Friday, November 28, 2008

O Christmas Guilt, O Christmas Guilt...

Scientific American's blog reminds us today (November 28) that most of the items on your kids' Christmas lists are just more nails in the coffin of planet Earth:
Black Friday warning: video games waste energy and contribute to global warming

If you're planning this holiday season (perhaps even today) to become one of the tens of millions of people in the U.S. to buy a video game system, you may want to consider how the purchase of a Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation or Microsoft Xbox will impact your carbon footprint (or, at very least, your electric bill).

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a New York-based environmental organization, in a new report says that video game systems are huge energy wasters, mostly because people (read: kids) tend to leave them on even when they're not using them.
A couple of observations.

First, the real issue is that game consoles needlessly consume energy when they are on-but-idle. Power-saving features are a very sensible solution to this, and I agree that the console manufacturers would do well to make them standard:
Ecos and the NRDC offer some solutions, calling for video game console makers to develop more energy-efficient devices that use many of the same power-saving features found on PCs (such as the automatic powering down of a system if it is left idle for a certain period of time). After a period of one to three hours of inactivity, for example, the video game console could automatically save the status of the game to memory and initiate auto power-down. Or, the consoles could come with a "sleep" button that could be used to save power when the players are away from their games.
Second, the lifestyle scolds know that the average person is not motivated by simple appeals to energy conservation, but the average person has been conditioned to respond emotionally (not necessarily rationally) when the specter of global warming is invoked.

It's always a bonus when [insert cause here] can be linked (however tenuously) to AGW. I expect to see a lot more of this in the next presidential administration. Incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has acknowledged the appeal of exploiting public alarm to advance one's agenda, and AGW is at or near the very top of Obama's agenda.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The sunny side of a global economic collapse

It seems that some on the environmental left would like nothing less than a rollback of the Industrial Revolution, with a vastly reduced human population living sustainably: consuming only locally-produced durable goods and food (grown organically, of course), etc. Living in this manner would cut back on CO2 emissions in countless ways.

From this point of view, the worldwide collapse of financial markets is good news, because the resulting economic slowdown means a reduction in activities (manufacturing, transportation) that result in CO2 emissions. An October 7 Reuters article reports it this way:
A slowdown in the world economy may give the planet a breather from the excessively high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions responsible for climate change, a Nobel Prize winning scientist said on Tuesday.

Atmospheric scientist Paul J Crutzen, who has in the past floated the possibility of blitzing the stratosphere with sulfur particles to cool the earth, said clouds gathering over the world economy could ease the earth's environmental burden.

Slower economic growth worldwide could help slow growth of carbon dioxide emissions and trigger more careful use of energy resources, though the global economic turmoil may also divert focus from efforts to counter climate change, said Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the depletion of the ozone layer.

"It's a cruel thing to say ... but if we are looking at a slowdown in the economy, there will be less fossil fuels burning, so for the climate it could be an advantage," Crutzen told Reuters in an interview.

"We could have a much slower increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere ... people will start saving (on energy use) ... but things may get worse if there is less money available for research and that would be serious."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Solar wind theory may get its day in court

Advocates of the idea that solar influences on climate outweigh human influences may finally get their chance to test their theory.

New measurements from the NASA/ESA spacecraft Ulysses show that the sun's current period of low activity goes beyond an extended dearth of sunspots. As AFP reports in a September 24 article:
The intensity of the sun's million-mile-per-hour solar wind has dropped to its lowest levels since accurate records began half a century ago, scientists say.

Measurements of the cosmic blasts of radiation, ejected from the sun's upper atmosphere, were made with the Ulysses spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The solar wind "inflates a protective bubble, or heliosphere, around the solar system," which protects the inner planets against the radiation from other stars, said Dave McComas, Ulysses' solar wind principal investigator and senior executive director at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

"With the solar wind at an all-time low, there is an excellent chance the heliosphere will diminish in size and strength," said Ed Smith, NASA's Ulysses project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"If that occurs, more galactic cosmic rays will make it into the inner part of our solar system," added Smith.

