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Power User
Posts: 29564

« on: December 27, 2006, 11:36:05 AM »


Yes, I know there is a thread of the same name on the Political forum, but I'm beginning to think it belongs here.  So for the moment we will have a thread on each of the forums and see where people tend to post.

I begin with a post of another Nature Conservancy project.  (I am a basic level member of NC btw).  I like NC because of its market, win-win orientation.


Farmers and Conservationists Form a Rare Alliance
 Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times
Shorebirds on flooded land in Skagit County, Wash., a sight that could become more common as a result of a “Farming for Wildlife” program.
Published: December 27, 2006
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The standoff here between farmers and environmentalists was familiar in the modern West.

Lisa Bellefond of the Nature Conservancy and David Hedlin, a farmer, on farmland set to become wetlands.
With salmon and wildlife dwindling in the Skagit River Delta, some environmentalists had argued since the 1980s that local farms should be turned back into wetlands. Farmers here feared that preachy outsiders would strip them of their land and heritage.

This year, though, the standoff ended — at least for three longtime farmers in this fertile valley, who began collaborating with their former enemies to preserve wildlife and their livelihoods.

The Nature Conservancy, which usually buys land to shield it from development, is renting land from the three farmers on behalf of migrating Western sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, dunlins, marbled godwits and other shorebirds.

From private and public funds, including a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the farmers, David Hedlin, Gail Thulen and Alan Mesman, will together receive up to $350,000 for three years of labor, expenses and the use of 210 acres, said Kevin Morse, the Skagit Delta project manager for the conservancy.

Each man has committed about 70 acres to this project, which is called Farming for Wildlife. A third of that land will be flooded with a few inches of fresh water in the spring, fall and winter. This will create shallow ponds to entice thousands of birds, some of them on their way to and from the Arctic, to stop and snack on tiny invertebrates and worms as they travel along the Pacific flyway.

More than a dozen shorebird species have declined primarily because of the loss of local wetlands, said Gary Slater, research director at the Ecostudies Institute here and a consultant for the Nature Conservancy.

The farmers see the Nature Conservancy’s willingness to pay them as an acknowledgment that they should not be expected to sacrifice their land or their living for wildlife. This approach effectively turns shorebirds into another crop to manage, instead of grounds for a lawsuit.

“The stewardship ethic in this valley is incredibly strong, but it doesn’t trump the bank,” said Mr. Hedlin, 56, who, with his wife, Serena Campbell, grows farmer’s market produce, vegetable seeds, pumpkins, winter wheat and pickling cucumbers on their 400-acre farm.

Mr. Hedlin’s 70-acre Farming for Wildlife parcel has been under water since a heavy November rain breached a dike and flooded the field, in a preview of what environmentalists hope will happen. Edged with wild roses and blackberry bushes, this accidental lake quickly attracted wintering waterfowl like trumpeter swans, coots, and mallard, teal and wigeon ducks.

An hour north of Seattle and an hour south of Vancouver, British Columbia, this region’s glorious tulip farms attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each April. Skagit farmers also produce about 80 crops of commercial significance, including seeds used to grow beets, spinach and cabbage around the world, many of the red potatoes eaten in the United States, and vegetables and dairy products sent to farmer’s markets and restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.

Thousands of years of flooding on the Skagit River deposited a rich layer of topsoil in the “magic Skagit,” as Mr. Hedlin calls the valley. European immigrants flocked here starting in the 1860s and built Victorian houses for their families on the board-flat green fields.

They also constructed an elaborate network of earthen dikes to capture land from the saltwater delta and prevent the rivers from flooding their farms. On this managed agricultural landscape, tens of thousand of acres of farmland were once tidal wetlands, Mr. Hedlin said.

Since the mid-1990s, residents have tried to slow development as strip malls and housing subdivisions marched northward from Seattle. Skagit County residents pay extra taxes to buy development rights from farmers, and a charitable group, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, warns that “Pavement is forever.”

Many conservationists have also decided that farms are better than pavement, and say they are willing to balance preservation with profitable land use.

Mr. Morse lives here and even volunteered to spend two days last spring selling Mr. Hedlin’s produce at a farmer’s market.

“We don’t know anything about farming,” Mr. Morse told the farmers recently over coffee and sandwiches at the Rexville Grocery. “You guys are the stewards of the land. You tell me what to do.”

For this experiment, each farmer’s 70-acre parcel has been planted with a mixture of clover and grass to enrich the soil. While a third of the land will be periodically flooded for birds, a third will be fenced as pasture for dairy cows, and the rest will be mowed and otherwise left alone.

Farms here are gradually shifting toward organic production because consumers willingly pay much more for organic food. As another incentive to join Farming for Wildlife, the 210 acres will be available for organic use after three years.

Mr. Mesman will start producing organic milk with his 225 Holstein cows next spring. Mr. Thulen sees a big market for organic potatoes.

“In my time, I can see our little valley was farmed very hard,” said Mr. Thulen, whose 2,000-acre farm was begun by his grandfather in 1867. “That pendulum has swung to get the ground healthy again.”

In an ideal world, the Nature Conservancy would love to persuade farmers to add wetlands to their regular crop rotation. To that end, the group’s scientists will analyze soil samples to assess whether shallow flooding might improve soil fertility as much as cow manure and mowed grass do.

In a similar project on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Northern California, farmers reported better potato yields and fewer nematodes, a harmful worm, on land that had been purposefully flooded. But scientists say this may not apply in the Skagit Valley, where the soil has a higher clay content.

Whether or not they end up with more productive land, the three farmers seem pleased to try something new without financial risk.

“If 100 years from now,” Mr. Hedlin said, “there are healthy viable family farms in this valley and waterfowl and wildlife and salmon in the river, then everyone wins.”
Power User
Posts: 29564

« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 11:45:16 AM »

Been meaning to post this one for several days now , , ,

12/12/06 NY Times

Published: December 12, 2006

This was no euphemistic brushoff, no reptilian version of "Sorry, I'll be
busy that night washing my hair." Paddling around in a tropically appointed
pool at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the husky female Gibba turtle
from South America made all too palpable her disdain for the petite male
Gibba that pursued her. He crawled onto the parqueted hump of her bark-brown
shell. She shrugged and wriggled until he slipped off. He looped around to
show her his best courtship maneuvers, bobbing his head, quivering his neck.
She kicked him aside like a clot of algae and kept swimming.

"I feel sorry for the little guy," said Jack Cover, a turtle specialist and
the general curator of the aquarium. "He's making no progress, she's got
zero interest in him, yet he just keeps coming back for more."

And why not? The male Gibba may be clueless, he may at the moment have the
sex appeal of a floating toupee, but he is a turtle, and, as a major new
book and a wealth of recent discoveries make abundantly clear, turtles are
built for hard times. Through famine, flood, heat wave, ice age, a predator's
inspections, a paramour's rejections, turtles take adversity in stride,
usually by striding as little as possible. "The tale of the tortoise and the
hare is the turtle's life story," said Mr. Cover, who calls himself a
card-carrying member of the "turtle nerds" club. "Slow and steady wins the

With its miserly metabolism and tranquil temperament, its capacity to forgo
food and drink for months at a time, its redwood burl of a body shield, so
well engineered it can withstand the impact of a stampeding wildebeest, the
turtle is one of the longest-lived creatures Earth has known. Individual
turtles can survive for centuries, bearing silent witness to epic swaths of
human swagger. Last March, a giant tortoise named Adwaita said to be as old
as 250 years died in a Calcutta zoo, having been taken to India by British
sailors, records suggest, during the reign of King George II. In June,
newspapers around the world noted the passing of Harriet, a Galapagos
tortoise that died in the Australia Zoo at age 176 - 171 years after Charles
Darwin is said, perhaps apocryphally, to have plucked her from her
equatorial home.

Behind such biblical longevity is the turtle's stubborn refusal to senesce -
to grow old. Don't be fooled by the wrinkles, the halting gait and the
rheumy gaze. Researchers lately have been astonished to discover that in
contrast to nearly every other animal studied, a turtle's organs do not
gradually break down or become less efficient over time.

Dr. Christopher J. Raxworthy, the associate curator of herpetology at the
American Museum of Natural History, says the liver, lungs and kidneys of a
centenarian turtle are virtually indistinguishable from those of its teenage
counterpart, a Ponce de Leonic quality that has inspired investigators to
begin examining the turtle genome for novel longevity genes.

"Turtles don't really die of old age," Dr. Raxworthy said. In fact, if
turtles didn't get eaten, crushed by an automobile or fall prey to a
disease, he said, they might just live indefinitely.

Turtles have the power to almost stop the ticking of their personal clock.
"Their heart isn't necessarily stimulated by nerves, and it doesn't need to
beat constantly," said Dr. George Zug, curator of herpetology at the
Smithsonian Institution. "They can turn it on and off essentially at will."

Turtles resist growing old, and they resist growing up. Dr. Zug and his
co-workers recently determined that among some populations of sea turtles,
females do not reach sexual maturity until they are in their 40s or 50s,
which Dr. Zug proposes could be "a record in the animal kingdom."

Turtles are also ancient as a family. The noble chelonian lineage that
includes all living turtles and tortoises extends back 230 million years or
more, possibly predating other reptiles like snakes and crocodiles, as well
as birds, mammals, even the dinosaurs.

The turtle's core morphology has changed little over time, and today's 250
or so living species all display an unmistakable resemblance to the earliest
turtle fossils. Yet the clan has evolved a dazzling array of variations on
its blockbuster theme, allowing it to colonize every continent save
Antarctica and nearly every type of biome nested therein: deserts;
rainforests; oceans; rivers; bogs; mountains; New Brunswick, Canada; New
Brunswick, N.J.

"Turtles can persist in habitats where little else can survive," said Dr. J.
Whitfield Gibbons, a professor of ecology at the University of Georgia in

Troubles Foreseen

The iconic turtle likewise has colonized the human heart. People may despise
cats or fear dogs, but practically everybody has a soft spot for turtles.
"Turtles are by far the most popular reptile," said Peter C. H. Pritchard,
director of the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Fla. "Unlike snakes,
which may threaten you and which move like a flash, turtles are benign and
slow, and you can't dislike or distrust the clumsy."


(Page 2 of 3)

Yet such warm and fuzzy feelings have proved cold comfort for turtles, and
herpetologists fear that in humans the stalwart survivors from the Mesozoic
era may at last have met their mortician. Turtle habitats are fast
disappearing, or are being fragmented and transected by roads on which
millions of turtles are crushed each year. "There's no defense against that
predator known as the automobile," Dr. Gibbons said.

Researchers estimate that at least half of all turtle species are in serious
trouble, and that some of them, like the Galapagos tortoise, the North
American bog turtle, the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and more than a
dozen species in China and Southeast Asia, may effectively go extinct in the
next decade if extreme measures are not taken. "People love turtles, people
find them endearing, but people take turtles for granted," Mr. Cover said.
"They have no idea how important turtles are to the ecosystems in which
they, and we, live."

Researchers are also impressed by the turtle's many sensory talents. Box
turtles and other forest-dwelling species can spot a lake or pond a mile in
the distance, possibly by detecting polarized light glinting off the surface
of the water. Female sea turtles migrate across entire oceans every breeding
season, unerringly making their way from far-flung feeding grounds right
back to the beach where they were born, and where they are instinctively
driven to lay their own eggs.

Instinctive does not mean inflexible, however. Should a weary wayfarer
arrive at her natal beach in the dead of night and find it has eroded away,
Dr. Pritchard said, she can adapt, swimming down the coast until she locates
a suitably sandy nesting site.

Turtles, it seems, are all ears, all the time. Dr. Ray Ashton, who runs the
Finca de la Tortuga biological preserve in Archer, Fla., has highly
preliminary evidence that some turtle species may communicate subsonically,
just as elephants do, transmitting and detecting ultralow frequency sound
waves as vibrations in the ground.

In their new book, "Turtles of the World" (Johns Hopkins Press), Franck
Bonin, Bernard Devaux and Alain Dupré seek to loft turtles into the
limelight by showcasing the group's diversity - its beauties, its goofies,
its gargoyles.

There is the Indian star tortoise, its shell a vivid basket weave of dark
and light veins that dance like spattered sunlight as the tortoise crosses
the forest floor; and the Matamata turtle of the Amazon basin, with a
flattened, ragged head and neck that look like dead leaves and a bumpy shell
that mimics an old log - just try to spot that Matamata at the bottom of a
stream, awaiting passing prey; and the massive alligator snapping turtle of
the south-central United States, which lures fish right into its open jaw
with a red bleb of flesh on the floor of its mouth that jiggles like a
chubby worm.

Some turtles have serpentine necks twice the length of their shells; others
sport sweet little snorkeling snouts that look like double-barreled cocktail
straws; still others have beaks so fiercely hooked their bearers could
easily serve, in the authors' words, as "adornment of the upper reaches of
Notre Dame."

Among the most common questions leveled at turtle researchers is, What is
the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? It depends on where you
live, researchers reply. In the United States, any reptile with a shell is
referred to as a turtle, and the term tortoise is reserved for those turtle
species that have elephantine feet and live entirely on land, like the
desert tortoise of the American Southwest. In Australia, by contrast, the
word tortoise often applies to aquatic side-necked species - bizarre beasts
with necks that cannot be drawn into the shell for protection but instead
must be tucked on the side, under the shell's eavelike overhang.

Whatever their group identity badge, turtles vary considerably in size, from
the tiny speckled padloper tortoise of South Africa, which in adulthood is
no bigger than a computer mouse, to the great leatherback sea turtle, which
can measure seven feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds.


(Page 3 of 3)

Menu plans vary as well. Many turtles are omnivores, happily consuming
fruits, leaves, insects, mollusks, fish, frogs, ice cream. Dr. Gibbons told
of a friend whose his pet box turtle would respond to the sound of a spoon
being tapped on a glass ice cream bowl by emerging from behind the couch,
walking over to its owner, rearing up on its hind legs and waiting to be
spoon-fed its just dessert. "Had I not seen this a few times myself," he
said, "I would not have believed it."

A few turtles have highly specialized palates. Green sea turtles prize the
tender tips of sea grass, and will clip away and discard tough, older grass
to stimulate the sprouting of fresh buds beneath. Leatherback sea turtles
dine only on jellyfish, or what they think are jellyfish. "Plastic bags look
like jellyfish," said Dr. Joseph Mitchell, an ecologist and turtle
specialist in Richmond, Va., "and quite a few leatherbacks have stomachs
impacted with plastic bags."

Some turtles, conversely, seek out the world's detritus. Scavenger turtles
that live in the Ganges River devour human corpses, making it possible for
devout Hindus to deposit their loved ones' remains in the waters they deem

An Iconic Feature

Whether they wrest it from sea grass, shellfish or Häagen-Dazs, all turtles
need a substantial amount of calcium in their diet, to sustain the structure
that marks them as turtles and that remains among the most extraordinary
architectural achievements in vertebrate evolution: the shell. A number of
invertebrates have shells, of course, and so, too, do a few vertebrates,
most notably the armadillo. But whereas the armadillo's shell is built of
bony segments slapped down over its muscle tissue and is distinct from the
mammal's underlying skeletal frame, in the turtle the skeleton has become
the shell.

During embryonic development, the bones of the turtle's rib cage grow
straight out, rather than curving toward one another as they do in other
vertebrates. Those ribs, spinal vertebrae and other skeletal bones are then
fused to form the upper shell, called the carapace, the lower shell, or
plastron, and the bony bridges that join upstairs with down. In many turtle
species, the bony shell is in turn plated over with tough fingernail-like
structures called scutes.

As a result of the osteotic overhaul, not only can a turtle not crawl out of
its shell, it has trouble crawling, period. "Its legs stick out at bizarre
angles, and the only reason it can walk at all is through sheer strength,"
Dr. Pritchard said. "The turtle has enormously strong muscles and extremely
thick leg bones." A clumsy gait proved a small price to pay, however, for
the acquisition of body armor that protects adult turtles against a panoply
of jaws and claws.

Geneticists have proposed that the turtle shell may have appeared quite
suddenly in the distant past, rather than emerging slowly through modest,
mincing modifications of pre-existing structures. They suggest that the
dramatic innovation could have arisen from just a few key mutations in
master genes like the so-called homeobox genes, which help specify an animal's
basic body plan. If the shell did burst on the reptilian stage more or less
fully formed, they said, that would explain the lack of "intermediary"
fossils or prototurtles in the paleontological record.

The shell very likely helps explain the turtle's elongated storyline. It
takes time to consolidate a large, thick shell, but upon reaching adult
stature, the turtle is close to invulnerable. At that point, it can
compensate for its Darwinically unproductive youth with a very prolonged and
zealously fecund adulthood. A female turtle will continue laying eggs until
she dies, and a male turtle will just as mulishly pursue her.
Power User
Posts: 29564

« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2006, 11:09:05 AM »

LA Times

Rooftop oases find growing enthusiasm
Plants take root on a college building in Pasadena and elsewhere as cities see economic and environmental benefits of going 'green.'
By Mira Tweti, Special to The Times
December 28, 2006

As you lie in the tall Pacific dune grass, amid grasshoppers and butterflies, it's all blue sky and San Gabriel mountains as far as the eye can see. The sounds of the city are a distant murmur.

Here, in an industrial section of Pasadena, it is hard to imagine a more unlikely oasis: nearly 14,000 square feet of transplanted meadow four stories above ground — on a roof.

Atop the Art Center College of Design's downtown campus, this roof is covered in 6 inches of soil bearing native grasses and shrubs. More than a garden, it is an ecologically designed green space that cools the building in summer by absorbing heat — much like an urban park does — and insulates it from cold in winter.

The Art Center's roof is one of hundreds that have been planted in the Los Angeles area and in major cities around the country. Among the first were a handful of "green"-roofed buildings erected in the 1930s at New York's Rockefeller Center.

Living roofs have a long history. The Vikings grew sod on their homes for insulation. The hanging gardens of Babylon were planted rooftops. Europeans have cultivated green roofs for decades. After World War II, Germany made them mandatory in all major cities to prevent rainwater from washing into aging sewer systems.

In modern cities, the roofs are a way to recreate the Earth's natural footprint that has been displaced by buildings. The roofs replicate the outdoors in a variety of ways, from manicured lawns to unruly meadows.

Experts say such roofs retain storm water, decrease the cost of greenhouse gas reduction and lessen the need for interior building insulation. They also help to bring fauna back to inner city areas by attracting insects and birds, just as a backyard would.

Carmel Valley architect Paul Kephart, a pioneer of green roof design, maintains that even roofs as small as 11 square feet can remove 5 pounds of toxic particulate matter from the air every three months, filter and purify rainfall and control runoff. Through evapotranspiration the water is released back into the atmosphere, cooling it. Or it drains slowly into storm sewers.

Experts believe the roofs can reduce the lethal effects of heat waves, such as the one that led to the deaths of 465 people in Chicago in 1995.

Since then, 2.7 million square feet of green roofs have been built in Chicago or are in the pipeline. The first building to get one under the city's green roof program was City Hall. Because the city shares the building with Cook County offices, it could green only its half of the 38,000-square-foot roof. It contains 20,000 plants in 158 varieties.

On a day when ground temperatures reached 95 degrees, the reading on the City Hall side of the roof was 91 degrees. On the county's half, which was covered with black tar, the temperature was 169 degrees. "The city is saving $40,000 a year in air conditioning costs from this 'green' roof alone," said Constance Buscemi, of the Chicago department of planning and development.

In April, the city of Pasadena made green roofs mandatory on all new city buildings of 5,000 square feet or larger, on commercial buildings and residential tenant improvement construction of 25,000 square feet or more, and on all mixed-use or residential buildings of four stories or more.

Alice Sterling, Pasadena's green building coordinator, said there are 800,000 square feet of new building construction on the books in Pasadena that, if completed, will all have green roofs.

Los Angeles Deputy City Engineer Deborah J. Weintraub has submitted a report to the City Council's planning and land use management committee outlining a possible green roof pilot project for one of several city buildings, including two low-rise wings of City Hall.

Construction of a new constituent services building on Central Avenue at 43rd Street near the famed Hotel Dunbar will break ground Jan. 7. The living roof of the $13-million, 7,000-square-foot, city-owned building, which is scheduled to be completed by mid-2008, was a requirement of 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry. "I thought, why can't we have the amenities of the Santa Monica mountains in South-Central?" Perry said.

The planted roof will hold more than 100 people for special events. "It will help people think a different way about that area. I want it to be a catalyst and template for development that may follow," Perry said.

Green roofs start with a waterproof roof cover called a membrane. Then comes a root barrier, a drainage layer, and finally the growing medium and plants. Many plants native to California are drought-tolerant and need little maintenance

Depending on how the roof is designed, architects say the additional weight, which can equal that of a load of snow, is not unsafe even for older buildings. Greenery can be rooted on roofs that slope up to 60 degrees.

Nancy Goslee Powers, the Santa Monica landscaper who designed the roof at the Pasadena Art Center building, is working on similar projects in Beverly Hills and Century City, where a living roof is being installed on a public parking structure to keep it cool. It will be three-quarters the size of a football field.

Living roofs aren't risk free. One of Powers' earlier projects — at a store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills — sprang a leak and flooded the store, ruining thousands of dollars in merchandise. That was more than a decade ago. Now, experts say, the roofs are stronger and more waterproof than standard roofs, and some manufacturers offer 20-year guarantees.

Powers acknowledged that there is resistance to the roofs on the part of colleagues and customers in the Los Angeles area.

"You have to keep plugging living roofs," she said. "A crew cut on top of a building may not appeal to every architect. And we have a culture of fear when it comes to new ideas.

"So, it's not always an easy sell to clients. We have to remind people we can't survive without plants."
Power User
Posts: 29564

« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 10:55:23 PM »

A green Republican organization recommended by my friend John Spezzano.
Power User
Posts: 29564

« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2007, 07:28:14 AM »

NY Times

Published: January 23, 2007
The Bay checkerspot butterfly’s story is all too familiar. It was once a common sight in the San Francisco Bay area, but development and invasive plants have wiped out much of its grassland habitat.

Much of the grassland habitat of the Bay checkerspot butterfly is already destroyed, and studies suggest that climate change will push the insect to extinction. Moving the species is an option, but one that is not without risk.
Conservationists have tried to save the butterfly by saving the remaining patches where it survives. But thanks to global warming, that may not be good enough.

Climate scientists expect that the planet will become warmer in the next century if humans continue to produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The California Climate Change Center projects the state’s average temperature will rise 2.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Warming is also expected to cause bigger swings in rainfall.

