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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Science, Culture, & Humanities => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on December 27, 2006, 09:36:05 AM

Title: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 27, 2006, 09:36:05 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.”
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 27, 2006, 09:45:16 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 28, 2006, 09:09:05 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."
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 15, 2007, 08:55:23 PM
A green Republican organization recommended by my friend John Spezzano.
Title: Assisted Migration
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 23, 2007, 05:28:14 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.”

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: SB_Mig on January 30, 2007, 12:46:09 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 31, 2007, 07:28:06 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on January 31, 2007, 11:38:53 AM
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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on February 04, 2007, 06:51:12 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."
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 09, 2007, 12:42:29 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on February 09, 2007, 09:37:58 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 11, 2007, 08:33:08 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.”
Title: *no* global warming opinion;lets move the polar bears
Post by: ccp on February 12, 2007, 09:27:51 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 27, 2007, 06:51:08 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.”

Title: Nobody Expects the Climate Inquisition
Post by: buzwardo on February 27, 2007, 07:32:04 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues, Global Warming in Duluth
Post by: DougMacG on March 04, 2007, 09:53:54 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 05, 2007, 07:38:09 PM
Speaking for myself, I moved to LA after a particulary harsh winter in DC in 1982  :lol:

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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 13, 2007, 06:50:03 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.”

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on March 13, 2007, 09:52:26 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 14, 2007, 03:48:15 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  :roll:  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?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on March 14, 2007, 12:35:10 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 14, 2007, 05:04:44 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 15, 2007, 06:56:28 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on March 15, 2007, 09:40:44 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

Title: BBC Documentary on "The Great Global Warming Swindle"
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 11:53:28 AM
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 -
Title: The Deniers, a Ten Part Series, Part I
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:23:21 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part II
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:24:54 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part III
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:25:39 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part IV
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:27:12 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part V
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:28:21 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part VI
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:29:20 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part VII
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:30:27 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part VIII
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:31:50 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part IX
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:33:02 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.
Title: The Deniers, Part X
Post by: buzwardo on March 15, 2007, 12:34:06 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 19, 2007, 07:47:09 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.
Title: Condemning the Poorest
Post by: buzwardo on March 19, 2007, 10:02:35 AM
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 -
Title: Backlash Begins
Post by: buzwardo on March 21, 2007, 12:06:44 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 -
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: rogt on March 22, 2007, 04:04:35 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 25, 2007, 08:57:49 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.
Title: More than One Model
Post by: buzwardo on March 30, 2007, 10:26:42 AM
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."
Title: Of Hobgoblins and Little Minds
Post by: buzwardo on April 06, 2007, 04:58:25 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.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on April 09, 2007, 11:31:14 AM
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.

Title: Home Depot
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2007, 03:41:57 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.”
Title: The Law of Unexpected consequences strikes again.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 18, 2007, 10:49:22 AM

 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.


Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 04, 2007, 09:53:17 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"  :lol:

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2007, 04:36:36 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.”
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Dog Robertlk808 on May 16, 2007, 12:25:21 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.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 31, 2007, 06:19:04 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.
Title: It's Hotter Near Heat Sources, Go Figure
Post by: buzwardo on June 18, 2007, 06:26:35 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:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 20, 2007, 07:18:58 AM
That's pretty funny Buzz.

Changing subjects, Nature Conservancy is a fine group, which seeks market oriented solutions. As I read this editorial I am reminded that I need to renew my membership:

NT Times
Published: June 20, 2007

The steady march of major timber companies to new locations in the southern United States and overseas has exposed millions of acres to development, ratcheting up the already fierce pressures on the nation’s dwindling supply of open space. With most federal open-space programs cut to the bone, the task of preserving these lands for future generations has fallen increasingly to private groups.

Given their relatively limited resources, any victory they achieve is cause for cheers. And cheer we do this week for the Nature Conservancy’s purchase — with financing from the Open Space Institute and other groups — from a paper company of 161,000 acres of hardwood forests, mountain peaks, lakes and streams in New York’s Adirondacks.

The deal secures for posterity the last big piece of privately owned timberland in the Adirondacks. It caps a series of transactions stretching back to the early 1990s that altogether have protected hundreds of thousands of Adirondack backcountry acres that might otherwise have been lost to second homes. The transaction is also significant because it will allow selective logging to continue for 20 years, helping to preserve jobs at a local paper mill.

To cover the $110 million price, the Nature Conservancy is going to need more than just cheering. Some of the money could come from private fund-raising, and some by selling part of the timberland back to a company that would harvest the land sustainably but keep out residential development.

We also urge Gov. Eliot Spitzer to step forward, as his predecessor George Pataki did on similar occasions in the past. The state could buy some of the land outright, adding it to the New York State Forest Preserve. It could also buy the development rights from the Nature Conservancy through a conservation easement — rights, of course, it would never use.

From Maine to California, groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land are engaged in a continuing, and financially creative, battle to keep the developers at bay and keep large ecosystems intact. This week’s deal gives them, and all of us, heart.
Title: Solar Radiation Variable Cycles, Part I
Post by: buzwardo on July 11, 2007, 06:12:42 AM
July 11, 2007
Global Warming and Solar Radiation

By D. Bruce Merrifield

Without the impact of solar radiation, the temperature on the earth would be about the same as the temperature of space, which is about -454 C. The amount of radiation reaching the earth is about 1,368 watts per square meter. This is a vast amount of energy, which would require the simultaneous output of 1.7 billion of our largest power plants to match. About 70 percent of this solar energy is absorbed and 30 percent is reflected. However, the amount of solar energy reaching the earth is not constant, but varies in several independent cycles of different degrees of magnitude, which may or may not reinforce each other.

These cycles include a 100,000-year cycle, which results from the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun, a 41,000-year (obliquity) cycle, which results from the tilt of the earth on its axis, a 23,000-year cycle which results from "climatic precession" or changes in direction of the earths axis relative to the sun, and an 11-year sunspot cycle, during which solar radiation increases and then declines. The most recent sunspot radiation cycle peaked in the year 2000, and currently is approaching a minimum. Curiously, NASA and the Russian Observatory both report that total solar radiation now has peaked, and all these cycles may be simultaneously in decline

Each 100,000-year peak in radiation appears to last about 15,000 to 20,000 years, and each has been coincident with massive surges of carbon dioxide and methane (the green house gasses), into the atmosphere, causing de-glaciation of the Polar and  Greenland ice caps. Surges of these greenhouse gasses have always been vastly greater than the amounts currently being generated by burning fossil fuels. For example, the most recent 100,000-year cycle raised sea levels 400 feet in the first 10,000 years, but since then sea levels have risen very little. In the current warming period, sea levels are rising only about 3 millimeters per year, and temperatures over the last 100 years have risen a modest 0.6 of a degree C.

Superimposed on this latest 100,000-year peak have been 6 secondary warming periods, each coincident with additional surges of carbon dioxide and methane, lasting about 200 years and then subsiding. Each of these previous warming periods was warmer than the current warming period, and current temperatures are below the median for the last 3000 years. Most remarkably, civilization first emerged in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile River Valleys about 3400 B.C. in that period of great warming, and even more remarkably, each of these secondary surges of greenhouse gasses (none of human origin), has also been coincident with the rise of a major civilization.

For instance, 3,000 years ago in the 1000 B.C. warming period, the Babylonian era emerged. Then, 500 years later, the Greek civilization flourished, followed by the Romans 400 years later. A 1,000-year cold period followed through the dark ages, but then in the very warm 1000 A.D. Medieval Period, the ice and snow melted on Greenland; the Danes farmed there for 200 years, until it froze over again. There are no reports of seaports being flooded during this warm period.

About 500 years after the Medieval period, another surge of greenhouse gasses initiated the Renaissance, which was followed by an unexplained "Little Ice Age" from about 1600 to about 1750. (This was coincident with the Maunder Solar Radiation Minimum). During this period, Europe was covered with ice and snow, growing seasons were short, and starvation was common. Farmer unrest may have triggered the French Revolution. The most recent warming period began as solar radiation rapidly increased.

Interestingly, starting about two decades ago (1988), the total increase of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere has abruptly stopped, in spite of increased burning of fossil fuels.                                                                 

The forcing agent for these many previous warming periods over millions of years could not have been of human origin, and the measured volumes of carbon dioxide and methane which were coincident with each warming period, were vastly greater than those currently being produced by humans.


For millions of years, the earth has been subjected to successive waves of active warming and cooling. These cycles were not of human origin, and often reached temperatures much greater than those of the current period. The most recent warming period started about 300 years ago following an unexplained "little ice age." Mutually supportive data documenting these episodes have accumulated from many sources. They include cores from the Antarctic ice cap, from the Sargasso Sea, from stalagmites, from ocean up-wellings and from the shells of crustaceans trapped in pre-historic rock formations.

For example, the geological record from some 55 million years ago documents a great warming period, which occurred over a "geological instant." Carbon dioxide surged to about 1000 ppmv, and temperatures rose 5 to 7 F. higher than current global temperatures. (1) Methane also increased dramatically in this and other warming periods, with de-glaciation following each warming period. Recently, an analysis of ice cores from the Antarctic ice cap (2) have shown that over the last half million years, there have been sudden and repetitive powerful surges of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about every 100,000 years, with rapid de-glaciation, followed then by re-glaciation in long cooling periods. We now are at the latest of these peaks, which terminated the last ice age and raised sea levels about 400 feet.


Interestingly, these Antarctic data indicate that the rise in carbon dioxide then leveled off for unexplained reasons. Also, net increases of both carbon dioxide and methane have now ceased since 1988, although the production of human-generated carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continue to accelerate .


Termination of this last ice age was coincident with a surge in green house gasses, which peaked about 10,000 years ago.  This 15,000-year radiation cycle is now declining.  In fact, we now might be in another ice age except for the fact that about 5,000 years ago, another surge of methane entered the atmosphere, and unexpectedly reversed the cooling effect.


This curious reversal may have counteracted the solar cooling process and initiated a new warming cycle, since archeological records document the period around 3400 B.C. as a great warming period felicitous for agriculture, and one in which civilization emerged in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile river valleys. (4) Construction of Stonehenge also occurred at this time in England. Since then, there has been a number of additional 200 to 300 year warming periods, followed by sustained cooling periods.

More Recent Data

Cores taken from the sediments in the Sargasso Sea in the Bermuda Triangle (5) have added to the subsequent climate record. Superimposed on the most recent 100,000-year great surge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have been six additional surges over the last 3,000 years.


Since the emergence of civilization, and until relatively recently, economic prosperity has been primarily based on agriculture, and each of these warming periods has been accompanied by an improved climate for growing food. After each surge, subsequent declines in green house gasses resulted in significant cooling of the climate and shorter growing seasons, perhaps contributing also to observed societal declines.

For example, three thousand years ago (1000 B.C.), the Babylonian civilization emerged and then flourished until the climate cooled. A second great surge in carbon dioxide, also of non-human origin, occurred about 500 B.C. coincident with the emergence and subsequent flourishing of the Greek civilization. The Roman civilization emerged during the next surge in carbon dioxide, after which there was an extended cooling period that encompassed the Dark Ages.

Then, in 1000 A.D., a fourth surge of carbon dioxide accompanied the Medieval Warming Period, during which much of the ice and snow on Greenland melted; for the following 200 years the Danes farmed Greenland. Presumably, much of the Antarctic snow and ice must also have simultaneously melted, but there are no records of massive flooding of coastal cities. This period also saw the collapse of the Mayan civilization as a serious drought covered Mexico and the U.S. Midwest. Massive sand dunes were formed in Nebraska during this period, and the Easter Island culture in the Pacific Ocean also collapsed at this time. A cooling period followed until the surge in 1500 A.D. which was coincident with the Renaissance and then the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but also saw the collapse of the Angkor civilization in Cambodia, when the canals from the Siem Reap River dried up and the rice economy was devastated. (6)

The 1500 A.D. warming period ended, curiously, in a "little ice age" when much of Europe was covered with ice and snow. This was followed by the start of the current warming period about 300 years ago, which also has been accompanied by a remarkable increase in methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane, when initially generated, is about 56 to 62 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. (7) However, it oxidizes to carbon dioxide over about a 12 year period, and consequently, over a 100 year period, its average effect is thought to be about 21 times that of carbon dioxide.

The amount of methane entering the atmosphere has doubled over the last 200 years and has been rising exponentially until very recently. For unexplained reasons the net rise of both carbon dioxide and methane has ceased since 1988 (Figure V).


Until the recent industrial period, relatively few people inhabited the western world, so these climate changes were not of human origin. (Figure VI).

Title: Solar Radiation Variable Cycles, Part II
Post by: buzwardo on July 11, 2007, 06:15:52 AM
Greenhouse Gas Sources

The earth's atmosphere is made up of a number of gasses which are essentially permanent in concentration and others which vary from time to time:   
Figure VII



            Nitrogen               78.9%                          Water                       0 to 4%         

            Oxygen                20.9%                          Carbon Dioxide       0.035%

            Argon                     0.9%                          Methane                   0.0002%

            Neon                    0.002%                        Ozone                     0.000004%

            Helium                  0.005%

            Krypton               0.0001%

            Hydrogen          0.000004%

Water Vapor

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas whose concentrations in computer models are currently not taken into account. Concentrations vary widely, both daily and over different sections of the earth.  Low thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation, and cool the surface of the earth  High thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation, but also trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the earth, and radiate it back down to the earth, warming the surface of the earth.  The balance between cooling and warming is close, but cooling predominates.

During the last ice age, water vapor over the Antarctic was less than half of current concentrations, and the St Lawrence River at that time had cut a channel to the continental shelf which is now 400 feet below current ocean levels. De-glaciation raised these sea levels and atmospheric moisture also increased. (8) Warming effects due to water vapor seem to be disputed.

Carbon Dioxide

The amounts of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere have increased about 1.8% per year since pre-industrial times, rising from about 280 ppmv to 383 ppmv now -- the highest in 160,000 years. However, pre-industrial temperatures were much higher than current temperatures, when carbon dioxide concentrations were at the much lower 280 ppmv.

Massive amounts of this gas are absorbed in the oceans, in terrestrial systems and in the atmosphere, with a relatively labile equilibrium between them. Concentrations in the oceans are about 60 times greater than in the land and atmosphere, and about 20 times greater than in the atmosphere. Any warming of the oceans could release significant quantities of this gas.

Until the last century, none of these rises in warming could be attributed to human origin. Also, the rate of increased carbon dioxide which accompanied the end of the last ice could not alone have accounted for the abruptness of a 16 F. rise in temperature. Shorter term rapid fluctuations in temperature also were observed in the Sargasso Sea cores. These are inconsistent with more steady increases in Carbon dioxide, but possibly may be due to the onset of sudden warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean. (9) Deforestation and burning of fossil fuels in recent years have added to normal sources of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, but net increases now have inexplicably ceased over the last two decades.


Methane is more abundant in the atmosphere now than in the last 400,000 years, when concentrations were 278 ppbv (10). Since the little ice age, concentrations have increased from 700 to 1767 ppbv, but over the last two decades since 1998, they also have ceased to rise for unknown reasons. (11) Some 317 million cubic feet of methane are stored in U.S. hydrates and some 49,000 quadrillion cubic feet exist in the world compared with known U.S natural gas reserves of ("only") 187 million cubic feet. (12) World stores are 10 million teragrams of trapped methane V.S. 5000 teragrams in the atmosphere). Enormous quantities of methane molecules are trapped in cage like structures with water molecules on the ocean floor. Seismic shifts have been known to release large amounts of methane.

For example, a deadly cloud of dissolved carbon dioxide and methane gas was released from Lake Nyos, Cameroon, in East Africa, which killed 1700 people, by a "convective "magmatic" eruption which displaced the lower layer of the stratified lake in a volcanically active basin. However, methane may be primarily formed by bacterial degradation of on vegetation. (13) Life cycles for these gases are shown below, including long-lasting nitrous oxide, which since 1940 has increased from 0.5% to 1.2% in the atmosphere, primarily from microbial action on vegetation. (14)

                                        Gas Life Cycles (Figure VIII)

            GAS                20 YEARS            100 YEARS           500 YEARS     AVERAGE


Carbon Dioxide                ---                          ---                           120                   120                 

Methane                            56                       19-43                         9-16               12-18

Nitrous Oxide                  290                         320                          130                  120


The relative heat retention characteristics of each of these gasses is adjusted for effectiveness in Figure IX.


The significance of these data is that the relatively long decline, and the long life, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not consistent with abrupt periods of rise and fall in 200 year warm-period cycles over the last 5000 years. The warm cycles should be expected to last much longer, since carbon dioxide, a chemically stable gas, persists for much longer periods.

The Solar Cycles

NASA data indicate that the climate on Mars is the warmest in decades, the planet's polar ice cap is shrinking, the ice in lower latitudes has disappeared, and a Martian ice age may be terminating. (15) This phenomenon appears to involve solar radiation, which has been increasing for the last 100 years. Without solar radiation, both Mars and the earth's temperature would be - 454 C. (16) and no other energy source exists in our solar system of this magnitude. As solar radiation varies in intensity, it can be expected to periodically also warm the earth's oceans, releasing dissolved carbon dioxide and melting methane hydrates -- the release of which have always accompanied all previous warming periods for millions of years. These greenhouse gasses then are known to absorb additional heat from the sun to cause follow-on periodic warming episodes, a secondary or derivative effect.

Five radiation cycles have been identified which operate independently of each other, (17) occasionally reinforcing each other, and occasionally canceling each other's effects (Figure X).


A 100,000-year cycle results from the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun. A 41,000-year (obliquity) cycle results from the tilt of the earth on its axis. A 23,000-year (precession) cycle results from changes in direction of the earth's axis relative to the sun. Also, 95,000, 125 000 and 400,000 (obliquity) year cycles are operative, as is an 11-year sunspot cycle. All of these appear now to have peaked or are in decline. Over the last 300 years, following the Maunder "little ice age" there have been other dips in radiation (Figure (XI), but on average, radiation has increased. (18) This increase in radiation has been concurrent with the most recent warming period, which appears now to have been interrupted, in spite of accelerated burning of fossil fuels.
Dr. H. Abdussamatov, head of the  St. Petersburg Pulkova Astronomical Observatory (operating since 1839), points out that the earth now has hit its temperature ceiling and that solar radiation has begun to fall, which possibly could account for the current cessation of  greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. He anticipates that a cooling period may now develop, and equipment currently is being installed in the Space Station to monitor this effect.


The earth has been subjected to many warming and cooling periods over millions of years, none of which were of human origin. Data from many independent sources have mutually corroborated these effects. They include data from coring both the Antarctic ice cap and sediments from the Sargasso Sea, from stalagmites, from tree rings, from up-wellings in the oceans, and from crustaceans trapped in pre-historic rock formations.

The onset of each 100,000-year abrupt warming period has been coincident with emissions into the atmosphere of large amounts of both carbon dioxide and methane greenhouse gases, which absorb additional heat from the sun, a secondary warming effect. Solar radiation would appear to be the initial forcing event in which warming oceans waters release dissolved carbon dioxide, and melt methane hydrates, both of which are present in the oceans in vast quantities. Subsequent declines in radiation are associated with long cooling periods in which the green house gases then gradually disappear (are re-absorbed) into terrestrial and ocean sinks, as reflected in the data from coring the Antarctic Ice Cap and Sargasso Sea.

The current 100 year solar radiation cycle may now have reached its peak, and irradiation intensity has been observed to be declining. This might account for the very recent net cessation of emission of green house gases into the atmosphere starting about 1988, in spite of increasing generation of anthropomorphically-sourced industrial-based green house gases.

While it seems likely that solar radiation, rather than human activity,  is the "forcing agent" for global warming, the subject surely needs more study.

Dr. D. Bruce Merrifield is a former Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs and Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  He holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in physical organic chemistry and currently is a member of the Visiting Committee for Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago.


1.  Science, August 26, (2005); Science Feb. 28 (1997) pp1267; Science News, Feb3, (2007) Vol. 171, pp67; Science Vol. 312, June 9 (2006) pp1485-89. http://www.Skymetrics.US/background/glossey.php -21k

2.   Science, June 6, (2006) pp1454; A.V. Federov, P.S. Dekens et al, The Pliocene Paradox, Science, Vol. 312, June 9, (2006) pp1485-89; D.R. MacAyeal, Dept. Geophysical Sciences, Univ. of Chicago,           

3.   Kenneth Clark, Civilization, Harper and Row, (1969), pp33; Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, Science (1996); L.D. Keigwin, The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea, Science, Vol. 274, Nov. 29, (1996) pp 5292;

4.   The End of Angkor, Science, Vol. 311, March 10, (2006).

5.   Gerald Dickens, A Methane Trigger for Rapid Warming?, Science, Vol 299, Feb. 14, (2003); Seth  Borebstein, Methane A New Climate Threat, Nature, ; C. Frankenberg, J.F. Meirink et al. Assessing Methane ; C. Frankenberg, J.F. Meirink et al. Assessing Methane Emissions From Global Space-Borne Observations, Science, Vol. 308, May 13, (2005).

6.   Charles Higham, Civilization of Angkor; pp14-16

7.   Methane Since 1684, Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Inst of Bern, Sidlerstrassa  5, Switzerland. 

8.   Hudson Canyon Map:; Wallace Broeker et al. Earth Observatory, Columbia Univ. Lecture at Amer Geographic Society, Baltimore, Spring 1999.

9.   Severinghouse, Science, Vol. 286, Oct. 29 (1999) pp 930-4.

10.   D.F. Ferretti, J.B. Miller et al, Unexpected Changes to the Global Methane Budget over the Past 2000 Years, Science, Vol. 309, Sept. 9 (2005).

11.   Mysterious Stabilization of Atmospheric Methane May Buy Time in Race
to Stop Global Warming, Geophysical Research Letters, Nov. 23 (2006). Mysterious Stabilization of Methane, Scientific American, Nov. 21 (2006).

12.   C&EN, Aug 8, (2005) pp16

13.   Science, Feb 28 (1997) pp1267; Geothermal Geophysical, Geosystems Vol. 10 (2001) pp1029.

14.   I.S.A. Isakreacta, et al, Radiation Forcing of Climate, Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (2003).

15.   Urban Renaissance Inst., http://www.; Eva Bauer, Martin Clausen, V. Broukin, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 30, No. 6 (2003) pp127

16.   Milankovitch Cycles - Wikipedia Encyclopedia

17.   Richard Mueller, Gordon MacDonald (1977) Glacial Cycles and Astronomical Forcing

18.   J. Howard Maccabee,, (colloquium)

Page Printed from: at July 11, 2007 - 08:25:14 AM EDT
Title: Forecasting Folly
Post by: buzwardo on July 16, 2007, 09:42:31 AM
Ran into an interesting piece just past peer review and scheduled for publication, the first three pages of which I've included here. In a nutshell, the paper seeks to defines the utility of forecasting multivarieate phenomena, and at what point a prediction hinders rather than helps public policy planning. The entire piece can be read here:

Turns out there is an entire website and budding science devoted to the propogation of effective forecasting tools. "Global warming" forecasts don't fare to well under the empiric gaze used here:

The piece follows bellow:

Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts*
Kesten C. Green, Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University
c/o PO Box 10800, Wellington 6143, New Zealand.; T +64 4 976 3245; F +64 4 976 3250
J. Scott Armstrong†, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
747 Huntsman, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. 
(This paper is a draft of an article that is forthcoming in Energy and Environment.)
Version 43 – July 10, 2007
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group One, a panel of
experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations
Environment Programme, issued its updated, Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts. The Report
was commissioned at great cost in order to provide policy recommendations to governments. It
included predictions of dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the
next 92 years. Using forecasting principles as our guide we asked, are these forecasts a good basis
for developing public policy? Our answer is “no.”

 To provide forecasts of climate change that are useful for policy-making, one would need
to forecast (1) global temperature, (2) the effects of any temperature changes, (3) the effects of
alternative policies, and (4) whether the best policy would be successfully implemented. Proper
forecasts of all four are necessary for rational policy making. 

The IPCC Report was regarded as providing the most credible long-term forecasts of
global average temperatures by 31 of the 51 scientists and others involved in forecasting climate
change who responded to our survey. We found no references to the primary sources of
information on forecasting methods despite the fact these are easily available in books, articles,
and websites. In our audit of Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report, we found enough information
to make judgments on 89 out of a total of 140 forecasting principles. The forecasting procedures
that were described violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical.
We concluded that the forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific
procedures. In effect, they were the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and
obscured by complex writing. Research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not
useful. Instead, policies should be based on forecasts from scientific forecasting methods. We
have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts of global warming. Claims that the Earth will
get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder. 
Keywords: accuracy, audit, climate change, evaluation, expert judgment, mathematical models,
public policy.
*Neither of the authors received funding for this paper.
† Information about J. Scott Armstrong can be found on Wikipedia.
“A trend is a trend,
But the question is, will it bend?
Will it alter its course 
Through some unforeseen force
And come to a premature end?”
Alec Cairncross, 1969
Research on forecasting has been conducted since the 1930s. Of particular value are comparative
empirical studies to determine which methods are most accurate in given situations. The findings,
along with the evidence, were first summarized in Armstrong (1978, 1985). The forecasting
principles project, begun in the mid-1990s, summarized knowledge as evidence-based principles
(condition-action statements) to provide guidance on which methods to use in a given situation.
The project led to the Principles of Forecasting handbook (Armstrong 2001), which involved 40
authors (all internationally known experts on forecasting methods) along with 123 reviewers (also
leading experts on forecasting methods). The summarizing process alone required a four-year

Efforts have been made to ensure that these principles are easy to find. They have been freely
available on, a site that has been first on Google searches for
“forecasting” for many years. The directors’ objective for the site is to summarize all useful
knowledge on forecasting methods. There is no other source that provides evidence-based
forecasting principles. The site is often updated, and a recent update of evidence on some of the
key principles was published in Armstrong (2006).

Many of the principles go beyond common sense, and some are counter-intuitive. As a result,
those who forecast in ignorance of the research literature are unlikely to produce useful
predictions. For example, here are some of the well-established generalizations for situations
involving long-term forecasts of complex issues where the causal factors are subject to
uncertainty (as with climate):
• Unaided judgmental forecasts by experts have no value. This applies whether the
opinions are expressed in words, spreadsheets, or mathematical models. It also
applies regardless of how much scientific evidence is possessed by the experts.
Among the reasons for this are:
a) Complexity:  People cannot assess complex relationships through
unaided observations.
b) Coincidence:  People confuse correlation with causation.
c) Feedback:  People making judgmental predictions typically do not
receive unambiguous feedback they can use to improve
their forecasting. 
d) Bias:  People have difficulty in obtaining or using evidence that
contradicts their initial beliefs. This problem is especially
serious for people who view themselves as experts.
• Agreement among experts is weakly related to accuracy. This is especially true
when the experts communicate with one another and when they work together to
solve problems, as is the case with the IPCC process. 
• Complex models (those involving nonlinearities and interactions) harm accuracy
because their errors multiply. Ascher (1978), refers to the Club of Rome’s 1972
forecasts where, unaware of the research on forecasting, the developers proudly
proclaimed, “in our model about 100,000 relationships are stored in the computer.
Complex models also tend to fit random variations in historical data well, with the
consequence that they forecast poorly and provide misleading conclusions about the
uncertainty of the outcome. Finally, when complex models are developed there are
many opportunities for errors and the complexity means the errors are difficult to
find. Craig, Gadgil, and Koomey (2002) came to similar conclusions in their review
of long-term energy forecasts for the US made between 1950 and 1980. 
• Given even modest uncertainty, prediction intervals are enormous. For example,
prediction intervals (ranges outside which outcomes are unlikely to fall) expand
rapidly as time horizons increase, so that one is faced with enormous intervals even
when trying to forecast a straightforward thing such as automobile sales for General
Motors over the next five years. 
• When there is uncertainty in forecasting, forecasts should be conservative.
Uncertainty arises when data contain measurement errors, when the series are
unstable, when knowledge about the direction of relationships is uncertain, and
when a forecast depends upon forecasts of related (causal) variables. For example,
forecasts of no change were found to be more accurate than trend forecasts for
annual sales when there was substantial uncertainty in the trend lines (e.g., Schnaars
and Bavuso 1986). This principle also implies that forecasts should revert to long-
term trends when such trends have been firmly established, do not waver, and there
are no firm reasons to suggest that they will change. Finally, trends should be
damped toward no change as the forecast horizon increases. 
These conclusions were drawn from the forecasting principles in the edited handbook on
forecasting (Armstrong 2001) and they are described at A summary of
the principles, now numbering 140, is provided in the Forecasting Audit on the site, where they
are presented as a checklist. 
The Forecasting Problem
In determining the best policies to deal with the climate of the future, a policy maker first has to
select an appropriate statistic to use to represent the changing climate. By convention, the statistic
is the averaged global temperature as measured with thermometers at ground stations throughout
the world, though in practice this is a far from satisfactory metric (e.g., Essex et al., 2007). 
It is then necessary to obtain forecasts and prediction intervals for each of the following:
1. What will happen to the mean global temperature in the long-term (say 20 years or
2. If accurate forecasts of mean global temperature changes can be obtained and these
changes are substantial, then it would be necessary to forecast the effects of the
changes on the health of living things and on the health and wealth of humans. The
concerns about changes in global mean temperature are based on the assumption that
the earth is currently at the optimal temperature and that variations over years (unlike
variations within years) are undesirable. For a proper assessment, costs and benefits
must be comprehensive. (For example, policy responses to Rachel Carson’s Silent
Spring should have been based in part on forecasts of the number of people who
might die from malaria if DDT use were reduced).
3. If reliable forecasts of the effects of the temperature changes on the health of living
things and on the health and wealth of humans can be obtained and the forecasts are
for substantial harmful effects, then it would be necessary to forecast the costs and
benefits of alternative policy proposals. 
4. If reliable forecasts of the costs and benefits of alternative policy proposals can be
obtained and at least one proposal is predicted to lead to net benefits, then it would be
necessary to forecast whether the policy changes can be implemented successfully. 
If reliable forecasts of policy implementation can be obtained and the forecasts clearly support net
benefits for the policy, and the policy can be successfully implemented, then the policy proposal
should be implemented. A failure to obtain scientifically validated forecasts at any stage would
render subsequent stages irrelevant. Thus, we focus on the first of the four forecasting problems. 
Is it necessary to use scientific forecasting methods? In other words, to use methods that have
been shown by empirical validation to be relevant to the types of problems involved with climate
forecasting? Or is it sufficient to have leading scientists examine the evidence and make
forecasts? We address this issue before moving on to our audits.
Title: Chinese pollution reaches US
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 23, 2007, 05:44:53 AM
Huge Dust Plumes
From China Cause
Changes in Climate
July 20, 2007; Page B1
One tainted export from China can't be avoided in North America -- air.

An outpouring of dust layered with man-made sulfates, smog, industrial fumes, carbon grit and nitrates is crossing the Pacific Ocean on prevailing winds from booming Asian economies in plumes so vast they alter the climate. These rivers of polluted air can be wider than the Amazon and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

"There are times when it covers the entire Pacific Ocean basin like a ribbon bent back and forth," said atmospheric physicist V. Ramanathan at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.


• Can the U.S. help stop global traffic in aerosol pollution? And what's the international responsibility here? Share your thoughts in an online forum.On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution that reaches the West Coast, Dr. Ramanathan and his colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

This transcontinental pollution is part of a growing global traffic in dust and aerosol particles made worse by drought and deforestation, said Steven Cliff, who studies the problem at the University of California at Davis.

Aerosols -- airborne microscopic particles -- are produced naturally every time a breeze catches sea salt from ocean spray, or a volcano erupts, or a forest burns, or a windstorm kicks up dust, for example. They also are released in exhaust fumes, factory vapors and coal-fired power plant emissions.

Courtesy SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE 
A satellite view from 2001 shows dust arriving in California from Asian deserts. Concentrations of dust are visible to the south, near the coastline (lower right); To the west the dust is mixed with clouds over open ocean. This dust event caused a persistent haze in places like Death Valley, California, where skies are usually crystal clear.
Over the Pacific itself, the plumes are seeding ocean clouds and spawning fiercer thunderstorms, researchers at Texas A&M University reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March.

The influence of these plumes on climate is complex because they can have both a cooling and a warming effect, the scientists said. Scientists are convinced these plumes contain so many cooling sulfate particles that they may be masking half of the effect of global warming. The plumes may block more than 10% of the sunlight over the Pacific.

But while the sulfates they carry lower temperatures by reflecting sunlight, the soot they contain absorbs solar heat, thus warming the planet.

Asia is the world's largest source of aerosols, man-made and natural. Every spring and summer, storms whip up silt from the Gobi desert of Mongolia and the hardpan of the Taklamakan desert of western China, where, for centuries, dust has shaped a way of life. From the dunes of Dunhuang, where vendors hawk gauze face masks alongside braided leather camel whips, to the oasis of Kashgar at the feet of the Tian Shan Mountains 1,500 miles to the west, there is no escaping it.

Courtesy SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE. 
A satellite image from 2005 shows a plume of dust flowing from China to the north of the Korean Peninsula and over the Sea of Japan. Such plumes can cross the Pacific and scatter dust across the Western U.S.
The Taklamakan is a natural engine of evaporation and erosion. Rare among the world's continental basins, no river that enters the Taklamakan ever reaches the sea. Fed by melting highland glaciers and gorged with silt, these freshwater torrents all vanish in the arid desert heat, like so many Silk Road caravans.

Only the dust escapes.

In an instant, billows of grit can envelope the landscape in a mist so fine that it never completely settles. Moving east, the dust sweeps up pollutants from heavily industrialized regions that turn the yellow plumes a bruised brown. In Beijing, where authorities estimate a million tons of this dust settles every year, the level of microscopic aerosols is seven times the public-health standard set by the World Health Organization.

Once aloft, the plumes can circle the world in three weeks. "In a very real and immediate sense, you can look at a dust event you are breathing in China and look at this same dust as it tracks across the Pacific and reaches the United States," said climate analyst Jeff Stith at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. "It is a remarkable mix of natural and man-made particles."

Carlye Calvin, UCAR 
Jeff Stith of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a principal investigator on the Pacific Dust Experiment.
This spring, Dr. Ramanathan and Dr. Stith led an international research team in a $1 million National Science Foundation project to track systematically the plumes across the Pacific. NASA satellites have monitored the clouds from orbit for several years, but this was the first effort to analyze them in detail.

For six weeks, the researchers cruised the Pacific aboard a specially instrumented Gulfstream V jet to sample these exotic airstreams. Their findings, to be released this year, involved NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and nine U.S. universities, as well as the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, Seoul National University in Korea, and Lanzhou University and Peking University in China.

The team detected a new high-altitude plume every three or four days. Each one was up to 300 miles wide and six miles deep, a vaporous layer cake of pollutants. The higher the plumes, the longer they lasted, the faster they traveled and the more pronounced their effect, the researchers said.

Until now, the pollution choking so many communities in Asia may have tempered the pace of global warming. As China and other countries eliminate their sulfate emissions, however, world temperatures may heat up even faster than predicted.

• Email
Title: More Reasoned Climate Discourse
Post by: buzwardo on July 27, 2007, 01:10:24 PM
An all too familiar tone echoed below.

EPA Chief Vows to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic
July 26, 2007

Posted By Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 4:12 PM ET

Update (3:00pm ET, Friday, July 27, 2007): American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) contacted the Inhofe EPW Press Blog and asked that we include a link to Michael Eckhart's response. Also included here is a response by Marlo Lewis.

EPA Chief Vows to Probe E-mail Threatening to
‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic

During today’s hearing, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, confronted Stephen Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a threatening e-mail from a group of which EPA is currently a member. The e-mail threatens to “destroy” the career of a climate skeptic. Michael T. Eckhart, president of the environmental group the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), wrote in an email on July 13, 2007 to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):

 “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."

In a July 16, Washington Times article, Eckhart confirmed that he did indeed write the email.

After Senator Inhofe read Eckhart's comments, Johnson vowed to launch a probe concerning the threatening e-mail. Johnson responded to Inhofe saying, “I was not aware of this quote.” He continued, “Statements like this are of concern to me.  I am a believer in cooperation and collaboration across all sectors.” Johnson then added, “This is an area I will look into for the record.” (See YouTube video of exchange between Senator Inhofe and Johnson)

Senator Inhofe replied, “I would like to have you look into this and make an evaluation, talk it over with your people and see if it is appropriate to be a part of an organization that is headed up by a person who makes this statement.”

Following the hearing, Senator Inhofe announced that he will be sending letters to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and EPA, urging them to “reconsider their membership in ACORE.”

Full Text of Eckhart’s July 13, 2007 e-mail to CEI’s Lewis:

Marlo –

You are so full of crap.

You have been proven wrong. The entire world has proven you wrong. You are the last guy on Earth to get it. Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.

Michael T. Eckhart
American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)


During today’s hearing ( “Examining the Case for the California Waiver: An Update from EPA” ), Senator Inhofe explained to the Committee that this kind of vilification of climate skeptics and subsequent threats to their professional integrity are not uncommon.

“This is so typical of these hate filled people who threaten and use vile language. I was called a traitor by one of the extreme left, this is what happens when you lose your case and [this threatening e-mail by ACORE’s president] is the best evidence of it,” Senator Inhofe explained. “We have all of these people who have a stake in [promoting man-made climate hysteria] like the Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen.  If the trend now in science is refuting that anthropogenic gases are a primary cause of climate change, then she is out of business, her whole weekly program (The Climate Code) is gone, her career is gone,” Senator Inhofe concluded.

Sampling of recent threats and intimidation targeted at climate skeptics:

RFK Jr. Lashes out at skeptics of global warming: 'This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors' (July 8, 2007)
Excerpt: "Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist author, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy's son, who grew hoarse from shouting. "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.
Inhofe Responds to RFK Jr’s “Traitor” Comments on Fox News (Video)
Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics (January 17, 2007)
Excerpt: The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming. This latest call to silence skeptics follows a year (2006) in which skeptics were compared to "Holocaust Deniers" and Nuremberg-style war crimes trials were advocated by several climate alarmists.
Inhofe Interview on Fox and Friends: Weather Wars (Video)
Excerpt: Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”
War declared on ‘Climate Criminals’ who are committing ‘Terracide’ (killing of Planet Earth) (July 25, 2007)
Excerpt: Global warming driven by greenhouse gas pollution (but ultimately by greed, racism and lying) is killing our Planet. Our Planet, the Earth - is under acute threat from Climate Criminals threatening the Third World with Climate Genocide and the Biosphere with Terracide (the killing of our Planet).
Skeptical State Climatologist in Oregon has title threatened by Governor (February 8, 2007)
Excerpt: “[State Climatologist George Taylor] does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change…So the [Oregon] governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint. In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor.
Skeptical State Climatologist in Delaware silenced by Governor (May 2, 2007)
Excerpt:  Legates is a state climatologist in Delaware, and he teaches at the university. He`s not part of the mythical climate consensus. In fact, Legates believes that we oversimplify climate by just blaming greenhouse gases. One day he received a letter from the governor, saying his views do not concur with those of the administration, so if he wants to speak out, it must be as an individual, not as a state climatologist. So essentially, you can have the title of state climatologist unless he`s talking about his views on climate?
Former US Vice President Al Gore compared global warming skeptics to people who 'believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona' (June 20, 2006)
Gore Refuses to Hear Skeptical Global Warming Views (Video)
UK environment secretary David Miliband said ‘those who deny [climate change] are the flat-Earthers of the twenty-first century’ (October 6, 2006)
Title: Software Bug Inflates Warming Data?
Post by: buzwardo on August 10, 2007, 09:50:43 AM
As I've noted before there is a guerrilla effort afoot to document the condition at US climate stations from which climate data is derived. Part of that effort has also included attempts to have the government scientists who collect and use that data to release their methodology and datasets for peer review. That attempt has been stonewalled, which is a curious thing to do in a peer review, scientific context.

Be that as it may, a guerrilla scientist gnawing at the data from another direction--bascially backward engineering the dataset--has discovered what appears to be a year 2000 bug in the software used to create some of the alarming warming data. This discovery has caused the scientists who have refused to release their data and methodology to revise (downward) their global warming claims. One wonders what would occur if the data and methodology was further exposed to review.

The piece is extensively linked and hence best viewed at the source:

Breaking News: Recent US Temperature Numbers Revised Downwards Today

This is really big news, and a fabulous example of why two-way scientific discourse is still valuable, in the same week that both Newsweek and Al Gore tried to make the case that climate skeptics were counter-productive and evil.

Climate scientist Michael Mann (famous for the hockey stick chart) once made the statement that  the 1990's were the warmest decade in a millennia and that "there is a 95 to 99% certainty that 1998 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years." (By the way, Mann now denies he ever made this claim, though you can watch him say these exact words in the CBC documentary Global Warming:  Doomsday Called Off).

Well, it turns out, according to the NASA GISS database, that 1998 was not even the hottest year of the last century.  This is because many temperatures from recent decades that appeared to show substantial warming have been revised downwards.  Here is how that happened (if you want to skip the story, make sure to look at the numbers at the bottom).

One of the most cited and used historical surface temperature databases is that of NASA/Goddard's GISS.  This is not some weird skeptics site.  It is considered one of the premier world temperature data bases, and it is maintained by anthropogenic global warming true believers.  It has consistently shown more warming than any other data base, and is thus a favorite source for folks like Al Gore.  These GISS readings in the US rely mainly on the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) which is a network of about 1000 weather stations taking temperatures, a number of which have been in place for over 100 years.

Frequent readers will know that I have been a participant in an effort led by Anthony Watts at to photo-document these temperature stations as an aid to scientists in evaluating the measurement quality of each station.  The effort has been eye-opening, as it has uncovered many very poor instrument sitings that would bias temperature measurements upwards, as I found in Tucson and Watts has documented numerous times on his blog.

One photo on Hall's blog got people talking - a station in MN with a huge jump in temperature about the same time some air conditioning units were installed nearby.   Others disagreed, and argued that such a jump could not be from the air conditioners, since a lot of the jump happened with winter temperatures when the AC was dormant.  Steve McIntyre, the Canadian statistician who helped to expose massive holes in Michael Mann's hockey stick methodology, looked into it.  After some poking around, he began to suspect that the GISS data base had a year 2000 bug in one of their data adjustments.

One of the interesting aspects of these temperature data bases is that they do not just use the raw temperature measurements from each station.  Both the NOAA (which maintains the USHCN stations) and the GISS apply many layers of adjustments, which I discussed here.  One of the purposes of Watt's project is to help educate climate scientists that many of the adjustments they make to the data back in the office does not necessarily represent the true condition of the temperature stations.  In particular, GISS adjustments imply instrument sitings are in more natural settings than they were in say 1905, an outrageous assumption on its face that is totally in conflict to the condition of the stations in Watt's data base.  Basically, surface temperature measurements have a low signal to noise ratio, and climate scientists have been overly casual about how they try to tease out the signal.

Anyway, McIntyre suspected that one of these adjustments had a bug, and had had this bug for years.  Unfortunately, it was hard to prove.  Why?  Well, that highlights one of the great travesties of climate science.  Government scientists using taxpayer money to develop the GISS temperature data base at taxpayer expense refuse to publicly release their temperature adjustment algorithms or software (In much the same way Michael Mann refused to release the details for scrutiny of his methodology behind the hockey stick).  Using the data, though, McIntyre made a compelling case that the GISS data base had systematic discontinuities that bore all the hallmarks of a software bug.

Today, the GISS admitted that McIntyre was correct, and has started to republish its data with the bug fixed.  And the numbers are changing a lot.  Before today, GISS would have said 1998 was the hottest year on record (Mann, remember, said with up to 99% certainty it was the hottest year in 1000 years) and that 2006 was the second hottest.  Well, no more.  Here are the new rankings for the 10 hottest years in the US, starting with #1:

1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939

Three of the top 10 are in the last decade.  Four of the top ten are in the 1930's, before either the IPCC or the GISS really think man had any discernible impact on temperatures.  Here is the chart for all the years in the data base:

There are a number of things we need to remember:

This is not the end but the beginning of the total reexamination that needs to occur of the USHCN and GISS data bases.  The poor correction for site location and urbanization are still huge issues that bias recent numbers upwards.  The GISS also has issues with how it aggregates multiple stations, apparently averaging known good stations with bad stations a process that by no means eliminates biases.  As a first step, we must demand that NOAA and GISS release their methodology and computer algorithms to the general public for detailed scrutiny by other scientists.

The GISS today makes it clear that these adjustments only affect US data and do not change any of their conclusions about worldwide data.  But consider this:  For all of its faults, the US has the most robust historical climate network in the world.  If we have these problems, what would we find in the data from, say, China?  And the US and parts of Europe are the only major parts of the world that actually have 100 years of data at rural locations.  No one was measuring temperature reliably in rural China or Paraguay or the Congo in 1900.  That means much of the world is relying on urban temperature measurement points that have substantial biases from urban heat.
All of these necessary revisions to surface temperatures will likely not make warming trends go away completely.  What it may do is bring the warming down to match the much lower satellite measured warming numbers we have, and will make current warming look more like past natural warming trends (e.g. early in this century) rather than a catastrophe created by man.  In my global warming book, I argue that future man-made warming probably will exist, but will be more like a half to one degree over the coming decades than the media-hyped numbers that are ten times higher.

So how is this possible?  How can the global warming numbers used in critical policy decisions and scientific models be so wrong with so basic of an error?  And how can this error have gone undetected for the better part of a decade?  The answer to the latter question is because the global warming  and climate community resist scrutiny.  This weeks Newsweek article and statements by Al Gore are basically aimed at suppressing any scientific criticism or challenge to global warming research.  That is why NASA can keep its temperature algorithms secret, with no outside complaint, something that would cause howls of protest in any other area of scientific inquiry.

As to the first question, I will leave the explanation to Mr. McIntyre:

While acolytes may call these guys “professionals”, the process of data adjustment is really a matter of statistics and even accounting. In these fields, Hansen and Mann are not “professionals” - Mann admitted this to the NAS panel explaining that he was “not a statistician”. As someone who has read their works closely, I do not regard any of these people as “professional”. Much of their reluctance to provide source code for their methodology arises, in my opinion, because the methods are essentially trivial and they derive a certain satisfaction out of making things appear more complicated than they are, a little like the Wizard of Oz. And like the Wizard of Oz, they are not necessarily bad men, just not very good wizards.

For more, please see my Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming or, if you have less time, my 60-second argument for why one should be skeptical of catastrophic man-made global warming theory.

Update: Nothing new, just thinking about this more, I cannot get over the irony that in the same week Newsweek makes the case that climate science is settled and there is no room for skepticism, skeptics discover a gaping hole and error in the global warming numbers.

Update #2:  I know people get upset when we criticize scientists.  I get a lot of "they are not biased, they just made a mistake."  Fine.  But I have zero sympathy for a group of scientists who refuse to let other scientists review their methodology, and then find that they have been making a dumb methodology mistake for years that has corrupted the data of nearly every climate study in the last decade.

Update #3:  I labeled this "breaking news," but don't expect to see it in the NY Times anytime soon.  We all know this is one of those asymmetric story lines, where if the opposite had occurred (ie things found to be even worse/warmer than thought) it would be on the front page immediately, but a lowered threat will never make the news.

Oh, and by he way.  This is GOOD news.  Though many won't treat it that way.  I understand this point fairly well because, in a somewhat parallel situation, I seem to be the last anti-war guy who treats progress in Iraq as good news.

Update #4: I should have mentioned that the hero of the Newsweek story is catastrophic man-made global warming cheerleader James Hansen, who runs the GISS and is most responsible for the database in question as well as the GISS policy not to release its temperature aggregation and adjustment methodologies.  From IBD, via CNN Money:

Newsweek portrays James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, as untainted by corporate bribery.

Hansen was once profiled on CBS' "60 Minutes" as the "world's leading researcher on global warming." Not mentioned by Newsweek was that Hansen had acted as a consultant to Al Gore's slide-show presentations on global warming, that he had endorsed John Kerry for president, and had received a $250,000 grant from the foundation headed by Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Update #5: My letter to the editor at Newsweek.  For those worried that this is some weird skeptic's fevered dream, Hansen and company kind of sort of recognize the error in the first paragraph under background here.  Their US temperature chart with what appears is the revised data is here.

Update #6: Several posts are calling this a "scandal."  It is not a scandal.  It is a mistake from which we should draw two lessons:

We always need to have people of opposing opinions looking at a problem.  Man-made global warming hawks expected to see a lot of warming after the year 2000, so they never questioned the numbers.  It took folks with different hypotheses about climate to see the jump in the numbers for what it was - a programming error.
Climate scientists are going to have to get over their need to hold their adjustments, formulas, algorithms and software secret.  It's just not how science is done.  James Hansen saying "trust me, the numbers are right, I don't need to tell you how I got them" reminds me of the mathematician Fermat saying he had a proof of his last theorem, but it wouldn't fit in the margin.  How many man-hours of genius mathematicians was wasted because Fermat refused to show his proof (which was most likely wrong, given how the theorem was eventually proved).
Title: Still Stalling on Incorrect Data
Post by: buzwardo on August 18, 2007, 07:08:41 PM
August 17, 2007
NASA Flacks for Global Warming and Skirts Scientific Ethics

By James Lewis
As pointed out in these pages, NASA has yet to own up fully to its historic error in misinterpreting US surface temperatures to conform to the Global Warming hypothesis, as discovered by Stephen McIntyre at This is not the first major error discovered by McIntyre and his coworker, Canadian economist Ross McKintrick, who previously uncovered the fatally flawed "hockey stick" climate curve, used to justify Global Warming alarmism by the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   

Here is the official ethics statement on scientific errors and the need for public correction from the American Physical Society, the national society of research physics:
"It should be recognized that honest error is an integral part of the scientific enterprise. It is not unethical to be wrong, provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected." [emphasis added]

The more time that is allowed to pass before NASA makes a formal acknowledgement of error commensurate with the attention focused on the original announcement, the more it will be vulnerable to genuine charges of purposeful misconduct, as opposed to inadvertent error.

Michael Fumento pointed out that NASA has issued no less than five separate PR releases on the Global Warming hypothesis just this year, "each one alarming." But the major correction to internationally-broadcast claims about Global Warming have not received even a NASA press release, much less an official correction in a peer-reviewed journal like Science magazine. This is unacceptable. As Fumento wrote:
In pooh-poohing the revision, the GISS ignores the tremendous emotional impact it's had in practically claiming each year is hotter than the one before.
Honest scientists don't dismiss the significance of data errors; PR hacks do such things.

James Hansen of NASA is minimizing the importance of the changes by claiming that since the US is only a small potion of the total world, the overall global figures have not changed much. However, the US surface temperature record is considered to be the most complete, and longest, over the largest surface area, and also the most technically responsible available record. (It's very easy to screw up a temperature record, especially in many different locations, due to local heat and cooling sources.) It is not inferential (like ice cores), and it does not come from a scientifically backward country. No other continent-wide temperature surface record comes up to that standard, over such a long period of time.

So even though the US only covers 2 percent of earth surface, it's a crucial 2 percent in terms of the quality of the record.

In addition, raw data errors are very serious matters, even if there are excuses. In fact, the idea that NASA indulges in excuses is itself inculpatory. Good scientists just don't screw around with that. They just get out the correction, pronto, in a peer-reviewed, prominent journal, as soon as possible. That is because their entire reputation is at stake. There are numerous examples of scientists blowing their reputations if they were believed to have falsified their data. See the David Baltimore case. 

It is not even for the original erroneous author to decide on the significance of the error. That is up to the scientific community.

If NASA, a US government agency, will not own up fully to its own errors (which have now been corrected, quietly, on its GISS website), the American Physical Society must institute its own ethics inquiry to correct the record. The credibility of NASA and the entire scientific community are at stake.

If you want to see how common the practice of publishing errata and retractions is, take a look at PubMed (the National Library of Medicine public database of millions of biomedical abstracts).  Just type "errata" in, and you get more than 1,000 titles with the word "errata". The word "erratum" brings up another 3,000. The word "retraction" brings up almost 11,000 more.

A good model appears below. It just appeared in Science about an 8,200 year old low temperature event, which turns out to be possibly due to a technical artifact. Notice that the retraction was triggered by the fact that a re-analysis showed the original claim to be "uncertain". Since the burden of proof is on the scientist who published the finding, s/he must also publish the retraction.

Retraction of Baldini et al., Science 296 (5576) 2203-2206.
Science 10 August 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5839, p. 748
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5839.748b

Retraction of an Interpretation
In the Report "Structure of the 8200-year cold event revealed by a speleothem trace element record" (1), we presented a 7762-?m-long ion probe trace element traverse chosen to include the 8200-year event as detected in a previously published laser ablation oxygen isotope study from the same stalagmite (2). The oxygen isotope anomaly was distinct and dropped 8‰ below baseline values to a low value for the entire Holocene of -12‰ and was reproducible on a reverse track. However, recent reanalysis of the calcite believed to contain the oxygen isotope anomaly suggests that the anomaly was probably an analytical artifact possibly caused by laser ablation-induced fracturing during the original analysis (3). Consequently, without the original 18O "marker," the precise location in the stalagmite of calcite deposited during the 8200-year event is uncertain.
The trace element data in this Report, previously believed to correspond precisely with the entire 8200-year event, are now believed to represent the hydrological and bioproductivity response in western Ireland to a cold/dry event of uncertain provenance and intensity. The U-Th-derived dates of the event correspond approximately with the 8200-year event in Greenland ice cores, but without the additional guidance of the 18O anomaly, the precise timing in relation to the 8200-year event is now somewhat ambiguous. Unfortunately, it is now unlikely that the approximately 114-year duration ion probe track coincides with the entire 8200-year event (if at all); thus, the ~37-year estimate derived for its duration is probably no longer accurate. However, the trace element data remain robust and are interpreted as reflecting colder and drier conditions in western Ireland, followed by the return to more maritime conditions at the end of the first-order trace element anomaly. Additionally, the novel application of annual trace element cycles to build a high-resolution chronology and reconstruct paleoseasonality remains unchanged.
James U. L. Baldini
Department of Earth Sciences
Durham University
South Road
Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Frank McDermott
Department of Geology
University College Dublin
Dublin 4, Ireland
Ian J. Fairchild
School of Geography
Earth and Environmental Science
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
     1.     J. U. L. Baldini, F. McDermott, I. J. Fairchild, Science 296, 2203 (2002).
     2.     F. McDermott, D. P. Mattey, C. Hawkesworth, Science 294, 1328 (2001).
     3.     I. J. Fairchild et al., Earth Sci. Rev. 75, 105 (2006).
James Lewis blogs at
Title: A Couple of Questions
Post by: buzwardo on August 18, 2007, 09:35:09 PM
Several important questions asked herein, and I've taken the liberty of bolding a damning synopsis.

August 17, 2007
Why Would Anyone Trust NASA's Climate Data Now?

By Marc Sheppard
Last week's disclosure of a critical temperature data revision by NASA climate experts under cover-of-darkness poses as many questions as it answers.  With worried alarmists scurrying to either dismiss the restatement's relevance or ignore it altogether, and NASA itself descending to CYOA tactics, the paramount issue remains that of credibility - both the agency's and the big green scare machine's.

Hastily responding to the media-subdued mini-furor his amendment sparked, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) chief James Hansen reflexively complained that "deniers" were "making a mountain of a molehill" about the "insignificant" revision.  The overruled head eco-doomer mulishly denied that the data update had any impact upon "the overall trend."  Ironically, while he's undoubtedly wrong, he also happens to be quite right.

After all, only his fellow doomsayers ever actually found any trend or anthropogenic evidence in the old numbers to begin with. And while the revisions are, indeed, significant, any enviro-plugged short-term "trend" they mitigate remains resoundingly otherwise.

In fact, Hansen's smoke-and-mirrors are instantly defogged by basic analysis of the so-called "trend" he continues to find even in the reworked numbers.

The Data Interpretations are Hyped

If you'll pardon the expression -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that after a significant (and enigmatic) ascent in 1998, annual averages tended to drop off before an increase in 2005 and a spike the following year.  Available 5 year means (5YM) over 10 years tended to climb to an apex in 2000, and then drop off until 2004.