As we have noted before, some scientists (such as Svensmark) draw a link between variations in solar wind and variations in cloud formation on our planet. Svensmark argues that increased cosmic radiation acts as a catalyst for cloud formation in earth's atmosphere -- in turn leading to a general cooling of the world's climate if the pattern persists.

If the current lapse in the solar wind continues, Svensmark may soon get all of the data he needs to support or refute his theory.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are polar bears going cannibal?

CNN, in the midst of a boilerplate September 23 article about the allegedly impending disappearance of Arctic ice, brings us an alarming development in the saga of the officially-threatened-but-not-actually-declining-yet polar bear:
"The Arctic sea ice melt is a disaster for the polar bears," according to Kassie Siegel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "They are dependent on the Arctic sea ice for all of their essential behaviors, and as the ice melts and global warming transforms the Arctic, polar bears are starving, drowning, even resorting to cannibalism because they don't have access to their usual food sources."

Scientists have noticed increasing reports of starving Arctic polar bears attacking and feeding on one another in recent years.
Cannibalism! Yikes! Given the extent of the summer melt in the past two seasons, researchers must have a lot of anecdotal evidence of this. Let's read on to learn the gory details:
In one documented 2004 incident in northern Alaska, a male bear broke into a female's den and killed her.
2004? Four years ago? Did the male bear eat the female after killing her? What was the frequency of such behavior in the polar bear population before any significant melting occurred?

Does article author Marsha Walton realize that this one sentence (which, by the way, is the only example given) undermines her alarmist conclusion? Apparently not. Even though the main purpose of the article is to report on the just-ended ice-melt season, her article is entitled:
Polar bears resort to cannibalism as Arctic ice shrinks
Present tense: "resort". If there's evidence of it happening this season, Walton doesn't see fit to present it.

Perhaps because the true story gives no cause for alarm?

Perhaps because researchers have long known about cannibalism among the polar bears.

[P.S. Hello to everyone visiting here from the CNN article page!]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunspot milestone

August has the notable distinction of having passed without a single post by me to this blog (where did the time go?). Even more notable, however, is the fact that Mr. Sun was quiet the entire month as well, as Michael Asher reports:
The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.

The event is significant as many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots -- is an influencing factor for climate on earth.

According to data from the NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, the last time such an event occurred was June of 1913. Sunspot data has been collected since 1749.
The alarmists will almost certainly yawn at the news, if they notice it at all. Sunspots, many argue, have no effect on the radiation output of the Sun.

This is correct, but misleading. The solar magnetic activity represented by sunspots affects our climate indirectly by influencing cloud formation on our planet, which in turn does affect our climate.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sure, he may go to jail, but he may also have earned a carbon credit or two

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 25:
A 57-year-old south side man, who might have been struggling with a hangover, is charged today with shooting his lawn mower with a sawed-off shotgun.

"I'll tell you the truth," a criminal complaint quotes an apparently inebriated Keith Walendowski. "I got pissed because my lawn mower wouldn't start, so I got my shotgun and shot it.

"I can do that. It's my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want," Walendowski told police.
That beast'll never belch carbon again. Sure, it's only one lawn mower, but if each of us would commit to shooting our own lawn mowers, we might just end up saving the planet.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The War on Global Warming is the health of the state

Small-"l" libertarians are known for their opposition to policies that expand the power* of the state at the expense of individual liberty. That makes it all the more fascinating that the big-"L" Libertarian Party has nominated a man who has endorsed a plan that -- if implemented -- would amount to one of the biggest-ever expansions of government power*.

As CNSNews reports:
Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr praised Al Gore, who challenged the United States Thursday to run on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity within 10 years.

Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who attended the former vice president’s Washington, D.C., speech Thursday, said Gore’s plan “makes sense.”

“America responds well to challenges, if it is laid out, if it’s in terms that people can understand and relate to, if it makes sense – and what he’s laid out makes sense,” Barr said in an interview with Cybercast News Service after Gore spoke.

In a speech at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall, Gore said the United States should move towards producing all of its electricity from renewable energy and clean carbon-free sources, a strategy Gore said would “re-power America."