Studies on the Bay checkerspot butterfly suggest that this climate change will push the insect to extinction. The plants it depends on for food will shift their growing seasons, so that when the butterfly eggs hatch, the caterpillars have little to eat. Many other species may face a similar threat, and conservation biologists are beginning to confront the question of how to respond. The solution they prefer would be to halt global warming. But they know they may need to prepare for the worst.

One of the most radical strategies they are considering is known as assisted migration. Biologists would pick a species up and move it hundreds of miles to a cooler place.

Assisted migration triggers strong, mixed feelings from conservation biologists. They recognize that such a procedure would be plagued by uncertainties and risk. And yet it may be the only way to save some of the world’s biodiversity.

“Some days I think this is absolutely, positively something that has to be done,” said Dr. Jessica Hellmann of the University of Notre Dame. “And other days I think it’s a terrible idea.”

Conservation biologists are talking seriously about assisted migration because the effects of climate change are already becoming clear. The average temperature of the planet is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1880. Dr. Camille Parmesan, a biologist at the University of Texas, reviewed hundreds of studies on the ecological effects of climate change this month in the journal Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. Many plant species are now budding earlier in the spring. Animals migrate earlier as well. And the ranges of many species are shifting to higher latitudes, as they track the climate that suits them best.

This is hardly the first time that species have moved in response to climate change. For over two million years, the planet has swung between ice ages and warm periods, causing some species to shift their ranges hundreds of miles. But the current bout of warming may be different. The earth was already relatively warm when it began. “These species haven’t seen an earth as warm as this one’s going to be in a long, long time,” said Dr. Mark Schwartz, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Davis.

It’s also going to be more difficult for some species to move, Dr. Schwartz added. When the planet warmed at the end of past ice ages, retreating glaciers left behind empty landscapes. Today’s species will face an obstacle course made of cities, farms and other human settlements.

Animals and plants will also have to move quickly. If a species cannot keep up with the shifting climate, its range will shrink. Species that are already limited to small ranges may not be able to survive the loss.

In 2004, an international team of scientists estimated that 15 percent to 37 percent of species would become extinct by 2050 because of global warming. “We need to limit climate change or we wind up with a lot of species in trouble, possibly extinct,” said Dr. Lee Hannah, a co-author of the paper and chief climate change biologist at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International.

Some scientists have questioned that study’s methods. Dr. Schwartz calls it an overestimate. Nevertheless, Dr. Schwartz said that more conservative estimates would still represent “a serious extinction.”

Many conservation biologists believe that conventional strategies may help combat extinctions from global warming. Bigger preserves, and corridors connecting them, could give species more room to move.

Conservation biologists have also been talking informally about assisted migration. The idea builds on past efforts to save endangered species by moving them to parts of their former ranges. The gray wolf, for example, has been translocated from Canada to parts of the western United States with great success.

When Dr. Jason McLachlan, a Notre Dame biologist, gives talks on global warming and extinction, “someone will say, ‘It’s not a problem, since we can just FedEx them to anywhere they need to go,’ ” he said.

No government or conservation group has yet begun an assisted migration for global warming. But discussions have started. “We’re thinking about these issues,” said Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, a climate scientist at the Nature Conservancy.

The conservancy is exploring many different ways to combat extinctions from global warming, and Dr. Gonzalez says that assisted migration “could certainly be one of the options.” For now, the conservancy has no official policy on assisted migration.

As Dr. McLachlan began hearing about assisted migration more often, he became concerned that conservation biologists were not weighing it scientifically. He joined with Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Hellmann to lay out the terms of the debate in a paper to be published in the journal Conservation Biology.


Dr. McLachlan and his colleagues argue that assisted migration may indeed turn out to be the only way to save some species. But biologists need to answer many questions before they can do it safely and effectively.

The first question would be which species to move. If tens of thousands are facing extinction, it will probably be impossible to save them all. Conservation biologists will have to make the painful decision about which species to try to save. Some species threatened by climate change, including polar bears and other animals adapted to very cold climates, may have nowhere to go.

The next challenge will be to decide where to take those species. Conservation biologists will have to identify regions where species can survive in a warmer climate. But to make that prediction, scientists need to know how climate controls the range of species today. In many countries, including the United States, that information is lacking.

“We don’t even know where species are now,” Dr. McLachlan said.

Simply moving a species is no guarantee it will be saved, of course. Many species depend intimately on other species for their survival. If conservation biologists move the Bay checkerspot butterfly hundreds of miles north to Washington, for example, it may not be able to feed on the plants there. Conservation biologists may have to move entire networks of species, and it may be hard to know where to draw the line.

Assisted migration is plagued not only with uncertain prospects of success, but potential risks as well. A transplanted species would, in essence, be an invasive one. And it might thrive so well that it would start to harm other species. Invasive species are among the biggest threats to biodiversity in some parts of the world. Many were accidentally introduced but some were intentionally moved with great confidence that they would do no harm. Cane toads were introduced in Australia to destroy pests on sugar plantations, and they proceeded to wipe out much of the continent’s wildlife.

“If you’re trying to protect a community of species, you’re not going to want someone to introduce some tree from Florida,” Dr. Hellmann said. “But if you’re someone watching that tree go extinct, you’re going to want to do it.”

Dr. Hellmann and her colleagues do not endorse or condemn assisted migration in their new paper. Instead, they call for other conservation biologists to join in a debate. They hope to organize a meeting this summer to have experts share their ideas.

“There really needs to be a clear conversation about this, so that we can lay all the chips on the table,” Dr. Schwartz said.

Other experts on global warming and extinctions praised the new paper for framing the assisted migration debate. “It’s certainly on everybody’s mind, and people are discussing it quite a lot,” Dr. Hannah said. “This paper’s a breakthrough in that sense.”

Dr. Hannah for one is leery of moving species around. “I’m not a huge fan of assisted migration, but there’s no question we’ll have to get into it to some degree,” he said. “We want to see it as a measure of last resort, and get into it as little as possible.”

It is possible that conservation biologists may reject assisted migration in favor of other strategies, Dr. McLachlan said. But the hard questions it raises will not go away. As species shift their ranges, some of them will push into preserves that are refuges for endangered species.

“Even if we don’t move anything, they’re going to be moving,” Dr. McLachlan said. “Do we eradicate them? All of these issues are still relevant.”

« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2007, 02:46:09 PM »

Two very different posts:

Groups Allege Pressure on Global Warming

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.

The questionnaire was sent by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private advocacy group. The report also was based on "firsthand experiences" described in interviews with the Government Accountability Project, which helps government whistleblowers, lawmakers were told.

The findings were presented as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., opened a hearing by his Oversight and Government Reform Committee into allegations of political interference as the Democratic-controlled Congress steps up its examination of the Bush administration's climate policy.

At the same time, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sought to gauge her colleague's sentiment on climate change. She opened a meeting where senators were to express their views on global warming in advance of a broader set of hearings on the issue.
Among those scheduled to make comments were two presidential hopefuls - Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill. Both lawmakers favor mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, something opposed by President Bush, who argues such requirements would threaten economic growth.

The intense interest about climate change comes as some 500 climate scientists gather in Paris this week to put the final touches on a United Nations report on how warming, as a result of a growing concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, is likely to affect sea levels.

They agree sea levels will rise, but not on how much. Whatever the report says when it comes out at week's end, it is likely to influence the climate debate in Congress.

At the Waxman hearing, the two advocacy groups said their research - based on the questionnaires, interviews and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act - revealed "evidence of widespread interference in climate science in federal agencies."
The groups report described largely anonymous claims by scientists that their findings at times at been misrepresented, that they had been pressured to change findings and had been restricted on what they were allowed to say publicly.

The survey involved scientists across the government from NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency to the department's of Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Defense and Interior. In all the government employees more than 2,000 scientists who spend at least some of their time on climate issues, the report said.

Waxman has asked the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide more than three dozen documents related to their climate programs. Among them are papers involving attempts "to manage or influence statements made by government scientists" to the media on climate change.

Since Democrats took control of Congress this month, there has been a rush to examine the administration's climate programs and to introduce legislation aimed at reducing the risks of climate change. Many scientists agree that the flow of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, much of them man-made from burning fossil fuels, is warming the earth.

Boxer has offered the most aggressive bill, one that is touted as reducing these greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by mid-century.

Obama and McCain are sponsoring a bill along with Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who usually votes Democratic, that would cut emissions by two-thirds by 2050. Another bill, offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., would halt the growth of carbon emissions by 2030 and then is expected to lead to reductions.

All three would require mandatory caps on greenhouse gas releases from power plants, cars and other sources. They also would have various forms of an emissions trading system to reduce the economic cost.

Bush in his recent State of the Union address acknowledged that climate change needs to be addressed, but he continues to oppose mandatory emission caps, arguing that industry through development of new technologies can deal with the problem at less cost.

AND... on the other hand:

Two New Books Confirm Global Warming is Natural; Not Caused By Human Activity
Tue Jan 30 2007 10:02:32 ET

Two powerful new books say today’s global warming is due not to human activity but primarily to a long, moderate solar-linked cycle. Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years, by physicist Fred Singer and economist Dennis Avery was released just before Christmas. The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark and former BBC science writer Nigel Calder (Icon Books), is due out in March.

Singer and Avery note that most of the earth’s recent warming occurred before 1940, and thus before much human-emitted CO2. Moreover, physical evidence shows 600 moderate warmings in the earth’s last million years. The evidence ranges from ancient Nile flood records, Chinese court documents and Roman wine grapes to modern spectral analysis of polar ice cores, deep seabed sediments, and layered cave stalagmites.

Unstoppable Global Warming shows the earth’s temperatures following variations in solar intensity through centuries of sunspot records, and finds cycles of sun-linked isotopes in ice and tree rings. The book cites the work of Svensmark, who says cosmic rays vary the earth’s temperatures by creating more or fewer of the low, wet clouds that cool the earth. It notes that global climate models can’t accurately register cloud effects.

The Chilling Stars relates how Svensmark’s team mimicked the chemistry of earth’s atmosphere, by putting realistic mixtures of atmospheric gases into a large reaction chamber, with ultraviolet light as a stand-in for the sun. When they turned on the UV, microscopic droplets—cloud seeds—started floating through the chamber.

“We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons [generated by cosmic rays] do their work of creating the building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei,” says Svensmark.

The Chilling Stars documents how cosmic rays amplify small changes in the sun’s irradiance fourfold, creating 1-2 degree C cycles in earth’s temperatures: Cosmic rays continually slam into the earth’s atmosphere from outer space, creating ion clusters that become seeds for small droplets of water and sulfuric acid. The droplets then form the low, wet clouds that reflect solar energy back into space. When the sun is more active, it shields the earth from some of the rays, clouds wane, and the planet warms.

Unstoppable Global Warming documents the reality of a moderate, natural, 1500-year climate cycle on the earth. The Chilling Stars explains the why and how.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2007, 09:28:06 AM »


Don't Believe the Hype
Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming.

Sunday, July 2, 2006 12:01 a.m.

According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a
planetary emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more
and stronger hurricanes, and invasions of tropical disease, among other
cataclysms--unless we change the way we live now.
Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel,
proclaiming that current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right
about global warming, and we are all suffering the consequences of President
Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the
debate in the scientific community is over."

That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George
Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What
exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a
scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow
agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been
clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place.

The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a
1988 issue, it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically
thereafter it was revealed that although there had been lingering doubts
beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree. Even Mr. Gore qualified his
statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it, clarifying things in
an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact
that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he
suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that
scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence"
one way or the other and went on to claim--in his defense--that scientists
"don't know. . . . They just don't know."

So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their
research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's
preferred global-warming template--namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it
requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of
rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in
1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence
so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average.
A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the
coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr.
Gore's movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps
dire or alarming.

They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the
early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that.
Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are
now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why.

The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on
similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once
common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia--mosquitoes
don't require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time
scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This
temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales. However, questions
concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the
nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the
Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute
any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one
exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in
Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can't
think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are
becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the
primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.

A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the
fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing
even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear
is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.
Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is
ended--at least not in terms of the actual science.

A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental
journalist Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now
agrees that significant warming is occurring, and that there is clear
evidence of human influences on the climate system. This is still a most
peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely contested. Most of
the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures
have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century,
having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940
and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining
essentially flat since 1998.

There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million by volume in the 19th
century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question
whatever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse
gas--albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute
to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon
dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed,
assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing
carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system.
Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense
effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional
carbon dioxide has actually been detected.

Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate
change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a
persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus,
although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the
1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the infamous
"summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance of
evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This
sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.

The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has
become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms
are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude
argument--e.g., we can't think of an alternative--to support human
attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in a manner largely
unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new
evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the
observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the
increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page)
report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the
difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front
end that ambiguously claimed that "The changes observed over the last
several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot
rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of
natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to
presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that
global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no
wiggle room." Well, no.

More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy
Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the
years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928
articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the
consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her
procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all,
and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called
consensus view. Several actually opposed it.

Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush
administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared
it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."
This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed." What exactly was this
evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric
temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed
no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective
corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus
reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what
greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still
very much open.

So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at
least three points.

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the
science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates
and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate
the public and even scientists--especially those outside the area of climate

Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely
cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes
nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning
to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific
methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was
accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have
farce--if we're lucky.

Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2007, 01:38:53 PM »

I appreciate the Lindzen WSJ post above.  Going further back in time, he wrote a great piece still posted at Cato on the origin of the global warming debate, the underlying science and the politics driving it.  It's very long so I will just link it. I recommend a slow, careful read.  The first half is science and the second half covers the debate in the early years.

One point is his characterization of CO2 and methane as minor greenhouse gases with water vapor and clouds having 50 times more greenhouse effect.

At the heart of the science debate is the issue of net positive or negative feedback issues with warming.  In other words, a cloud may trap in heat but blocks light out. Net negative feedback would mean that warming in itself would cause offsetting phenomenon rather triggering even more warmth as others argue.

He criticizes existings models for inaccurately explaining existing data.  For example:

"If one considers the tropics... There is ample evidence that the average equatorial sea surface has remained within plus or minus one degree centigrade of its present temperature for billions of years, yet current models predict average warming of from two to four degrees centigrade even at the equator. It should be noted that for much of the Earth's history, the atmosphere had much more carbon dioxide than is currently anticipated for centuries to come."

Comments and criticisms of his science encouraged, but not on his integrity or his funding please.

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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2007, 08:51:12 PM »

"The sun's strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can't have much of an influence on the climate -- that C02 et al. don't dominate through some kind of leveraging effect that makes them especially potent drivers of climate change."

"CO2 does play a role in climate, Dr. Shaviv believes, but a secondary role, one too small to preoccupy policymakers." (Part science, part policy opinion)

Lawrence Solomon, National Post (Canada)
Published: Friday, February 02, 2007

Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, one of Israel's top young scientists, describes the logic that led him -- and most everyone else -- to conclude that SUVs, coal plants and other things man-made cause global warming.

Step One Scientists for decades have postulated that increases in carbon dioxide and other gases could lead to a greenhouse effect.

Step Two As if on cue, the temperature rose over the course of the 20th century while greenhouse gases proliferated due to human activities.

Step Three No other mechanism explains the warming. Without another candidate, greenhouses gases necessarily became the cause.

Dr. Shariv, a prolific researcher who has made a name for himself assessing the movements of two-billion-year-old meteorites, no longer accepts this logic, or subscribes to these views. He has recanted: "Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media.

"In fact, there is much more than meets the eye."

Dr. Shariv's digging led him to the surprising discovery that there is no concrete evidence -- only speculation -- that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-- the United Nations agency that heads the worldwide effort to combat global warming -- is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence. In fact, according to the IPCC's own findings, man's role is so uncertain that there is a strong possibility that we have been cooling, not warming, the Earth. Unfortunately, our tools are too crude to reveal what man's effect has been in the past, let alone predict how much warming or cooling we might cause in the future.

All we have on which to pin the blame on greenhouse gases, says Dr. Shaviv, is "incriminating circumstantial evidence," which explains why climate scientists speak in terms of finding "evidence of fingerprints." Circumstantial evidence might be a fine basis on which to justify reducing greenhouse gases, he adds, "without other 'suspects.' " However, Dr. Shaviv not only believes there are credible "other suspects," he believes that at least one provides a superior explanation for the 20th century's warming.

"Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming," he states, particularly because of the evidence that has been accumulating over the past decade of the strong relationship that cosmic- ray flux has on our atmosphere. So much evidence has by now been amassed, in fact, that "it is unlikely that [the solar climate link] does not exist."

The sun's strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can't have much of an influence on the climate -- that C02 et al. don't dominate through some kind of leveraging effect that makes them especially potent drivers of climate change. The upshot of the Earth not being unduly sensitive to greenhouse gases is that neither increases nor cutbacks in future C02 emissions will matter much in terms of the climate.

Even doubling the amount of CO2 by 2100, for example, "will not dramatically increase the global temperature," Dr. Shaviv states. Put another way: "Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reduction in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant."

The evidence from astrophysicists and cosmologists in laboratories around the world, on the other hand, could well be significant. In his study of meteorites, published in the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters, Dr. Shaviv found that the meteorites that Earth collected during its passage through the arms of the Milky Way sustained up to 10% more cosmic ray damage than others. That kind of cosmic ray variation, Dr. Shaviv believes, could alter global temperatures by as much as 15% --sufficient to turn the ice ages on or off and evidence of the extent to which cosmic forces influence Earth's climate.

In another study, directly relevant to today's climate controversy, Dr. Shaviv reconstructed the temperature on Earth over the past 550 million years to find that cosmic ray flux variations explain more than two-thirds of Earth's temperature variance, making it the most dominant climate driver over geological time scales. The study also found that an upper limit can be placed on the relative role of CO2 as a climate driver, meaning that a large fraction of the global warming witnessed over the past century could not be due to CO2 -- instead it is attributable to the increased solar activity.

CO2 does play a role in climate, Dr. Shaviv believes, but a secondary role, one too small to preoccupy policymakers. Yet Dr. Shaviv also believes fossil fuels should be controlled, not because of their adverse affects on climate but to curb pollution.

"I am therefore in favour of developing cheap alternatives such as solar power, wind, and of course fusion reactors (converting Deuterium into Helium), which we should have in a few decades, but this is an altogether different issue." His conclusion: "I am quite sure Kyoto is not the right way to go."
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2007, 02:42:29 PM »

Global Warming Smear
February 9, 2007; Page A10
Mark Twain once complained that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. That's been the case of late in the climate change debate, as political and media activists attempt to stigmatize anyone who doesn't pay homage to their "scientific consensus."

Last week the London Guardian published a story headlined, "Scientists Offer Cash to Dispute Climate Study." The story alleges that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, collected contributions from ExxonMobil and then offered climate scholars $10,000 so they could lobby against global warming legislation.

Another newspaper, the British Independent, picked up on the story and claimed: "It has come to light that one of the world's largest oil companies, ExxonMobil, is attempting to bribe scientists to pick holes in the IPCC's assessment." (The IPCC is the United Nations climate-change panel.)

It would be easy to dismiss all this as propaganda from British tabloids, except that a few days ago the "news" crossed the Atlantic where more respectable media outlets, including the Washington Post, are reporting the story in what has become all too typical pack fashion. A report offered that, "A think tank partly funded by ExxonMobil sent letters to scientists offering them up to $10,000 to critique findings in a major global warming study released Friday which found that global warming was real and likely caused by burning fossil fuels."

Here are the facts as we've been able to collect them. AEI doesn't lobby, didn't offer money to scientists to question global warming, and the money it did pay for climate research didn't come from Exxon.

What AEI did was send a letter to several leading climate scientists asking them to participate in a symposium that would present a "range of policy prescriptions that should be considered for climate change of uncertain dimension." Some of the scholars asked to participate, including Steve Schroeder of Texas A& M, are climatologists who believe that global warming is a major problem.

AEI President Chris DeMuth says, "What the Guardian essentially characterizes as a bribe is the conventional practice of AEI -- and Brookings, Harvard and the University of Manchester -- to pay individuals" for commissioned work. He says that Exxon has contributed less than 1% of AEI's budget over the last decade.

As for Exxon, Lauren Kerr, director of its Washington office, says that "none of us here had ever heard of this AEI climate change project until we read about it in the London newspapers." By the way, commissioning such research is also standard practice at NASA and other government agencies and at liberal groups such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, which have among them spent billions of dollars attempting to link fossil fuels to global warming.

We don't know where the Brits first got this "news," but the leading suspects are the reliable sources at Greenpeace. They have been peddling these allegations for months, and the London newspaper sleuths seem to have swallowed them like pints on a Fleet Street lunch hour.

So, apparently, have several members of the U.S. Senate. Yesterday Senators Bernard Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry sent a letter to Mr. DeMuth complaining that "should these reports be accurate," then "it would highlight the extent to which moneyed interests distort honest scientific and public policy discussions. . . . Does your donors' self-interest trump an honest discussion over the well-being of the planet?"

Every member of AEI's board of directors was graciously copied on the missive. We're told the Senators never bothered to contact AEI about the veracity of the reports, and by repeating the distortions, these four Democratic senators, wittingly or not, gave credence to falsehood.

For its part, Exxon appears unwilling to take this smear campaign lying down. Bribery can be a crime, and falsely accusing someone of a crime may well be defamation. A company spokesman says Exxon has written a letter to the Independent demanding a retraction.

One can only conclude from this episode that the environmental left and their political and media supporters now believe it is legitimate to quash debate on climate change and its consequences. This is known as orthodoxy, and, until now, science accepted the legitimacy of challenging it.
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2007, 11:37:58 PM »

My understanding of the alarmist view is that once the glaciers start melting, the rate accelerates (net positive feedback) and basically can't be slowed much less stopped.  This study indicates the opposite is true.


"Greenland isn’t melting as fast as we feared."

"the melting of Greenland's glaciers can slow as rapidly as it can accelerate, making the ice's effect on rising sea levels tough to forecast, a study says."


February 8, 2007,  4:08 pm
Greenland’s Glaciers Take a Breather

By John Tierney  (NYTimes)

Tags: climate change, glaciers, Greenland, ice, sea level
Helheim Glacier, located in southeast Greenland, in May 2005Helheim Glacier in southeast Greenland, pictured in 2005, is one of the two glaciers that have slowed down in their flow to the sea. (Photo: NASA/Wallops)

Greenland isn’t melting as fast as we feared.