Can this possibly represent a harbinger of boundless warming, as preached before and still by the minister of the eco-apocalypse?


Take a look at the revised 1930 through 1950 data, and you'll find not only 4 of the 10 hottest years since 1880 occurring in the 1930s, but a 5YM "trend" similar to that building today to boot. You'll also notice a 2nd zenith is reached in 1940, followed by a gradual drop to below 1930 levels by 1950.

So any alarmist argument that we've been getting consistently hotter over the past decade would not only ring disingenuous, it would be of no empirical value whatsoever. And that's exactly why the subterfuge potential of the hottest ever years clocking in during that time is so essential to their misbegotten crusade.

Now consider that atmospheric CO2 reportedly rose from 284 ppm in pre-industrial 1832 to only 300 ppm by 1911; then remained below 320 ppm until rising precipitously from 1960 to today's level of over 380 ppm.  And yet -- there is nothing even remotely analogous in the temperature figures for those same periods.  To the contrary, 60% of post-industrial CO2 ascension has taken place since 1960 - that's 20 years after the last decade with warming patterns similar to the present one. Furthermore, notice that over half of the 15 hottest years took place before 1960 and those 15 are actually spread out over not one but rather seven decades. That's some trend, my friend.

So then, even if NASA's figures were rock-solid, they simply don't advance AGW arguments any more than they do those for, say, cycles of the sun.  We are, after all, in the midst of a period of elevated solar activity scientists refer to as the "modern maximum."

And yet, we're to accept that hyped projections fueled by deliberate misinterpretation of data are not threatened when such data lose a good portion of their "hottest years ever" propaganda value?

In the words of Reid A. Bryson, the father of modern scientific climatology, what "a bunch of hooey."

And the Misinterpreted Data are Tainted

But there's a deeper problem at play here.  Frankly, until GISS comes clean, who's buying any of their numbers anyway?

Truth be told -- even prior to Steve McIntyre's correction of Hansen's algorithms last week, the data from USHCN weather stations had been suspect.  Both faulty collection methods (e.g. environmental issues of absurdly located sensors) and the proprietary nature of the software which purportedly "fixed" these environmental irregularities had been openly challenged.

These "fudge factors," which remain unpublished, required McIntyre's reverse-engineering in order to surface their faults.  As the scientist blogger wrote in a must-read article at ace weather-station sleuth Anthony Watts' site (climateaudit was still recovering from what were likely eco-maniac DDOS attacks) on Saturday,
"... the adjustment methods are not techniques that can be looked up in statistical literature, where their properties and biases might be discerned. They are rather ad hoc and local techniques that may or may not be equal to the task of ‘fixing' the bad data."

But it was not only the disproved "adjustments" to corrupt input data, but also the shady manner by which GISS revised that information which warrant our concern. Realizing how the error reported by McIntyre impacted upon individual weather stations, they stealthily updated not only the local station data, but also the oft-cited US Temperature Data, particularly post-1999. With virtually no fanfare, estimates for 2000 through 2005 were lowered by about 0.15 deg C, and 2006 by 0.10 deg C - measures McIntyre suggests still fall short.

So what we have is a "scientific" data-base compiled and maintained by an institute conducted by a true AGW ideologue that uses undisclosed and flawed algorithms to offset admittedly spurious input data.  That same organization failed to alert data-base clients (or anyone else to my knowledge) that significant modifications were made to theory and policy-critical data.

Consequently, until such time that a satisfactory non-disclosure explanation is proffered and problem station data are resolved entirely at their source or, at the very least - interpretive source-code is published, how can GISS station data and their fruits be regarded as anything but suspect -- if not outright poisoned?

Put it together and what have you got?

Every soldier in this vital information war knows it's difficult enough to do daily battle against dramatically over-hyped propaganda with any optimism of triumph.  Enemy warriors wield swords forged from hyped projections, shocking news, cataclysmic films and disinforming TV programs.  Ours brave the battlefield armed only with a firm grasp of the facts and the wherewithal to draw cogent conclusions from them.

Now it appears our adversaries may have successfully infiltrated what are imperatively neutral data-bases, attempting to render our only weapons useless.

If the science were truly settled, then why would they so fear a fair fight?

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.

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Title: Dark Greens
Post by: buzwardo on August 19, 2007, 06:42:20 AM
Green to a fault

By Paul Danish
August 18, 2007

Who is responsible for global warming? The usual suspects include Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Cars and living large in America. But there is another, less likely suspect who is at least as culpable as the usual ones.

The greens. Anti-nuclear environmental activists.

Don't think so? Well, let's begin by reviewing what's been going on in France for the past 33 years and contrast it with what's been happening on our side of the pond.

In 1974 the French government decreed that henceforth new power plants built in France would be nuclear. Up until then France had generated most of its electricity from burning imported crude oil.

The decision to go nuclear was prompted by the OPEC cartel's price fixing and the post-Yom Kippur War Arab oil embargo, both of which occurred in 1973. By the end of 1973, the price of crude had passed the then unheard of level of $10 a barrel, a 400 percent increase. "That's enough," said the French, and proceeded to go nuclear - with elan, panache and Germanic efficiency.

As a result, today France gets 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants - and has the smallest per capita carbon footprint of any major industrial country.

Electric power production is the single largest source of human-generated greenhouse gases - and the fastest growing one. Thanks to having gone nuclear, when it comes to global warming, France is arguably part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Target: U.S. nuclear power

Meanwhile, about the time the French were going nuclear American environmental and peace activists were gleefully doing everything they could to destroy the American nuclear power industry.

They combined a sweeping ideological attack on the safety, economics and morality of nuclear power with a rolling thunder of legal and regulatory challenges and mass demonstrations and blockades at plant construction sites - like the 1976 demonstration at the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire.

The campaign succeeded in completely stopping new orders for reactors and in turning the process of building those already on order into a Kafkaesque nightmare. But it failed to shut down the nation's already operating nuclear plants or prevent the completion of some on order.

The upshot is that today the U.S. gets about 20 percent of its electricity from 104 functioning reactors - the last of which was ordered in 1973 - and about 50 percent of its electricity from coal. That's because when American utilities couldn't build new nuclear power plants, they built hundreds of coal-fired ones.

All of which raises an inconvenient question:

How much smaller would the U.S. carbon footprint be if in 1974, like the French, we had required all new power plants to be nuclear?

Well, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 1974 U.S. power plants burned 391 million tons of coal. In 2006 they burned 1.035 billion tons, an increase of about 643 million tons a year. Think of that 643 million tons of coal as the annual "peace bonus" in the greens' war on nuclear power. It would not have been mined or burned if the U.S. had gone nuclear in 1974.

Burning 643 million tons of coal a year produces roughly 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which will continue to be produced year-in, year-out decade after decade, even if - and this is important - no additional coal-fired power plants are built. (The working life of a coal-fired power plant is about 60 years.) Burning 643 million tons of coal a year will cause the CO2 content of the atmosphere to increase by 1 part per million every three to four years. When it comes to global warming, anti-nuclear activism is the gift that keeps on giving.

The question of waste

But what about nuclear waste?

The French partially recycle theirs, recovering new reactor fuel and reducing the mass of the waste produced by their nuclear program by 90 percent. American nuclear power plants don't recycle; the greens targeted that too.

Spent fuel from American nuclear power plants, about 60,000 tons of it so far, is stored in concrete buildings. There have been occasional releases of small amounts of it, and if it isn't ultimately recycled it will have to be stored for millennia, but the crucial point is that it is being stored.

The CO2 from U.S. coal-fired power plants is not. In the past 20 years alone, 50 billion tons of it (including 28 billion tons of the greens' "peace bonus" CO2) has been dumped into the atmosphere.

Viewed from this perspective, anti-nuclear activists have plenty of culpability for global warming.

Pardon my French, but J'açcuse!

Paul Danish is a resident of Boulder.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 19, 2007, 06:52:38 AM

Glad to see you hammering with the Sheppard piece-- this story is one that needs to be saved from being sent down the memory whole.

Concerning nuclear power:

1) I confess to being someone who is deeply uneasy about nuke power.  I remember the case of the Diablo Canyon reactor here in CA.  The idiots, excuse me the "experts" built it on an earthquake fault.  I gotta say that this strikes me as rather fcuking foolish and my gut reaction to litigation preventing it from being put on line is one of relief. 

2) The subject of waste: Are you saying that new plants will not produce ANY waste?  I'm not impressed yet with "the experts" plan for that mountain in Nevada.

3)  I wonder if Flight 93 was headed for the plant at Three Mile Island in PA on 911?

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: buzwardo on August 19, 2007, 08:12:45 AM
1) I confess to being someone who is deeply uneasy about nuke power.  I remember the case of the Diablo Canyon reactor here in CA.  The idiots, excuse me the "experts" built it on an earthquake fault.  I gotta say that this strikes me as rather fcuking foolish and my gut reaction to litigation preventing it from being put on line is one of relief. 

Not acquainted with Diablo Canyon, but building nuke plants on top of faults strikes me as pretty darn stupid. Certainly not something I'd argue for.

The subject of waste: Are you saying that new plants will not produce ANY waste?  I'm not impressed yet with "the experts" plan for that mountain in Nevada.

To my mind, the issue is one of benefits and costs. Coal and oil fired plants "store" their wastes in the atmosphere, which strikes me as a far less than optimum solution. Various schemes have been touted over the years for recycling and storing nuclear waste; suspect a solution better than pumping wastes into the atmosphere could be found.

Don't know about the third point, and the way our press hyperventilates over all things nuclear it would certainly be a psyops coup. As I recall, however, crashing an aircraft into a cooling tower is indeed considered into the design parameters of nuke plants. American ones are waaaaaaay over-engineered.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: SB_Mig on August 20, 2007, 04:47:58 PM
France Plans for Waste Project with Little Support
NPR News 8/20/07

France is sometimes seen as a role model for combating climate change because 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear power. As a result, even the trains are largely carbon-free. Essentially, it is nuclear-powered transportation. But one of the biggest problems with nuclear power is that it produces nuclear waste. And even in France, finding a place to put nuclear waste has been a messy affair.

The town of Bure is in eastern France, but it's not found on many maps. Here, you find cheese-makers and farms. And it also has a mine shaft. The mine shaft goes one-third of a mile down into a thick deposit of ancient clay that dates back to the dinosaurs. It is in this clay that France plans to bury its nuclear waste.

"We have two shafts," says Eric Sutre, a geologist at the mine. "One for the rescue…"

Sutre says clay is a good place to put nuclear waste because it seals things off. Water moves through the clay slowly — only a few feet in a million years. The geological studies aren't finished yet, but the government is working hard to reassure residents that the project is being done properly. The place has a fancy visitors center with multimedia displays. Tourists come, but it's not like they're flocking to see the "Mona Lisa."

"Yes, it is not the Louvre, but for example, we have a special day each year when we open the site, and so last year we had 1,400 people coming here," Sutre says.

It is sometimes said that the French trust their engineers — that engineering is a point of national pride. But that doesn't mean people don't worry. When they come here, they ask questions like, 'What happens if there is an earthquake?'

"So we answer, 'There are very few earthquakes. And very little,'" Sutre says.

But here's the thing: No one really wants nuclear waste in their backyard. And in a democracy where everyone gets a say, people usually say no. How did France pick Bure? It's been a long painful process, as anyone who has participated can say. Ghislain de Marsily is a geologist at the University of Paris and a member of the French Academy of Science. De Marsily says that when the French government began evaluating sites in the early 1980s, it did so in secret. This didn't go over very well.

"The names of the sites was kept secret," de Marsily says. "Even the reports did not mention the names. Site A, site B, and nobody knew where. It was a little bit unpleasant."

The government tried to reassure the public and argued that a waste site was of national importance. But there were protests, and in one case, armed police had to be sent in to a riot. "Even the local farmers wanted to transform trucks into tanks to fight the police," de Marsily recalls. "It was really going to be a local revolution."

Location, Location, Location

In the 1990s, the government looked for volunteer sites. At one location, farmers marched visiting officials out of town with pitchforks. The Côtes du Rhône region was on the list, but local winemakers objected. Scientists rejected another site.

Finally, last year the government seemed to lose patience. It passed a law setting a tight deadline for readying a waste site. And even though the government had pledged to choose from several sites, only one place had a lab doing the necessary research. It could also be ready in time. This place: Bure.

"Yes," de Marsily says. "There is no alternative. It's Bure."

The U.S. has a similar history. It began investigating multiple sites, yet that became expensive. Congress chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Locals called the legislation the "screw Nevada bill," and opposition has brought the effort to a near halt.

Building Support

But from here, the French story takes a different path. In France, the local member of parliament, François Dosé, voted for the law that could send waste his way. Dosé works out of an old castle. The ceilings look to be more than 20 feet high. He is welcoming and says many of his constituents seem to have accepted the project.

"In general, the people are a little afraid of the projects because the locals live on the earth and they don't like the idea of things being buried in it," Dosé says. "But in the local election, there was never any politicians against a project that was elected."

That could be because there is a sense in France that once the central government makes up its mind, there's not a lot locals can do. Or it could have something to do with the money. They are getting a lot of it from the government. Dosé says the region has received 9 million euros — about $12 million — in the past decade. Some of that is spent on roads and schools.

"It's like Uncle Sam, so much money," Dosé says. "And in the coming 10 years it will be 20 million euros, and the villages are so small they don't even know how [they're] going to spend it. It's so much money!"

Dosé says he used to have doubts about the project, but he says independent scientists are now involved, which makes him feel better about the entire thing. So has France solved the unsolvable? Found a place to put nuclear waste for a million years? Maybe.

Bure Resists

There is an anti-nuclear movement in Bure. If you travel down the road a bit from the laboratory's visitors center you find another visitor center of sorts. A small stone farmhouse that is over 100 years old — and looks it — is the "house of resistance," set up by local activists.

Inside the farmhouse, a small dog named Rasta runs under the table. Isabelle Guillaume runs the place.

"The people are being told nonsense so they stay quiet, but the truth is that there is a great danger in burying nuclear waste, and there are scientists that have proved that," Guillaume says.

The opponents don't have fancy multimedia presentations, but they have a CD — of protest songs. Printed on it, in English, it says, "Stop Bure - Brothers & Sista." It's not reggae. And the truth is that all of France, even though it gets most of its electricity from nuclear power, is still somewhat uncomfortable with it. In a poll by the European Union, only one out of five residents said they were in favor of nuclear power. One in three opposed it.

Nuclear power may be one solution to the problem of global warming, but it doesn't have a huge fan base, even in France.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 23, 2007, 06:53:42 AM

Interesting piece on the French and nuke power, thanks for rounding things out.


I have a strong bias towards pricing mechanisms as a policy tool for pollution.  This piece from the WSJ addresses two possible variations.



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A Carbon Tax Would Be Cleaner
August 23, 2007; Page A11

Though skeptics may still grumble that the science isn't settled, some 84% of Americans think humans are contributing to climate change, with 78% (and 60% of Republicans) saying we should do something about it "right away," according to a recent poll.

The political answer to all this anxiety has arrived. Prominent politicians -- including first-tier Democratic and Republican candidates -- are embracing a national "cap and trade" program to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Powerful corporate leaders are right behind them; and even the Bush administration, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is reportedly considering the costs and benefits of various cap and trade proposals after years of opposition.

The mechanics of such regulation are complex, but one result is certain: It will exact a toll on our economy.

Cap and trade enjoys support from many free marketers and moderate politicians because it seems, at first glance, market-friendly. If the perceived problem is power plants and factories heating up the planet by spewing too much carbon dioxide and other such gases into the air, why not impose a cost on them for those emissions?

But before one accepts such reasoning and rejects alternatives, such as perhaps a carbon-emissions tax, it's important to look under the hood. Here's how a cap and trade system would likely work, assuming that the feds start with electricity generation and heavy industry, two energy-hungry sectors of the economy:

To avoid shock, the government sets a generous cap in the program's first year. It asks every factory and power plant how many tons of greenhouse gases it released into the atmosphere during the previous year, and then makes the cumulative total -- say four billion tons -- the initial cap. Each plant or factory can emit the same tonnage as in the previous year.

Since the government wants to cut these emissions by as much as half over the next half-century, however, the feds reduce the cap by, say, 5% overall to 3.8 billion tons in five years; and each company's cap will decline by the same proportion. After another five years, the government will cut the cap again, and so on. Because the companies know that the cap will keep tightening, the theory goes, they'll make their operations more energy-efficient.

But what if a factory can't reduce emissions? Maybe it was efficient already, and its orders are up. That's where the "trade" part of cap and trade comes in.

Suppose that a power plant elsewhere does have room to cut waste by replacing its 30-year-old generator with a cleaner model. Now that the plant can produce the same power with fewer emissions, it has extra greenhouse-gas permits and can -- under the new regime -- sell them to the humming factory, which needs to push past its own limit.

What happens if all the firms can't cut emissions enough to stay below the cap? That's where the system goes global. A Chinese factory coughs up 10 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, but an upgrade would cut emissions to eight million. The Chinese plant can sell those two million tons' worth of emissions "savings" to American firms for cash -- and use the money to pay for the upgrade.

Lawmakers have introduced nearly a half-dozen bills this year to create a version of the above scenario, including a bill sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Arlen Specter, and another bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Lieberman. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani have expressed interest.

Some of the nation's largest electricity generators support a national program, including American Electric power, North Carolina's Duke Energy, and Pacific Gas and Electric. They figure the faster they sign on, the more opportunities they'll have to shape it.

As in Europe's two-and-a-half-year-old cap and trade system, American power-company executives would like a generous initial cap and want to pass on to customers the cost of upgrading their equipment and of buying emissions allowances on the market. Financial firms also favor a national program, anticipating the opportunity to trade a new asset class worth $50 billion to $300 billion annually, depending on economists' estimates of the eventual price-per-ton of carbon. And companies ranging from start-ups to GE recognize the profit potential of emissions-credits projects in developing countries.

Executives and politicians certainly prefer a cap-and-trade program to a carbon tax: With a tax, power companies and industrial energy consumers fear that they would suddenly face a huge, non-negotiable cost to doing business. Under cap and trade, at least a plant operator unable to spend tens of millions to upgrade his plant might buy carbon credits from a company that can slash emission more readily.

As for the politicians, a cap-and-trade program is a no-brainer. Most people don't understand how it would work, or the costs it would impose on them or their standard of living. And it doesn't carry the same electoral risk as suggesting a new tax.

But the reality is that any program strict enough to cut emissions growth -- never mind slashing emissions! -- will raise power prices in America. In fact, hiking power prices is the point of cap and trade. Because burning coal -- the cheapest way to make power -- creates so much carbon, coal-fired power plants would have to pay far more than cleaner competitors to continue business as usual as the government tightened the cap.

The Energy Information Administration estimates cutting expected emissions growth by half by 2030 would mean a real price of electricity higher than it would otherwise be by 4%-6% in 2020 and by 11%-13% in 2030. Power companies would spend money both upgrading power plants and buying the emissions credits they'd need if they choose not to upgrade.

Carbon cap and trade has pushed wholesale power prices in Europe up 5%-10% just since 2005, says Phil Hare, director of U.K.-based Pöyry Energy Consulting. If Europe lowers its initially generous cap enough to encourage companies to switch permanently from coal to gas power plants, prices there could rise 20%-40% over a decade or so.

Power prices under cap and trade would depend on political decisions. The first is how generous the government would be with its total carbon cap. Another involves determining which emissions-reduction projects in the developing world investors could fund to get carbon credits.

Europe has allowed the United Nations to make some of those decisions. The U.N. carbon-credits program has already proven wildly inefficient.

In an article in February's Nature, Stanford University's Michael Wara noted that the U.N. initiative is spending billions in Western carbon-credits money to do work that should cost much less. Upgrading refrigerant plants, a popular way of winning carbon credits to sell in the European market, is so cheap and easy that many Third World firms were doing it voluntarily until the cap-and-trade West started paying them to do it. Now there's evidence that some firms may be purposely increasing emissions so they can win Western money to decrease them.

Back in the U.S., the Energy Information Administration assumes that power producers in the U.S. would respond to the new cost of carbon by switching from coal to cleaner technologies. It predicts that the nation's power generators would boost nuclear generation by 50% over the next 23 years -- five times the growth expected without a cap -- and increase natural gas-fired power generation 20% above the expected level.

This scenario, however, requires politicians to let American power companies build new nuclear plants and natural-gas import terminals to feed new natural gas plants. Both of these measures politicians, often heeding not- in-my-backyard concerns, regularly oppose on a bipartisan basis.

If America caps emissions and encourages power companies to build cleaner plants and natural-gas terminals, power prices will go up to pay for their construction. But if America caps emissions and caps new generation through political obstacles, prices will go way up.

What about switching to new-fangled "clean" coal instead? This is surely a possibility -- but the technology of "clean" coal is as yet unproven on a commercial scale and the costs are substantial. So are the potential political hurdles.

One promising technology, for example, involves sequestering CO2 emissions from coal plants. This could require power-plant operators to lay underground pipelines to depleted natural-gas fields where the CO2 could be stored -- triggering local opposition, property-rights disputes at now-dormant gas fields and investor worries about liability.

And then there is the collision between cap and trade and global competition. In the real world, small changes in certain prices can determine, say, whether a businessman keeps his manufacturing plant in upstate New York or places his orders instead with a factory in China.

At the end of the day, a strict cap-and-trade program would have the same effect as a carbon tax, one that's high enough, eventually, to encourage switching to cleaner generation, but that's gradually imposed over a decade so that companies have plenty of time to plan.

Such a tax would make emissions more expensive; discourage carbon-intensive power generation; and it would allow the market to decide which environmentally more-friendly technologies would be competitive enough to take its place. A tax per ton of carbon would mean higher power prices, too, but without direct subsidies to developing nations by paying for their power-plant upgrades.

Nor would a carbon tax create a new multibillion-dollar global commodity whose value would depend on political manipulation. The feds could use the revenues from such a levy to reduce other taxes -- including dividend and capital-gains taxes further to spur the massive private investment needed to build the next generation of power generators -- while ensuring that they're also creating a political and regulatory climate to encourage such mass-scale construction.

If it's true that a global warming consensus really exists -- and not just in press releases and speeches -- politicians and business leaders wouldn't be afraid to suggest such a tax. They would insist on it.

Ms. Gelinas is a contributing editor to City Journal, from whose Summer issue this piece was adapted
Title: Time to Get Serious about Global Warming
Post by: buzwardo on August 28, 2007, 12:51:08 PM
Global Warming: now it hits brothels
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages.

They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.

Petra Nestorova, who runs an escort agency in Sofia, said: 'We have hired students, but they are temps and nothing like our elite girls.'
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 29, 2007, 09:25:05 AM

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Not So Hot
August 29, 2007; Page A14
The latest twist in the global warming saga is the revision in data at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, indicating that the warmest year on record for the U.S. was not 1998, but rather 1934 (by 0.02 of a degree Celsius).

Canadian and amateur climate researcher Stephen McIntyre discovered that NASA made a technical error in standardizing the weather air temperature data post-2000. These temperature mistakes were only for the U.S.; their net effect was to lower the average temperature reading from 2000-2006 by 0.15C.

The new data undermine another frightful talking point from environmentalists, which is that six of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. Wrong. NASA now says six of the 10 warmest years were in the 1930s and 1940s, and that was before the bulk of industrial CO2 emissions were released into the atmosphere.

Those are the new facts. What's hard to know is how much, if any, significance to read into them. NASA officials say the revisions are insignificant and should not be "used by [global warming] critics to muddy the debate." NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt notes that, despite the revisions, the period 2002-2006 is still warmer for the U.S. than 1930-1934, and both periods are slightly cooler than 1998-2002.

Still, environmentalists have been making great hay by claiming that recent years, such as 1998, then 2006, were the "warmest" on record. It's also not clear that the 0.15 degree temperature revision is as trivial as NASA insists. Total U.S. warming since 1920 has been about 0.21 degrees Celsius. This means that a 0.15 error for recent years is more than two-thirds the observed temperature increase for the period of warming. NASA counters that most of the measured planetary warming in recent decades has occurred outside the U.S. and that the agency's recent error would have a tiny impact (1/1000th of a degree) on global warming.

If nothing else, the snafu calls into question how much faith to put in climate change models. In the 1990s, virtually all climate models predicted warming from 2000-2010, but the new data confirm that so far there has been no warming trend in this decade for the U.S. Whoops. These simulation models are the basis for many of the forecasts of catastrophic warming by the end of the century that Al Gore and the media repeat time and again. We may soon be basing multi-trillion dollar policy decisions on computer models whose accuracy we already know to be less than stellar.

What's more disturbing is what this incident tells us about the scientific double standard in the global warming debate. If this kind of error were made by climatologists who dare to challenge climate-change orthodoxy, the media and environmentalists would accuse them of manipulating data to distort scientific truth. NASA's blunder only became a news story after Internet bloggers played whistleblower by circulating the new data across the Web.

So far this year NASA has issued at least five press releases that could be described as alarming on the pace of climate change. But the correction of its overestimate of global warming was merely posted on the agency's Web site. James Hansen, NASA's ubiquitous climate scientist and a man who has charged that the Bush Administration is censoring him on global warming, has been unapologetic about NASA's screw up. He claims that global warming skeptics -- "court jesters," he calls them -- are exploiting this incident to "confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change, thus delaying effective action to mitigate climate change."

So let's get this straight: Mr. Hansen's agency makes a mistake in a way that exaggerates the extent of warming, and this is all part of a conspiracy by "skeptics"? It's a wonder there aren't more of them.
Title: *No* consensus that man is responsible for global warming
Post by: ccp on August 31, 2007, 05:43:13 AM
A survey of recent scientific articles from 2004 to 2007 show that there is no clear consensus that man is causing global warming:
Title: Sh*t Shoveling Eco-Enslavement
Post by: buzwardo on September 06, 2007, 09:26:39 AM
Monday 3 September 2007
Is carbon-offsetting just eco-enslavement?
In offsetting his flights by sponsoring ‘eco-friendly’ hard labour in India, David Cameron has exposed the essence of environmentalism.
Brendan O’Neill

If you thought that the era of British bigwigs keeping Indians as personal servants came to an end with the fall of the Raj in 1947, then you must have had a rude awakening last week.

In a feature about carbon offsetting in The Times (London), it was revealed that the leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, offsets his carbon emissions by effectively keeping brown people in a state of bondage. Whenever he takes a flight to some foreign destination, Cameron donates to a carbon-offsetting company that encourages people in the developing world to ditch modern methods of farming in favour of using their more eco-friendly manpower to plough the land. So Cameron can fly around the world with a guilt-free conscience on the basis that, thousands of miles away, Indian villagers, bent over double, are working by hand rather than using machines that emit carbon.

Welcome to the era of eco-enslavement.

The details of this carbon-offsetting scheme are disturbing. Cameron offsets his flights by donating to Climate Care. The latest wheeze of this carbon-offsetting company is to provide ‘treadle pumps’ to poor rural families in India so that they can get water on to their land without having to use polluting diesel power. Made from bamboo, plastic and steel, the treadle pumps work like ‘step machines in a gym’, according to some reports, where poor family members step on the pedals for hours in order to draw up groundwater which is used to irrigate farmland (1). These pumps were abolished in British prisons a century ago. It seems that what was considered an unacceptable form of punishment for British criminals in the past is looked upon as a positive eco-alternative to machinery for Indian peasants today.

What might once have been referred to as ‘back-breaking labour’ is now spun as ‘human energy’. According to Climate Care, the use of labour-intensive treadle pumps, rather than labour-saving diesel-powered pumps, saves 0.65 tonnes of carbon a year per farming family. And well-off Westerners - including Cameron, and Prince Charles, Land Rover and the Cooperative Bank, who are also clients of Climate Care - can purchase this saved carbon in order to continue living the high life without becoming consumed by eco-guilt. They effectively salve their moral consciences by paying poor people to live the harsh simple life on their behalf.

Climate Care celebrates the fact that it encourages the Indian poor to use their own bodies rather than machines to irrigate the land. Its website declares: ‘Sometimes the best source of renewable energy is the human body itself. With some lateral thinking, and some simple materials, energy solutions can often be found which replace fossil fuels with muscle-power.’ (2) To show that muscle power is preferable to machine power, the Climate Care website features a cartoon illustration of smiling naked villagers pedalling on a treadle pump next to a small house that has an energy-efficient light bulb and a stove made from ‘local materials at minimal cost’. Climate Care points out that even children can use treadle pumps: ‘One person - man, woman or even child - can operate the pump by manipulating his/her body weight on two treadles and by holding a bamboo or wooden frame for support.’ (3)

Feeling guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived it up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset that guilt by sponsoring eco-friendly child labour in the developing world! Let an eight-year-old peasant pedal away your eco-remorse…

Climate Care has other carbon-offsetting schemes. One involves encouraging poor people who live near the Ranthambhore National Park, a tiger reserve in Rajasthan, India, to stop using firewood for their stoves, and instead to collect cowpats and water and put them into something called a ‘biogas digester’, which creates a renewable form of fuel that can be used for cooking and the provision of heat. One of the aims of this scheme is to protect the trees of the national park, as tigers are reliant on the trees. It seems that in the carbon-offsetting world, beast comes before man.

In these various scandalous schemes, we can glimpse the iron fist that lurks within environmentalism’s green velvet glove. ‘Cutting back carbon emissions’ is the goal to which virtually every Western politician, celebrity and youthful activist has committed himself. Yet for the poorest people around the world, ‘reducing carbon output’ means saying no to machinery and instead getting your family to do hard physical labour, or it involves collecting cow dung and burning it in an eco-stove in order to keep yourself warm. It is not only Climate Care that pushes through such patronising initiatives. Other carbon-offsetting companies have encouraged Kenyans to use dung-powered generators and Indians to replace kerosene lamps with solar-powered lamps, while carbon-offsetting tree-planting projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda have reportedly disrupted local communities’ water supplies, led to the eviction of thousands of villagers from their land, and cheated local people of their promised income for the upkeep of these Western conscience-salving trees (4).

The criticism of these carbon-offsetting schemes has been limited indeed. Since The Times revealed the treadle pump story last week, many have criticised carbon offsetting on the rather blinkered basis that it doesn’t do enough to rein in mankind’s overall emissions of carbon. Some talk about ‘carbon offsetting cowboys’, as if carbon offsetting itself is fine and it’s only those carbon-offsetting companies who go too far in their exploitation of people in the developing world who are a problem. In truth, it is the relationships that are codified by the whole idea of carbon offsetting - whereby the needs and desires of people in the developing world are subordinated to the narcissistic eco-worries of rich Westerners - that are the real, grotesque problem here.

More radical eco-activists argue that carbon offsetting is a distraction from the need for us simply to stop flying and producing and consuming. They claim that carbon-offsetting gives people in Western societies the false impression that it’s okay to emit carbon so long as you pay someone else to clean it up for you. They would rather that we all lived like those treadle-pumping, shit-burning peasants. A group of young deep greens protested at the Oxford offices of Climate Care dressed as red herrings (on the basis that carbon offsetting is a ‘red herring’), arguing that: ‘Climate Care is misleading the public, making them believe that offsetting does some good.’ (5) The protest provided a striking snapshot of the warped, misanthropic priorities of green youthful activism today: instead of criticising Climate Care, and others, for encouraging poor Indians to stop using machinery and to burn cow dung, the protesters slated it for giving a green light to Westerners to continue living comfortable lives.

Carbon offsetting is not some cowboy activity, or an aberration, or a distraction from ‘true environmentalist goals’ - rather it expresses the very essence of environmentalism. In its project of transforming vast swathes of the developing world into guilt-massaging zones for comfortable Westerners, where trees are planted or farmers’ work is made tougher and more time-consuming in order to offset the activities of Americans and Europeans, carbon offsetting perfectly captures both the narcissistic and anti-development underpinnings of the politics of environmentalism. Where traditional imperialism conquered poor nations in order to exploit their labour and resources, today’s global environmentalist consensus is increasingly using the Third World as a place in which to work out the West’s moral hang-ups.

The rise of the carbon-offsetting industry shows that a key driving force behind environmentalism is self-indulgent Western guilt. It is Western consumers’ own discomfort with their sometimes lavish lifestyles - with all those holidays, big homes, fast cars and cheap nutritious foods - that nurtures today’s green outlook, in which consumption has come to be seen as destructive and a new morality of eco-ethics and offsetting (formerly known as penance) has emerged to deal with it (6). It is no accident that the wealthiest people are frequently the most eco-conscious. British environmental campaign groups and publications are peppered with the sons and daughters of the aristocracy, while in America ridiculously super-rich celebrities (Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt) lead the charge for more eco-aware forms of consumption and play. The very nature of carbon offsetting - where the emphasis is on paying money to offset one’s own lifestyle, in much the same way that wealthy people in the Middle Ages would pay for ‘Indulgences’ that forgave them their sins - highlights the individuated and self-regarding streak in the Politics of Being Green.

Carbon-offsetting also shines a light on the dangerously anti-development sentiment in environmentalism. As the British journalist Ross Clark has argued, the success of carbon-offsetting relies on the continuing failure of Third World communities to develop. Clark writes: ‘Carbon-offset schemes…only work if the recipients [in the Third World] continue to live in very basic conditions. Once they aspire to Western, fossil fuel-powered lifestyles, then the scheme is undone.’ Delegates to the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005 offset the carbon cost of their flights by donating to a charity that replaced the tin roofs of huts in a shantytown in Cape Town with a more insulating material, thus reducing the level of heat that escapes and protecting the environment. It sounds good, but as Clark points out: ‘The carbon emitted by delegates’ flights will only continue to be offset for as long as the occupants of the huts carry on living in shantytown conditions.’ If they were to improve their lives, and replace their insulated shacks with ‘much more power-hungry bungalows’, then the carbon-offsetting scheme will have failed, says Clark. The shantytown-dwellers will have reneged on their side of the bargain, which is to remain poor and humble so that wealthy Western leaders can fly around the world in peace of mind (7).

Again, this is not ‘cowboyism’ - it is mainstream environmentalism in action. From the increasingly hysterical attacks on China for daring to develop, to the emphasis on ‘fair trade’ and ‘sustainable development’ in the work of the myriad NGOs that are swarming around the Third World, the green message is this: poor people simply cannot have what we in the West have, because if they did the planet would burn. The treadle-pump scandal revealed in The Times only shows in a more direct form the way in which today’s environmentalist agenda forces the poor of the developing world to adapt to poverty, accommodate to hardship, and effectively remain enslaved for the benefit of morally-tortured Westerners.

It is time to end this eco-enslavement, and put forward arguments for progress and equality across the globe. I would never pick up shit and use it to warm my home, or spend hours on a treadmill in order to raise water. Would you? Then why should we expect anyone else to do such things, especially in the name of making some rich snots feel better about themselves?

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Visit his website here.

(1) To cancel out the CO2 of a return flight to India, it will take one poor villager three years of pumping water by foot. So is carbon offsetting the best way to ease your conscience?, The Times (London), 28 August 2007

(2) See the Climate Care website here

(3) See the Climate Care website here

(4) The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry, Guardian, 16 June 2007

(5) To cancel out the CO2 of a return flight to India, it will take one poor villager three years of pumping water by foot. So is carbon offsetting the best way to ease your conscience?, The Times (London), 28 August 2007

(6) See Live Earth: a global pulpit of pop sanctimony, by Rob Lyons

(7) The great global warming swindle, Spectator, 11 August 2007

reprinted from:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 06, 2007, 10:25:59 PM

As I understand it, in the free market we assume people to be the judges of what is best for them in their lives.  If they freely enter into a voluntary exchange it is because it is because they believe it is the best option.

Furthermore, as a general principle I think it generally sound to bring market pricing mechanisms to bear on determining who/what gets to make the pollution.

In its loathing for liberals, this article seems to forget these two fundamental points.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 07, 2007, 06:45:04 AM
APEC and Climate Change

APEC's power to set global public policy is most clearly evident in its role in the climate change negotiations. APEC climate talks, which have been going on for more than a year, are designed more to make a statement than to develop a specific policy -- though the statement APEC makes in the coming 12 months will dictate the future of global climate negotiations.

APEC's importance has grown because a new international climate treaty, to replace the Kyoto Protocol, is inevitable. In the United States, the political winds have changed and the next presidential administration will oversee a national climate policy. For the United States to meet whatever climate policy emerges, it will need to take part in an international regime -- one that offers a robust emissions-trading mechanism. For a number of reasons, the United States has not joined the existing Kyoto-based system. Instead, it envisions a Pacific-focused international climate regime, one that uses the APEC countries as its base.

The Sydney APEC summit will offer the first glimpse of U.S. President George W. Bush's proposed climate regime. It will likely include binding emissions-reduction targets for every signatory. The emissions reductions likely will be framed in terms of emissions per unit of GDP, with the objective being to promote economic growth that is less carbon-intensive than it otherwise would be. It also is likely to call for a continuation of the emissions trading system and Clean Development Mechanism developed under Kyoto. By defining the emissions cap in terms of growth and by keeping a clean development mechanism, the agreement would address the complaint by developing countries that climate change policies are a way for industrial giants to force poor countries to pay equally for damage done primarily by industrialized countries.

The APEC agreement on climate change is a severe challenge to the Kyoto Protocol and to the European Union, which favors Kyoto and envisions a new follow-on agreement that serves European needs specifically. However, other than Indonesia and occasionally Japan, APEC countries are not especially fond of the Kyoto Protocol, so the perpetuation of Kyoto is not a particularly popular idea. Furthermore, in the wake of Russian threats to shut off oil and natural gas to EU countries, the union needs to spur development of alternative energy paths far more than it needs the perfect climate pact. In the final analysis, the European Union is being forced by geopolitics to cut emissions, and it does not want to lose its competitiveness to countries whose emissions are not bound by international agreements. Therefore, it can least afford for there not to be a deal -- but the other countries necessary to make the system work do not approve of what the union is selling.

In the eyes of environmentalists, the only reason a Pacific-based climate system can effectively counter Kyoto is that the Pacific Rim is the center of global greenhouse gas emissions, so if avoiding disastrous climate change requires reducing carbon emissions, the APEC nations must be involved. More than two-thirds of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from APEC nations. The world's leading carbon emitter, China, has an economy that (reportedly) is growing at 10 percent per year. The second leading emitter, the United States, has slower growth, but it has grown far more quickly since Kyoto was signed than has Europe, Japan or most other major greenhouse gas-emitting nations.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: buzwardo on September 07, 2007, 07:36:05 AM
As I understand it, in the free market we assume people to be the judges of what is best for them in their lives.  If they freely enter into a voluntary exchange it is because it is because they believe it is the best option.

Furthermore, as a general principle I think it generally sound to bring market pricing mechanisms to bear on determining who/what gets to make the pollution.

In its loathing for liberals, this article seems to forget these two fundamental points.

I understand the points, but think they neglect a couple factors. "Pollutants" like carbon dioxide are being offset. I'm not willing to cede that CO2 is a pollutant, and if it is, it's only a pollutant at certain concentrations and I've not seen a compelling argument defining what that concentration is while the geologic record demonstrates it's been all over the map. What free market model achieves efficiencies based on false premises and junk science?

Second, are these third world folk freely entering into the exchange? The enviro-hucksters swooping in making an offer they can't refuse could instead offer diesel generators, mechanical sh*t shovelers, efficient pumps, and so on. Instead, again based on a skewed "understanding" of the issues, they present a single offer the indigenous aren't in a position to walk away from.

These conscious-purging carpetbaggers, moreover, are selling a solution with the same shelf life as the medieval indulgences the Catholic church use to peddle. What happens to their little corner of the free market when that bottom falls out? And then let's stipulate that these schemes do succeed, and that the folks foisting 'em don't manage to carbon neutral the planet back into a third world existence; how are the sh*t shovelers descendants going to feel about having useless technologies and dubious ends foisted on their forbearers?

Bottom line is that I don't see an enduring commencialism emerging from schemes based on false premises and embrace of inefficient technologies and hence have a hard time imagining them providing any long term benefit for anyone. If it ain't adding real value over the long term, then it ain't a market based solution.
Title: Hansen Releases his Source Code
Post by: buzwardo on September 08, 2007, 04:01:48 PM
It's not science is the results can't be replicated, and things can't be replicated unless the methodology is available, which makes Hansen's grudging release of the algorythms he uses to derive his sky-is-falling conclusions all the more astounding. Anyone like to make a little wager on whether his methods survive peer review?

Hansen Frees the Code
By Steve McIntyre
Hansen has just released what is said to be the source code for their temperature analysis. The release was announced in a shall-we-say ungracious email to his email distribution list and a link is now present at the NASA webpage.

Hansen says resentfully that they would have liked a “week or two” to make a “simplified version” of the program and that it is this version that “people interested in science” will want, as opposed to the version that actually generated their results.

Reto Ruedy has organized into a single document, as well as practical on a short time scale, the programs that produce our global temperature analysis from publicly available data streams of temperature measurements. These are a combination of subroutines written over the past few decades by Sergej Lebedeff, Jay Glascoe, and Reto. Because the programs include a variety of
languages and computer unique functions, Reto would have preferred to have a week or two to combine these into a simpler more transparent structure, but because of a recent flood of demands for the programs, they are being made available as is. People interested in science may want to wait a week or two for a simplified version.

In recent posts, I’ve observed that long rural stations in South America and Africa do not show the pronounced ROW trend (Where’s Waldo?) that is distinct from the U.S. temperature history as well as the total lack of long records from Antarctica covering the 1930s. Without mentioning or myself by name, Hansen addresses the “lack of quality data from South America and Africa, a legitimate concern”, concluding this lack does not “matter” to the results.

Another favorite target of those who would raise doubt about the reality of global warming is the lack of quality data from South America and Africa, a legitimate concern. You will note in our maps of temperature change some blotches in South America and Africa, which are probably due to bad data. Our procedure does not throw out data because it looks unrealistic, as that would be subjective. But what is the global significance of these regions of exceptionally poor data? As shown by Figure 1, omission of South America and Africa has only a tiny effect on the global temperature change. Indeed, the difference that omitting these areas makes is to increase the global temperature change by (an entirely insignificant) 0.01C.

So United States shows no material change since the 1930s, but this doesn’t matter, South America doesn’t matter, Africa doesn’t matter and Antarctica has no records relevant to the 1930s. Europe and northern Asia would seem to be plausible candidates for locating Waldo. (BTW we are also told that the Medieval Warm Period was a regional phenomenon confined to Europe and northern Asia - go figure.]

On two separate occasions, Hansen, who two weeks ago contrasted royalty with “court jesters” saying that one does not “joust with jesters”, raised the possibility that the outside community is “wondering” why (using the royal “we”) he (a) “bothers to put up with this hassle and the nasty e-mails that it brings” or (b) “subject ourselves to the shenanigans”.

Actually, it wasn’t something that I, for one, was wondering about it all. In my opinion, questions about how he did his calculations are entirely appropriate and he had an obligation to answer the questions - an obligation that would have continued even if had flounced off at the mere indignity of having to answer a mildly probing question. Look, ordinary people get asked questions all the time and most of them don’t have the luxury of “not bothering with the hassle” or “not subjecting themselves to the shenanigans”. They just answer the questions the best they can and don’t complain. So should Hansen.

Hansen provides some interesting historical context to his studies, observing that his analysis was the first analysis to include Southern Hemisphere results, which supposedly showed that, contrary to the situation in the Northern Hemisphere, there wasn’t cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s:

The basic GISS temperature analysis scheme was defined in the late 1970s by Jim Hansen when a method of estimating global temperature change was needed for comparison with one-dimensional global climate models. Prior temperature analyses, most notably those of Murray Mitchell, covered only 20-90N latitudes. Our rationale was that the number of Southern Hemisphere stations was sufficient for a meaningful estimate of global temperature change, because temperature anomalies and trends are highly correlated over substantial geographical distances. Our first published results (Hansen et al., Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, Science 213, 957, 1981) showed that, contrary to impressions from northern latitudes, global cooling after 1940 was small, and there was net global warming of about 0.4C between the 1880s and 1970s.

Earlier in the short essay, Hansen said that “omission of South America and Africa has only a tiny effect on the global temperature change”. However, they would surely have an impact on land temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere? And, as the above paragraph shows, the calculation of SH land temperatures and their integration into global temperatures seems to have been a central theme in Hansen’s own opus. If Hansen says that South America and Africa don’t matter to “global” and thus presumably to Southern Hemisphere temperature change, then it makes one wonder all the more: what does matter?

Personally, as I’ve said on many occasions, I have little doubt that the late 20th century was warmer than the 19th century. At present, I’m intrigued by the question as to how we know that it’s warmer now than in the 1930s. It seems plausible to me that it is. But how do we know that it is? And why should any scientist think that answering such a question is a “hassle”?

In my first post on the matter, I suggested that Hansen’s most appropriate response was to make his code available promptly and cordially. Since a somewhat embarrassing error had already been identified, I thought that it would be difficult for NASA to completely stonewall the matter regardless of Hansen’s own wishes in the matter. (I hadn’t started an FOI but was going to do so.)

Had Hansen done so, if he wished, he could then have included an expression of confidence that the rest of the code did not include material defects. Now he’s had to disclose the code anyway and has done so in a rather graceless way.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 23, 2007, 03:59:32 AM
Rapeseed biofuel produces more greenhouse gas than oil or petrol?
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter
A renewable energy source designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is contributing more to global warming than fossil fuels, a study suggests.

Measurements of emissions from the burning of biofuels derived from rapeseed and maize have been found to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than they save.

Other biofuels, especially those likely to see greater use over the next decade, performed better than fossil fuels but the study raises serious questions about some of the most commonly produced varieties.

Rapeseed and maize biodiesels were calculated to produce up to 70 per cent and 50 per cent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels. The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised. The research team found that 3 to 5 per cent of the nitrogen in fertiliser was converted and emitted. In contrast, the figure used by the International Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the extent and impact of man-made global warming, was 2 per cent. The findings illustrated the importance, the researchers said, of ensuring that measures designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are assessed thoroughly before being hailed as a solution.

"One wants rational decisions rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon because superficially something appears to reduce emissions," said Keith Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and one of the researchers.

Maize for ethanol is the prime crop for biofuel in the US where production for the industry has recently overtaken the use of the plant as a food. In Europe the main crop is rapeseed, which accounts for 80 per cent of biofuel production.

Professor Smith told Chemistry World: "The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuels are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto."

It was accepted by the scientists that other factors, such as the use of fossil fuels to produce fertiliser, have yet to be fully analysed for their impact on overall figures. But they concluded that the biofuels "can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2 O emissions than cooling by fossil-fuel savings".

The research is published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where it has been placed for open review. The research team was formed of scientists from Britain, the US and Germany, and included Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on ozone.

Dr Franz Conen, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, described the study as an "astounding insight".

"It is to be hoped that those taking decisions on subsidies and regulations will in future take N2O emissions into account and promote some forms of biofuel production while quickly abandoning others," he told the journal?s discussion board.

Dr Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, used the findings to calculate that with the US Senate aiming to increase maize ethanol production sevenfold by 2022, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will rise by 6 per cent.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 01, 2007, 02:37:58 PM
"As over 150 heads of state and government gather at UN headquarters in New York to
discuss climate change, former Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent
of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse
repeated challenges to debate the issue. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed
the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global
warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to
face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: 'Global Warming Is Not a
Crisis.' Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis
Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson
Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his
critics have fallen on deaf ears" -- Bonner Cohen, writing at

Title: Climate Audit Rocks!
Post by: buzwardo on October 13, 2007, 07:58:18 AM
As someone who works with a band of sometimes guerrilla, often self-taught cave scientists, Steve McIntyre and his Climate Audit project strikes many notes that resonate with me. Funded by PayPal contributions and doubtless tangetial associations with Big Oil we'll hear about soon, Steve goes out and conducts straighforward experiments meant to audit the findings of the far better funded climate apocalypse crowd. His finding are often eye-opening and always amusing.

In this instance Steve goes out and resamples tree core samples that, gosh darn it, were too expensive and to hard too get to for the folks getting the big grants these days. Despite the tree's distance from Starbucks, Steve somehow managed to obtain samples anyway. It will be interesting to track his findings.

A Little Secret

By Steve McIntyre

Don’t you think that someone on the Team might have been a little curious as to what bristlecone ring widths have done during the past 25 years? For this, we have the classic excuse of Michael Mann and the Team for not updating bristlecone and proxy records is that it’s not practical within the limited climate budgets:

While paleoclimatologists are attempting to update many important proxy records to the present, this is a costly, and labor-intensive activity, often requiring expensive field campaigns that involve traveling with heavy equipment to difficult-to-reach locations (such as high-elevation or remote polar sites). For historical reasons, many of the important records were obtained in the 1970s and 1980s and have yet to be updated.

From the first moment that I got involved with paleoclimate, it seemed obvious to me (as it is to anyone not on the Team) that, if the classic “proxies” are any good and not merely opportunistic correlations, that there is an ideal opportunity to perform out-of-sample testing of the canonical Team reconstructions by bringing the proxies up-to-date. I wrote an Op Ed in February 2005 for the National Post entitled “Bring the Proxies Up to Date”, where I expressed the view that this was really the first order of business in Team world. While the addition of new proxies is also important and nice, this is not the same thing as out-of-sample testing of the proxies used in MBH99, Crowley and Lowery etc - especially the bristlecones.

I’ve continued to satirize this failure pointing out that several of Graybill’s classic bristlecone sites were easily accessible from UCAR world headquarters in Boulder and that no heroic expedition was required to update, for example, the Graybill sites to the west of Colorado Springs.

To get to these sites from UCAR headquarters in Boulder, a scientist would not merely have to go 15 miles SW of Colorado Springs and go at least several miles along a road where they would have to be on guard for hikers and beware of scenic views, they would, in addition, have to go all the way from Boulder to Colorado Springs. While lattes would doubtless be available to UCAR scientists in Colorado Springs, special arrangements would be required for latte service at Frosty Park, though perhaps a local outfitting company would be equal to the challenge. Clearly updating these proxies is only for the brave of heart and would require a massive expansion of present paleoclimate budgets. No wonder paleoclimate scientists have been unable to update these records since Graybill’s heroic expedition in 1983.

Pete Holzman (Mr Pete), who lives in Colorado Springs, agreed with this satire and this led to what I’ll call the Starbucks Hypothesis: could a climate scientist have a Starbucks in the morning, collect tree rings through the day and still be home for dinner?

To make a long story short, last summer, when my wife and I visited my sister in Colorado Springs and I thought that it would be rather fun to test the Starbucks Hypothesis and I gave a bit of a teaser report in late July, promising some further reports in a few weeks, but I got distracted by the Hansen stuff. At the time, I mentioned that, together with CA reader Pete Holzmann and his wife Leslie, we visited some bristlecones in the Mt Almagre area west of Colorado Springs.

But I have a little secret which I’ll share with you as long as you promise not to tell anyone: our objective was to locate the precise site sampled by Graybill. Not just that. Prior to the trip, I obtained a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to take dendrochronological samples from bristlecones on Mount Almagre and we did more than look at pretty views; we obtained up-to-date bristlecone samples. I only went up Almagre on the first day. Our permit lasted a month and Pete and Leslie spent two more days on Almagre, finally locating and sampling tagged Graybill trees on the third day.

Altogether (and primarily through the efforts of Pete and Leslie), our project collected 64 cores from 45 different trees at 5 different locations on Mount Almagre. 17 Graybill trees were identified, of which 9 were re-sampled. All the cores are currently at a dendrochronological laboratory, where sample preparation and scanning steps have been completed. Cross-dating is now taking place. For the most part, we tried to sample non-stripbark trees in keeping with NRC recommendations, but some stripbarks were sampled to reconcile with Graybill. Of the tagged Graybill trees, assuming that the identifications match correspond to the ones at WDCP, only 6 of the 17 tagged Graybill trees were included in the measurement data archive; and only 2 of the 9 re-sampled trees have matching IDs. Why is this? I have no idea.

We will archive at WDCP detailed information on the location of all samples (current spreadsheet is here) , which has already been sent to the U.S. Forest Service. Photographs of each tree are shown gallery here. Here’s a fun presentation that Pete prepared of our Day 1 itinerary. Here is a Google Earth tour. If you run it and when Google Earth comes up, go to Tools — Play Tour , you’ll have some fun.

Some expenses have been incurred for this expedition. Leaving aside travel expenses (which were vacation expenses that I was going to incur anyway), the jeep got a bad scratch on the first day and cost about $500 to repair; it’s going to cost a few thousand at the dendrochronology laboratory for the sample prep, scanning and cross-dating as this has been done on a contract basis. I’ve submitted an abstract to Rob Wilson’s divergence session at AGU and would like to present these results (and to cover Pete’s expenses if he can come). This has been a Climate Audit project so I’d like readers who contribute to the top jar to think about a special contribution for the bristlecone sampling. Maybe Martin Juckes, James Hansen and Michael Mann will contribute as well - I’m sure that they are all anxious for the results.

I’ll add some more information later in the day. Right now I’m off to visit the dendro lab and see how things are coming along. In 2002, Malcolm Hughes sampled bristlecones at Sheep Mountain and nothing has been reported or archived from this study. In 2003, Lonnie Thompson sampled ice cores at Bona-Churchill and we’ve heard nothing about it. One might guess that 20th century dO18 levels were not high as, at the nearby site of Mount Logan, 20th century dO18 levels were lower than earlier levels, attributed to regional changes in circulation rather than temperature.

I’ve obviously been very critical of what appears to be opportunistic reporting of results. With my experience in mining speculations, I fully understand how much temptation that there is to delay reporting of “bad” results in the hope that later drill holes in the program will salvage things. But you don’t have any choice in the matter - you’re obliged to report the results. Plus investors are smart enough to now that delayed results are virtually never good results.

Right now I have no idea what the sampling will show - maybe it will show a tremendous response by the bristlecones in the past 20 years - perhaps due to CO2, nitrate or phosphate fertilization, perhaps due to temperature increases. Maybe they won’t go up and we’ll hear more about the divergence problem. I don’t expect these particular measurements to settle anything. But jeez, doncha think that someone would have tried to find out?

Anyway I promise one thing: the measurements are going to be made public as soon as I get them. Just like a mining project. No waiting for 5 or 10 or 25 years like certain people. No losing the data like other people. Whatever they show. As soon as I get the cross-dated measurement data, we will immediately send it to the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology (which I expect to take place within a few weeks.) I hope that this will set an example to the trade as to the type of turn-time which is practical.

I’m visiting the dendro lab today to say hello and I wanted this to be on the record before my visit. I’m not sure how far along they are, but I think that they’ve finished sample prep and scanning and have started cross-dating. I don’t expect any results, but they may be far along enough so that I’ll have an impression of what the result growth will have been. So I wanted to be on the record on the planned schedule prior to my knowing anything about the results, just in case I get an impression today of what the recent growth has been.

UPDATE 2 pm. OK, I’m back from the dendro lab in Guelph. They are further along than I expected. The longest core is 883 years (Tree 30A). This had a Graybill tag 84-55, but if you go to the archived measurement data
and look for ALM55 (which would presumably be the match), there are no corresponding measurements; there is obviously a sequence ALM01, ….; there is an ALM53 and an ALM60. Is there an alter ego somewhere or is it missing? Right now we don’t know.

After sanding the core is scanned. The measurement of ring widths is semi-automatic. For these bristlecones, earlywood and latewood was easy to distinguish. Using a magnified version of the scan, each ring is picked out (with the computer recording the pick). The computer then yields back the measurements. I’ve posted up a couple of print-screens showing the most recent widths for 30A and the widths in the mid-19th century.

Below is a print screen showing the 30A ring widths from 1124 to 2007. I’ll post up a re-plot at some point with a legible x-axis. For orientation in the absence of a scale, the upspike on the left is 1174; there are low values from 1353 through the early 1400s; there is a 1690 spike; 1865 and 1880 are upspikes; 1941 is a small upspike.