Barr, who attended Thursday’s speech, said he was “deeply” indebted to Gore for “laying the challenge out there.”
As any true libertarian will testify (I don't consider myself to be one, but I lean in that direction), the government almost never surrenders power* that is usurped in times of crisis.

So what do you think, LP members?

Of course, the candidate I'm most likely to vote for, although he represents the party that had a better-than-even chance of articulating a sane point of view on the AGW issue, has also completely embraced Gore's presuppositions (if not all of Gore's policy prescriptions). Sigh.

* (Given the subject matter of Gore's speech, I apologize for the repeated but unavoidable pun)

Gore's plan to bankrupt America

In a remarkable feat of understatement, The New York Times entitled its account of Al Gore's July 17 speech: Gore Urges Change to Dodge an Energy Crisis.

The word "change" has been bandied about so much in the current presidential campaign that people don't expect any specifics to be attached to the word. But Gore cannot be accused of empty rhetoric in this case. He believes that trillions of dollars should be shifted away from keeping our country's economic engine running and toward a complete replacement of our country's energy infrastructure. In ten years.

Gore was in fine TEOTWAWKI form in his Washington speech, as the NYT reports:
Former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday urged the United States to wean the nation from its entire electricity grid to carbon-free energy within 10 years, warning that drastic steps were needed to avoid a global economic and ecological cataclysm.

Like a modern Jeremiah, Mr. Gore called down thunder to justify the spending of trillions of dollars to remake the American power system, a plan fraught with technological and political challenges that goes far beyond the changes recently debated in Congress and by world leaders.

“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,” he said in a midday speech to a friendly crowd of mostly young supporters in Washington. “And even more — if more should be required — the future of human civilization is at stake.”
As this excerpt shows, no cost is too great for you and me to bear, because the future of human civilization is at stake.
“To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider seriously what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in less than 10 years,” he said.
No, no, no... don't evaluate -- there's no time! The time for thinking is over -- it's time to act! So the complete reengineering of our power infrastructure would completely bankrupt our economy, likely taking the rest of the world with it -- what's your point?

Obama and McCain, while they may not have endorsed Gore's plan yet, seem all too happy to go the first step, which appears in the form of the EPA's Proposed Plan To Control Every Aspect Of Your Life. The Bush administration won't let that monstrosity move forward for now, but January 2009 is not far away.

Friday, July 11, 2008

US dodges economy-crushing bullet: EPA declines to regulate CO2 (for now)

Environmentalists rejoiced when scientists* sitting on the US Supreme Court ruled that the government had every right to regulate CO2 -- a gas essential for life on earth -- as a pollutant. Although it would seem a bit of a challenge to distinguish anthropogenic CO2 molecules from naturally-occurring ones (perhaps we could tag ours), or to prevent foreign-generated CO2 from mixing with domestic CO2, it appeared certain that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under mounting pressure from the greens, was ready to assert jurisdiction over nearly every aspect of human activity in America.

Stunningly, the Bush administration's EPA declined an opportunity that would in effect have given the environmentalists everything they wanted.

In its voluminous document [588 pages!], the EPA laid out a buffet of options on how to reduce greenhouse gases from cars, ships, trains, power plants, factories and refineries.

"One point is clear: The potential regulation of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy and touch every household in the land," the EPA's Johnson said in a preface to the federal notice.

EPA said that it encountered resistance from the Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Transportation departments, as well as the White House, that made it "impossible" to respond in a timely fashion to the Supreme Court decision.

"Our agencies have serious concerns with this suggestion because it does not fairly recognize the enormous — and, we believe, insurmountable — burdens, difficulties, and costs, and likely limited benefits, of using the Clean Air Act" to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the secretaries of the four agencies wrote to the White House on July 9.

So, we've dodged a bullet, at least until the next administration takes office. It seems that John McCain, although he has embraced much of the propaganda, is far less inclined than Barack Obama is to use a heavy-handed, bureaucratic end-run technique like this to advance the AGW agenda.

