Friday, December 21, 2007

Senate report: "Who's Who?" and "Who's That?" among AGW skeptics

If it wasn't for the yeoman's work of Oklahoma senator James Inhofe and his staff -- especially communications chief Marc Morano -- we might never know that there is a vast worldwide community of people who not only challenge the orthodoxy of the Church of Global Warming (CoGW), but are willing to stand up and be counted. These people may have varying levels of training in the sciences that are relevant to the climate debate: sometimes degreed but not practicing in that profession (like your humble Heretic), sometimes internationally recognized as experts in their areas of specialization. Others, despite having no specific training in climate-related sciences, are gifted at identifying and shredding logical fallacies. Still others cannot help but notice that the policy prescriptions of the CoGW line up quite nicely with the goals of various elements of the (pick one or more of the following) environmental, anti-US, anticapitalist, global-governance Left.

AGW orthodoxy -- the notion that global warming climate change is anthropogenic (that is, human-induced) -- currently rules the land. Many who dare challenge the orthodoxy are dealt with harshly, suffering harm to reputations and funding. And yet, many "heretics" are willing to stand in harm's way and give the lie to the so-called consensus.

Inhofe's staff has done an incredible job roaming the world (via the Internet, or even in person), locating the skeptics and helping to amplify their voices. This week his staff posted a document entitled U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007. Are people like Al Gore telling the truth when they insist that the skeptics are either ideologically or financially motivated to oppose what is "settled science"? Or, are Gore and company using this claim as a convenient way to avoid engaging the skeptics on the substance of their objections?

If you rely on the mainstream media for your climate news, there's a good chance that you're not even aware of the substance of the skeptics' arguments. I dare you to spend some time reading the works of the scientists listed in the report. I dare you. Then come back and try to tell me why they are wrong.

Postscript: Early this past summer Mr. Morano contacted me and asked if he could include me in a list of skeptical scientists that he was helping to compile. I have degrees in meteorology and computer science, but chose the latter as my career. I gave a vague answer to Mr. Morano, not sure whether I was in the same class as the many skeptical scientists who have actually devoted themselves to their climate-relevant professions. Morano took that as a Yes, and so my name and website are listed in the report (hence the "Who's That?" in this blog post's title). Although my training and experience do not rise to the level of most of those listed in the report, I am happy and proud to stand with them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just think how bad it would have been without global warming

I haven't played the proof-by-anecdote game in a while, so today seemed like a good opportunity to present a single weather event as proof that Al Gore & co. are full of hot air. From Today's edition of The Ottawa (Canada) Citizen:
Ottawa will continue to crawl out from a record-breaking snowfall Tuesday as crews tackle one of the biggest snow removal operations in the city's history.

"It's no Academy Award, but it was the snowiest December day ever in the capital," said Environment Canada meteorologist David Phillips.

In total, 37 centimetres fell in Sunday's storm, setting a record for the most snow in a single December day since Environment Canada started keeping records in 1938. The previous record was 30.4 centimetres, which fell Dec. 21, 1977.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The earth itself plays a role in its (perceived) climate

Just after poking some fun at The Daily Green for ignoring the sun as a culprit in climate change, I came across an Ohio State University press release that puts an interesting spin on the changes in the Greenland ice sheet.

CoGW orthodoxy, of course, insists that the Greenland ice sheet is melting (reality: it is melting in some places, but thickening in others), and that the melting is due to global warming, and that global warming is due to George W. Bush's foreign policy. Just kidding on that last part (sort of).

OSU researchers, however, have found that the earth itself joins the sun in contributing to many of the observed phenomena that are so casually attributed to AGW:
Scientists have discovered what they think may be another reason why Greenland 's ice is melting: a thin spot in Earth's crust is enabling underground magma to heat the ice.

They have found at least one “hotspot” in the northeast corner of Greenland -- just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered.

The researchers don't yet know how warm the hotspot is. But if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could be lubricating the base of the ice sheet and enabling the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea.

“The behavior of the great ice sheets is an important barometer of global climate change,” said Ralph von Frese, leader of the project and a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University. “However, to effectively separate and quantify human impacts on climate change, we must understand the natural impacts, too.