According to the Team hypothesis of a positive linear relationship between temperature and ring widths, the warm 1990s and 2000s should have yielded the widest ring widths in history. What do you think? This is only one tree, but my quick impression was that recent growth was not elevated. So this looks like a Divergence “Problem”. If CO2 or other fertilization has been a factor, then I hate to think what the growth would have been without the fertilization. Remember the NAS panel saying that the Divergence Problem only affected high-latitude sites? Maybe they should have done some testing before they opined on this.

BTW while I’m critical of how the Team uses dendro information, I think that it is well worth supporting the collection of dendro information, even if it’s meaning is not clear right now. It has the advantage of being well-dated - and when you see the problems with dating ocean sediments, it’s nice to have some records that are well dated. There’s a role for it; so please - no posts dumping on dendrochronology. The dendrochronologists who’ve been doing this work (and who I will credit in due course) are excellent people.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2007, 08:28:23 AM

Interesting.  Please keep us posted as the data comes out.

Title: Bad Bets & Bad Checks Coming Due in CA, Part I
Post by: buzwardo on October 20, 2007, 06:38:17 PM
Speech was given on October 12, 2007 in Newport Beach.

You have extended me a very dangerous invitation tonight – to speak to a gathering of political conservatives on the day that Al Gore has received the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering that the earth’s climate is changing.

I’ve heard that he’s going to contribute half of his prize money to environmental causes and use the other half to pay his electricity bill. And anything left over will come in handy to help pay for the fleet of private jets that allow him to travel around the world to tell us that you and I need to ride our bikes to work.

You have to admit, there is a certain Helmslyesque quality to it all – “We don’t conserve – only the little people conserve.”

Of course, for those in the liberal elite who jet to environmental conferences in Gulfstream Fives and drive around in Hummers singing the praises of hybrids and bicycles, the Left now sells indulgences – you can actually calculate your sins on-line and they’ll gladly tell you how much money to send them (all major credit cards accepted) to assuage your conscience.

These indulgences will be used for such activities as planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide. After all, young trees absorb an enormous amount of this “greenhouse gas” – far more than old trees. But isn’t replacing old-growth timber with young-growth timber what lumber companies used to do until the radical environmentalists shut them down?

They’ve also forbidden the clearance of flammable brush from around your home in areas like Lake Tahoe – that’s an affront to Mother Nature. You’re supposed to either let it burn – and your home along with it – or just let it sit and rot because those are the two best ways for Nature to release lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Apparently natural carbon dioxide is a good thing and man-made carbon dioxide is a bad thing.

That’s also why we’re supposed to do away with chemical fertilizer and replace it with natural compost, because replacing man-made greenhouse gases with natural greenhouse gases is the wave of the future.

So are electric cars and trains. But this also gets a little complicated, because there are only two ways of generating vast amounts of clean electricity: hydroelectricity and nuclear power. But there’s no faster way to send one of these Luddites into hysterics than to mention that inconvenient truth.

The politically correct replacement is solar energy – roughly 17 times more expensive than either nuclear power or hydroelectricity – meaning, of course around 17 times LESS electricity to run electric cars and trains.

Energy conservation, then, is the answer, which is why we’re being told only to use energy efficient fluorescent lights rather than the warm and fuzzy incandescent bulbs. But wait – didn’t we just ban the disposal of fluorescent lights with your trash because of the extreme environmental hazard they pose in our landfills?

So I approach the subject tonight with an admitted level of confusion as to what these people are thinking.

And I also approach it with a certain degree of trepidation. After all, at Al Gore’s rally to save the planet in New York in July, no less an authority than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that those of us who still have some questions over their theories of man-made global warming are “liars,” “crooks,” “corporate toadies,” “flat-earthers” and then he made this remarkable statement: “This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.”

Ah, the dispassionate language of science and reason.

In a speech in New York several months ago, our own governor called those who question the religion of global warming “fanatics” and vowed our political extinction.

I certainly don’t want to die a traitor’s death or be run out of town on a rail. So I want the record to be very clear: I believe that the earth’s climate is changing and that our planet is warming.

I actually figured that out in grade school in the 1960’s when our third grade class took a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and saw the panorama of dinosaurs tromping around the steamy swamps that are now part of Wyoming. They were right next to the exhibit of the Wooly Mammoths foraging on the glaciers that were also once the same part of Wyoming.

And I never got a Nobel Prize for that discovery. In fact, I later found out that my third grade teacher never even nominated me!

Then I got to high school in the 1970’s and learned from the Al Gores of the time that we foolish mortals were plunging ourselves into another ice age. All the scientists agreed.

By the way, you may have seen the Washington Times story a few weeks ago about the researcher who recently stumbled upon a lurid story in the Washington Post dated July 9, 1971. It included the scary headline: “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.”

The scientist based this on a scientific climate model developed by a young research associate named James Hansen. They warned that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger an unstoppable ice age.

This is the same James Hansen who is one of the gurus of the current global warming movement. And it is the same James Hansen who, just three months ago, published a paper claiming that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger a run-away greenhouse effect.

Let me begin by asking three inconvenient questions.

First, if global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that we’re seeing global warming on every other body in the solar system? For the last six years, the Martian south polar ice cap has conspicuously receded. Pluto is warming – about two degrees Celsius over the past 14 years. Jupiter is showing dramatic climate change by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even Neptune’s moon, Triton, has warmed five percent on the absolute temperature scale – the equivalent of a 22 degrees Fahrenheit increase on Earth – from 1989 to 1998.

If you have any doubt, just Google “Pluto Warming” or “Mars Warming” or whatever your favorite planet might be.

Meanwhile, solar radiation has increased a measurable .05 percent since the 1970’s.

Is it possible that as the sun gets slightly warmer, the planets do too?

This would be a little scary in its own right, except for the second inconvenient question: If global warming is being caused by your SUV, why is it that we have ample historical records of periods in our recent history when the planet’s temperature was warmer than it is today?

During the Medieval Warm Period, from about 900 to 1300 AD, we know that wine grapes were thriving in northern Britain and Newfoundland and that the temperature in Greenland was hot enough to support a prosperous agricultural economy for nearly 500 years.

That period was brought to an end by the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1300 until 1850. We know that during colonial times, Boston and New York Harbors routinely froze over in winter and during Elizabethan times, an annual Winter Festival was held ON TOP OF the Thames River, which froze solid every year.

And finally the third inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by YOUR SUV, why is it that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide always follow increases in global temperatures by several hundred years, indicating that CO2 is a byproduct of increasing temperatures – not a cause.

Is it possible that this is the reason Al Gore won’t debate the subject? You’ve seen the “Inconvenient Truth.” In it, he portrays himself as an indefatigable, lonely sentinel (who should have been President of course) wandering the planet trying desperately to awaken the world to the danger it faces. “I’ve given this speech a thousand times,” he says about a thousand times.

But according to the Chicago Sun Times this pious paragon of truth – who assures us he’s willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody to save us from our mortal folly – is strangely UNwilling to take up the Heartland Institute’s publicized offer to organize an international debate on the subject. The Institute has challenged our new Nobel Peace Prize laureate of the left to debate any one of three internationally recognized authorities who dispute his claims, and it’s willing to front all costs – at Oxford University, no less, and in a format of Gore’s own choosing.

After all, Gore’s new book extols the importance of science and reason in the public policy debate, so what better way to deliver the coup de grace to the “skeptics” than to expose their fallacies in front of an international audience?

And yet, Al Gore, who has given his speech “a thousand times,” won’t give it just once more in a forum where it might be questioned by a knowledgeable authority.

We’re told that the debate is over and that all scientists agree. Call this the Emperor’s New Clothes argument. But it’s simply not the case.

The ISI Web of Science is one of the most comprehensive collections of peer-reviewed scientific papers in the world. A recent survey of all papers on the subject of climate change that were published between 2004 and February of 2007 found that only SEVEN percent explicitly endorsed the position that man-made carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming. SIX PERCENT explicitly rejected it and a majority of the remaining papers were neutral.

In fact, another directory of peer-reviewed scientific papers explicitly refuting the theory of human-induced catastrophic global warming lists over 500 leading climate scientists. The survey itself was conducted by a team that included Fred Singer, author of “Unstoppable Global Warming – EVERY 1,500 YEARS”, whose qualifications include being the founding director of the National Weather Satellite Service.

I believe it was Ogden Nash who wrote:

“The ass was born in March “The rains came in November “Such a flood as this, he said, “I scarcely can remember.”

But now I would like to address myself to a grim subject: the actual threat that global warming poses to our planet – and most specifically to California. And that threat is very real and it is devastating.

I speak specifically of the radical policies that the global warm-mongers are now enacting.

Last year, in the name of saving the planet from global warming, California adopted the most radically restrictive legislation anywhere in the nation, including AB 32, which requires a 25 percent reduction in man-made carbon dioxide emissions within 13 years.

To put this in perspective, we could junk every car in the state of California RIGHT NOW – and not meet this mandate.

Californians just approved $40 billion of bonds that California’s political leaders promised would be used for highways, dams, aqueducts and other capital improvements. They are desperately needed.

But at the same time, those same political leaders have imposed a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now here’s the problem. Building highways, dams and aqueducts requires tremendous amounts of concrete, the principle ingredient of which is cement.

How is cement produced? It is produced by taking limestone and super-heating it into a molten state – it comes out the other side as a compound called clinker. Clinker is about 2/3 the weight of the original limestone. The missing 1/3 of that weight is carbon dioxide. And when you include the emissions required to superheat the limestone, it turns out that for every ton of cement, a TON of carbon dioxide is released. It’s the third biggest source of carbon dioxide in all human enterprise.

But now we have a law that specifically forbids us from doing so. That was the essence of the Jerry Brown lawsuits against new highway projects that were part of the summer budget impasse.

Citing AB 32, Brown argued that unless the counties could show how they would build highways without using earthmoving equipment or concrete – and that once built, that people would not drive automobiles on them – the only legal use of the funds would be to promote mass transit, transit villages – and I’m not making this up – pedestrian trails and bicycle paths.

So much for construction.

Title: Bad Bets & Bad Checks Coming Due in CA, Part II
Post by: buzwardo on October 20, 2007, 06:38:58 PM
Agriculture is in big trouble, too.

You can start with nitrogen fertilizer, which is a critical component of all agricultural activity. Unfortunately, it produces large amounts of nitrous oxide, another so-called greenhouse gas that must be radically curtailed in California.

The wine industry is also in for a shock. Fermentation of wine occurs when a molecule of glucose in the grapes is converted into EQUAL PARTS of alcohol and Carbon Dioxide.

But the biggest agricultural impact is the administration’s mandate for heavily subsidized use of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is produced in exactly the same way as the alcohol in wine: the glucose in corn is converted into equal parts of ethyl alcohol and CARBON DIXOIDE.

Following AB 32, the governor’s appointees on the California Air Resources Board imposed a requirement that ALL gasoline sold in California within THREE YEARS, must be comprised of at least TEN PERCENT ethanol, doubling the current mandate.

Now think about this: an acre of corn produces about 350 gallons of ethanol. There are 15 billion gallons of gasoline used in California each year. In order to meet the ten percent requirement in three years, it means converting 4.3 million acres of farmland to ethanol production. Now that’s a lot of farmland, considering that we have a total of 11 million acres producing any kind of crops.

Current ethanol mandates are already producing serious shortages in other parts of the world, as farmland that had been producing food shifts to ethanol to chase hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies coming out of your pocket. There were riots in Mexico earlier this year in response to spiraling tortilla prices.

And we’re seeing this across the board – including commodities like milk and beef that are responding to increased prices for corn feed. And as you see your grocery prices rise as a result of this policy, just be glad you’re not in the Third World. Food is a relatively small portion of the family incomes in affluent nations, but they consume more than half of family earnings in third world countries.

So when the global warming alarmists predict worldwide starvation, they’re right. They’re creating it.

While we’re on the general subject, you may have noted that Interstate Bakeries announced last month that they are completely withdrawing from the Southern California market – they are shutting down four bakeries, 17 distribution centers and 19 outlet stores – and throwing 1,300 employees out of work. They’re the makers of Wonder Bread, Roman Meal Bread, Home Pride and Baker’s Inn.

If you’re a fan of those breads, you’d better stock up now – they’ll be gone by the end of October.

They cited the high cost of doing business in California, but I believe had they stayed they would have faced an even thornier problem: bread is only bread because of the carbon dioxide produced by yeast. It’s the same chemical process we’ve been talking about, although in this case, the central ingredient IS the carbon dioxide. That pleasant smell of baking bread is the ethyl alcohol oxidizing as those gases are vented during baking.

Electricity prices are also taking a heavy hit. California already suffers the highest electricity prices in the continental United States, but that situation is about to worsen.

A companion measure to AB 32 was SB 1368 that prohibits the importation of electricity produced by coal – even state-of-the-art plants thousands of miles from California that meet all EPA requirements.

Truckee became the first victim of this law. Truckee was about to sign a 50-year contract for electricity produced by a new coal fired plant in Utah. They were forced to back off because of AB 1368. They just announced the new contracts to replace that lost power. Instead of paying $35 per megawatt hour, Truckee electricity consumers will now be paying $65 per megawatt hour.

It gets worse. Last month, the chairwoman of the Air Resources Board – which was given virtually unlimited power by AB 32 – announced that they will TRIPLE the number of AB 32 regulations this year.

The radical laws now in place in California are having a dramatic impact on energy production, agriculture, manufacturing, wine-making and construction, just to name a few sectors of our economy.

We are already seeing the economic impact in California.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is stable at 4.6 percent. Until last year, Californian’s unemployment rate tracked with the national figures, but since January – while the national rate has remained stable at about 4.6 percent, California’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed from 4.8 percent to 5.5 percent.

I was struck by the Governor’s speech to the United Nations last week. He said:

“Last year in California, we enacted groundbreaking greenhouse gas emission standards. “We enacted the world’s first low carbon fuel standard. “Do I believe California’s standards will solve global warming? No. “What we’re doing is changing the dynamic, preparing the way and encouraging the future...”

So even the individual most responsible for this economically catastrophic public policy ADMITS that it’s not going to solve global warming. He just wants to set an example.

I believe he is going to set an example, all right.

Responding to the enormous new burdens imposed on our economy, our state’s revenues have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. On June 30th, we closed the books on the biggest deficit in California’s history – more than $6 ½ billion.

We just got the first quarter revenue numbers for this new fiscal year. State revenues needed to grow TWICE as fast this year as they did last year to avert an even bigger deficit.

In the first quarter, though, our revenues are actually shrinking. Last year at this time, we had $1 ½ billion in the bank – we now have a bank overdraft of $7 ½ billion that’s being covered entirely by internal borrowing.

That’s a NINE BILLION DOLLAR DIFFERENCE. And that’s the measure of our actual year-over-year deficit spending.

Combined with the growing budget deficit projection for next year, we could be facing a two-year gap of $20 billion by May – and we don’t have the money to cover it.

There is one other thing that strikes me on this issue, and that is how puny is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by human enterprise, compared to simple, natural processes.

The AB 32 mandate is to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 170 million metric tons per year. That’s what all this tremendous economic dislocation is about.

Now let me mention one other man-made source of carbon dioxide that they don’t count.

Every one of us in this room will produce about 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide today – by breathing. That’s over 800 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. If anyone brought a pocket calculator, pull it out and stay with me here.

There are 6.6 billion of us on this planet. That comes to 5.3 trillion pounds or 2.4 BILLION metric tons of carbon dioxide – simply through the process of human respiration. And that’s before you count up all the cats and rats and elephants.

So all of this economic dislocation is over a tiny fraction of natural carbon dioxide emissions.

The only good news I can offer is that perhaps we’re all wrong. Perhaps the unprecedented burden now imposed upon our commerce will produce a wave of new investment and innovation and environmental purity as the Governor has so loudly promised. Perhaps the unprecedented levels of deficit spending will send our economy into paroxysms of prosperity. Perhaps.

But there’s another possibility. There’s a possibility that we’re right, and that the inevitable economic realities of these outrageous regulations are already beginning to destroy California’s once-vibrant economy in a dark and miserable example of human folly.

And we must be prepared for that possibility. In normal times, citizens don’t pay a lot of attention to public policy, and that’s why democracies occasionally drift off course. But when a crisis approaches, that’s when you see democracy engage. One by one, citizens sense the approach of a common danger and they rise to the occasion. They focus – they look beyond the symbols and rhetoric – and they begin to make very good decisions. Political majorities can shift very quickly in such times. Polls can reverse themselves almost overnight in such times. And I believe that day is now rapidly approaching.

People ask me all the time: “What can I do?” And the only answer I can offer is the answer the great abolition leader Frederick Douglass offered to a young protégé. He said, “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate.”

We have greater tools with which to communicate with our fellow citizens than ever before. The Internet and talk radio have given us powerful new ways to organize and reach people. And we have something else that’s even more important: truth and common sense.

We have based our entire form of government on the assumption that when democracies engage, they make very good decisions. The radical policies now imposed on California are already beginning to impact the economy, and will have an increasingly negative effect as they proliferate in coming days. As the impact of these policies is felt, people will begin paying close attention to policy making and the policy makers responsible, and then they’ll begin exercising something that the majority of California’s public officials have so completely lacked: simple common sense.

And at that moment, we will see a new political awakening and a new political realignment in California, and before you know it, we’ll be living once again in Reagan Country.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 23, 2007, 08:59:56 AM
Another in a similar vein, this from the WSJ

Global Warming Delusions
The popular imagination has been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Global warming doesn't matter except to the extent that it will affect life--ours and that of all living things on Earth. And contrary to the latest news, the evidence that global warming will have serious effects on life is thin. Most evidence suggests the contrary.

Case in point: This year's United Nations report on climate change and other documents say that 20% to 30% of plant and animal species will be threatened with extinction in this century due to global warming--a truly terrifying thought. Yet, during the past 2.5 million years, a period that scientists now know experienced climatic changes as rapid and as warm as modern climatological models suggest will happen to us, almost none of the millions of species on Earth went extinct. The exceptions were about 20 species of large mammals (the famous megafauna of the last ice age--saber-tooth tigers, hairy mammoths and the like), which went extinct about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and many dominant trees and shrubs of northwestern Europe. But elsewhere, including North America, few plant species went extinct, and few mammals.

We're also warned that tropical diseases are going to spread, and that we can expect malaria and encephalitis epidemics. But scientific papers by Prof. Sarah Randolph of Oxford University show that temperature changes do not correlate well with changes in the distribution or frequency of these diseases; warming has not broadened their distribution and is highly unlikely to do so in the future, global warming or not.

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food--an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life--I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.
I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

The climate modelers who developed the computer programs that are being used to forecast climate change used to readily admit that the models were crude and not very realistic, but were the best that could be done with available computers and programming methods. They said our options were to either believe those crude models or believe the opinions of experienced, data-focused scientists. Having done a great deal of computer modeling myself, I appreciated their acknowledgment of the limits of their methods. But I hear no such statements today. Oddly, the forecasts of computer models have become our new reality, while facts such as the few extinctions of the past 2.5 million years are pushed aside, as if they were not our reality.

A recent article in the well-respected journal American Scientist explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming. Simply from an intellectual point of view it was fascinating--especially the author's Sherlock Holmes approach to figuring out what was causing the glacier to melt. That it couldn't be global warming directly (i.e., the result of air around the glacier warming) was made clear by the fact that the air temperature at the altitude of the glacier is below freezing. This means that only direct radiant heat from sunlight could be warming and melting the glacier. The author also studied the shape of the glacier and deduced that its melting pattern was consistent with radiant heat but not air temperature. Although acknowledged by many scientists, the paper is scorned by the true believers in global warming.

We are told that the melting of the arctic ice will be a disaster. But during the famous medieval warming period--A.D. 750 to 1230 or so--the Vikings found the warmer northern climate to their advantage. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie addressed this in his book "Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate Since the Year 1000," perhaps the greatest book about climate change before the onset of modern concerns with global warming. He wrote that Erik the Red "took advantage of a sea relatively free of ice to sail due west from Iceland to reach Greenland. . . . Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the climatic and demographic fortunes of the northern settlers, a bishopric of Greenland was founded at Gardar in 1126."

Ladurie pointed out that "it is reasonable to think of the Vikings as unconsciously taking advantage of this [referring to the warming of the Middle Ages] to colonize the most northern and inclement of their conquests, Iceland and Greenland." Good thing that Erik the Red didn't have Al Gore or his climatologists as his advisers.

Should we therefore dismiss global warming? Of course not. But we should make a realistic assessment, as rationally as possible, about its cultural, economic and environmental effects. As Erik the Red might have told you, not everything due to a climatic warming is bad, nor is everything that is bad due to a climatic warming.
We should approach the problem the way we decide whether to buy insurance and take precautions against other catastrophes--wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes. And as I have written elsewhere, many of the actions we would take to reduce greenhouse-gas production and mitigate global-warming effects are beneficial anyway, most particularly a movement away from fossil fuels to alternative solar and wind energy.

My concern is that we may be moving away from an irrational lack of concern about climate change to an equally irrational panic about it.

Many of my colleagues ask, "What's the problem? Hasn't it been a good thing to raise public concern?" The problem is that in this panic we are going to spend our money unwisely, we will take actions that are counterproductive, and we will fail to do many of those things that will benefit the environment and ourselves.

For example, right now the clearest threat to many species is habitat destruction. Take the orangutans, for instance, one of those charismatic species that people are often fascinated by and concerned about. They are endangered because of deforestation. In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.

At the heart of the matter is how much faith we decide to put in science--even how much faith scientists put in science. Our times have benefited from clear-thinking, science-based rationality. I hope this prevails as we try to deal with our changing climate.

Mr. Botkin, president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century" (Replica Books, 2001).
Title: Global Warming Test
Post by: buzwardo on October 28, 2007, 07:46:30 PM
I scored 100%. . . .
Title: Newt plugs his book
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 30, 2007, 09:08:11 AM

Do you remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when people began thinking differently about welfare?

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals actually woke up to the fact that the usual left-right screaming matches weren't doing any good. Lots of us came to understand that the welfare system we then had was actually harming many of the people it was supposed to be helping. The result of this new way of thinking was welfare reform.

Eleven years later, the effects of this change are nothing less than transformational. Welfare rolls have declined by more than 60 percent. And a million and a half fewer children are living in poverty.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about the environment.

This week marks the launch of my new book, A Contract with the Earth.

I wrote it with my friend Terry Maple, who was once the head of Zoo Atlanta and is now president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If I had to boil down the message of A Contract with the Earth to just a couple sentences, I would say it's this:

The left doesn't have the last word on how we protect our environment -- and neither do the folks who say we should sit back and do nothing.

The fact is, according to polling done by my grassroots organization, American Solutions, 95 percent of Americans believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God's creation for future generations. Eighty-two percent said they believe so "intensely."

Over the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation and pro-centralized-government advocates become the definers of environmentalism.

The left would have us believe that to be an environmentalist you have to believe in catastrophic threats, dramatic increases in government power and economically draconian solutions. Such a big-government bureaucracy, trial-lawyer-litigation and excessive-regulation "environmentalism" does a poor job of protecting the environment while it erodes individual freedom, destroys jobs and weakens our country.

The time has come to propose a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

The time has come for the development of a mainstream environmentalism as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation environmentalism. You could call it "green conservatism," but it's really the mainstream environmental approach that has worked so well in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt epitomized this approach when he said, "The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method."

A Better Way to Protect God's Creation

A Contract with the Earth, which is available in both book and audio form, describes a different -- and better -- way to protect God's creation.

Take this quick quiz:

Do you believe a healthy environment should be able to coexist with a healthy, growing economy?

Do you believe investments in science and technology will generate solutions to most of our environmental problems?

Do you believe incentives should be offered to encourage corporations to clean up the environment?

Do you believe corporate and private philanthropy is essential to the success of a global and environmental movement?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you're probably in the environmental mainstream. You may even be a green conservative.

I'll have a lot more to say about A Contract with the Earth and new ways of thinking about protecting our environment in the weeks and months ahead. For now, you can read more about green conservatism at
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 01, 2007, 08:33:18 AM
My Nobel Moment
November 1, 2007; Page A19

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story.

Large icebergs in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Winter sea ice around the continent set a record maximum last month.
Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming. This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on November 13, 2007, 09:30:35 PM
Cloudy Days on the Global Warming Front  (from

Advocates of anthropogenic global warming want you to believe that the science is settled and there is nothing left to debate. But this is the opposite of the truth; in fact, climate science is in its infancy and virtually every proposition relating to it is controversial.

A case in point: the computer programs that tell us that human activity will lead to catastrophic warming assume that warmer temperatures will give rise to more high-altitude clouds, which in turn will trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and create a positive feedback loop. Recent research suggests, however, that increasing temperatures will have the opposite effect, reducing the incidence of high-altitude clouds and thereby creating a safety valve rather than reinforcing the original warming. The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters by Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell, John R. Christy and Justin Hnilo:

    The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

    "All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," he said. "That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."

    As the Earth's surface warms - due to either manmade greenhouse gases or natural fluctuations in the climate system - more water evaporates from the surface. Since more evaporation leads to more precipitation, most climate researchers expected increased cirrus cloudiness to follow warming.

    "To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer said. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."

    "The role of clouds in global warming is widely agreed to be pretty uncertain," Spencer said. "Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."

    The team analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites. The researchers tracked precipitation amounts, air and sea surface temperatures, high and low altitude cloud cover, reflected sunlight, and infrared energy escaping out to space.

    When they tracked the daily evolution of a composite of fifteen of the strongest intraseasonal oscillations they found that although rainfall and air temperatures would be rising, the amount of infrared energy being trapped by the cloudy areas would start to decrease rapidly as the air warmed. This unexpected behavior was traced to the decrease in cirrus cloud cover.

    "Global warming theory says warming will generally be accompanied by more rainfall," Spencer said. "Everyone just assumed that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That would be your first guess and, since we didn't have any data to suggest otherwise ..."

    There are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of precipitation systems and their interactions with the climate, he said. "At least 80 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds, and those are largely under the control of precipitation systems.

    "Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don't believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can't predict future climate change with any degree of certainty."

That's a remarkable quote: "Everyone just assumed" that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That is the level of scientific certainty on which claims of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming rest.
Title: Is global warming a cult?
Post by: ccp on December 25, 2007, 08:15:22 AM
From Cal Thomas:
Title: NY Times: Rain Forest for sale
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 24, 2008, 06:45:25 AM
40 Million Acres of Rain Forest for the Greenest Bidder

Published: May 24, 2008
The other day I went to a meeting to hear Harrison Ford talk about saving the rain forests and ended up listening to a man who has a rain forest to save: Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The occasion was the announcement of a new campaign to protect the world’s rain forests, Guyana’s included, organized by the environmental group Conservation International. (Mr. Ford, a board member, was in New York to promote his new movie and somehow got his schedule wrong.)

That left the spotlight where it belonged: on Mr. Jagdeo and his mission to get the world’s rich nations to help save Guyana’s huge rain forest from chainsaws and prevent the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Mr. Jagdeo caused a stir last year when he offered to cede the management of his country’s entire rain forest — 40-plus million acres, covering 80 percent of Guyana’s land mass — to a British government agency in return for British economic assistance. Though the British have yet to take him up on the deal, Mr. Jagdeo continues to press the case for protecting not only his rain forest, but all of them.

It is a noble and necessary mission. The rain forests form a cooling band around Earth’s equator. And their accelerating loss — from logging, farming, mining and burning — is a major cause of climate change, accounting for one-fifth of all carbon-dioxide emissions. That is more than the amount the United States puts into the atmosphere from all sources and more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Rain forests serve many important purposes. They provide clean water, protection against floods and the basis for many medicines. Yet their most useful function in a warming world is to absorb carbon and store it.

For too long these facts have been undervalued in discussions of climate change. At the Kyoto talks in 1997, for instance, various nations proposed that industrialized countries be allowed to offset some of their own emissions by paying poorer countries not to cut down their forests. European environmental groups fiercely resisted the idea, warning that this would let rich countries off the hook, and engineered the proposal’s defeat.

That was a colossal blunder for which the planet has been paying ever since. Rain forests continue to disappear at a rate of 20 million to 30 million acres every year.

Mr. Jagdeo is the perfect champion for the rain forests. Guyana, together with Suriname, French Guiana and sections of Venezuela and northern Brazil form the Guayana Shield, an ancient geologic formation that contains 14 percent of the world’s carbon. The hope is that his example will inspire bigger countries like Brazil to take a far more aggressive role in protecting their forests from commercial development.

He also speaks with authority about the impact of global warming on poorer countries. He noted the other day that while climate change might require wealthy Americans to drive fewer S.U.V.’s, it is a matter of life and death for poor countries that face floods and drought. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is right at sea level. If the seas rise substantially, Georgetown goes.

Finally, as an economist by training, Mr. Jagdeo is a persuasive advocate for new ways of looking at the economic value of forests. Right now, he suggests, too many countries put no dollar value at all on their standing forests. So any payment they get from harvesting trees is seen as a clear profit. If forests are correctly valued — for the carbon they sequester and the damage they spare the planet — then there is far more to gain from leaving them in tact.

The good news is that the world is finally starting to see things Mr. Jagdeo’s way. Negotiators at last year’s climate change conference in Bali — the first of several meetings aimed at crafting a post-Kyoto treaty — agreed to address deforestation. The big climate bill that is expected to be debated on the Senate floor very soon provides incentives for American companies to invest in rain-forest projects abroad. Mr. Jagdeo may yet wind up with a buyer.
Title: Reappraisal
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on August 23, 2008, 05:16:15 AM
No smoking hot spot

David Evans | July 18, 2008

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. If we had found the greenhouse signature then I would be an alarmist again.

When the signature was found to be missing in 2007 (after the latest IPCC report), alarmists objected that maybe the readings of the radiosonde thermometers might not be accurate and maybe the hot spot was there but had gone undetected. Yet hundreds of radiosondes have given the same answer, so statistically it is not possible that they missed the hot spot.

Recently the alarmists have suggested we ignore the radiosonde thermometers, but instead take the radiosonde wind measurements, apply a theory about wind shear, and run the results through their computers to estimate the temperatures. They then say that the results show that we cannot rule out the presence of a hot spot. If you believe that you'd believe anything.

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.

None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.

The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion.

Until now the global warming debate has merely been an academic matter of little interest. Now that it matters, we should debate the causes of global warming.

So far that debate has just consisted of a simple sleight of hand: show evidence of global warming, and while the audience is stunned at the implications, simply assert that it is due to carbon emissions.

In the minds of the audience, the evidence that global warming has occurred becomes conflated with the alleged cause, and the audience hasn't noticed that the cause was merely asserted, not proved.

If there really was any evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming, don't you think we would have heard all about it ad nauseam by now?

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before wrecking the economy.

Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.,,24036736-17803,00.html
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 24, 2008, 05:05:00 AM
Given the author's credentials, a particularly potent find BBG.

I suspect that part of the reason that so many people who should know better, indeed, DO know better, let the shoddy thinking go unchallenged is that they are concerned that man is overwhelming his environment and will use anything, honest or not, to get man to change his ways.
Title: The Skeptical Environmentalist, 1
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on October 03, 2008, 04:04:15 PM
The Rational Environmentalist

Bjorn Lomborg on the priorities that should come before global warming

Ronald Bailey | October 2008 Print Edition

Where in the world can we do the most good? That is the basic question addressed by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank founded six years ago by the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg. To answer the question, the center periodically convenes panels of leading economists, who weigh and prioritize the solutions experts have proposed to the world's biggest problems.

Lomborg, a boyish 43-year-old, first burst onto the intellectual scene in 2001 with his best-selling book The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. There the former Greenpeace member argued persuasively that most of the planetary doom scenarios imagined by ideological environmentalists were contradicted by the available ecological and economic data. The book provoked a furious green backlash, the low point of which was a 2003 ruling by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty that "the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty." Lomborg was vindicated later that year when the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation overturned the ruling, calling it "completely void of argumentation."

Lomborg's international reputation had already taken off by then, the odd activist cream pie to the face notwithstanding. In 2001 the World Economic Forum nominated him as one of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow; in 2004 Time named him one of the world's 100 most influential people; in 2005 Foreign Policy ranked him as the world's 14th most influential intellectual; and this year The Guardian dubbed him one of "50 people who could save the planet."

Saving the planet became a specific job description six years ago, when Lomborg was appointed director of the Danish National Environmental Assessment Institute, a group whose explicit aim is to "get the most environment for the money." In 2004, under Lomborg's guidance, the institute convened the first Copenhagen Consensus conference, in which eight leading economists, including four Nobel laureates, were asked to allocate a theoretical $50 billion to solve the world's biggest problems. The panel was presented with 30 proposals from other researchers for ranking and evaluation. The top four priorities left standing at the end of the conference were: controlling HIV/AIDS, providing micronutrients to children, liberalizing trade, and rolling back malaria. Addressing climate change ranked near the bottom. This infuriated many environmentalists, but overall the meeting garnered favorable attention around the world.

In 2007, following with the Copenhagen Consensus theme of sensible policy prioritization, Lomborg published Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, in which he acknowledged that man-made global warming is a problem but challenged the notion that it is the biggest threat to human well-being. Instead of draconian and poverty-inducing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Lomborg argued, rich countries could more effectively tackle the problem through massive research and development into low-carbon energy technologies.

In May 2008, Lomborg convened the second Copenhagen Consensus Center conference. This time eight leading economists, including five Nobelists, considered how to allocate a theoretical $75 billion during the next four years to solve 10 of the world's largest problems. Would it be better, for example, to provide efficient stoves to poor people who are exposed to indoor cooking smoke, or supply middle-aged people in developing countries with cheap pills combining aspirin and cholesterol-reducing statins to prevent heart attacks? The panel's top four solutions: providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to poor children, liberalizing trade, fortifying salt and staple foods with the micronutrients iodine and iron, and expanding childhood immunization. Cutting greenhouse gases came in at the bottom, although another approach to global warming—R&D spending on low-carbon energy technologies—was a mid-list priority.

Ronald Bailey, reason's science correspondent, interviewed Lomborg in a gilt-edged room at the Moltkes Palace in Copenhagen during a lunch break at the 2008 Copenhagen Consensus Conference.

reason: How did you come up with the idea of the Copenhagen Consensus?

Bjorn Lomborg: It really started with my discussion of global warming. The advantages of doing the Kyoto Protocol are fairly small, but the cost of doing Kyoto for just one year is about what it would cost to give clean drinking water and sanitation to everyone.

We did some searches. I was sure somebody had done global priority setting before. We do it implicitly by the way we spend money, but apparently nobody's ever thought about it formally.

reason: What's been the reaction to the Copenhagen Consensus process around the world?

Lomborg: Most people who have no sort of preconceived notions about one thing or another think it's eminently sensible. They're a bit like, "You're telling me people didn't do this before?" But as soon as you get people participating in the public debate about this and that issue, it's incredibly hard for them to disassociate themselves from where their problem and especially their solution came on the list. I think most of the arguments against the Copenhagen Consensus boil down to "my area should also have been high on the priorities list," or "we should do all things" and implicitly therefore also my area.

I gave a presentation to Congress last year, and a congressman-I'll not mention his name or his affiliation-told me, "Bjorn, I understand why you're focusing on prioritization, because Denmark is a small country and you can't do all things." But honestly, even though America is vastly larger and you have done incredible amounts of good, you are also constrained by a bunch of restrictions. You have not fixed all the problems in the world in the last 50 years, and it seems reasonable to assume that you won't in the next 10 years. So for all societies, we have to ask ourselves, "What do we want to spend our money on?" If we spend it on something that does only a little good, it could be to the detriment of things that could've done even more good.

reason: Have the experts put things low on the list that you would've liked to see ranked higher?

Lomborg: These are some of the smartest people on the planet. I think of myself more as an intellectual entrepreneur bringing them all together and making sure they hear all the good arguments for and against and then make their informed decisions. I can conceivably imagine that I would end up disagreeing with them at some point, but these are really smart people and I'll probably defer to their judgment.

About half the proposals are kind of obvious. Yes, it's good to do malaria. Yes, it's good to do HIV/AIDS. But I think most of them are impressive because we don't usually think of them. One of the great examples from this session is heart medicine for the Third World. When we think about the Third World, we think about malnourished black children with incredibly distended bellies who we see with flies all over them. We think about malaria and AIDS, those kinds of problems. Those are important, but the death toll from malaria, TB, and HIV, even in the most stricken countries, is still less than the death toll from heart disease. And we have very cheap aspirins, statins, for dealing with heart disease that work very well. Spending $200 million a year could probably save about 300,000 people dying each year in the developing world, causing a benefit of $25 for every dollar spent.

Now, that's not a sexy proposal. It's not one that you usually hear, but isn't it something we ought to hear? The Copenhagen Consensus is not just about what's fashionable. It's not just about what looks good on TV. It's also about making sure we reveal lots of hidden, reclusive, not very publicized issues that we should also be listening to. Perhaps it's about being a little more rational.

One more thing that actually surprised me this time was air pollution. One environmental problem in the Third World that I've been harping on for some time is indoor air pollution. More than a million people die-maybe two and a half million each year. If we improve stoves, it will do some good; it'll probably get $3 back from the dollar. That's respectable, but it's a lot less than what I thought.

The essential thing is that this is a process that doesn't just make it easier for you to confirm your preconceived notions, but it gives you an opportunity to see what some of the best experts on all these issues come up with.

reason: Are there any things you've changed your mind about since you wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist?

Lomborg: I think the main point of that book was to challenge our notion that everything is going down the drain, and I don't see any reason to revise that. We are in general moving in the right direction, and it's important to say mankind solves a lot of problems. We also create new problems in the process of solving old problems, but typically they're smaller than the old ones we fix, which is why we move ahead on virtually all material indicators. My second point with the book was to say this means we need to start prioritizing; we need to be smart about the kinds of problems that we worry about.

People in the U.S. will worry about pesticides, which kill probably about 20 people a year, but care very little about particulate air pollution, which kills 110,000 people in the U.S. every year. We could probably do something dramatic about particulates at a much lower cost than the pesticides. It's much more about getting those orders of magnitude right, and that's, of course, what the Copenhagen Consensus is about.

I did, just like pretty much everyone else, predict that raw materials would go down in price pretty much indefinitely. They're clearly not right now. I think our long-run expectation is still that they will go down. But it was much easier to make that argument in the '90s than it is in the 2000s. So clearly we all become more knowledgeable, but I think the main point of the book was to say, in general, things are moving in the right direction. That message obviously still stands.

reason: You experienced some heartburn about that book when you were formally accused of scientific dishonesty. How did you react to that charge?

Lomborg: At first I was a little stunned, but I also thought it was going to be a fair process. I thought, yeah, it's a little ridiculous, but we'll take that to the committee and show that they are wrong. The lead guy who brought this in front of the committee explicitly said in his first paragraph of his first letter to the committee that he did this for political reasons. So there was never any doubt of what the motive was. I imagined that this was going to be somewhat of a walk in the park: He would come up with arguments, and I would counter them. The committee would go through all this in a fair and impartial way and find that you could have reasoned differences of opinion, but clearly this was nothing to do with scientific dishonesty. I certainly made very clear where I got my references from and what I based my arguments on.

Instead, the committee came out with what can only be described as an incredibly poorly argued, very obviously tainted point. The committee essentially summarized a critique that was commissioned by Scientific American, by four people, three of whom I criticized in my book. Not surprisingly, they were not particularly favorable towards my book. The committee summarized my answer to those critiques in one and a half lines of the document, about 10 words, and then went on to talk about how unreasonable it was that I was unwilling to accept all of their charges. To them that only underscored the point that I was probably being scientifically dishonest because I was unable to admit to my errors.

Unfortunately, I could only appeal the legality of the decision. I did so to the ministry, and they took a year for their lawyers to go through it. Fortunately, one of the main points of the Danish administrative law is that a decision has to be well argued. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable requirement, but that was the main thing that the ministry struck it down on. They said that the committee actually had no argument whatsoever for making their judgment, and that was why the original decision was annulled.

I'm still surprised by the number of people who will reference the first part, that I was condemned for scientific dishonesty, and ignore the fact that it was later overturned on the fact that there was absolutely no evidence. If anything, it seems to indicate that there was a strong wish without any good arguments to indict me.

reason: When I interviewed you before The Skeptical Environmentalist came out, you were describing yourself as a man of the left.

Lomborg: I still am.

Title: The Skeptical Environmentalist, 2
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on October 03, 2008, 04:04:43 PM
reason: What does that mean?

Lomborg: Well, it means that I'll vote to the center-left, which probably in the U.S. would be extreme left. I support a strong welfare state. I support a strong redistribution from taxes. I think it's important that we have a somewhat egalitarian society.

I'm trying to recapture much of what the left stood for-when we believed in progress, when we believed that scientific understanding could lead us ahead and not just rely on tradition. I think that's the original sort of background for the left. Unfortunately, I find that a fair amount of the left has turned towards a romanticized view of the world.

reason: All of the economic evidence that is being presented here at the Copenhagen Consensus Conference suggests that trade liberalization, a policy that the left does not like, is a very good idea.

Lomborg: Yeah, that's certainly not a universally shared left-wing viewpoint. In the U.S. election, Barack Obama is less interested in free trade, or at least more vocally against it, than John McCain. In this case, it seems that the evidence is just simply against them.

A lot of left-wing parties, many social democratic parties or labor parties around Europe, would support free trade. They will have some caveats, and I understand why, though I think not all of those caveats are good. But the main point here is to say if you want to do a lot of good, you should realize that if the Doha Development Round trade negotiations were successfully concluded, you could probably imagine making the world about $3 trillion per year richer-about three times the size of the economy of India every year. And five-sixths of that $3 trillion would go to the developing world. Wouldn't that be worth following up on?

reason: You're strongly against proposals to cut greenhouse gases with carbon taxes or by capping carbon dioxide emissions and letting companies trade emissions permits, yes?

Lomborg: No. A $2 per ton carbon tax is probably a reasonable thing to do. Cap and trade that would be the equivalent of that would be virtually as good. I would say I'm against cap and trade, as I'm against carbon taxes, when they're excessive. But that's a little bit like saying I'm against speed limits. I'm against a speed limit of five miles an hour, but I'm not against a speed limit, for instance, of 100 miles an hour and possibly even lower. It's about finding the right speed limit.

reason: In Cool It, your main proposal to address climate change seems to be to spend $25 billion a year to develop new low-carbon energy sources. Recent economic research seems to show that government funding of research and development for this kind of applied research has not been very successful. For example, in the 1970s the U.S. government planned to spend $40 billion on developing synthetic fuels. Instead, we created the world's largest public works project, the Synfuels facility up in North Dakota. It was going to turn coal into natural gas and liquid fuels. The price of energy dropped, and the plant was sold eventually to a local utility for three cents on the dollar.

Every U.S. president since 1970 except Reagan has come up with a new car initiative of some sort, to give money to the Department of Energy to spend on research to create more fuel-efficient and alternatively fueled cars. There have been no real results after literally billions of dollars spent.

Lomborg: One important point I make is that if you're going to get technologies that are going to work 20 or 50 years from now, you can't expect private companies to do it. It's very hard to recoup most of the investment, because what you're going to be inventing is ideas that will later be used by others that'll then invent ideas that eventually will lead to something you can patent and actually recoup money from.

Most estimates show that you can only recoup about one-third of what is invested in basic science R&D. That is the standard argument for why you want public research and development. It's a little bit like in the medical sector where you have blue sky research; you have people figuring out what different things you can sell and then later on you have companies take that to market. It's incredibly important that governments do not go in and say, "We believe that you can have synfuels." I'm not even sure what synfuels is.

reason: Turning coal into natural gas or oil.

Lomborg: That's probably a very, very bad idea for so many different reasons, but primarily because, why on Earth would governments be good at making that sort of call? What governments should do is not focus on the production side but focus on getting lots and lots of people doing research.

The way I envision it is that you should have a lot of X Prizes: low-cost prizes that spur individual researchers to come up with slightly better technologies in a lot of different areas-for instance, solar cells. How can you improve this a little bit? How can you, for instance, make it water-tight? How you can make it wrap around so that it's more flexible? The Gates Foundation, I think, did a good job in actually asking researchers to sit down and say what are the 46 things we'd like to see proffers on, and then have people spend money on researchers, not on actual production but researchers to do these kinds of things. Ninety percent of these are going to be dead ends, but that doesn't matter, because they're very cheap and what matters is that we get the last 10 percent.

reason: Let me push you a little further on that. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development did a report in 2003 where economists looked at differential returns to research and development, specifically defense, private, and then public-sector research and development. To their surprise, they could not find that public-sector or defense R&D expenditures had any effect whatsoever on economic growth. In fact, government R&D spending seemed to produce a crowding-out phenomenon and may actually have slowed economic growth.

Lomborg: Your argument could be, well, if we know we almost always do it wrong, why do it time and again? I would say that depends a little bit on the way you think that it's possible to frame the debate. If no matter what you do you end up down the same track, yeah, maybe we shouldn't do it. But I was at the Copenhagen Consensus presentation by [McGill University economist] Christopher Green, who is saying that a big low-carbon energy R&D push is the only thing that will even enable us to be able to fix climate change in the medium and long term.

It takes some effort to get the politicians to understand that $25 billion of research and development doesn't mean that we should build one big factory to do something you like in a district where you need some votes. Instead it means getting a lot of researchers to do R&D.

We have good theoretical arguments why this might work. It might also be that it doesn't work. We'll have to see where the experts rank it.

reason: I listened to Green's presentation, and I read his perspective paper. To me he basically made a plea to economists to start thinking about how one can create ways to direct research without political interference. He was saying we don't know how to do that yet.

Lomborg: I would tend to disagree a little bit because we've done this for 50 years in the medical sector. We have lots and lots of people doing medical research, and I don't know whether there's good evidence whether that's paid off, but it seems to me that we've had quite a number of breakthroughs that came from public money that we wouldn't have had otherwise. These breakthroughs later on led to more or less obvious investments from private companies to make useful products. We would want something on a similar scale for low-carbon energy research.

It's very important to get people to realize that if we're going to fix climate change, we need to invest in a lot of cheap researchers having smart ideas rather than big projects that make the politicians feel comfortable when they cut the ribbon and say, "See, now we've done something about global warming."

reason: Has the Copenhagen Consensus had an effect on public policy? I know the Danish prime minister mentioned that his government shifted development aid to AIDS medicines in developing countries.

Lomborg: I was told by some of the people at the [U.S.] National Security Council that one of the reasons why President Bush gave $1.2 billion to malaria was because of the Copenhagen Consensus result.

Of course, it's always going to be very hard to say what specific outcome was caused by this list. I would argue that the much stronger benefit of the Copenhagen Consensus is that it pushes policy makers and philanthropists way before anything is ever decided. When the first committee meets in the bowels of a big organization to talk about what should be our next big push, somebody's going to have more likelihood of saying, "Why are we talking about No. 17 instead of No. 3 on the list of Copenhagen Consensus priorities?"

reason: The Copenhagen Consensus process does not take into account institutional factors, as far as I can tell. Why is that? After all, most of the problems of the world are the result of flaws in institutions.

Lomborg: It's very clear that money is not the only thing that works or that changes things in the world.

reason: For example, the development economist William Easterly points out that the West has spent $2.3 trillion on development aid for the last 50 years with virtually nothing to show for it.

Lomborg: Yeah. I tend to disagree with the "virtually nothing" claim, but it's very clear that it has been nowhere near as spectacular as many people would have hoped.

The main point is that one thing shouldn't necessarily be the opponent of another thing. The Copenhagen Consensus is one idea. It's only one of many good ideas that are going to bring the world forward, but I think it's an important part of that discussion. Clearly, with regard to the money that we spend, we at least want to think about how we can spend well. This is also one of the reasons why, for instance, corruption is no longer on the Copenhagen Consensus list. Yes, it's incredibly important, but there are no good solutions that the West can come up with and make sure that they implement in the Third World.

I'm perfectly aware that you should also engage people in thinking about institutional change or the setup of the international system, but what we focus on is, given where we are right now, what can you do with a little extra money? What can you marginally do? It's not the only relevant question in the world, but I would argue it's not an unimportant one.

reason: What's the next project?

Lomborg: We have a lot of projects. I'm doing Copenhagen Consensus for individual countries: for Ghana, for Zambia, for Chile, possibly for Peru, possibly for Mali. And then we're thinking of doing something towards the next climate conference in 2009 in Copenhagen. Maybe we should just do a Copenhagen Consensus for climate, where we get some of the world's top climate economists together and say, "There's a bunch of different packages on the table, what do you think?" And perhaps have some of the negotiators play around with what works best, so that we spend our money well, or better.

We're also thinking of doing one for the world's total environment-air pollution, clean drinking water, all the other things. There is a tendency right now in which global warming has subsumed all other environmental issues. While global warming is definitely an important environmental issue, there's a problem if it takes all of the time to the exclusion of everything else.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 03, 2008, 07:47:58 PM
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive? Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.
Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man--all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves.
He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land.

But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.

If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people.

The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.

The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.

He leaves his father's graves behind, and he does not care.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father's grave, and his children's birthright, are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads.

His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways.

The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings.

But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.

The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand.

The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with the pinion pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath--the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.
The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.

Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.

And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

I've seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.

I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.

For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

We may be brothers after all.

We shall see.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover, our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white.

This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone.
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival."

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon? Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels? I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess. Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 03, 2008, 10:03:50 PM
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive?

**Is there anyone out there that is pro-smog, or likes mercury in fish?**

Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

**The  historical accuracy isn't questionable, it's an outright fraud. Also, George Washington died in 1799, so the letter, which was written by a Texas screenwriter in the early 1970's probably wasn't intended for him.  :wink:  Yes, Texas based screenwriters are well known for their spiritual depth and wisdom.**

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon?

**Last time I checked, we are free to complain about anything we wish to complain about, like smog and mercury in fish, as well as high gas prices.**

 Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels?

**The next time you buy gas, insist on paying double. I doubt the station owner will complain.**

I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess.

**They have to live with what prior generations have done before, both good and bad, just like every human generation has had to do since the start of our species.**

Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)

**Your sentiment is fine, but what are your tangible policy suggestions? Sure, smog is bad. Go a month without using/consuming anything that added to air pollution as a side effect. Let us know how that works out for you.**
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 03, 2008, 10:49:41 PM
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive?

**Is there anyone out there that is pro-smog, or likes mercury in fish?**

Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

**The  historical accuracy isn't questionable, it's an outright fraud. Also, George Washington died in 1799, so the letter, which was written by a Texas screenwriter in the early 1970's probably wasn't intended for him.  :wink:  Yes, Texas based screenwriters are well known for their spiritual depth and wisdom.**

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon?

**Last time I checked, we are free to complain about anything we wish to complain about, like smog and mercury in fish, as well as high gas prices.**

 Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels?

**The next time you buy gas, insist on paying double. I doubt the station owner will complain.**

I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess.

**They have to live with what prior generations have done before, both good and bad, just like every human generation has had to do since the start of our species.**

Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)

**Your sentiment is fine, but what are your tangible policy suggestions? Sure, smog is bad. Go a month without using/consuming anything that added to air pollution as a side effect. Let us know how that works out for you.**

Sometimes fiction is the best teacher I guess?

I don't buy gas, because I didn't buy a new car when my last car died. I saw this fuel crisis coming from a mile away.

Yes, you are correct. I have to live in the world my parents, and their parents created. And they have made a bloody mess of things ;)  I do my best to lead from the front and make changes in my life so I am not contributing to the problem. I have no debt, but this comes with its own price. I live a fairly simple and frugal ( I actually like to say "spartan" because it sounds tough and cooler! ) life. I don't buy stupid things like bottled water, because our local water is perfectly safe. I try and buy food from the local farmers when at all possible. There are a lot of little things people can do, but they are lazy, or don't care, or think it isn't their responsibility. Create less waste. It really isn't that hard. My point was entitlement. Are we "entitled" to cheap dirty fuel. I don't think we are. Not if we care about the people coming after us.

My sentiment is easy to back. Invest in renewable and clean energy sources. The conversion won't be a painless process, but it is immature to expect it to be. Big problems are not solved without sacrifices. There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but there will be some pain involved. Personally I think we need to start by raising the mpg standards. Cars are what people focus on when they talk about getting out of the fossil fuel game, but I think getting reliable renewable energy sources for our homes and businesses is a  much better investment to start with. Cars will follow along on their own.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 03, 2008, 11:17:25 PM

Sometimes fiction is the best teacher I guess?

**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

I don't buy gas, because I didn't buy a new car when my last car died. I saw this fuel crisis coming from a mile away.

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yes, you are correct. I have to live in the world my parents, and their parents created.

**As do we all.**

And they have made a bloody mess of things ;) 

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

I do my best to lead from the front and make changes in my life so I am not contributing to the problem.

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I have no debt, but this comes with its own price. I live a fairly simple and frugal ( I actually like to say "spartan" because it sounds tough and cooler! ) life. I don't buy stupid things like bottled water, because our local water is perfectly safe. I try and buy food from the local farmers when at all possible. There are a lot of little things people can do, but they are lazy, or don't care, or think it isn't their responsibility. Create less waste. It really isn't that hard. My point was entitlement. Are we "entitled" to cheap dirty fuel. I don't think we are. Not if we care about the people coming after us.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

My sentiment is easy to back. Invest in renewable and clean energy sources.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

The conversion won't be a painless process, but it is immature to expect it to be. Big problems are not solved without sacrifices. There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but there will be some pain involved.

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Personally I think we need to start by raising the mpg standards. Cars are what people focus on when they talk about getting out of the fossil fuel game, but I think getting reliable renewable energy sources for our homes and businesses is a  much better investment to start with. Cars will follow along on their own.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 04, 2008, 12:06:49 AM
**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

That is a cheap shot. I think you will recall me saying that global warming is not the issue we should be talking about. Play nice ;)

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yep, and it is not powered by gas. I am not making any claims that I don't use fossil fuels. If I had the option to somehow remove them completely I would do my best to do so... but that is hardly and option right now. For now I do what I can. For what it is worth my carbon footprint came up in the negative... I am not entirely sure about the inner workings of those calculations, so I don't put too much stock in them.

I have found mountain bikes to be quite enjoyable.

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

Well, I think about how things could be better instead of sitting on my backside being content with the way things are now.

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I never claimed otherwise. I do what I can which is more than a vast majority of other people. I don't even expect most people to go as far as I do. Little changes add up to big changes.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

I am not denying its use in making us what we are. I am saying we need to get away from dependence on it.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

I will however be in the market for an alternative fuel powered car when they become a reasonable option. This is really something the government needs to be involved with. It involves our infrastructure and the free market can't change that on its own. I know government interference pains us all, but if we let them tap our phones we can let them fund some R & D can't we? This is in the best interest of our nations security, and there is no denying that.

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Hey, we new Iraq would involve lots of pain and sacrifice, but here we are right? People are not adverse to these things if they think the cause is good. We have yet to have anyone make a realistic case for it. I am saying that it is because we are taking the wrong approach. Global warming (or climate change, or whatever the new catch phrase is) isn't it. Talk about things we can solve like smog, and dumping toxic chemicals and garbage into the ocean and people will get behind it. Talk about energy independence. We saw how effective this was in these last presidential debates. Talk about how oil is entangling us with unstable countries with dangerous governments. This stuff is starting to happen I think. Don't you?

And Al Gore can keep whatever he paid for... he can look like a jerk for owning it, but ultimately it is his I suppose.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**

Take your pick. There are lots to choose from. Hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, solar. They all have promise. It depends on where you are, and what is most efficient. I am not even opposed to nuclear. We had a bill in the works to put up a bunch of wind towers where I live... but rich people thought they were too ugly so it got shot down :( Then they went right back to whining about the costs of power... go figure... I just saw a thing on the discovery channel about a guy that beamed solar energy over 60 miles with microwaves. Tell me that isn't cool!
Title: Dichotomy Denial
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on October 04, 2008, 09:26:30 AM
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems.

I'm not much a fan of that dichotomy. To my mind there are those who are interested in peer reviewed, replicable science steeped in the traditions of free inquiry, and those who want to stampede to a monolithic conclusion and shove aside all who fail to embrace their singular pursuit. Think deniers v. believers is a relativistic straw man meant to imply that free inquiry and unquestioned belief are part of a continuum, either end of which is equally unpalatable. I'd argue that there is nothing wrong with free inquiry, and everything wrong with monolithic unarguable belief.