* (Tim wrote with a straight face)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Funny numbers in TCPR 'Gore mansion' press release

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research made a splash last week with their press release claiming that energy usage in Al Gore's Nashville-area compound had actually increased ten percent since 'green' renovations had been completed.  TCPR was made news last year when they first brought Gore's conspicuous consumption to light. Although Team Gore denies any connection between TCPR's 2007 report and the subsequent renovations, the timing is, as they say, suspicious.

Your humble Heretic, of course, couldn't pass up an opportunity to highlight the latest release, joining countless others in the blogosphere.  I guess it is basic human nature that we are not as rigorous about fact-checking data that support our point of view.  It is also basic human nature that we try hard to find holes in data that appear to disagree with our point of view.  Sometimes such opposition research can yield results that further the cause of integrity in the AGW debate. 

Blogger Tim Lambert is no friend of the skeptic community, which no doubt made it easy for him to notice discrepancies between TCPR's 2007 release and last week's release.  At the risk of causing my readers to lapse into an eye-glazed stupor, let's look at the claims made in the two reports:
    February 2007 press release
  • Gore's 2006 energy consumption: 221,000kwh/year [i.e. 18,417kwh/month]
  • Average American household consumption: 10,656kwh/year [i.e. 888kwh/month]
  • Gore's consumption 20 times the average American household
    June 2008 press release
  • Gore's 2007 energy consumption: 213,210kwh/year [i.e. 17,768kwh/month]
  • 2006 monthly consumption: 16,130kwh
  • 2007 consumption 10% increase over 2006
  • 2007 consumption would power 232 normal homes for a month
The 2008 report's numbers are internally consistent, but they do not mesh with what was claimed in the 2007 report.  Comparing the annual numbers, Lambert noted that a 2006 total of 221,000kwh and a 2007 total of 213,210kwh yields a 4% decrease, not a 10% increase.  On the basis of this observation, Lambert declared TCPR to be an unreliable source and summarily dismissed the larger point raised in the newest press release (namely, that Gore consumes energy like a drunken sailor).

Looking only at this month's release, however, the numbers do work out: the monthly consumption increased from 16,130kwh to 17,768kwh, which is indeed a 10% increase.  This raises problems with last year's press release, though.  That report gave Gore's 2006 annual consumption as 221,000kwh, but 16,130 x 12 is actually 193,560kwh. 

Sorry for the blizzard of calculations; let me get to my point.  The biggest discrepancy appears to be an incorrect annual total in the 2007 press release.  To my knowledge, TCPR has never corrected or clarified this number, and as of this moment TCPR has not yet responded to my request for a clarification.

As long as TCPR allows this discrepancy to stand, its credibility in the AGW debate will be open to legitimate question.  I'm hoping that integrity will win out over the simple desire to score political points over Al Gore.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

eBay foils a good deed

Tom at Radio Free New Jersey has a tall, beautiful oak tree in his yard. He found that the tree was casting a shadow on the solar heater for his pool, so he planned to cut the tree down.

Then he had in inspiration: Why not leave the tree alone, and sell its carbon sequestration services to someone out there who was feeling guilty about their lifestyle? He would do a good deed, and for that he would be willing to put up with a slightly cooler swimming pool.

So, he put an ad on eBay, hoping to get a bid of $420 based on his calculation of how much carbon the tree would end up sequestering.

Alas, eBay yanked the auction after a few days without really explaining why. Tom speculates that eBay secretly knows that carbon credits are a scam, and thus is not willing for them to be sold on its site.

In my opinion, it is equally likely that the eBay folks accept the concept of carbon credits, and saw Tom's auction as mockery of the concept. Which it was, of course.

Bravo, Tom, for giving it a try. Perhaps you could find a way to contact the Gore estate; it seems that they could use a little feel-good P.R. right now.

When I think of all of the trees I've cut down on my property for one reason or another, and think about people who are more than willing to part with their money in the belief that the act frees them to maintain their wasteful lifestyles...... sigh...... what could have been.

If only we commoners could afford Al Gore's carbon footprint...

A year ago we saw that Al Gore was investing a lot of money in his Tennessee mansion to help it comply with U.S. Green Building Council standards.