It was big news when the rate of melting suddenly doubled in 2004 as ice sheets began moving more quickly into the sea. That inspired predictions of the imminent demise of Greenland’s ice — and a catastrophic rise in sea level. But a paper published online this afternoon by Science reports that two of the largest glaciers have suddenly slowed, bringing the rate of melting last year down to near the previous rate. At one glacier, Kangerdlugssuaq, “average thinning over the glacier during the summer of 2006 declined to near zero, with some apparent thickening in areas on the main trunk.”

I asked the lead author of the paper, Ian Howat of the University of Washington, for some perspective. Here’s his take:

    Over the past few years there has been a major revolution in the way scientists think about ice sheet response to climate change. Previously, it was assumed that the big ice sheets react very slowly to climate, on the order of centuries to millenia. This is because surface melting and precipitation was thought to be the dominant way in which ice sheets gain and lose mass under changes in climate. However, over the past five years we have observed that the flow speed of the ice sheets, and therefore the rate at which the ice flows to ocean can change dramatically over very short time scales.

By short, he means months or less.

I also asked Dr. Howat about the argument that, since Greenland went through decades of relatively warm weather in the first half of the 20th century without catastrophic consequences, it’s unlikely that the glaciers are suddenly going to plunge into the ocean because of the current warming. His response:

    Greenland was about as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s, and many of the glaciers were smaller than they are now. This was a period of rapid glacier shrinkage world-wide, followed by at least partial re-expansion during a colder period from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Of course, we don’t know very much about how the glacier dynamics changed then because we didn’t have satellites to observe it. However, it does suggest that large variations in ice sheet dynamics can occur from natural climate variability. The problem arises in the possibility that, due to anthropogenic warming, warm phases will become longer and more severe, so that each time the glaciers go through a period of retreat like this, they won’t fully grow back and they will retreat farther the next time.

That sounds like a reasonable concern. But for now, with the glaciers moving in fits and starts, it’s wise not to make any sweeping predictions based on a few measurements. Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was criticized for not incorporating the recent scary data from Greenland into its long-range projections, these new results seem to vindicate its caution. As Dr. Howat and his co-authors warn: “Special care must be taken in how these and other mass-loss estimates are evaluated, particularly when extrapolating into the future because short-term spikes could yield erroneous long-term trends.”


Simiolar story from Bloomberg at Boston Globe:

Study finds puzzle in Greenland glacier melt

By Bloomberg  |  February 9, 2007

The melting of Greenland's glaciers can slow as rapidly as it can accelerate, making the ice's effect on rising sea levels tough to forecast, a study says.

After two glaciers on Greenland's east coast exhibited "dramatic" shrinkage between 2000 and 2005, the rate slowed in 2006, said Ian Howat, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle and a study author. He said the size of the ice sheets were able to change in a matter of months.

The findings, published in the journal Science, may affect how researchers view the interaction between rising sea levels and global warming. A recent United Nations report on climate change acknowledged uncertainties over sea-level forecasts due to "limited" understanding of the dynamics of the ice sheets, and didn't include observations made since 2003.

"Before, we thought ice sheets tended to respond on the century- to millennial-scale," Howat said yesterday in a telephone interview. The study, involving the Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers, showed "the ice sheets can respond more on the scale of months or even less."

"What's happened is the glaciers retreated back to a point where they could regain some of their footing and are now decreasing the rate at which they're losing mass," Howat said.

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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2007, 10:33:08 AM »


Though I am all for a clean environment, I too find the warming case less than ironclad.  What about this assertion that the warming is due to variations in the Sun and that this explains why Mars, which has no air, is also warming?

Anyway, changing gears, here's this from today's NY Times.  Note what happens when people own the trees!


In Niger, trees and crops turn back the desert
GUIDAN BAKOYE, Niger — In this dust-choked region, long seen as an increasingly barren wasteland decaying into desert, millions of trees are flourishing, thanks in part to poor farmers whose simple methods cost little or nothing at all.


In Tahoua, where women have regenerated once-barren fields by digging manure pits, women mill their grain by pounding it with wooden pestles.

Better conservation and improved rainfall have led to at least 7.4 million newly tree-covered acres in Niger, researchers have found, achieved largely without relying on the large-scale planting of trees or other expensive methods often advocated by African politicians and aid groups for halting desertification, the process by which soil loses its fertility.

Recent studies of vegetation patterns, based on detailed satellite images and on-the-ground inventories of trees, have found that Niger, a place of persistent hunger and deprivation, has recently added millions of new trees and is now far greener than it was 30 years ago.

These gains, moreover, have come at a time when the population of Niger has exploded, confounding the conventional wisdom that population growth leads to the loss of trees and accelerates land degradation, scientists studying Niger say.

The vegetation is densest, researchers have found, in some of the most densely populated regions of the country.

“The general picture of the Sahel is much less bleak than we tend to assume,” said Chris P. Reij, a soil conservationist who has been working in the region for more than 30 years and helped lead a study published last summer on Niger’s vegetation patterns. “Niger was for us an enormous surprise.”

About 20 years ago, farmers like Ibrahim Danjimo realized something terrible was happening to their fields.

“We look around, all the trees were far from the village,” said Mr. Danjimo, a farmer in his 40s who has been working the rocky, sandy soil of this tiny village since he was a child. “Suddenly, the trees were all gone.”

Fierce winds were carrying off the topsoil of their once-productive land. Sand dunes threatened to swallow huts. Wells ran dry. Across the Sahel, a semiarid belt that spans Africa just below the Sahara and is home to some of the poorest people on earth, a cataclysm was unfolding. 

Severe drought in the 1970s and ’80s, coupled with a population explosion and destructive farming and livestock practices, was denuding vast swaths of land. The desert seemed determined to swallow everything. So Mr. Danjimo and other farmers in Guidan Bakoye took a small but radical step. No longer would they clear the saplings from their fields before planting, as they had for generations. Instead they would protect and nurture them, carefully plowing around them when sowing millet, sorghum, peanuts and beans.

Today, the success in growing new trees suggests that the harm to much of the Sahel may not have been permanent, but a temporary loss of fertility. The evidence, scientists say, demonstrates how relatively small changes in human behavior can transform the regional ecology, restoring its biodiversity and productivity.

In Niger’s case, farmers began protecting trees just as rainfall levels began to rise again after the droughts in the 1970s and ’80s.

Another change was the way trees were regarded by law. From colonial times, all trees in Niger had been regarded as the property of the state, which gave farmers little incentive to protect them. Trees were chopped for firewood or construction without regard to the environmental costs. Government foresters were supposed to make sure the trees were properly managed, but there were not enough of them to police a country nearly twice the size of Texas.

But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of that outlook by allowing individuals to own trees. Farmers make money from the trees by selling branches, pods, fruit and bark. Because those sales are more lucrative over time than simply chopping down the tree for firewood, the farmers preserve them.

The greening began in the mid-1980s, Dr. Reij said, “and every time we went back to Niger, the scale increased.”

“The density is so spectacular,” he said.

Mahamane Larwanou, a forestry expert at the University of Niamey in Niger’s capital, said the regrowth of trees had transformed rural life in Niger.


(2 of 3)

“The benefits are so many it is really astonishing,” Dr. Larwanou said. “The farmers can sell the branches for money. They can feed the pods as fodder to their animals. They can sell or eat the leaves. They can sell and eat the fruits. Trees are so valuable to farmers, so they protect them.”

They also have extraordinary ecological benefits. Their roots fix the soil in place, preventing it from being carried off with the fierce Sahelian winds and preserving arable land. The roots also help hold water in the ground, rather than letting it run off across rocky, barren fields into gullies where it floods villages and destroys crops.

One tree in particular, the Faidherbia albida, known locally as the gao tree, is particularly essential. It is a nitrogen-fixing tree, which helps fertilize the soil.

Its leaves fall off during the rainy season, which means it does not compete with crops for water, sun or nutrients during the growing period. The leaves themselves become organic fertilizer when they fall.

“This tree is perfectly adapted for farming in the Sahel,” said Dr. Larwanou. “Yet it had all but disappeared from the region.”

That is because for generations local farmers had simply cleared their fields of all vegetation, including trees, before sowing neat rows of sorghum, millet, peanuts and beans. When a field became less productive, the farmer would move on to another.

Wresting subsistence for 13 million people from Niger’s fragile ecology is something akin to a puzzle. Less than 12 percent of its land can be cultivated, and much of that is densely populated. Yet 90 percent of Niger’s people live off agriculture, cultivating a semiarid strip along the southern edge of the country.

Farmers here practice mostly rain-fed agriculture with few tools and no machinery, making survival precarious even in so-called normal times. But when the rains and harvest fall short, hunger returns with a particular vengeance, as it did in 2005 during the nation’s worst food crisis in a generation.

Making matters worse, Niger’s population has doubled in the last 20 years. Each woman bears about seven children, giving the country one of the highest growth rates in the world.

The regrowth of trees increases the income of rural farmers, cushioning the boom and bust cycle of farming and herding.

Ibrahim Idy, a farmer in Dahirou, a village in the Zinder region, has 20 baobab trees in his fields. Selling the leaves and fruit brings him about $300 a year in additional income. He has used that money to buy a motorized pump to draw water from his well to irrigate his cabbage and lettuce fields. His neighbors, who have fewer baobabs, use their children to draw water and dig and direct the mud channels that send water coursing to the beds. While their children work the fields, Mr. Idy’s children attend school.

In some regions, swaths of land that had fallen out of use are being reclaimed, using labor-intensive but inexpensive techniques.

In the village of Koloma Baba, in the Tahoua region just south of the desert’s edge, a group of widows have reclaimed fields once thought forever barren. The women dig small pits in plots of land as hard as asphalt. They place a shovelful of manure in the pits, then wait for rain. The pits help the water and manure stay in the soil and regenerate its fertility, said Dr. Larwanou. Over time, with careful tending, the land can regain its ability to produce crops. In this manner, more than 600,000 acres of land have been reclaimed, according to researchers.

Still, Koloma Baba also demonstrates the limits of this fragile ecosystem, where disaster is always one missed rainfall away. Most able-bodied young men migrate to Nigeria and beyond in search of work, supporting their families with remittances. The women struggle to eke a modest crop from their fields.

“I produce enough to eat, but nothing more,” said Hadijatou Moussa, a widow in Koloma Baba.

The women have managed to grow trees on their fields as well, but have not seen much profit from them. People come and chop their branches without permission, and a village committee that is supposed to enforce the rights of farmers to their trees does not take action against poachers.


Page 3 of 3)

Such problems raise the question of whether the success of some of Niger’s farmers can be replicated on a larger scale, across the Sahel. While Niger’s experience of greening on a vast scale is unique, scientists say, smaller tracts of land have been revived in other countries.

A Green Revolution
“It really requires the effort of the whole community,” said Dr. Larwanou. “If farmers don’t take action themselves and the community doesn’t support it, farmer-managed regeneration cannot work.”

Moussa Bara, the chief of Dansaga, a village in the Ague region of Niger, where the regeneration has been a huge success, said the village has benefited enormously from the regrowth of trees. He said not a single child died of malnutrition in the hunger crisis that gripped Niger in 2005, largely because of extra income from selling firewood. Still, he said, the village has too many mouths to feed.

“We are many and the land is small,” he explained, bouncing on his lap a little boy named Ibrahim, the youngest of his 17 children by his three wives.

Climate change is another looming threat. Kerry H. Cook, a professor of atmospheric science at Cornell University, said that improved rains in the Sahel are most likely a result of natural climate variability from decade to decade, and that while the trend is positive, the rains have not entirely recovered to what they were in the 1950s.

The Sahel, like other parts of Africa, has experienced big swings in rainfall in recent years. Severe droughts in eastern and southern Africa have led to serious hunger crises in the past five years, and a drop in precipitation in Niger in 2005 contributed to the food crisis here that year.

Dr. Cook’s long-term projections, based on a variety of climate models, point to longer and more frequent dry periods in the Sahel, caused by rising temperatures in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This is the place in the world that just stands out for having vulnerability for drought,” she said.

Still, more trees mean that Niger’s people are in a better position to withstand whatever changes the climate might bring. “This is something the farmers control, and something they do for themselves,” said Dr. Larwanou. “It demonstrates that with a little effort and foresight, you can reduce poverty in the Sahel. It is not impossible or hopeless, and does not have to cost a lot of money. It can be done.”
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2007, 11:27:51 AM »

Another opinion that there is no proof of gobal warming:

We may want to evacuate some polar bears from up north and repopulate them in Antarctica.
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2007, 08:51:08 AM »

NY Times

VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.

In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.

Along with recent stresses on the bees themselves, as well as on an industry increasingly under consolidation, some fear this disorder may force a breaking point for even large beekeepers.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation.

The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the offseason to be normal.

Beekeepers are the nomads of the agriculture world, working in obscurity in their white protective suits and frequently trekking around the country with their insects packed into 18-wheelers, looking for pollination work.

Once the domain of hobbyists with a handful of backyard hives, beekeeping has become increasingly commercial and consolidated. Over the last two decades, the number of beehives, now estimated by the Agriculture Department to be 2.4 million, has dropped by a quarter and the number of beekeepers by half.

Pressure has been building on the bee industry. The costs to maintain hives, also known as colonies, are rising along with the strain on bees of being bred to pollinate rather than just make honey. And beekeepers are losing out to suburban sprawl in their quest for spots where bees can forage for nectar to stay healthy and strong during the pollination season.

“There are less beekeepers, less bees, yet more crops to pollinate,” Mr. Browning said. “While this sounds sweet for the bee business, with so much added loss and expense due to disease, pests and higher equipment costs, profitability is actually falling.”

Some 15 worried beekeepers convened in Florida this month to brainstorm with researchers how to cope with the extensive bee losses. Investigators are exploring a range of theories, including viruses, a fungus and poor bee nutrition.

They are also studying a group of pesticides that were banned in some European countries to see if they are somehow affecting bees’ innate ability to find their way back home.

It could just be that the bees are stressed out. Bees are being raised to survive a shorter offseason, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That has most likely lowered their immunity to viruses.


Mites have also damaged bee colonies, and the insecticides used to try to kill mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago.

Relying on Bees Researchers are also concerned that the willingness of beekeepers to truck their colonies from coast to coast could be adding to bees’ stress, helping to spread viruses and mites and otherwise accelerating whatever is afflicting them.

Dennis van Engelsdorp, a bee specialist with the state of Pennsylvania who is part of the team studying the bee colony collapses, said the “strong immune suppression” investigators have observed “could be the AIDS of the bee industry,” making bees more susceptible to other diseases that eventually kill them off.

Growers have tried before to do without bees. In past decades, they have used everything from giant blowers to helicopters to mortar shells to try to spread pollen across the plants. More recently researchers have been trying to develop “self-compatible” almond trees that will require fewer bees. One company is even trying to commercialize the blue orchard bee, which is virtually stingless and works at colder temperatures than the honeybee.

Beekeepers have endured two major mite infestations since the 1980s, which felled many hobbyist beekeepers, and three cases of unexplained disappearing disorders as far back as 1894. But those episodes were confined to small areas, Mr. van Engelsdorp said.

Today the industry is in a weaker position to deal with new stresses. A flood of imported honey from China and Argentina has depressed honey prices and put more pressure on beekeepers to take to the road in search of pollination contracts. Beekeepers are trucking tens of billions of bees around the country every year.

California’s almond crop, by far the biggest in the world, now draws more than half of the country’s bee colonies in February. The crop has been both a boon to commercial beekeeping and a burden, as pressure mounts for the industry to fill growing demand. Now spread over 580,000 acres stretched across 300 miles of California’s Central Valley, the crop is expected to grow to 680,000 acres by 2010.

Beekeepers now earn many times more renting their bees out to pollinate crops than in producing honey. Two years ago a lack of bees for the California almond crop caused bee rental prices to jump, drawing beekeepers from the East Coast.

This year the price for a bee colony is about $135, up from $55 in 2004, said Joe Traynor, a bee broker in Bakersfield, Calif.

A typical bee colony ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 bees. But beekeepers’ costs are also on the rise. In the past decade, fuel, equipment and even bee boxes have doubled and tripled in price.

The cost to control mites has also risen, along with the price of queen bees, which cost about $15 each, up from $10 three years ago.

To give bees energy while they are pollinating, beekeepers now feed them protein supplements and a liquid mix of sucrose and corn syrup carried in tanker-sized trucks costing $12,000 per load. Over all, Mr. Bradshaw figures, in recent years he has spent $145 a hive annually to keep his bees alive, for a profit of about $11 a hive, not including labor expenses. The last three years his net income has averaged $30,000 a year from his 4,200 bee colonies, he said.

“A couple of farmers have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” Mr. Bradshaw said. “I ask myself the same thing. But it is a job I like. It is a lifestyle. I work with my dad every day. And now my son is starting to work with us.”

Almonds fetch the highest prices for bees, but if there aren’t enough bees to go around, some growers may be forced to seek alternatives to bees or change their variety of trees.

“It would be nice to know that we have a dependable source of honey bees,” said Martin Hein, an almond grower based in Visalia. “But at this point I don’t know that we have that for the amount of acres we have got.”

To cope with the losses, beekeepers have been scouring elsewhere for bees to fulfill their contracts with growers. Lance Sundberg, a beekeeper from Columbus, Mont., said he spent $150,000 in the last two weeks buying 1,000 packages of bees — amounting to 14 million bees — from Australia.

He is hoping the Aussie bees will help offset the loss of one-third of the 7,600 hives he manages in six states. “The fear is that when we mix the bees the die-offs will continue to occur,” Mr. Sundberg said.

Migratory beekeeping is a lonely life that many compare to truck driving. Mr. Sundberg spends more than half the year driving 20 truckloads of bees around the country. In Terra Bella, an hour south of Visalia, Jack Brumley grimaced from inside his equipment shed as he watched Rosa Patiño use a flat tool to scrape dried honey from dozens of beehive frames that once held bees. Some 2,000 empty boxes — which once held one-third of his total hives — were stacked to the roof.

Beekeepers must often plead with landowners to allow bees to be placed on their land to forage for nectar. One large citrus grower has pushed for California to institute a “no-fly zone” for bees of at least two miles to prevent them from pollinating a seedless form of Mandarin orange.

But the quality of forage might make a difference. Last week Mr. Bradshaw used a forklift to remove some of his bee colonies from a spot across a riverbed from orange groves. Only three of the 64 colonies there have died or disappeared.

“It will probably take me two to three more years to get back up,” he said. “Unless I spend gobs of money I don’t have.”

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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2007, 09:32:04 AM »

Scenes from the Climate Inquisition
By Kenneth P. Green, Steven F. Hayward
Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007

AEI Online    
Publication Date: February 22, 2007

 This article is available here as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

A version of this article appeared in The Weekly Standard on February 19, 2007.

February 2007

On February 2, an AEI research project on climate-change policy that we have been organizing was the target of a journalistic hit piece in Britain's largest left-wing newspaper, the Guardian. The article's allegation--that we tried to bribe scientists to criticize the work of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)--is easy to refute. More troubling than the article is the growing worldwide effort to silence anyone with doubts about the catastrophic warming scenario that Al Gore and other climate extremists are putting forth.

"Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today," began the Guardian article. The byline was Ian Sample, the paper's science correspondent, and his story ran under the headline "Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study."

Sample spoke to one of us for five minutes to gather a perfunctory quotation to round out his copy, but he clearly was not interested in learning the full story. He found time, however, to canvass critics for colorful denunciations of AEI as "the Bush administration's intellectual Cosa Nostra," with nothing but "a suitcase full of cash."

Every claim in the story was false or grossly distorted, starting with the description of AEI as a "lobby group"--AEI engages in no lobbying--funded by the world's largest oil company. The Guardian reports that "AEI has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil." Yes, that is true--over the last seven years, a sum that represents less than 1 percent of AEI's total revenue during that period.

The irony of this story line is that AEI and similar right-leaning groups are often attacked for supposedly ignoring the scientific "consensus" and promoting only the views of a handful of "skeptics" from the disreputable fringe. Yet in this instance, when we sought the views of leading "mainstream" scientists, our project is said to be an attempt at bribery. In any event, it has never been true that we ignore mainstream science, and anyone who reads AEI publications closely can see that we are not "skeptics" about warming. It is possible to accept the general consensus about the existence of global warming while having valid questions about the extent of warming, the consequences of warming, and the appropriate responses. In particular, one can remain a policy skeptic, which is where we are today, along with nearly all economists.

The substantive back story, in brief, is as follows. The 2001 report of the IPCC expressed the hope that scientific progress would reduce key uncertainties in climate models, especially those having to do with clouds and aerosols. As the 2001 report stated: "The accuracy of these [temperature] estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing." The IPCC identified twelve key factors for climate modeling and said that the level of scientific understanding was "very low" for seven of them. What progress have climate models made since this assessment was written, we wondered? Even people who closely follow the scientific journals are hard-pressed to tell.

In Pursuit of the Honest Truth

Last summer we decided to commission essays from scientists, economists, and public policy experts in the hope of launching a fresh round of discussion and perhaps holding a conference or publishing a book. Among the nine scholars we wrote to in July were Gerald North and Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M University , who have done scrupulous and detailed work on some key aspects of climate modeling, and we were confident that their work would be seen as authoritative by all sides. (North chaired the recent National Academy of Sciences review of the controversial "hockey stick" temperature reconstruction.) We couched our query in the context of wanting to make sure the next IPCC report received serious scrutiny and criticism.

Our offer of an honorarium of up to $10,000 to busy scientists to review several thousand pages of material and write an original analysis in the range of 7,500–10,000 words is entirely in line with honoraria that AEI and similar organizations pay to distinguished economists and legal scholars for commissioned work. (Our letter to North and Schroeder can be found at

North declined our invitation on account of an already full schedule. Schroeder shared our letter with one of his Texas A&M colleagues, atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler. Dessler posted our complete letter on his blog in late July, along with some critical but largely fair-minded comments, including: "While one might be skeptical that the AEI will give the [IPCC Fourth Assessment Report] a fair hearing, the fact that they have solicited input from a credible and mainstream scientist like Jerry North suggests to me that I should not prejudge their effort."

Dessler's story was linked on the popular environmental blog Grist, after which someone in the environmental advocacy community (the Washington Post suggests it was Greenpeace and the Public Interest Research Group) picked up the story and tried to plant it, with a sinister spin, somewhere in the media. Several reporters looked into it--including one from a major broadcast network who spent half a day talking with us in November about the substance of our climate views--but reached the conclusion that there was no story here. In particular, Lee Lane's recent AEI's Press book Strategic Options for Bush Administration Climate Policy, advocating a carbon tax and criticizing the current Bush administration's climate policy, clearly did not fit the "Big Oil lobby corrupts science" story line.