As GM points out, no one is arguing for mercury tainted waters or smog. What I like about the skeptical environmentalist's approach is that it's based on a benefit cost analysis approach that I think is most likely to succeed over the long term.
Title: Re: Dichotomy Denial
Post by: Jonobos on October 04, 2008, 10:24:24 AM
I'm not much a fan of that dichotomy. To my mind there are those who are interested in peer reviewed, replicable science steeped in the traditions of free inquiry, and those who want to stampede to a monolithic conclusion and shove aside all who fail to embrace their singular pursuit. Think deniers v. believers is a relativistic straw man meant to imply that free inquiry and unquestioned belief are part of a continuum, either end of which is equally unpalatable. I'd argue that there is nothing wrong with free inquiry, and everything wrong with monolithic unarguable belief.

On most things I would agree with you, but on this issue we can't even agree what the cause is. What we can do is address related issues which are things that everyone would be happy about right?

As GM points out, no one is arguing for mercury tainted waters or smog. What I like about the skeptical environmentalist's approach is that it's based on a benefit cost analysis approach that I think is most likely to succeed over the long term.

No one is arguing for them, but what are we doing about them? We are phrasing bills in the context of climate change (which is a debatable subject) instead of in terms of smog and mercury in the fish (which no one in there right mind is going to debate.) That is the point I am trying to make. Climate change is a giant bureaucratic nightmare that is snowballing out of control. Both sides are getting caught up in the debate, when they agree that something needs to be done. Does it matter if your reason for leaving the oil economy behind is because it has a destabilizing result in our national security, or because it is polluting the air? Most people seem to think it needs to happen. We are stuck on the definition of why... its sort of silly don't you think? :P
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 04, 2008, 01:00:41 PM
**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

That is a cheap shot. I think you will recall me saying that global warming is not the issue we should be talking about. Play nice ;)

***No, i'm saying that knowingly creating bogus books and movies for profit and political power is what's he has done and it should be acknowledged as such.***

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yep, and it is not powered by gas. I am not making any claims that I don't use fossil fuels. If I had the option to somehow remove them completely I would do my best to do so... but that is hardly and option right now. For now I do what I can. For what it is worth my carbon footprint came up in the negative... I am not entirely sure about the inner workings of those calculations, so I don't put too much stock in them.

***Do you doubt that it was built and is maintained by using fossil fuels?***

I have found mountain bikes to be quite enjoyable.

***They are fun. Not everyone lives in such a place or lifestyle that would make them a viable form of transportation though.***

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

Well, I think about how things could be better instead of sitting on my backside being content with the way things are now.

***Fine, but recognize that along with pollution, technology brings many things that lengthen and enhance one's quality of life.***

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I never claimed otherwise. I do what I can which is more than a vast majority of other people. I don't even expect most people to go as far as I do. Little changes add up to big changes.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

I am not denying its use in making us what we are. I am saying we need to get away from dependence on it.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

I will however be in the market for an alternative fuel powered car when they become a reasonable option. This is really something the government needs to be involved with.

***When has the government ever successfully caused a shift in the free market that the free market wouldn't have done on it's own?***

It involves our infrastructure and the free market can't change that on its own.

***You say that, based on what?***

I know government interference pains us all, but if we let them tap our phones we can let them fund some R & D can't we?

***False choice. Who has a better track record of funding R&D and bringing viable technology into existance, gov't or the free market? BTW, the US military funds a huge amount of research on alternative energy.***

This is in the best interest of our nations security, and there is no denying that.

***I don't, and as I already pointed out, the US mil is already handing out lots of R&D money for alternative fuel.***

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Hey, we new Iraq would involve lots of pain and sacrifice, but here we are right? People are not adverse to these things if they think the cause is good. We have yet to have anyone make a realistic case for it. I am saying that it is because we are taking the wrong approach. Global warming (or climate change, or whatever the new catch phrase is) isn't it. Talk about things we can solve like smog, and dumping toxic chemicals and garbage into the ocean and people will get behind it. Talk about energy independence. We saw how effective this was in these last presidential debates. Talk about how oil is entangling us with unstable countries with dangerous governments. This stuff is starting to happen I think. Don't you?

***Sure, but until we have alternative energy sources that are cost effective, we need to use oil (including domestically produced oil) as a bridge.***

And Al Gore can keep whatever he paid for... he can look like a jerk for owning it, but ultimately it is his I suppose.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**

Take your pick. There are lots to choose from. Hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, solar. They all have promise.

***Having promise is a bit different than something that is viable right here, right now.***

It depends on where you are, and what is most efficient. I am not even opposed to nuclear. We had a bill in the works to put up a bunch of wind towers where I live... but rich people thought they were too ugly so it got shot down :( Then they went right back to whining about the costs of power... go figure... I just saw a thing on the discovery channel about a guy that beamed solar energy over 60 miles with microwaves. Tell me that isn't cool!

***Lots of cool things in the pipeline, still we need off the shelf tech that's cost effective today. Ethanol is one thing that can be looked at. My new vehicle is a flex fuel vehicle specifically because of this.***
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 04, 2008, 01:33:07 PM
**This could go many places, but I think it fits best here.**

Fairness, idealism and other atrocities
Commencement advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere.
By P.J. O'Rourke
May 4, 2008
Well, here you are at your college graduation. And I know what you're thinking: "Gimme the sheepskin and get me outta here!" But not so fast. First you have to listen to a commencement speech.

Don't moan. I'm not going to "pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next." I'm a member of the 1960s generation. We didn't have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation that believed we could stop the Vietnam War by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything -- which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. Yes, the love was free, but we paid a high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

So now, it's my job to give you advice. But I'm thinking: You're finishing 16 years of education, and you've heard all the conventional good advice you can stand. So, let me offer some relief:

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!

Here we are living in the world's most prosperous country, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences and security that money can provide. Yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to young people, "Go out and make a bunch of money." Instead, they tell you that money can't buy happiness. Maybe, but money can rent it.

There's nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino's box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich.

2. Don't be an idealist!

Don't chain yourself to a redwood tree. Instead, be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. No matter how much you cheat the IRS, you'll still end up paying $100,000 in property, sales and excise taxes. That's $100,000 to schools, sewers, roads, firefighters and police. You'll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Idealists are also bullies. The idealist says, "I care more about the redwood trees than you do. I care so much I can't eat. I can't sleep. It broke up my marriage. And because I care more than you do, I'm a better person. And because I'm the better person, I have the right to boss you around."

Get a pair of bolt cutters and liberate that tree.

Who does more for the redwoods and society anyway -- the guy chained to a tree or the guy who founds the "Green Travel Redwood Tree-Hug Tour Company" and makes a million by turning redwoods into a tourist destination, a valuable resource that people will pay just to go look at?

So make your contribution by getting rich. Don't be an idealist.

3. Get politically uninvolved!

All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I'd be standing here with my bellybutton exposed. Imagine deciding the dinner menu by family secret ballot. I've got three kids and three dogs in my family. We'd be eating Froot Loops and rotten meat.

But let me make a distinction between politics and politicians. Some people are under the misapprehension that all politicians stink. Impeach George W. Bush, and everything will be fine. Nab Ted Kennedy on a DUI, and the nation's problems will be solved.

But the problem isn't politicians -- it's politics. Politics won't allow for the truth. And we can't blame the politicians for that. Imagine what even a little truth would sound like on today's campaign trail:

"No, I can't fix public education. The problem isn't the teachers unions or a lack of funding for salaries, vouchers or more computer equipment The problem is your kids!"

4. Forget about fairness!

We all get confused about the contradictory messages that life and politics send.

Life sends the message, "I'd better not be poor. I'd better get rich. I'd better make more money than other people." Meanwhile, politics sends us the message, "Some people make more money than others. Some are rich while others are poor. We'd better close that 'income disparity gap.' It's not fair!"

Well, I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, "That's not fair." When she says this, I say, "Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you." What we need is more income, even if it means a bigger income disparity gap.

5. Be a religious extremist!

So, avoid politics if you can. But if you absolutely cannot resist, read the Bible for political advice -- even if you're a Buddhist, atheist or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who believes that God is involved in politics. On the contrary. Observe politics in this country. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through history. Does it look like God's involved?

The Bible is very clear about one thing: Using politics to create fairness is a sin. Observe the Tenth Commandment. The first nine commandments concern theological principles and social law: Thou shalt not make graven images, steal, kill, et cetera. Fair enough. But then there's the tenth: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Here are God's basic rules about how we should live, a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. And, right at the end of it we read, "Don't envy your buddy because he has an ox or a donkey." Why did that make the top 10? Why would God, with just 10 things to tell Moses, include jealousy about livestock?

Well, think about how important this commandment is to a community, to a nation, to a democracy. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't whine about what the people across the street have. Get rich and get your own.

Now, one last thing:

6. Don't listen to your elders!

After all, if the old person standing up here actually knew anything worth telling, he'd be charging you for it.

P.J. O'Rourke, a correspondent for the Weekly Standard and the Atlantic, is the author, most recently, of "On The Wealth of Nations." A longer version of this article appears in Change magazine, which reports on trends and issues in higher education.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 04, 2008, 01:38:34 PM
No Reason We Can't Get Cheaper Oil--Just Drill!
By Newt Gingrich
Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008

New York Post 
Publication Date: June 19, 2008

AEI senior fellow Newt Gingrich recommends four steps to Congress as part of a policy agenda that would help lower the price of gasoline. In order to ease supply-side restrictions, Gingrich recommends suspending congressional bans on exploring oil-shale deposits and on offshore oil and gas exploration. He also suggests using tax incentives and government-sponsored prizes to incentivize the auto industry to develop more efficient flex-fuel and hydrogen vehicles. Members of Congress have a clear choice: support more domestic energy production, or make way for other countries that do.

Senior Fellow
 Newt Gingrich
Americans don't like paying $4 for a gallon of gasoline or $5 for a gallon of diesel. Not one bit.

Nearly 1 million Americans have signed our "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." petition at

The language is simple but powerful: "We, therefore, the undersigned citizens of the United States, petition the US Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline (and other fuels derived from oil including diesel) prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries."

The choice for our elected leaders is simple: Either take action now to lower our fuel prices or the American people will take action in the November election.

The choice for our elected leaders is simple: Either take action now to lower our fuel prices or the American people will take action in the November election.

The choice for the politicians is really that simple, as are the first four steps for developing more American energy now:

End the congressional ban on exploring the oil-shale deposits in the Green River Formation area of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
A 2005 RAND study estimates that about 800 billion barrels of oil trapped in shale are technically recoverable from the Green River Formation. This amount is more than three times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

End the congressional ban on oil and gas exploration offshore.
The US Minerals Management Service estimates that America's outer continental shelf holds about 19 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable oil and 85.7 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered recoverable natural gas. But Congress has outlawed development there--even though the Chinese are planning to explore for oil within 60 miles of the Florida coast.

Provide tax incentives for automakers to retool to produce flex fuel cars, similar to Brazil--which will have 80 percent of new cars with flex-fuel engines by 2011.
A rapid move to a situation where substantially all new cars sold in the United States could take a mixture of oil- and alcohol-based fuels would put downward pressure on oil prices--as consumers benefit from the competition among oil, ethanol and methanol suppliers.

Establish large ($1 billion-plus tax-free) prizes for key breakthroughs in a hydrogen engine, a car that gets more than 100 miles to the gallon, safe disposal of nuclear waste and designing a next-generation clean-coal system, etc.
Prizes can be a means to unleash tremendous creativity in solving key energy and environmental challenges.

Congress should also create larger and longer-term tax credits for wind, solar and biofuels so there's a maximum diversification of energy sources as we make a long-term transition to cleaner forms of energy.

These four steps are just a start.

If we want less expensive gasoline, diesel and other fuels and to reduce our dependence on foreign dictators, then we have to demand that politicians cut through the red tape and put policies in place that will increase domestic production.

It isn't possible to regulate, tax or sue our way to lower fuel prices. While alternative energies are desirable in the long term, Americans need relief now.

The fact is, there's no reason why Americans can't have safe, abundant and relatively inexpensive energy.

America still has the world's largest supply of fossil fuels. We have more coal than any other country by a huge margin. We have abundant oil and gas reserves. We have the potential for nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels in tremendous quantities.

And, critically, America is still technologically the most advanced nation in the world, despite decades of bad policies and politics.

Gas prices will likely be the defining issue in the fall elections. The American people want real change. As evidenced by the more than 800,000 signatories to the "Drill Now. Drill Here. Pay Less." petition in the last three weeks, they want a change in our energy policy.

For the members wishing to return to Congress after November, the choice is clear: Support "Drill Here. Drill Now."--or make way for challengers that do.

Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 04, 2008, 01:42:18 PM
I agree with almost everything you said GM.

The "bridge" theory is a little wonky. We won't benefit from a single drop of that domestic oil for many many years. That is hardly a bridge. I am not saying we should not drill, but the bridge theory doesn't cut it. We will probably need the little we can drill offshore for a long time, so its good to get started now. Someday it will pay off.

The free market can't make this shift alone. It involves powerlines, powerplants, and all sorts of other goodies that are not privately owned. The free market can "drive" the change, but much of the work to realize it has to come from the government. There is no way around it. I had no idea the military invested serious money into alternative fuels. Who says we have too much military spending? :P

The buses where I live run on natural gas. Yes they were built using fossil fuels and to some extent require them for maintenance. But the fact that they don't run on them is a huge improvement. They have been operating successfully like this for years now. The University has installed a hydrogen pump, and is converting many of its vehicles. The concept seems to be taking off as well. Like you said, it depends on where you live and what is available... but we do have the means to start actively making changes!

That is a funny article GM. It gave me a hearty belly laugh! :D
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 04, 2008, 01:57:41 PM

Natural gas is a fossil fuel like oil and coal. Fossil fuels are, essentially, the remains of plants and animals and microorganisms that lived millions and millions of years ago.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 04, 2008, 02:08:17 PM

Pentagon's Novel Idea: Stop Guzzling Gas
By Noah Shachtman April 20, 2007 | 3:28:00 PM

For a long time, the U.S. military didn't care whether its vehicles guzzled gas or not.  So the Pentagon wound up with a Humvee that averages about four miles per gallon in the city, and an Abrams tank that gets just six-tenths of a mile per gallon.
But with battlefield fuel prices at $400 per gallon, even the deep-pocketed Pentagon has had it with its gas hogs.  "Effectively immediately," Defense Department acquisition chief Kenneth Krieg writes in a memo obtained by Inside Defense, Pentagon planners have to start factoring in "energy efficiency" when designing "all tactical systems."
To implement this policy, the Pentagon is conducting the pilot program focused on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Army and Marine Corps humvee replacement; the Maritime Air and Missile Defense of Joint Forces alternative ship propulsion and energy efficiency options analysis of alternatives, or the Navy cruiser program; and the Next-Generation Long-Range Strike concept decision, the Air Force’s new bomber effort...
This pilot program comes in the wake of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England’s February directive to the entire military bureaucracy -- the federal government’s largest single energy consumer -- to refine its plans to reduce oil consumption and increase reliance on renewable and alternative energy sources.
For nearly 18 months, the Defense Department has been exploring both near- and long-term options for reducing its energy usage, particularly its reliance on carbon-based fuels. As oil prices have steadily climbed over the past few years, the Pentagon has calculated that every $10 hike in a barrel of oil translates to a $1.8 billion increase in costs for the military.
Meanwhile, "Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne has given the OK to shoot for 2010 as the date when [the service] would certify the use of synthetic fuel for its entire aircraft fleet," says Air Force magazine. "A plant that will produce commercial quantities of synthetic fuel [20,000 barrels per day] is under construction in East Dubuque, Ill."
Oh, and check this out: The German military may be recalling some of their recon jets from Afghanistan, "because they don't have enough money to fly them."  The reason: "high jet fuel prices."
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 04, 2008, 02:13:50 PM
Yep, my mistake. Even so it does burn much cleaner:

"Unlike other fossil fuels, however, natural gas is clean burning and emits lower levels of potentially harmful byproducts into the air."

From the link you posted.

That is actually a pretty cool site and I am going to read it more thoroughly when I get home, thanks.

Title: Fruitless Premises
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on October 04, 2008, 03:55:54 PM
Both sides are getting caught up in the debate, when they agree that something needs to be done. Does it matter if your reason for leaving the oil economy behind is because it has a destabilizing result in our national security, or because it is polluting the air? Most people seem to think it needs to happen. We are stuck on the definition of why... its sort of silly don't you think?

Another dichotomy, eh? My argument is that free inquiry should proceed without the constraints two-dimensional continuums impose, so excuse me if I'm not gracious about another one. Nor am I inclined to be gracious about "climate change," as climate change is the norm, rather than some sort of breathless exception. Though it may seem like a small point, these sorts of misnomers and misconnotations have made rational discussion about environmental issues more difficult than it needs to be.

With that said, it again boils down to a benefit cost analysis. It would it be nice to erase humankind's' entire environmental foot print, but that will never happen so arguments that contain that implicit premise strike me as fruitless. Research and argument that seeks to maximize the human benefit and minimize the environmental impact strike me as tactics more likely to bear fruit.
Title: Re: Fruitless Premises
Post by: Jonobos on October 04, 2008, 04:25:10 PM
With that said, it again boils down to a benefit cost analysis. It would it be nice to erase humankind's' entire environmental foot print, but that will never happen so arguments that contain that implicit premise strike me as fruitless. Research and argument that seeks to maximize the human benefit and minimize the environmental impact strike me as tactics more likely to bear fruit.

I am with you on this. But again, I don't give a flying you know what if you believe in man made climate change or not. Go ahead and inquire away. Nothing is stopping you. Lets find the cost beneficial solutions to things we very definitely know are problems. Lets leave the climate change discussion where it belongs... with the scientists, and not with politicians. Politicians know that pollution is a problem, and they are in a position to start asking questions about how to minimize it, while still maximizing human benefit. CLIMATE CHANGE is irrelevant to this line of questioning/action. You don't have to defend your disbelief in man made climate change. I don't care about it in this context.

Maybe I am not explaining this well? Stalling on bills that minimize our impact without hampering our benefit, because man made climate change is still up in the air doesn't make sense, but it seems like this is exactly what we are doing. People don't breath carbon monoxide, yet we pump tons of it out every day. This creates all sorts of nasty side effects on the environment. We should do something about this. This sentiment is completely independent of the global warming debate.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 05, 2008, 02:15:57 AM
"Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive? Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity."

The problem with the theology of "man as cause of global warming" is that a lot of really coercive and expensive solutions are being proposed to solve a problem which may well not exist, or exist in small degree.  Honest science needs to be coin of the realm in this conversation.

I agree that the focus needs to be the fouling of the planet.  With good science perhaps we will realize that the ethanol the government proposes to deal with the false problem of global warming creates the fertilizer run-off by which the Mississippi River dumps so much fertilizer into the Gulf of Mexico that it has a huge dead zone that grows every year.

Instead of blathering about needing to sign the Kyoto Accord and blaming it on Bush (which was rejected by the Senate IIRC under Clinton 97-0) maybe we need to look at the implications of buying from the Chinese who foul not only their next but ours as well by the particulates they create that reach the western US.

Instead of looking to the government to guide the process, maybe we should shift our approach to one of taxing external diseconomies (i.e. pollution)-- costs not born by the buyer or seller of a transaction-- instead of good things like jobs, income, savings (including inheritance) investment, etc.   I vociferously agree that the ocean becoming a garbage dump is a real problem-- so lets tax all the disposable plastic products instead of our work, savings, and investment.  By shifting our tax code to such a concept we will both enable a tremendous increase in economic growth, we will also bring the pricing mechanism of the market to bear as to the trade offs between pollution and other things.  If car manufacters operate in an environment wherein cars that pollute more are taxed more their self-interest motivates them to act for the clean air so they can acquire a cost advantage over their competitors.  This contrasts quite strongly and favorably to what we have now wherein the most profitable thing is to buy Congressman and litigate with the bureaucracies.

What you tax more you get less of-- so lets tax pollution instead of people, profits, savings, income, etc.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 05, 2008, 09:02:52 AM
Yeah, what he said...
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 05, 2008, 05:46:14 PM
By Julie Steenhuysen
Sun Oct 5, 1:02 PM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have found a way to make efficient silicon-based solar cells that are flexible enough to be rolled around a pencil and transparent enough to be used to tint windows on buildings or cars.
The finding, reported on Sunday in the journal Nature Materials, offers a new way to process conventional silicon by slicing the brittle wafers into ultrathin bits and carefully transferring them onto a flexible surface.

"We can make it thin enough that we can put it on plastic to make a rollable system. You can make it gray in the form of a film that could be added to architectural glass," said John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research.

"It opens up spaces on the fronts of buildings as opportunities for solar energy," Rogers said in a telephone interview.

Solar cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, are in high demand because of higher oil prices and concerns over climate change.

Many companies, including Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp and Germany's Q-Cells are making thin-film solar cells, but they typically are less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity than conventional cells.

Rogers said his technology uses conventional single crystal silicon. "It's robust. It's highly efficient. But in its current form, it's rigid and fragile," he said.

Rogers' team uses a special etching method that slices chips off the surface of a bulk silicon wafer. The sliced chips are 10 to 100 times thinner than the wafer, and the size can be adapted to the application.

Once sliced, a device picks up the bits of silicon chips "like a rubber stamp" and transfers them to a new surface material, Rogers said.

"These silicon solar cells become like a solid ink pad for that rubber stamp. The surface of the wafers after we've done this slicing become almost like an inking pad," he said.

"We just print them down onto a target surface."

The final step is to electrically connect these cells to get power out of them, he said.

Adding flexibility to the material would make the cells far easier to transport. Rogers envisions the material being "rolled up like a carpet and thrown on the truck."

He said the technology has been licensed to a startup company called Semprius Inc in Durham, North Carolina, which is in talks to license the technology.

"It's just a way to use thing we already know well," Rogers said.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Eric Walsh)
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 05, 2008, 05:53:36 PM
1 hour, 19 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Hurricane Ike's winds and massive waves destroyed oil platforms, tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines. The environmental damage only now is becoming apparent: At least a half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas, according to an analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
In the days before and after the deadly storm, companies and residents reported at least 448 releases of oil, gasoline and dozens of other substances into the air and water and onto the ground in Louisiana and Texas. The hardest hit places were industrial centers near Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as oil production facilities off Louisiana's coast, according to the AP's analysis.

"We are dealing with a multitude of different types of pollution here ... everything from diesel in the water to gasoline to things like household chemicals," said Larry Chambers, a petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Command Center in Pasadena, Texas.

The Coast Guard, with the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies, has responded to more than 3,000 pollution reports associated with the storm and its surge along the upper Texas coast. Most callers complain about abandoned propane tanks, paint cans and other hazardous materials containers turning up in marshes, backyards and other places.

No major oil spills or hazardous materials releases have been identified, but nearly 1,500 sites still need to be cleaned up.

The Coast Guard's National Response Center in Washington collects information on oil spills and chemical and biological releases and passes it to agencies working on the ground. The AP analyzed all reports received by the center from Sept. 11 through Sept. 18 for Louisiana and Texas, providing an early snapshot of Ike's environmental toll.

With the storm approaching, refineries and chemical plants shut down as a precaution, burning off hundreds of thousands of pounds of organic compounds and toxic chemicals. In other cases, power failures sent chemicals such as ammonia directly into the atmosphere. Such accidental releases probably will not result in penalties by regulators because the releases are being blamed on the storm.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also suspended all rules, including environmental ones, that would inhibit or prevent companies preparing for or responding to Ike.

Power outages also caused sewage pipes to stop flowing. Elsewhere, the storm's surge dredged up smelly and oxygen-deprived marsh mud, which killed fish and caused residents to complain of nausea and headaches from the odor.

At times, a new spill or release was reported to the Coast Guard every five minutes to 10 minutes. Some were extremely detailed, such as this report from Sept. 14: "Caller is making a report of a 6-by-4-foot container that was found floating in the Houston Ship Channel. Caller states the container was also labeled 'UM 3264,' which is a corrosive material." The caller most likely meant UN3264, an industrial coding that refers to a variety of different acids.

State and federal officials have collected thousands of abandoned drums, paint cans and other containers.

Other reports were more vague. One caller reported a sheen from an underwater pipeline and said the substance was "spewing" from the pipe.

The AP's analysis found that, by far, the most common contaminant left in Ike's wake was crude oil — the lifeblood and main industry of both Texas and Louisiana. In the week of reports analyzed, enough crude oil was spilled nearly to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and more could be released, officials said, as platforms and pipelines were turned back on.

The Minerals Management Service, which oversees oil production in federal waters offshore, said the storm destroyed at least 52 oil platforms of roughly 3,800 in the Gulf of Mexico. Thirty-two more were severely damaged. But there was only one confirmed report of an oil spill — a leak of 8,400 gallons that officials said left no trace because it dissipated with the winds and currents.

Air contaminants were the second-most common release, mostly from the chemical plants and refineries along the coast.

About half the crude oil was reported spilled at a facility operated by St. Mary Land and Exploration Co. on Goat Island, Texas, a spit of uninhabited land north of the heavily damaged Bolivar Peninsula. The surge from the storm flooded the plant, leveling its dirt containment wall and snapping off the pipes connecting its eight storage tanks, which held the oil and water produced from two wells in Galveston Bay.

By the time the company reached the wreckage by boat more than 24 hours after Ike's landfall, the tanks were empty. Only a spattering of the roughly 266,000 gallons of oil spilled was left, and that is already cleaned up, according to Greg Leyendecker, the company's regional manager. The rest vanished, likely into the Gulf of Mexico.

Ike's fury might have helped prevent worse environmental damage. Its rough water, heavy rains and wind helped disperse pollution.

Air quality tests by Texas environmental regulators found no problems even in communities near industrial complexes, where power outages and high winds in some cases knocked out emergency devices that safely burn off chemicals. But the storm also zapped many of the state's permanent air pollution monitors in the region.

"We came out of this a lot better than we could have been, especially thinking where the storm hit," said Kelly Cook, the homeland security coordinator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Katrina ranked as among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, with about 9 million gallons of oil spilled. But Ike's storm surge was less severe than feared — 12 feet rather than 20-feet plus — and the dikes, levees and bulkheads built around the region's heavy industry mostly held.

Much of that infrastructure is protected by a 1960s-era Army Corps of Engineers system of 15-foot levees similar to the one around New Orleans that failed catastrophically during Katrina. In that storm, floodwaters dislodged an oil tank at a Murphy Oil Corp. refinery in Meraux, La., spilling more than 1 million gallons of oil into the surrounding neighborhoods, canals and playgrounds.

Ike's toll on wildlife is still unfolding. Only a few pelicans and osprey turned up oiled, but the storm upended nature. Winds blew more than 1,000 baby squirrels from their nests. The storm's surge pushed saltwater into freshwater marshes and bayous, killing grasses where cattle graze and displacing alligators. Flooding also stranded cows.

The storm also may mangle migration. The Texas coast is a pit stop for birds heading south for the winter. But Ike wiped out many of their food sources, stripping berries from trees and nectar-producing flowers from plants, said Gina Donovan, executive director of the Houston Audubon Society, which operates 17 bird sanctuaries in Texas.

"It is going to cause wildlife to suffer for awhile," she said.

Along the Houston Ship Channel, a tanker truck floating in 12-feet-high flood waters slammed into a storage tank at the largest biodiesel refinery in the country, causing a leak of roughly 2,100 gallons of vegetable oil. The plant, owned by GreenHunter Energy Inc., uses chicken fat and beef tallow to make biodiesel shipped overseas. It opened just months earlier.

Oneal Galloway of Slidell, La., called to report oil in his neighborhood. The town, north of Lake Pontchartrain, was flooded with Ike's surge. He said oil had washed down the streets.

"It looked like a rainbow in the water," Galloway told the AP. "The residue of the oil is all over our fences, there were brown spots in the yard where it killed the grass."

The likely culprit was not a refinery or oil well, according to Shannon Davis, the director of the parish's public works department, but a neighbor brewing biodiesel in his backyard with used cooking grease.


Cain Burdeau reported from Texas.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 05, 2008, 06:02:07 PM
Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 05, 2008, 06:06:59 PM
Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do.

I don't believe I advocated stopping offshore drilling at any point if that is what you were are getting at.

If we are going to drill offshore we need to be prepared for this sort of thing...
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 05, 2008, 06:08:10 PM
More offshore oil drilling might clean beaches
By Times Staff
Santa Maria Times
updated 10:16 p.m. MT, Sat., Sept. 6, 2008

Seeping into the controversy about more offshore oil production is a dispute over whether increased drilling locally would lead to less oil oozing from natural seeps on the ocean floor.

Environmentalists contend no drilling-related reduction in seepage is likely but others, led by the advocacy group Stop Our Seeps (SOS), insist drilling would slow some natural seeps and benefit the environment.

The two sides differ sharply in their interpretations of the limited amount of scientific research done so far on that question - and the significance of a 1999 study by a group of UCSB professors who measured undersea seeps around Platform Holly off Goleta.

That study concluded natural seepage of oil and gas from the ocean floor in one square kilometer area around the platform declined by 50 percent between 1973 and 1995, possibly because the drilling reduced pressure in the subsea basin.

SOS spokesmen tout those findings as evidence that more offshore drilling would reduce natural seeps, which are collectively spewing tens of thousands of barrels of oil a year - along with large quantities of natural gas - into ocean waters locally.

Environmentalists and one of the study's authors caution, however, that extrapolating the 1999 data to a broader section of the Santa Barbara County coastline is scientifically unsound.

"The suggestion that somehow drilling for oil will be good for the environment by reducing oil and gas seeps is simply bad science," asserted Abraham Powell, president of Get Oil Out (GOO), in a press release Wednesday by four environmental organizations.

Joining in the statement were the Environmental Defense Center of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) and the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara.

Oil and tar have been present along the county's shores dating back to the earliest settlements by Native Americans, and remain a bane today for surfers and other beachgoers.

UCSB Professor Bruce Luyendyk, one of the study's six authors, strongly cautioned against exaggerating its findings during a marathon hearing on oil issues Tuesday before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

"Our 1999 UCSB studies were made on a special case of marine seeps; one of the world's most active," Luyendyk noted. "However, these seeps occur over a limited area. To extrapolate the findings of our studies beyond the Coal Oil Point area cannot yet be substantiated, and there are many reasons to caution against generalizing our study results to the greater Santa Barbara Channel, much less to the California continental shelf."

Luyendyk is a marine geophysics professor in the university's Earth Sciences Department.

During a phone interview Wednesday, he said his "main complaint is that these various proponents (of increasing offshore drilling) have taken our study and extrapolated it into unknown territory. I don't think there's a logical or scientific basis for that."

Nonetheless, the board voted 3-2 - with the trio of North County supervisors prevailing - to send a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger encouraging him to consider allowing more oil drilling off county shores.

"I was very pleased with the outcome of the supervisors' hearing," said Dave Cross, vice president of the Committee to Improve North County, which favors expanded oil production to boost county revenues and help lower dependence on foreign oil. "Clearly the evidence is there that oil drilling does reduce pressure that causes seeps," and the natural seepage from those subsea basins.

"I think increased oil production is a benefit, not just for the environment" but economically as well, he added.

Critics like SBCAN's executive director, Deborah Brasket of Orcutt, counter that drilling advocates are using the seeps issue as a false argument for boosting production and oil company profits, despite the environmental risks.

"There have just not been enough (scientific) studies on this" to conclude that more drilling off local shores would reduce natural seeps, Brasket said.

"Offshore oil drilling is not the panacea touted by Big Oil and friends," she added, "but yet another ploy to boost profits for oil companies, prolong our dependence on oil and delay the development of renewable energy."

State Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, also joined in the political fray by sending a letter to the supervisors urging them not to seek any policy change that would allow more offshore drilling.

"One has to ask why you are even considering such a request," he wrote. "Making such a significant change in our county's policy regarding offshore oil drilling should at least be based on accuracy and fact, not hysteria and conjecture."

However, SOS co-founder Bruce Allen staunchly defends his groups' use of the 1999 study results to argue that more drilling would be environmentally beneficial.

"It's clear there are many (natural) seep zones beyond Coal Oil Point that are very active," Allen said Thursday.

He cited a 2003 paper presented to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists that suggested the offshore Santa Maria Basin, between Point Conception and Point Sal, "contains the greatest known concentration of hydrocarbon seeps � in the world." Only two of the 13 subsea oil fields in that area "are not overlain by active seeps," the paper stated, according to Allen.

SOS, formerly known as Bring Oil Back, was formed about four years ago, and is funded mostly by donations from private individuals, Allen said. He acknowledged, though, that some of its funding is grant money from the oil company Venoco Inc., which is seeking approval to expand its drilling operations at Platform Holly, off the coast from Devereux Slough in Goleta.

Allen said he was unsure the amount of the Venoco gave to SOS, and referred that question to the group's executive director, who could not be reached for comment.

Much of the Santa Maria Basin has Monterey shale geologic formations possibly similar to those studied at Coal Oil Point, he added. While the 1999 study doesn't prove that seepage reductions would result from more drilling in other areas, "I think a good case could be made that the same effect would occur elsewhere" if geologic conditions are similar.

However, another of the study's authors, UCSB Earth Science Professor Jordan Clark, voiced concern about those findings being applied to other areas without further scientific study

"I can see where further drilling in the Coal Oil Point area would reduce seepage because there are natural seeps there," he said. "Drilling in other areas would probably not have the same effect."

Yet, based on scientific literature and the UCSB research at Coal Oil Point, "I think there is a linkage between a reduction in seepage and increased oil production. The physics would also tell you that should happen" in areas with pre-existing, natural seeps. "If you start pumping oil out of the ground with wells, not as much needs to leave by seepages," Clark said.

What are seeps?

Oil and methane gas created in the heat and pressure under the ocean floor flows upward through faults and cracks in rocks. Plumes of oil-coated methane bubbles reach the surface, creating natural oil slicks.

The natural seeps of crude oil and natural gas flowing into the ocean on and near the coast of California are among the largest and most active concentration of such seeps in the world.

Seeps off Coal Oil Point near UCSB put an average of 150-170 barrels of crude oil and 5 million cubic feet of natural gas into the ocean every day.

More than 1 million barrels of oil have seeped off the Southern and Central California coast since 1980.

Crude oil seeping into the sea from Coal Oil Point alone is equal to about 55,000 barrels of oil a year. About 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas is seeping annually into the atmosphere.

Seeps produce 122% more air pollution daily than all the motor vehicle trips in Santa Barbara County each day.

- SOURCE: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S. Minerals Management Service, Western States Petroleum Association

Chuck Schultz can be reached at 925-2691, Ext. 2241, or

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 05, 2008, 06:10:35 PM
Just pointing out that Mother Nature was making oil slicks long before humans ever figured out how to use oil for anything.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 05, 2008, 06:18:35 PM
Interesting article GM.

It would benefit everyone if we had stronger rigs that didn't get blown apart everytime a  major storm came through though!
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 05, 2008, 06:24:37 PM
Not my area of expertise,but they are about as sturdy as modern tech allows for, as I understand. Each rig is a huge investment for the company that owns it and they want them protected and producing oil whenever possible.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on October 05, 2008, 08:52:44 PM
"Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do."

I was going to post the same in the form of a question.  The context of these spills requires knowing about spills and seepage that occur in nature without the help of man.

I agree that no one has a stronger desire to avoid the spill more than the owner of the oil.  Like airlines and crashes, oil spills are bad for business.

You can punish an oil company for spilling and you can punish a toddler for putting his hand on a hot stove, but the direct consequence is probably more effective.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on October 05, 2008, 09:07:01 PM
If a natural oil seep, seeps into a body of water, does that count as pollution?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Jonobos on October 06, 2008, 02:53:40 PM
If a natural oil seep, seeps into a body of water, does that count as pollution?

hahahaha, thats a good question!   :-D
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Freki on October 07, 2008, 05:50:10 AM
This is just an observation.  As a kid I would go to the beach at Port Aranass Texas, this is the mid to late 70's, and there would be oil and tar on the beach.  You had to watch where you stepped.  Now when you walk on the beach you don't see any.  I know they are still drilling off the coast I have fished around the platforms.  If you dive around them you will see many of the same colorful species of fish on Carribean reefs.
Title: Re: Environmental issues - Arctic Sea Ice Expanding at Record Pace
Post by: DougMacG on November 07, 2008, 08:57:51 PM

Sea Ice Growing at Fastest Pace on Record
Michael Asher ) - November 7, 2008 6:32 PM

30 years of sea ice data. The red line indicates deviation from the seasonally-adjusted mean. (Source: Arctic Research Center, University of Illinois)
Rapid Rebound Brings Ice Back to Levels from the 1980s.

An abnormally cool Arctic is seeing dramatic changes to ice levels. In sharp contrast to the rapid melting seen last year, the amount of global sea ice has rebounded sharply and is now growing rapidly. The total amount of ice, which set a record low value last year, grew in October at the fastest pace since record-keeping began in 1979.

The actual amount of ice area varies seasonally from about 16 to 23 million square kilometers. However, the mean anomaly-- defined as the difference between the current area and the seasonally-adjusted average-- changes much slower, and generally varies by only 2-3 million square kilometers.

That anomaly had been negative, indicating ice loss, for most of the current decade and reached a historic low in 2007. The current value is again zero, indicating an amount of ice exactly equal to the global average from 1979-2000.

Dr. Patrick Michaels, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, says he sees some "very odd" things occurring in recent years. Michaels, who is also a Senior Fellow with the Cato Institute, tells DailyTech that, while the behavior of the Arctic seems to agree with climate models predictions, the Southern Hemisphere can't be explained by current theory. "The models predict a warming ocean around Antarctica, so why would we see more sea ice?" Michaels adds that large areas of the Southern Pacific are showing cooling trends, an occurrence not anticipated by any current climate model.

On average, ice covers roughly 7% of the ocean surface of the planet. Sea ice is floating and therefore doesn't affect sea level like the ice anchored on bedrock in Antarctica or Greenland. However, research has indicated that the Antarctic continent -- which is on a long-term cooling trend -- has also been gaining ice in recent years.

The primary instrument for measuring sea ice today is the AMSR-E microwave radiometer, an instrument package aboard NASA's AQUA satellite. AQUA was launched in 2002, as part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS).
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 08, 2008, 06:36:49 AM
I'm shocked, absolutely schocked, to discover that this wonderful news is not being reported in the MSM!  :roll: :lol:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on November 08, 2008, 09:59:19 AM
Careful, if you suggest Obama is wrong, JDN will lable you a racist.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: JDN on November 08, 2008, 12:36:26 PM
Careful, if you suggest Obama is wrong, JDN will lable you a racist.

 :?  :?  :?

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 08, 2008, 04:30:16 PM
Just because he thinks Michele Malkin is?  :lol:  Anyway, I don't think he would do that with me :-)  I think he's a very nice person.  A bit confused on some of the issues perhaps, thinks with his heart perhaps, finds it hard to back down when overextended perhaps  but it is not as if he is the only one here with that quirk  :wink:  A bit more seriously, I'd like to give a gentle tug on the leash in request of moving on from further reference to JDN's failure to back up his accusations of MM.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 10, 2008, 09:42:37 AM
The Protein Pyramid

Published: November 10, 2008
Per capita meat consumption more than doubled over the past half-century as the global economy expanded. It is expected to double again by 2050. Which raises the question, what does all that meat eat before it becomes meat?

 Increasingly the answer is very small fish harvested from the ocean and ground into meal and pressed into oil. According to a new report by scientists from the University of British Columbia and financed by the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, 37 percent by weight of all the fish taken from the ocean is forage fish: small fish like sardines and menhaden. Nearly half of that is fed to farmed fish; most of the rest is fed to pigs and poultry.

The problem is that forage fish are the feedstock of marine mammals and birds and larger species of fish. In other words, farmed fish, pigs and poultry — and the humans who eat them — are competing for food directly with aquatic species that depend on those forage fish for their existence. It’s as if humans were swimming in schools in the ocean out-eating every other species.

The case is worse than that. When it comes to farmed fish, there is a net protein loss: it takes three pounds of fish feed to produce one pound of farmed salmon. This protein pyramid — small fish fed to farmed fish, pigs and poultry that are then fed to humans — is unsustainable. It threatens the foundation of oceanic life.

The report’s authors suggest that it would be better if humans ate these small fish, as many cultures once did, instead of using them as feed. That is one way of addressing the problem of net protein loss. The real answers are support for sustainable agriculture in the developing world and encouraging healthy, less meat-based eating habits as a true sign of affluence everywhere.
NYT editorial
Title: Global Warming? Nevermind
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on November 14, 2008, 04:50:52 PM
I've seen the abstract of the article published in Nature, but have yet to read the full piece, summarized below.

Global warning: We are actually heading towards a new Ice Age, claim scientists
Last updated at 5:06 PM on 13th November 2008

It has plagued scientists and politicians for decades, but scientists now say global warming is not the problem.

We are actually heading for the next Ice Age, they claim.

British and Canadian experts warned the big freeze could bury the east of Britain in 6,000ft of ice.

Most of Scotland, Northern Ireland and England could be covered in 3,000ft-thick ice fields.

The expanses could reach 6,000ft from Aberdeen to Kent – towering above Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.

And what's more, the experts blame the global change on falling - rather than climbing - levels of greenhouse gases.

Lead author Thomas Crowley from the University of Edinburgh and Canadian colleague William Hyde say that currently vilified greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide – could actually be the key to averting the chill.

The warning, published in the authoritative journal Nature, is based on records of tiny marine fossils and the earth’s shifting orbit.

Title: Recycling Temperature Data
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on November 16, 2008, 06:28:21 AM
Using September's data for October made the world seem pretty darn warm indeed. After his "hockey stick" and algorithm (AlGoreIthm?) debacles, you'd think Hansen would check his figures. No doubt it's a vast conspiracy launched by big oil.

The world has never seen such freezing heat
By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 16/11/2008

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising "very much faster" than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world's governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.
Title: Re: Environmental issues - solar panel manufacturing causes global warming
Post by: DougMacG on November 18, 2008, 08:40:55 AM
BBG, I saw that report also of the false temp data, thanks for posting here.  All these scientific posts could just as well go into media issues for the lack of coverage elsewhere.  Here's another one: The manufacture of solar panels releases a deadly greenhouse gas and causes global warming!

Electronics Industry Changes the Climate with New Greenhouse Gas
An effort to be more environmentally friendly when making semiconductors may have real climate-changing consequences

By Prachi Patel-Predd

MISSING GREENHOUSE GAS: The manufacture of LCD panels like those pictured here is contributing an unknown amount of a greenhouse gas 17,000 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Emissions of a greenhouse gas that has 17,000 times the planet-warming capacity of carbon dioxide are at least four times higher than had been previously estimated. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is used mainly by the semiconductor industry to clean the chambers in which silicon chips are made. The industry had in the past estimated that most of the gas was expended during the cleaning process and only about 2 percent escaped into the air. But the first-ever measurements of nitrogen trifluoride levels in the atmosphere, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters show that emissions could be as high as 16 percent.

The results might not have immediate repercussions—nitrogen trifluoride currently adds 0.04 percent of the global warming effect created by carbon dioxide emitted from sources such as coal-burning power plants and cars. More and more gas will be needed, however, as flat-panel LCD televisions become standard in American living rooms and the fledgling thin-film solar cell industry takes off; nitrogen trifluoride is used as a cleaning agent in the manufacture of both.

The production of the gas is nearly doubling every year, says Michael Prather, atmospheric chemist at University of California, Irvine, who had predicted earlier this year that emissions would likely exceed the industry's claim that only 2 percent of the gas is released into the atmosphere.

Despite its potential consequences, the gas is not regulated and electronics companies are not required to keep a record of how much they use or emit. "Nobody really knows how much [nitrogen trifluoride] is used…we don't know how much is being produced and also don't [know if the emissions rate] is correct," says Ray Weiss, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, who led the new work.

Emissions numbers conflict depending on whom you ask. The semiconductor industry started to use nitrogen trifluoride as a greener alternative for cleaning chipmaking equipment in the late 1980s. Making integrated circuits involves depositing layers of materials such as semiconductors and metals on a silicon wafer. These materials also stick to chamber walls. So after each layer is deposited, nitrogen fluoride is pumped into the chamber and is split to release highly reactive fluorine atoms that clean the walls. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., based in Allentown, Pa., which manufactures a third of the world's nitrogen trifluoride, claims that most of the gas is utilized during the process and what is leftover is trapped and destroyed in a special waste system.

But conditions in a silicon chip–fabrication facility are anyone's guess due to the lack of regulation or regulatory oversight, Prather says. The waste systems might be designed to destroy 97 percent of the gas, but that is under perfect conditions. "Most [semiconductor manufacturers] don't achieve that because they're hurrying in production," he says. The gas tanks themselves might leak or be mishandled during transport and disposal. Besides, manufacturers might not even be using control measures. "There is a whole chain of events, so I don’t think two to three percent [emission] is real."

Weiss's study lends proof to Prather's worries. The concentration of nitrogen trifluoride in the atmosphere is about 0.5 part per trillion, making it very hard to measure. Weiss had to distill, heat and pass the air samples over adsorbents to remove gases such as carbon dioxide and krypton that could foul the extremely sensitive detector. He found that about 563 metric tons of nitrogen trifluoride was emitted in 2006. From his measurements, he calculates that the emissions have already increased to 620 metric tons in 2008, which is about 16 percent of the 4,000 metric tons that Prather estimates will be produced and used this year.

The emissions will escalate as nitrogen trifluoride's use increases. Although a chipmaking chamber is about the size of a refrigerator, those used to make LCD panels are the size of a van, says Steve Pilgrim, global marketing manager at Munich, Germany–based The Linde Group, a nitrogen trifluoride producer. Meanwhile, thousands of megawatts worth of thin-film solar cells are in the manufacturing pipeline. "For every megawatt of solar panel capacity, you'll need a ton of NF3 for cleaning the equipment," Pilgrim says.

Air Products claims that worldwide production of nitrogen trifluoride has reached 7,300 metric tons. The company is now building a 500-metric ton plant that will take the company's capacity to about 2,400 tons next year.

Some companies are solving the problem by adopting alternatives to nitrogen trifluoride. Toshiba Matsushita Display, Samsung and LG have installed systems that generate fluorine on-site at some of their LCD and semiconductor facilities. The system, made by Linde, splits hydrogen fluoride into fluorine. That takes less energy than splitting nitrogen fluoride and there is no global warming risk, Pilgrim says. However, the system does need upfront costs that smaller LCD manufacturers might not want to bear. Any accidental release of fluorine could also be an issue: Fluorine is a toxic and corrosive gas and, at high concentrations, can retard plant growth and damage teeth and bones.

Prather says we should now be following nitrogen trifluoride concentrations in the atmosphere closely. There needs to be pressure on the electronics industry to report emissions, he says. A good start would be including nitrogen trifluoride in the list of greenhouse gases being regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce discharges of carbon dioxide and six other greenhouse gases by assigning emission limits to countries that have ratified it. "The real issue is we're missing international reporting," he says. "We should start reporting it immediately and measuring it, and then we'll find out how important it is."

Title: Sun Drives the Climate
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 03, 2008, 03:39:08 PM
Sun's Magnetic Field May Impact Weather And Climate: Sun Cycle Can Predict Rainfall Fluctuations

The sun's magnetic field may have a significant impact on weather and climatic parameters in Australia and other countries in the northern and southern hemispheres. (Credit: iStockphoto)
ScienceDaily (Dec. 3, 2008) — The sun’s magnetic field may have a significant impact on weather and climatic parameters in Australia and other countries in the northern and southern hemispheres. According to a study in Geographical Research, the droughts are related to the solar magnetic phases and not the greenhouse effect.

The study uses data from 1876 to the present to examine the correlation between solar cycles and the extreme rainfall in Australia.

It finds that the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) – the basic tool for forecasting variations in global and oceanic patterns – and rainfall fluctuations recorded over the last decade are similar to those in 1914 -1924.

Author Professor Robert G. V. Baker from the School of Environmental Studies, University of New England, Australia, says, “The interaction between the directionality in the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields, the incidence of ultraviolet radiation over the tropical Pacific, and changes in sea surface temperatures with cloud cover – could all contribute to an explanation of substantial changes in the SOI from solar cycle fluctuations. If solar cycles continue to show relational values to climate patterns, there is the potential for more accurate forecasting through to 2010 and possibly beyond.”

The SOI-solar association has been investigated recently due to increasing interest in the relationship between the sun’s cycles and the climate. The solar application offers the potential for the long-range prediction of SOI behavior and associated rainfall variations, since quasi-periodicity in solar activity results in an expected cycle of situations and phases that are not random events.

Professor Baker adds, “This discovery could substantially advance forecasting from months to decades. It should result in much better long-term management of agricultural production and water resources, in areas where rainfall is correlated to SOI and El Niño (ENSO) events.”

Journal reference:

Baker et al. Exploratory Analysis of Similarities in Solar Cycle Magnetic Phases with Southern Oscillation Index Fluctuations in Eastern Australia. Geographical Research, 2008; 46 (4): 380 DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-5871.2008.00537.x
Adapted from materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell.
Title: "Son of Kyoto" Editorial
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 12, 2008, 05:20:59 AM
Interesting fact within regarding production per ton of greenhouse gas.

Getting Warmer
By the Editors

There’s an international conference on global warming — the 14th Convention of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol — under way in frozen Poznan, Poland. You’ll be excused for not having heard about it, because not much is happening, despite Al Gore’s triumphal entrance into the city, which may as well have occurred in a chariot. (“Many see him as a saviour,” reports Der Spiegel.) In Poznan, what is not happening is more significant than what is.

The Poznan meeting was supposed to prepare the way for a “Son of Kyoto” pact to be signed, sealed, and delivered at Copenhagen in December next year. Now even the chief of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, has admitted that “under the circumstances, nobody expects a fully elaborated long-term response” in Copenhagen. The circumstances he refers to are the economic crises at present worrying the world.

In Europe, the financial turmoil has broken the stride of the EU’s lockstep approach to climate issues. Those with greater economic vulnerability — Italy, Poland, and much of Eastern Europe — refuse to accept a new climate deal, crafted by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, on the grounds that it will further damage their already fragile economies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks exemptions for her country’s heavy industries. Italian environment minister Stefania Presciagiacomo pooh-poohs the idea that “green jobs” will transform advanced economies, scoffing, “Some people claim environmental measures are a way to re-launch industry. But let’s be realistic: Resources are limited, and they will be even more so because of the economic crisis.”

Meanwhile, developing countries remain adamant that they will not accept any new limits on their emissions in Kyoto II. This is fact of no little salience, given that China is today the world’s No. 1 emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States, Indonesia, and India. (It’s worth keeping in mind what the U.S. gives the world along with those emissions: In the more relevant comparison, the ratio of economic production to greenhouse emissions, the United States is the best performer among this group by a very wide margin, producing $2,000 in economic value per ton of greenhouse emissions to China’s $450, India’s $497, and Indonesia’s $679. A ton of emissions from the United States brings the world 4.5 times as much economic good as a ton of emissions from China.) The developing nations are right to resist new limits because the affordable energy that fossil fuels supply is an important engine for lifting their people out of poverty. But without meaningful limits on developing-world emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to rise. That makes things awkward for Obama.

For eight years, the United States has been the object of criticism, much of it harsh and unfair, for its unwillingness to be afflicted with sweeping emissions limits and the punitive economic consequences that will go along with them. And now, the very same international parties that censured the United States for looking to its own interests have themselves become the agents of delay. This presents a quandary for the president-elect, who sat next to Gore and declared that “the time for delay is over,” and who famously declared that his ascension would constitute “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Obama promised to submit to the global consensus on climate change, but that consensus no longer exists as an operational political fact.

This may yet work out well for Obama and his new environment team. One of the lessons of Kyoto was that imposing an international global-warming agreement upon independence-minded America was bound to fail. Obama now has opportunity to devise a domestic policy — likely some variant of a “cap and trade” regime — that he can take to the meeting after Copenhagen, in 2010, in hopes of inducing the other parties to follow his lead.

But if he is unable to secure the passage of new climate legislation — or if he is foolish enough to let the EPA proceed with its quixotic dream of circumventing Congress to regulate emissions itself by reinterpreting the Clean Air Act — Obama may find that even a 2010 deadline will come too quickly. The one thing we can be sure of is that the Poznan meeting will result in plans to meet again and talk some more, and that Al Gore and his acolytes will hail this as a historic achievement.

National Review Online -
Title: Computers Cause Global Warming
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 14, 2008, 05:54:56 PM
Global Warming Is Caused by Computers

In particular, a few computers at NASA's Goddard Institute seem to be having a disproportionate effect on global warming.  Anthony Watt takes a cut at an analysis I have tried myself several times, comparing raw USHCN temperature data to the final adjusted values delivered from that data by the NASA computers.  My attempt at this compared the USHCN adjusted to raw for the entire US:

Anthony Watt does this analysis from USHCN raw all the way through to the GISS adjusted number  (the USHCN adjusts the number, and then the GISS adds their own adjustments on top of these adjustments).  The result:  100%+ of the 20th century global warming signal comes from the adjustments.  There is actually a cooling signal in the raw data:


Now, I really, really don't want to be misinterpreted on this, so a few notes are necessary:

Many of the adjustments are quite necessary, such as time of observation adjustments, adjustments for changing equipment, and adjustments for changing site locations and/or urbanization.  However, all of these adjustments are educated guesses.  Some, like the time of observation adjustment, probably are decent guesses.  Some, like site location adjustments, are terrible (as demonstrated at

The point is that finding a temperature change signal over time with current technologies is a measurement subject to a lot of noise.  We are looking for a signal on the order of magnitude of 0.5C where adjustments to individual raw instrument values might be 2-3C.  It is a very low signal-noise environment, and one that is inherently subject to biases  (researches who expect to find a lot of warming will, not surprisingly, adjust a lot of measurements higher).
Warming has occurred in the 20th century.  The exact number is unclear, but we have much better data via satellites now that have shown a warming trend since 1979, though that trend is lower than the one that results from surface temperature measurements with all these discretionary adjustments.

Posted on December 12, 2008 at 08:13 AM in Temperature Measurement | Permalink

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 15, 2008, 12:37:48 AM
Let not the facts get in the way of a convenient theory :-P
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 15, 2008, 06:29:58 AM
Let not the facts get in the way of a convenient theory :-P

Shouldn't that be an inconvenient falsehood?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 15, 2008, 08:36:12 AM
Ummm, , , , I think I have it right.  Gore's theory is convenient to liberal fascism's designs for increased state power.   The facts are in its way.  Yes?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 15, 2008, 09:50:33 AM
Oh heck yeah, just riffing on the Gorical's book title.

At work today they sent out the weekly electronic newsletter complete with an admonition that domestic herd animals produce 18 percent of global warming gas (methane) so we should all try to eat more veggies. Think I'll be having a doublewhopper w/ cheese today, hold the freaking lettuce. . . .
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 15, 2008, 10:32:52 AM
Does that mean the white man was right to kill the buffalo that blanketed the prairies when we arrived? :roll: :lol:
Title: Blinded by the Dark
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 15, 2008, 12:56:25 PM
It annoys me to no end that sundry federal factotums have regulated away our ability to decide what size toilet tank we buy, or how much water our showers can push, as they work on how large and safe our cars can be, and so on. Now we are about to have standard light bulbs regulated out of existence, while their more expensive replacements don't live up to the hype, as this report makes clear.

Lights Out for Thomas Edison

Brief Analysis

No. 637

December 10, 2008

Read Article as PDF | Get Adobe Reader

by H. Sterling Burnett and Amanda Berg

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will soon ban the most common light bulbs in the United States.  New efficiency standards will require manufacturers to produce incandescent bulbs that use less energy per unit of light produced, starting with 100-watt incandescent bulbs in 2012, down to 40-watt bulbs in 2014.