You would think that after all of those improvements, we would see the efficiency improvements reflected in an overall decrease in the amount of energy consumed in Gore's home. You would be wrong.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research has been watching Gore's energy usage for a long time. It was their first press release about his wasteful lifestyle that appears to have prompted last year's renovations.

TCPR issued another report this week letting us know how things are going at the Gore estate:
In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

[...]In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month.
In addition to efficiency improvements, Gore relies on the purchase of carbon offsets to somehow make his off-the-charts consumption (both at home and in his extensive travel by private jet) okay.

What he has really done is prove that reliance on carbon offsets tends to lead to an increase in wasteful consumption. This makes sense, because carbon offsets amount to doing penance for your bad behavior without actually making an effort to modify the bad behavior.

June 20 UPDATE: Although the numbers in TCPR's June 17th press release are internally consistent, it is true that, as detractor Tim Lambert observes, the numbers are not consistent with TCPR's 2007 press release about Gore's 2006 consumption (linked above). It appears to boil down to a misstated number in the 2007 press release -- which to my knowledge TCPR has never corrected. I have asked them for an official clarification, and will post an update if and when I hear back from them.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tree-ring-based climate models further undermined by leaf-temperature study

Will this break the hockey stick for good?

We've known for a while about studies demonstrating significant shortcomings in the use of tree-ring data to infer historical climate information. Now University of Pennsylvania researchers Brent Helliker and Suzanna Richter have published a study in the British journal Nature that seems to drive another nail into the coffin of the methodology that was supposedly the basis of Michael Mann's discredited "hockey stick" graph (which can be seen in the post linked above).

From a June 11 AFP article (emphasis added):
The internal temperature of leaves, whether in the tropics or a cold-clime forest, tends toward a nearly constant 21.4 degrees Celsius (71 degree Fahrenheit), reports a study released Wednesday.

It had long been assumed that actively photosynthesising leaves -- using energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar -- are nearly as cold or hot as the air around them.

The new findings not only challenge long-held precepts in plant biology, but could upend climate models that use tree rings to infer or predict past and present temperature changes.

For decades, scientists studying the impact of global warming have measured the oxygen isotope ratio in tree-rings to determine the air temperature and relative humidity of historical climates.

Oxygen atoms within water molecules evaporate more or less quickly depending on the number of neutrons they carry, and the ratio between these differently weighted atoms in tree trunk rings has been used as a measure of year-to-year fluctuations in temperatures and rainfall.

"The assumption in all of these studies was that tree leaf temperatures were equal to ambient temperatures," lead researcher Brent Helliker told AFP. "It turns out that they are not."


Study Reference:
Helliker, Brent and Suzanna L. Richter. 2008. Subtropical to boreal convergence of tree-leaf temperatures. Nature. In press. doi:10.1038/nature07031

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another update on the remarkable winter of 2007-8

Last summer our part of Texas enjoyed one of its coolest summers in living memory, but this year we're roasting at more typical temperatures (mid to upper 90s). A rotten time for our 20-year-old home air conditioning system to give up the ghost, but we finally got that replaced a couple of weeks ago, so we're comfortable again.

Too bad we can't have a summer like they're having up in the Pacific northwest. As reported June 10 in the Seattle Times:

Seattle just experienced the coldest first week of June, according to climate records dating to 1891, said Cliff Mass, University of Washington metrologist. Both 1999 and 2008 share the record, with 1917 falling in second place, he said. "Just wait until tomorrow," he said, when temperatures are going to be even colder.

A heavy snow warning has been issued for the Washington Cascades and Olympics as a storm from the Gulf of Alaska plows into the state tonight.

And on June 11:

It doesn't seem fair, but it's the cold, hard truth — accent on cold: While Seattle hasn't seen a 70-degree day in more than two weeks, Fairbanks, Alaska, has had six of them in the past 10 days.

Just about everyone, it seems, is toastier than we are. You've heard of International Falls, Minn., the self-proclaimed "Icebox of the Nation?"? It's had four days this month in the 70s, topped off with a pleasant 75 on Sunday.