Instead, the story was taken overseas and peddled to the Guardian, which, like some of its British competitors, has a history of publishing environmentalist hype as news. (In December, Guardian columnist George Monbiot offered the view that "every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned.") Add a Matt Drudge link and a credulous recycling of the story by NPR's Morning Edition, and a full-scale media frenzy was on. Even Al Gore jumped on the bandwagon, calling us "unethical" in an appearance in Silicon Valley and on a CNN interview.

We were deluged with calls, but unlike the reporters who had looked at the story last fall, none of our interrogators in early February evinced any interest in the substance of our views on climate change science or policy, nor did any news story that we have seen accurately report the figures we supplied regarding ExxonMobil's share of AEI's funding.

The Guardian story, it should be noted, appeared the very day the IPCC released its new summary on the science of climate change. This was a transparent attempt to discredit an anticipated AEI blast at the IPCC. But no such blast was ever in the offing. As our letter to Schroeder makes clear, our project was not expected to produce any published results until some time in 2008, long after the headlines about the IPCC report would have faded.

Meanwhile, the IPCC's release of a twenty-one-page summary of its work a full three months before the complete 1,400-page report is due to be published is exactly the kind of maneuver that raises questions about the politicization of the IPCC process. Why the delay? In the past, official summaries of IPCC reports have sometimes overstated the consensus of scientific opinion revealed later in fine print. (Though, to be fair, it is more often the media and advocacy groups that misrepresent findings or omit the IPCC's caveats and declarations of uncertainty on key points.) Is the full report going to be rewritten to square more closely with the summary? The Scientific Alliance in Cambridge, England, noted that it is "an unusual step to publish the summary of a document that has not yet been finalized and released into the public domain."

One possible reason for the timing is that there appear to be some significant retreats from the 2001 IPCC report. The IPCC has actually lowered its estimate of the magnitude of human influence on warming, though we will have to wait for the full report in May to understand how and why. Only readers with detailed knowledge of the 2001 report would notice these changes, which is why most news accounts failed to report them.

This reining-in has led some climate pessimists to express disappointment with the new summary. Environmental writer Joseph Romm, for example, complained about "the conservative edge to the final product." Which returns us to our starting point.

Convenient Timing

The rollout of the IPCC report and the Guardian story attacking us coincide with the climax of what can be aptly described as a climate inquisition intended to stifle debate about climate science and policy. Anyone who does not sign up 100 percent behind the catastrophic scenario is deemed a climate change denier. Distinguished climatologist Ellen Goodman spelled out the implication in her widely syndicated newspaper column in early February: "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers." One environmental writer suggested last fall that there should someday be Nuremberg Trials--or at the very least a South African–style Truth and Reconciliation Commission--for climate skeptics who have blocked the planet's salvation.

Al Gore has proposed that the media stop covering climate skeptics, and Britain's environment minister said that just as the media should give no platform to terrorists, they should also exclude climate-change skeptics from the airwaves and the news pages. Heidi Cullen, a climate expert with the Weather Channel, made headlines with a recent call for weather broadcasters with impure climate opinions to be "decertified" by the American Meteorological Society. In mid-February politicians in Oregon and Delaware stepped up calls for the dismissal of their state's official climatologists, George Taylor and David Legates, solely on the grounds of their public dissent from climate orthodoxy. And as we were completing this article, a letter arrived from senators Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and John Kerry (D-Mass.) expressing "very serious concerns" about our alleged "attempt to undermine science." Show trial hearing to follow? Stay tuned.

Intimidation, Demonization, and Inquisition

Desperation is the chief cause for this campaign of intimidation. The Kyoto accords are failing to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, and although it is convenient to blame President Bush, anyone who follows the Europeans' Kyoto evasions knows better. China will soon eclipse the United States as the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter, depriving the gas-rationers of one of their favorite sticks for beating up Americans. The economics of steep, near-term emissions cuts are forbidding--though that is one consensus the climate crusaders ignore. Robert Samuelson nailed it in his syndicated column in early February: "Don't be fooled. The dirty secret about global warming is this: We have no solution."

The relentless demonization of anyone who does not fall in behind the Gore version of the issue--manmade climate catastrophe necessitating draconian cuts in emissions--has been effective. Steve Schroeder practically admitted as much when he told the Washington Post that although he did not think AEI would distort his work, he feared it could be "misused" or placed alongside "off-the-wall ideas" questioning the existence of global warming. In other words, Schroeder was afraid of the company he might have to keep. For the record, AEI extended an invitation to participate in this project to only one so-called skeptic (who declined, on grounds that reviewing the next IPCC report is not worth the effort). The other scientists and economists we contacted are from the "mainstream," and we were happy to share with them the names of other prospective participants if they asked. Over the last four years, AEI has repeatedly invited senior IPCC figures--including Susan Solomon, Robert Watson, Richard Moss, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic--to speak at AEI panels and seminars, always with an offer to pay honoraria. Full schedules prevented all four from accepting our invitations; a few more junior IPCC members have spoken at AEI.

But the climate inquisition may prompt a backlash. One straw in the wind was the bracing statement made by Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and one of Britain's leading climate scientists. "I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric," Hulme told the BBC in November.

"It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the skeptics. How the wheel turns. . . . Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists, too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror, and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions? . . . To state that climate change will be ‘catastrophic' hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science."

Then, in December, Kevin Vranes of the University of Colorado, by no means a climate skeptic, commented on a widely read science blog about the mood of the most recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, at which Al Gore made his standard climate presentation. "To sum up the state of the [climate science] world in one word, as I see it right now, it is this: tension," Vranes wrote. "What I am starting to hear is internal backlash. . . . None of this is to say that the risk of climate change is being questioned or downplayed by our community; it's not. It is to say that I think some people feel that we've created a monster by limiting the ability of people in our community to question results that say ‘climate change is right here!'"

The climate inquisition is eliminating any space for sensible criticism of the climate science process or moderate deliberation about policy. Greenpeace and its friends may be celebrating their ability to gin up a phony scandal story and feed it to the left-wing press, but if people who are serious about climate change hunker down in their fortifications and stay silent, that bodes ill for both the future of climate policy and science.

Kenneth P. Green is a resident scholar and Steven F. Hayward is the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI.
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« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2007, 11:53:54 AM »

Nice photos from Powerline at the link if you have never come home to find your house or car buried in a 15-20 foot snow drift.  Of course isolated weather isn't ever eveidence of anything global, though I keep seeing a replay on television of a glacier dropping ice chunks as presumably depicting something.

I came home (Lake Minnetonka, MN)  last night from an extended ski trip with constant Montana snow to find our house, cars and property covered, not quite as thoroughly as the photos at the link.  It took hours to clear out a place to put a car and to clear a door to access the house.  Then this morning began the process of clearing the roof to avoid collapse, ice dams or water damage.

I whine about winter, but of course we love it.  Most of my friends who believe the globe has warmed noticeably have coincidentally moved south or west to avoid winter.
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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2007, 09:38:09 PM »

Speaking for myself, I moved to LA after a particulary harsh winter in DC in 1982  cheesy

Anyway, here's this from Mark Steyn on Al Gore's carbon credits:


How Gore's massive energy consumption saves the world

By Mark Steyn

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the other day the Rev. Al Gore
declared that "climate change" was "the most important moral, ethical,
spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced.'' Ever. I believe
that was the same day it was revealed that George W. Bush's ranch in Texas
is more environmentally friendly than the Gore mansion in Tennessee.
According to the Nashville Electric Service, the Eco-Messiah's house uses 20
times more electricity than the average American home. The average household
consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours. In 2006, the Gores wolfed down nearly
221,000 kilowatt-hours.

Two hundred twenty-one thousand kilowatt-hours? What's he doing in there?
Clamping Tipper to the electrodes and zapping her across the rec room every
night? No, no, don't worry. Al's massive energy consumption is due entirely
to his concern about the way we're depleting the Earth's resources. When I
say "we," I don't mean Al, of course. I mean you -yes, you, Earl Schlub, in
the basement apartment at 29 Elm St. You're irresponsibly depleting the
Earth's resources by using that electric washer when you could be down by
the river with the native women beating your loin cloth dry on the rock
while singing traditional village work chants all morning long. But up at
the Gore mansion -the Nashville Electric Service's own personal gold mine,
the shining Cathedral of St. Al, Tennessee's very own Palace of Versal -the
Reverend Al is being far more environmentally responsible. As his
spokesperson attempted to argue, his high energy usage derives from his
brave calls for low energy usage. He's burning up all that electricity by
sending out faxes every couple of minutes urging you to use less

Also he buys -and if you're a practicing Ecopalyptic please prostrate
yourself before the Recycling Bin and make the sign of the HDPE -Al buys
"carbon offsets," or "carbon credits." Or, as his spokesperson Kalee Kreider
put it (and, incidentally, speaking through a spokesperson is another way Al
dramatically reduces his own emissions), the Gores "also do the carbon
emissions offset."

They do the Carbon Emissions Offset? What is that -a '60s dance craze? No,
it's way hotter. I mean, cooler. All the movie stars are doing it. In fact,
this year's Oscar goodie-bag that all the nominees get included a year's
worth of carbon offsets. Totally free. So even the stars' offsets are
offset. No wonder that, when they're off the set, they all do the offset.
Look at Leonardo DiCaprio: He's loaded with 'em, and the chicks think he's
totally eco-cool. Tall and tan and young and lovely, the boy with carbon
offsets goes walking and when he passes each one he passes goes

How do "carbon offsets" work? Well, let's say you're a former vice president
and you want to reduce your "carbon footprint," but the gorgeous go-go Gore
gals are using the hair dryer every night. So you go to a carbon-credits
firm and pay some money and they'll find a way of getting somebody on the
other side of the planet to reduce his emissions and the net result will be
"carbon neutral." It's like in Henry VIII's day. He'd be planning a big ox
roast and piling on the calories but he'd give a groat to a starving peasant
to carry on starving for another day and the result would be

So in the Reverend Al's case it doesn't matter that he's lit up like Times
Square on V-E Day. Because he's paid for his extravagant emissions. He has a
carbon-offset trader in an environmentally friendly carbon-credits office
suite who buys "carbon offsets" for Al from, say, a terrorist mastermind in
a cave in the Pakistani tribal lands who's dramatically reduced his energy
usage mainly because every time he powers up his cell phone or laptop a
light goes on in Washington and an unmanned drone starts heading his way.
So, aside from a basic cable subscription to cheer himself up watching U.S.
senators talking about "exit strategies" on CNN 24/7, the terrorist
mastermind doesn't deplete a lot of resources. Which means Tipper can watch
Al give a speech on a widescreen plasma TV, where Al looks almost as wide as
in life, and she doesn't have to feel guilty because it all comes out . . .

And, in fact, in the Reverend Al's case it's even better than that. Al buys
his carbon offsets from Generation Investment Management LLP, which is "an
independent, private, owner-managed partnership established in 2004 and with
offices in London and Washington, D.C.," that, for a fee, will invest your
money in "high-quality companies at attractive prices that will deliver
superior long-term investment returns." Generation is a tax-exempt U.S.
501(c)3. And who's the chairman and founding partner? Al Gore.

So Al can buy his carbon offsets from himself. Better yet, he can buy them
with the money he gets from his long-time relationship with Occidental
Petroleum. See how easy it is to be carbon-neutral? All you have do is own a
gazillion stocks in Big Oil, start an eco-stockbroking firm to make
eco-friendly investments, use a small portion of your oil company's profits
to buy some tax-deductible carbon offsets from your own investment firm, and
you too can save the planet while making money and leaving a carbon
footprint roughly the size of Godzilla's at the start of the movie when
they're all standing around in the little toe wondering what the strange
depression in the landscape is.

A couple of days before the Oscars, the Reverend Al gave a sell-out
performance at the University of Toronto. "From my perspective, it is a form
of religion," said Bruce Crofts of the East Toronto Climate Action Group,
who compared the former vice president to Jesus Christ, both men being (as
the Globe And Mail put it) "great leaders who stepped forward when called
upon by circumstance." Unlike Christ, the Eco-Messiah cannot yet walk on
water, but then, neither can the polar bears. However, only Al can survey
the melting ice caps and turn water into whine. One lady unable to land a
ticket frantically begged the university for an audience with His Goriness.
As the National Post reported, "Her daughter hadn't been able to sleep since
seeing ''An Inconvenient Truth.'' She claimed that seeing Mr. Gore in person
might make her daughter feel better." Well, it worked for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Are eco-celebrities buying ridiculousness-emissions credits from exhausted
run-of-the-mill celebrities like Paris, Britney and Anna Nicole? Ah, well.
The Eco-Messiah sternly talks up the old Nazi comparisons: What we're facing
is an "ecological Holocaust, and "the evidence of an ecological
Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin." That
221,000 kilowatt-hours might suggest that, if this is the ecological
Holocaust, Gore's pad is Auschwitz. But, as his spokesperson would no doubt
argue, when you're faced with ecological Holocausts and ecological
Kristallnachts, sometimes the only way to bring it to an end is with an
ecological Hiroshima. The Gore electric bill is the eco-atom bomb: You have
to light up the world in order to save it.
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« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2007, 08:50:03 AM »

Today's NY Times:

Published: March 13, 2007
Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.

But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.

“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”

Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made “the most important and salient points” about climate change, if not “some nuances and distinctions” scientists might want. “The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,” he said, adding, “I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.”

Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.

Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.

Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”

Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.

“He’s a very polarizing figure in the science community,” said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. “Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore.”

“An Inconvenient Truth,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, was released last May and took in more than $46 million, making it one of the top-grossing documentaries ever. The companion book by Mr. Gore quickly became a best seller, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times list.

Mr. Gore depicted a future in which temperatures soar, ice sheets melt, seas rise, hurricanes batter the coasts and people die en masse. “Unless we act boldly,” he wrote, “our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes.”

He clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.

“He has credibility in this community,” said Tim Killeen, the group’s president and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a top group studying climate change. “There’s no question he’s read a lot and is able to respond in a very effective way.”

Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.”

Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.


Page 2 of 2)

“We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Gore. “On the other hand,” Dr. Hansen said, “he has the bottom line right: most storms, at least those driven by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend to be stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, in a warmer climate.”

In his e-mail message, Mr. Gore defended his work as fundamentally accurate. “Of course,” he said, “there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.”

He said “not every single adviser” agreed with him on every point, “but we do agree on the fundamentals” — that warming is real and caused by humans.

Mr. Gore added that he perceived no general backlash among scientists against his work. “I have received a great deal of positive feedback,” he said. “I have also received comments about items that should be changed, and I have updated the book and slideshow to reflect these comments.” He gave no specifics on which points he had revised.

He said that after 30 years of trying to communicate the dangers of global warming, “I think that I’m finally getting a little better at it.”

While reviewers tended to praise the book and movie, vocal skeptics of global warming protested almost immediately. Richard S. Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has long expressed skepticism about dire climate predictions, accused Mr. Gore in The Wall Street Journal of “shrill alarmism.”

Some of Mr. Gore’s centrist detractors point to a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming. The panel went further than ever before in saying that humans were the main cause of the globe’s warming since 1950, part of Mr. Gore’s message that few scientists dispute. But it also portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.

Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and political scientist in Denmark long skeptical of catastrophic global warming, said in a syndicated article that the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, had refrained from scaremongering. “Climate change is a real and serious problem” that calls for careful analysis and sound policy, Dr. Lomborg said. “The cacophony of screaming,” he added, “does not help.”

So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.

Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”

Other critics have zeroed in on Mr. Gore’s claim that the energy industry ran a “disinformation campaign” that produced false discord on global warming. The truth, he said, was that virtually all unbiased scientists agreed that humans were the main culprits. But Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge-Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus with examples of pointed disagreement.

“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.

“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.

“For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton who advised Mr. Gore on the book and movie, said that reasonable scientists disagreed on the malaria issue and other points that the critics had raised. In general, he said, Mr. Gore had distinguished himself for integrity.

“On balance, he did quite well — a credible and entertaining job on a difficult subject,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “For that, he deserves a lot of credit. If you rake him over the coals, you’re going to find people who disagree. But in terms of the big picture, he got it right.”

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« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2007, 11:52:26 AM »

Thanks Crafty for finding that story.  I have no idea why earth science is political, but it is. It's quite a breakthrough for that paper to publish a contrary view, though it took them almost a year.  I saw a headsup yesterday that a major hit piece on Al Gore's script was coming in the NY Times, then I didn't see the story. Silly me, I expected a story that changes the liklihood of survival on our planet and life as we know it to be center front page.  Turns out it was the 141st story listed on their website for 'today's paper'.   I am curious if any of my liberal friends who read the Times will notice this story and curious if you came across it while reading the paper or were referred to it by link from another source.
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2007, 05:48:15 AM »

"No idea why earth science is political"?  Ha!

My personal breakdown of the issue is this:

This is the fundalmental point:  Free market theory requires that the price paid in a transaction reflect all its costs.  Pollution is a violation of this requirement.  The question becomes what to do about it.

The Dem/socialist model tends towards commands.  "Thou shalt not do XYZ" or, to be more precise, "Thou shall do less of XYZ".  The Rep/corporatist model simply tends to resist this. "Thou hast lousy science and you are a weenie."  This model never really answers what to do about it.

Following a discussion I read years ago in a position paper by, of all people, Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-NY) the Dem model tends towards prohibiting further sources of contaminant X or setting a given level thereof.  The net result of this is, as is usually the case with Dem solutions, the opposite of what is intended-- which of course leads to redoubled efforts  rolleyes  The effect is that older dirtier technologies tend to prohibit the entrance of newer, cleaner technologies (less units of Contaminant X per unit of production, mile travelled, etc). 

The Dem model often involves setting a standard.  Naturally this is a perceived as a matter of values for which only a fascist corporatist would resist.  This usually entails choosing a bunch of "their" experts to determine the permitted level -- sometimes with reference to what is technologically feasible and sometimes not.  Naturally the Reps seek to have "their" experts chosen.  Special interests enter into the political fray and political corruption ensues.

My thinking is to bring market economics to bear.   For example, rather than declaring an area in non-compliance for X (e.g. a form of air pollution) and prohibiting new sources of X, the idea should be to tax X because it is an external diseconomy-- a cost not born by buyer or seller, but rather by third parties.  Thus he who pollutes less per unit of production (per widget, miles per gallon, etc) will have a cost advantage over he who pollutes more and producers now have it in their own interest to focus on how evolve technologically instead of buying Congressmen and experts for the bureaucratic regulatory/legal wars-- and the Dems have less ways to expand government and make themselves important and powerful.

The more the tax bites, the more this is so.  Thus as we increase the tax, the market itself informs us as to the cost-benefit ratio.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 06:01:54 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2007, 02:35:10 PM »

Thanks for your view Marc. I agree that pollution in general is an external cost that escapes free market pricing and requires public policy action.  In some cases, the science is clear and alternatives are available, so a solution is possible.  For example, scrubbers on a clean coal electric plant are an acceptable cost and mandate, up to some reasonable point for capturing and cleaning emissions.  If dirty coal was the only way to make electricity and there are public benefits gained from the electricity, then some clever tax and cost transfer scheme might work.  But I think taxing and redistributing would be just as political and imperfect as the reasonable mandate ‘solution’.  The problem with pollution politics is the prevalence of junk science in both life sciences and economics.  If the sciece is real, and if mercury is truly harmful, and if it doesn't need to go into the stream, then the capitalist has no right to dump it in the stream.  Put me in with the regulators in that example - stop polluting or we will close you, fine you and jail you.  I wouldn't give them credits to buy and sell.  The opposite example involves the release of trace element levels of something that harms no one and has infinite costs to eliminate.  The earth has an amazing ability to filter and cleanse itself.

Global warming is different. CO2 is not a pollutant per se; it is an essential ingredient of life.  We are arguing over a vague concept of 'excess' CO2 produced by humans with no standard for what the right level is or should be.  We are also arguing over whether or not the science is settled.  Clearly it is not, IMO.  Public opinion polls might indicate otherwise depending on what has been printed in the newspaper lately.  That's why it was such a breakthrough for a balancing story to get published in the media where mainly bias is fit to print.

Some things we don't know in the science of global warming:

1) We don't know that the earth is warming at an alarming rate. Best information is that very slow warming is occurring with no acceleration in the rate.

2) We don’t know that the measured warming is wholly human caused or mainly human caused.  Fossil fuel combustion releases CO2, and measured CO2 levels have increased, but only lazy science can turn those facts into a perfect cause-effect relationship.  The alternative theory is that warmer air just holds more CO2 content and that most atmospheric CO2 originates from the oceans.  Other planets are also warming which indicates the main cause of all may be solar fluctuation.  Most puzzling to me is that if two O2 molecules are consumed for each CO2 produced in combustion and atmospheric CO2 increases are mainly attributed to combustion, why do atmospheric O2 levels show absolutely no depletion and even an insignificant increase?  That fact doesn't fit with the combustion-cause theory in my view.

3) We don’t know that human caused CO2 increases or minor human caused warming of the planet, if true, is harmful - over the blip in time of earth’s history that humans rely on fossil fuels for energy.  Certainly there would be offsetting benefits, enhanced plant growth and longer growing seasons and more parts of the globe becoming habitable, for examples.  The migration of the US population still reflects people moving from colder areas toward warmth rather than escaping the heat. 

4) I think most importantly is that we don’t know that the earth doesn’t have its own correcting forces that are far stronger than the misbehavior of humans.  Just taking examples from this thread, a rain and especially a hurricane convert the worst greenhouse offender – water vapor – out of the atmosphere into ground water, and higher CO2 levels enhance plant growth – which then consumes CO2 at an increased rate.  The history of warming and cooling cycles indicates (prooves?) that the earth possesses amazingly powerful, self-correcting forces. 

It is easy for me to conclude that the science is not settled, but OTOH impossible to prove that humans cause no warming, so the correct strategy becomes risk management, balancing and addressing the two main risks.  There is the risk that part of the alarmists’ outcomes will materialize on our current course - that man is messing dangerously with nature, and there is the risk that over-reacction and over-regulation will bring down our economy and civilization as we know it if no real harm is actually taking place. 

The answer is to take reasonable steps, mostly voluntary, while we learn and debate the science. 

The first step is to look at conservation by choice and ways to eliminate waste in energy use.  (Government's role could be to close down unnecessary government buildings, vehicles, travel and staffing.)

