Monday, February 26, 2007

Inconvenient Truths

Adapted from an article by Patrick J. Michaels, National Review Online

Al Gore just won an Academy Award for his global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a riveting work of science fiction.

The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland’s 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where’s the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker’s Summary from the United Nations’ much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore’s film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Even 17 inches is likely to be high, because it assumes that the concentration of methane, an important greenhouse gas, is growing rapidly. Atmospheric methane concentration hasn’t changed appreciably for seven years, and Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland recently pronounced the IPCC’s methane emissions scenarios as “quite unlikely.”

Nonetheless, the top end of the U.N.’s new projection is about 30-percent lower than it was in its last report in 2001. “The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica for the rates observed since 1993,” according to the IPCC, “but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future.”

According to satellite data published in Science in November 2005, Greenland was losing about 25 cubic miles of ice per year. Dividing that by 630,000 yields the annual percentage of ice loss, which, when multiplied by 100, shows that Greenland was shedding ice at 0.4 percent per century.

“Was” is the operative word. In early February, Science published another paper showing that the recent acceleration of Greenland’s ice loss from its huge glaciers has suddenly reversed.

Nowhere in the traditionally refereed scientific literature do we find any support for Gore’s hypothesis. Instead, there’s an unrefereed editorial by NASA climate firebrand James E. Hansen, in the journal Climate Change — edited by Steven Schneider, of Stanford University, who said in 1989 that scientists had to choose “the right balance between being effective and honest” about global warming — and a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was only reviewed by one person, chosen by the author, again Dr. Hansen.

These are the sources for the notion that we have only ten years to “do” something immediately to prevent an institutionalized tsunami. And given that Gore only conceived of his movie about two years ago, the real clock must be down to eight years!

It would be nice if my colleagues would actually level with politicians about various “solutions” for climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, if fulfilled by every signatory, would reduce global warming by 0.07 degrees Celsius per half-century. That’s too small to measure, because the earth’s temperature varies by more than that from year to year.

The Bingaman-Domenici bill in the Senate does less than Kyoto — i.e., less than nothing — for decades, before mandating larger cuts, which themselves will have only a minor effect out past somewhere around 2075. (Imagine, as a thought experiment, if the Senate of 1925 were to dictate our energy policy for today).

Mendacity on global warming is bipartisan. President Bush proposes that we replace 20 percent of our current gasoline consumption with ethanol over the next decade. But it’s well-known that even if we turned every kernel of American corn into ethanol, it would displace only 12 percent of our annual gasoline consumption. The effect on global warming, like Kyoto, would be too small to measure, though the U.S. would become the first nation in history to burn up its food supply to please a political mob.

And even if we figured out how to process cellulose into ethanol efficiently, only one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Even the Pollyannish 20-percent displacement of gasoline would only reduce our total emissions by 7-percent below present levels — resulting in emissions about 20-percent higher than Kyoto allows.

And there’s other legislation out there, mandating, variously, emissions reductions of 50, 66, and 80 percent by 2050. How do we get there if we can’t even do Kyoto?

When it comes to global warming, apparently the truth is inconvenient. And it’s not just Gore’s movie that’s fiction. It’s the rhetoric of the Congress and the chief executive, too.

— Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.

And Now, A Few Words On Sex

"Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist." - Matt Barry

"Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant."- George Burns

"According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful." - Robert De Niro

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." - Rod Stewart

From a compilation at Sigmund Carl and Alfred

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A scientist critiques the IPCC summary

Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand has this excellent summary of the recent IPCC Summary for Policy Makers.

He writes
I wrote an entire book criticising the 2001 IPCC WGI Report (Gray 2002) and a full study of the complete 2007 Report must await its release. I will therefore confine these comments to the aspects of the “2007 Summary for Policymakers” which I find the most distasteful. They come under the headings of unreliable data, inadequate statistical treatment and gross exaggeration of model capacity.

Shameless consumerism

...has led to the acquisition of a 42" Sharp Aquos LCD television for the Halfwise household.

I am pleased with the picture, the sound from the built-in speakers, and the ease of setup. I can see definite differences between the signal quality of different channels, though, and some aren't very watchable as analog signals.

Digital cable is scheduled for installation at the end of March; I expect the picture quality to improve on most channels.

I went with LCD over plasma because plasma TVs throw off so much heat, and because the Sharp picture, with the right source, is remarkably good.

DVDs on my conventional DVD player look great, even in zoom mode which will fill the screen without stretching and distorting. Watching Cirque du Soleil is spectacular.