The ice sheet in northeast Greenland is especially worrisome to scientists. It had no known ice streams until 1991, when satellites spied one for the first time. Dubbed the Northeastern Greenland Ice Stream, it carries ice nearly 400 miles, from the deepest interior of the island out to the Greenland Sea.

“Ice streams have to have some reason for being there. And it's pretty surprising to suddenly see one in the middle of an ice sheet,” von Frese said.

The newly discovered hotspot is just below the ice stream, and could have caused it to form, the researchers concluded. But what caused the hotspot to form?

“It could be that there's a volcano down there,” he said. “But we think it's probably just the way the heat is being distributed by the rock topography at the base of the ice.”

Dr. von Frese said it well: "[T]o effectively separate and quantify human impacts on climate change, we must understand the natural impacts, too."

Hear, hear.

The sun gets dissed again

Despite credible evidence that solar influences on earth's climate trump anthropogenic influences, The Daily Green decided the sun wasn't worth mentioning as a possible culprit in their online poll:

Given that the environmental left has invested everything in persuading us that climate change is -- for the first time ever -- human induced, I don't blame the editors of The Daily Green for the oversight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The unspeakable arrogance of bearing children

Recently we saw the story of Toni Vernelli, the British woman who killed her unborn baby and had herself sterilized because of her desire to "save the planet" from the ecological destruction her offspring would surely cause.

I noted at the time that the logic of the CoGW -- that all necessary means should be taken to reduce humanity's carbon emissions -- leads inescapably to conclusions like this (though most adherents haven't thought it through completely).

Now I have come across news of an Australian researcher who likewise recognizes that the bearing of children runs counter to the AGW Moral Imperative (to coin a new term -- I hope you're taking notes). As reports in a December 10 article:
Having babies is bad for the planet, and parents of more than two children should be charged a birth levy and annual tax to offset the "greenhouse gases" their child will be responsible for over his or her lifetime.

At the same time, those who use and prescribe contraceptives and sterilization procedures should earn tax relief for such greenhouse friendly services" that help to keep the population size down.

[...] In 2004, former Prime Minister John Howard's government announced a drive to counter the declining birthrate, urging parents to aim for three children, and offering families a financial incentive that currently stands at around $3,670.

But to Barry Walters, clinical associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, that undermines the campaign to fight global warming.

"Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society," he wrote in an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia Monday.

"Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and thereby rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behavior, a 'Baby Levy' in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the 'polluter pays' principle," he argued.

Walters said Australian parents who have more than an agreed number of children -- he cited a population-limitation advocacy group as suggesting a ceiling of two -- should pay the cost of planting trees to offset the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) the additional children will produce. (Trees absorb CO2, which along with other greenhouse gases is often blamed for climate change.)
If you think this sounds suspiciously like part of China's population-control model, you're right. It's a comparison that Walters seems to embrace (minus the occasional coercive abortion, perhaps):
Walters implied that the controversial population-control policies in place in China and India should be emulated.

"As citizens of this world, I believe we deserve no more population concessions than those in India and China."

One hundred million reasons why Al Gore loves his current job

I usually prefer to stay focused on the substance of this debate rather than on the personalities involved, but there's so much about the AGW ringleader, Al Gore, that shouts out "snake oil salesman" to me.

Put simply, Gore has profited handsomely from this TEOTWAWKI Tour. Steven Swinford of the UK's Sunday Times reports the following about Mr. Gore:
Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned environmental campaigner, has made more than £50m in just seven years from his books, speeches and shrewd investments in technology and green ventures.

[...] Today Gore commands between £50,000 and £85,000 a speech, holds stock options in Google worth £15m and has made as much as £4m from advances on his book deals. He is also advising a US venture capital company on how to invest a $600m green technology fund.

He has come a long way since losing the 2000 presidential election to George W Bush when, according to official documents, Gore was worth just £1m. His biggest assets were his two homes in Nashville, Tennessee, and Arlington, Virginia, valued at £375,000, and £500,000 invested in oil company shares.
Read on to see the many other ways that AGW has been very good for Gore. For our American readers, UK£50 million translates to over US$100 million. That'll get you quite a heap of offsets. Or, perhaps, the presidential nomination of a major American political party, just as the campaign of that party's presumptive front-runner is "faltering".