On the energy production side - with the technology we know today, I don’t see any alternative to being pro-nuclear if one is concerned with greenhouse gases.  What else has zero greenhouse gas emissions with an enormous energy output capability?  The main challenges are spent rod storage and being a target for terrorists.  We have safe storage techniques IMO, and today's radioactive waste is by definition a potential energy source for the future. As for the argument that nuclear plants are a target for terrorists - that is a fight that goes on and I favor getting serious and winning it.

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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2007, 07:04:44 PM »


Good conversation.

What do you make of the global warming skeptics' assertion that Mars too is going through a warming phase?  In that Mars has no atmosphere at all, I gather that the inference is that solar variations are the source of the variance that Al Whose Ox is being Gore in a dither.

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« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2007, 08:56:28 AM »

While waiting for Doug's answer, here's this:


Today's NY Times
Push to Fix Ozone Layer and Slow Global Warming
Published: March 15, 2007
HONG KONG, March 14 — An unusual coalition of industrial and developing countries began pushing Wednesday for stringent limits on the world’s most popular refrigerant for air-conditioners, as evidence mounts that the refrigerant harms the earth’s ozone layer and contributes to global warming.

The use of HCFC’s is rising in China by as much as 35 percent a year, and the Chinese oppose any new curbs.

In a Test of Capturing Carbon Dioxide, Perhaps a Way to Temper Global Warming (March 15, 2007) The coalition is pitted against China, which has become the world’s leading manufacturer of air-conditioners that use the refrigerant, HCFC-22. Most window air-conditioners and air-conditioning systems in the United States use this refrigerant, as well.

International pressure has grown rapidly this winter for quick action. “We scientifically have proof: if we accelerate the phaseout of HCFC, we are going to make a great contribution to climate change,” said Romina Picolotti, the chief of Argentina’s environmental secretariat.

An accelerated phaseout of the refrigerant could speed up by five years the healing of the ozone layer of the atmosphere. It could also cut emissions of global-warming gases by the equivalent of at least one-sixth of the reductions called for under the Kyoto Protocol.

The United States joined Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, Mauritania and Norway on Wednesday in notifying the Ozone Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Program that they want to negotiate an accelerated phaseout of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFC’s, at an international conference in Montreal in September.

The conference is tied to the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol, which has reduced emissions of most ozone-depleting gases but left a loophole for HCFC-22 production by developing countries. China has repeatedly said it will honor all current rules of the Montreal Protocol but does not want to add new ones.

Recent studies have shown that steeply rising production of HCFC-22 by China, India and other developing countries has slowed the healing of the ozone layer, which protects humans, animals and vegetation from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.

A report last week by five American and European scientists found that sharp cutbacks in emissions of ozone-depleting gases since 1987 have been far more effective in combating global warming than the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that was aimed directly at limiting climate change.

HCFC’s and other ozone-depleting gases are extremely powerful warming gases. Gram for gram, the ones used as refrigerants have thousands of times the global-warming effect of carbon dioxide. The ozone-depleting gases are released in far smaller quantities, though, than carbon dioxide, which is emitted when fossil fuels are burned by vehicle engines, power plants and other users.

The report by the European and American experts, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the Montreal Protocol had proved to be 5.5 times as effective as the Kyoto accord was intended to be in cutting emissions of global-warming gases. The Montreal agreement has been in force much longer and applies to developing and industrial nations alike, while the Kyoto Protocol has binding limits only for industrial nations.

The report has caught the attention of countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans that fear that global warming will lead to a rise in sea levels and a significant loss of their limited land.

“As small island nations, our main concern is that whatever touches the climate has to be dealt with fairly quickly,” said Sateeaved Seebaluck, permanent secretary in the environment ministry of Mauritius, an island nation well east of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Seebaluck said that a flurry of news reports about HCFC-22 this winter had been widely e-mailed among specialists and had led to greatly increased international interest in addressing the problem.

The Montreal Protocol currently allows developing countries to keep increasing their production of HCFC-22 until 2016, and then freezes production at that level until 2040, when it is supposed to be halted. But that schedule was devised in the early 1990s, when HCFC-22 was used mainly in industrial nations; developing countries were seen as too poor ever to afford much of the chemical.

The Kyoto Protocol then exempted HCFC-22 and other ozone-depleting substances from production and consumption limits on the grounds that the Montreal agreement had already addressed those matters.

Use of HCFC-22 has soared in the third world with the economic growth of China, India and other countries, along with the sharp drop in air-conditioner costs that has accompanied China’s growing skill in making them cheaply. Mr. Seebaluck said Mauritius’s use of HCFC-22 had risen more than 100-fold in the last six years because of a boom in hotel construction and the rapid expansion of the fishing industry, which uses a lot of refrigeration to preserve freshness.

The use in India and China, far larger markets, has been rising as much as 35 percent a year lately, with specialists predicting that similar growth could last through 2016.

Industrial nations are required to phase out HCFC-22 by 2020, but most are moving faster. The European Union phased it out in 2004. The United States will ban domestic production in 2010 and is considering whether to ban imports then, as well.


Push to Fix Ozone Layer and Slow Global Warming
Published: March 15, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

China has begun making air-conditioners with more modern refrigerants for the European market. But by continuing to produce HCFC-22 for markets elsewhere, the Chinese have been able to claim hundreds of millions of dollars a year in payments from an obscure United Nations agency.

In a Test of Capturing Carbon Dioxide, Perhaps a Way to Temper Global Warming (March 15, 2007) The payments are to compensate Chinese chemical factories for incinerating a waste gas generated as part of the manufacturing process for HCFC-22. If the Chinese industry switches to modern refrigerants, it would no longer produce the waste gas and so would lose the credits.

India has a large and growing HCFC-22 industry that is also reaping a fortune in credits. But the Indian government has largely stayed on the sidelines in international talks, while China has called for industrial nations to pay even more for the incineration of waste gases from HCFC-22 production; China proposes to spend much of that to develop its renewable-energy industry.

A big problem is that no one has agreed what should replace HCFC-22. The chemicals requiring the fewest changes to air-conditioner designs avoid harm to the ozone layer but are still as potent, gram for gram, in terms of global warming.

Mack McFarland, chief atmospheric scientist at DuPont, which favors an accelerated phaseout of HCFC-22, said the company had developed a chemical that also has little effect on global warming. But the chemical is suitable only for vehicle air-conditioners, not the building air-conditioners that now rely on HCFC-22.

Environmentalists contend that chemical companies and air-conditioner makers are too slow to embrace other refrigerants, like ammonia or carbon dioxide, that may pose technical challenges but could be better for the ozone layer and global warming.

“Industry certainly is somewhat concerned about some of those chemicals because some of them don’t promise a lot of profits,” said Alexander von Bismarck, campaigns director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a Washington advocacy group.

David Doniger, climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that even switching to new commercial refrigerants that are potent global-warming agents could help the environment. Air-conditioners designed for the new refrigerants tend to be more energy-efficient and often do not use as much refrigerant, he said.

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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2007, 11:40:44 AM »

Crafty wrote: "What do you make of the global warming skeptics' assertion that Mars too is going through a warming phase?"

That observation came from NASA, not necessarily skeptics.  Hidden in my paragraph stating that we don't know humans are the whole or main cause of warming, I wrote:  "Other planets are also warming which indicates the main cause of all may be solar fluctuation."

Before the Mars data, I started noticing reports from other places, Venus, Jupiter, Pluto and Triton - Neptune's largest moon.  The conclusion I drew is that tempertures vary and planets have warming and cooling trends.  Venus has an intense greenhouse effect.  Triton may have just been in a portion of its orbit closer to the sun. Each is different. The Mars data will be very interesting to study. 

I accused the people I call alarmists of lazy science.  In Al Gore's case, he is deceitful for selectively including views and data friendly to his conclusions and excluding all others, then labeling all opposing views as fraud bought by industry.  I wouldn't want to follow that by reading a couple of headlines and simplistically concluding that all of this is about solar fluctuation.  My thought is that God's creations are far more complex than the understanding of these climate scientists and their flawed models will ever be.  (I'm not a climate scientist and know even less.)  - Jupiter  - Pluto  - Mars

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« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2007, 01:53:28 PM »

Wonder how long it will be before this is broadcast on this side of the pond? I expect PBS won't risk offending the granola crunching True Believers.

Global-Warming Swindle
Hysterics exposed.

By Thomas Sowell

The British Broadcasting Corporation has produced a devastating documentary titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. It has apparently not been broadcast by any of the networks in the United States. But, fortunately, it is available on the Internet.

Distinguished scientists specializing in climate and climate-related fields talk in plain English and present readily understood graphs showing what a crock the current global-warming hysteria is.

These include scientists from MIT and top-tier universities in a number of countries. Some of these are scientists whose names were paraded on some of the global-warming publications that are being promoted in the media — but who state plainly that they neither wrote those publications nor approved them.

One scientist threatened to sue unless his name was removed.

While the public has been led to believe that “all” the leading scientists buy the global-warming hysteria and the political agenda that goes with it, in fact the official reports from the United Nations or the National Academy of Sciences are written by bureaucrats — and then garnished with the names of leading scientists who were “consulted,” but whose contrary conclusions have been ignored.

There is no question that the globe is warming but it has warmed and cooled before, and is not as warm today as it was some centuries ago, before there were any automobiles and before there was as much burning of fossil fuels as today.

None of the dire things predicted today happened then.

The BBC documentary goes into some of the many factors that have caused the earth to warm and cool for centuries, including changes in activities on the sun, 93 million miles away and wholly beyond the jurisdiction of the Kyoto treaty.

According to these climate scientists, human activities have very little effect on the climate, compared to many other factors, from volcanoes to clouds.

These climate scientists likewise debunk the mathematical models that have been used to hype global-warming hysteria, even though hard evidence stretching back over centuries contradicts these models.

What is even scarier than seeing how easily the public, the media, and the politicians have been manipulated and stampeded, is discovering how much effort has been put into silencing scientists who dare to say that the emperor has no clothes.

Academics who jump on the global-warming bandwagon are far more likely to get big research grants than those who express doubts — and research is the lifeblood of an academic career at leading universities.

Environmental movements around the world are committed to global-warming hysteria and nowhere more so than on college and university campuses, where they can harass those who say otherwise. One of the scientists interviewed on the BBC documentary reported getting death threats.

In politics, even conservative Republicans seem to have taken the view that, if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em. So have big corporations, which have joined the stampede.

This only enables the green crusaders to declare at every opportunity that “everybody” believes the global-warming scenario, except for a scattered few “deniers” who are likened to Holocaust deniers.

The difference is that we have the hardest and most painful evidence that there was a Holocaust. But, for the global-warming scenario that is causing such hysteria, we have only a movie made by a politician and mathematical models whose results change drastically when you change a few of the arbitrarily selected variables.

No one denies that temperatures are about a degree warmer than they were a century ago.

What the climate scientists in the BBC documentary deny is that you can mindlessly extrapolate that, or that we are headed for a climate catastrophe if we don’t take drastic steps that could cause an economic catastrophe.

“Global warming” is just the latest in a long line of hysterical crusades to which we seem to be increasingly susceptible.

National Review Online -
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« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2007, 02:23:21 PM »

While in the hospital I encountered this long series published in Canada's National Post that takes to tasks those who've adopted the Dark Age tactic of labling all those who fail to march in Global Warming lockstep heretics and "deniers." For those on this list fond of that tactic, what follows is ten more opportunities to ignore arguments and embrace the ad hominem instead.

Statistics needed -- The Deniers Part I

Friday, February 02, 2007
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In the global warming debate, there are essentially two broad camps. One believes that the science is settled, that global warming is serious and man-made, and that urgent action must be taken to mitigate or prevent a future calamity. The other believes that the science is far from settled, that precious little is known about global warming or its likely effects, and that prudence dictates more research and caution before intervening massively in the economy.

The "science is settled" camp, much the larger of the two, includes many eminent scientists with impressive credentials. But just who are the global warming skeptics who question the studies from the great majority of climate scientists and what are their motives?

Many in the "science is settled" camp claim that the skeptics are untrustworthy -- that they are either cranks or otherwise at the periphery of their profession, or that they are in the pockets of Exxon or other corporate interests. The skeptics are increasingly being called Deniers, a term used by analogy to the Holocaust, to convey the catastrophe that could befall mankind if action is not taken. Increasingly, too, the press is taking up the Denier theme, convincing the public that the global-warming debate is over.

In this, the first of a series, I examine The Deniers, starting with Edward Wegman. Dr. Wegman is a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association. Few statisticians in the world have CVs to rival his (excerpts appear nearby).

Wegman became involved in the global-warming debate after the energy and commerce committee of the U.S. House of Representatives asked him to assess one of the hottest debates in the global-warming controversy: the statistical validity of work by Michael Mann. You may not have heard of Mann or read Mann's study but you have often heard its famous conclusion: that the temperature increases that we have been experiencing are "likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years" and that the "1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year" of the millennium. You may have also heard of Mann's hockey-stick shaped graph, which showed relatively stable temperatures over most of the last millennium (the hockey stick's long handle), followed by a sharp increase (the hockey stick's blade) this century.

Mann's findings were arguably the single most influential study in swaying the public debate, and in 2001 they became the official view of the International Panel for Climate Change, the UN body that is organizing the worldwide effort to combat global warming. But Mann's work also had its critics, particularly two Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who published peer-reviewed critiques of their own.

Wegman accepted the energy and commerce committee's assignment, and agreed to assess the Mann controversy pro bono. He conducted his third-party review by assembling an expert panel of statisticians, who also agreed to work pro bono. Wegman also consulted outside statisticians, including the Board of the American Statistical Association. At its conclusion, the Wegman review entirely vindicated the Canadian critics and repudiated Mann's work.

"Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported," Wegman stated, adding that "The paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable." When Wegman corrected Mann's statistical mistakes, the hockey stick disappeared.

Wegman found that Mann made a basic error that "may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimate studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians." Instead, this small group of climate scientists were working on their own, largely in isolation, and without the academic scrutiny needed to ferret out false assumptions.

Worse, the problem also applied more generally, to the broader climate-change and meteorological community, which also relied on statistical techniques in their studies. "f statistical methods are being used, then statisticians ought to be funded partners engaged in the research to insure as best we possibly can that the best quality science is being done," Wegman recommended, noting that "there are a host of fundamental statistical questions that beg answers in understanding climate dynamics."

In other words, Wegman believes that much of the climate science that has been done should be taken with a grain of salt -- although the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers were often unqualified in statistics. Past studies, he believes, should be reassessed by competent statisticians and in future, the climate science world should do better at incorporating statistical know-how.

One place to start is with the American Meteorological Society, which has a committee on probability and statistics. "I believe it is amazing for a committee whose focus is on statistics and probability that of the nine members only two are also members of the American Statistical Association, the premier statistical association in the United States, and one of those is a recent PhD with an assistant-professor appointment in a medical school." As an example of the statistical barrenness of the climate-change world, Wegman cited the American Meteorological Association's 2006 Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences, where only eight presenters out of 62 were members of the American Statistical Association.

While Wegman's advice -- to use trained statisticians in studies reliant on statistics -- may seem too obvious to need stating, the "science is settled" camp resists it. Mann's hockey-stick graph may be wrong, many experts now acknowledge, but they assert that he nevertheless came to the right conclusion.

To which Wegman, and doubtless others who want more rigorous science, shake their heads in disbelief. As Wegman summed it up to the energy and commerce committee in later testimony: "I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn't matter because the answer is correct anyway. Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science." With bad science, only true believers can assert that they nevertheless obtained the right answer.


Edward Wegman received his Ph.D. degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Iowa. In 1978, he went to the Office of Naval Research, where he headed the Mathematical Sciences Division with responsibility Navy-wide for basic research programs. He coined the phrase computational statistics, and developed a high-profile research area around this concept, which focused on techniques and methodologies that could not be achieved without the capabilities of modern computing resources and led to a revolution in contemporary statistical graphics. Dr. Wegman was the original program director of the basic research program in Ultra High Speed Computing at the Strategic Defense Initiative's Innovative Science and Technology Office. He has served as editor or associate editor of numerous prestigious journals and has published more than 160 papers and eight books.
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« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2007, 02:24:54 PM »

Warming is real -- and has benefits -- The Deniers Part II

February 02, 2007

One month ago, the world heard that global warming could lead to a global catastrophe "on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century." This assessment, from Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, made banner headlines and led prominent leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair to urge immediate action to stem global warming.
It also led some prominent environmentalists to denounce Sir Nicholas for what they deemed an outrageous study bereft of credibility. None of the environmentalists issued a stronger denunciation, or has better environmental credentials, than Richard S.J. Tol.

Tol is a Denier, to use the terminology of the "science-is-settled" camp in the increasingly polarized global warming debate. Like many other Deniers, Tol doesn't think the evidence is in on global warming and its effects, he doesn't think there's reason to rush to action, and he doesn't think that crash programs to curb global warming are called for.
Also like many other Deniers, he doesn't fit the stereotype that those who use the epithet imagine. Anything but.

Tol is no fringe outsider to the scientific debate. He is at the centre of the academic investigation of global warming, a central figure in the scientific establishment that has been developing the models and the knowledge to understand the global warming phenomenon. At the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, considered by most the authoritative body in the field, Tol is involved as an author in all three of its Working Groups. He is also an author and editor of the United Nations Handbook on Methods for Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies. He is also a mover and shaker in the prestigious European Climate Forum. He takes global warming seriously and has dedicated his professional life to making a contribution for the better in climate policy and related fields.

Because of his immense reputation, the Stern report itself relied on Tol's work in coming to its conclusions. But Sir Nicholas twisted Tol's work out of shape to arrive at unsupportable conclusions.

As one example, Sir Nicholas plucked a figure ($29 per ton of carbon dioxide) from a range that Tol prepared describing the possible costs of CO2 emissions, without divulging that in the very same study Tol concluded that the actual costs "are likely to be substantially smaller" than $14 per ton of CO2. Likewise, in an assessment of the potential consequences of rising sea levels, Sir Nicholas quoted a study co-authored by Tol that referred to the "millions at risk," ignoring that the same study then suggested greatly reduced consequences for those millions due to the ability of humans to adapt to change.

Throughout his report, in fact, Sir Nicholas not only assumed worst possible cases, he also assumed that humans are passive creatures, devoid of ingenuity, who would be helpless victims to changes in the world around them. Such assumptions underpinned Sir Nicholas's claim that "the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever," and led Tol to view Sir Nicholas's conclusions as "preposterous." Tol's conclusion: "The Stern review can therefore be dismissed as alarmist and incompetent."

Tol and Sir Nicholas are worlds apart, and not just because of Sir Nicholas's recklessness with the facts. Where Sir Nicholas paints an altogether bleak picture, Tol's is far more nuanced: Global warming creates benefits as well as harms, he explains, and in the short term, the benefits are especially pronounced.

More important, Tol is a student of human innovation and adaptation. As a native of the Netherlands, he is intimately familiar with dikes and other low-cost adaptive technologies, and the ability of humans in meeting challenges in their environment. To assume that humans in the future would not use their ingenuity and resourcefulness in sensible ways defies the history of mankind and ultimately serves no one.

Yes, global warming is real, he believes, and yes, measures to mitigate it should be taken. But unlike the advocates who believe that the science is settled, and the global warning debate is over, Tol thinks that much research needs to be done before we know how best to respond.

"There is no risk of damage [from global warming] that would force us to act injudiciously," he explains. "We've got enough time to look for the economically most effective options, rather than dash into 'actionism,' which then becomes very expensive."

Richard Tol received his PhD in Economics from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change at Hamburg University, director of the Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science, principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research, the International Max Planck Research Schools of Earth Systems Modelling and Maritime Affairs, and the European Forum on Integrated Environmental Assessment. He is an editor of Energy Economics, an associate editor of Environmental and Resource Economics, and a member of the editorial board of Environmental Science and Policy and Integrated Assessment.
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« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2007, 02:25:39 PM »

The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science -- The Deniers Part III
December 8, 2006

You're a respected scientist, one of the best in your field. So respected, in fact, that when the United Nations decided to study the relationship between hurricanes and global warming for the largest scientific endeavour in its history -- its International Panel on Climate Change -- it called upon you and your expertise.

You are Christopher Landsea of the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory. You were a contributing author for the UN's second International Panel on Climate Change in 1995, writing the sections on observed changes in tropical cyclones around the world. Then the IPCC called on you as a contributing author once more, for its "Third Assessment Report" in 2001. And you were invited to participate yet again, when the IPCC called on you to be an author in the "Fourth Assessment Report." This report would specifically focus on Atlantic hurricanes, your specialty, and be published by the IPCC in 2007.

Then something went horribly wrong. Within days of this last invitation, in October, 2004, you discovered that the IPCC's Kevin Trenberth -- the very person who had invited you -- was participating in a press conference. The title of the press conference perplexed you: "Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity." This was some kind of mistake, you were certain. You had not done any work that substantiated this claim. Nobody had.
As perplexing, none of the participants in that press conference were known for their hurricane expertise. In fact, to your knowledge, none had performed any research at all on hurricane variability, the subject of the press conference. Neither were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability, you knew, showed no reliable upward trend in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes. Not in the Atlantic basin. Not in any other basin.

To add to the utter incomprehensibility of the press conference, the IPCC itself, in both 1995 and 2001, had found no global warming signal in the hurricane record. And until your new work would come out, in 2007, the IPCC would not have a new analysis on which to base a change of findings.

To stop the press conference, or at least stop any misunderstandings that might come out of it, you contacted Dr. Trenberth prior to the media event. You prepared a synopsis for him that brought him up to date on the state of knowledge about hurricane formation. To your amazement, he simply dismissed your concerns. The press conference proceeded.

And what a press conference it was! Hurricanes had been all over the news that summer. Global warming was the obvious culprit -- only a fool or an oil-industry lobbyist, the press made clear, could ignore the link between what seemed to be ever increasing hurricane activity and ever increasing global warming. The press conference didn't disappoint them. The climate change experts at hand all confirmed the news that the public had been primed to hear: Global warming was causing hurricanes. This judgement from the scientists made headlines around the world, just as it was intended to do. What better way to cast global warming as catastrophic than to make hurricanes its poster child?

You wanted to right this outrageous wrong, this mockery that was made of your scientific field. You wrote top IPCC officials, imploring: "Where is the science, the refereed publications, that substantiate these pronouncements? What studies are being alluded to that have shown a connection between observed warming trends on the earth and long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity? As far as I know, there are none." But no one in the IPCC leadership showed the slightest concern for the science. The IPCC's overriding preoccupation, it soon sunk in, lay in capitalizing on the publicity opportunity that the hurricane season presented.