The 16 year old 27 inch Mitsubishi is still going strong, but is now with daughter #1. By the way, did you know that if you lose your TV remote there is an online seller called Mr-Remote.com that sells OEM remotes? I have no idea what happened to the remote from the Bitso'Sushi but it disappeared four years ago. I hunted for a respectable period, then gave up and bought a cheapo generic. It didn't do everything I wanted, so eventually I found Mr. Remote, ordered, paid, and had a perfect replacement in a week. There were features on the OEM remote that the generic ones didn't cover, for example re-programming channels to skip or include.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bulletin: GW Science not quite "settled"

MAN-MADE climate change may be happening at a far slower rate than has been claimed, according to recent research.

Scientists say that cosmic rays from outer space play a far greater role in changing the Earth's climate than global warming experts previously thought.

In a book to be published this week, they say that fluctuations in the number of cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere directly alter the amount of cloud covering the planet.

High levels of cloud cover blanket the Earth and reflect heat from the sun back out into space, causing the planet to cool.

Henrik Svensmark, a weather scientist at the Danish National Space Centre who led the team behind the research, believes that the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

This, he says, is responsible for much of the global warming we are experiencing.

Carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity are having a smaller impact on climate change than scientists think, he says. If he is correct, it could mean that mankind has more time to reduce its effect on the climate.

Dr Svensmark said: "It was long thought that clouds were caused by climate change, but now we see that climate change is driven by clouds. This has not been taken into account in the models used to work out the effect carbon dioxide has had."

The controversial theory comes after 2500 scientists who make up the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change published their fourth report saying that human carbon dioxide emissions would cause temperature rises of up to 4.5 degrees by the end of the century.

A team of more than 60 scientists from around the world is preparing to conduct a large-scale experiment using a particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, to replicate the effect of cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.

They hope this will prove whether this deep space radiation is responsible for changing cloud cover.

But some climate change experts have dismissed the claims as tenuous.

Giles Harrison, a cloud specialist at Reading University, said that he had carried out research on cosmic rays and their effect on clouds, but believed the impact on climate was much smaller than Dr Svensmark claimed.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Malaysian government seeks to control faces in advertising

Entertainers of mixed blood slam govt push for more local flavour in ads

THE Malaysian government's plans to reduce the number of Eurasian faces in advertisements have triggered outrage among models and presenters in the multicultural country.

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said last week that he would work with the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to come up with guidelines to reduce the number of 'pan-Asian' faces, which he said dominated television and billboards, in ads.

But Marion Caunter (pictured), a 25-year-old Portuguese-Chinese host on the popular music station Channel V, said it was difficult and unnecessary to draw the line between 'mixed and pure- bred' in the multi-ethnic society's media and advertising industry.

(Halfwise watches Malaysia because it is an advanced illustration of how Islamic and Western influences collide.)

Artist anticipates Climate Change hysteria

Of course, since this was painted in 1893 the concern could have been a little Ice Age OR terrifying heat. You just can't be sure with climate change...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The questionable morality of Carbon Credits

If I believe the GW prophets of doom, atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be the death of us all. But if part of the planet has found its economy damaged enough to be emitting less CO2 than it did in 1990, it can trade its reduction in CO2 for cash, through the magic of carbon credits.

If the amount of CO2 that reaches the atmosphere must be reduced to save our sorry souls, what possible benefit is there to the planet to allow someone to produce more simply by paying good Western cash to some post-industrial Russian? If CO2 is bad, then it's bad whether it's been 'paid for' or not.

This new GW religion has some mighty convenient ways to buy salvation. In capitalist societies, there is a "politics of envy" practiced by some who by choice or bad fortune do not have as much as some others. What "politics of envy" will be felt towards those whose emissions of CO2 are fully paid for, to no effect on the actual climate? Now that the evil-doers have paid some (thereby admitting their "guilt" in this whole climate-change farce), are they to pay more? If they choose not to, do they forfeit their businesses to whatever agency is in charge of this scheme?

International carbon credits are a naked transfer of wealth. Intra-national carbon credits are no better, as the regions which emit carbon create wealth.

My solution is that we impute a heavy but purely voluntary carbon tax on everyone. They can transfer their taxes to themselves. Of course it has no useful effect, and is purely symbolic.

But that, of course, would make it just like the Kyoto Accord.

Those fun Aussies


Jan 25: People take to the water with air mattresses shaped like thongs at Dee Why beach, Sydney, during an attempt to form the longest line of airbeds possible on Australia Day. Picture: Reuters

Open Letter to Kyoto Supporters

Please let me know what effect will accrue from me reducing my personal CO2 footprint to 1990 levels.

We need not argue the science, although we could. Neither do we need to argue the cost of the remedy, although that too would be prudent.

But we should understand the value of the proposed remedy. As I read the IPCC reports (and I have read all of them) the value is in the third decimal point of the expected temperature change.

Please, enlighten me.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Victimhood and Global Warming

The assumptions people make about new things reflect the way they have learned to view the world.