Under the new standards:

100-watt light bulbs are banned entirely.
70-watt light bulbs will have to be 36 percent to 136 percent more efficient.
50-watt bulbs must be 50 percent to 112 percent more efficient.
40-watt bulbs will have to improve 50 percent to 110 percent.

Incandescent bulbs cannot meet these new standards absent a significant technological breakthrough.  Thus, the common light bulb will soon be extinct.

Illuminating Efficiency.  The alternative for most household uses will be compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) designed to fit standard incandescent bulb bases.  CFLs currently make up only 5 percent of the light bulb market.  They have been touted for years as the smart choice for consumers interested in reducing their energy bills, due to their extended lifespan and low energy use vis-à-vis the equivalent light output from an incandescent.  For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 850 lumens — the same light output as a 13-watt to 18-watt CFL.   Unfortunately, except under a fairly narrow range of circumstances, CFLs are less efficient than advertised.  Manufacturers claim the average life span of a CFL bulb is 10,000 hours.  However, in many applications the life and energy savings of a CFL are significantly lower:

CFLs must be left on for at least 15 minutes or used for several hours per day to achieve their full energy saving benefits, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Applications in which lighting is used only briefly (such as closets, bathrooms, motion detectors and so forth) will cause CFL bulbs to burn out as quickly as regular incandescent bulbs.

CFLs often become dimmer over time — a study of U.S. Department of Energy “Energy Star” products found that after 40 percent of their rated service life, one-fourth of tested CFLs no longer produced the full amount of light.

At about $3 per bulb, CFLs are expensive, whereas incandescent bulbs cost only 20 cents per bulb, on average.  And there are other drawbacks.  For instance:

When initially switched on, CFLs may provide as little as 50 percent to 80 percent of their rated light output and can take up to three minutes to reach full brightness.
CFLs often don’t fit existing light fixtures, such as small-base lamps and candlelabras, so these will have to be replaced.
Standard CFLs will not operate at low temperatures, making them unsuitable for outdoor lighting.
CFLs can emit an annoying buzz.

CFLs emit infrared light that can interfere with remote-controlled devices, such as televisions, video games and stereo equipment.
CFLs are simply unsuited for many common uses. The new law therefore excludes whole classes of light bulbs from the standards, including appliance light bulbs (ovens and refrigerators), flashing and colored lights, traffic signals, shatter-resistant bulbs, three-way adjustable bulbs and so forth.

Hidden Dangers of CFLs.  CFLs contain potentially toxic mercury.  Thus, there are health and environmental concerns regarding their proper disposal.  Shattered CFLs in municipal landfills have the potential to leach mercury into the soil.  Over time this mercury could seep into the groundwater or nearby streams.  For this reason, a number of states and localities have outlawed disposing CFLs with normal trash — instead, consumers must take their used CFLs to authorized hazardous waste disposal sites.

The EPA recommends recycling CFLs.  However, curbside recycling is not available everywhere and often doesn’t include CFLs.  Recycling facilities that accept CFLs are not common within major metropolitan areas, much less in rural areas where on-site incineration or trenches are often used — both of which release mercury into the atmosphere.
Perhaps even more important is the danger of broken CFLs in the home. The EPA has provided detailed guidelines to avoid unsafe indoor mercury levels [see the sidebar].

Cleaning up mercury from a shattered CFL can be costly.  For example, when a CFL broke in her daughter’s bedroom, Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine, called on the state’s  Department of Environmental Protection to make sure she cleaned up the broken glass and mercury powder safely.  A specialist found unsafe levels of mercury in the air and recommended an environmental cleanup firm, who estimated the clean up cost of at $2,000.  Beause her mother was unable to pay the exorbitant cleaning bill, the girl’s room remained sealed off in plastic for more than a month.

Conclusion.  Consumers consider many factors in addition to energy efficiency when they purchase light bulbs.  The ban on incandescent bulbs will be costly and potentially dangerous.  The public has not yet embraced CFLs, and the government should not impose on consumers its preferences regarding the types of lights used in the home.  As the deficiencies of CFLs become more apparent with widespread use, perhaps Congress will let consumers decide.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: David III on December 15, 2008, 01:20:19 PM
Just spent this past Saturday with CFL bulbs -- my mom's husband put two in some outdoor outlets that were turned on via a dimmer switch. He wasn't aware that CFLs won't work with dimmers and had spent some hours trying to figure out the problem. And when used with a dusk to dawn switch, my experience is that service life is awful. May be the low voltage at startup? Just not sure. CFLs are definitely not what I was led to believe (a vast improvement over incandescent). Off to LEDs, I guess??

Regarding global warming on the smallest scale (my back yard) - 60 degrees yesterday afternoon, six degrees this morning. I want this warming stuff back!!!
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on December 15, 2008, 04:11:26 PM
I am a big fan of the CFL's but NOT of the coercive legislation.  The drawbacks mentioned are at least partly true - they don't fit in specialty sockets, they don't work with dimmers, start very dim in the cold, contain toxic waste, etc., but still... lower energy usage is generally a good thing. 

For one thing, I am proud to have lower energy usage than my any of my liberal friends who tell me I am killing the planet.  A 40 mpg older car (without hybrid), an 80 mpg motorcycle, a $23 summer electric bill and a zero emission catamaran harnessing the wind at exhilarating speeds all give me a little pride.

People should at least put a CFL in the lights they leave on just to make the home look lived in.  As a landlord of older houses, I strongly believe that running less current through old wires, fixtures, circuits and switches is an important step for safety.   A large percentage of house fires come from heating up the old, deteriorated wires especially in the old light fixtures.  Get those removed and rewired if and when you can, but running 1/4th the current is also helpful. 

I put CFLs in my rental units as much as I can.  When I talk to new tenants about using less energy they think I am a good Democrat like them, lol.  Fact is that I need them to be aware of other utility issues such as excess water usage and overworking the furnace, things that mean more wear and tear on the equipment or lead to charges that can come back to me even if they are the primary utility bill payer.

I got tired of my daughter leaving her bathroom light on.  Now I have her down to a 9 watt CFL.  It lights the small room fine with a cost down to about that of a nightlight.  I also use a 9 watt in our outside entryway.  At 5-below this morning, it lit up v e r y  s l o w l y... but it gives plenty of illumination to walk through safely, not for reading fine print.  Motion detectors and timers also add a great deal to getting things on and well lit but just when needed.

My worst CFL problems have been with breakage.  I had one that was defective out of the package and at least 3 that I've broken either from moving things around or tipping things over.  In order to save the planet, we have 3 huge diesel trucks come down our tiny, one house dead end every week taking a trash bag, 3 aluminum cans and no yard waste.  I can't opt out of these services, nor can I get them to take the things I need recycled most, those containing trace levels of toxic elements like a cfl.  I have no public comment on what might or might not have happened to these broken bulbs, but I no longer own them...

Back to opposing coercion, people should have the right to put a spot light with any type bulb they want on the Rembrandt in their living room when they want a higher quality of illumination -  if this is going to continue to be America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Opposing government or federal mandates has nothing to do with preferences for light bulbs.
Title: CFLs
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 16, 2008, 05:53:09 AM
Lights Out for Thomas Edison

Brief Analysis

No. 637

December 10, 2008

Read Article as PDF | Get Adobe Reader

by H. Sterling Burnett and Amanda Berg

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will soon ban the most
common light bulbs in the United States.  New efficiency standards will
require manufacturers to produce incandescent bulbs that use less energy per
unit of light produced, starting with 100-watt incandescent bulbs in 2012,
down to 40-watt bulbs in 2014.

Under the new standards:

100-watt light bulbs are banned entirely.
70-watt light bulbs will have to be 36 percent to 136 percent more
50-watt bulbs must be 50 percent to 112 percent more efficient.
40-watt bulbs will have to improve 50 percent to 110 percent.

Incandescent bulbs cannot meet these new standards absent a significant
technological breakthrough.  Thus, the common light bulb will soon be

Illuminating Efficiency.  The alternative for most household uses will be
compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) designed to fit standard incandescent bulb
bases.  CFLs currently make up only 5 percent of the light bulb market.
They have been touted for years as the smart choice for consumers interested
in reducing their energy bills, due to their extended lifespan and low
energy use vis-à-vis the equivalent light output from an incandescent.  For
example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 850 lumens - the same light
output as a 13-watt to 18-watt CFL.   Unfortunately, except under a fairly
narrow range of circumstances, CFLs are less efficient than advertised.
Manufacturers claim the average life span of a CFL bulb is 10,000 hours.
However, in many applications the life and energy savings of a CFL are
significantly lower:

CFLs must be left on for at least 15 minutes or used for several hours per
day to achieve their full energy saving benefits, according to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Applications in which lighting is used only briefly (such as closets,
bathrooms, motion detectors and so forth) will cause CFL bulbs to burn out
as quickly as regular incandescent bulbs.

CFLs often become dimmer over time - a study of U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Star" products found that after 40 percent of their rated service
life, one-fourth of tested CFLs no longer produced the full amount of light.

At about $3 per bulb, CFLs are expensive, whereas incandescent bulbs cost
only 20 cents per bulb, on average.  And there are other drawbacks.  For

When initially switched on, CFLs may provide as little as 50 percent to 80
percent of their rated light output and can take up to three minutes to
reach full brightness.
CFLs often don't fit existing light fixtures, such as small-base lamps and
candlelabras, so these will have to be replaced.
Standard CFLs will not operate at low temperatures, making them unsuitable
for outdoor lighting.
CFLs can emit an annoying buzz.

CFLs emit infrared light that can interfere with remote-controlled devices,
such as televisions, video games and stereo equipment.
CFLs are simply unsuited for many common uses. The new law therefore
excludes whole classes of light bulbs from the standards, including
appliance light bulbs (ovens and refrigerators), flashing and colored
lights, traffic signals, shatter-resistant bulbs, three-way adjustable bulbs
and so forth.

Hidden Dangers of CFLs.  CFLs contain potentially toxic mercury.  Thus,
there are health and environmental concerns regarding their proper disposal.
Shattered CFLs in municipal landfills have the potential to leach mercury
into the soil.  Over time this mercury could seep into the groundwater or
nearby streams.  For this reason, a number of states and localities have
outlawed disposing CFLs with normal trash - instead, consumers must take
their used CFLs to authorized hazardous waste disposal sites.

The EPA recommends recycling CFLs.  However, curbside recycling is not
available everywhere and often doesn't include CFLs.  Recycling facilities
that accept CFLs are not common within major metropolitan areas, much less
in rural areas where on-site incineration or trenches are often used - both
of which release mercury into the atmosphere.
Perhaps even more important is the danger of broken CFLs in the home. The
EPA has provided detailed guidelines to avoid unsafe indoor mercury levels
[see the sidebar].

Cleaning up mercury from a shattered CFL can be costly.  For example, when a
CFL broke in her daughter's bedroom, Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine,
called on the state's  Department of Environmental Protection to make sure
she cleaned up the broken glass and mercury powder safely.  A specialist
found unsafe levels of mercury in the air and recommended an environmental
cleanup firm, who estimated the clean up cost of at $2,000.  Beause her
mother was unable to pay the exorbitant cleaning bill, the girl's room
remained sealed off in plastic for more than a month.

Conclusion.  Consumers consider many factors in addition to energy
efficiency when they purchase light bulbs.  The ban on incandescent bulbs
will be costly and potentially dangerous.  The public has not yet embraced
CFLs, and the government should not impose on consumers its preferences
regarding the types of lights used in the home.  As the deficiencies of CFLs
become more apparent with widespread use, perhaps Congress will let
consumers decide.
Title: Re: Environmental issues, Nature, not human activity, rules the climate
Post by: DougMacG on December 17, 2008, 02:57:53 PM
I recommend the 50 page pdf at the link for a fact-filled rebuttal to the latest IPCC over-hype of man's role in climate change.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 17, 2008, 05:54:32 PM
I had an interesting conversation with a couple trying to sign me up for Greenpeace yesterday in front of the Whole Foods store. :lol:  The male half of the couple apparently was some sort of grad science student.   Armed as I was with the contents of this thread and the Pathological Science thread, he had a very hard time with me.  His frustration as I popped the various bubbles of  specious reasoning and misleading misrepresentations with which he was used to having his way (its not like the folks going into Whole Foods represent a reluctant to belief group on the whole  :wink: ) was quite enjoyable.  His girlfriend had a harder time of it  :lol: 

Good fun!  Thanks to BBG, GM, Doug et al for al the ammo!
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 17, 2008, 06:24:08 PM
Heh heh. Back in the late 80's I was living in Madison, Wisco, where I'd deal with all sorts of sweetness and light types seeking my signature on petitions to make Madison a nuclear free zone. Little did these yo-yos know that I had studied a lot of Soviet military and gulag history; they didn't like it very much as I laid out in graphic detail just how inane their petition was.
Title: Carbon Sequestering Caused Little Ice Age?
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 18, 2008, 09:38:54 AM
New World Post-Pandemic Reforestation Helped Start Little Ice Age, Say Stanford Scientists
December 18th, 2008 in Space & Earth science / Earth Sciences

The power of viruses is well documented in human history. Swarms of little viral Davids have repeatedly laid low the great Goliaths of human civilization, most famously in the devastating pandemics that swept the New World during European conquest and settlement.

In recent years, there has been growing evidence for the hypothesis that the effect of the pandemics in the Americas wasn't confined to killing indigenous peoples. Global climate appears to have been altered as well.

Stanford University researchers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of data detailing the amount of charcoal contained in soils and lake sediments at the sites of both pre-Columbian population centers in the Americas and in sparsely populated surrounding regions. They concluded that reforestation of agricultural lands-abandoned as the population collapsed-pulled so much carbon out of the atmosphere that it helped trigger a period of global cooling, at its most intense from approximately 1500 to 1750, known as the Little Ice Age.

"We estimate that the amount of carbon sequestered in the growing forests was about 10 to 50 percent of the total carbon that would have needed to come out of the atmosphere and oceans at that time to account for the observed changes in carbon dioxide concentrations," said Richard Nevle, visiting scholar in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford. Nevle and Dennis Bird, professor in geological and environmental sciences, presented their study at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Dec. 17, 2008.

Nevle and Bird synthesized published data from charcoal records from 15 sediment cores extracted from lakes, soil samples from 17 population centers and 18 sites from the surrounding areas in Central and South America. They examined samples dating back 5,000 years.
What they found was a record of slowly increasing charcoal deposits, indicating increasing burning of forestland to convert it to cropland, as agricultural practices spread among the human population-until around 500 years ago: At that point, there was a precipitous drop in the amount of charcoal in the samples, coinciding with the precipitous drop in the human population in the Americas.

To verify their results, they checked their fire histories based on the charcoal data against records of carbon dioxide concentrations and carbon isotope ratios that were available.
"We looked at ice cores and tropical sponge records, which give us reliable proxies for the carbon isotope composition of atmospheric carbon dioxide. And it jumped out at us right away," Nevle said. "We saw a conspicuous increase in the isotope ratio of heavy carbon to light carbon. That gave us a sense that maybe we were looking at the right thing, because that is exactly what you would expect from reforestation."

During photosynthesis, plants prefer carbon dioxide containing the lighter isotope of carbon. Thus a massive reforestation event would not only decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but would also leave carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that was enriched in the heavy carbon isotope.
Other theories have been proposed to account for the cooling at the time of the Little Ice Age, as well as the anomalies in the concentration and carbon isotope ratios of atmospheric carbon dioxide associated with that period.

Variations in the amount of sunlight striking the Earth, caused by a drop in sunspot activity, could also be a factor in cooling down the globe, as could a flurry of volcanic activity in the late 16th century.

But the timing of these events doesn't fit with the observed onset of the carbon dioxide drop. These events don't begin until at least a century after carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began to decline and the ratio of heavy to light carbon isotopes in atmospheric carbon dioxide begins to increase.

Nevle and Bird don't attribute all of the cooling during the Little Ice Age to reforestation in the Americas.

"There are other causes at play," Nevle said. "But reforestation is certainly a first-order contributor."

Source: Stanford University
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on December 18, 2008, 12:48:08 PM

Viva Las Snow drifts!
Title: Eco Storm Troopers Sought?
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 23, 2008, 06:48:37 AM
Seeing how many on the left have had a hard time finding a despot they didn't like, many of the bon mots in this piece inspire a shudder. Think the fact that many are already working on the legal justifications for eco-intrusions is particularly spooky.

Martial law of the jungle
When defending the environment means calling in the military

By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow  |  December 21, 2008

SCRATCH AN ENVIRONMENTALIST and you are likely to find a skeptic of military force. At protest marches and on car bumpers, slogans like "Good Planets Are Hard to Find" mingle with peace signs. This overlap makes sense: Both positions operate under a larger ethos of avoiding harm - and war, after all, often wreaks ecological devastation.

But some green thinkers are now coming to a surprising conclusion: In exceptional circumstances, they say, the only effective way to protect the environment may be at the barrel of a gun. In some cases, notably in Africa, biodiversity is threatened by military conflict, or by well-armed gangs of poachers. These situations, some say, call for a response in kind - deploying the military to guard natural reserves, or providing rangers with military-style arms and training.

A few analysts go further, arguing that in certain cases of severe ecological harm, the international community may be justified in mustering troops to intervene, with or without the permission of the host country. For example, a government might refuse to protect - or even willfully destroy - its own natural treasure, as when, in the 1990s, Saddam Hussein's regime drained the wetlands that were home to the persecuted Marsh Arabs. Or, as resources grow scarcer, one nation's overexploitation of a forest or river could lead to dire consequences for other countries. In response to both kinds of scenarios, some have begun to raise the possibility of an "eco-intervention," analogous to humanitarian interventions.

Already, some conservation campaigns have taken on martial aspects. Over the past couple of decades, at least two paramilitary groups in the Central African Republic have operated with government approval, as reported recently in an article on "armed environmentalism" in The Ecologist, a British magazine. In some parts of Africa, rangers receive military training and equipment to defend animals (and themselves) from poachers in pursuit of elephants, rhinos, gorillas, and other endangered species. In Nicaragua, the army patrols beaches to protect sea turtle eggs.

But now there is increasing talk of more far-reaching action. Last year, Australian professor Robyn Eckersley published a much-discussed article in the journal Ethics and International Affairs, offering a framework for staging eco-interventions. In May, Brazil's new environment minister proposed sending troops to guard the Amazon. And experts agree that climate change will prove a major security issue of this century.

"If you consider how people fight over oil and other resources, I don't see any more noble cause than to fight over the preservation of the planet," says Alex Cornelissen, director of Sea Shepherd's Operation Galapagos, which works with the Ecuadorian government to catch poachers.

Bringing in armed force would take the idea of environmental defense to a new level. But in the view of some analysts, the enterprise would be doomed by moral and practical problems. The notion of eco-intervention could provide an additional pretext for waging wars - did we really need another reason to invade Iraq? The idea also suffers from imperialist overtones, adding another layer to fraught questions of sovereignty. In the small-scale scenarios, more basic ethical dilemmas emerge. Some poachers are poverty-stricken locals, just trying to survive, and using force against them seems cruel. The effort and funding, some say, should go instead to giving these poachers economic alternatives.

"It's a very hot potato," says Karl Ammann, a wildlife photographer based in Kenya, who was named one of Time magazine's "heroes of the environment" in 2007. "The moment it involves arms, the accusation is that you're putting the animals ahead of people."

Endangered species in many parts of the world are under constant assault, whether from subsistence poachers, who hunt to meet basic needs, or their commercial counterparts, who take part in the multibillion dollar illegal trade in wildlife. In the last hundred years the number of tigers in the world has fallen by 95 percent; in China, tiger bone is used in traditional medicine, while tiger penises are considered an aphrodisiac. Every year, up to 12,000 African elephants are killed for ivory. For many species, poaching is one of the main threats to survival.

In Africa, staggering numbers of the continent's charismatic fauna - elephants, rhinos, gorillas, and others - have been slaughtered for horns, tusks, and bushmeat. In 1989, Richard Leakey, director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, armed park rangers and antipoaching units, which were given the authority to shoot poachers on sight. His campaign is credited with reviving the elephant population. In 2002, an American NGO called African Rainforest and Rivers Conservation supplied arms to a group of locals in the Central African Republic, with government permission.

In South Africa, a college for rangers, established about 20 years ago, offers military-style training to park rangers from around the continent. In recent years the urgency has grown. Many contemporary poachers form heavily armed, well-organized gangs, often from neighboring countries. "In Africa there's really a big need for those rangers to be able to defend themselves," says Deanne Adams, vice president of the International Ranger Federation, an organization with affiliates from ranger associations around the world.

According to estimates, about 1,000 rangers worldwide have been killed in the line of duty in the past 10 years, 130 of them in just one national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. About 700 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, 200 of which are believed to be in the Congo. As of June, the last four Northern white rhinos in the wild were feared dead at the hands of poachers. "There's not a lot of time left for some of these species," says Michael Zwirn, director of US operations for Wildlife Alliance.

Other natural resources benefit the world at large more directly. Major rain forests, such as the Congo Basin forest and the Amazon, often called the "lungs of the earth," absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, providing a crucial check on global warming. In Brazil, illegal ranching is one of the leading causes of deforestation. After taking office last May, Brazil's new environment minister, Carlos Minc, sent the military to seize cattle on illegally deforested land, and he has suggested that army regiments patrol the Amazon's nature reserves.

The role of national militaries in protecting the environment appears to be growing. A far more controversial proposal, though, is action by outside forces. The concept of a "green-helmet brigade" from the UN has floated around environmental policy circles for some years, inspiring a handful of academic papers.

Most recently, the idea surfaced in the article by Robyn Eckersley, a professor at the University of Melbourne and author of "The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty." In this paper, Eckersley explores possible scenarios in which armed intervention might be called for on ecological grounds. The first is an imminent environmental disaster, such as Chernobyl, in which spillover effects to neighboring countries were foreseen. This, Eckersley said, would be consistent with existing international law, because the goals would include protecting citizens from the repercussions.

The second possibility is what she dubs "eco-humanitarianism" - cases where gross human rights abuses accompany environmental crimes. For example, Saddam Hussein persecuted Iraq's Marsh Arabs in various ways, including the deliberate destruction of the wetlands that sustained their way of life. In similar situations, Eckersley argues, the human rights violations might justify intervention anyway, while the ecological component could bolster the case.

Lastly, and most provocatively, she suggests that environmental damage alone, even in the absence of transboundary spillover effects, could constitute grounds for intervention. For example, she says, if the government of Rwanda were unable or unwilling to protect the last remaining mountain gorillas, an international force might send troops to do so.

"I think it's a little far off," says Eckersley, but "there's good reason to have principled discussions about this now."

Linda Malone, a law professor at William and Mary, has also written about this idea. She frames it in terms of the "responsibility to protect," a nascent concept in international relations, first developed in 2001 by a Canadian governmental commission. The doctrine emphasizes not the rights of states - i.e. sovereignty - but the responsibilities of states to their populations. The corollary is that if a state fails to meet its obligations, the international community has both the right and the responsibility to intervene. As of now, the doctrine refers only to human rights, but eventually, Malone says, it could apply to the environment as well.

"The responsibility to protect at some point in the future has got to extend to species and biodiversity," Malone says. "It seems to me a natural progression, from protection of states to protection of human security to environmental security in a broader sense."

Eckersley and Malone stress that armed intervention must always be approached with extreme caution, as a last resort. Still, the possibility elicits skepticism from many of their colleagues. Followed to its logical conclusion, the critics say, the reasoning threatens to mire us in violent, confusing conflicts around the world.

"How many pretexts do you really want to offer a government for armed intervention?" asks Mathew Humphrey, a professor at the University of Nottingham who participated in an online symposium discussing Eckersley's paper. There is also the stark political problem: Given the public's intervention fatigue, sending in the troops to save the gorillas seems more than a little far-fetched. "Are they really going to think they can sell that to the people back home?" Humphrey asks.

At its heart, eco-intervention poses an even more radical question: What is the relative value of human and nonhuman life? Eckersley explicitly challenges "human chauvinism," as many environmentalists embrace "biocentrism" and shun anthropocentrism. But who is prepared to tell a family that their son or daughter died to save a mountain gorilla, or a stand of old-growth forest?

Another kind of eco-intervention, however, is more plausible. As the planet's environmental stress mounts, conflicts over dwindling resources, or escalating damage, could easily threaten to spiral into a broader war, says Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the UN's Environment Program. The member states of the UN, Nuttall says, might then decide to intervene in order to halt the environmental degradation.

"In 20, 30, 40 years time, when we're living on a planet with 9 billion people, and if you lay climate change over the top," he says, "this becomes an issue of avoiding conflicts and the collapse of states."

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow is a contributing writer for Ideas. She can be reached at
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 23, 2008, 11:17:52 AM
Second post. I'm such a believer in AGW, that I bought a truck with plow this year.

Whatever Happened to Global Warming?
Because we could sure use some of it right about now.

By Deroy Murdock

Winter officially arrived with Sunday’s solstice. But for many Americans, frigid January-like conditions have prevailed for weeks.

Christmas and Hanukkah travelers are delayed if not stranded at airports on the northwest and northeast coasts. Snow clogs runways, and ice coats airplane wing flaps as Americans wait extra hours and days to reach their loved ones.

New Englanders still lack electricity after a December 11 ice storm snapped power lines. Some 3,900 Granite State customers remain in the dark after what PSNH, the local utility, called “the most devastating natural disaster to hit New Hampshire in recent history.” Over the weekend, snow similarly knocked out the lights in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.

Meanwhile, up to eight inches of snow struck New Orleans and southern Louisiana on December 11 and didn’t melt for 48 hours in some neighborhoods.

“I’ve lived in south Louisiana my entire life and had never seen the amount of snow we saw in many parts of the parish that day,” Tammany Parish resident Andrew Canulette wrote in December 17’s New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That sort of thing just doesn’t happen around here.”

In southern California last Wednesday, half an inch of snow brightened Malibu’s hills while a half-foot barricaded highways and marooned commuters in desert towns east of Los Angeles. Snow barred soldiers at Barstow’s Fort Irwin from deploying to Iraq. In Las Vegas, 3.6 inches of the white stuff — the most seen in 19 years — shuttered McCarren Airport Wednesday and dusted the Strip’s hotels and casinos.

What are the odds of that?

Actually, the odds are rising that snow, ice, and cold will grow increasingly common. As serious scientists repeatedly explain, global cooling is here. It is chilling temperatures — if not the climate alarmists’ fevered expectations of so-called global warming.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2008 will be America’s coldest year since 1997, thanks to La Niña and precipitation in the central and eastern states. Solar quietude also may underlie global cooling. This year’s sunspots and solar radiation approach the minimum in the Sun’s cycle, corresponding with lower Earth temperatures. This echoes Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas’ belief that solar variability, much more than CO2, sways global temperatures.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service reports that last summer was Anchorage’s third coldest on record. “Not since 1980 has there been a summer less reflective of global warming,” Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage Daily News. Consequently, Alaska’s glaciers are thickening in the middle. “It’s been a long time on most glaciers where they’ve actually had positive mass balance,” U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia told Medred October 13. Similarly, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has found that the extent of Arctic sea ice has expanded by 13.2 percent over last year. This 270,000 square-mile growth in Arctic sea ice is just slightly larger than Texas’s 268,820 square miles.


Across the equator, Brazil endured an especially cold September. Snow graced its southern provinces that month.

Marc Morano, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Republican Communications Director, collects global-cooling incidents as others pin exotic moths to cork boards. Here are just a few of his latest specimens:

Just before Halloween, southwestern Florida’s temperatures plunged to 47 degrees, October’s coldest readings since 1902. October 29 saw 120 new record-cold measurements and 63 new record-snow figures across America.

The next day brought record cold to Havana, Cuba, where the mercury reached 48 degrees.

The most snow ever to hit Tibet killed seven people October 30, stranded 1,300 others in damaged buildings, and took the lives of 144,000 head of livestock.

Record snowfalls hit Switzerland the same day. Snow blocked rail lines between Interlaken and Spiez, forcing travelers onto buses. Snow-damaged fences in the Bernese Oberland helped cows slip away without adult supervision.

Mother Nature lampooned a speech on so-called “global warming” by its highest priest, former vice president Albert Gore Jr. Bracing temperatures greeted his October 22 remarks at Harvard University. “Starting at 3 p.m., we will be serving hot cider and soup to keep everyone warm,” read a letter to the Harvard Community from the school’s Sustainability Celebration Committee. “Please dress for our changeable New England weather.”

“Global Warming is over, and Global Warming Theory has failed. There is no evidence that CO2 drives world temperatures or any consequent climate change,” Imperial College London astrophysicist and long-range forecaster Piers Corbyn wrote British Members of Parliament on October 28. “According to official data in every year since 1998, world temperatures have been colder than that year, yet CO2 has been rising rapidly.” That evening, as the House of Commons debated legislation on so-called “global-warming,” October snow fell in London for the first time since 1922.

These observations parallel those of five German researchers led by Professor Noel Keenlyside of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences. “Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade,” they concluded in last May’s Nature, “as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic [man-made] warming.” This “lull” should doom the 0.54 degree Fahrenheit average global temperature rise predicted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Vatican of so-called “global warming.” Incidentally, the IPCC’s computer models factor in neither El Niño nor the Gulf Stream. Excluding such major climate variables would be like ESPN ignoring baseball and basketball.

America’s biased, pro-“warming” media holistically overlooked this paper in one of Earth’s most serious and respected scientific journals. Had these researchers forecast the years of higher temperatures, you would have heard about it, ad infinitum.


So, is this all just propaganda concocted by Chevron-funded, right-wing, flat-Earthers? Ask Dr. Martin Hertzberg, a physical chemist and retired Navy meteorologist.

“As a scientist and life-long liberal Democrat, I find the constant regurgitation of the anecdotal, fear mongering clap-trap about human-caused global warming to be a disservice to science,” Hertzberg wrote in September 26’s USA Today. “From the El Niño year of 1998 until Jan., 2007, the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere near its surface decreased some 0.25 C [0.45 F]. From Jan., 2007 until the spring of 2008, it dropped a whopping 0.75 C [1.35 F].”

As global cooling becomes more widely recognized, Americans from Maine to Malibu should feel confident in dreaming of a white Christmas.

— Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

National Review Online -
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on December 23, 2008, 03:07:42 PM
Anyone know if Al Gore's private jet was unable to fly due to snow and ice conditions ?
Title: Re: Environmental issues - 2008: Man-made global warming was disproved
Post by: DougMacG on December 29, 2008, 01:49:48 PM

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved

By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 10:59AM GMT 28 Dec 2008

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts" , reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation" , reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: David III on December 29, 2008, 02:43:45 PM
I saw (a bit of) global warming!!! All the ice around our house melted this weekend when it got to almost 40 degrees - with thunderstorms and a tornado three miles south of us. Now a whole week of this warming stuff and then another snowstorm early next week.

That's it, now I have to wait another year for global warming to come back. Good thing I have a lot of firewood cut.
Title: Solar winds at low
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 30, 2008, 06:33:28 AM
Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year Low


Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.

"The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."

McComas is principal investigator for the SWOOPS solar wind sensor onboard the Ulysses spacecraft, which measured the decrease. Ulysses, launched in 1990, circles the sun in a unique orbit that carries it over both the sun's poles and equator, giving Ulysses a global view of solar wind activity:

   Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year Low

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Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.
"The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."
McComas is principal investigator for the SWOOPS solar wind sensor onboard the Ulysses spacecraft, which measured the decrease. Ulysses, launched in 1990, circles the sun in a unique orbit that carries it over both the sun's poles and equator, giving Ulysses a global view of solar wind activity:
Above: Global measurements of solar wind pressure by Ulysses. Green curves trace the solar wind in 1992-1998, while blue curves denote lower pressure winds in 2004-2008. [Larger image]

Curiously, the speed of the million mph solar wind hasn't decreased much—only 3%. The change in pressure comes mainly from reductions in temperature and density. The solar wind is 13% cooler and 20% less dense.
"What we're seeing is a long term trend, a steady decrease in pressure that began sometime in the mid-1990s," explains Arik Posner, NASA's Ulysses Program Scientist in Washington DC.

How unusual is this event?
"It's hard to say. We've only been monitoring solar wind since the early years of the Space Age—from the early 60s to the present," says Posner. "Over that period of time, it's unique. How the event stands out over centuries or millennia, however, is anybody's guess. We don't have data going back that far."
Flagging solar wind has repercussions across the entire solar system—beginning with the heliosphere.

The heliosphere is a bubble of magnetism springing from the sun and inflated to colossal proportions by the solar wind. Every planet from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is inside it. The heliosphere is our solar system's first line of defense against galactic cosmic rays. High-energy particles from black holes and supernovas try to enter the solar system, but most are deflected by the heliosphere's magnetic fields.

Right: The heliosphere. Click to view a larger image showing the rest of the bubble.
"The solar wind isn't inflating the heliosphere as much as it used to," says McComas. "That means less shielding against cosmic rays."
In addition to weakened solar wind, "Ulysses also finds that the sun's underlying magnetic field has weakened by more than 30% since the mid-1990s," says Posner. "This reduces natural shielding even more."

Unpublished Ulysses cosmic ray data show that, indeed, high energy (GeV) electrons, a minor but telltale component of cosmic rays around Earth, have jumped in number by about 20%.
from the WT forum:
An increase in Cosmic Ray Flux (CRF) means more low cloud formation due to ionizing radiation producing ions which cause water vapor to condense on them. This causes a net cooling. There have been several controlled studies on this with the major test coming up next year in the EU. If this test works out and confirms the theory on CRF, then C02 induced climate feedback will get tossed in the trash.

There is a very high correlation between temperature changes on the Earth and CRF rates. In very short timescales, CRF is controlled by the sun with higher CRF occurring during low sunspot counts. On longer timescales, CRF is controlled by the Solar System's location within the Milky Way galaxy - with times within the spiral arms being high CRF (cold periods) and times between the arms as low CRF ( warm periods). In between these two timescales is the Milankovitch Cycle.

You can google "cosmic rays cloud formation" for more information. Here is an infamous article that really set the stage for this publicly.

You can watch the hourly and monthly CRF averages here.

Sunspot counts and climate. Plus, a prediction.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on December 30, 2008, 06:40:16 AM
Somebody fuel up Al Gore's spaceship.....
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on December 30, 2008, 11:42:08 AM
I will be selling solar wind credits now, so no worries.  :evil:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: David III on December 30, 2008, 11:46:18 AM
If Al Gore starts talking, will the solar wind gain power?
Title: Rubbish Rubbish
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on January 28, 2009, 05:12:07 PM
Perverse cascading incentives on parade. Can't we at some point just admit the emperor is naked and design sensible policies?

Recycling 'could be adding to global warming'
Recycling could be adding to global warming rather than reducing it, a key government adviser on waste management has said.
By Louise Gray and Gordon Rayner
Last Updated: 7:50PM GMT 28 Jan 2009

Peter Jones suggested that much of the country's waste should simply be burnt to generate electricity Photo: PA

Peter Jones suggested that an "urgent" review of Labour's policy on recycling was needed to make sure the collection, transportation and processing of recyclable material was not causing a net increase in greenhouse gases.

Mr Jones, a former director of the waste firm Biffa and now an adviser to environment ministers and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, also dismissed kerbside recycling collections in many areas as "stupid" because they mixed together different materials, rendering them useless for recycling.

He suggested that much of the country's waste should simply be burnt to generate electricity.

"It might be that the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away," he said.
"We've got to urgently get a grip on how this material is flowing through the system; whether we're actually adding to or reducing the overall impact in terms of global warming potential in this process."

Mr Jones's outspoken comments come amid increasing controversy over household recycling.

Last month, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that councils in England and Wales were dumping more than 200,000 tons of recyclable waste every year – up to 10 per cent of all the glass, paper, plastic and other materials separated out by householders. Thousands of tons of recyclables are shipped to China because of insufficient capacity and demand in Britain.
In some parts of the country, residents have to sort their waste into as many as seven containers, including food waste bins, which has helped councils to justify the scrapping of weekly bin collections.

Some town halls have admitted using anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on householders who fail to recycle properly, but councils have so far refused to test the Government's bin taxes, under which people would be fined for throwing out too much rubbish.

But a collapse in the market value of recyclable waste as a result of the global recession means many waste disposal firms are having to stockpile paper, metals and plastics in vast warehouses because they are unable to sell it on.

Mr Jones's comments will add to the suspicion of many householders that the Government's recycling strategy is in chaos.

He said: "In overall terms we are reducing our carbon footprint by diverting material from landfill, but we are in danger of losing those reductions through the wrong policy decisions."
Mr Jones suggested generating electricity by burning waste instead. Alternatively, organic rubbish could be pulverised and stored in vats so that it releases methane, which could be captured and used to generate electricity.
Title: Oh Dear, the Rainforest is Regrowing
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on February 02, 2009, 06:20:48 PM
Note that this piece states that rainforest are a major carbon sink, and that rainforest are regrowing at a rate that is not accurately measured. Sounds to me like a major loose end within the "settled science."

January 30, 2009
New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Rain Forests

CHILIBRE, Panama — The land where Marta Ortega de Wing raised hundreds of pigs until 10 years ago is being overtaken by galloping jungle — palms, lizards and ants.

Instead of farming, she now shops at the supermarket and her grown children and grandchildren live in places like Panama City and New York.

Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing’s — and much larger swaths of farmland — are reverting to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings.

These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

“There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants.

The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play. They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.

The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists who believe that vigorous efforts to protect native rain forest should remain a top priority. But the notion has gained currency in mainstream organizations like the Smithsonian Institution and the United Nations, which in 2005 concluded that new forests were “increasing dramatically” and “undervalued” for their environmental benefits. The United Nations is undertaking the first global catalog of the new forests, which vary greatly in their stage of growth.

“Biologists were ignoring these huge population trends and acting as if only original forest has conservation value, and that’s just wrong,” said Joe Wright, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute here, who set off a firestorm two years ago by suggesting that the new forests could substantially compensate for rain forest destruction.

“Is this a real rain forest?” Dr. Wright asked, walking the land of a former American cacao plantation that was abandoned about 50 years ago, and pointing to fig trees and vast webs of community spiders and howler monkeys.

“A botanist can look at the trees here and know this is regrowth,” he said. “But the temperature and humidity are right. Look at the number of birds! It works. This is a suitable habitat.”

Dr. Wright and others say the overzealous protection of rain forests not only prevents poor local people from profiting from the rain forests on their land but also robs financing and attention from other approaches to fighting global warming, like eliminating coal plants.

But other scientists, including some of Dr. Wright’s closest colleagues, disagree, saying that forceful protection of rain forests is especially important in the face of threats from industrialized farming and logging.

The issue has also set off a debate over the true definition of a rain forest. How do old forests compare with new ones in their environmental value? Is every rain forest sacred?

“Yes, there are forests growing back, but not all forests are equal,” said Bill Laurance, another senior scientist at the Smithsonian, who has worked extensively in the Amazon.

He scoffed as he viewed Ms. Ortega de Wing’s overgrown land: “This is a caricature of a rain forest!” he said. “There’s no canopy, there’s too much light, there are only a few species. There is a lot of change all around here whittling away at the forest, from highways to development.”

While new forests may absorb carbon emissions, he says, they are unlikely to save most endangered rain-forest species, which have no way to reach them.

Everyone, including Dr. Wright, agrees that large-scale rain-forest destruction in the Amazon or Indonesia should be limited or managed. Rain forests are the world’s great carbon sinks, absorbing the emissions that humans send into the atmosphere, and providing havens for biodiversity.

At issue is how to tally the costs and benefits of forests, at a time when increasing attention is being paid to global climate management and carbon accounting.

Just last month, at climate talks held by the United Nations in Poznan, Poland, the world’s environment ministers agreed to a new program through which developing countries will be rewarded for preventing deforestation. But little is known about the new forests — some of them have never even been mapped — and they were not factored into the equation at the meetings.

Dr. Wright and other scientists say they should be. About 38 million acres of original rain forest are being cut down every year, but in 2005, according to the most recent “State of the World’s Forests Report” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there were an estimated 2.1 billion acres of potential replacement forest growing in the tropics — an area almost as large as the United States. The new forest included secondary forest on former farmland and so-called degraded forest, land that has been partly logged or destroyed by natural disasters like fires and then left to nature. In Panama by the 1990s, the last decade for which data is available, the rain forest is being destroyed at a rate of 1.3 percent each year. The area of secondary forest is increasing by more than 4 percent yearly, Dr. Wright estimates.

With the heat and rainfall in tropical Panama, new growth is remarkably fast. Within 15 years, abandoned land can contain trees more than 100 feet high. Within 20, a thick rain-forest canopy forms again. Here in the lush, misty hills, it is easy to see rain-forest destruction as part of a centuries-old cycle of human civilization and wilderness, in which each in turn is cleared and replaced by the other. The Mayans first cleared lands here that are now dense forest. The area around Gamboa, cleared when the Panama Canal was built, now looks to the untrained eye like the wildest of jungles.

But Dr. Laurance says that is a dangerous lens through which to view the modern world, where the forces that are destroying rain forest operate on a scale previously unknown.

Now the rain forest is being felled by “industrial forestry, agriculture, the oil and gas industry — and it’s globalized, where every stick of timber is being cut in Congo is sent to China and one bulldozer does a lot more damage than 1,000 farmers with machetes,” he said.

Globally, one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions come from the destruction of rain forests, scientists say. It is unknown how much of that is being canceled out by forest that is in the process of regrowth. It is a crucial but scientifically controversial question, the answer to which may depend on where and when the forests are growing.

Although the United Nations’ report noted the enormous increase of secondary forests, it is unclear how to describe or define them. The 2.1 billion acres of secondary forests includes a mishmash of land that has the potential to grow into a vibrant faux rain forest and land that may never become more than a biologically shallow tangle of trees and weeds.

“Our knowledge of these forests is still rather limited,” said Wulf Killmann, director of forestry products and industry at the United Nations agriculture organization. The agency is in the early phases of a global assessment of the scope of secondary forest, which will be ready in 2011.

The Smithsonian, hoping to answer such questions, is just starting to study a large plot of newly abandoned farmland in central Panama to learn about the regeneration of forests there.

Regenerated forests in the tropics appear to be especially good at absorbing emissions of carbon, but that ability is based on location and rate of growth. A field abandoned in New York in 1900 will have trees shorter than those growing on a field here that was abandoned just 20 years ago.

For many biologists, a far bigger concern is whether new forests can support the riot of plant and animal species associated with rain forests. Part of the problem is that abandoned farmland is often distant from native rain forest. How does it help Amazonian species threatened by rain-forest destruction in Brazil if secondary forests grow on the outskirts of Panama City?

Dr. Wright — an internationally respected scientist — said he knew he was stirring up controversy when he suggested to a conference of tropical biologists that rain forests might not be so bad off. Having lived in Panama for 25 years, he is convinced that scientific assessments of the rain forests’ future were not taking into account the effects of population and migration trends that are obvious on the ground.

In Latin America and Asia, birthrates have dropped drastically; most people have two or three children. New jobs tied to global industry, as well as improved transportation, are luring a rural population to fast-growing cities. Better farming techniques and access to seed and fertilizer mean that marginal lands are no longer farmed because it takes fewer farmers to feed a growing population.

Gumercinto Vásquez, a stooped casual laborer who was weeding a field in Chilibre in the blistering sun, said it had become hard for him to find work because so many farms had been abandoned.

“Very few people around here are farming these days,” he said.

Dr. Wright, looking at a new forest, sees possibility. He says new research suggests that 40 to 90 percent of rain-forest species can survive in new forest.

Dr. Laurance focuses on what will be missing, ticking off species like jaguars, tapirs and a variety of birds and invertebrates.

While he concedes that a regrown forest may absorb some carbon, he insists, “This is not the rich ecosystem of a rain forest.”

Still, the fate of secondary forests lies not just in biology. A global recession could erase jobs in cities, driving residents back to the land.

“Those are questions for economists and politicians, not us,” Dr. Wright said.

Title: Hard to Sell Hopelessness
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on February 20, 2009, 08:43:12 AM
This piece inspires some mixed feelings. As someone who has contributed blood, sweat, and bone fragments to some hard core environmental efforts it galls me to deal with people who clearly have a superficial understanding of science and environmental issues, who nonetheless nag self righteously about inane actions purported to prevent disaster presented in the starkest of terms. It's nice to see the folly of that tact finally acknowledged.

Flip side is that the solution suggested, embracing virtue, is something many on the postmodern, identity politic, deconstructionalist left collectively roll their eyes about. Suspect the ones who most need to hear this message are the ones least inclined to listen.

Abandon hope

Live sustainably just because it's the right thing to do

Do you "hope" that everyone will see the light and start living more sustainably to save the environment? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

So say an environmental scientist and an environmental ethicist in a provocative essay in the March 2009 issue of the international journal, The Ecologist. John Vucetich, assistant professor of animal ecology at Michigan Technological University, and Michael Nelson, associate professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University, challenge the widespread belief that hope can motivate people to solve overwhelming social and environmental problems.

"Is hope a placebo, a distraction, merely sowing the seeds of disillusionment?" they ask, in an opinion piece titled "Abandon Hope." The authors, co-founders and directors of the Conservation Ethics Group, an of environmental ethics consultancy, examine the proper role of hope in environmentalism. They suggest that hope's alternative is not hopelessness or despair, but rather the inherent virtue of "doing the right thing."

For decades, say Vucetich and Nelson, we have been hammered by the ceaseless thunder of messages predicting imminent environmental cataclysm: global climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat, holes in the ozone. The response of environmentalists—from Al Gore to Jane Goodall—to this persistent message of hopelessness has focused on the need to remain hopeful.

But hope may actually be counter-productive, Vucetich and Nelson suggest. "I have little reason to live sustainably if the only reason to do so is to hope for a sustainable future, because every other message I receive suggests that disaster is guaranteed," they explain.

People are hearing radically contradictory messages:

Scientists present evidence that profound environmental disaster is imminent.
It is urgent to live up to an extremely high standard of sustainable living.
The reason to live sustainably is that doing so gives hope for averting disaster.
Yet disaster is inevitable.
"Given a predisposition to mistrust authorities, such contradictions justifiably elicit mistrust," say Vucetich and Nelson.

If hope for averting environmental disaster is not the right reason to live sustainably, what is? The scholars say we must provide people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective, based on virtues rather than consequences. That means equating sustainable living not with hope for a better future, but with basic virtues such as sharing and caring, virtues that we recognize as good in themselves and fundamentally the right way to live in the present, they explain.

One advantage to such an approach is that it can motivate even people who do not believe that we are on the brink of environmental disaster, Vucetich and Nelson point out. It also clarifies the connection between environmental and social problems, a connection many people fail to grasp.

"Instead of hope, we need to provide young people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective," they say. "We need to lift up examples of sustainable living motivated by virtue more than by a dubious belief that such actions will avert environmental disaster."
Title: Global Cooling Occurring
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on February 27, 2009, 11:42:26 AM
Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling
Michael Asher (Blog) - February 26, 2008 12:55 PM

World Temperatures according to the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction. Note the steep drop over the last year.
Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here.  The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

Let's hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans -- and most of the crops and animals we depend on -- prefer a temperature closer to 70.
Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

Update 2/27: The graph for HadCRUT (above), as well as the linked graphs for RSS and UAH are generated month-to-month; the temperature declines span a full 12 months of data.  The linked GISS graph was graphed for the months of January only, due to a limitation in the plotting program.   Anthony Watts, who kindly provided the graphics, otherwise has no connection with the column.  The views and comments are those of the author only.

Title: China Mudslide Releases 2 Percent of Total Greenhouse Gas
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 02, 2009, 01:36:00 PM
Natural causes of "greenhouse gas" emissions dwarf manmade, but that often escapes the notice of the environmental apocalypse mongers.

Wenchuan earthquake mudslides emit greenhouse gas

Mudslides that followed the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan, China earthquake, ranked by the US Geological Survey as the 11th deadliest earthquake ever recorded, may cause a carbon-dioxide release in upcoming decades equivalent to two percent of current annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion, a new study shows.

Mudslides wipe away plants and topsoil, depleting terrain of nutrients for plant regrowth and burying swaths of vegetation. Buried vegetable matter decomposes and releases carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere.

The expected carbon dioxide release from the mudslides following the Wenchuan earthquake is similar to that caused by Hurricane Katrina's plant damage, report Diandong Ren, of the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues, who used a computer model to predict the ecosystem impacts of the mudslides.

What's more, the vegetation destruction will lead to a loss of nitrogen from the quake-devastated region's ecosystem twice as large as the loss of that nutrient from California ecosystems because of the October 2007 wildfires there, Ren says. And, as the biomass buried by the China quake rots, 14 percent of the nitrogen will be spewed into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a pollutant typically released from agricultural operations, automobiles, and other sources.

The team will publish its findings on 4 March 2009 in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Although landscapes devastated by the Chinese earthquake may re-green soon, the recovery will be cosmetic, says Ren. "From above, the area will look green in a few years, because grass grows back quickly, but the soil nutrients recover very slowly, and other kinds of plants won't grow," he says.

The magnitude-7.9 Wenchuan quake was followed by many aftershocks in the Sichuan Basin, an area that, because of its geological features – deep valleys enclosed by high mountains with steep slopes – is already prone to landslides. May is also the rainy season in Sichuan, and the combination of aftershocks and major precipitation events in the days following the earthquake caused severe mudslides. The avalanches killed thousands, destroyed roads and blocked rivers and access to relief, and shredded water and power stations, among other facilities. To predict ecosystem impacts of the mudslides, Ren and his collaborators applied a comprehensive computer model of landslides that incorporates several physical parameters, such as soil mechanics, root mechanical reinforcement (the root's grip of the dirt, which mitigates erosion), and precipitation.

Ren's model also shows that the primary mudslides following the earthquake removed large areas of nutrient-rich topsoil, leaving behind deep scars in the land that will take decades to recover, preventing the re-growth of vegetation.

The researchers write in their paper that, although being able to predict the location and timing of a mudslide is essential to mitigate its impacts, current mudslide models are not accurate enough.

"Previous approaches, which are mainly based on statistical approaches and empirical measures, have no predictive ability of where mudslides are going to happen," Ren says. His model, he claims, could be applied to forecast under what circumstances a landslide would occur at a specific location. He points out this would be particularly useful for places such as Southern California, where global warming predictions call for an increase in the frequency of these events.
Title: Re: Environmental issues - Human caused warming .00003 degrees C per decade?
Post by: DougMacG on March 02, 2009, 02:22:22 PM
Guinness,  Thanks for your attention to this topic. 

"Natural causes of "greenhouse gas" emissions dwarf manmade, but that often escapes the notice of the environmental apocalypse mongers."

Toward the end of page one of this thread (Feb. 07) I posted some crude math that I entitled 'global warming math', (no replies).  The alarmists it seems will always tell us that man's role in warming is large, significant, even fatal, but they never tell us just how much, so I did my own math.  I'm interested in your view and others.  How much warming was caused my man?
" I give it my first shot. I recognize that all components of my math are inexact (wrong) and controversial, but they are based on the best estimates I have found, and I already disclosed my bias above.  Please re-do the math with the data you trust better and post your answer to the question - at what rate is mankind warming the planet?

Estimate of total warming over the last 50 years:  0.5 degrees Celsius  (Doesn't count recent cooling back to starting point)

Proportion of atmosphere CO2 attributable to humans:  3% (0.03)

Proportion of greenhouse effect attributable to CO2: less than 2% (0.02)

Negative feedback factor estimate: 50% (0.5)

Conversion factor of 50 year warming to per decade warming: 1/5 (0.2)

Total warming attributable to humans: 0.5 x 0.03 x 0.02 x 0.5 x 0.2 =0.00003 degrees C per decade.

This is not in contradiction to the wording of scientists that it is very likely, with 90% certainty, that human activity is contributing to global warming."

The reason I'm not alarmed is not just because the number is infinitessimally small, but also because the system has automatic corrective forces and because I believe the period of time that man will depend heavily on fossil fuels is a blip in time in terms of the history and life of the planet.  I expect we burn gasoline for maybe 50-70 more years maximum out of more than 4.5 billion years.

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 02, 2009, 08:06:49 PM

Looks like a good back of the envelope calculation to me, though I confess there are elements in your post I'm not willing to cede. First, perhaps not on your end, but implicit in global warming discussions is the belief that warming is bad, though I've seen several compelling arguments linking halcyon epochs with warmer temps. If I had to chose between glaciers covering half the land mass and Al Gores melting ice caps I know which way I'd go.

Second, and I understand you know this, we are looking at a single variable in an incredibly complex system. Question of science that are far better understood and far less complex regularly produce surprises. As such I'm loathe to accept the CO2=catastrophe premise that all of the global warming debate is predicated on. We aren't even to the point where we know what we don't know, much less to the point where focus on a single variable makes much sense.

Finally, as you point out, current temps are less than a blip on the planets climate continuum. There have been warmer times, there have been cooler times, and the current couple decades inspiring all the gnashing of teeth are well within the extremes. Getting ever so worked up about a single phrase in an encyclopedia makes no more sense than the current consternation.
Title: NYT Gets it Right . . . 120 Years Ago
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 05, 2009, 10:16:52 AM
New York Times piece on climate:
Title: Freeman Dyson, I
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 31, 2009, 12:28:41 PM
March 29, 2009
The Civil Heretic

FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson has quietly resided in Prince ton, N.J., on the wooded former farmland that is home to his employer, the Institute for Advanced Study, this country’s most rarefied community of scholars. Lately, however, since coming “out of the closet as far as global warming is concerned,” as Dyson sometimes puts it, there has been noise all around him. Chat rooms, Web threads, editors’ letter boxes and Dyson’s own e-mail queue resonate with a thermal current of invective in which Dyson has discovered himself variously described as “a pompous twit,” “a blowhard,” “a cesspool of misinformation,” “an old coot riding into the sunset” and, perhaps inevitably, “a mad scientist.” Dyson had proposed that whatever inflammations the climate was experiencing might be a good thing because carbon dioxide helps plants of all kinds grow. Then he added the caveat that if CO2 levels soared too high, they could be soothed by the mass cultivation of specially bred “carbon-eating trees,” whereupon the University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner looked through the thick grove of honorary degrees Dyson has been awarded — there are 21 from universities like Georgetown, Princeton and Oxford — and suggested that “perhaps trees can also be designed so that they can give directions to lost hikers.” Dyson’s son, George, a technology historian, says his father’s views have cooled friendships, while many others have concluded that time has cost Dyson something else. There is the suspicion that, at age 85, a great scientist of the 20th century is no longer just far out, he is far gone — out of his beautiful mind.

But in the considered opinion of the neurologist Oliver Sacks, Dyson’s friend and fellow English expatriate, this is far from the case. “His mind is still so open and flexible,” Sacks says. Which makes Dyson something far more formidable than just the latest peevish right-wing climate-change denier. Dyson is a scientist whose intelligence is revered by other scientists — William Press, former deputy director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and now a professor of computer science at the University of Texas, calls him “infinitely smart.” Dyson — a mathematics prodigy who came to this country at 23 and right away contributed seminal work to physics by unifying quantum and electrodynamic theory — not only did path-breaking science of his own; he also witnessed the development of modern physics, thinking alongside most of the luminous figures of the age, including Einstein, Richard Feynman, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Witten, the “high priest of string theory” whose office at the institute is just across the hall from Dyson’s. Yet instead of hewing to that fundamental field, Dyson chose to pursue broader and more unusual pursuits than most physicists — and has lived a more original life.

Among Dyson’s gifts is interpretive clarity, a penetrating ability to grasp the method and significance of what many kinds of scientists do. His thoughts about how science works appear in a series of lucid, elegant books for nonspecialists that have made him a trusted arbiter of ideas ranging far beyond physics. Dyson has written more than a dozen books, including “Origins of Life” (1999), which synthesizes recent discoveries by biologists and geologists into an evaluation of the double-origin hypothesis, the possibility that life began twice; “Disturbing the Universe” (1979) tries among other things to reconcile science and humanity. “Weapons and Hope” (1984) is his meditation on the meaning and danger of nuclear weapons that won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Dyson’s books display such masterly control of complex matters that smart young people read him and want to be scientists; older citizens finish his books and feel smart.

