejected the council's claim of a 5 per cent rise when it was first presented in August. The company had put out a release in response, declaring its support for theemissions trading scheme, and noting that the exclusion of agriculture would reduce what was only ever going to be a "slight price rise". Woolworths is a signatory of the Copenhagen Communique on Climate Change, a document developed by global corporations and endorsing ambitious emission reduction targets. [Woolworths is obsessively "Green" in many ways]

However, the grocery council's renewed attack on the scheme highlights the Coalition's support base among industries which believe they will be adversely affected. Ms Carnell said baking, dairy and tinned processed food, such as canned spaghetti, were the most energy intensive parts of the food industry.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here