The underlying assumption behind all the GW hysteria is that we are victims, helpless to adapt, unable to cope with anything different. Whether change is positive or negative depends very much on how we cope with it, which is deeply connected to how we view it, which in turn is deeply connected to whether we see ourselves as victims or survivors.

But there is such a cult of victimhood in our society today that we fail to recognize and challenge that state of mind. Things are changing? Deal with it. When coal mines in Alberta shut down 40 years ago, the town adapted, and people moved on. Coal mines in the Maritimes shut down and people sit with their hands out, “victims” of real life. We won’t be victims of “climate change” (as if there is anything called “climate stasis") unless we choose to be. Adapt or move, or perish if you choose. But recognize the choices, choose well, and own the consequences.

Personally I hope the world is getting warmer, and that CO2 concentrations are rising. We will feed more people, enjoy more precipitation (since 2/3 of the earth is covered with water, how can there be LESS moisture when evaporation increases?) and maybe we can get rid of some of the ice pollution that is disfiguring the landscape. Particularly my driveway… confused

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why the IPCC delay? Maybe it's legit...

The IPCC has released its summary report on climate change, and the rhetoric (as usual) is hotter than either the numbers behind it or the measured temperatures that we are supposed to be worrying about.

One of the criticisms levelled at the IPCC is that the detailed science won't be published for another three months, and until then insiders will be editing the details to match the summary. Given the manipulative track record of this organization, the alarm bells are completely justified.

But there may be another explanation. I'll get to it, but first a paragraph of tedious background information.

The theme of the summary reports has been "the science is settled" but the basic calculation at the heart of the AGW argument, the rate at which industrial CO2 levels lead to higher temperatures, has just changed. The report issued in 2001 concluded that our greenhouse gas emissions had caused a radiative forcing of 2.43 watts per square meter, which would lead to a temperature increase of 3.5 C degrees. But the current report concludes that the radiative forcing is just 1.6 watts per square meter, and the resulting temperature increase will be 3.0 C at the levels of CO2 that the models are using. And the report writers are now admitting the significant cooling impact of particulates and aerosols, which were the prime culprits in the peer-reviewed Global Cooling studies of the 1970s but which were not considered significant net contributors in the 2001 report.

So here is what I figure. Someone at the top of the IPCC has the integrity to recognize that the science that was 'settled' five years ago isn't settled at all. He or she further figures that if the latest findings aren't reflected in both the summary and the detailed papers, sooner or later the sham will be revealed and everyone associated with the IPCC will be discredited. And he or she knows that a certain amount of dogma has crept into the research of the IPCC scientists, who after all are human and who have been rewarded with research money for not being contrarians.

I suggest, entirely without evidence and simply as an observer of human behaviour, that the IPCC is actually going through the details of the science and editing the most extreme claims and convenient omissions, the ones that do not square with the reality that global temperatures have remained flat for five years, that the oceans have actually cooled, and that the claimed climate forcings do not stand up to scrutiny. In other words, the editors are actually policing the scientists.

Truth has its own power. I wonder whether finally that's what is at work within the IPCC.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's not news because it didn't fit

In a post below I show a link to a useful analysis of the IPCC report. It shows lower rates of sea level rise, and lower temperature predictions. Significantly, the discredited hockey stick curve has been quietly withdrawn, although not apologized for.

You'd think that if predictions of a long-feared catastrophe were scaled back, that would be a major part of the story, maybe the biggest part. But (and correct me if I'm wrong) every major news story was "the science is settled" + "we're doomed" = "politicians reluctantly agree to act to save the planet".

I would have hoped for "Sea level reprieve" and "Latest study shows we have more time", the kind of good news that people with a serious problem crave. In my world, hope sells better than doom and gloom.

But in Canadian journalistic circles, the inconvenient truth is that the conclusions of the latest IPCC study could no longer be supported by the very models and measurements that they were relying on for the previous one. The conclusions that we were told we should take very very seriously, the precious results that drew catcalls of "denier" when questioned five years ago, didn't hold up to the real world or even the oversimplified Lego-world of general circulation models that have become the main focus of the IPCC.

What's worse, because the news got better even though no one changed his CO2 emitting ways, there might be a shred of hope amongst the lumpenproletariat that perhaps there was something at work beyond CO2 emissions, and my goodness, one certainly can't have that kind of thinking getting loose out there.

So, a curious phenomenon. The best news we've had in five years. And you can't find it in the broadsheets or on TV. Why IS that?

IPCC quietly removes support for climate change extremists

More about this later this weekend, but for now, read this fine analysis.
Figures in the final draft of the UN’s fourth five-year report on climate change show that the previous report, in 2001, had overestimated the human influence on the climate since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third.