Across the Atlantic, the northern destination of Oslo, Norway, has been passing the 70-degree mark nearly every day recently, while even the Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia, hit the 70s last weekend.

Not that I'm suggesting anything. Highlighting local weather patterns for AGW propaganda purposes is a tricky business, because you have to choose your data points carefully. Chilly in Seattle (global cooling!), but sweltering in New York (global warming!).

This is the purpose of the "proof by anecdote" label for certain posts on this blog. You can prove just about anything anecdotally, if you choose the right anecdote. I try never to commit this fallacy on purpose here (the "proof by anecdote" label is your hint that I'm being facetious), but feel free to call me on it if you think I've let one slip by without admitting it.

(via ICECAP)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Youth indoctrination Down Under: Planet Slayer

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's website is hosting an online game called Planet Slayer.

The villains are hypocritical meat-eating bourgeois materialist greenhouse pigs. The heroes are those who, in the words of Ludwig von Mises Institute essayist Ben O'Neill, "[oppose] logging, nuclear waste, war, consumerism, and other evils, and [support] such good things as composting, clean transport, solar power, and protesting."

The site has all sorts of fun activities for the kids, including a calculator apparently intended to show them that they've already contributed more than their share of CO2, and that they would do well to go some place quiet and kill themselves.

I wish I was kidding. Here's the screenshot for the opening page of the when-you-should-die calculator (click to view full-sized image):

This site is supported in part by the tax dollars of the citizens of Australia (via Film Victoria). Hope you feel like you're getting your money's worth, my Australian friends.

The Sun: Now with a spot-free shine!

Science Daily reports from a Montana State University press release that an increasing number of solar scientists are puzzling over the fact that Solar Cycle 24 is still refusing to make an appearance, two years after Cycle 23 showed clear indications of leaving the stage:
The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites.

That's good news for people who scramble when space weather interferes with their technology, but it became a point of discussion for the scientists who attended an international solar conference at Montana State University. Approximately 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America gathered June 1-6 to talk about "Solar Variability, Earth's Climate and the Space Environment."

The scientists said periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual.

"It continues to be dead," said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission. "That's a small concern, a very small concern."

History shows a strong correlation between long intercycle calm periods and global cooling. The press release notes that a 50-year sunspot-free period occurred in the 17th century, during what is now known as the Little Ice Age.

If this spot-free period persists, I suppose we'll know before too long whether or not the earth's climate truly responds to such changes in solar activity.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seriously, who didn't see this coming?

It sure didn't take long.

The ink had hardly dried on Interior Secretary Kempthorne's directive designating the polar bear as "threatened" (based purely on hypotheticals and what-ifs, not on reality) when the environmental left showed why they pressed so hard for the designation. From a June 9 Associated Press story:
Two conservation groups plan to sue to protect polar bears from petroleum exploration and drilling off Alaska's coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment gave the federal government formal notice Monday that they will sue under the Endangered Species Act to protect the bears, which were listed as threatened last month by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

Do I need to say it again? The AGW scare is merely a tool used by certain parties to advance portions of their agenda that might not otherwise be enacted.

In this case, many in the environmental left are flat-out opposed to developing oil resources anywhere, and they have shown themselves to be masters at using regulation and litigation to head off new drilling in the United States. Arctic Alaska is by far the easiest target, because... well, polar bears are just so doggone cute!

In the current political climate (pardon the pun), what are the odds that this lawsuit will succeed? Never mind the fact that (as the article mentions) arctic exploration has led to zero deaths of polar bears and walruses in the fifteen years that "incidental harm" to these animals has been decriminalized within this context.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In case you haven't noticed...

Where's Tim?As you can read in the sidebar, Real Life often takes me away from posting here. Recently, the aforementioned Real Life has forced me into a hiatus that is now in its sixth week. I'll be back soon, hopefully no later than the week after next.

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

AGW will make hurricanes worse! No it won't! Yes it will! Maybe.

Al Gore used the Katrina disaster to popularize the notion that global warming would make such monsters a routine occurrence. That notion had no scientific merit, but no matter: Gore had successfully injected it into the public discourse, and it took on a life of its own (for example, it was cited by one insurance company as justification for a rate increase request in Florida).