You then asked the IPCC leadership for assurances that your work for the IPCC's 2007 report would be true to science: "[Dr. Trenberth] seems to have already come to the conclusion that global warming has altered hurricane activity and has publicly stated so. This does not reflect the consensus within the hurricane research community. ... Thus I would like assurance that what will be included in the IPCC report will reflect the best available information and the consensus within the scientific community most expert on the specific topic."

The assurance didn't come. What did come was the realization that the IPCC was corrupting science. This you could not be a party to. You then resigned, in an open letter to the scientific community laying out your reasons.

Next year, the IPCC will come out with its "Fourth Assessment Report," and for the first time in a decade, you will not be writing its section on hurricanes. That task will be left to the successor that Dr. Trenberth chose. As part of his responsibility, he will need to explain why -- despite all expectations -- the 2006 hurricane year was so unexpectedly light, and at the historical average for the past 150 years.

Christopher Landsea received his doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. A research meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was chair of the American Meteorological Society's committee on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones and a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's Banner I. Miller Award for the "best contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting." He is a frequent contributor to leading journals, including Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, and Nature.
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« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2007, 02:27:12 PM »

Polar scientists on thin ice -- The Deniers Part IV

December 15, 2006
A great melt is on in Antarctica. Its northern peninsula -- a jut of land extending to about 1,200 kilometres from Chile -- has seen a drastic increase in temperature, a thinning of ice sheets and, most alarmingly, a collapse of ice shelves. The Larsen A ice shelf, 1,600 square kilometres in size, fell off in 1995. The Wilkins ice shelf, 1,100 square kilometres, fell off in 1998 and the Larsen B, 13,500 square kilometres, dropped off in 2002. Meanwhile, the northern Antarctic Peninsula's temperatures have soared by six degrees celsius in the last 50 years.

Antarctica represents the greatest threat to the globe from global warming, bar none. If Antarctica's ice melts, the world's oceans will rise, flooding low-lying lands where much of the world's population lives. Not only would their mass migration spawn hardships for the individual families retreating from the rising waters, the world would also be losing fertile deltas that feed tens of millions of people. This chilling scenario understandably sends shudders through concerned citizens around the world, and steels the resolve of those determined to stop the cataclysm of global warming.

But much confounding evidence exists. As one example, at the South Pole, where the U.S. decades ago established a station, temperatures have actually fallen since 1957. Neither is Antarctica's advance or retreat a new question raised by the spectre of global warming: This is the oldest scientific question of all about the Antarctic ice sheet.
Enter Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. Dr. Wingham has been pursuing this polar puzzle for much of his professional life and, but for an accident in space, he might have had the answer at hand by now.

Dr. Wingham is Principal Scientist of the European Space Agency's CryoSat Satellite Mission, a $130-million project designed to map changes in the depth of ice using ultra-precise instrumentation. Sadly for Dr. Wingham and for science as a whole, CryoSat fell into the Arctic Ocean after its launch in October, 2005, when a rocket launcher malfunctioned. Dr Wingham will now need to wait until 2009 before CryoSat-2, CryoSat's even more precise successor, can launch and begin relaying the data that should conclusively determine whether Antarctica's ice sheets are thinning or not. Apart from satellite technology, no known way exists to reliably determine changes in mass over a vast and essentially unexplorable continent covered in ice several kilometres thick.

But CryoSat was not the only satellite available to polar scientists. Dr. Wingham has been collecting satellite data for years, and arriving at startling conclusions. Early last year at a European Union Space Conference in Brussels, for example, Dr. Wingham revealed that data from a European Space Agency satellite showed Antarctic thinning was no more common than thickening, and concluded that the spectacular collapse of the ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula was much more likely to have followed natural current fluctuations than global warming.

"The Antarctic Peninsula is exceptional because it juts out so far north," Dr. Wingham told the press at the time. As well, scientists have been drawn to the peninsula because it is relatively accessible and its climate is moderate, allowing it to be more easily studied than the harsh interior of the continent. Because many scientists have been preoccupied with what was, in effect, the tip of the iceberg, they missed the mass of evidence that lay beneath the surface.

"One cannot be certain, because packets of heat in the atmosphere do not come conveniently labelled 'the contribution of anthropogenic warming,' " Dr. Wingham elaborated, but the evidence is not "favourable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming".

Last summer, Dr. Wingham and three colleagues published an article in the journal of the Royal Society that casts further doubt on the notion that global warming is adversely affecting Antarctica. By studying satellite data from 1992 to 2003 that surveyed 85% of the East Antarctic ice sheet and 51% of the West Antarctic ice sheet (72% of the ice sheet covering the entire land mass), they discovered that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing at the rate of 5 millimetres per year (plus or minus 1 mm per year). That makes Antarctica a sink, not a source, of ocean water. According to their best estimates, Antarctica will "lower [authors' italics] global sea levels by 0.08 mm" per year.

If these findings are validated in future by CryoSat-2 and other developments that are able to assess the 28% of Antarctica not yet surveyed, the low-lying areas of the world will have weathered the worst of the global warming predictions: The populations of these areas -- in Bangladesh, in the Maldives, and elsewhere -- will have found that, if anything, they can look forward to a future with more nutrient-rich seacoast, not less.

Duncan Wingham was educated at Leeds and Bath Universities where he gained a B.Sc. and PhD. in Physics. He was appointed to a chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and to head of the Department of Earth Sciences in October, 2005. Prof. Wingham is a member of the National Environmental Research Council's Science and Technology Board and Earth Observation Experts Group. He is a director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling and principal scientist of the European Space Agency CryoSat Satellite Mission, the first ESA Earth Sciences satellite selected through open, scientific competition.
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« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2007, 02:28:21 PM »

The original denier: into the cold -- The Deniers Part V

December 22, 2006
Most scientists who are labelled as "deniers" for their views on global warming don't embrace this role. They cringe at the thought of disagreeing with colleagues who think that the science is settled, they do their best to avoid making waves, and they fear being marginalized as cranks who disagree with the scientific consensus. Dr. Richard Lindzen is an exception.

Dr. Lindzen is one of the original deniers -- among the first to criticize the scientific bureaucracy, and scientists themselves, for claims about global warming that he views as unfounded and alarmist. While he does not welcome the role he's acquired, he also does not shrink from it. Dr. Lindzen takes his protests about the abuse of science to the public, to the press, and to government.

His detractors can't dismiss him as a crank from the fringe, however, much as they might wish. Dr. Lindzen is a critic from within, one of the most distinguished climate scientists in the world: a past professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a lead author in a landmark report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the very organization that established global warming as an issue of paramount importance.
Dr. Lindzen is proud of his contribution, and that of his colleagues, to the IPCC chapter they worked on. His pride in this work matches his dismay at seeing it misrepresented. "[Almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGOs and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored," he told the United States Senate committee on environment and public works in 2001. These unscientific summaries, often written to further political or business agendas, then become the basis of public understanding.

As an example, Dr. Lindzen provided the committee with the summary that was created for Chapter 7, which he worked on. "Understanding of climate processes and their incorporation in climate models have improved, including water vapour, sea-ice dynamics, and ocean heat transport," the summary stated, creating the impression that the climate models were reliable. The actual report by the scientists indicated just the opposite. Dr. Lindzen testified that the scientists had "found numerous problems with model treatments -- including those of clouds and water vapor."

When the IPCC was stung by criticism that the summaries were being written with little or no input by the scientists themselves, the IPCC had a subset of the scientists review a subsequent draft summary -- an improvement in the process. Except that the final version, when later released at a Shanghai press conference, had surprising changes to the draft that scientists had seen.

The version that emerged from Shanghai concludes, "In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." Yet the draft was rife with qualifiers making it clear the science was very much in doubt because "the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing."

The summaries' distortion of the IPCC chapters compounds another distortion that occurred in the very writing of the scientific chapters themselves. Dr. Lindzen's description of the conditions under which the climate scientists worked conjures up a scene worthy of a totalitarian state: "throughout the drafting sessions, IPCC 'coordinators' would go around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that 'motherhood' statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be correct despite the cited faults. Refusals were occasionally met with ad hominem attacks. I personally witnessed coauthors forced to assert their 'green' credentials in defense of their statements."

To better understand the issue of climate change, including the controversies over the IPCC summary documents, the White House asked the National Academy of Sciences, the country's premier scientific organization, to assemble a panel on climate change. The 11 members of the panel, which included Richard Lindzen, concluded that the science is far from settled: "Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward)."

The press's spin on the NAS report? CNN, in language typical of other reportage, stated that it represented "a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."

Despite such obtuseness Lindzen fights on, defending the science at what is undoubtedly a very considerable personal cost. Those who toe the party line are publicly praised and have grants ladled out to them from a funding pot that overflows with US$1.7-billion per year in the U.S. alone. As Lindzen wrote earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, "there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."

Richard Lindzen received his PhD in applied mathematics in 1964 from Harvard University. A professor of meteorology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He is also a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS's Meisinger, and Charney Awards, and AGU's Macelwane Medal. He is author or coauthor of over 200 scholarly papers and books.
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« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2007, 02:29:20 PM »

The sun moves climate change -- The Deniers Part VI

January 5, 2007
Man produces greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases cause global warming, most scientists agree, but how, exactly, do greenhouse gases cause global warming? While theories abound, as do elaborate computer models incorporating a multitude of gases and other climatic factors, none has been conclusive. And if greenhouse gases aren't responsible, what else could be? A clear, verifiable mechanism showing how a greenhouse gas or other physical entity can drive climate change has eluded science. Until now.

For more than a decade, Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center has been pursuing an explanation for why Earth cools and warms. His findings -- published in October in the Proceedings of the Royal Society -- the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the Royal Society of London -- are now in, and they don't point to us. The sun and the stars could explain most if not all of the warming this century, and he has laboratory results to demonstrate it. Dr. Svensmark's study had its origins in 1996, when he and a colleague presented findings at a scientific conference indicating that changes in the sun's magnetic field -- quite apart from greenhouse gases -- could be related to the recent rise in global temperatures. The chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, the chief agency investigating global warming, then castigated them in the press, saying, "I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible." Others accused them of denouncing the greenhouse theory, something they had not done.

Svensmark and his colleague had arrived at their theory after examining data that showed a surprisingly strong correlation between cosmic rays --highspeed atomic particles originating in exploded stars in the Milky Way -- and low-altitude clouds. Earth's cloud cover increased when the intensity of cosmic rays grew and decreased when the intensity declined.
Low-altitude clouds are significant because they especially shield the Earth from the sun to keep us cool. Low cloud cover can vary by 2% in five years, affecting the Earth's surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square metre during that same period. "That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square metre estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution," Dr. Svensmark explained.

The Danish scientists put together several well-established scientific phenomena to arrive at their novel 1996 theory. The sun's magnetic field deflects some of the cosmic rays that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, and in so doing it also limits the immense amounts of ions and free electrons that the cosmic rays produce. But something had changed in the 20th century: The sun's magnetic field more than doubled in strength, deflecting an extraordinary number of rays. Could the diminution of cosmic rays this century have limited the formation of clouds, making the Earth warmer?

That was a plausible theory. But exactly how cosmic rays might create clouds was a mystery -- an unprovable theory, many said. Some even claimed that it was inconceivable for cosmic rays to influence cloud cover.

To discover a mechanism, a team at the Danish National Space Center assembled by Dr. Svensmark undertook an elaborate laboratory experiment in a reaction chamber the size of a small room. The team duplicated the chemistry of the lower atmosphere by injecting the gases found there in the same proportions, and adding ultraviolet rays to mimic the actions of the sun.

What they found left them agape: A vast number of floating microscopic droplets soon filled the reaction chamber. These were ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules -- the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei-- that had been catalyzed by the electrons released by cosmic rays.

We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons do their work," Dr. Svensmark remarked. For the first time ever, researchers had experimentally identified a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth's atmosphere. "This is a completely new result within climate science."

Dr. Svensmark has never disputed the existence of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect. To the contrary, he believes that an understanding of the sun's role is needed to learn the full story, and thus determine man's role. Not only does no climate model today consider the effect of cosmic particles, but even clouds are too poorly understood to be incorporated into any serious climate model.

Because of the work of Dr. Svensmark, other agencies are now building on the Danish findings. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, has just started a multi-phase project that begins with a rerun of the Danish experiment, only CERN will use an accelerator rather than relying on natural cosmic rays. This multinational project will provide scientists with a permanent facility for studying effects of cosmic rays and charged particles in the Earth's atmosphere.

The clouds may be lifting on scientific inquiry into climate change.

Henrik Svensmark is director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute (DSRI). Previously, Dr. Svensmark was head of the sunclimate group at DSRI. He has held post doctoral positions in physics at University California Berkeley, Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, and the Niels Bohr Institute. In 1997, Dr Svensmark received the Knud Hojgaard Anniversary Research Prize and in 2001 the Energy-E2 Research Prize.
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« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2007, 02:30:27 PM »

Will the sun cool us? -- The Deniers Part VII

January 12, 2007
The science is settled" on climate change, say most scientists in the field. They believe that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the globe to dangerous levels and that, in the coming decades, steadily increasing temperatures will melt the polar ice caps and flood the world's low-lying coastal areas.

Don't tell that to Nigel Weiss, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a scientist as honoured as they come. The science is anything but settled, he observes, except for one virtual certainty: The world is about to enter a cooling period.

Dr. Weiss believes that man-made greenhouse gases have recently had a role in warming the earth, although the extent of that role, he says, cannot yet be known. What is known, however, is that throughout earth's history climate change has been driven by factors other than man: "Variable behaviour of the sun is an obvious explanation," says Dr. Weiss, "and there is increasing evidence that Earth's climate responds to changing patterns of solar magnetic activity."
The sun's most obvious magnetic features are sunspots, formed as magnetic fields rip through the sun's surface. A magnetically active sun boosts the number of sunspots, indicating that vast amounts of energy are being released from deep within.
Typically, sunspots flare up and settle down in cycles of about 11 years. In the last 50 years, we haven't been living in typical times: "If you look back into the sun's past, you find that we live in a period of abnormally high solar activity," Dr. Weiss states.

These hyperactive periods do not last long, "perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash," says Dr. Weiss. 'It's a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon."

In addition to the 11-year cycle, sunspots almost entirely "crash," or die out, every 200 years or so as solar activity diminishes. When the crash occurs, the Earth can cool dramatically. Dr. Weiss knows because these phenomenon, known as "Grand minima," have recurred over the past 10,000 years, if not longer.

"The deeper the crash, the longer it will last," Dr. Weiss explains. In the 17th century, sunspots almost completely disappeared for 70 years. That was the coldest interval of the Little Ice Age, when New York Harbour froze, allowing walkers to journey from Manhattan to Staten Island, and when Viking colonies abandoned Greenland, a once verdant land that became tundra. Also in the Little Ice Age, Finland lost one-third of its population, Iceland half.

The previous cooling period lasted 150 years while a minor crash at the beginning of the 19th century was accompanied by a cooling period that lasted only 30 years.

In contrast, when the sun is very active, such as the period we're now in, the Earth can warm dramatically. This was the case during the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings first colonized Greenland and when Britain was wine-growing country.

No one knows precisely when a crash will occur but some expect it soon, because the sun's polar field is now at its weakest since measurements began in the early 1950s. Some predict the crash within five years, and many speculate about its effect on global warming. A mild crash could be beneficial, in giving us Earthlings the decades needed to reverse our greenhouse gas producing ways. Others speculate that the recent global warming may be a blessing in disguise, big-time, by moderating the negative consequences of what might otherwise be a deep chill following a deep crash. During the Little Ice Age, scientists estimate, global temperatures on average may have dropped by less than 1 degree Celsius, showing the potential consequences of even an apparently small decline.

Dr. Weiss prefers not to speculate. He sees the coming crash as an opportunity to obtain the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions on climate change, and the extent to which man-made emissions have been a factor.

"Having a crash would certainly allow us to pin down the sun's true level of influence on the Earth's climate," concludes Dr. Weiss. Then we will be able to act on fact, rather than from fear.

Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus of mathematical astrophysics in the University of Cambridge, discovered the process of "flux expulsion" by which a conducting fluid undergoing rotating motion acts to expel the magnetic flux from the region of motion, a process now known to occur in the photosphere of the sun and other stars. He is also distinguished for his work on the theory of convection, and for precise numerical experiments on the behaviour of complicated non-linear differential equations. Nigel Weiss is a recipient of a Royal Society Citation, he is a past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a past Chairman of Cambridge's School of Physical Sciences. He was educated at Clare College, University of Cambridge.
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« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2007, 02:31:50 PM »

The limits of predictability -- The Deniers Part VIII

January 19, 2007
When Frans Nieuwstadt, a distinguished Dutch meteorologist, engineer, editor and professor, died in 2005, his obituary recounted seminal events in his accomplished life. Among the experiences worthy of mention: Nieuwstadt had studied under the celebrated professor, Henk Tennekes, and along with other colleagues had been instrumental in convincing Tennekes to return to Europe in 1978 to become director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and later chairman of the august Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Henk Tennekes, in ways both personal and professional, has touched an extraordinary number of lives in his own distinguished career, among academics and laymen alike. He is loved for his popular 1997 book, The Simple Science of Flight From Insects to Jumbo Jets, and for his scholarly 1972 work, A First Course in Turbulence, a classic that logs more than 2,000 citations on Google Scholar. His provocative 1986 speech, "No Forecast Is Complete Without A Forecast of Forecast Skill," led to the now-common discipline of "ensemble forecasting" and spurred "multi-model forecasting." Scientists today continue to wrestle with the fundamental critiques that he first presented.

Tennekes became more than an inspiration for his students and a model for other scientists, however. He also became an object lesson in the limits of scientific inquiry. Because his critiques of climate science ran afoul of the orthodoxy required by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, he was forced to leave. Lesser scientists, seeing that even a man of Tennekes's reputation was not free to voice dissent, learned their lesson. Ever since, most scientists who harbour doubts about climate science bite their tongues and keep their heads down.
Tennekes, more than any other individual, challenged the models that climate scientists were constructing, saying models could never replicate the complexity of the real world. What was needed was a different approach to science, one that recognized inherent limits in such scientific tools and aimed less to regulate the environment.

In a landmark speech to the American Meteorological Society in 1986, he argued that meteorology was poised to be the first of the post- Newtonian sciences because it was "at odds with the mainstream of the scientific enterprise of the last 300 years. One goal of science is to control nature, but we know we cannot control the weather. The goal of science is prediction, but we stand in front of the limits of predictability."

Meteorology, in other words, would be the first scientific discipline to hit this brick wall. As Tennekes argued, modern theory "unequivocally predicts that no amount of improvement in the quality of the observation network or in the power of computers will improve the average useful forecast range by more than a few days."

Since Tennekes' speech, a host of scientists have sought to extend the bounds of modelling. They have seen success, but only on the scale Tennekes predicted.

In a paper presented in 2003, a team of European scientists detailed advances in modelling science. "Since the day, almost 20 years ago, in which Henk Tennekes stated … that 'no forecast is complete without a forecast of the forecast skill,' the demand for numerical forecasting tools ... has been ever increasing," they said, explaining efforts to make modelling reliable beyond a three- to four-day period. Thanks to the intense efforts of a new generation of climate modellers, modelling capability has advanced in some instances by 12 to 36 hours, in others by several days. To extend the bounds further, the paper announced a major new research initiative, designed to bring the forecasting discipline to the 120-hour range.

Climate modelling is the basis of forecasts of climate change. Yet this modelling, Tennekes believes, has little utility, and "there is no chance at all that the physical sciences can produce a universally accepted scientific basis for policy measures concerning climate change." Moreover, he states: "There exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies."

Not surprisingly, Tennekes abhors the dogma that he feels characterizes the climate-change establishment, and the untoward role of climate science in public-policy making. "We only understand 10% of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world economy with Kyoto-like measures."

Hendrik Tennekes is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He studied aeronautical design at TU Delft in the Netherlands and was a professor of aerospace engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, a professor of meteorology at the Free University, Amsterdam, and director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Born in 1936, he still lectures at the University of Nijmegen.
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« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2007, 02:33:02 PM »

Look to Mars for the truth on global warming -- The Deniers Part IX

January 26, 2007
Climate change is a much, much bigger issue than the public, politicians, and even the most alarmed environmentalists realize. Global warming extends to Mars, where the polar ice cap is shrinking, where deep gullies in the landscape are now laid bare, and where the climate is the warmest it has been in decades or centuries.

"One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age," NASA scientist William Feldman speculated after the agency's Mars Odyssey completed its first Martian year of data collection. "In some low-latitude areas, the ice has already dissipated." With each passing year more and more evidence arises of the dramatic changes occurring on the only planet on the solar system, apart from Earth, to give up its climate secrets.

NASA's findings in space come as no surprise to Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov at Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory. Pulkovo -- at the pinnacle of Russia's space-oriented scientific establishment -- is one of the world's best equipped observatories and has been since its founding in 1839. Heading Pulkovo's space research laboratory is Dr. Abdussamatov, one of the world's chief critics of the theory that man-made carbon dioxide emissions create a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming.
"Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians," he told me. "These parallel global warmings -- observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth -- can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance."

The sun's increased irradiance over the last century, not C02 emissions, is responsible for the global warming we're seeing, says the celebrated scientist, and this solar irradiance also explains the great volume of C02 emissions.

"It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth's oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

Dr. Abdussamatov goes further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect. "Ascribing 'greenhouse' effect properties to the Earth's atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated," he maintains. "Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away."

The real news from Saint Petersburg -- demonstrated by cooling that is occurring on the upper layers of the world's oceans -- is that Earth has hit its temperature ceiling. Solar irradiance has begun to fall, ushering in a protracted cooling period beginning in 2012 to 2015. The depth of the decline in solar irradiance reaching Earth will occur around 2040, and "will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-60" lasting some 50 years, after which temperatures will go up again.

Because of the scientific significance of this period of global cooling that we're about to enter, the Russian and Ukrainian space agencies, under Dr. Abdussamatov's leadership, have launched a joint project to determine the time and extent of the global cooling at mid-century. The project, dubbed Astrometry and given priority space-experiment status on the Russian portion of the International Space Station, will marshal the resources of spacecraft manufacturer Energia, several Russian research and production centers, and the main observatory of Ukraine's Academy of Sciences. By late next year, scientific equipment will have been installed in a space-station module and by early 2009, Dr. Abdussamatov's space team will be conducting a regular survey of the sun.

With the data, the project will help mankind cope with a century of falling temperatures, during which we will enter a mini ice age.