But wait a minute -- I just noticed in the excerpt above that he has $US1 million invested in oil company shares. Does that mean that every time his alarmism and the government policies derived therefrom drive up the cost of oil, Gore earns profits?

Nice racket if you can get into it.

NY Times repeats the Kilimanjaro lie

If you watched An Inconvenient Truth (my condolences if you have), or if you have read any one of countless media reports on AGW, you might have gotten the impression that the snowcap on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is melting.

It's not melting.

It is in fact shrinking, but that's due to sublimation, the process by which something changes from its solid state directly into its gaseous state in below-freezing temperatures without first melting. The temperature atop Kilimanjaro is nowhere near what is needed for melting. Low humidity in the region -- not warming -- is driving the sublimation. And guess what? It's been happening for more than a century.

I suppose I shouldn't expect the New York Times' travel writers to know that, but it still irks me to see such easily-refuted assertions repeated ad nauseam in the media. Here is what the NYT had to say about Kilimanjaro in its feature, The 53 Places to Go in 2008:

Time may be running out to see the most famous snows of American literature. The ice-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, is melting at an alarming rate. Within several decades, scientists predict, the glaciers will have completely disappeared.
But wait! They didn't actually say it was because of global warming. What gives, Mr. Heretic?

True, they didn't mention AGW directly, but they did substitute a code phrase -- "melting at an alarming rate" -- that leave little room for any other interpretation. Why should anyone be "alarmed" about this if they considered it to be a natural process with no human influence?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Kangaroo Jack enlists in the fight against AGW

Not all of the AGW news coming across the wires is bad. Agence France-Press reports that kangaroos can teach cattle and sheep a thing or two about how to pass gas in an eco-friendly way:
AUSTRALIAN scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

While the usual image of greenhouse gas pollution is a billowing smokestack pushing out carbon dioxide, livestock passing wind contribute a surprisingly high percentage of total emissions in some countries.

"Fourteen per cent of emissions from all sources in Australia is from enteric methane from cattle and sheep," said Athol Klieve, a senior research scientist with the Queensland Government.

"And if you look at another country such as New Zealand, which has got a much higher agricultural base, they're actually up around 50 per cent," he said.

Researchers say the bacteria also makes the digestive process much more efficient and could potentially save millions of dollars in feed costs for farmers.

"Not only would they not produce the methane, they would actually get something like 10 to 15 per cent more energy out of the feed they are eating," said Mr Klieve.

According to the article, some Australian scientists go even further and suggest that people modify their diets by replacing beef and lamb with kangaroo meat.

The idea is controversial, but about 20 per cent of health-conscious Australians are believed to eat the national symbol already.

"It's low in fat, it's got high protein levels it's very clean in the sense that basically it's the ultimate free range animal,'' said Peter Ampt of the University of New South Wales's institute of environmental studies.

"It doesn't get drenched, it doesn't get vaccinated, it utilises food right across the landscape, it moves around to where the food is good, so yes, it's a good food.''

Why Coca-Cola is promoting "The Golden Compass"

The movie The Golden Compass (released today) has raised a considerable amount of controversy because of the associated book trilogy's head-on challenge to the Christian worldview in general (not to mention the in-your-face symbolism of the movie's villains, The Magisterium). Although I have pretty strong opinions on this controversy (I'm basically in agreement with Al Mohler here), within the confines of this blog something else has come to my attention that fascinates me to no end.

Catholic blogger Rick Kephart, noting the Coca-Cola company's promotion of the movie, wrote to them asking why they would promote a movie with such strong anti-Christian themes. In their reply, they denied that the movie was anti-religion in any way. That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is their explanation of why they decided to promote the movie:
The Golden Compass movie is a story about friendship, love, loyalty, tolerance, courage and responsibility. This movie also provides an opportunity for Coca-Cola to help raise awareness about climate change and the perilous state of the polar bear.
Okay, it's about friendship, love, yada-yada.... AND POLAR BEARS! We at Coca-Cola like polar bears! We use them in our Christmas advertising every year! Climate change is killing the polar bears! Watch the movie and save the polar bears!