Yet even while probing and sifting, Dyson is always whimsically gazing into the beyond. As a boy he sketched plans for English rocket ships that could explore the stars, and then, in midlife, he helped design an American spacecraft to be powered by exploding atomic bombs — a secret Air Force project known as Orion. Dyson remains an armchair astronaut who speculates with glee about the coming of cheap space travel, when families can leave an overcrowded earth to homestead on asteroids and comets, swooping around the universe via solar sail craft. Dyson is convinced that our current “age of computers” will soon give way to “the age of domesticated biotechnology.” Bio-tech, he writes in his book, “Infinite in All Directions” (1988), “offers us the chance to imitate nature’s speed and flexibility,” and he imagines the furniture and art that people will “grow” for themselves, the pet dinosaurs they will “grow” for their children, along with an idiosyncratic menagerie of genetically engineered cousins of the carbon-eating tree: termites to consume derelict automobiles, a potato capable of flourishing on the dry red surfaces of Mars, a collision-avoiding car.

These ideas attract derision similar to Dyson’s essays on climate change, but he is an undeterred octogenarian futurist. “I don’t think of myself predicting things,” he says. “I’m expressing possibilities. Things that could happen. To a large extent it’s a question of how badly people want them to. The purpose of thinking about the future is not to predict it but to raise people’s hopes.” Formed in a heretical and broad-thinking tradition of British public intellectuals, Dyson left behind a brooding England still stricken by two bloody world wars to become an optimistic American immigrant with tremendous faith in the creative imagination’s ability to invent technologies that would overcome any predicament. And according to the physicist and former Caltech president Marvin Goldberger, Dyson is himself the living embodiment of that kind of ingenuity. “You point Freeman at a problem and he’ll solve it,” Goldberger says. “He’s extraordinarily powerful.” Dyson seems to see the world as an interdisciplinary set of problems out there for him to evaluate. Climate change is the big scientific issue of our time, so naturally he finds it irresistible. But to Dyson this is really only one more charged conundrum attracting his interest just as nuclear weapons and rural poverty have. That is to say, he is a great problem-solver who is not convinced that climate change is a great problem.

Dyson is well aware that “most consider me wrong about global warming.” That educated Americans tend to agree with the conclusion about global warming reached earlier this month at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen (“inaction is inexcusable”) only increases Dyson’s resistance. Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology and has a withering aversion to scientific consensus. The Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg admires Dyson’s physics — he says he thinks the Nobel committee fleeced him by not awarding his work on quantum electrodynamics with the prize — but Weinberg parts ways with his sensibility: “I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.”

Dyson says he doesn’t want his legacy to be defined by climate change, but his dissension from the orthodoxy of global warming is significant because of his stature and his devotion to the integrity of science. Dyson has said he believes that the truths of science are so profoundly concealed that the only thing we can really be sure of is that much of what we expect to happen won’t come to pass. In “Infinite in All Directions,” he writes that nature’s laws “make the universe as interesting as possible.” This also happens to be a fine description of Dyson’s own relationship to science. In the words of Avishai Margalit, a philosopher at the Institute for Advanced Study, “He’s a consistent reminder of another possibility.” When Dyson joins the public conversation about climate change by expressing concern about the “enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories,” these reservations come from a place of experience. Whatever else he is, Dyson is the good scientist; he asks the hard questions. He could also be a lonely prophet. Or, as he acknowledges, he could be dead wrong.

IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change. Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism. Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”

A particularly distressed member of that public was Dyson’s own wife, Imme, who, after seeing the film in a local theater with Dyson when it was released in 2006, looked at her husband out on the sidewalk and, with visions of drowning polar bears still in her eyes, reproached him: “Everything you told me is wrong!” she cried.

“The polar bears will be fine,” he assured her.

Not long ago Dyson sat in his institute office, a chamber so neat it reminds Dyson’s friend, the writer John McPhee, of a Japanese living room. On shelves beside Dyson were books about stellar evolution, viruses, thermodynamics and terrorism. “The climate-studies people who work with models always tend to overestimate their models,” Dyson was saying. “They come to believe models are real and forget they are only models.” Dyson speaks in calm, clear tones that carry simultaneous evidence of his English childhood, the move to the United States after completing his university studies at Cambridge and more than 50 years of marriage to the German-born Imme, but his opinions can be barbed, especially when a conversation turns to climate change. Climate models, he says, take into account atmospheric motion and water levels but have no feeling for the chemistry and biology of sky, soil and trees. “The biologists have essentially been pushed aside,” he continues. “Al Gore’s just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers.”

Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still “a relatively cool period in the earth’s history.” The warming, he says, is not global but local, “making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter.” Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious — a sign that “the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse,” because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. “Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now,” he contends, “and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.” Dyson calls ocean acidification, which many scientists say is destroying the saltwater food chain, a genuine but probably exaggerated problem. Sea levels, he says, are rising steadily, but why this is and what dangers it might portend “cannot be predicted until we know much more about its causes.”

For Hansen, the dark agent of the looming environmental apocalypse is carbon dioxide contained in coal smoke. Coal, he has written, “is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.” Hansen has referred to railroad cars transporting coal as “death trains.” Dyson, on the other hand, told me in conversations and e-mail messages that “Jim Hansen’s crusade against coal overstates the harm carbon dioxide can do.” Dyson well remembers the lethal black London coal fog of his youth when, after a day of visiting the city, he would return to his hometown of Winchester with his white shirt collar turned black. Coal, Dyson says, contains “real pollutants” like soot, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, “really nasty stuff that makes people sick and looks ugly.” These are “rightly considered a moral evil,” he says, but they “can be reduced to low levels by scrubbers at an affordable cost.” He says Hansen “exploits” the toxic elements of burning coal as a way of condemning the carbon dioxide it releases, “which cannot be reduced at an affordable cost, but does not do any substantial harm.”

Science is not a matter of opinion; it is a question of data. Climate change is an issue for which Dyson is asking for more evidence, and leading climate scientists are replying by saying if we wait for sufficient proof to satisfy you, it may be too late. That is the position of a more moderate expert on climate change, William Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, who says, “I don’t think it’s time to panic,” but contends that, because of global warming, “more sea-level rise is inevitable and will displace millions; melting high-altitude glaciers will threaten the food supplies for perhaps a billion or more; and ocean acidification could undermine the food supply of another billion or so.” Dyson strongly disagrees with each of these points, and there follows, as you move back and forth between the two positions, claims and counterclaims, a dense thicket of mitigating scientific indicators that all have the timbre of truth and the ring of potential plausibility. One of Dyson’s more significant surmises is that a warming climate could be forestalling a new ice age. Is he wrong? No one can say for sure. Beyond the specific points of factual dispute, Dyson has said that it all boils down to “a deeper disagreement about values” between those who think “nature knows best” and that “any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil,” and “humanists,” like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment.

Embedded in all of Dyson’s strong opinions about public policy is a dual spirit of social activism and uneasiness about class dating all the way back to Winchester, where he was raised in the 1920s and ’30s by his father, George Dyson, the son of a Yorkshire blacksmith. George was the music instructor at Winchester College, an old and prestigious secondary school, and a composer. Dyson’s mother, Mildred Atkey, came from a more prosperous Wimbledon family that had its own tennis court. Together they raised Dyson and his sister, Alice, in what Dyson calls a “watered-down Church of England Christianity” that regarded religion as a guide to living rather than any system of belief. The emphasis on tolerance, charity and community — and the free time afforded by the luxury of four servants — led Mildred to organize a club for teenage girls and a birth-control clinic. These institutions meshed uneasily with her patrician Victorian sensibilities. The girls were never, Dyson says, “considered equals,” and Mildred told him with amusement about the young mother who walked in carrying a red-headed infant. “What a beautiful baby,” Mildred reported saying. “Does he take after his father?”

“Oh, I couldn’t tell you, Mum,” came the reply. “He kept his hat on.”

Title: Freeman Dyson, II
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 31, 2009, 12:29:17 PM
Winchester is a medieval town in which, Dyson writes, he felt that everyone was looking backward, mourning all the young men lost to one world war while silently anticipating his own generation’s impending demise. He renounced the nostalgia, the servants, the hard-line social castes. But what he liked about growing up in England was the landscape. The country’s successful alteration of wilderness and swamp had created a completely new green ecology, allowing plants, animals and humans to thrive in “a community of species.” Dyson has always been strongly opposed to the idea that there is any such thing as an optimal ecosystem — “life is always changing” — and he abhors the notion that men and women are something apart from nature, that “we must apologize for being human.” Humans, he says, have a duty to restructure nature for their survival.

All this may explain why the same man could write “we live on a shrinking and vulnerable planet which our lack of foresight is rapidly turning into a slum” and yet gently chide the sort of Americans who march against coal in Washington. Dyson has great affection for coal and for one big reason: It is so inexpensive that most of the world can afford it. “There’s a lot of truth to the statement Greens are people who never had to worry about their grocery bills,” he says. (“Many of these people are my friends,” he will also tell you.) To Dyson, “the move of the populations of China and India from poverty to middle-class prosperity should be the great historic achievement of the century. Without coal it cannot happen.” That said, Dyson sees coal as the interim kindling of progress. In “roughly 50 years,” he predicts, solar energy will become cheap and abundant, and “there are many good reasons for preferring it to coal.”

THE WORDS COLLEAGUES COMMONLY use to describe Dyson include “unassuming” and “modest,” and he seems the very embodiment of Newton’s belief that a man should strive for simplicity and avoid confusion in life. Dyson has been in residence at the institute since 1953, a time when Albert Einstein shared his habit of walking to work there, which Dyson still does seven days a week, to write on a computer and solve any problems that come across his desk with paper and pencil. (In his prime, legend held that he never used the eraser.) He and Imme have spent 51 happy years together in the same house, a white clapboard just over the garden fence from the stucco affair once inhabited by their former neighbors, the Oppenheimers. On some Sundays the Dysons pile into a car still decorated with an Obama bumper sticker and drive to running races, at which Dyson can be found at the finish line loudly cheering for the 72-year-old Imme, a master’s marathon champion. On many other weekends, they visit some of their 16 grandchildren. During the holiday season the Dysons routinely attend five parties a week, cocktail-soiree sprints at which guests tend to find him open-minded and shy: when friends’ wives give him a hug, he blushes. One of Dyson’s daughters, the Internet vizier Esther Dyson, says her father raised her without a television so she would read more, and has always been “just as interested in talking to” the latest graduate student to make the pilgrimage to Princeton “as he is the famous person at the next table.” Oliver Sacks says that Dyson has “a genius for friendship.”

But the truth is that Dyson is an elusive particle. To Edward Witten it is clear that Dyson has little use for string theory, the cutting-edge “theory of everything” that links quantum mechanics and relativity in an effort to describe no less than the nature of all things. Even so, Witten admits that there is a fever-dream quality to his conversations with Dyson: “I don’t always know what he disagrees with entirely. His attitudes are complicated. There are many layers.” Other people can be similarly intrigued and baffled. When I began spending time with Dyson and asked who his close friends are, the only name he mentioned was John McPhee’s, which surprised McPhee since he said he doesn’t often speak with Dyson even though McPhee teaches nearby at Princeton University. All six of Dyson’s children describe him as a loving, intensely devoted father and yet also suggest that this is a parent with, in the words of his son, George, core parts of him that have always seemed “remote.” William Press said he finds Dyson to be both a “deep” and “magnificently laudable person” and also mysterious and inscrutable, a man with contrarian opinions that Press suspects may be motivated by “a darker side he’s determined the world isn’t going to see.” When I asked Sacks what he thought about all this, he said that “a favorite word of Freeman’s about doing science and being creative is the word ‘subversive.’ He feels it’s rather important not only to be not orthodox, but to be subversive, and he’s done that all his life.”

Dyson says it’s only principle that leads him to question global warming: “According to the global-warming people, I say what I say because I’m paid by the oil industry. Of course I’m not, but that’s part of their rhetoric. If you doubt it, you’re a bad person, a tool of the oil or coal industry.” Global warming, he added, “has become a party line.”

What may trouble Dyson most about climate change are the experts. Experts are, he thinks, too often crippled by the conventional wisdom they create, leading to the belief that “they know it all.” The men he most admires tend to be what he calls “amateurs,” inventive spirits of uncredentialed brilliance like Bernhard Schmidt, an eccentric one-armed alcoholic telescope-lens designer; Milton Humason, a janitor at Mount Wilson Observatory in California whose native scientific aptitude was such that he was promoted to staff astronomer; and especially Darwin, who, Dyson says, “was really an amateur and beat the professionals at their own game.” It’s a point of pride with Dyson that in 1951 he became a member of the physics faculty at Cornell and then, two years later, moved on to the Institute for Advanced Study, where he became an influential man, a pragmatist providing solutions to the military and Congress, and also the 2000 winner of the $1 million Templeton Prize for broadening the understanding of science and religion, an award previously given to Mother Teresa and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — all without ever earning a Ph.D. Dyson may, in fact, be the ultimate outsider-insider, “the world’s most civil heretic,” as the classical composer Paul Moravec, the artistic consultant at the institute, says of him.

Climate-change specialists often speak of global warming as a matter of moral conscience. Dyson says he thinks they sound presumptuous. As he warned that day four years ago at Boston University, the history of science is filled with those “who make confident predictions about the future and end up believing their predictions,” and he cites examples of things people anticipated to the point of terrified certainty that never actually occurred, ranging from hellfire, to Hitler’s atomic bomb, to the Y2K millennium bug. “It’s always possible Hansen could turn out to be right,” he says of the climate scientist. “If what he says were obviously wrong, he wouldn’t have achieved what he has. But Hansen has turned his science into ideology. He’s a very persuasive fellow and has the air of knowing everything. He has all the credentials. I have none. I don’t have a Ph.D. He’s published hundreds of papers on climate. I haven’t. By the public standard he’s qualified to talk and I’m not. But I do because I think I’m right. I think I have a broad view of the subject, which Hansen does not. I think it’s true my career doesn’t depend on it, whereas his does. I never claim to be an expert on climate. I think it’s more a matter of judgement than knowledge.”

Reached by telephone, Hansen sounds annoyed as he says, “There are bigger fish to fry than Freeman Dyson,” who “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” In an e-mail message, he adds that his own concern about global warming is not based only on models, and that while he respects the “open-mindedness” of Dyson, “if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework — which he obviously has not done on global warming.”

When Dyson hears about this, he looks, if possible, like a person taking the longer view. He is a short, sinewy man with strawlike filaments of excitable gray hair that make him resemble an upside-down broom. Every day he dresses with the same frowzy Oxbridge formality in L. L. Bean khaki trousers (his daughter Mia is a minister in Maine), a tweed sport coat, a necktie (most often one made for him, he says, by another daughter, Emily, many years ago “in the age of primary colors”) and wool sweater-vests. On cold days he wears a second vest, one right over the other, and the effect is like a window with two sets of curtains. His smile is the real window, a delighted beam that appears to float free from his face, strangely dynamic with its electric ears and quantum nose, and his laugh is so hearty it shakes him. The smile and laughter have the effect of softening Dyson’s formality, transforming him into a sage and friendly elf, and also reminding those he talks with that he has spent a lifetime immersed in efforts to find what he considers humane solutions to dire problems, whose controversial gloss never seems to agitate him. His eyes are murky gray, and whatever he’s thinking beyond what he says, the eyes never betray.

A FORMATIVE MOMENT in Dyson’s life that pushed him in an apostatical direction happened in 1932, when, at age 8, he was sent off to boarding school at Twyford. By then he was a prodigy “already obsessed” with mathematics. (His older sister Alice, a retired social worker still living in Winchester, remembers how her brother “used to lie on the nursery floor working out how many atoms there were in the sun. He was perhaps 4.”) At Twyford — like George Orwell, who was flogged, starved and humiliated by masters and bigger boys at St. Cyprian’s — Dyson says he felt brutalized by a whip-wielding headmaster who offered no science classes, favoring Latin, and by a clique of athletes who liked to rub sandpaper on the faces of the smaller children. “In those days it was unthinkable that parents would come to see what was going on,” Dyson says. “My parents lived only three miles away. They never came to visit. It wasn’t done.” Dyson took comfort in climbing tall trees, reading “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which gave him a first sense of America as a more “exciting place where all sorts of weird things could happen,” and Jules Verne’s comic science-fiction descriptions of more “crazy Americans” bound for the moon. His primary consolation, however, was the science society he founded with a few friends. Dyson would later reflect that from then on he saw science as “a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred.”

Four years later he entered Winchester College, well known for academic rigor, and he thrived. On his own in the school library, he read mathematical works in French and German and, at age 13, taught himself calculus from an Encyclopedia Britannica entry. “I remember thinking, Is that it?” he says. “People had been telling me how hard it was.” Another day in the library he discovered “Daedalus, or Science and the Future,” by the biologist J. B. S. Haldane, who said that “the thing that has not been is the thing that shall be; that no beliefs, no values, no institutions are safe,” an appealing outlook to Dyson, who had found his muse. “Haldane was even more of a heretic than I am,” he says. “He really loved to make people angry.” It wasn’t all science. On trips into London he spent entire days in bookstores where William Blake “got hold of me. What I really liked was he was a really rebellious spirit who always said the opposite of what everybody else believed.”

That defiant sensibility hardened further when the second war with Germany began. Dyson says he can “remember so vividly lying in bed at age 15, absolutely enjoying hearing the bombs go off with a wonderful crunching noise. I said, ‘That’s the sound of the British Empire crumbling.’ I had a sense that the British Empire was evil. The fact that I might get hit didn’t register at all. I think that’s a natural state of mind for a 15-year-old. I somehow got over it.” At Cambridge, Dyson attended all the advanced mathematics lectures and climbed roofs at night during blackouts. By the end of the school year in 1943, which Dyson celebrated by pushing his wheelchairbound classmate, Oscar Hahn, the 55 miles home to London in one 17-hour day, Dyson was fully formed as a person of strong, frequently rebellious beliefs, someone who would always go his own way.

During World War II, Dyson worked for the Royal Air Force at Bomber Command, calculating the most effective ways to deploy pilots, some of whom he knew would die. Dyson says he was “sickened” and “depressed” that many more planes were going down than needed to because military leadership relied on misguided institutional mythologies rather than statistical studies. Even more upsetting, Dyson writes in “Weapons and Hope,” he became an expert on “how to murder most economically another hundred thousand people.” This work, Dyson told the writer Kenneth Brower, created an “emptiness of the soul.”

Then came two blinding flashes of light. Dyson’s reaction to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was complicated. Like many physicists, Dyson has always loved explosions, and, of course, uncovering the secrets of nature is the first motivation of science. When he was interviewed for the 1980 documentary “The Day After Trinity,” Dyson addressed the seduction: “I felt it myself, the glitter of nuclear weapons. It is irresistible if you come to them as a scientist. To feel it’s there in your hands. To release the energy that fuels the stars. To let it do your bidding. And to perform these miracles, to lift a million tons of rock into the sky, it is something that gives people an illusion of illimitable power, and it is in some ways responsible for all our troubles, I would say, this what you might call ‘technical arrogance’ that overcomes people when they see what they can do with their minds.”

Eventually, Dyson would be sure nuclear weapons were the worst evil. But in 1945, drawn to these irreducible components of life, Dyson left mathematics and took up physics. Still, he did not want to be another dusty Englishman toiling alone in a dim Cambridge laboratory. Since childhood, some part of him had always known that the “Americans held the future in their hands and that the smart thing for me to do would be to join them.” That the United States was now the country of Einstein and Oppenheimer was reason enough to go, but Dyson’s sister Alice says that “he escaped to America so he could make his own life,” removed from the shadow of his now famous musical father. “I know how he felt,” says Oliver Sacks, who came to New York not long after medical school. “I was the fifth Dr. Sacks in my family. I felt it was time to get out and find a place of my own.”

In 1947, Dyson enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Cornell, studying with Hans Bethe, who had the reputation of being the greatest problem-solver in physics. Alice Dyson says that once in Ithaca, her brother “became so much more human,” and Dyson does not disagree. “I really felt it was quite amazing how accepted I was,” he says. “In 1963, I’d only been a U.S. citizen for about five years, and I was testifying to the Senate, representing the Federation of American Scientists in favor of the nuclear-test-ban treaty.”

After sizing him up over a few meals, Bethe gave Dyson a problem and told him to come back in six months. “You just sit down and do it,” Dyson told me. “It’s probably the hardest work you’ll do in your life. Without having done that, you’ve never understood what science is all about.” This smaller problem was part of a much larger one inherited from Einstein, among others, involving the need for a theory to describe the behavior of atoms and electrons emitting and absorbing light. Put another way, it was the question of how to move physics forward, creating agreement among the disparate laws of atomic structure, radiation, solid-state physics, plasma physics, maser and laser technology, optical and microwave spectroscopy, electronics and chemistry. Many were working on achieving this broad rapport, including Julian Schwinger at Harvard University; a Japanese physicist named Shinichiro Tomonaga, whose calculations arrived in America from war-depleted Kyoto on cheap brown paper; and Feynman, also at Cornell, a man so brilliant he did complex calculations in his head. Initially, Bethe asked Dyson to make some difficult measurements involving electrons. But soon enough Dyson went further.

The breakthrough came on summer trips Dyson made in 1948, traveling around America by Greyhound bus and also, for four days, in a car with Feynman. Feynman was driving to Albuquerque, and Dyson joined him just for the pleasure of riding alongside “a unique person who had such an amazing combination of gifts.” The irrepressible Feynman and the “quiet and dignified English fellow,” as Feynman described Dyson, picked up gypsy hitchhikers; took shelter from an Oklahoma flood in the only available hotel they could find, a brothel, where Feynman pretended to sleep and heard Dyson relieve himself in their room sink rather than risk the common bathroom in the hall; spoke of Feynman’s realization that he had enjoyed military work on the Manhattan Project too much and therefore could do it no more; and talked about Feynman’s ideas in a way that made Dyson forever understand what the nature of true genius is. Dyson wanted to unify one big theory; Feynman was out to unify all of physics. Inspired by this and by a mesmerizing sermon on nonviolence that Dyson happened to hear a traveling divinity student deliver in Berkeley, Dyson sat aboard his final Greyhound of the summer, heading East. He had no pencil or paper. He was thinking very hard. On a bumpy stretch of highway, long after dark, somewhere out in the middle of Nebraska, Dyson says, “Suddenly the physics problem became clear.” What Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga were doing was stylistically different, but it was all “fundamentally the same.”

Dyson is always effacing when discussing his work — he has variously called himself a tinkerer, a clean-up man and a bridge builder who merely supplied the cantilevers linking other men’s ideas. Bethe thought more highly of him. “He is the best I have ever had or observed,” Bethe wrote in a letter to Oppenheimer, who invited Dyson to the institute for an initial fellowship. There, with Einstein indifferent to him and the chain-smoking Oppenheimer openly doubting Dyson’s physics, Dyson wrote his renowned paper “The Radiation Theories of Tomonaga, Schwinger and Feynman.” Oppenheimer sent Dyson a note: “Nolo contendere — R.O.” If you could do that in a year, who needed a Ph.D.? The institute was perfect for him. He could work all morning and, as he wrote to his parents, in the afternoons go for walks in the woods to see “strange new birds, insects and plants.” It was, Dyson says, the happiest sustained moment in his life. It was also the last great discovery he would make in physics.

Title: Freeman Dyson, III
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on March 31, 2009, 12:29:36 PM
Other physicists quietly express disappointment that Dyson didn’t do more to advance the field, that he wasted his promise. “He did some things in physics after the heroic work in 1949, but not as much as I would have expected for someone so off-the-scale smart,” one physicist says. From others there are behind-the-study-door speculations that perhaps Dyson lacked the necessary “killer instinct”; or that he was discouraged by Enrico Fermi, who told him that his further work on quantum electrodynamics was unpromising; or “that he never felt he could approach Feynman’s brilliance.” Dyson shakes his head. “I’ve always enjoyed what I was doing quite independently of whether it was important or not,” he says. “I think it’s almost true without exception if you want to win a Nobel Prize, you should have a long attention span, get ahold of some deep and important problem and stay with it for 10 years. That wasn’t my style.”

DYSON HAD ALWAYS wanted “a big family.” In 1950, after knowing the brilliant mathematician Verena Huber for three weeks, Dyson proposed. They married, Esther and George were born, but the union didn’t last. “She was more interested in mathematics than in raising kids,” he says. By 1958, Dyson had married Imme — he has the brains, she has the legs, the Dysons like to joke — and they settled “in this snobbish little town,” as he calls Princeton. They had four more daughters. All six Dysons describe eventful child hoods with people like Feynman coming by for meals. Their father, meanwhile, was always preaching the virtues of boredom: “Being bored is the only time you are creative” was his thinking. George recalls groups of physicists closing doors and saying, “No children.” Through the keyhole George would hear words that gave him thermonuclear nightmares. All of them remember Dyson coming home, arms filled with bouquets of new appliances to make Imme’s life easier: an automatic ironing machine; a snowblower; one of the first microwave ovens in Princeton.

Beginning in the late ’50s, Dyson spent months in California, on the La Jolla campus of General Atomics, a peacetime Los Alamos, where scientists were seeking progressive uses for nuclear energy. After a challenge from Edward Teller to build a completely safe reactor, Dyson and Ted Taylor patented the Triga, a small isotope machine that is still used for medical diagnostics in hospitals. Then came the Orion rocket, designed so successions of atomic bombs would explode against the spaceship’s massive pusher plate, propelling astronauts toward the moon and beyond. “For me, Orion meant opening up the whole solar system to life,” he says. “It could have changed history.” Dyson says he “thought of Orion as the solution to a problem. With one trip we’d have got rid of 2,000 bombs.” But instead, he lent his support to the nuclear-test-ban treaty with the U.S.S.R., which killed Orion. “This was much more serious than Orion ever would be,” he said later. Dyson’s powers of concentration were so formidable in those years that George remembers sitting with his father and “he’d just disappear.”

One idea pulsing through his mind was a thought experiment that he published in the journal Science in 1959 that described massive energy-collecting shells that could encircle a star and capture solar energy. This was Dyson’s initial response to his insight that earthbound reserves of fossil fuels were limited. The structures are known as Dyson Spheres to science-fiction authors like Larry Niven and by the writers of an episode of “Star Trek” — the only engineers so far to succeed in building one.

This was an early indication of Dyson’s growing interest in what one day would be called climate studies. In 1976, Dyson began making regular trips to the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the director, Alvin Weinberg, was in the business of investigating alternative sources of power. Charles David Keeling’s pioneering measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, showed rapidly increasing carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere; and in Tennessee, Dyson joined a group of meteorologists and biologists trying to understand the effects of carbon on the Earth and air. He was now becoming a climate expert. Eventually Dyson published a paper titled “Can We Control the Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere?” His answer was yes, and he added that any emergency could be temporarily thwarted with a “carbon bank” of “fast-growing trees.” He calculated how many trees it would take to remove all carbon from the atmosphere. The number, he says, was a trillion, which was “in principle quite feasible.” Dyson says the paper is “what I’d like people to judge me by. I still think everything it says is true.”

Eventually he would embrace another idea: the notorious carbon-eating trees, which would be genetically engineered to absorb more carbon than normal trees. Of them, he admits: “I suppose it sounds like science fiction. Genetic engineering is politically unpopular in the moment.”

In the 1970s, Dyson participated in other climate studies conducted by Jason, a small government-financed group of the country’s finest scientists, whose members gather each summer near San Diego to work on (often) classified (usually) scientific dilemmas of (frequently) military interest to the government. Dyson has, as he admits, a restless nature, and by the time many scientists were thinking about climate, Dyson was on to other problems. Often on his mind were proposals submitted by the government to Jason. “Mainly we kill stupid projects,” he says.

Some scientists refuse military work on the grounds that involvement in killing is sin. Dyson was opposed to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, but not to generals. He had seen in England how a military more enlightened by quantitative analysis could have better protected its men and saved the lives of civilians. “I always felt the worse the situation was, the more important it was to keep talking to the military,” he says. Over the years he says he pushed the rejection of the idea of dropping atomic bombs on North Vietnam and solved problems in adaptive optics for telescopes. Lately he has been “trying to help the intelligence people be aware of what the bad guys may be doing with biology.” Dyson thinks of himself as “fighting for peace,” and Joel Lebowitz, a Rutgers physicist who has known Dyson for 50 years, says Dyson lives up to that: “He works for Jason and he’s out there demonstrating against the Iraq war.”

At Jason, taking problems to Dyson is something of a parlor trick. A group of scientists will be sitting around the cafeteria, and one will idly wonder if there is an integer where, if you take its last digit and move it to the front, turning, say, 112 to 211, it’s possible to exactly double the value. Dyson will immediately say, “Oh, that’s not difficult,” allow two short beats to pass and then add, “but of course the smallest such number is 18 digits long.” When this happened one day at lunch, William Press remembers, “the table fell silent; nobody had the slightest idea how Freeman could have known such a fact or, even more terrifying, could have derived it in his head in about two seconds.” The meal then ended with men who tend to be described with words like “brilliant,” “Nobel” and “MacArthur” quietly retreating to their offices to work out what Dyson just knew.

These days, most of what consumes Dyson is his writing. In a recent article, he addressed the issue of reductionist thinking obliquely, as a question of perspective. Birds, he wrote, “fly high in the air and survey broad vistas.” Frogs like him “live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby.” Whether the topic is government work, string theory or climate change, Dyson seems opposed to science making enormous gestures. The physicist Douglas Eardley, who works with Dyson at Jason, says: “He’s always against the big monolithic projects, the Battlestar Galacticas. He prefers spunky little Mars rovers.” Dyson has been hostile to the Star Wars missile-defense system, the Space Station, the Hubble telescope and the superconducting super collider, which he says he opposed because “it’s just out of proportion.” Steven Weinberg, the Nobel physics laureate who often disagrees with Dyson on these matters, says: “Some things simply have to be done in a large way. They’re very expensive. That’s big science. Get over it.”

Around the Institute for Advanced Study, that intellectual Arcadia where the blackboards have signs on them that say Do Not Erase, Dyson is quietly admired for candidly expressing his doubts about string theory’s aspiration to represent all forces and matter in one coherent system. “I think Freeman wishes the string theorists well,” Avishai Margalit, the philosopher, says. “I don’t think he wishes them luck. He’s interested in diversity, and that’s his worldview. To me he is a towering figure although he is tiny — almost a saintly model of how to get old. The main thing he retains is playfulness. Einstein had it. Playfulness and curiosity. He also stands for this unique trait, which is wisdom. Brightness here is common. He is wise. He integrated, not in a theory, but in his life, all his dreams of things.”

IMME DYSON REPORTS that her husband “recently stopped climbing trees.” Dyson himself says he’s resigned to never finishing “Anna Karenina.” Otherwise he still lives his days at mortality-ignoring cadence, aided by NoDoz, a habit he first acquired during his R.A.F. days. He travels widely, giving talks at churches and colleges, reminding people how dangerous nuclear weapons are. (“I think people got used to them and think if you leave them alone, they won’t do you any harm,” he says. “I always am scared. I think everybody ought to be.”) He has visited both the Galápagos Islands and the campus of Google and attended “Doctor Atomic,” the John Adams opera about Oppenheimer, which disappointed him. More fulfilling was the board meeting of a foundation promoting solar energy in China. Another winter day found him answering questions from physics majors at a Christian college in Oklahoma. (“Scientists should understand the human anguish of religious people,” he says.)

Lately Dyson has been lamenting that he and Imme “don’t see so much of each other. We’re always rushing around.” But one evening last month they sat down in a living room filled with Imme’s running trophies and photographs of their children to watch “An Inconvenient Truth” again. There was a print of Einstein above the television. And then there was Al Gore below him, telling of the late Roger Revelle, a Harvard scientist who first alerted the undergraduate Gore to how severe the climate’s problems would become. Gore warned of the melting snows of Kilimanjaro, the vanishing glaciers of Peru and “off the charts” carbon levels in the air. “The so-called skeptics” say this “seems perfectly O.K.,” Gore said, and Imme looked at her husband. She is even slighter than he is, a pretty wood sprite in running shoes. “How far do you allow the oceans to rise before you say, This is no good?” she asked Dyson.

“When I see clear evidence of harm,” he said.

“Then it’s too late,” she replied. “Shouldn’t we not add to what nature’s doing?”

“The costs of what Gore tells us to do would be extremely large,” Dyson said. “By restricting CO2 you make life more expensive and hurt the poor. I’m concerned about the Chinese.”

“They’re the biggest polluters,” Imme replied.

“They’re also changing their standard of living the most, going from poor to middle class. To me that’s very precious.”

The film continued with Gore predicting violent hurricanes, typhoons and tornados. “How in God’s name could that happen here?” Gore said, talking about Hurricane Katrina. “Nature’s been going crazy.”

“That is of course just nonsense,” Dyson said calmly. “With Katrina, all the damage was due to the fact that nobody had taken the trouble to build adequate dikes. To point to Katrina and make any clear connection to global warming is very misleading.”

Now came Arctic scenes, with Gore telling of disappearing ice, drunken trees and drowning polar bears. “Most of the time in history the Arctic has been free of ice,” Dyson said. “A year ago when we went to Greenland where warming is the strongest, the people loved it.”

“They were so proud,” Imme agreed. “They could grow their own cabbage.”

The film ended. “I think Gore does a brilliant job,” Dyson said. “For most people I’d think this would be quite effective. But I knew Roger Revelle. He was definitely a skeptic. He’s not alive to defend himself.”

“All my friends say how smart and farsighted Al Gore is,” she said.

“He certainly is a good preacher,” Dyson replied. “Forty years ago it was fashionable to worry about the coming ice age. Better to attack the real problems like the extinction of species and overfishing. There are so many practical measures we could take.”

“I’m still perfectly happy if you buy me a Prius!” Imme said.

“It’s toys for the rich,” her husband smiled, and then they were arguing about windmills.

Nicholas Dawidoff, a contributing writer for the magazine, is the author of four books, most recently “The Crowd Sounds Happy.”
Title: Re: Environmental issues, CO2 graphic, out of control?
Post by: DougMacG on April 28, 2009, 08:11:22 PM
Some science regarding CO2 and global warming:


Some Global Warming Q&A To Consider in Light of the EPA Ruling
April 19th, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

There is no way to know if warming is ‘happening now’. Because natural climate fluctuations on a year-to-year basis are so large, we will only recognize warming (or cooling) several years down the road when it appears in the rearview mirror. The most important statistic to me is that global average temperatures stopped rising in 2001, as shown in the following chart of global tropospheric temperatures that John Christy and I derive from satellite measurements.

As you can see, we might have even entered a new cooling trend. The claim that the warming trend over the last 50 to 100 years is continuing right now, or that it is even ‘accelerating’ is pure speculation, based upon the assumption that what has happened in recent decades will continue into the future.


Well, look at the following recently published proxy reconstruction of global temperatures over the last 2000 years. This graph is based upon 18 previously published temperature proxies, and so provides the most robust estimate available to date. It can be seen that significant warming and cooling periods of 50 to 100 years in duration seem to be the rule, rather than the exception. There were probably even warmer years during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) than we have seen in recent years. Even the warmth of the ‘record’ warm El Nino year in 1998 (see temperature chart above) might well have been surpassed several times during major El Nino events that occurred during the MWP. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how warm individual years were a thousand years ago…the graph below is made up of thirty-year averages. I added the dotted line toward the end showing the modern thermometer record.


Warming, yes. Manmade, no. As can be seen in the following chart, it was just as warm in the Arctic (or nearly as warm) in the 1930s, with loss of sea ice and changing wildlife patterns reported in newspapers. The water levels in the Great Lakes reached record lows during this time, too…just as has happened again in recent years.


No. As can be seen in the graph below (updated here through April 21, 2009), 2007 was the year when summer ice melt resulted in a 30-year record low in sea ice coverage. In 2008, the ice recovered somewhat. And from looking at 2009, we might well see further recovery this summer. Based upon the PDO index (above) it could be we have entered a new cooling phase of the PDO, which might explain this sea ice recovery, as well as our recent return to colder, snowier winters in the Northern Hemisphere.


Generally speaking, no. While 2 sub-populations of polar bears appear to be threatened by the recent reduction in Arctic sea ice, the other dozen or more sub-populations are either stable or growing. Polar bears survived previous periods of Arctic warmth, and they will survive this one, too.

Just as Greenland glaciers will continue to flow downhill and break off into the sea as snow keeps falling on Greenland, the Antarctic ice sheet also slowly flows toward the sea. But in Antarctica, this forms ice ‘shelves’ that can extend out over the ocean a considerable distance. These ice shelves ring the entire continent, and eventually they must break off and float away. It could be that ice shelf collapse events become more common when warmer ocean waters affect a portion of the continent, as has been the case in recent years. Maybe a period of more rapid ice shelf collapse also occurred during the Medieval Warm Period of 1,000 years ago…we just don’t know.

On a whole, Antarctica has not warmed. And because it is so cold there, even a few degrees of warming will not cause the ice sheet to melt anyway. In fact, as can be seen in the following graph, sea ice around Antarctica has increased over the same 30-year period of time that Arctic sea ice has decreased.


Well if you breathe pure CO2, you will die — from a lack of oxygen, not because CO2 is poisonous. But if you breathe pure oxygen for very long, that will also kill you. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth; photosynthesis by plants on land and by plankton in the ocean depend upon it. And without those forms of life, all the animals (and we humans) would die as well. For something as essential as CO2, it verges on the bizarre for people like Al Gore to liken carbon dioxide to sewage.

No…and we won’t. But the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere is pretty trivial: As of 2009, there are only 38 or 39 molecules of CO2 for every 100,000 molecules of atmosphere, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions another five years to raise that total by 1 molecule, to 40 out of every 100,000 molecules. The following graph shows how much the CO2 content of the atmosphere has risen in the last 50 years at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The graph has a vertical scale that only extends to 1% of the atmosphere, and as can be seen, the increase in CO2 is barely visible. This graph is not a trick…it looks different from what you are used to seeing because CO2 is usually plotted with a greatly magnified vertical scale to make the CO2 rise look more dramatic. Yes, we might double the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere by late in this century…but 2 times a very small number is still a very small number.


No. Water vapor accounts for about 85% or 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, clouds account for another 5% or 10%. CO2 represents only about 3%, methane even less. You will see quite a bit of variability in the above percentages because they can only be calculated based upon theory, and involve a variety of assumptions. I have greatest confidence in the 3% number for the CO2 portion, which we have verified with our own calculations: The direct effect of doubling of CO2 would only be a 1 deg. C warming of the surface (this is not disputed, see below), and when you compare that to the 33 deg. C of surface warming due to all greenhouse components of the atmosphere, you get 3%.

Yes, but most of the warming produced by climate models is NOT directly from the CO2, but from assumed changes in clouds and water vapor in response to the small CO2-induced warming tendency. And this is the models’ Achilles heel. While all of those models now change clouds with warming in ways that amplify that warming, some by a catastrophic amount, there is increasing evidence that clouds in the real climate system behave in just the opposite way (peer reviewed papers of ours here and here). This could result in a doubling of atmospheric CO2 causing less than 1 deg. F of warming by the end of this century.

My latest research (as yet unpublished) suggests most of the warming we’ve experienced in the last 100 years is due to natural changes in cloud cover…possibly caused by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation mentioned above. Something climate modelers apparently don’t appreciate is that it would only take about a 1% change in global cloud cover to cause ‘global warming’. Curiously, climate modelers do not believe this happens. Exactly why they don’t, I haven’t been able to figure out. Probably because we’ve not had accurate enough long-term observations of global cloud cover to document any such changes. But just because such changes are too small for us to measure doesn’t mean they do not exist. Most of us who were trained as meteorologists find 1% changes in global cloud cover to be entirely plausible, probably the result of natural, chaotic changes in weather patterns coupled to small chaotic changes in ocean circulation.

No. Climate modelers claim they can only explain global warming by including greenhouse gas increases in their models. But that claim is based upon 2 critical assumptions: (1) the climate system is very sensitive to increasing CO2, a consequence of their climate models not handling clouds properly, and (2) as mentioned above, a lack of accurate observations over a long enough period of time to document potential natural, and stronger, warming mechanisms…such as a slight decrease in global cloud cover letting more sunlight in.

Another “fingerprint” claim is that global warming has been stronger over land than ocean, as would be expected with more greenhouse gases. But warming of the oceans and land in response to fewer clouds would be indistinguishable from warming caused by more carbon dioxide. A decrease in oceanic cloudiness would warm the oceans, which would then send more humid airmasses over land. And since water vapor is our main greenhouse gas, the land will warm in response. The land warming would be then be stronger than the ocean warming because the heat capacity of land is less than that of the ocean. So, don’t be fooled when you hear claims that the “fingerprint” of manmade warming has been found…it hasn’t. In fact, there is no known human “fingerprint”.

No, only storm damage has increased. This is because people keep building along coastlines and in other areas prone to severe weather. And the more stuff we build, the more targets there are for hurricanes and tornadoes to destroy. Some of the records you have heard about for strongest hurricane, etc., are mostly because our technological ability to measure these storms has improved so much in recent years. There is no way to know if some recent storms (e.g. Katrina when it was in the central Gulf of Mexico) were stronger than major hurricanes that occurred in the early 20th Century, before we had weather radar, high resolution satellite data, and instrumented planes to fly into them.

The chemistry of the ocean is still poorly understood from the standpoint of how it varies over time, and how it is controlled. There is a common view among oceanographers that extra atmospheric CO2 has caused the average pH of the ocean to be reduced from 8.18 to 8.10 since the start of the Industrial Revolution. But pH varies widely across the global oceans, and that estimated decrease is more of a ‘theoretically-calculated expectation’ than it is an actual observation. A minority view I have heard is that the buffering capacity of the ocean will prevent ocean acidification. In fact, recent evidence suggests that (just like plants on land) plankton in the ocean will grow faster and be more abundant with more CO2 in the atmosphere.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on April 29, 2009, 02:11:07 PM
Nice piece, Doug!
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 06, 2009, 03:23:15 PM
WASHINGTON -- New federal greenhouse gas emission regulation could expose a raft of smaller emitters to litigation, a nominee for a key post in the Environmental Protection Agency told lawmakers Thursday.

The potential for smaller emitters to be regulated under the Clean Air Act is one reason why business groups warn that EPA regulation of greenhouse gases could create a cascade of legal and regulatory challenges across a much broader array of sectors. The Obama administration has said that isn't their intent.

Regina McCarthy, nominated to be EPA's Director of Air and Radiation, told lawmakers that even while the government has flexibility in setting the threshold of emitting facilities to be regulated, she acknowledges the risk of lawsuits to challenge those levels for smaller emitters. Ms. McCarthy's office is responsible for drafting federal emission rules.

Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) has put a hold on Ms. McCarthy's nomination in part because of her responses on the greenhouse gas issue.

Under the Obama administration, the EPA is moving forward to declare greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, which will trigger new rules once finalized. The EPA says that only around 13,000 of the largest emitters, such as refiners, smelters and cement plants would likely be regulated.

Many legal experts say that based on clear Clean Air Act statutes, however, regulations could be applied to any facility that emits more than 100-250 tons a year, including hospitals, schools and farms. Taken in aggregate, farm animals are major greenhouse gas sources because of methane and nitrous oxide emissions from flatulence, belching and manure. Buildings often emit greenhouse gases from internal heating or cooling units.

"It is a myth … EPA will regulate cows, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Huts, your lawnmower and baby bottles," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said earlier this year, dismissing concerns raised by groups such as the Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers.

But in responses to a senator's questioning, Ms. McCarthy acknowledged that legal suits could be brought against small emitters.

Asked how she would protect smaller sources against suits, Ms. McCarthy said she would talk with the litigants: "I will request that I be informed if any such notice is filed with regards to a small source, and I will follow-up with the potential litigants."

Bill Kovacs, the head of environment and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, "There's no way she can talk to the litigants and control them." By the Chamber's estimate, there are 1.5 million facilities -- such as large office buildings that have their own boilers -- that produce over the 250-ton limit.

Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, says her group is prepared to sue for regulation of smaller emitters if the EPA stops at simply large emitters.

Title: Watt's Up Web Site & Report
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on May 12, 2009, 10:33:50 AM
This is wicked cool stuff. A volunteer cadre of about 650 people went out an surveyed about 75 percent of the weather stations used by AGW prognosticators, among others. The result? Almost 9 out of 10 stations failed to live up to the National Weather Services siting requirements, with many of the stations sited on heat islands or close to hear sources. Think about that for a second: tens of thousands of scientists and administrators have queued up to the AGW trough where they spend billions of dollars with which they produce questionable science. And then here are a group of volunteers with no budget who, in one fell swoop, have chopped a major data set out from under the AGW zealots.

Good science speaks for itself. Bad science hires publicists.

“Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?” By Anthony Watts
Filed under: Climate Change Metrics — Roger Pielke Sr. @ 7:00 am
Anthony Watts, author of the weblog Watts Up With That,  has completed an outstanding, clearly written report that documents a major problem with the use of the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN)to assess multi-decadal surface temperature trends. The report is

 Watts, A. 2009: Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable? 28 pages, March 2009 The Heartland Institute.

The Executive Summary reads

“Global warming is one of the most serious issues of our times. Some experts claim the rise in temperature during the past century was “unprecedented” and proof that immediate action to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions must begin. Other experts say the warming was very modest and the case for action has yet to be made.

The reliability of data used to document temperature trends is of great importance in this debate. We can’t know for sure if global warming is a problem if we can’t trust the data.

The official record of temperatures in the continental United States comes from a network of 1,221 climate-monitoring stations overseen by the National Weather Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Until now, no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.

During the past few years I recruited a team of more than 650 volunteers to visually inspect and photographically document more than 860 of these temperature stations. We were shocked by what we found.

We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.

 In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.

In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.

It gets worse. We observed that changes in the technology of temperature stations over time also has caused them to report a false warming trend. We found major gaps in the data record that were filled in with data from nearby sites, a practice that propagates and compounds errors. We found that adjustments to the data by both NOAA and another government agency, NASA, cause recent temperatures to look even higher.

The conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable.

The errors in the record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature of 0.7º C (about 1.2º F) during the twentieth century. Consequently, this record should not be cited as evidence of any trend in temperature that may have occurred across the U.S. during the past century. Since the U.S. record is thought to be “the best in the world,” it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable.

This report presents actual photos of more than 100 temperature stations in the U.S., many of them demonstrating vividly the siting issues we found to be rampant in the network. Photographs of all 865 stations that have been surveyed so far can be found at, where station photos can be browsed by state or searched for by name.”

This is a report that is very much worth reading! Hardcopies are available for purchase from

The Heartland Institute 19 South LaSalle Street #903 Chicago Illinois 60603

You can go straight to Watt's website here:
Title: Some Cold Perspective
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on May 13, 2009, 10:34:15 AM
May 13, 2009
The Coming Ice Age

By David Deming
Those who ignore the geologic perspective do so at great risk.  In fall of 1985, geologists warned that a Columbian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, was getting ready to erupt.  But the volcano had been dormant for 150 years.  So government officials and inhabitants of nearby towns did not take the warnings seriously.  On the evening of November 13, Nevado del Ruiz erupted, triggering catastrophic mudslides.  In the town of Armero, 23,000 people were buried alive in a matter of seconds.

For ninety percent of the last million years, the normal state of the Earth's climate has been an ice age.  Ice ages last about 100,000 years, and are punctuated by short periods of warm climate, or interglacials.  The last ice age started about 114,000 years ago.  It began instantaneously.  For a hundred-thousand years, temperatures fell and sheets of ice a mile thick grew to envelop much of North America, Europe and Asia.  The ice age ended nearly as abruptly as it began.  Between about 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the temperature in Greenland rose more than 50 °F.

We don't know what causes ice ages to begin or end.  In 1875, a janitor turned geologist, James Croll, proposed that small variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun were responsible for climate change.  This idea enjoyed its greatest heyday during the 1970s, when ocean sediment cores appeared to confirm the theory.  But in 1992, Ike Winograd and his colleagues at the US Geological Survey falsified the theory by demonstrating that its predictions were inconsistent with new, high-quality data.

The climate of the ice ages is documented in the ice layers of Greenland and Antarctica.  We have cored these layers, extracted them, and studied them in the laboratory.  Not only were ice ages colder than today, but the climates were considerably more variable.  Compared to the norm of the last million years, our climate is remarkably warm, stable and benign.  During the last ice age in Greenland abrupt climatic swings of 30 °F were common.  Since the ice age ended, variations of 3 °F are uncommon.

For thousands of years, people have learned from experience that cold temperatures are detrimental for human welfare and warm temperatures are beneficial.  From about 1300 to 1800 AD, the climate cooled slightly during a period known as the Little Ice Age.  In Greenland, the temperature fell by about 4 °F.  Although trivial, compared to an ice age cooling of 50 °F, this was nevertheless sufficient to wipe out the Viking colony there.

In northern Europe, the Little Ice Age kicked off with the Great Famine of 1315.  Crops failed due to cold temperatures and incessant rain.  Desperate and starving, parents ate their children, and people dug up corpses from graves for food.  In jails, inmates instantly set upon new prisoners and ate them alive.

The Great Famine was followed by the Black Death, the greatest disaster ever to hit the human race.  One-third of the human race died; terror and anarchy prevailed. Human civilization as we know it is only possible in a warm interglacial climate.  Short of a catastrophic asteroid impact, the greatest threat to the human race is the onset of another ice age.

The oscillation between ice ages and interglacial periods is the dominant feature of Earth's climate for the last million years.  But the computer models that predict significant global warming from carbon dioxide cannot reproduce these temperature changes.  This failure to reproduce the most significant aspect of terrestrial climate reveals an incomplete understanding of the climate system, if not a nearly complete ignorance.

Global warming predictions by meteorologists are based on speculative, untested, and poorly constrained computer models.  But our knowledge of ice ages is based on a wide variety of reliable data, including cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.  In this case, it would be perspicacious to listen to the geologists, not the meteorologists.  By reducing our production of carbon dioxide, we risk hastening the advent of the next ice age.  Even more foolhardy and dangerous is the Obama administration's announcement that they may try to cool the planet through geoengineering.  Such a move in the middle of a cooling trend could provoke the irreversible onset of an ice age.  It is not hyperbole to state that such a climatic change would mean the end of human civilization as we know it.

Earth's climate is controlled by the Sun.  In comparison, every other factor is trivial.  The coldest part of the Little Ice Age during the latter half of the seventeenth century was marked by the nearly complete absence of sunspots.  And the Sun now appears to be entering a new period of quiescence.  August of 2008 was the first month since the year 1913 that no sunspots were observed.  As I write, the sun remains quiet.  We are in a cooling trend.  The areal extent of global sea ice is above the twenty-year mean.

We have heard much of the dangers of global warming due to carbon dioxide.  But the potential danger of any potential anthropogenic warming is trivial compared to the risk of entering a new ice age.  Public policy decisions should be based on a realistic appraisal that takes both climate scenarios into consideration.

David Deming is a geophysicist and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Page Printed from: at May 13, 2009 - 01:28:05 PM EDT
Title: fascinating.eom
Post by: ccp on May 13, 2009, 05:13:57 PM
Title: FYI, Another forgotten plague
Post by: ccp on May 13, 2009, 05:49:47 PM
"the Little Ice Age kicked off with the Great Famine of 1315.  Crops failed due to cold temperatures and incessant rain.  Desperate and starving, parents ate their children, and people dug up corpses from graves for food.  In jails, inmates instantly set upon new prisoners and ate them alive.

The Great Famine was followed by the Black Death, the greatest disaster ever to hit the human race"

While no one will ever now for sure of course, an earlier plague could have been evern worse.  Know as the plague of Justinian, a Byzantine emperor who were it not for this plague that killed him and perhaps 100 million others might have actually revived the Roman empire between 500 and 600 AD (This was on I think "Lost Worlds" an interesting cable science show):

****Plague of Justinian
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine Empire, including its capital Constantinople, in the years 541–542 AD. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or contributing to the Black Death of the 14th century. Its social and cultural impact is comparable to that of the Black Death. In the views of 6th century Western historians, it was nearly worldwide in scope, striking central and south Asia, North Africa and Arabia, and Europe as far north as Denmark and as far west as Ireland. The plague would return with each generation throughout the Mediterranean basin until about 750. The plague would also have a major impact on the future course of European history. Modern historians named it after the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I, who was in power at the time and himself contracted the disease.
The outbreak may have originated in Ethiopia or Egypt and moved northward until it reached metropolitan Constantinople. The city imported massive amounts of grain to feed its citizens—mostly from Egypt—and grain ships may have been the original source of contagion, with the massive public granaries nurturing the rat and flea population.

The Byzantine historian Procopius records that, at its peak, the plague was killing 10,000 people in Constantinople every day, although the accuracy of this figure is in question and the true number will probably never be known for sure; what is known is that there was no room to bury the dead, and bodies were being left stacked in the open. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I ensured that new legislation was swiftly enacted so as to deal more efficiently with the glut of inheritance suits being brought as a result of the plague deaths (Moorhead, J., 1994).

Justinian had expended huge amounts of money for wars against the Vandals in the Carthage region and the Ostrogoth Kingdom of Italy. He had also dedicated significant funds to the construction of great churches like the Hagia Sophia. Amidst these great expenditures, the plague's effects on tax revenue were disastrous. As the plague spread to port cities around the Mediterranean, it gave the struggling Goths new opportunities in their conflict with Constantinople. The plague weakened the Byzantine Empire at the critical point at which Justinian's armies had nearly wholly retaken Italy and could have credibly reformed the Western Roman Empire. It also may have contributed to the success of the Arabs a few generations later in the Byzantine-Arab Wars.[1]

The long term effects on European and Christian history were enormous. Justinian's gambit was ultimately unsuccessful. The overextended troops could not hold on. When the plague subsided, they were able to retake Italy but not to move further north. They held it for the remainder of Justinian's life, but the empire quickly lost it after he died. Italy was decimated by war and fragmented for centuries as the Lombard tribes invaded the north.
Ancient historians did not hold to modern standards of fact-checking or numerical accuracy. The actual number of deaths will always be uncertain. Modern scholars believe that the plague killed up to 5,000 people per day in Constantinople at the peak of the pandemic. It ultimately killed perhaps 40% of the city's inhabitants. The initial plague went on to destroy up to a quarter of the human population of the eastern Mediterranean. New, frequent waves of the plague continued to strike throughout the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries AD, often more localized and less virulent. It is estimated that the Plague of Justinian killed as many as 100 million people across the world.[2][3] Some historians such as Josiah C. Russell (1958) have suggested a total European population loss of 50 to 60% between 541 and 700.[4]

After 750, major epidemic diseases would not appear again in Europe until the Black Death of the 14th century.****
Title: Cold Weather Impacts Crops
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on June 15, 2009, 08:10:08 AM
Be interesting to see if the MSM ever gets to this:

Crops under stress as temperatures fall

Our politicians haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, observes Christopher Booker.
By Christopher Booker
Published: 6:04PM BST 13 Jun 2009
Comments 19 | Comment on this article

For the second time in little over a year, it looks as though the world may be heading for a serious food crisis, thanks to our old friend "climate change". In many parts of the world recently the weather has not been too brilliant for farmers. After a fearsomely cold winter, June brought heavy snowfall across large parts of western Canada and the northern states of the American Midwest. In Manitoba last week, it was -4ºC. North Dakota had its first June snow for 60 years.

There was midsummer snow not just in Norway and the Cairngorms, but even in Saudi Arabia. At least in the southern hemisphere it is winter, but snowfalls in New Zealand and Australia have been abnormal. There have been frosts in Brazil, elsewhere in South America they have had prolonged droughts, while in China they have had to cope with abnormal rain and freak hailstorms, which in one province killed 20 people.
In Canada and northern America summer planting of corn and soybeans has been way behind schedule, with the prospect of reduced yields and lower quality. Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year. US reserves of soya – used in animal feed and in many processed foods – are expected to fall to a 32-year low.
In China, the world's largest wheat grower, they have been battling against the atrocious weather to bring in the harvest. (In one province they even fired chemical shells into the clouds to turn freezing hailstones into rain.) In north-west China drought has devastated crops with a plague of pests and blight. In countries such as Argentina and Brazil droughts have caused such havoc that a veteran US grain expert said last week: "In 43 years I've never seen anything like the decline we're looking at in South America."