"There is no need for the Kyoto Protocol now. It does not have to come into force until at least 100 years from no w," Dr. Abdussamatov concluded. "A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse- gas emissions."

Habibullo Abdussamatov, born in Samarkand in Uzbekistan in 1940, graduated from Samarkand University in 1962 as a physicist and a mathematician. He earned his doctorate at Pulkovo Observatory and the University of Leningrad.

He is the head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academies of Sciences' Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometry project, a long-term joint scientific research project of the Russian and Ukrainian space agencies.
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« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2007, 02:34:06 PM »

Limited role for C02 -- the Deniers Part X

Published: Friday, February 02, 2007

Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, one of Israel's top young scientists, describes the logic that led him -- and most everyone else -- to conclude that SUVs, coal plants and other things man-made cause global warming.

Step One Scientists for decades have postulated that increases in carbon dioxide and other gases could lead to a greenhouse effect.

Step Two As if on cue, the temperature rose over the course of the 20th century while greenhouse gases proliferated due to human activities.

Step Three No other mechanism explains the warming. Without another candidate, greenhouses gases necessarily became the cause
Dr. Shariv, a prolific researcher who has made a name for himself assessing the movements of two-billion-year-old meteorites, no longer accepts this logic, or subscribes to these views. He has recanted: "Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media.

"In fact, there is much more than meets the eye."

Dr. Shariv's digging led him to the surprising discovery that there is no concrete evidence -- only speculation -- that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-- the United Nations agency that heads the worldwide effort to combat global warming -- is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence. In fact, according to the IPCC's own findings, man's role is so uncertain that there is a strong possibility that we have been cooling, not warming, the Earth. Unfortunately, our tools are too crude to reveal what man's effect has been in the past, let alone predict how much warming or cooling we might cause in the future.

All we have on which to pin the blame on greenhouse gases, says Dr. Shaviv, is "incriminating circumstantial evidence," which explains why climate scientists speak in terms of finding "evidence of fingerprints." Circumstantial evidence might be a fine basis on which to justify reducing greenhouse gases, he adds, "without other 'suspects.' " However, Dr. Shaviv not only believes there are credible "other suspects," he believes that at least one provides a superior explanation for the 20th century's warming.

"Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming," he states, particularly because of the evidence that has been accumulating over the past decade of the strong relationship that cosmic- ray flux has on our atmosphere. So much evidence has by now been amassed, in fact, that "it is unlikely that [the solar climate link] does not exist."

The sun's strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can't have much of an influence on the climate -- that C02 et al. don't dominate through some kind of leveraging effect that makes them especially potent drivers of climate change. The upshot of the Earth not being unduly sensitive to greenhouse gases is that neither increases nor cutbacks in future C02 emissions will matter much in terms of the climate.

Even doubling the amount of CO2 by 2100, for example, "will not dramatically increase the global temperature," Dr. Shaviv states. Put another way: "Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reduction in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant."

The evidence from astrophysicists and cosmologists in laboratories around the world, on the other hand, could well be significant. In his study of meteorites, published in the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters, Dr. Shaviv found that the meteorites that Earth collected during its passage through the arms of the Milky Way sustained up to 10% more cosmic ray damage than others. That kind of cosmic ray variation, Dr. Shaviv believes, could alter global temperatures by as much as 15% --sufficient to turn the ice ages on or off and evidence of the extent to which cosmic forces influence Earth's climate.

In another study, directly relevant to today's climate controversy, Dr. Shaviv reconstructed the temperature on Earth over the past 550 million years to find that cosmic ray flux variations explain more than two-thirds of Earth's temperature variance, making it the most dominant climate driver over geological time scales. The study also found that an upper limit can be placed on the relative role of CO2 as a climate driver, meaning that a large fraction of the global warming witnessed over the past century could not be due to CO2 -- instead it is attributable to the increased solar activity.

CO2 does play a role in climate, Dr. Shaviv believes, but a secondary role, one too small to preoccupy policymakers. Yet Dr. Shaviv also believes fossil fuels should be controlled, not because of their adverse affects on climate but to curb pollution.

"I am therefore in favour of developing cheap alternatives such as solar power, wind, and of course fusion reactors (converting Deuterium into Helium), which we should have in a few decades, but this is an altogether different issue." His conclusion: "I am quite sure Kyoto is not the right way to go."

Nir Shaviv, an associate professor at the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, received his doctorate from the Israel Institute of Technology in 1996. Since then, he has authored or co-authored some three dozen peer-reviewed studies and presented papers at some two dozen conferences. The Smithsonian/ NASA Astrophysics Data System credits his works with a total of 613 citations. Among his prizes is the Beatrice Tremaine Award from the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.
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« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2007, 09:47:09 AM »

While we await Rog's reply to Buzwardo's response to Rog's request for science, here is this piece which I am told by someone whom I respect is from the BBC and is well worth the time.
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« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2007, 12:02:35 PM »

March 19, 2007, 7:00 a.m.

Is Green Good?
Inconvenient realities.

By Saul Singer

I just saw a very inconvenient movie. Not An Inconvenient Truth, starring Al Gore, but a new documentary that aired last week on BBC 4 called The Great Global Warming Swindle.

The film is not inconvenient because it predicts environmental disaster, but because it forced me to think heretical thoughts. As Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, said in the film, questioning the global-warming orthodoxy has become tantamount to denying the Holocaust.

So it is no fun for me to risk being labeled a “global-warming denier.” Actually, I’m not, since there is no dispute that global temperatures have risen roughly half a degree Celsius over the past century. Yet what I cannot deny is the strong likelihood that this warming was not primarily caused by greenhouse gases — let alone by carbon dioxide (CO2), let alone by man-made CO2.

Here are the facts as presented by the prominent scientists interviewed in the film:

Climate change is natural. Global temperatures have been generally rising since the end of the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago, when the River Thames would regularly freeze over. Most of this rise preceded global industrial activity, which only kicked in about 1940. And from 1940 to 1975, global temperatures dropped slightly.

A thousand years ago, during the Medieval Warm Period, the climate was warmer than today, and vineyards grew even in northern England. And 8,000 years ago, during the Holocene Maximum, it was considerably warmer than today. Yet polar bears, which are supposedly threatened by current warming, survived through both of these periods.

The Greenland icecap, ice-core sampling shows, goes back at least 11,000 years, meaning it too existed even through these warmer periods.

Rising CO2 is caused by rising temperatures, not the other way around. The dramatic graph that Gore displays in his movie, showing the correlation between CO2 and temperatures over hundreds of thousands of years based on ice core samples, is accurate. What Gore doesn’t say is that the same graph shows that peaks in CO2 lag behind the temperature peaks by hundreds of years.

The explanation: The main source and sink for CO2 is the oceans, which emit this gas as they warm, and absorb it as they cool. Oceans take centuries to change temperature, so atmospheric concentrations of CO2 also take time to catch up with temperature changes.

Solar activity seems to be the main driver of climate change. The new film shows compelling graphs demonstrating the tight correlation between sun spots and cosmic rays — both measures of solar activity — and earth temperatures. CO2 is a side show compared to the sun.

Greenhouse gases are a very minor part of the atmosphere, but of these, water vapor comprises 95 percent. The atmosphere contains only 0.054 percent CO2 from all sources, human and natural.

The IPCC, the United Nations body of scientists examining climate change, has become politicized. Former National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz has charged that inconvenient statements by scientists were simply deleted by the IPCC staff, such as: “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to the specific cause of greenhouse gases.”

All the global-warming models predict that if the warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, it should be more pronounced at the top of the greenhouse, namely in the troposphere, about 10 km. above the equator, where the heat is being trapped. Instead, the evidence shows either no additional warming there, or even slower warming than on the surface.

IPCC reports have claimed that “mosquito species that transmit malaria do not usually survive where the mean winter temperature drops below 16 to 18 degrees centigrade.” The Pasteur Institute’s Paul Reiter resigned from the IPCC over this lie, pointing out that mosquitoes are “extremely abundant” in the Arctic, and that a major malaria epidemic occurred in the 1920s Soviet Union, infecting 13 million and killing 60,000 people.

As late as 1974, a BBC documentary, The Weather Machine, warned of the coming global ice age, since at that time the globe had indeed been cooling for the previous 35 years.

Ironically, one scientist in that film suggested that manmade CO2 emissions might reverse this and stave off disaster.

All this should lead thinking people to at least keep an open mind. But there is more. Global-warming activists have been urging poor countries not to use their coal and oil, but to turn to wind and solar energy instead. This effectively condemns the two billion people now living without electricity to their misery.

According to the World Health Organization, four million children under the age of five die each year from the smoke produced by the indoor fires used in homes without electricity. There is nothing wrong with people in rich countries volunteering to cut their carbon emissions, but demanding this of the extreme poor is inhuman.

Global warming has become a religion not only in the sense of intolerance toward dissent, but also as the animating moral crusade of our age. Here too, it is not harmless, if environmentalism is allowed to trump ethics. Our children should not be taught that the height and essence of being good is to be green.

I’m all for preserving the environment. I would even pay a premium for a hybrid car — not to stop global warming, but simply to cut down on unhealthy and unpleasant smog. But all this should be at the level of good hygiene, not religion. To do good, one must first do no harm. Global-warming extremism, by harming the poorest of the poor and by substituting for real moral causes, fails this test.

National Review Online -
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« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2007, 02:06:44 PM »

Gore on the Rocks
Consensus is reached: Gore’s global-warming alarmism is overblown.

By Steven F. Hayward

As international celebrity and film star Al Gore prepared to testify about global warming on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, it was already apparent that the hot air may be leaking out of the global-warming balloon.

After a year of concentrated effort that includes a multimillion-dollar p.r. campaign on top of An Inconvenient Truth and slavish media coverage parroting the climate-alarmist line, recent polls show that public opinion has barely budged. Only about a third of Americans, according to a recent Gallup survey, are agitated about climate change, and even people who say the environment is their most important issue rank climate change behind air and water quality in importance.

Meanwhile a backlash in the scientific community has begun. Last week, New York Times veteran science reporter William Broad filed a devastating article about scientists who are “alarmed” at Gore’s alarmism; Gore’s account of global warming goes far beyond the evidence. The dissents from Gore’s extremism, Broad explained, “come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists” who have “no political ax to grind.” It appears Gore refused to be interviewed directly for the article; he responded to e-mail questions only.

This backlash has been quietly building for a while. In November, Mike Hulme, director of Britain’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, expressed his unease about climate alarmism to the BBC: 

I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the [catastrophe] skeptics. How the wheel turns. Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science’s predictions? To state that climate change will be ‘catastrophic’ hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science.

Then in December, Kevin Vranes of the University of Colorado, by no means a climate skeptic, commented on a widely read science blog about his sense of the mood of the most recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, where Gore had made his standard climate presentation. “To sum the state of the climate science world in one word, as I see it right now, it is this: tension,” Vranes wrote. “What I am starting to hear is internal backlash. . . None of this is to say that the risk of climate change is being questioned or downplayed by our community; it’s not. It is to say that I think some people feel that we’ve created a monster by limiting the ability of people in our community to question results that say ‘climate change is right here!’”

Gore and other climate extremists have been hammering away at “consensus” science for years now — especially the assessments produced by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  So it is a highly inconvenient truth that the latest IPCC scientific assessment undermines many of Gore’s most spectacular claims. The IPCC says the worst-case sea-level rise this century would be 23 inches; Gore portrays 20 feet or more in his horror film. Ditto for Gore’s claims about hurricanes and melting ice caps; the new IPCC fails to bolster Gore’s alarmism. Already climate alarmists are starting to mutter under their breath that the IPCC is now “too conservative,” but having built up the IPCC as the gold standard of “consensus” science, the alarmists are in the awkward position of being hoist by their own petard. It could be an inconvenient moment for Gore on Wednesday if someone asks him why he is so far outside the scientific consensus on so many aspects of the issue.

A new anti-alarmist documentary from Britain’s iconoclastic Channel Four, The Great Global Warming Swindle, is attracting Internet viewers by the millions. And the most significant blow to climate alarmism came last week in New York, where in a formal debate MIT’s Richard Lindzen and author Michael Crichton decisively defeated the alarmists in an audience vote. You know there is something fundamentally weak about the case for climate catastrophe when you see an alarmist attributing the skeptics’ victory to Crichton’s height rather than the substance of the arguments.

The biggest blow to the climate catastrophists is not any scientific problem, but the hypocrisy of Gore and his Hollywood cheering section, whose profligate energy use cannot be mitigated in the popular mind through “carbon offsets,” even if such offsets worked as advertised. Liberals in the 1960s and 1970s never comprehended how damaging “limousine liberalism” was to their cause. They seem even more oblivious to the self-inflicted wounds of “Gulfstream liberalism.” Whatever the intricacies of climate science, middle-class citizens understand that Gore wants them to use less energy and pay more for it, while he and his Hollywood pals use as much as they want and buy their way out of guilt, like a medieval indulgence. In the companion book to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore writes that “a good way to reduce the amount of energy you use is simply to buy less. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you really need it.” Gore decided that he does need it — for all four of his homes and his pool house.

The ultimate sign that climate change is more about politics than science is the repeated “go-slow” statements of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders. If climate change is really the greatest threat in mankind’s history, with the catastrophic tipping point less than 10 years away, why go slow in crafting legislation to save the planet? Perhaps Pelosi and other congressional Democrats have paid attention to the overwhelming consensus of economists — one climate consensus that Gore resolutely ignores — that serious greenhouse-gas emission cuts fail every conceivable cost-benefit test. Faced with the climate-policy equivalent of HillaryCare, Pelosi would prefer to save her majority rather than save the planet.

 — Steven F. Hayward is F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of the Pacific Research Institute’s annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators.

National Review Online -
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« Reply #38 on: March 22, 2007, 06:04:35 PM »

Actually, that was Milt.

And IIRC, he posted links to what is published in actual peer-reviewed scientific journals and wanted to know specifically what Buz thought was inaccurate or purely political.  A dump of articles about why "the deniers" are supposedly not getting a fair shake is not a debate about science.

While we await Rog's reply to Buzwardo's response to Rog's request for science, here is this piece which I am told by someone whom I respect is from the BBC and is well worth the time.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2007, 06:10:55 PM by rogt » Logged
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« Reply #39 on: March 25, 2007, 10:57:49 PM »

Another piece on the idea that the sun is responsible for temperature changes:


We know there are effects from land use change and we know we have added to atmospheric backscatter of solar radiation from particulates (sulfate aerosols, dust from agriculture...) but we are no longer certain of the net sign of anthropogenic temperature change.

The one thing we are reasonably sure of is that twiddling about with emissions of carbon dioxide will have no discernable effect on global mean temperature.

If you think the above is really quite significant in the "greenhouse debate" then you are right, which is probably why the mainstream media seem to have completely ignored it


Cosmic rays and Earth's climate
October, 2006

Summary: Almost ignored by the media the Royal Society has quietly published what may prove to be the most significant paper on Earth's climate in decades. Here we present background on the paper and explore some of its ramifications.

A most fascinating item was published online in "Proceedings of the Royal Society A", October 3rd., under the title: "Experimental Evidence for the role of Ions in Particle Nucleation under Atmospheric Conditions". Persons lacking access to the original publication and with a desperate need for the full paper can request a copy here although "all you need to know and were keen to ask" can be found in the media release and two publicly accessible files: Description of the SKY-experiment (38Kb .pdf, 3pp) and Background article on "Influence of Cosmic Rays on Earth's climate" (617Kb .pdf, 5pp). Update: these files are apparently no longer available from the original source but can be found here, here and here, respectively. End update.

Also available are some pretty nice animations:

These animations illustrate the physical process which the theory about the cosmic connection to Earth's climate proposes: 1) A giant star explodes in a supernova explosion and emits cosmic rays, 2) cosmic rays enter Earth's atmosphere, 3) rays release free electrons which act a catalysts for the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei, 4) on which water vapour condenses into clouds.

Uncompressed AVI-animation (97 MB) or Compressed AVI-animation (41 MB) Note: we found the animation files very slow to download so, if you can't get them we have local copies here for the uncompressed and here for the compressed version. Naturally we prefer you get them direct from the source.

Now, some will fail to read the linked or provided documents or simply fail to understand the significance of this work so let's expand on this somewhat.

Firstly, this new work is a severe blow to proponents of the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis and advocates of Anthropogenic Global Warming who have worked so hard to deny solar influence on global climate. Recall that we had this in September of this year:

<chuckle> Now they're turning down the sun: "Study acquits sun of climate change, blames humans" - "OSLO - The sun's energy output has barely varied over the past 1,000 years, raising chances that global warming has human rather than celestial causes, a study showed on Wednesday. Researchers from Germany, Switzerland and the United States found that the sun's brightness varied by only 0.07 percent over 11-year sunspot cycles, far too little to account for the rise in temperatures since the Industrial Revolution." (Reuters) | Changes in solar brightness too weak to explain global warming (NCAR/UCAR)

Such claims of solar variation insufficiency survive because indications of feedback mechanisms were supported only by historical records and statistical associations but were not empirically demonstrated (never mind that situation applies particularly to the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis, the simple fact is that hypothesis is currently politically correct and hence requires no evidentiary support). This situation has now changed because Svensmark and the team at the Danish National Space Center have experimentally demonstrated the very mechanism they proposed a decade ago.

How big a deal is this indirect cloud effect? Huge, actually. In just 5 years it was responsible for a 2% decrease in low clouds (the kind that reflect incoming solar radiation by day) which, in turn, equates to an increase in surface warming of 1.2 Wm-2 from incident radiation -- equivalent to some 85% of the IPCC's estimate for the effect of all carbon dioxide increase since the Industrial Revolution.

Significantly, the "Svensmark Effect" only operates in the lower troposphere because there is always more than sufficient ionization of the upper atmosphere to ensure no shortage of cloud nuclei. This is important since high, thin clouds do not reflect incoming sunlight and are a net warming influence while the reverse is true of low, bright clouds. The effect then directly influences cooling cloud cover.

Note that this is only part of the story since, as far as we are aware, no one has yet investigated a counterintuitive parallel effect -- condensation and precipitation will likely reduce the total lower atmospheric concentration of that ubiquitous greenhouse gas, water vapor, so increasing clear sky radiative cooling. It's true that clouds account for roughly one-fifth of the greenhouse effect but gaseous water vapor accounts for more than one-half of the total effect. Reduced condensation then would leave an increased proportion of gaseous water vapor with corresponding increase in clear sky greenhouse effect.

Of course, Svensmark et al are not alone in associating solar activity and cloudiness, see for example, Influence of Solar Activity on State of Wheat Market in Medieval England (Pustilnik, 2003), a seemingly radical hypothesis dating from British astronomer William Herschel, who suggested a link between sunspots and wheat prices in 1801.

So, now we know that the more active sun warms the planet directly with increased incident radiation and indirectly both by reducing low cloud and likely by elevating the proportion of gaseous water -- the most important greenhouse gas.

This is precisely the kind of feedback hypothesized for enhanced greenhouse except this now has a demonstrated physical mechanism and is of such importance we should walk through its function just to be clear.

Increased solar activity acts directly on the Earth with a small increase in radiation, a small heating effect and an associated increase in evaporation. This same increase in activity suppresses cosmic ray penetration of Earth's atmosphere, thus reducing available low cloud condensation nuclei. This sequence of events increases clear sky and incoming radiation while increasing the already dominant clear sky greenhouse effect from gaseous water vapor.

The reverse effect of a more quiescent sun reduces direct solar warming and, by permitting the penetration of cosmic rays, facilitates low cloud formation, which increases reflection of already reduced solar radiation, reduces clear sky, reduces evaporation and simultaneously reduces the availability of the most important greenhouse gas, water vapor, through condensation and precipitation.

Thus solar activity has associated positive feedback when more active and negative feedback when less active, dramatically magnifying Earth's thermal response to changes in solar activity and explaining how fractions of Wm-2 change in direct solar radiation translate to many Wm-2 effect between positive and negative phases of relative solar activity.

Good cloud data is in short supply and covers only the recent decades but we can derive cosmic ray intensity and deduce there has been a general reduction in cloud cover during the 20th Century. While we are hesitant to extrapolate from very short data series (always a dubious procedure) it is entirely plausible that reduction in low cloud over the period could conservatively be estimated to have increased heating at Earth's surface by 5-10 Wm-2, an amount more than sufficient to account for all the estimated warming over the period.

Additionally, the mechanism described by Svensmark et al explains observed drought response to the recently more active sun and the reduction in cloudiness, probably coupled with snowfield discoloration from dust, soot and other particulates goes a long way toward explaining a disproportionate Arctic response, one apparently lacking in the Antarctic where such pigments are in relatively short supply, leaving snowfield albedo relatively unchanged.

This puts anthropogenic emissions in an interesting light. Since solar effects, both direct and indirect, are more than sufficient to account for net estimated temperature change over the period of significant fossil fuel usage, have humans been warming or cooling the planet? We know there are effects from land use change and we know we have added to atmospheric backscatter of solar radiation from particulates (sulfate aerosols, dust from agriculture...) but we are no longer certain of the net sign of anthropogenic temperature change.

The one thing we are reasonably sure of is that twiddling about with emissions of carbon dioxide will have no discernable effect on global mean temperature.

If you think the above is really quite significant in the "greenhouse debate" then you are right, which is probably why the mainstream media seem to have completely ignored it. The hazards of excessive investment in the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis, we suppose.

Looks like there's nothing new under the sun after all.
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« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2007, 12:26:42 PM »

Greenhouse Gas Effect Consistent Over 420 Million Years
Thankfully the process of "global warming" has been a key aspect of our world for a very long time.
by Staff Writers

New Haven CT (SPX) Mar 29, 2007
New calculations show that sensitivity of Earth's climate to changes in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) has been consistent for the last 420 million years, according to an article in Nature by geologists at Yale and Wesleyan Universities.
A popular predictor of future climate sensitivity is the change in global temperature produced by each doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. This study confirms that in the Earth's past 420 million years, each doubling of atmospheric CO2 translates to an average global temperature increase of about 3 Celsius, or 5 Fahrenheit.

According to the authors, since there has continuously been life on the planet over this time span, there must be an ongoing balance between CO2 entering and leaving the atmosphere from the rocks and waters at Earth's surface. Their simulations examined a wide span of possible relationships between atmospheric CO2 and temperature and the likelihood they could have occurred based on proxy data from geological samples.

Most estimates of climate sensitivity have been based on computer simulations of climate or records of climate change over the past few decades to thousands of years, when carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures were similar to or lower than today. Such estimates could underestimate the magnitude of large climate-change events.