Today Science Daily brings us another exercise in speculative alarmism related to hurricanes (emphasis added):
The Earth's jet streams, the high-altitude bands of fast winds that strongly influence the paths of storms and other weather systems, are shifting--possibly in response to global warming. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution determined that over a 23-year span from 1979 to 2001 the jet streams in both hemispheres have risen in altitude and shifted toward the poles. The jet stream in the northern hemisphere has also weakened. These changes fit the predictions of global warming models and have implications for the frequency and intensity of future storms, including hurricanes.

Cristina Archer and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology tracked changes in the average position and strength of jet streams using records compiled by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the National Centers for Environmental Protection, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The data included outputs from weather prediction models, conventional observations from weather balloons and surface instruments, and remote observations from satellites.
So, how far has the average position of the jet stream shifted over that 23 year span? About 25 miles. That's nothing -- we're talking about the distance from one side of a large metropolitan area to the other -- but the researchers (and/or whoever wrote the press release) do their best to make it sound frightening.
Storm paths in North America are likely to shift northward as a result of the jet stream changes. Hurricanes, whose development tends to be inhibited by jet streams, may become more powerful and more frequent as the jet streams move away from the sub-tropical zones where hurricanes are born.
Here's the equation: Small shift poleward in the average position of the jet stream = more powerful and more frequent hurricanes. Al Gore, call your movie agent.

So, you're still not impressed with the 25-mile shift? Well, the author of the press release doesn't want us to rest easy:
The poleward shift in their average location discovered by the researchers is small, about 19 kilometers (12 miles) per decade in the northern hemisphere, but if the trend continues the impact could be significant. "The jet streams are the driving factor for weather in half of the globe," says Archer. "So, as you can imagine, changes in the jets have the potential to affect large populations and major climate systems."
Some questions for our researchers:
  • Will the trend continue? How do you know?
  • What was the trend before 1979?
  • How long is the current trend likely to continue?
  • How far poleward is the jet likely to go?
  • Are there any natural mechanisms that will limit or halt the poleward march?
Oh, and is this tiny shift the result of global warming?
"At this point we can't say for sure that this is the result of global warming, but I think it is," says Caldeira. "I would bet that the trend in the jet streams' positions will continue. It is something I'd put my money on."
Whatever you may think about this speculation, let's be clear: it's speculation, not science. The study was about the shift in the jet stream, not about the mechanisms of hurricane development. Of course, that doesn't matter. Some scientists said it, and it fits the AGW template, so it will be reported.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Updates on the remarkable winter of 2007-8

Yes, yes, I know. Climate is long-term, and one cold winter does not a trend make. Still, even CoGW adherents ought to take note of the mounting evidence that this winter season is unlike any we've seen since.... since when?

Since this winter has been undeniably extraordinary, those who have much invested in the AGW paradigm have been forced into "Yeah, but" mode: "Yeah, you've never seen this kind of winter in your lifetime, but it's all because of La Niña. Even though we attributed the extraordinarily warm temperatures of El Niño year 1998 to AGW, the extraordinarily cold temperatures of La Niña year 2008 are a routine fluctuation. We expect the doomsday countdown to resume shortly."

Even as Solar Cycle 24 stubbornly refuses to establish itself (despite months of numerous premature announcements that it had started), our planet's northern hemisphere winter has thus far declined to respect the calendar, as is evidenced by the unusually heavy April snowstorm currently working its way across the northern plains of the U.S. and Canada.

How unusual is this winter in the U.S.? Here are just a couple of examples from the past week:

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 11:

The latest-ever start to the Mississippi River navigation season in Minnesota is unfolding today.

[...] The average opening date of the navigation season for the past 30 years has been March 20. In 2007, the first tow to make it to St. Paul arrived on March 29.

This year's late start, due to unusually cold spring weather, breaks the previous late record of April 7, set in 1978.

Boston Globe, April 8:
Some Maine syrup producers say the season is off to a late start with delays caused by cold weather and taps and tubing hidden by snow in northern Maine.