In Europe, the weather has been a factor in well-below average predicted crop yields in eastern Europe and Ukraine. In Britain this year's oilseed rape crop is likely to be 30 per cent below its 2008 level. And although it may be too early to predict a repeat of last year's food shortage, which provoked riots from west Africa to Egypt and Yemen, it seems possible that world food stocks may next year again be under severe strain, threatening to repeat the steep rises which, in 2008, saw prices double what they had been two years before.

There are obviously various reasons for this concern as to whether the world can continue to feed itself, but one of them is undoubtedly the downturn in world temperatures, which has brought more cold and snow since 2007 than we have known for decades.

Three factors are vital to crops: the light and warmth of the sun, adequate rainfall and the carbon dioxide they need for photosynthesis. As we are constantly reminded, we still have plenty of that nasty, polluting CO2, which the politicians are so keen to get rid of. But there is not much they can do about the sunshine or the rainfall.

It is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose. In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century. One of our biggest worries is that our politicians are so fixated on the idea that CO2 is causing global warming that most of them haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, with all the implications that has for whether we get enough to eat.

It is appropriate that another contributory factor to the world's food shortage should be the millions of acres of farmland now being switched from food crops to biofuels, to stop the world warming, Last year even the experts of the European Commission admitted that, to meet the EU's biofuel targets, we will eventually need almost all the food-growing land in Europe. But that didn't persuade them to change their policy. They would rather we starved than did that. And the EU, we must always remember, is now our government – the one most of us didn't vote for last week.
Title: More on sunspots
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 18, 2009, 02:25:49 AM

The article starts talking about low wheat production due to the weather, then discusses the role of sunspots on the earths temperature.  The sunspot issue was first flagged here quite some time ago, but now begins to getting wider notice.
Title: Legless Frogs, Breathless Predictions
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on June 29, 2009, 05:45:19 AM
At one time this matter was used to promote the notion that man-made pollution was the cause of this phenomena, with all sorts of dire predictions flowing therefrom . Alas, the cause is much more mundane:

Legless frogs mystery solved
Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Scientists think they have resolved one of the most controversial environmental issues of the past decade: the curious case of the missing frogs' legs.

Around the world, frogs are found with missing or misshaped limbs, a striking deformity that many researchers believe is caused by chemical pollution.

However, tests on frogs and toads have revealed a more natural, benign cause.

The deformed frogs are actually victims of the predatory habits of dragonfly nymphs, which eat the legs of tadpoles.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, researchers started getting reports of numerous wild frogs or toads being found with extra legs or arms, or with limbs that were partly formed or missing completely.

The cause of these deformities soon became a hotly contested issue.

Some researchers believed they might be caused naturally, by predators or parasites.

Others thought that was highly unlikely, fearing that chemical pollution, or UV-B radiation caused by the thinning of the ozone layer, was triggering the deformations.

Once they grab the tadpole, they use their front legs to turn it around, searching for the tender bits, in this case the hind limb buds, which they then snip off with their mandibles
Biologist Stanley Sessions describes the dining habits of dragonfly nymphs
"Deformed frogs became one of the most contentious environmental issues of all time, with the parasite researchers on one side, and the 'chemical company' as I call them, on the other," says Stanley Sessions, an amphibian specialist and professor of biology at Hartwick College, in Oneonta, New York.

"There was a veritable media firestorm, with millions of dollars of grant money at stake."

After a long period of research, Sessions and other researchers established that many amphibians with extra limbs were actually infected by small parasitic flatworms called Riberoria trematodes.

These creatures burrow into the hindquarters of tadpoles where they physically rearrange the limb bud cells and thereby interfere with limb development.

"But that was not end of the story," says Sessions.

"Frogs with extra limbs may have been the most dramatic-looking deformities, but they are by far the least common deformities found," he explains.

"The most commonly found deformities are frogs or toads found with missing or truncated limbs, and although parasites occasionally cause limblessness in a frog, these deformities are almost never associated with the trematode species known to cause extra limbs."

Missing legs

The mystery of what causes frogs to have missing or deformed limbs remained unsolved until Sessions teamed up with colleague Brandon Ballengee of the University of Plymouth, UK. They report their findings in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution.

For a decade, Ballengee and Sessions have collaborated on a series of art and science projects that image amphibians' bodies to show the detail within, the most recent of which is funded by the Arts Catalyst organisation, based in London.

As part of this work, Ballengee and Richard Sunter, the official Recorder of Reptiles and Amphibians in Yorkshire, spent time during the summers of 2006 to 2008 surveying the occurrence of deformities in wild amphibians at three ponds in the county.

In all, they found that between 1.2% and 9.8% of tadpoles or metamorphosed toads at each location had hind limb deformities. Three had missing eyes.

"We were very surprised when we found so many metamorphic toads with abnormal limbs, as it was thought to be a North American phenomenon," says Ballengee.

While surveying, Ballengee also discovered a range of natural predators he suspected could be to blame, including stickleback fish, newts, diving beetles, water scorpions and predatory dragonfly nymphs.

So Ballengee and Sessions decide to test how each predator preyed upon the tadpoles, by placing them together in fish tanks in the lab.

None did, except three species of dragonfly nymph.

Crucially though, the nymphs rarely ate the tadpoles whole. More often than not, they would grab the tadpole and chew at a hind limb, often removing it altogether.

"Once they grab the tadpole, they use their front legs to turn it around, searching for the tender bits, in this case the hind limb buds, which they then snip off with their mandibles," says Sessions.

Stunted growth

Remarkably, many tadpoles survive this ordeal.

"Often the tadpole is released and is able to swim away to live for another day," says Sessions. "If it survives it metamorphoses into a toad with missing or deformed hind limbs, depending on the developmental stage of the tadpole."

If tadpoles are attacked when they are very young, they can often regenerate their leg completely, but this ability diminishes as they grow older.

The researchers confirmed this by surgically removing the hind limbs of some tadpoles and watching them grow. These tadpoles developed in an identical way to those whose limbs had been removed by dragonflies, confirming that losing a limb at a certain stage of a tadpole's development can lead to missing or deformed limbs in adulthood.

Adult amphibians with one one hind limb appear able to live for quite a long time, Sessions says, explaining why so many deformed frogs and toads are discovered.

Why do the dragonflies like to eat the hind legs only?

As toad tadpoles mature, they develop poison glands in their skin much earlier than those in their hind legs, which could make the hind legs a far more palatable meal.

The front legs of tadpoles also develop within the gill chamber, where they are protected.

Sessions is careful to say that he doesn't completely rule out chemicals as the cause of some missing limbs. But 'selective predation' by dragonfly nymphs is now by far the leading explanation, he says.

"Are parasites sufficient to cause extra limbs?," he asks. "Yes. Is selective predation by dragonfly nymphs sufficient to cause loss or reduction of limbs. Yes. Are chemical pollutants necessary to understand either of these phenomena? No."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 29, 2009, 07:03:21 AM
Good contribution!  I have been reading about this with concern for some time now.  The question remains though concerning genital deformations in fish, etc.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on June 29, 2009, 09:53:41 AM
. . . and declining bee populations, invasive species advance, white nose syndrome re bats, and so on. Hopefully the moral of the story here is that correctly conducted research--which takes time--trumps the du jour breathless hysteria put fourth by some 24 hour news cycle whore.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Tom Stillman on July 03, 2009, 03:01:56 PM
A look at the earths destruction. A film titled:  "HOME"
Title: Environmental issues: Treason to be unalarmed ??
Post by: DougMacG on July 04, 2009, 05:49:34 PM
We know the earth will warm 9 degrees this century because of the 1/2 of 1 degree of warming last century. ?

We know there will be continuous acceleration of future warming because of the uninterrupted warming in the past.  Oops, it was erratic, inconsistent and unexplainable in the past.

We know all alarmism is true because all scientists say so.  Except for these 700+ or these 31,000:

Without further adieu, in the absence of two-sided heated debate here I give Paul Krugman calling for the stoning to death of all moderate skeptics who may happen to think differently than him:

Op-Ed Columnist  New York Times

Betraying the Planet

Published: June 28, 2009

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
Title: Clouding out the Sun?
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on July 17, 2009, 02:45:30 PM
Strange clouds are signs of change!

July 16, 11:42 AM · Rich Apuzzo - Cincinnati Weather Examiner

Meteorologist Rich Apuzzo
If the earth’s climate were compared to a 1000-piece puzzle of the human face, we would have only the eyes and part of the nose completed, with hundreds of unconnected pieces scattered across the table and many others missing altogether…lost somewhere else in the house.  The fact is that we don’t have all the pieces of the climate puzzle.  We’re discovering new ones every year and even realizing that the ones we thought we placed correctly are not fitting as well as we hoped.  This puzzle won’t be finished anytime soon, but the more we stare at the pieces, the more into focus the puzzle becomes.

Yesterday I received a notification from about a show of Noctilucent Clouds (NLCs) from around the northern hemisphere.  While reading this, take a moment to read the link provided about Noctilucent Clouds, especially noting the locations at which they’re usually found (50-70 degrees north and south) and the reason they form in the summer (coldest time of year in the Mesosphere).  Also, open a separate tab or browser window and look at these recent photos of NLC in the USA and around the world.  Now let’s look at this puzzle piece a little further.

Okay, what do we know about NLCs?

They form 45 to 60 miles up in the atmosphere in an area known as the Mesosphere.  Nothing man does (aside from the occasional space shuttle or failing satellites) can put moisture or pollution into that part of our world, though it is speculated that extremely powerful volcanoes can push natural pollutants that high over time and we know that natural space debris (meteors, etc.) regularly pounds the outer atmosphere.

We also know that NLCs have been sighted for over 120 years, and prior to that they may have existed, but may have been confused with clouds in the lower atmosphere.  If you’re looking at the photos I talked about, you can see that NLCs look like regular clouds, except that they tend to be a bright blue and are visible well after sunset.

Our best understanding is that they form as the Mesosphere cools during the summer months of June-August in the northern hemisphere.  The sun’s heating of the earth doesn’t reach the Mesosphere until autumn and winter, so this is the coldest time of year up there.

From the Wikipedia article I linked to, we also know that the observance of NLCs has been “increasing in frequency, brightness and extent”, and let me add that over the past few years we have seen a dramatic increase in NLCs (at the same time the planet has been cooling).

We also know that clouds absorb or reflect solar radiation (sometimes both, but at different wavelengths), but either way, it’s less solar radiation reaching the earth.  Just think about a cloudy day vs. a sunny day here in the lower atmosphere.  All other things being equal, a cloudy day will be cooler than a sunny day.  Clouds also act to trap heat in the lower atmosphere, but with time, the amount of heat trapped is overcome by the diminished incoming radiation and cooling will occur.

Well now, what do we have happening in the Mesosphere, right on the edge of space?  We have increasingly cloudy skies!  Even though you don’t see them during the day, the NLCs are there, and now we know they are being observed as far south as 41 degrees latitude…approximately a line from New York to Pittsburgh to Indianapolis to Kansas City to Denver to Salt Lake City to about Redding in northern California.  A similar line, though slightly further north, lies across Europe and Asia.

The clouds are thin, but the coverage is thousands of square miles across and even a small percentage of reduced sunshine over such a broad area and over time will be measurable here on earth.  But wait, there’s more.  Remember that the sun is in a minimum and astrophysicists aren’t even sure if the new solar cycle has started.  Just look at the left side of that web page and you’ll see an image of the sun (which is “blank”) showing sunspots, or lack thereof.  We are in a deep solar minimum, which in plain English means that we’re getting a lot less energy from the sun than during the active periods of the past 30-50 years (at which time we recorded some warming…hmm).

If the sun is weaker, the upper atmosphere is colder (more NLCs) and there are more clouds blocking some of the incoming solar radiation…AND we are seeing a cooling trend in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean (even the new El Nino is weak and may well dissipate this fall or winter), there is reason for concern, but not from warming.

Since NLCs are a fairly new observation (compared to the time mankind has been on earth), we don’t know if these clouds are a sign of increased cooling leading to the next ice age…but we do know this.  There will be another ice age, and we do know that the planet should be heading in that direction soon (on a relative geologic time scale).  I am not good at complex mathematics, but I can do simple addition, and when you add all the elements working against warming, and the satellite and ocean temperature observations confirming global cooling, the bottom line has to be continued cooling, and at an increased rate in coming decades…

I started this article with the puzzle analogy, and I would be remiss if I did not remain consistent with the analogy.  There is still much that we don’t understand about our weather and climate, and some pieces have yet to be discovered, but much like a good detective, sometimes you don’t need all the evidence to solve the crime as long as the pieces you already have make a solid case.  The solid case here is that whatever warming we may have witnessed in the past 100 years (and even that is up for debate because of bad sensors and poor guidelines for instrument shelters and data recording), the trend has shifted, and all the CO2 in the world…and there’s plenty of it…is not having nearly the effect that some will have you believe, and new studies show that it may be a non-factor.  In fact, we also know that many warming cycles came before increases in CO2, not after, and that CO2 levels have been magnitudes greater in the past than they are today.

Let’s stop trying to force the CO2 piece into the puzzle.  It doesn’t go where we’re trying to put it.  Step back, and take a longer look, and with time, the picture will become clearer, and maybe, someday, the puzzle will be complete.

Rich Apuzzo
Chief Meteorologist
Skyeye Weather LLC
Title: Sun spots
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 21, 2009, 05:53:22 AM

ANOTHER VIEW These photographs show an ultraviolet view of the Sun on the same days: July 19, 2000, left, and March 18, 2009, right. Most solar physicists do not think anything odd is going on with the Sun.

Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun’s activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.

Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century — 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.

“It’s been as dead as a doornail,” David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said a couple of months ago.

The Sun perked up in June and July, with a sizeable clump of 20 sunspots earlier this month.

Now it is blank again, consistent with expectations that this solar cycle will be smaller and calmer, and the maximum of activity, expected to arrive in May 2013 will not be all that maximum.

For operators of satellites and power grids, that is good news. The same roiling magnetic fields that generate sunspot blotches also accelerate a devastating rain of particles that can overload and wreck electronic equipment in orbit or on Earth.

A panel of 12 scientists assembled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts that the May 2013 peak will average 90 sunspots during that month. That would make it the weakest solar maximum since 1928, which peaked at 78 sunspots. During an average solar maximum, the Sun is covered with an average of 120 sunspots.

But the panel’s consensus “was not a unanimous decision,” said Douglas A. Biesecker, chairman of the panel. One member still believed the cycle would roar to life while others thought the maximum would peter out at only 70.

Among some global warming skeptics, there is speculation that the Sun may be on the verge of falling into an extended slumber similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, several sunspot-scarce decades during the 17th and 18th centuries that coincided with an extended chilly period.

Most solar physicists do not think anything that odd is going on with the Sun. With the recent burst of sunspots, “I don’t see we’re going into that,” Dr. Hathaway said last week.

Still, something like the Dalton Minimum — two solar cycles in the early 1800s that peaked at about an average of 50 sunspots — lies in the realm of the possible, Dr. Hathaway said. (The minimums are named after scientists who helped identify them: Edward W. Maunder and John Dalton.)

With better telescopes on the ground and a fleet of Sun-watching spacecraft, solar scientists know a lot more about the Sun than ever before. But they do not understand everything. Solar dynamo models, which seek to capture the dynamics of the magnetic field, cannot yet explain many basic questions, not even why the solar cycles average 11 years in length.

Predicting the solar cycle is, in many ways, much like predicting the stock market. A full understanding of the forces driving solar dynamics is far out of reach, so scientists look to key indicators that correlate with future events and create models based on those.

For example, in 2006, Dr. Hathaway looked at the magnetic fields in the polar regions of the Sun, and they were strong. During past cycles, strong polar fields at minimum grew into strong fields all over the Sun at maximum and a bounty of sunspots. Because the previous cycle had been longer than average, Dr. Hathaway thought the next one would be shorter and thus solar minimum was imminent. He predicted the new solar cycle would be a ferocious one.

Instead, the new cycle did not arrive as quickly as Dr. Hathaway anticipated, and the polar field weakened. His revised prediction is for a smaller-than-average maximum. Last November, it looked like the new cycle was finally getting started, with the new cycle sunspots in the middle latitudes outnumbering the old sunspots of the dying cycle that are closer to the equator.

After a minimum, solar activity usually takes off quickly, but instead the Sun returned to slumber. “There was a long lull of several months of virtually no activity, which had me worried,” Dr. Hathaway said.

Page 2 of 2)

The idea that solar cycles are related to climate is hard to fit with the actual change in energy output from the sun. From solar maximum to solar minimum, the Sun’s energy output drops a minuscule 0.1 percent.

But the overlap of the Maunder Minimum with the Little Ice Age, when Europe experienced unusually cold weather, suggests that the solar cycle could have more subtle influences on climate.

One possibility proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and other scientists at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen looks to high-energy interstellar particles known as cosmic rays. When cosmic rays slam into the atmosphere, they break apart air molecules into ions and electrons, which causes water and sulfuric acid in the air to stick together in tiny droplets. These droplets are seeds that can grow into clouds, and clouds reflect sunlight, potentially lowering temperatures.

The Sun, the Danish scientists say, influences how many cosmic rays impinge on the atmosphere and thus the number of clouds. When the Sun is frenetic, the solar wind of charged particles it spews out increases. That expands the cocoon of magnetic fields around the solar system, deflecting some of the cosmic rays.

But, according to the hypothesis, when the sunspots and solar winds die down, the magnetic cocoon contracts, more cosmic rays reach Earth, more clouds form, less sunlight reaches the ground, and temperatures cool.

“I think it’s an important effect,” Dr. Svensmark said, although he agrees that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has certainly contributed to recent warming.

Dr. Svensmark and his colleagues found a correlation between the rate of incoming cosmic rays and the coverage of low-level clouds between 1984 and 2002. They have also found that cosmic ray levels, reflected in concentrations of various isotopes, correlate well with climate extending back thousands of years.

But other scientists found no such pattern with higher clouds, and some other observations seem inconsistent with the hypothesis.

Terry Sloan, a cosmic ray expert at the University of Lancaster in England, said if the idea were true, one would expect the cloud-generation effect to be greatest in the polar regions where the Earth’s magnetic field tends to funnel cosmic rays.

“You’d expect clouds to be modulated in the same way,” Dr. Sloan said. “We can’t find any such behavior.”

Still, “I would think there could well be some effect,” he said, but he thought the effect was probably small. Dr. Sloan’s findings indicate that the cosmic rays could at most account for 20 percent of the warming of recent years.

Even without cosmic rays, however, a 0.1 percent change in the Sun’s energy output is enough to set off El Niño- and La Niña-like events that can influence weather around the world, according to new research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Climate modeling showed that over the largely cloud-free areas of the Pacific Ocean, the extra heating over several years warms the water, increasing evaporation. That intensifies the tropical storms and trade winds in the eastern Pacific, and the result is cooler-than-normal waters, as in a La Niña event, the scientists reported this month in the Journal of Climate.

In a year or two, the cool water pattern evolves into a pool of El Niño-like warm water, the scientists said.

New instruments should provide more information for scientists to work with. A 1.7-meter telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Southern California is up and running, and one of its first photographs shows “a string of pearls,” each about 50 miles across.

“At that scale, they can only be the fundamental fibril structure of the Sun’s magnetic field,” said Philip R. Goode, director of the solar observatory. Other telescopes may have caught hints of these tiny structures, he said, but “never so many in a row and not so clearly resolved.”

Sun-watching spacecraft cannot match the acuity of ground-based telescopes, but they can see wavelengths that are blocked by the atmosphere — and there are never any clouds in the way. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest sun-watching spacecraft, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is scheduled for launching this fall, will carry an instrument that will essentially be able to take sonograms that deduce the convection flows generating the magnetic fields.

That could help explain why strong magnetic fields sometimes coalesce into sunspots and why sometimes the strong fields remain disorganized without forming spots. The mechanics of how solar storms erupt out of a sunspot are also not fully understood.

A quiet cycle is no guarantee no cataclysmic solar storms will occur. The largest storm ever observed occurred in 1859, during a solar cycle similar to what is predicted.

Back then, it scrambled telegraph wires. Today, it could knock out an expanse of the power grid from Maine south to Georgia and west to Illinois. Ten percent of the orbiting satellites would be disabled. A study by the National Academy of Sciences calculated the damage would exceed a trillion dollars.

But no one can quite explain the current behavior or reliably predict the future.

“We still don’t quite understand this beast,” Dr. Hathaway said. “The theories we had for how the sunspot cycle works have major problems.”
Title: A Ruinous, Dangerous, Expensive Fiction
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on July 26, 2009, 05:01:49 PM
Meet The Man Who Has Exposed The Great Climate Change Con Trick

James Delingpole talks to Professor Ian Plimer, the Australian geologist, whose new book shows that ‘anthropogenic global warming’ is a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact. Shame on the publishers who rejected the book

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if man-made global warming were just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. No more ugly wind farms to darken our sunlit uplands. No more whopping electricity bills, artificially inflated by EU-imposed carbon taxes. No longer any need to treat each warm, sunny day as though it were some terrible harbinger of ecological doom. And definitely no need for the $7.4 trillion cap and trade (carbon-trading) bill — the largest tax in American history — which President Obama and his cohorts are so assiduously trying to impose on the US economy.

Imagine no more, for your fairy godmother is here. His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven And Earth, which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

‘The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,’ says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you’re unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigour, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history.

To find out why, let’s meet the good professor. He’s a tanned, rugged, white-haired sixtysomething — courteous and jolly but combative when he needs to be — glowing with the health of a man who spends half his life on field expeditions to Iran, Turkey and his beloved Outback. And he’s sitting in my garden drinking tea on exactly the kind of day the likes of the Guardian’s George Monbiot would probably like to ban. A lovely warm sunny one.

So go on then, Prof. What makes you sure that you’re right and all those scientists out there saying the opposite are wrong? ‘I’m a geologist. We geologists have always recognised that climate changes over time. Where we differ from a lot of people pushing AGW is in our understanding of scale. They’re only interested in the last 150 years. Our time frame is 4,567 million years. So what they’re doing is the equivalent of trying to extrapolate the plot of Casablanca from one tiny bit of the love scene. And you can’t. It doesn’t work.’

What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by ‘politicians, environmental activists and opportunists’. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth’s warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian’s Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

All this is scientific fact — which is more than you can say for any of the computer models turning out doomsday scenarios about inexorably rising temperatures, sinking islands and collapsing ice shelves. Plimer doesn’t trust them because they seem to have little if any basis in observed reality.

‘I’m a natural scientist. I’m out there every day, buried up to my neck in sh**, collecting raw data. And that’s why I’m so sceptical of these models, which have nothing to do with science or empiricism but are about torturing the data till it finally confesses. None of them predicted this current period we’re in of global cooling. There is no problem with global warming. It stopped in 1998. The last two years of global cooling have erased nearly 30 years of temperature increase.’

Plimer’s uncompromising position has not made him popular. ‘They say I rape cows, eat babies, that I know nothing about anything. My favourite letter was the one that said: “Dear sir, drop dead”. I’ve also had a demo in Sydney outside one of my book launches, and I’ve had mothers coming up to me with two-year-old children in their arms saying: “Don’t you have any kind of morality? This child’s future is being destroyed.’’’ Plimer’s response to the last one is typically robust. ‘If you’re so concerned, why did you breed?’

This no-nonsense approach may owe something to the young Ian’s straitened Sydney upbringing. His father was crippled with MS, leaving his mother to raise three children on a schoolteacher’s wage. ‘We couldn’t afford a TV — not that TV even arrived in Australia till 1956. We’d use the same brown paper bag over and over again for our school lunches, always turn off the lights, not because of some moral imperative but out of sheer bloody necessity.’

One of the things that so irks him about modern environmentalism is that it is driven by people who are ‘too wealthy’. ‘When I try explaining “global warming” to people in Iran or Turkey they have no idea what I’m talking about. Their life is about getting through to the next day, finding their next meal. Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.’

Heaven And Earth is the offspring of a pop science book Plimer published in 2001 called A Short History of Planet Earth. It was based on ten years’ worth of broadcasts for ABC radio aimed mainly at people in rural areas. Though the book was a bestseller and won a Eureka prize, ABC refused to publish the follow-up; so did all the other major publishers he approached: ‘There’s a lot of fear out there. No one wants to go against the popular paradigm.’

Then someone put him in touch with a tiny publishing outfit in the middle of the bush — ‘husband, wife, three kids, so poor they didn’t even have curtains’ — and they said yes. Plimer couldn’t bring himself to accept an advance they clearly couldn’t afford. But then something remarkable happened. In just two days, the book sold out its 5,000 print run. Five further editions followed in swift succession. It has now sold 26,500 copies in Australia alone — with similarly exciting prospects in Britain and the US. There’s even an edition coming out in ultra-green Germany.

But surely Aussies of all people, with their bushfires and prolonged droughts, ought to be the last to buy into his message? ‘Ah, but the average punter is not a fool. I get sometimes as many as 1,000 letters and emails a day from people who feel helpless and disenfranchised and just bloody sick of all the nonsense they hear about global warming from metropolitan liberals who don’t even know where meat or milk comes from.’

Besides which, Australia’s economy is peculiarly vulnerable to the effects of climate change alarmism. ‘Though we have 40 per cent of the world’s uranium, we don’t have nuclear energy. We’re reliant mainly on bucketloads of cheap coal. Eighty per cent of our electricity is coal-generated and clustered around our coalfields are our aluminium producers. The very last thing the Australian economy needs is the cap and trade legislation being proposed by Kevin Rudd. If it gets passed, the country will go broke.’

Not for one second does Plimer believe it will get passed. As with its US equivalent the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, Kevin Rudd’s Emission Trading Scheme legislation narrowly squeaked its way through the House of Representatives. But again as in America, the real challenge lies with the upper house, the Senate. Thanks in good measure to the influence of Plimer and his book — ‘I have politicians ringing me all the time’ — the Senate looks likely to reject the bill. If it does so twice, then the Australian government will collapse, a ‘double dissolution’ will be forced and a general election called. ‘Australia is at a very interesting point in the climate change debate,’ says Plimer.

The potential repercussions outside Oz, of course, are even greater. Until this year, environmental legislation has enjoyed a pretty easy ride through the parliaments of the Anglosphere and the Eurosphere, with greener-than-thou politicians (from Dave ‘Windmill’ Cameron to Dave ‘climate change deniers are the flat-earthers of the 21st century’ Miliband) queuing up to impose ever more stringent carbon emissions targets and taxes on their hapless electorates.

In the days when most people felt rich enough to absorb these extra costs and guilty enough to think they probably deserved them, the politicians could get away with it. But the global economic meltdown has changed all that. As countless opinion surveys have shown, the poorer people feel, the lower down their list of priorities ecological righteousness sinks. ‘It’s one of the few good things to come out of this recession,’ says Plimer. ‘People are starting to ask themselves: “Can we really afford this green legislation?”’

Reading Plimer’s Heaven And Earth is at once an enlightening and terrifying experience. Enlightening because, after 500 pages of heavily annotated prose (the fruit of five years’ research), you are left in no doubt that man’s contribution to the thing they now call ‘climate change’ was, is and probably always will be negligible. Terrifying, because you cannot but be appalled by how much money has been wasted, how much unnecessary regulation drafted because of a ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist. (South Park, as so often, was probably the first to point this out in a memorable episode where Al Gore turns up to warn the school kids about a terrible beast, looking a bit like the Gruffalo, known as ManBearPig.)

Has it come in time to save the day, though? If there’s any justice, Heaven And Earth will do for the cause of climate change realism what Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change alarmism. But as Plimer well knows, there is now a powerful and very extensive body of vested interests up against him: governments like President Obama’s, which intend to use ‘global warming’ as an excuse for greater taxation, regulation and protectionism; energy companies and investors who stand to make a fortune from scams like carbon trading; charitable bodies like Greenpeace which depend for their funding on public anxiety; environmental correspondents who need constantly to talk up the threat to justify their jobs.

Does he really believe his message will ever get through? Plimer smiles. ‘If you’d asked any scientist or doctor 30 years ago where stomach ulcers come from, they would all have given the same answer: obviously it comes from the acid brought on by too much stress. All of them apart from two scientists who were pilloried for their crazy, whacko theory that it was caused by a bacteria. In 2005 they won the Nobel prize. The “consensus” was wrong.’

Ian Plimer’s Heaven And Earth: Global Warming — the Missing Science is published by Quartet (£25).
Title: Solar Fluctuations Drive Earth's Climate
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on August 28, 2009, 08:18:22 AM   

Small Fluctuations In Solar Activity, Large Influence On Climate

Recently published research shows how newly discovered interactions between the Sun and the Earth affect our climate. (Credit: UCAR)

ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2009) — Subtle connections between the 11-year solar cycle, the stratosphere, and the tropical Pacific Ocean work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect much of the globe, according to research appearing this week in the journal Science. The study can help scientists get an edge on eventually predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

An international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used more than a century of weather observations and three powerful computer models to tackle one of the more difficult questions in meteorology: if the total energy that reaches Earth from the Sun varies by only 0.1 percent across the approximately 11-year solar cycle, how can such a small variation drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth?

The answer, according to the new study, has to do with the Sun's impact on two seemingly unrelated regions. Chemicals in the stratosphere and sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean respond during solar maximum in a way that amplifies the Sun's influence on some aspects of air movement. This can intensify winds and rainfall, change sea surface temperatures and cloud cover over certain tropical and subtropical regions, and ultimately influence global weather.

"The Sun, the stratosphere, and the oceans are connected in ways that can influence events such as winter rainfall in North America," says NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, the lead author. "Understanding the role of the solar cycle can provide added insight as scientists work toward predicting regional weather patterns for the next couple of decades."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, and by the Department of Energy. It builds on several recent papers by Meehl and colleagues exploring the link between the peaks in the solar cycle and events on Earth that resemble some aspects of La Nina events, but are distinct from them. The larger amplitude La Nina and El Nino patterns are associated with changes in surface pressure that together are known as the Southern Oscillation.

The connection between peaks in solar energy and cooler water in the equatorial Pacific was first discovered by Harry Van Loon of NCAR and Colorado Research Associates, who is a co-author of the new paper.

Top down and bottom up

The new contribution by Meehl and his colleagues establishes how two mechanisms that physically connect changes in solar output to fluctuations in the Earth's climate can work together to amplify the response in the tropical Pacific.

The team first confirmed a theory that the slight increase in solar energy during the peak production of sunspots is absorbed by stratospheric ozone. The energy warms the air in the stratosphere over the tropics, where sunlight is most intense, while also stimulating the production of additional ozone there that absorbs even more solar energy. Since the stratosphere warms unevenly, with the most pronounced warming occurring at lower latitudes, stratospheric winds are altered and, through a chain of interconnected processes, end up strengthening tropical precipitation.

At the same time, the increased sunlight at solar maximum causes a slight warming of ocean surface waters across the subtropical Pacific, where Sun-blocking clouds are normally scarce. That small amount of extra heat leads to more evaporation, producing additional water vapor. In turn, the moisture is carried by trade winds to the normally rainy areas of the western tropical Pacific, fueling heavier rains and reinforcing the effects of the stratospheric mechanism.

The top-down influence of the stratosphere and the bottom-up influence of the ocean work together to intensify this loop and strengthen the trade winds. As more sunshine hits drier areas, these changes reinforce each other, leading to less clouds in the subtropics, allowing even more sunlight to reach the surface, and producing a positive feedback loop that further magnifies the climate response.

These stratospheric and ocean responses during solar maximum keep the equatorial eastern Pacific even cooler and drier than usual, producing conditions similar to a La Nina event. However, the cooling of about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit is focused farther east than in a typical La Nina, is only about half as strong, and is associated with different wind patterns in the stratosphere.

Earth's response to the solar cycle continues for a year or two following peak sunspot activity. The La Nina-like pattern triggered by the solar maximum tends to evolve into a pattern similar to El Nino as slow-moving currents replace the cool water over the eastern tropical Pacific with warmer water. The ocean response is only about half as strong as with El Nino and the lagged warmth is not as consistent as the La Nina-like pattern that occurs during peaks in the solar cycle.

Enhancing ocean cooling

Solar maximum could potentially enhance a true La Nina event or dampen a true El Nino event. The La Nina of 1988-89 occurred near the peak of solar maximum. That La Nina became unusually strong and was associated with significant changes in weather patterns, such as an unusually mild and dry winter in the southwestern United States.

The Indian monsoon, Pacific sea surface temperatures and precipitation, and other regional climate patterns are largely driven by rising and sinking air in Earth's tropics and subtropics. Therefore the new study could help scientists use solar-cycle predictions to estimate how that circulation, and the regional climate patterns related to it, might vary over the next decade or two.

Three views, one answer

To tease out the elusive mechanisms that connect the Sun and Earth, the study team needed three computer models that provided overlapping views of the climate system.

One model, which analyzed the interactions between sea surface temperatures and lower atmosphere, produced a small cooling in the equatorial Pacific during solar maximum years. The second model, which simulated the stratospheric ozone response mechanism, produced some increases in tropical precipitation but on a much smaller scale than the observed patterns.

The third model contained ocean-atmosphere interactions as well as ozone. It showed, for the first time, that the two combined to produce a response in the tropical Pacific during peak solar years that was close to actual observations.

"With the help of increased computing power and improved models, as well as observational discoveries, we are uncovering more of how the mechanisms combine to connect solar variability to our weather and climate," Meehl says.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.

Journal reference:

Gerald Meehl, Julie Arblaster, Katja Matthes, Fabrizio Sassi, and Harry van Loon. Amplifying the Pacific Climate System Response to a Small 11-Year Solar Cycle Forcing. Science, 2009; 325 (5944): 1114 DOI: 10.1126/science.1172872
Adapted from materials provided by National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Title: Dispelling Myths
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on September 10, 2009, 02:16:40 PM
A Primer on Global Warming: Dispelling Myths

Environment & Climate News > October 2009
Environment > Climate: Realists
Environment > Climate: Science
Email a Friend
Written By: Jay Lehr
Published In: Environment & Climate News > October 2009
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Publisher: The Heartland Institute
[Each month, Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr, Ph.D. presents evidence that mankind has no significant impact on the Earth’s climate.—Ed.]
The National Aeronautic and Space Agency (NASA) has determined Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, and the largest moon of Neptune warmed at the same time the Earth recently warmed.

Two hundred million years ago, when dinosaurs walked the Earth, the average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 1800 ppm, five times higher than today.

All four major global temperature-tracking outlets (Hadley UK, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, University of Alabama-Huntsville, and Remote Sensing Systems Santa Rosa) have released updated information showing in 2007 global cooling ranged from 0.65 degrees C to 0.75 degrees C, a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. This occurred in a single year.

NASA satellites measuring global temperatures found 2008 to be the coldest year since 2000 and the 14th coldest of the past 30 years.

Surface Stations Inaccurate

U.S. climate monitoring stations on the planet’s surface show less cooling, but most of the 1,221 temperature stations are located near human sources of heat (exhaust fans, air conditioning units, hot rooftops, asphalt parking lots, and so forth). The land-based temperature record is unreliable.

Although we hear much about one or another melting glacier, a recent study of 246 glaciers around the world between 1946 and 1995 indicated an overall balance between those that are losing ice, gaining ice, and remaining in equilibrium.

On May 1, 2007 National Geographic magazine reported the snows on Mt. Kilimanjaro were shrinking as a result of lower precipitation, not a warming trend.

The overall polar bear population has increased from about 5,000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today, and the only two subpopulations in decline are in areas where it has been getting colder over the past 50 years. Polar bears have survived long periods of time when the Arctic was much warmer than today. Yet alarmists say the bears cannot survive this present warming without help from government regulators.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Boyo on October 17, 2009, 04:10:45 AM


check the rest out on youtube

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Freki on October 17, 2009, 11:19:51 PM
I just watched all 8 parts..Thanks Boyo that was great info!!!!!
Title: Not Supported by the Data
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on October 18, 2009, 10:49:35 AM
CO2 driven global warming is not supported by the data

By Girma J Orssengo

CO2 -- many seek to regulate it, legislate it, tax it, capture it, sequester it, cap it, trade it or otherwise control it.  And they who do would have us risk nothing less than worldwide economic destruction based on the theory that not doing so will inevitably lead to catastrophic global warming.  But one need only study the past two centuries of climate history to conclude that CO2 simply does not drive global warming.

Let us start from the data. The plot of the mean global temperature anomaly in deg C for the data from the Hadley Centre from year 1850 to 2008 is shown below.


Figure 1. Mean global temperature anomaly in deg C for data from the Hadley Centre.

The above graph shows a linear warming trend line given by the following equation.

Linear Warming Component of Anomaly in deg C = 0.44(Year-1850)/100 - 0.52

Superimposed on this linear warming component of mean global temperature anomaly (linear anomaly), there is an oscillating component of the mean global temperature anomaly (oscillating anomaly) that moves up and down about the linear anomaly line given by the equation:

Oscillating Anomaly = Anomaly - Linear Anomaly.

Now, the question that must be answered is that after significant increase in human emission of CO2, do the temperature anomaly data show a shift in mean global temperatures in the last century?

In order to answer this question, let us address the following three questions:

How does the linear warming in the last century of 0.44 deg C/100 years, shown above, compare with the linear warming two centuries ago?
Is the oscillating anomaly in the last century, after widespread use of fossil fuels, unusual?
What is the current trend in the mean global temperature anomaly?

1. How does the linear warming in the last century of 0.44 deg C/100 years, shown above, compare with the linear warming of two centuries ago?

As there were no direct temperature measurements before 1850, tree-ring temperature data may be used to plot the linear warming from 1810 to 1910 as shown below.


Figure 2. Mean global temperature anomaly before 1910 from tree-ring data.

The above plot shows a linear warming trend line given by the following equation.

Linear Anomaly in deg C = 0.47(Year-1810)/100 - 0.63

This linear warming of 0.47 deg C/100 years, two centuries ago, is of similar magnitude to that of the last century's value of 0.44 deg C/100 years. There was no significant change in the linear anomaly in the previous two centuries. As a result, the linear warming of the last century was not caused by human emission of CO2.

2. Is the oscillating anomaly in the last century, after widespread use of fossil fuels, unusual?

As the linear warming in the last century was not caused by CO2 emission, we now look at the oscillating anomaly to identify for any shift in temperature as a result of increased CO2 emission.

To study the oscillating anomaly separately, we remove the linear warming trend from the anomaly plot using an online software at by using a value of DETREND=0.706, which rotates the warming trend line shown in Figure 1 clockwise to a horizontal line. The anomaly plot with its linear warming removed (oscillating anomaly) is shown below.


Figure 3. Oscillating anomaly in deg C for Hadley Centre data.

The above plot clearly shows the following shifts in mean global temperatures:

Global cooling by 0.71 deg C from 1878 to 1911, for 33 years.

Global warming by 0.53 deg C from 1911 to 1944, for 33 years.

Global cooling by 0.48 deg C from 1944 to 1976, for 32 years.

Global warming by 0.67 deg C from 1976 to 1998, for 22 years.

In addition to the data above that show cooling and warming phases of mean global temperature anomalies, there exist supporting documents that describe the climate of those periods in the media:

For the global cooling from 1878 to 1911, the headline in The New York Times on 24-Feb-1895 was PROSPECTS OF ANOTHER GLACIAL PERIOD.

For the global warming from 1911 to 1944, the headline in The New York Times on 15-May-1932 was Melting Polar Ice Caps to Raise the Level of Seas and Flood the Continents

For the global cooling from 1944 to 1976, the headline in Newsweek on 28-April-1975 was The Cooling World.

The above cooling and warming phases of mean global temperature anomalies are also supported in the literature by Nathan Mantua, PhD:

Several independent studies find evidence for just two full PDO [Pacific Decadal Oscillating] cycles in the past century: "cool" PDO regimes prevailed from 1890-1924 and again from 1947-1976, while "warm" PDO regimes dominated from 1925-1946 and from 1977 through (at least) the mid-1990's (Mantua et al. 1997, Minobe 1997).

Figure 3 shows an oscillating anomaly of 0.39 deg C for 1998, which is of similar magnitude to the value of 0.38 deg C for 1878. As a result, the temperature maximum for 1998, after widespread use of fossil fuels, is not unusual.

To study whether there is any shift in mean global temperatures, Normal Probability Plot can be drawn for the oscillating anomaly. In the normal probability plot, if most of the oscillating temperature data points approximately lie on a straight line, they are then normally distributed.

For the oscillating anomaly data since 1850, the normal probability plot is shown below.


Figure 4. Normal probability plot for the oscillating (residual) anomaly.

Figure 4 shows most of the oscillating anomaly data points lie on a straight line with a high correlation coefficient of 0.9923. Out of the 159 data points, only two temperatures, for 1911 and 1909, are outliers, and this indicates shift in temperatures. However, as this shift occurred long before widespread use of fossil fuels, and a second similar global cooling occurred in the 1970s after the cooling in 1911, the cause of this shift is unlikely to be related to CO2 emissions.

As the oscillating anomaly is normally distributed, we can calculate an upper and lower temperature limit for the oscillating anomalies. The reciprocal of the slope of the line in the normal probability plot is equal to the standard deviation, s. Therefore, from Figure 4, s = 1/6.6 = 0.15 deg C. For the oscillating anomalies, 99.73% of the data lie between +/- 3 s = +/- 0.45 deg C. These upper and lower limit values envelop all the anomaly temperatures from 1850 to 2008 as shown in Figure 3.

From Figure 4, based on the 159 years data, global temperatures changed from a valley of -0.32 deg C to a peak of 0.4 deg C, a change of 0.72 deg C. As a result, mean global temperature increase from valley to peak (global warming), or decrease from peak to valley (global cooling), by 0.72 deg C is natural variation of mean global temperatures. Added to these oscillating temperatures, there is a linear global warming of 0.44 deg C/100 years.

From Figure 4, all the temperatures on the right hand side of the plot, which are related to global warming, all lie close to the straight line. As a result, there is no shift in global warming temperatures. No CO2 fingerprint. None.

3. What is the trend in the mean global temperature anomaly at the moment?

In the plot for the oscillating anomaly below, look at the right end of the red anomaly curve for last year, 2008.


Figure 5. Oscillating anomaly in deg C for Hadley Centre data.

Look also at the right end of the green horizontal line for anomaly of 0 deg C. In the coming years, will the red anomaly curve move downwards towards the horizontal line and cross it, or will it do a 180-degree somersault and move away from the horizontal line to its previous maximum value, and then move to values greater than the previous maximum?

As the oscillating anomalies are normally distributed, the probability for the temperature to return to the maximum value of 1998 is less than 1%. The more probable case is to rely on historical patterns and the current trend. From Figure 5, for anomaly pattern after 1998, we use the anomaly pattern after 1878, with global cooling for 33 years. If this pattern is repeated, we will have about 22 more years of global cooling until about 2031, to anomaly temperature values similar to those in the 1970s, wiping out most of the increase in temperature during the last three decades of the last century.

From Figure 5, for 1998, near the end of the last century, the oscillating anomaly happened to be at its maximum; as a result, the increase in mean global temperature anomaly for the last century is the sum of 0.44 deg C from the linear warming and 0.39 deg C from the maximum oscillating anomaly, giving a value of 0.83 deg C. This increase in mean global temperature in the last century has caused natural global climate change.

It was unfortunate that the maximum of the oscillating anomaly occurred in 1998 near the end of the last century. This was just a coincidence. At the end of the last century, if the oscillating anomaly had been at its minimum, as in 1911 with an oscillating anomaly of -0.33 deg C, there would not have been any significant change in mean global temperature (0.44 - 0.33 = +0.11 deg C) in the last century.  As a result, depending on whether we have the maximum or minimum oscillating component coincide with the end of a century, we may have a global warming of 0.83 deg C or hardly any warming in a century.

Science is about the data. Science is not about consensus or authority.

The linear global warming of the last century was similar to that of two centuries ago. The oscillating warming by 0.67 deg C from 1976 to 1998 is as natural as the oscillating cooling by similar amount from 1878 to 1911. From Figure 4, there is no shift in mean global temperature anomaly in the last century as a result of CO2 emission. None.

CO2 driven global warming is not supported by the data.

Girma Orssengo, MASc, Ph.D.

Title: Global Cooling Came Quick
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on November 13, 2009, 07:24:23 PM
Mini ice age took hold of Europe in months

11 November 2009 by Kate Ravilious
Magazine issue 2734. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
For similar stories, visit the Climate Change Topic Guide
JUST months - that's how long it took for Europe to be engulfed by an ice age. The scenario, which comes straight out of Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, was revealed by the most precise record of the climate from palaeohistory ever generated.

Around 12,800 years ago the northern hemisphere was hit by the Younger Dryas mini ice age, or "Big Freeze". It was triggered by the slowdown of the Gulf Stream, led to the decline of the Clovis culture in North America, and lasted around 1300 years.

Until now, it was thought that the mini ice age took a decade or so to take hold, on the evidence provided by Greenland ice cores. Not so, say William Patterson of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and his colleagues.

The group studied a mud core from an ancient lake, Lough Monreagh, in western Ireland. Using a scalpel they sliced off layers 0.5 to 1 millimetre thick, each representing up to three months of time. No other measurements from the period have approached this level of detail.

Carbon isotopes in each slice revealed how productive the lake was and oxygen isotopes gave a picture of temperature and rainfall. They show that at the start of the Big Freeze, temperatures plummeted and lake productivity stopped within months, or a year at most. "It would be like taking Ireland today and moving it up to Svalbard" in the Arctic, says Patterson, who presented the findings at the BOREAS conference in Rovaniemi, Finland, on 31 October.

"This is significantly shorter than what has been suggested before, but it is plausible," says Derek Vance of the University of Bristol, UK. Hans Renssen, a climate researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, says recent findings from Greenland ice cores indicate the Younger Dryas event may have happened in one to three years. Patterson's results confirm this was a very sudden change, he says.

The mud slices from the end of the Big Freeze show that it took around two centuries for the lake and climate to recover.

Patterson says that sudden climate switches like the Big Freeze are far from unusual in the geological record. The Younger Dryas was brought about when a glacial lake covering most of north-west Canada burst its banks and poured into the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The huge flood diluted the salinity-driven North Atlantic Ocean mega-currents, including the Gulf Stream, and stalled it. Two studies published in 2006 show that the same thing happened again 8200 years ago, when the Northern hemisphere went through another cold spell.

Some climate scientists have suggested that the Greenland ice sheet could have the same effect if it suddenly melts through climate change, but the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded this was unlikely to happen this century.

Patterson's team have now set their sights on even more precise records of historical climate. They have built a robot able to shave 0.05 micrometre slivers along the growth lines of fossilised clam shells, giving a resolution of less than a day. "We can get you mid-July temperatures from 400 million years ago," he says.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Rarick on November 16, 2009, 05:49:08 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  :roll:  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?

I kind of like that proposal, "I'll save that 1$" has a nice ring to it.  It is a tax that encourages the right thing and allows thing to go to zero revenue once the problem is solved, meaning that whatever EPA office is assigned to monitor this gets scaled back as the problem solves itself.  Then the occasional inspection can be financed thru Permitting.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Freki on November 16, 2009, 06:07:42 AM
I think you are on to something, but I would modify it a bit.  I am a Constitutionalists.  The power to tax anything under the sun is not given to the government in our constitution, therefore instead of taxing x give a tax break on taxes the government can legally levy if you don't produce x pollutant.  It is a subtle but important difference.  On a state level things change and this sort of taxing pollutant x could be legal.

More carrot less stick!!!!!!!!
Title: Taxes and Perverse Incentives
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on November 16, 2009, 06:14:43 AM
But tax what? CO2? Though it's the current boogieman, my feeling is the panic is quite overblown and in fact serves as a cover to glom on to huge chunks of the economy by some as others seek to carbon neutral us back to a utopian hunter/gathering existence that was never a reality in the first place. And where do benefits and costs get evaluated? DDT has been vilified to the point it's not much in use, though recent investigations show much of the hyperbole to be grossly overstated. Since it's ban, millions of kids have died of malaria, a disease that targeted applications of DDT could greatly mitigate, but the UN refuses to advocate DDT's use due to all the hyperventilation associated with it. Is their reticence worth the lives of millions?

That's the problem with taxes: their imposition will always have a substantial political element and that element often leads perverse directions. I prefer market based decision making processes or, failing that, a process based on the empiric and that weights benefits and costs rather than defaulting to minimal/zero level outcomes or greatly impacting human needs in favor of not impacting at all an isolated sub-species, and so on.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 16, 2009, 06:52:04 AM

Fascinatin post on the rapidity with which an ice age can hit!

Your post this morning raises good and difficult questions about the idea I propose.  As I reread it I see that I failed to mention that all revenues raised thereunder need to be offset by tax reductions elsewhere (income, cap gains, death, etc)--otherwise it becomes , , , drum roll , , , cap and trade  :x :cry:
Title: BBC: Rising Sea Levels
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 25, 2009, 07:47:32 AM

Rising sea levels: A tale of two cities
By Michael Hirst in Rotterdam and Kate McGeown in Maputo 

When people talk about the impact of rising sea levels, they often think of small island states that risk being submerged if global warming continues unchecked.  But it's not only those on low-lying islands who are in danger. Millions of people live by the sea - and are dependent on it for their livelihoods - and many of the world's largest cities are on the coast. By 2050 the number of people living in delta cities is set to increase by as much as 70%, experts suggest, vastly increasing the number of those at risk.

To shed light the impact of rising sea levels, we are taking a close look at two very different cities, Rotterdam and Maputo , and their varying responses to the problem.

Glaciers: If the world's mountain glaciers and icecaps melt, sea levels will rise by an estimated 0.5m
Thermal expansion: The expansion of warming oceans was the main factor contributing to sea level rise, in the 20th Century, and currently accounts for more than half of the observed rise in sea levels
Ice sheets: These vast reserves contain billions of tonnes of frozen water - if the largest of them (the East Antarctic Ice Sheet) melts, the global sea level will rise by an estimated 64m

Much of Rotterdam - Europe's busiest port city - lies several metres below sea level, and this vulnerable position has led it to develop some of the best flood protection in the world.

As the capital of Mozambique - one of the world's poorest countries, and one that is already feeling the effects of climate change - Maputo is struggling to provide cost-effective measures to mitigate the effects of the rising waters.

Authorities in both cities know urgent action is needed to protect their populations, and both are trying to rise to the challenge.

Weaker Gulf Stream

A rise in temperatures around the world due to carbon emissions since the industrial revolution means many icecaps and glaciers are steadily melting.

Rising temperatures have also caused ocean waters to expand - the main cause of sea level rise in the 20th Century.

The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a likely sea level rise of 28-43cm this century, but it acknowledged that this was probably an underestimate, as not enough was known about how ice behaves.

"The fact that sea levels are rising is a major reason for concern and it's a combination of the global average rise together with the natural variability leading to larger regional rises," said Dr John Church, from Australia's government-funded science and research body, the CSIRO.

The weakening of the Gulf Stream coupled with the gravitational effects of being closer to the North Pole mean waters in the northern hemisphere are experiencing the biggest rise.

Rotterdam is promoting the use of green roofs to collect rain water
Off the Netherlands, for example, sea levels rose by some 20cm in the last 100 years. But the country's national Delta Commission predicts they will increase by up to 1.3m by 2100 and by as much as 4m by 2200.

"There is a problem and we have to find an answer," said Rotterdam's Vice-Mayor Lucas Bolsius.

"We need to invest. If we don't put money into this issue we'll have a problem surviving."


The Dutch drew this conclusion from a massive storm surge in 1953, which caused widespread flooding and killed nearly 2,000 people.

They set about defending populated areas with a massive network of dykes and dams, and experts now estimate the country is protected from all but a one-in-10,000-year event.

The story is very different in Mozambique.

Already buffeted by regular floods and cyclones, the problem of rising sea levels is one the authorities in Maputo could do without.

But Mozambique has been identified as one of the countries likely to be affected most by climate change, and the issue will not go away.

Much of what Mozambique would like to do is deemed too expensive

While scientists cannot give an exact figure of how much the sea has already risen in Mozambique, the effects are already obvious.

"I went to the beach a lot as a child, and I've noticed things are changing," said 34-year-old Jose, who lives in Maputo.

"The water is eating the land - little by little it's eating the land."

Mozambique has compiled an action plan, and has been offered help from the World Bank, UN agencies and a plethora of other aid agencies.

But so far little has been done, and much of what the country would like to do is beyond its budget.

"I think people are still at the stage of 'Oh my God - what are we going to do?'" as environmentalist Antonia Reina puts it.

Mozambique will be going to the Copenhagen summit as part of a united African delegation, to ask for help from richer countries - like the Netherlands.

Africa argues that climate change - including rising sea levels - is a global problem, and demands a global response.

While most would agree with that sentiment, the reality is that every country has its own battles to face - and in this series of articles we examine how our two cities are coping, both at an individual and a municipal level, as the waters rise.
Title: Environmental issues - re: Sea Levels
Post by: DougMacG on November 25, 2009, 09:34:16 PM
The oceans go up and down more each day than they do in a century.  

Rotterdam is a 1000+ year old city, the dam was built in the 1260s, the sea level issues I assume pre-date CO2 escalations.

The piece can't resist blaming it all on 'climate change' and that humans caused it:
"A rise in temperatures around the world due to carbon emissions since the industrial revolution means many icecaps and glaciers are steadily melting."

But if icecaps melting is what causes sea levels to rise, how do we explain Arctic and Indian oceans levels falling:

"Europe's Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite has determined that over the last 10 years, sea level in the Arctic Ocean has been falling at an average rate of about 2 mm/year."  -

"Indian Ocean - sea levels falling
In 2003, Nils-Axel Mörner and his colleagues (see below) pub-
lished a well-documented paper showing that sea levels in the
Maldives have fallen substantially – fallen! – in the last 30 years.
I find it curious that we haven't heard about this.

"The Maldives in the central Indian Ocean consist of some 1,200
individual islands grouped in about 20 larger atolls," says Mörner.
In-as-much as the islands rise only three to seven feet above sea
level, they have been condemned by the IPCC to flooding in the
near future.

Mörner disagrees with this scenario. "In our study of the coastal
dynamics and the geomorphology of the shores," writes Mörner,
"we were unable to detect any traces of a recent sea level rise.
On the contrary, we found quite clear morphological indications
of a recent fall in sea level."

Mörner’s group found that sea levels stood about 60 cm higher
around A.D. 1150 than today, and more recently, about 30 cm
higher than today."

Besides drought and flood, warming and cooling, not surprisingly, the United Nations also says that climate change also causes prostitution:

"The effects of climate change have driven women in communities in coastal areas in poor countries like the Philippines into dangerous work, and sometimes even the flesh trade, a United Nations official said."
The Sky Isn't Falling and
the Sea Isn't Rising
By S. Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project in Fairfax, Va.
Back to the original piece: "Rotterdam is promoting the use of green roofs to collect rain water" - No mention of how many green roofs in Rotterdam it will take to bring the ocean down to its intended, optimum level.
If the earth did not have humans,IMHO the areas we call Rotterdam and New Orleans would still have water issues.
Title: Trash into homes
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 26, 2009, 02:27:16 PM
Title: Sustainability
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 04, 2009, 07:38:56 AM
Sustainability: An Assault on Economics
Mises Daily: Friday, December 04, 2009 by Tyler A. Watts

Ah, the greens. They're not just treehuggers anymore. They've been browbeating us to recycle, eat soy, save energy, drive less, ride the bus, and a thousand other ways to "act local" for many years now. Now they've even got a hip new huckster on the big screen: "No Impact Man," your conductor on a first-class guilt trip to ecoland. Despite the massive popularity of their cause, I don't think they're satisfied. They want to control us. If we don't watch out, these people hell-bent on saving the planet are going to end up micromanaging our daily lives.