To keep Earth's carbon cycle in balance, atmospheric CO2 has varied over geologic time. Carbon-cycle models balance chemical reactions that involve carbon, such as photosynthesis and the formation of limestone, on a global scale. To better predict future trends in global warming, these researchers compared estimates from long-term modeling of Earth's carbon cycle with the recent proxy measurements of CO2.

This study used 500 data points in the geological records as "proxy data" and evaluated them in the context of the CO2 cycling models of co-author Robert Berner, professor emeritus of geology and geophysics at Yale who pioneered models of the balance of CO2 in the Earth and Earth's atmosphere.

"Proxy data are indirect measurements of CO2 - they are a measure of the effects of CO2," explained co-author Jeffrey Park, professor of geology and geophysics at Yale who created the computer simulations for the project. "While we cannot actually measure the CO2 that was in the atmosphere millions of years ago, we can measure the geologic record of its presence. For example, measurement of carbon isotopes in ancient ocean-plankton material reflects atmospheric CO2 concentrations."

Led by Dana L. Royer, assistant professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University, who did his graduate work in geology at Yale, the collaboration simulated 10,000 variations in the carbon-cycle processes such as the sensitivity of plant growth to extra CO2 in the atmosphere. They evaluated these variations for a range of atmospheric warming conditions, using the agreement with the geologic data to determine the most likely warming scenarios. The model-estimated atmospheric CO2 variations were tested against data from ancient rocks.

Other proxy measurements of soil, rock and fossils provided estimates of CO2 over the past 420 million years. Calculation of the climate sensitivity in this way did not require independent estimates of temperature. It incorporated information from times when the Earth was substantially warmer and colder than today, and reflects the sensitivity of the carbon-cycle balance over millions of years.

"Our results are consistent with estimates from shorter-term records, and indicate that climate sensitivity was almost certainly greater than 1.5, but less than 5.5 degrees Celsius over this period," said Park. "At those extremes of CO2 sensitivity, [1.5C or 5.5C] the carbon-cycle would have been in a 'perfect storm' condition."
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« Reply #41 on: April 06, 2007, 06:58:25 PM »

A Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses

Look who's letting ideology overrule science.

Ronald Bailey | April 6, 2007

Environmentalists constantly reference the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the global climate.

"You have the strongest consensus we have seen in the science community about global climate change since the conclusion that tobacco caused lung cancer," asserts Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) president Kevin Knobloch. Greenpeace also argues, "There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities." And Friends of the Earth has gone after Exxon Mobil because it "has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law."

Clearly when it comes to climate change, environmentalists righteously wrap themselves in the cloak of scientific "consensus." They excoriate scientists and others who doubt that man-made climate change will necessarily be disastrous, accusing some of being essentially paid liars for the fossil fuel industry. But for many environmentalist groups not all scientific consensuses are equal. Consider the case of genetically enhanced crops.

"GMOs [genetically modified organisms] should not be released into the environment as there is not adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health," warns Greenpeace. "Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable. But most testing is carried out by the very biotech companies that have the most to gain from results that say GM food is safe," says Friends of the Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists acknowledges that "there have been no serious environmental impacts-certainly no catastrophes-associated with the use of engineered crops in the United States." In addition, the UCS admits, "No major human health problems have emerged in connection with genetically modified food crops, which have been consumed by significant numbers of U.S. consumers." In fact, no--not just "no major"--human health problems have emerged. Nevertheless, the UCS concludes "the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment." What does "intrinsically safe" mean? On what evidence can the UCS conclude that even conventional crops are "intrinsically safe"?

The scientific consensus about current varieties of genetically improved crops stands in stark contrast to these dire environmentalist assertions.

As evidence, consider a recent report issued by the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU is an organization whose membership consists of 111 national academies of science and 29 scientific unions. In 2005, the ICSU issued a report based on a comprehensive analysis of 50-science based reviews of genetically modified crops. The ICSU concluded: "Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat." Some environmentalist critics claim that genes from genetically modified crops will "contaminate" the natural environment and conventional crops. The ICSU found, "there is no evidence of any deleterious environmental effects having occurred from the trait/species combinations currently available." The World Health Organization agrees that current varieties of GM foods "are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved."

A 2003 position paper by the Society of Toxicology found, "The level of safety of current BD [biotechnology-derived] foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods." In 2002, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the scientific literature and sought expert advice about the safety of genetically modified foods. The GAO concluded, "Biotechnology experts believe that the current regimen of tests has been adequate for ensuring that GM (genetically modified) foods marketed to consumers are as safe as conventional foods." The experts with whom the GAO consulted also pointed out "there is no scientific evidence that GM foods cause long-term harm, such as increased cancer rates," and that "there is no plausible hypothesis of harm." GM foods might have adverse effects if they produced harmful proteins that that remained stable during digestion. However, the GAO noted that the proteins produced through genetic enhancement are in fact rapidly digested.

In 2000 the report Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture, issued under the auspices of seven national academies of science, including U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Academy, found that "no human health problems associated specifically with the ingestion of transgenic crops or their products have been identified." Also in 2000, a American Medical Association report noted, "Worldwide, many people are eating GM foods with no overt adverse effects on human health reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and according to regulatory agencies."

Almost all of the previously analyses cited do suggest that more stringent regulations might be necessary if future genetic modifications significantly change the nutrition of foods. But here are a couple of rules of thumb for reasonable regulation of genetically improved crops. If a regulatory system would cover a specific trait were it in a conventionally bred crop, then it should also regulate that same trait in a GM crop. If not, then it should not be regulated in a GM crop either. Secondly, once a trait has been approved, it should be approved for all varieties and all crops. There is no need to make a trait that already been scientifically determined to be safe go through the regulatory system again and again and again.

In any case, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global "Say no to genetic engineering" campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a GM Freeze. Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be. After all, scientific consensus does not mean "certain truth." Whatever the current consensus of any scientific issue is can change in the light of new research. Nevertheless, environmentalist ideologues accuse those who question the climate change consensus of bad faith and worse. But aren't they exhibiting a similar bad faith when they reject the broad scientific consensus on genetically modified crops?

Disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Nevertheless, I accept both the scientific consensus on climate change and the consensus on genetically enhanced crops.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.
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« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2007, 01:31:14 PM »

Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT wrote this for the upcoming Newsweek issue.  Comments and criticisms on the science and data he references are encouraged.  I've read and posted his work previously.  My observation with this is that it seems mainstream news organizations (NY Times recently, now Newsweek) are suddenly scrambling to publish alternative views as the previous overselling is becoming more obvious.  I find it humorous that he now discloses his funding in his credentials as that has been the only previous criticism I have seen of his work.

Why So Gloomy?

By Richard S. Lindzen
Newsweek International

April 16, 2007 issue - Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
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A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes down—not up—the more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature rise—a dubious proposition—future increases wouldn't be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Indeed, one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher. Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world's average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees. The important thing about doubled CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas) is its "forcing"—its contribution to warming. At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn't been uniform—warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don't explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn't account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Niño and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.

Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger Revelle—Al Gore's supposed mentor—is worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn't warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

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« Reply #43 on: April 17, 2007, 05:41:57 AM »

Today's NY Times:

After squabbling over prices for decades, the nation’s big-box retail chains are ready to battle in a new arena: the environment.

Dan Brown stocked organic vegetables and herbs in peat pots at a Home Depot store in Atlanta. The health benefits spur sales of organic food.

Home Depot today will introduce a label for nearly 3,000 products, like fluorescent light bulbs that conserve electricity and natural insect killers, that promote energy conservation, sustainable forestry and clean water.

The initiative — which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain’s sales — would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans.

And it signals that Home Depot, the country’s second-largest retailer, is joining the largest, Wal-Mart, in pursuing issues of public concern like climate change that stores have left to governments and environmental groups.

More than 90 percent of the products in the line are already on Home Depot’s shelves, but the Eco Options brand will identify them as environmentally friendly.

Home Depot executives said that as the world’s largest buyer of construction material, their company had the power to persuade thousands of suppliers, home builders and consumers to follow its lead on environment sustainability. “Who in the world has a chance to have a bigger impact on this sector than Home Depot?” said Ron Jarvis, vice president for environmental innovation at the retailer, which is based in Atlanta.

But persuading the majority of Americans to buy less polluting products could prove an uphill battle, at least for now, environmental advocates say. Decades of research have shown that consumers often say they want sustainable products but rarely purchase them. Prices tend to be higher, and consumers complain that the products do not always work as well as those they are meant to replace.

“There has not been a lot of success, frankly,” said Laurie Demeritt, president of the Hartman Group, which consults with retailers like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods on how to sell environmentally sustainable products. A big exception has been organic food. But even there, Ms. Demeritt said, consumers seem to be motivated by the health benefits, not the environmental impact.

Home Depot introduced Eco Options products in Canada in 2004, where the company has fewer than 200 stores — and so far, sales there have been strong.

Mr. Jarvis said Home Depot found that “given the option of a product that performs just as well, we are seeing the consumer would rather buy something that has less of an impact on the environment,” adding, “We are just making that easier.”

The company said it had asked suppliers to produce Eco Option goods at the same prices as conventional merchandise. But it acknowledged that some products would be more expensive at the cash register, even if consumers are likely to save money over time — as in the case of the energy-efficient light bulbs.

Suppliers that qualify for the Eco Options label will be rewarded with what preferential treatment — like prominent shelf space in the nearly 2,000 Home Depot stores in the United States and aggressive marketing through weekly newspaper inserts.

Merchandise can qualify for the new line in two ways. It either meets widely accepted federal and industry standards, like the Energy Star or the Forest Stewardship Council certification process, or its environmental claims are tested and validated by an outside company, Scientific Certification Systems. Ultimately, Home Depot, rather than a third party, determines what products will receive an Eco Options label.

There is, for example, a silicone window and door sealant from General Electric that improves the energy efficiency of heating and cooling systems and reduces greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-burning electricity plants. Another product is a glass cleaner from OdoBan that has low levels of volatile organic compounds, vapors linked to health problems. And organic plant food from Miracle-Gro uses no harsh chemicals that imperil water supplies.

For Home Depot, the new program is the culmination of a nearly decade-long journey from environmental whipping boy to green darling. In the late 1990s, groups conducted repeated protests against the company, contending that it sold wood from endangered forests in countries including Chile and Indonesia.

But by 2000, Home Depot had promised to eliminate sales of lumber from environmentally sensitive areas and began giving preference to wood from forests that are managed in ways considered sound.

Since then, Home Depot has worked with environmental groups to develop a variety of green programs, like offsetting carbon emissions from its headquarters by planting thousands of trees in Atlanta.

Its changes mirror those at Wal-Mart, which was heavily criticized by environmentalists for failing to manage storm-water runoff during construction of new stores in the United States and for generating high levels of pollution in countries like China, where many of its products are manufactured. But in 2005, Wal-Mart committed itself to reduce energy use in its stores, improve its trucks’ fuel efficiency and minimize the use of packaging.

Like Home Depot, Wal-Mart is asking that suppliers develop more sustainable products. But Wal-Mart has yet to introduce a broad environmental labeling program.

It is hardly alone. Retailers have been reluctant to brand products as green because of lackluster sales. “The options offered in the past have been a little ahead of their time,” said Lawrence A. Selzer, president of the Conservation Fund, an environmental group that works closely with Home Depot.

But Mr. Selzer said “what feels different today is the level of public engagement” on issues like climate change. “There is a buzz in the country right now,” he said. “The buying public is ready, willing and able.”

Even if the products do not sell briskly, environmental leaders said their presence on the shelves would begin teaching millions of shoppers about the impact of household products like weed killers and light bulbs.

“People hear about the environment, they see commercials, they attend a feel-good meeting, but at the end of the day they don’t know what to do,” Mr. Jarvis of Home Depot said. “We see educating the consumer as being the highest impact of this process.”
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« Reply #44 on: April 18, 2007, 12:49:22 PM »

 cause more smog, deaths By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Wed Apr 18, 7:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Switching from gasoline to ethanol — touted as a green alternative at the pump — may create dirtier air, causing slightly more smog-related deaths, a new study says.

Nearly 200 more people would die yearly from respiratory problems if all vehicles in the United States ran on a mostly ethanol fuel blend by 2020, the research concludes. Of course, the study author acknowledges that such a quick and monumental shift to plant-based fuels is next to impossible.

Each year, about 4,700 people, according to the study's author, die from respiratory problems from ozone, the unseen component of smog along with small particles. Ethanol would raise ozone levels, particularly in certain regions of the country, including the Northeast and Los Angeles.

"It's not green in terms of air pollution," said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor. "If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don't do it based on health grounds. It's no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse."

His study, based on a computer model, is published in Wednesday's online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology and adds to the messy debate over ethanol.

Farmers, politicians, industry leaders and environmentalists have clashed over just how much ethanol can be produced, how much land it would take to grow the crops to make it, and how much it would cost. They also disagree on the benefits of ethanol in cutting back fuel consumption and in fighting pollution, especially global warming gases.

In January,        President Bush announced a push to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent over 10 years by substituting alternative fuels, mainly ethanol. Scientists with the        Environmental Protection Agency estimated that could mean about a 1 percent increase in smog.

Jacobson's study troubles some environmentalists, even those who work with him. Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that ethanol, which cuts one of the key ingredients of smog and produces fewer greenhouse gases, is an important part of reducing all kinds of air pollution.

Jacobson's conclusion "is a provocative concept that is not workable," said Hwang, an engineer who used to work for California's state pollution control agency. "There's nothing in here that means we should throw away ethanol."

And Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, the largest Washington ethanol lobby group, said other research and real-life data show "ethanol is a greener fuel than gasoline."

But Jacobson found that depends on where you live, with ethanol worsening the ozone problem in most urban areas.

Based on computer models of pollution and air flow, Jacobson predicted that the increase in ozone — and diseases it causes — would be worst in areas where smog is already a serious problem: Los Angeles and the Northeast.

Most of those projected 200 deaths would be in Los Angeles, he says, and the only place where ozone would fall is the Southeast because of the unique blend of chemicals in the air and the heavy vegetation.

The science behind why ethanol might increase smog is complicated, but according to Jacobson, part of the explanation is that ethanol produces more hydrocarbons than gasoline. And ozone is the product of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide cooking in the sun.

Also, the ethanol produces longer-lasting chemicals that eventually turn into hydrocarbons that can travel farther. "You are really spreading out pollution over a larger area," he said.

And finally, while ethanol produces less nitrogen oxide, that can actually be a negative in some very smoggy places. When an area like Los Angeles reaches a certain high level of nitrogen oxide, that excess chemical begins eating up spare ozone, Jacobson said.

Hwang agreed that that is a "well-known effect."

While praising Jacobson as one of the top atmospheric chemists in the nation, Hwang said he had problems with some of Jacobson's assumptions, such as an entire switch to ethanol by 2020. Also, he said that the ozone difference that Jacobson finds is so small that it may be in the margin of error of calculations.

Jacobson is also ignoring that ethanol — especially the kind made from cellulose, like switchgrass — reduces greenhouse gases, which cause global warming. And global warming will increase smog and smog-related deaths, an international scientific panel just found this month, Hwang said.


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« Reply #45 on: May 04, 2007, 11:53:17 AM »

See the May 4th entry by Gilder's daughter scientifically ripping Al Gore a new butthole so big that he is going to need "Depends"  cheesy

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« Reply #46 on: May 05, 2007, 06:36:36 AM »

A Beautiful Mine
Published: May 5, 2007
Rowdy, Ky.

MY home state contains the largest contiguous forests in southern Appalachia, which is home to the most biologically diverse landscape in North America. To sit quietly in such a place is an extraordinary thing to do. I have heard ovenbirds and black-and-white warblers, sometimes a wood thrush, as steep ridgelines rose around me, mountains older than the Himalayas. There is a lot to see in this forest: 250 different songbirds, 70 species of trees, bears, bobcats and my favorite nonspeaking mammal, the Southern flying squirrel.

Alas, many of these species are vanishing because their habitat is vanishing. A form of strip mining called mountaintop removal has ripped apart all of the ridgelines that surround this forest, leaving miles of lifeless gray plateaus, lunar wastelands. Mountaintop removal entails the blasting of entire summits to rubble in an effort to reach, as quickly and inexpensively as possible, thin seams of bituminous coal. Trees, topsoil and sandstone are dumped into the valleys below. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in this way, and an Environmental Protection Agency study found that 95 percent of headwater streams near mines have been contaminated by heavy metals leeching from the sites.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Pioneering foresters found that the best way to grow trees on a strip mine is not to compact the soil, as has been done on most strip mine sites, where regrowth has been scant and slow, but simply to plant saplings in the loose mix of sandstone and shale, known as spoil, that mines leave behind. High-value hardwoods will grow twice as fast in this loose rubble as in their native forest, because there is plenty of room below ground for the roots to take hold, and no competition from taller trees above ground. The porous spoil acts like a sponge during heavy rainfalls and greatly reduces the flooding caused by compacted strip mines.

Last spring I took a ride with Patrick Angel, the initiative’s point man in Kentucky, to a large mountaintop removal site called Bent Mountain. It was covered with mounded sandstone where foot-high saplings grew. On one acre, 1,000 disease-resistant American chestnuts waved like lawn flags in the gray rock. More small trees grew in the loosened spoil. Mr. Angel told me that the trees’ survival rate was 75 percent to 90 percent.

Then Mr. Angel drove me to one of the state’s largest strip jobs, the Starfire Mine. We pulled away from the heavy machinery and cratered landscape, toward a test site established nine years ago. Back then it looked like Bent Mountain. Nine years later, we were wandering among 30-foot tall poplar and 20-foot tall white ash. The trees had already developed a canopy. If I hadn’t heard the sounds of mining in the distance, I could almost imagine myself in a young forest.

“A culture,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden, “is no better than its woods.” Over a million acres have been strip-mined in Kentucky since 1980, and the numbers in West Virginia are worse. Mountaintop removal sites across Appalachia will soon reach the size of Delaware. And much of that acreage has been “reclaimed” as pasture: companies spray the mines with a layer of grass seed and hope it takes.

But to replace the forest with a grassland monoculture does not reclaim what has been lost. A forest sequesters 20 times more carbon than a grassland, prevents flooding and erosion, purifies streams, turns waste into food and insures species survival. Reforesting wasted mine sites would replace failed industrial methods with a system that mimics nature. Toward that goal, foresters have planted two million high-value trees on 2,700 acres of abandoned mine land.

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

We know that our species, and most other species, will survive only in a future that burns no coal or oil. The question now is whether we have the nerve to get there before the world’s oldest mountains are gone.

Erik Reece is the author of “Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness.”
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« Reply #47 on: May 16, 2007, 02:25:21 PM »

Cyclones May Extinguish Turtles

May 15, 2007 —More severe tropical cyclones expected as a result of climate change may lead to the extinction of the green sea turtle in some areas within 100 years, researchers say.

The cyclones are expected to threaten how well the turtles nest and hatch eggs, placing pressure on already endangered populations, some of which are also threatened by fish trawling.

Researchers including Ph.D. candidate David Pike, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, report their findings online in the journal Oecologia.

The researchers studied more than 40,000 sea turtles nests on an uninhabited, 24-mile stretch of beach along the Atlantic coast of Florida from 1995 to the end of 2005.

Each night during this period researchers surveyed the beach for turtles emerging to lay eggs, or for tracks of turtles that had already deposited eggs.

The stretch of beach is home to the loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles, which start nesting at the beginning in April and end in late September.

This nesting season largely coincides with region's tropical storm season, which runs from June to November.

Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and, to a lesser degree, loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) get around this by nesting and hatching earlier.

Only nests laid late in the season are inundated with seawater during storm surges.

But green turtles (Chelonia mydas) nest last.

Their entire nesting season occurs during Florida's tropical cyclone season, which means their nests and developing eggs are extremely vulnerable to being washed away and killed.

Researchers are concerned that increases in the severity of tropical cyclones in the future may cause green turtle nesting success to worsen.

"Green turtles have always been at the bum end of the deal but [it appears] their deal is going to get worse over time," Pike says.

"In my opinion, they are at risk of becoming extinct over the next 100 years or so."

While the study did not look at other green turtle populations, including those along Australia's tropical north coast, Pike says these may also be affected by increased storm action.


"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
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« Reply #48 on: May 31, 2007, 08:19:04 AM »

ssions Revelation
May 30, 2007
The G-8 summit starts next week, and the U.S. is already under attack for blocking hostess German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal to curb so-called greenhouse gases. President George W. Bush's environmental adviser confirmed yesterday that the White House won't go along with an economically crippling plan to halve emissions from their 1990 levels by mid-century.

Amid all the Euro sanctimony about global warming and carping about America's unwillingness to play along with their grand schemes, a few truths are inconvenient. The U.S. is reducing emissions, without any need for caps. And on this score, America is outpacing Europe's jolly green giants.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Friday that energy-related CO2 emissions fell 1.3% last year, according to preliminary data, even as the economy grew 3.3%. Those emissions account for four-fifths of all greenhouse gases in the U.S. It's the third time since the base year of 1990 that America has recorded a decrease, but the first not to occur during a recession (as in 1991 and 2001). During the same period, Europe managed only once, in 1997, to cut CO2 emissions by at least 1% while its economy grew by more than 2%. (The EU has not released data for 2006.)

A single year doesn't make a trend, but the American one is clear. Since 2000, emissions are nearly flat, thanks to a strong economy that nurtures innovation and efficiency. U.S. manufacturers are curbing CO2 output, pushing last year's total below 1990 levels in absolute terms. After outpacing the U.S. during the Clinton-Gore '90s, Europe has fallen behind this decade on reducing greenhouse emissions.

The Kyoto-hugging Europeans want to tax or crimp this very American competitiveness. As next week's summit will likely prove again, no one can match the Europeans for the output of dangerous policy. Yet anyone seriously concerned about the environment can take a closer look at America's recent record of success.
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« Reply #49 on: June 18, 2007, 08:26:35 AM »

There's been an interesting amalgam of guerilla scientists and data gatherers looking at the data collection sites from which US climate trends are extrapolated, which is a long winded way of saying they are documenting issues with US weather stations. Many of these stations have shown an increase in local temperatures over time, but have not controlled for basic variables like central air conditioning units--which emit hot hair--being located near by. In this picture. . .

. . .an outdoor trash burning barrel is located within a dozen feet of the weather unit. In this one. . .

. . .jet aircraft are parked adjacent to the data gathering unit. Needless to say, failing to control for simple variables like these casts the data in doubt, which is just one of the problems documented by sources you can check out here:
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