The idea of sustainability itself sounds pretty benign — it merely implies that people ought to be forward thinking, prudent, and thrifty in their use of economic resources. And I'm OK with this basic idea — on the surface, it sounds like simple wisdom, in league with similarly bland and benevolent values like responsibility and generosity.

But deep down, there's something unsettling about the basic premise of sustainability. Sustainability advocates — let's call them "sustainists" — are damning in their fervor, poise, and rhetoric. Their ideology is pregnant with an accusation that the way things currently are is somehow unsustainable. There's an alarmism here which essentially claims, "there's a crisis, it's your fault for being ignorant, irrational, and greedy. You must do as we say to fix it, or we'll all die."

This alarmist crusade, which underlies the sustainability movement, should rankle people with an economic understanding of the world. A basic tenet of economics is that markets are self-correcting and orderly; prices indicate resource constraints and guide people in economizing on their use. Prices change as underlying supply and demand conditions change, inducing appropriate adjustments in consumption and production patterns. Prices channel the profit motive — a natural aspect of the human condition — into productive and innovative activities. In short, prices work.

Sustainists are either ignorant or in denial of this basic lesson. Either way, we economists have our work cut out for us.

The Sustainists' Lament
The gist of the problem, as the sustainists see it, is that people are using resources irresponsibly — either using them up too fast, using too much of them, or using them in a way that will have negative long-term ramifications. In brief, sustainists disapprove of other peoples' actions, and are taking steps to correct their wayward brethren.

Because these wasteful others, through either ignorance, laziness, or stubbornness, will not wake up and adopt sustainable practices on their own, sustainists see the need for a self-conscious effort — organized campaigns, eco–guilt trips, and yes, even laws — to correct this misuse of resources. We need to change our patterns of action; we need a motivating force beyond mere "economic self-interest" (i.e., the profit motive). Sustainability, then, has become a full-fledged crusade to "save the planet," and if you're not part of the solution, you're surely part of the problem.

Let's interpret this through the lens of economics. Sustainability arguments fall under one of two broad categories: (1) The nonrenewable resources argument that the supplies of certain important resources are shrinking; by the time people realize this it will be "too late" — resource shortages will strain the capitalist economies to the breaking point.[1] (2) The climate-change argument that there are large, though delayed, negative externalities to current patterns of resource use.

Whatever their type, sustainability arguments invoke market failure. Indeed, the very practices cited as unsustainable arise on the free market. Therefore some outside corrective, whether aggressive moral suasion or economic regulation, is needed to prevent the impending catastrophe of unsustainable resource use.

Are Prices Not Sufficient?
I don't want to dwell on the particulars of the sustainability movement. There are dozens of manifestations, from green building to organic farming to mandatory recycling to decarbonization — indeed, the sustainability bandwagon (which of course is painted green and powered by renewable energy) seems infinitely expandable to include every industry and interest group under the sun. Instead, I want to draw out the essential implications of the sustainability movement.

The sustainability movement is an assault on economics. It claims at its core that prices don't operate through time to direct consumption and production decisions in a sustainable way. A lesson in basic economics should suffice to defend against the sustainists' attack.

Prices arise in the market economy as a concomitant of mutually beneficial exchange. People want things that improve their lives — we call this value. Some valuable things are more scarce than others; take the classic case of water and diamonds. In absolute terms, water is more valuable than diamonds: you don't need diamonds to live.

Yet water is, pound for pound, far cheaper. Why? Although it's valuable, it is also relatively abundant; in many parts of the world, it literally does fall from the sky. The price of any good reflects this combination of value and scarcity. We're willing to pay more for valuable things as they become relatively scarce (e.g., oil); and we needn't pay as much for valuable things as they become more abundant (e.g., grain).

Likewise, as scarce things lose their value, people are no longer willing to pay for them (e.g., typewriters), and people must pay more for scarce things that suddenly become sought after (e.g., vintage Michael Jackson records). The awesome thing about prices is that they seamlessly convey this combination of facts about an item's value (demand) and it's scarcity (supply). Prices, of course, are subject to change — prices of certain goods fluctuate every day. But this is a good thing; discernable trends in prices over time indicate relative changes in the "market fundamentals" of supply and demand.

In this sense, prices reliably guide individuals, both consumers and producers, toward a rational use of resources. Savvy consumers listen to the prices; a rising price trend tells them to cut back on that particular item, and a falling price tells them to go ahead and use a little more of it. The same basic logic applies on the production side.

Entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are like bloodhounds sniffing out these price trends in search of profit opportunities — chances to create value through exchange. If the price of a good trends strongly upwards over time (indicating it has become scarcer and/or more valuable), they rush to find cheaper substitutes. The cheaper the substitutes, the higher the profits to be had, especially if you're the first to market. If prices trend downwards over time (indicating that the resource is becoming more abundant relative to its usefulness), entrepreneurs devote their efforts elsewhere.

The general outcome of these economic processes is captured by the statement "prices coordinate."[2] In other words, the price system acts as an "invisible hand,"[3] guiding people — both consumers and producers — in their economic actions. The real beauty of this free-market price system is that it brings about its own kind of sustainability. This is not so much sustainability in the use of particular resources — for particular goods fall in and out of favor according to supply and demand factors — but sustainability of high economic growth and high standards of living in the economically developed, capitalist economies.

Take, as an example, the transition in the market for interior illumination: tallow candles were replaced by whale-oil lamps, which were replaced by kerosene lamps, which were replaced by incandescent bulbs powered by electricity. There was no social or political pressure needed to accomplish this evolution; there was no "peak whale oil" movement, no kerosene conservationists, no sustainability crusade of yore. All it took was a functional price system, combined with the ever-present entrepreneurial drive for profits under a competitive, free-market order.

Likewise, in our time as sustainists and other worrywarts fret about resource depletion, the price system remains functional, quietly yet assuredly guiding individuals to economize on resources, search out profitable substitutes, and anticipate future trends. All this happens without preaching, without crusades, and without activism.

Is the Sustainability Crusade Sustainable?
How long will sustainists be able to beat their drum, simultaneously trumpeting their greener-than-thou self-image and attempting, with varying degrees of coercion, to make the rest of us act "sustainable" too? With the global warming scare losing credibility by the day, the likelihood of sustainists being able to claim even a moral victory is fading.[4]Barring the earth melting down from a little bit of smoke, I'm not too worried about sustainists having much of a long-run impact.

Hardcore sustainists are asking for a radically disruptive change from the natural order of the free-market economy. They're asking us to forego wealth and embrace privation in the name of their cause.[5] Although citizens of the Western democracies have seemingly become easy marks for anything green, we will only go so far toward saving the planet, especially when it becomes apparent that sustainability requires a march toward poverty and a deeply regimented and regulated society (and that the planet's not really in peril, after all).

Also, and perhaps more importantly, people in developing countries will be increasingly turned off by the sustainists' demands for sacrifice. Having just arrived at the high living standards that long-term capitalist development yields, my sense is that they will turn a cold shoulder to the idea of ratcheting down their development.
The current resurgence of the classical-liberal tradition in economics will also reduce the appeal of sustainability. The idea of imposed or centrally planned sustainability will crumble under the realization that the spontaneous order wrought by the invisible hand of the free-market price system is amazingly sustainable in and of itself. Add to the mix the hardships of the current recession, and it won't be long before enough people, even sustainist crusaders come crawling back, box of chocolates in hand, to the free-market economy.
Title: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 08, 2009, 07:00:07 PM
Nice site with interesting graphs. Have some AGW kool-aid drinker text on their page, but the rest looks like hard science:

Their November recap:

December 7, 2009
Low ice extent in Barents Sea and Hudson Bay

In November, the average rate of Arctic sea ice growth slightly exceeded the 1979 to 2000 average growth rate for the month. However, at the end of the month, some regions, in particular the Barents Sea and Hudson Bay, still had much less ice cover than normal.
Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for November 2009 was 10.26 million square kilometers (3.96 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

High-resolution image
Overview of conditions
Arctic sea ice extent averaged over November 2009 was 10.26 million square kilometers (3.96 million square miles). This was 1.05 million square kilometers (405,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for November, but 420,000 square kilometers (160,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in November 2006. In general, the ice edge is now at or slightly beyond its average location, with two notable exceptions: Hudson Bay and the Barents Sea.
Figure 2. The graph above shows daily sea ice extent as of December 6, 2009. The solid light blue line indicates 2009; dark blue shows 2006, dashed green indicates 2007; and solid gray indicates average extent from 1979 to 2000. The gray area around the average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

High-resolution image
Conditions in context
By November, much of the Arctic is in complete or near complete darkness. Air temperatures fall dramatically and sea ice grows rapidly. During November 2009, extent grew at an average 82,000 square kilometers per day (32,000 square miles per day). The rate of increase in sea ice extent was slower during the first half of November, and faster during the latter half.
Figure 3. Monthly November ice extent for 1979 to 2009 shows a decline of 4.5% per decade.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

High-resolution image
November 2009 compared to past years
November 2009 had the third-lowest average extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records. The linear rate of decline for the month is now 4.5 percent per decade.
Figure 4. The map of sea level pressure (in millibars) for November 2009, shows low pressure in the North Atlantic and high pressure over Russia, which led to winds that brought warmth to the Barents Sea and pushed the ice northward.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center courtesy NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division

High-resolution image
Slow ice growth: a tale of two regions
Both Hudson Bay and the Barents Sea have experienced a slow freeze-up this fall. However, the slow sea ice growth in the two regions probably resulted from different processes, highlighting the complex interactions between the sea ice, atmosphere and ocean. In the Barents Sea, ice growth was slowed by winds that pushed the ice northwards into the central Arctic, while warmer-than-usual temperatures contributed to the slow ice growth in Hudson Bay.
The Barents Sea is the deepest of the Arctic coastal seas. It is open on its southern and northern boundaries, allowing winds and currents to move sea ice in and out of the region. In November, southerly winds built up between an area of high pressure over Siberia and low pressure in the northern Atlantic Ocean, in accordance with Buys Ballot's Law. The winds transported warm air and water from the south, and pushed the ice edge northwards out of the Barents Sea.
Figure 5. The map of air temperature anomalies for November 2009, at the 925 millibar level (roughly 1,000 meters [3,000 feet] above the surface), shows warmer than usual temperatures over the Barents Sea and Hudson Bay. Areas in blue correspond to negative (cool) anomalies. Areas in orange and red correspond to strong positive (warm) anomalies.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center courtesy NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division

High-resolution image
In contrast to the Barents Sea, Hudson Bay is a relatively shallow body of water, largely enclosed by land. Ocean waters and sea ice do not flow easily in or out of the bay. The lack of ice in southern Hudson Bay this November is probably related to warmer than normal air temperatures in the region, particularly during the first half of the month.
Air temperatures over Barents Sea were also high during November. While the southerly winds contributed to the warmth, ice-free conditions in the Barents likely also added to the atmospheric heat. Without an insulating cover of sea ice, the ocean releases heat directly to the air.
Title: Sixth Grade Science
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 09, 2009, 01:44:43 PM
See, AGW zealots, good science isn't so hard:

Title: Hockey sticks everywhere
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 10, 2009, 07:51:36 AM
Hockey stick?  No, hockey sticks!
Title: myhrovolds-to save the world?or our economy?
Post by: ccp on December 22, 2009, 12:41:16 PM
What a nightmare for the libs!

For those who don't read drudgereport.  Acually Myhrvold was discussing this on Fareed Zakaria this past weekend.  Fareed asked him, so why is pumping sulfur into the atmosphere "good for us"?   Here is the theory.  Libs will trample all over themselves trying to shoot this down but it could (if it worked) completely negate any urgency to do cap and trade or any other unilateral disarming byt the "Bamas" (my new name for the radical libs, left, progressives or whatever name they change it to of the day).
Title: Arctic Oscillations
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 28, 2009, 09:11:51 PM
A graph intensive piece that looks at arctic oscillations. Next time someone starts talking about arctic warming this piece ought to be reviewed:
Title: Atmospheric CO2 Remains Stable
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 31, 2009, 03:11:46 PM
No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years, New Research Finds
ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2009) — Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.
However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.
Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase. Because understanding of the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide is important for predicting future climate change, it is essential to have accurate knowledge of whether that fraction is changing or will change as emissions increase.
To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.
In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.
The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters
Title: Proper Precautions
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on January 01, 2010, 10:25:38 AM
Climate, Caution, and Precaution
Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

One of the arguments frequently applied to the climate debate is that the “Precautionary Principle” requires that we take action to reduce CO2. However, this is a misunderstanding of the Precautionary Principle, which means something very different from the kind of caution that makes us carry an umbrella when rain threatens. Some people are taking the Precautionary Principle way too far …

Figure 1. Umbrella Exhibiting an Excess of Precaution

The nature of the Precautionary Principle is widely misunderstood. Let me start with the birth of the Precautionary Principle (I’ll call it PP for short), which comes from the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Declaration on the Environment (1992). Here’s their original formulation:

“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capability. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

This is an excellent statement of the PP, as it distinguishes it from such things as carrying umbrellas, denying bank loans, approving the Kyoto Protocol, invading Afghanistan, or using seat belts.

The three key parts of the PP (emphasis mine) are:

1)  A threat of serious or irreversible damage.

2)  A lack of full scientific certainty (in other words, the existence of partial but not conclusive scientific evidence).

3)  The availability of cost-effective measures that we know will prevent the problem.

Here are some examples of how these key parts of the PP work out in practice.

We have full scientific certainty that seat belts save lives, and that using an umbrella keeps us dry. Thus, using them is not an example of the PP, it is simply acting reasonably on principles about which we are scientifically certain.

There are no scientific principles or evidence that we can apply to the question of invading Afghanistan, so we cannot apply the PP there either.

Bank loans are neither serious nor irreversible, nor is there partial scientific understanding of them, so they don’t qualify for the PP.

The Kyoto Protocol is so far from being cost-effective as to be laughable. The PP can be thought of as a kind of insurance policy. No one would pay $200,000 for an insurance policy if the payoff in case of an accident were only $20, yet this is the kind of ratio of cost to payoff that the Kyoto Protocol involves. Even its proponents say that if the states involved met their targets, it would only reduce the temperature by a tenth of a degree in fifty years … not a good risk/reward ratio.

Finally, consider CO2. The claim is that in fifty years, we’ll be sorry if we don’t stop producing CO2 now. However, we don’t know whether CO2 will cause any damage at all in fifty years, much less whether it will cause serious or irreversible damage. We have very little evidence that CO2 will cause “dangerous” warming other than fanciful forecasts from untested, unverified, unvalidated climate models which have not been subjected to software quality assurance of any kind. We have no evidence that a warmer world is a worse world, it might be a better world. The proposed remedies are estimated to cost on the order of a trillion dollars a year … hardly cost effective under any analysis. Nor do we have any certainty whether the proposed remedies will prevent the projected problem. So cutting CO2 fails to qualify for the PP under all three of the criteria.

On the other side of the equation, a good example of when we should definitely use the PP involves local extinction. We have fairly good scientific understanding that removing a top predator from a local ecosystem badly screws things up. Kill the mountain lions, and the deer go wild, then the plants are overgrazed, then the ground erodes, insect populations are unbalanced, and so on down the line.

Now, if we are looking at a novel ecosystem that has not been scientifically studied, we do not have full scientific certainty that removing the top predator will actually cause serious or irreversible damage to the ecosystem. However, if there is a cost-effective method to avoid removing the top predator, the PP says that we should do so. It fulfils the three requirements of the PP — there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage, we have partial scientific certainty, and a cost-effective solution exists, so we should act.

Because I hold these views about the inapplicability of the precautionary principle to CO2, I am often accused of not wanting to do anything about a possible threat. People say I’m ignoring something which could cause problems in the future. This is not the case. I do not advocate inaction. I advocate the use of “no-regrets” actions in response to this kind of possible danger.

The rule of the no-regrets approach is very simple — do things that will provide real, immediate, low-cost, tangible benefits whether or not the threat is real. That way you won’t regret your actions.

Here are some examples of no-regrets responses to the predicted threats of CO2. In Peru, the slums up on the hillside above Lima are very dry, which is a problem that is supposed to get worse if the world warms. In response to the problem, people are installing “fog nets“. These nets capture water from the fog, providing fresh water to the villagers.

In India’s Ladakh region, they have the same problem, lack of water. So they have started building “artificial glaciers“.These are low-cost shallow ponds where they divert the water during the winter. The water freezes, and is slowly released as the “glacier” melts over the course of the following growing season.

These are the best type of response to a possible threat from CO2. They are inexpensive, they solve a real program today rather than a half century from now, and they are aimed at the poor of the world.

These responses also reveal what I call the “dirty secret” of the “we’re all gonna die in fifty years from CO2″ crowd. The dirty secret of their forecasts of massive impending doom is that all of the threatened catastrophes they warn us about are here already.

All the different types of climate-related destruction that people are so worried will happen in fifty years are happening today. Droughts? We got ‘em. Floods? There’s plenty. Rising sea levels? Check. Insect borne diseases? Which ones would you like? Tornados and extreme storms? We get them all the time. People dying of starvation? How many do you want? All the Biblical Plagues of Egypt? Would you like flies with that?

Forget about what will happen in fifty years. Every possible climate catastrophe is happening now, and has been for centuries.

So if you are truly interested in those problems, do something about them today. Contribute to organizations developing salt resistant crops. Put money into teaching traditional drought resisting measures in Africa. Support the use of micro-hydroelectric plants for village energy. The possibilities are endless.

That way, whether or not the doomsayers are right about what will happen in fifty years, both then and now people will be better prepared and more able to confront the problems caused by the unpleasant vagaries of climate. Fighting to reduce CO2 is hugely expensive, has been totally unsuccessful to date, will be very damaging to the lives of the poorest people, and has no certainty of bringing the promised results. This is a very bad combination.

Me, I don’t think CO2 will cause those doomsday scenarios. But that’s just me, I’ve been wrong before. If you do care about CO2 and think it is teh eeeevil, you should be out promoting your favorite no-regrets option. Because whether or not CO2 is a danger as people claim, if you do that you can be sure that you are not just pouring money down a bottomless hole with very poor odds of success. That’s the real Precautionary Principle.
Title: POTH: Jurisdiction of Water Act
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 01, 2010, 04:55:26 AM
This POTH (NYT) article is written in a highly biased way, but the question remains about the environmental contamination and pollution.

Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

Toxic Waters
Outside the Law

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in America’s waters and regulators’ responses.

As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.
Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.

The Clean Water Act was intended to end dangerous water pollution by regulating every major polluter. But today, regulators may be unable to prosecute as many as half of the nation’s largest known polluters because officials lack jurisdiction or because proving jurisdiction would be overwhelmingly difficult or time consuming, according to midlevel officials.

“We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states,” said Douglas F. Mundrick, an E.P.A. lawyer in Atlanta. “This is a huge step backward. When companies figure out the cops can’t operate, they start remembering how much cheaper it is to just dump stuff in a nearby creek.”

“This is a huge deal,” James M. Tierney, the New York State assistant commissioner for water resources, said of the new constraints. “There are whole watersheds that feed into New York’s drinking water supply that are, as of now, unprotected.”

The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters” of the United States. For decades, “navigable waters” was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.

But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be “navigable waters” and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.

Some argue that such decisions help limit overreaching regulatory efforts.

“There is no doubt in my mind that when Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 they intended it to have broad regulatory reach, but they did not intend it to be unlimited,” said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations, who has lobbied on Clean Water issues.

But for E.P.A. and state regulators, the decisions have created widespread uncertainty. The court did not define which waterways are regulated, and judicial districts have interpreted the court’s decisions differently. As regulators have struggled to guess how various courts will rule, some E.P.A. lawyers have established unwritten internal guidelines to avoid cases in which proving jurisdiction is too difficult, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former E.P.A. officials.

The decisions “reduce E.P.A.’s ability to do what the law intends — to protect water quality, the environment and public health,” wrote Peter S. Silva, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, in response to questions.

About 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by waters that are vulnerable to exclusion from the Clean Water Act, according to E.P.A. reports.

The E.P.A. said in a statement that it did not automatically concede that any significant water body was outside the authority of the Clean Water Act. “Jurisdictional determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis,” the agency wrote. Officials added that they believed that even many streams that go dry for long periods were within the act’s jurisdiction.

But midlevel E.P.A. officials said that internal studies indicated that as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult.


Page 2 of 2)

And even in situations in which regulators believe they still have jurisdiction, companies have delayed cases for years by arguing that the ambiguity precludes prosecution. In some instances, regulators have simply dropped enforcement actions.

Outside the Law

In the last two years, some members of Congress have tried to limit the impact of the court decisions by introducing legislation known as the Clean Water Restoration Act. It has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet introduced this session in the House. The legislation tries to resolve these problems by, in part, removing the word “navigable” from the law and restoring regulators’ authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions.

But a broad coalition of industries has often successfully lobbied to prevent the full Congress from voting on such proposals by telling farmers and small-business owners that the new legislation would permit the government to regulate rain puddles and small ponds and layer new regulations on how they dispose of waste.

“The game plan is to emphasize the scary possibilities,” said one member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which has fought the legislation and is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders and other groups representing industries affected by the Clean Water Act.

“If you can get Glenn Beck to say that government storm troopers are going to invade your property, farmers in the Midwest will light up their congressmen’s switchboards,” said the coalition member, who asked not to be identified because he thought his descriptions would anger other coalition participants. Mr. Beck, a conservative commentator on Fox News, spoke at length against the Clean Water Restoration Act in December.

The American Land Rights Association, another organization opposed to legislation, wrote last June that people should “Deluge your senators with calls, faxes and e-mails.” A news release the same month from the American Farm Bureau Federation warned that “even rainwater would be regulated.”

“If you erase the word ‘navigable’ from the law, it erases any limitation on the federal government’s reach,” said Mr. Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It could be a gutter, a roadside ditch or a rain puddle. But under the new law, the government gets control over it.”

Legislators say these statements are misleading and intended to create panic.

“These claims just aren’t true,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. He helped push the bill through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This bill,” he said, “is solely aimed at restoring the law to what it covered before the Supreme Court decisions.”

The consequences of the Supreme Court decisions are stark. In drier states, some polluters say the act no longer applies to them and are therefore refusing to renew or apply for permits, making it impossible to monitor what they are dumping, say officials.

Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M., for instance, recently informed E.P.A. officials that it no longer considered itself subject to the act. It dumps wastewater — containing bacteria and human sewage — into a lake on the base.

More than 200 oil spill cases were delayed as of 2008, according to a memorandum written by an E.P.A. official and collected by Congressional investigators. And even as the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act has steadily increased each year, E.P.A. judicial actions against major polluters have fallen by almost half since the Supreme Court rulings, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data by The New York Times.

The Clean Water Act does not directly deal with drinking water. Rather, it was meant to regulate the polluters that contaminated the waterways that supplied many towns and cities with tap water.

The two Supreme Court decisions at issue — Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006 — focused on the federal government’s jurisdiction over various wetlands. In both cases, dissenting justices warned that limiting the power of the federal government would weaken its ability to combat water pollution.

“Cases now are lost because the company is discharging into a stream that flows into a river, rather than the river itself,” said David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan who led the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department during the last administration.

In 2007, for instance, after a pipe manufacturer in Alabama, a division of McWane Inc., was convicted and fined millions of dollars for dumping oil, lead, zinc and other chemicals into a large creek, an appellate court overturned that conviction and fine, ruling that the Supreme Court precedent exempted the waterway from the Clean Water Act. The company eventually settled by agreeing to pay a smaller amount and submit to probation.

Some E.P.A. officials say solutions beyond the Clean Water Restoration Act are available. They argue that the agency’s chief, Lisa P. Jackson, could issue regulations that seek to clarify jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Mrs. Jackson has urged Congress to resolve these issues. But she has not issued new regulations.

“E.P.A., with our federal partners, emphasized to Congress in a May 2009 letter that legislation is the best way to restore the Clean Water Act’s effectiveness,” wrote Mr. Silva in a statement to The Times. “E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue to implement our water programs to protect the nation’s waters and the environment as effectively as possible, including consideration of administrative actions to restore the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act.”

In the meantime, both state and federal regulators say they are prevented from protecting important waterways.

“We need something to fix these gaps,” said Mr. Tierney, the New York official. “The Clean Water Act worked for over 30 years, and we’re at risk of losing that if we can’t get a new law.”
Title: POTH (NYT) editorial
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2010, 10:13:40 AM

Given that the source (Pravda on the Hudson a.k.a. POTH a.k.a. The NY Times) is suspect I ask here whether this editorial makes a fair point:

A Hole in the Spring SkyPublished: May 14, 2010
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LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink. Twenty-five years ago this month, a small team of scientists discovered that the ozone layer above their Antarctic station was thinning more and more every spring. The layer protects life on earth from the sun’s ultraviolet light. The response to that discovery is a rare, happy environmental morality tale.

In 1996, an international accord banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s — which were used as refrigerants in air-conditioners and propellants in aerosol spray cans — that were causing the ozone hole. The treaty has phased in slowly. And the hole, gaping widely every spring, is much larger today. But it would be far worse without the protocol, and there is good reason to expect that it will return to pre-1970 levels by 2080.

There is another lesson here, one that has nothing to do with citizen action or international accords or aerosol sprays. The discovery of the ozone hole would have been impossible without paying close, consistent attention to the world around us and having the personnel needed to decipher the results.

As Jonathan Shanklin, one of the scientists who discovered the hole notes, Halley Research Station had continuous ozone data reaching back nearly 40 years. Discovering the ozone hole was to a large extent a matter of processing and correlating that data and being open to the surprising results.

It’s a reminder that good science is patient, observant, careful and continuous. That kind of science — which is especially valuable for understanding climate change — requires long-term commitments in financing and education. It requires the ability to gather data accurately over the years and to educate the scientists who can turn that data into a new awareness of how this world works. That knowledge helped us to make the decision that aerosol sprays and other CFC’s are not worth a yawning void in the springtime Antarctic skies.
Title: Analyze this!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 17, 2010, 10:07:18 PM
OK my free marketeer brethren, how do we analyze this?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on July 18, 2010, 07:11:04 AM
Don't eat catfish?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 18, 2010, 07:32:03 AM
Amen to that, especially those from that part of the world.

However, what about the overall environmental issues?  Are you comfortable with the consequences of this unregulated growth?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on July 18, 2010, 11:52:14 AM
It would require a very heavy hand to change the layered issues occurring in Viet Nam, a hand so heavy I hate to think about its form. Get the the folks there to push through an economic valance or two creating the wealth that allows environmental concerns to even appear on the radar then I expect problems will begin to work themselves out. But, near as I can tell, the choice is between an ugly, heavy hand and self interested incentives occurring over time. Which do you think is best? Which will address the environmental issues most efficiently over time?
Title: Environmental issues: 'Oil' spill is 40% natural gas
Post by: DougMacG on July 19, 2010, 12:28:10 PM
Oil and water easily separate.  Oil breaks down quickly in saltwater.  But it was the high methane levels that caused the explosion.  40% of this leak may be methane.  The methane is not rising to the surface.  Causes oxygen depletion zones, kills ocean life  Could also I would suppose cause another explosion either in the cap or the relief wells.  I don't think we have heard the last of this.  What was the 'risk assessment' of the new, rushed drillings and what is the next backup plan?

If a blowout protector is going to fail, use two of them.  If one relief well might fail, drill two.  Government solves problems the way a hammer sees every problem as a nail, it seems to me.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 20, 2010, 05:27:49 AM

Please flesh out "self-interested incentives".

Title: Environmental issues: Mekong River pollution
Post by: DougMacG on July 20, 2010, 07:10:00 AM
"OK my free marketeer brethren, how do we analyze this?"

From my point of view, reasonable regulations on real emissions of real pollutants that do real harm to others based on real science is no violation on freedom.  To the contrary, my liberty to dump for example that removes your liberty downstream to live, drink or eat safely is a violation of freedom and free markets.

From the point of view of Pathological Science, what I think we oppose is false science aimed at curtailing activities that cause no measurable harm.  That would apparently not be the case here assuming measurable science backs up the claims in the documentary.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on July 20, 2010, 07:45:16 AM

Please flesh out "self-interested incentives".

Being rewarded for producing a high quality product with rising sales, as opposed to being punished for producing an inferior product with falling sales.

I'm with Doug is his post above, but think producing the infrastructure that allows regulators to operate efficiently in third world countries is a pretty daunting task.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 21, 2010, 08:05:38 AM
Restating Doug's comments:  "All costs to a transaction should be born by the buyer and/or seller."  Costs not born by them are "external diseconomies".

What makes sense to me is to tax external diseconomies instead of good things like profit, savings, inheritance, captial gains, etc.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on July 22, 2010, 08:46:23 AM
Crafty: "What makes sense to me is to tax external diseconomies [pollution emissions for example] instead of good things like profit, savings, inheritance, captial gains, etc."

I like the way you are thinking, but...

Taking the Mekong River example, we don't want a filthy waterway with cash distributed downstream for their troubles, we want a cleaner river.  If the pollution tax is the disincentive to pollute and the incentive to clean it up, then it is a declining/unreliable source of revenue.  A tax could though be a part of the regulatory scheme to fix it.

BBG wrote: "producing the infrastructure that allows regulators to operate efficiently in third world countries is a pretty daunting task."

Very true.  So we take the question in armchair fashion, if they could get their act together, what should they do?
Nature has it's own impurities, and its own filtering and cleansing mechanisms.  The fish excrete in the water, for example.  But discharging human waste untreated from millions that even don't live on the water just as a way to move it out of your neighborhood is wrong, once you know it is harming others. 

Nothing is fixed overnight.  I would think you need to set something like a straight line regulation path over a reasonable period of time, require that emissions drop consistently until they reach some reasonable level over 5, 10 or 20 years, whatever is economically possible.  I don't think any amount of money makes it okay to dump lead, mercury or the untreated waste of tens of millions into a natural resource.  I would rather require them to invest the money in treatment facilities than hand it to the cleptocrats for redistribution.

The tax policy we can discuss elsewhere, but income and consumption transactions are where the money is to tax.  The key is a) minimize the impact with rates low enough to not stop the productive activity (you keep most of what you earn), and b) apply the same tax rate to every dollar earned, for every person, every product, every industry, etc.  - all the same - for consent of the governed, equal protection and so that every voter faces the same impact of their choice.  Only then we can rationally decide how big we want government to be.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: ccp on August 13, 2010, 10:52:32 AM
I remember someone who was not an American citizen once told me (decades ago) "the world is a joke,  Always Remember I tell you this.  The world is a joke".  His context was that it wasn't fair I was an American citizen and he was not.  I had privleges and lived in the greatest country and he did not - only because of a twist of faith.  I was born here he was not.  The longer I live the more I have come to agree he was right.  I always remembered he told me that wondering if one day I would agree with him.  Here from a total creep who I allege sings songs she claims she writes but didn't, whose boyfriend claimed he didn't take steroids but obviously did (Lance Amrstrong) and now she can lecture her green agenda while spewing carbon all over during her worldly travels. 

***Sheryl Crow, The Queen Of GreenSinger’s 2010 rider demands recycled toilet paper, offers promoters “greening” tips
The document, excerpted here, actually has a 2-1/2 page “environmental portion” to be “strictly followed and policed.” Seeking to “minimize the overall environmental impact of our tour,” Crow demands that only biodegradable cups and dinnerware be used by the caterer. Produce should be “organic and purchased from local suppliers as much as possible.” And for the five backstage “watering stations,” water “must be sourced from a local spring water vendor.”

According to Crow’s rider, her tour party travels between gigs in two 45-foot buses, while her equipment is packed into two tractor-trailers.

Crow, 48, also offers promoters “venue greening suggestions.” She wants “traditional light bulbs” swapped out for compact fluorescent bulbs in “all offices, dressing rooms and common areas.” “Eco-friendly cleaning and bathroom products” and “post-consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towel” should also be used. Crow’s rider also notes that, “We strongly encourage you to use renewable sources and/or to buy sustainable energy credits where possible. Many local utilities offer ‘green power’ as an option--please check with yours and opt in.”

The document also details how Crow’s backstage hospitality room is to be stocked. The singer needs an assortment of “biodegradable non-petroleum cups” and 24 “disposable napkins made of 100% recycled fiber.” Crow’s rider also lists a wide variety of drinks and snacks that she needs, including organic coconut water and two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon (“Sheryl’s Favorite” is Stag’s Leap Artemis). Two “good quality, dark, organic chocolate bars” are described as “***VERY IMPORTANT***”

[Our copy of Crow’s 2010 rider has a number of items crossed out. It is unclear whether this indicates that the individual items had been obtained, or whether the promoter declined to supply them.]

As in a prior Crow rider, the current version includes her specific liquor schedule. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, she needs a small bottle of Ketel One vodka that will be mixed with a half-gallon of organic cranberry juice. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, Crow requires a bottle of Patron tequila that will be mixed with a half-gallon of organic grapefruit juice. (6 pages)****

Title: Whales getting sunburned?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 11, 2010, 09:07:05 AM
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 23, 2010, 08:30:56 AM
Although I am "right wing" in my insistence on sound science and good economics, my spiritual practice leads me to believe that this planet IS our Garden of Eden, and that our dominion over it requires that we be good gardeners of it.  Having eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, our danger is that our knowledge will kill the Garden.  The parable of Genesis is powerful and IMHO well-connected to the deeper truths.
Title: Eliminating construction waste
Post by: Freki on December 11, 2010, 06:29:17 AM
I was not sure where to put this TED video.  I thought many here might get a kick out of it.  The Gentleman is from Houston and is know for building with recycled materials and eliminating as much waste in construction as possible.  He is pretty funny and draws much of his outlook from philosophy.  Well worth the 20mins
Title: Copper Bullets?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 16, 2010, 09:14:20 AM
Get the Lead Out of HuntingBy ANTHONY PRIETO
Published: December 15, 2010
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I’VE hunted elk, deer and wild pigs in the American West for 25 years. Like many hunters, I follow several rules: Respect other forms of life, take only what my family can eat and the ecosystem can sustain, and leave as little impact on the environment as possible.

That’s why I hunt with copper bullets instead of lead. We’ve long known about the collateral damage caused by lead ammunition. When bald and golden eagles, vultures, bears, endangered California condors and other scavengers eat the innards, called gutpiles, that hunters leave in the field after cleaning their catch or the game that hunters wound but don’t capture, they can ingest poisonous lead fragments. Most sicken, and many die.

When I began hunting, I buried the lead-laden gutpiles. It would help if more hunters did this, but it’s not enough. Scavengers often dig gutpiles up anyway. And the meat that hunters take home to their families could be tainted. I’ve seen X-rays of shot game showing dust-sized lead particles spread throughout the meat, far away from the bullet hole. The best solution is to stop using lead ammunition altogether.

So last summer conservationists — along with the organization I run — formally petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead bullets and shot nationwide (there are limited bans for some hunting areas and game). The E.P.A. rejected the petition, and we’ve since filed a lawsuit to get the agency to address the problem.

Unfortunately, there is vocal opposition to any ammunition regulation from groups like the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which see the campaign as an attack on hunting rights, and fear that the cost of non-lead ammunition would drive hunters away from the sport.

But this campaign has nothing to do with revoking hunting rights; if it did, I would not be involved. It’s an issue of using non-toxic materials. Was the removal of lead paint from children’s toys a plot to do away with toys? Did the switch to unleaded gas hide an ulterior motive of removing vehicles from our roads?

And although copper bullets can be more expensive than lead ones, the cost of ammunition is a small fraction of what I spend on hunting, which includes gear, optics, food, gas and licenses. No one will quit hunting over spending a few more quarters per bullet. Besides, the more hunters switch to copper, the faster prices will come down. Back in the ’90s, before pre-loaded copper cartridges could be bought over the counter, I had to hand-load my copper bullets. But already it’s easy to find them in many calibers, including those for my Browning .270 and my Winchester .300.

The dozen friends I hunt with love shooting non-lead bullets, and it’s not just because they’re doing something good for the environment. The ballistics are better. I’ve killed more than 80 pigs and 40 deer shooting copper. These bullets travel up to 3,200 feet per second and have about a 98 percent weight retention — meaning they don’t fragment as easily as lead. Copper kills cleanly. It can help keep our hunting grounds clean as well.

Anthony Prieto is the founder of Project Gutpile, a hunting group that advocates lead-free ammunition.

Title: POTH: Carbon Dioxide levels continue to rise
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 22, 2010, 06:18:16 AM
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on December 22, 2010, 07:27:22 AM
If we were talking 380 parts per thousand I would be more concerned.  It is 380 parts per Million.  If CO2 levels this low were DECREASING I would be more concerned as all plant life relies on a continuous supply of this trace atmospheric molecule.

From the story: "The greatest question in climate science is: What will that do to the temperature of the earth?"

Also true that warmer air holds more CO2, so we don't even know cause and affect.

Sometimes best to view this steep curve increase on a graph to see where it is headed.  This only goes up to 1% of atmospheric concentration.  The y-axis would need to be 100 times taller to graphically show the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere as it has increased over the last 50-some years.

If you assume this increase is either cyclical or fossil fuel based or both, then the likely extension of the curve would be to maybe go further up and then come gradually back down as fossil fuel use has likely already peaked and offsetting factors like plant growth also increase to absorb these fluctuations.
As the NY Times calls the above, "rising relentlessly".

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on December 22, 2010, 11:46:56 AM
Imagine how bad the snow would be in europe if we didn't have all this global warning?
Title: NYT/ POTH: Artic Fence
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 25, 2011, 05:27:59 AM
Pravda on the Hudson, humbled by the postings on this forum,  :lol: takes a more responsible tone in its coverage :-D

Judging by the weather, the world seems to have flipped upside down.

For two winters running, an Arctic chill has descended on Europe, burying that continent in snow and ice. Last year in the United States, historic blizzards afflicted the mid-Atlantic region. This winter the Deep South has endured unusual snowstorms and severe cold, and a frigid Northeast is bracing for what could shape into another major snowstorm this week.
Yet while people in Atlanta learn to shovel snow, the weather 2,000 miles to the north has been freakishly warm the past two winters. Throughout northeastern Canada and Greenland, temperatures in December ran as much as 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Bays and lakes have been slow to freeze; ice fishing, hunting and trade routes have been disrupted.

Iqaluit, the capital of the remote Canadian territory of Nunavut, had to cancel its New Year’s snowmobile parade. David Ell, the deputy mayor, said that people in the region had been looking with envy at snowbound American and European cities. “People are saying, ‘That’s where all our snow is going!’ ” he said.

The immediate cause of the topsy-turvy weather is clear enough. A pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the last two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north.

The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting that it is. But others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link.

Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean’s surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns.

Ice reflects sunlight, and scientists say the loss of ice is causing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat in the summer. A handful of scientists point to that extra heat as a possible culprit in the recent harsh winters in Europe and the United States.

Their theories involve a fast-moving river of air called the jet stream that circles the Northern Hemisphere. Many winters, a strong pressure difference between the polar region and the middle latitudes channels the jet stream into a tight circle, or vortex, around the North Pole, effectively containing the frigid air at the top of the world.

“It’s like a fence,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a researcher in Camp Springs, Md., with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When that pressure difference diminishes, however, the jet stream weakens and meanders southward, bringing warm air into the Arctic and cold air into the midlatitudes — exactly what has happened the last couple of winters. The effect is sometimes compared to leaving a refrigerator door open, with cold air flooding the kitchen even as warm air enters the refrigerator.

This has happened intermittently for many decades. Still, it is unusual for the polar vortex to weaken as much as it has lately. Last winter, one index related to the vortex hit its lowest wintertime value since record-keeping began in 1865, and it was quite low again in December.

James E. Overland, a climate scientist with NOAA in Seattle, has proposed that the extra warmth in the Arctic Ocean could be heating the atmosphere enough to make it less dense, causing the air pressure over the Arctic to be closer to that of the middle latitudes. “The added heat works against having a strong polar vortex,” he said.

But Dr. Overland acknowledges that his idea is tentative and needs further research. Many other climate scientists are not convinced, saying that a two-year span, however unusual, is not much on which to base a new theory. “We haven’t got sufficient insight to make definitive claims,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at a company called Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Mass., has spotted what he believes is a link between increasing snow in Siberia and the weakening of the polar vortex. In his theory, the extra snow is creating a dense, cold air mass over northern Asia in the late autumn, setting off a complex chain of cause and effect that ultimately perturbs the vortex.


Dr. Cohen said in an interview that the rising Siberian snow might, in turn, be linked to the decline of Arctic sea ice, with the open water providing extra moisture to the atmosphere — much as the Great Lakes produce heavy snows in cities like Buffalo and Syracuse. He is publishing seasonal forecasts based on his work, supported by the National Science Foundation. Those forecasts correctly predicted the recent harsh winters in the midlatitudes. But Dr. Cohen acknowledges, as does Dr. Overland, that some of his ideas are tentative and need further research.

The uncertainty about what is causing the strange winters highlights a core difficulty of climate science. While mainstream researchers are sure that greenhouse gases released by humans are warming the Earth, they acknowledge being on shakier ground in trying to predict the regional effects of that change. It is entirely possible, they say, that some regions will cool temporarily, because of disruption of the atmospheric and oceanic circulation, even as the Earth warms over all.
Bloggers who specialize in raising doubts about climate science have gleefully pointed to the recent winters in the United States and Europe as evidence that climatologists must be mistaken about a warming trend. These commentators have not been as eager to write about the strange warmth in parts of the Arctic, a region that scientists have long predicted will warm more rapidly than the planet as a whole.

Without doubt, the winter weather that began and ended 2010 was remarkable. Two of the 10 largest snowstorms in New York City history occurred last year, including the one that disrupted travel right after Christmas. The two snowstorms that fell on Washington and surrounding areas within a week in February had no known precedent in their overall impact on the region, with total accumulations of 40 inches in some places.

But the winters were not the whole story. Even without them, 2010 would have gone down as one of the strangest years in the annals of climatology, thanks in part to a weather condition known as El Niño, which dumped heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere early in the year. Later, the ocean surface cooled, a condition known as La Niña, contributing to heavy rainfall in many places.

Despite cooling from La Niña, newly compiled figures show that 2010 was among the two warmest years in the historical record. It featured a heat wave in Russia, all-time high temperatures in at least 17 countries, the hottest summer in New York City history, and devastating floods in Pakistan, China, Australia, the United States and other countries.

“It was a wild year,” said Christopher C. Burt, a weather historian for Weather Underground, an Internet site.

Still, however erratic the weather may have become, it is not obvious to most people how global warming could lead to frigid winters. Many scientists are hesitant to back such assertions, at least until they gain a better understanding of what is going on in the Arctic.

In interviews, several scientists recalled that in the decade ending in the mid-1990s, the polar vortex seemed to be strengthening, not weakening, producing mild winters in the eastern United States and western Europe.

At the time, some climate scientists wrote papers attributing that change to global warming. Newspapers, including this one, printed laments for winter lost. But soon after, the apparent trend went away, an experience that has made many researchers more cautious.

John M. Wallace, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington, wrote some of the earlier papers. This time around, he said, it will take a lot of evidence to convince him that a few harsh winters in London or Washington have anything to do with global warming.

“Just when you publish something and it looks like you’re seeing a connection,” Dr. Wallace said, “nature has a way of humbling us.”
Title: Inconvenient Reality leaves Al Gore unphased
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 03, 2011, 05:34:24 AM
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on February 03, 2011, 05:37:01 AM
Global warming. Is there anything it can't do?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: tim nelson on February 06, 2011, 08:53:19 AM
I hear global warming quite a bit, how about climate change? It is more vague of a term, change instead of warming. Possibly makes it a bigger subject, which I think it is.

My friend who has worked in Antarctica at a remote field station to help keep it ready for incoming scientists has rubbed elbows with some leading researchers there while at the main station McMurdo I think its called. They don't dispute something undeniable is happening to the ice and has been, according to him.

Honestly, treating this whole issue as though it is merely a bunch of leftist propaganda I think is right wing reaction.

Has anyone here seen photos or talked to people or gone to the Alps in France, there isn't nearly the ice there was in many places. The Andes in South America where ice has shrunk over the years, the thawing permafrost in Alaska where old-timers and Natives have lost their lives by the dozens falling through unsafe ice that does not match their experience of what constitutes safe ice at certain times of the year? Why are southern forest pests and diseases spreading north? That does hint at warming. Is all this a left-wing conspiracy?

As some writer said once, "both political parties are just two talons on the same bird of prey". What does the data show from scientists who are not being paid to hedge their research?
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on February 06, 2011, 09:34:18 AM
The climate changes. Sometimes it's warmer, sometimes it's colder. Were "Anthropogenic global warming" real, there would be no need to falsify data, as has been done.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on February 06, 2011, 11:52:51 AM
Excellent post Tim.  Brings up many questions, how much is it warming, how much of that is attributable to human excesses, and what is the future of it all.  This issue has been tied to a political agenda, perhaps on both sides and reasonable people are left with very little information to use to determine if what we are doing is harming or threatening nature as we know it. 

Just the Antarctic ice mass as you suggest is quite a subject of controversy.  When it increases, they say because warming causes the additional snow to fall and when it decreases that means warming.  Increasing and decreasing in mass is what ice masses do.  Neither observation in itself tells anything about man's role in it.

"What does the data show from scientists who are not being paid to hedge their research?"

We honestly don't have anything yet to start with on that.  Global temperatures are sampled not measured and they are tweaked with secret, changing algorithms to fit into preconceived notions, unfortunately.  Reports are titled and summarized with an agenda, usually that agenda is political change or just additional funding.  Skeptics are often accused of being funded by coal etc.

We have plenty of information available to back up the theory that warming and cooling on earth goes in cycles, as do the size of glaciers and ice masses.  We know of negative feedback cycles, meaning the more it swings in one direction the stronger the natural forces to swing it back in the other directions.  We have no valid information to back up the theory that warming on earth is continuous or accelerating, which is a key premise of the alarmist theory.

In Consensus theory (unscientific) they ask a vague question, such as are you 90% certain man is contributing to warming.  If one man has one asphalt roof or asphalt driveway where once there was prairie grass, mankind with 90% certainty is contributing to warming.  Question is how much.  Burning a hydrocarbon gives off CO2 with certainty which is a (very minor) greenhouse gas, meaning it traps heat in.  Only question again is how much.

Here is a CO2 chart measured at Mauna Loa Hawaii, same one the alarmists use, but with a zero based scale for honest representation of the scope of the change in a molecule that makes up a very minor component of the atmosphere:

If it is land use and not CO2 emissions that make up the man made component, then the current thrust of new regulations get you nowhere.

"Has anyone here seen photos or talked to people or gone to the Alps in France, there isn't nearly the ice there was in many places. The Andes in South America where ice has shrunk over the years, the thawing permafrost in Alaska where old-timers and Natives have lost their lives by the dozens falling through unsafe ice that does not match their experience of what constitutes safe ice at certain times of the year? Why are southern forest pests and diseases spreading north? That does hint at warming. Is all this a left-wing conspiracy? "

Locations and time frames are cherry picked to make a list of examples more dramatic.  Elsewhere Glaciers have grown in western Norway, New Zealand’s South Island, parts of Asia and the Tierra del Fuego in South America, and in areas where complete disappearances were predicted, those predictions have been withdrawn or were mis-characterized in the first place.  Overall, things are warming very slightly, but if I unplug my freezer, I don't find that some parts get warmer while other parts get colder.  The earth is warming, again the question is by how much, and how much of that is from specific, changeable human causes.  The human component of it I think is smaller than our accuracy or error range to measure the warming in the first place.

As GM infers, without humans the earth would be warming or cooling now also, most likely warming, and pine tree beetles would be creeping north or south anyway etc.

Key point besides zero acceleration in warming (acceleration of warming was a false prediction) is that man's use of fossil fuel is but a blip in time on the planet.  Plenty of economists, geologists, etc. contend that we already passed the point of 'Peal Oil' where usage is already poised to decline.  If not we are close, probably within a couple of decades, with or without the latest State of the Union speech.

Some other resources, a 50 page scientific rebuttal to the IPCC from scientists who were kicked off for disagreeing:, many answers to common questions:, Rebuttal data to the theory that oceans are rising due to arctic thaw: ("Arctic Ocean level is decreasing"), are links I found interesting.

I take many steps everyday to limit my energy usage without governmental bans or proven science.  I have bought hundreds of CFL light bulbs, I own several wind-only powered boats, several solar chargers, my summer electric bill is under $20 most of that taxes and fees, I drive a 40mpg car (an old Honda, not a govt sponsored hybrid) when I can and even an 80mpg motorcycle when I have the nerve, I make my daughter combine trips, share rides and I keep my living room cold enough in the winter to refrigerate beer.  I have not plugged in an air conditioner in nearly 20 years. I rarely fly.  Conserving resources is great and having thoughtful discussions is wonderful.  But the thought of having the G*d D*mned know-everything, know-nothing government come down harder on us with an oppressive heavy hand, based on bad information, or worse yet, world government control, mostly because they want to, I find sickening and uncalled for.  Just my humble two cents.   :-) 
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on February 06, 2011, 11:57:07 AM
" I have bought hundreds of CFL light bulbs,"

You ready to deal with the toxic aftermath of a broken CFL bulb, Doug?   :evil:
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: DougMacG on February 06, 2011, 01:03:25 PM
" You ready to deal with the toxic aftermath of a broken CFL bulb, Doug?"

Are you insinuating that some laws have unintended consequences?

I have broken at least a dozen so far.  It's actually very simple.  Just contact the local branch office of the federal government and request a superfund toxic cleanup site crew, set up those yellow tapes to keep people back and wait patiently while they rush over.  For the record, I like the energy savings, not the mandate. I install them for tenants as a symbol of going easy on the utilities.  We want their hard earned (taxpayer) money to go more to rent than utilities.   Also as the self insurance company, I like to see lower amperage travel through those old electric wires.
Title: It's good for the earth!
Post by: G M on February 06, 2011, 01:26:41 PM

Unintended consequences.
Title: Re: Environmental issues - cfl
Post by: DougMacG on February 06, 2011, 03:06:22 PM
Part of the healthcare mandate might be to read the 30 page EPA document (no exaggeration, see GM's link) on required cfl light bulb disposal.

Only by the federal mandate are you required to read page 2, "This page intentionally left blank".  It could be just me, but why not move the rest of the material forward?  They lost me right there.

I was very close with my yellow tape and superfund site guess for cleanup (do not sweep, do not vacuum). I assure you I have always used all proper procedures as far as you know.

In my county, larger than several states, I can easily take a broken light bulb to a drop off center during limited and changing dropoff hours, prove residence, fill out a couple of forms, for just the cost of a $50 tank of gas (whoops, more emissions), a half day of work; the cost is in my property taxes that are greater than food clothing and shelter for our family.  (Luckily they do not require the long form birth certificate.) I will just need some special markers and flashers for my vehicle and to not travel through any hazardous waste prohibited routes.  What's so hard about that?

Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 08, 2011, 11:53:08 AM
a) Tim, welcome to the conversation.

b) regarding those fg new light bulbs, my understanding is that the law mandating them was written by my Congresswoman, Jane Harman (who has just announced her retirement in the last few days after having been re-elected in November in order to head up some think tank-- leaving we the people to pay for a new election to replace the third richest member of Congress $185M or so because she married Dick Harman of Harman Electronics , , , but I digress)
   Glenn Beck had an outstanding bit a year or so ago on this where he had an associate act of the directions of what to do in the event of a break.
   Also, most of these new fg bulbs are made in China, that paradigm of green manufacturing, and IIRC are shipped to the US in diesel smoke belching ships.
   Fg brilliant.
Title: Re: Environmental issues
Post by: G M on February 08, 2011, 11:59:04 AM
I'd be willing to bet there are pools of mercury visible on the factory floors of the CFL bulb plants in China.
Title: Magnetic polar shifts?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 08, 2011, 12:53:25 PM
Forwarded to me by an occasionally reliable source-- but it does have a plausible ring to it.  Any comments from our educated folk here?

Magnetic polar shifts causing massive global superstorms?
by Terrence Aym

NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about  it
…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core  samples…

Now "it" is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and 
is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.

Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary 
weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun's 
magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet's own magnetic 

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and 
begins to become unstable anything can happen.
And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth's history.
It's happening again now to every planet in the solar system including 

The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that 
field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.

The superstorms have arrived

The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has  started
is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late  2010.

On the heels of the lashing the British Isles sustained, monster storms 
began to pummel North America. The latest superstorm—as of this writing—is a 
monster over the U.S. that stretched across 2,000 miles affecting more than
150  million people.

Yet even as that storm wreaked havoc across the Western, Southern, 
Midwestern and Northeastern states, another superstorm broke out in the Pacific 
and closed in on Australia.

The southern continent had already dealt with the disaster of historic 
superstorm flooding from rains that dropped as much as several feet in a matter
 of hours. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. After the
deluge  bull sharks were spotted swimming between houses in what was once
the quiet town  of Goodna.

Shocked authorities now numbly concede that some of the water may never 
dissipate and have wearily resigned themselves to the possibility that region 
will now contain a small inland sea.

But then only a handful of weeks later another superstorm—the mega-monster 
cyclone Yasi—struck northeastern Australia. The damage it left in its wake
is  being called by rescue workers a war zone.

The incredible superstorm packed winds near 190mph. Although labeled as a 
category-5 cyclone, it was theoretically a category-6. The reason for that
is  storms with winds of 155mph are considered category-5, yet Yasi was
almost 22  percent stronger than that.

A cat's cradle

Yet Yasi may only be a foretaste of future superstorms.
Some climate researchers, monitoring the rapidly shifting magnetic field, 
are predicting superstorms in the future with winds as high as 300 to 

Such storms would totally destroy anything they came into contact with  on

The possibility more storms like Yasi or worse will wreak havoc on our 
civilization and resources is found in the complicated electromagnetic 
relationship between the sun and Earth. The synergistic tug-of-war has been 
compared by some to an intricately constructed cat's cradle. And it's in a 
constant state of flux.
The sun's dynamic, ever-changing electric  magnetosphere interfaces with
the Earth's own magnetic field affecting, to a  degree, the Earth's rotation,
precessional wobble, dynamics of the planet's  core, its ocean currents and—
above all else—the weather.

Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield

The Earth's northern magnetic pole was moving towards Russia at a rate  of
about five miles annually. That progression to the East had been happening 
for decades.

Suddenly, in the past decade the rate sped up. Now the magnetic pole is 
shifting East at a rate of 40 miles annually, an increase of 800 percent. And
it  continues to accelerate.

Recently, as the magnetic field fluctuates, NASA has discovered  "cracks"
in it. This is worrisome as it significantly affects the ionosphere, 
troposphere wind patterns, and atmospheric moisture. All three things have an 
effect on the weather.

Worse, what shields the planet from cancer-causing radiation is the 
magnetic field. It acts as a shield deflecting harmful ultra-violet, X-rays and 
other life-threatening radiation from bathing the surface of the Earth. With
the  field weakening and cracks emerging, the death rate from cancer could
skyrocket  and mutations of DNA can become rampant.

Another federal agency, NOAA, issued a report caused a flurry of panic 
when they predicted that mammoth superstorms in the future could wipe out most 
of California. The NOAA scientists said it's a plausible scenario and would
be  driven by an "atmospheric river" moving water at the same rate as 50
Mississippi  rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Magnetic field may dip, flip and disappear

The Economist wrote a detailed article about the magnetic field and  what's
happening to it. In the article they noted:

"There is, however, a growing body of evidence that the Earth's  magnetic
field is about to disappear, at least for a while. The geological  record
shows that it flips from time to time, with the south pole becoming the  north,
and vice versa. On average, such reversals take place every 500,000  years,
but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close  together
as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago. But, as 
discussed at the Greenland Space Science Symposium, held in Kangerlussuaq this 
week, the signs are that another flip is coming soon."

Discussing the magnetic polar shift and the impact on weather, the 
scholarly paper "Weather and the Earth's magnetic field" was published in the 
journal Nature. Scientists too are very concerned about the increasing danger of
 superstorms and the impact on humanity.

Superstorms will not only damage agriculture across the planet leading  to
famines and mass starvation, they will also change coastlines, destroy
cities  and create tens of millions of homeless.

Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries 
to collapse. Others may go to war with each other.

A Da