Bob Moore of Bob's Sugar House is busy boiling sap this week, but he'd be a lot busier if he could tap all of his trees. He said at least 75 percent of his 5,000 trees are unreachable.

"I have trees that still have 3 feet of snow around them," he said. "It's not looking good right now."

Maine's maple syrup production can start anytime between mid-February and late March. But like most agriculture ventures, the season is subject to the whims of the weather.

"As usual, for some folks, especially in the far south of the state, sugaring season is over," said Kathy Hopkins, a maple expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Skowhegan.

"But I doubt they'll be done tapping in The County until June," she said in joking reference to the state's northernmost county, Aroostook. "In some places, they just can't get to their trees and all their tubing is buried under snow."

On the other side of the world, southern China got its worst winter in 50 years. At the bottom of the world, the media shrieks whenever a piece of ice breaks off of an ice shelf, but we get nothing about the fact that overall, Antarctica has been cooling in recent decades. In fact, the just-completed antarctic summer has yielded still more extraordinary news: Surface snowmelt there is running about 40% below the average of the previous 20 years.

But never mind all that. Once La Niña subsides, we can get back to TEOTWAWKI.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Ferengi Factor (Pretend AGW is real, and retire rich!)

"Who cares if nobody has proven
a human influence on our climate?

This is an opportunity for profits!" chief Steven Milloy had a chance to speak last week at a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. The conference was, in Milloy's words, a gathering of industries "that seek to make a financial killing from climate alarmism".

Milloy noted that attendees were remarkably uninterested in the question of whether or not climate change was truly -- for the first time in history -- caused by human activity. Thus, Milloy's attempt to bring the audience's attention to contrary evidence like the graph below went down like a lead balloon.

Rather, the focus remained on the various ways for businesses to maximize profits, assuming no change in the current

If enough corporations begin to recognize a financial interest in keeping public and political opinions where they are right now, it may not matter if science slowly comes around to recognizing the dearth of evidence supporting the AGW hypothesis:

Virtually every speaker at the conference professed that they were either in favor of free markets or that they supported a free-market solution to global warming. But invariably in their next breath, they would plead for government regulation of greenhouse gases and government subsidies for alternative energy.

It’s hard to conceive of any good coming from a public policy in which facts play no substantial role in its development and words have no meaning in its public debate.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Winter 2007-8: It's all in how you look at it

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presents a straightforward acknowledgment that this winter has bucked the trend of recent years:

NOAA: Coolest Winter Since 2001 for U.S., Globe

The average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

The Associated Press, looking at the same press release, ignored NOAA's summary and zeroed in on the one thing that matters most to the CoGW:
Winter Has Been Warmer Than Average

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Winter storms and snow notwithstanding, this winter was still warmer than average worldwide, the government reported Thursday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The greatest tragedy of L'Affair Spitzer

All moral and legal issues aside, the scandal enveloping New York governor Eliot Spitzer may have caused some collateral damage to the AGW political agenda in the U.S., to the dismay of true believers. As opined by SolveClimate:
Spitzer's rendez-vous, the night before Valentine's day s'il vous plaît, will unfortunately strike a blow at progress on global warming, whether through his resignation, unavoidable distraction if he stays in office, and/or his diminished effectiveness. He has been a Governor who has shown -- in the absence of federal action -- leadership on global warming, which began during his tenure as New York State attorney General, and whose good effect endures.
(Credit: Minnesota Monitor, Free Republic)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Whoever added this blog to StumbleUpon...

Thanks! And, welcome to all who came for a visit as a result.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The planet will be better off if you stay in bed

Reader Kevin J. pointed me to the story of Dutch student Yde Van Deutekom, who is inviting webcam viewers to pay him to stay in bed all day. The wonderfully-named environmentalist site TreeHugger notes the similarity of Yde's quest with this classic Joy of Tech cartoon (click link to see the whole thing), which shows how laziness can be repackaged as an ecological virtue.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Shield your eyes if you're writing a college research paper

Of all the global warming blogs
in all the domains
in all the world...
she comes across mine.

One of the nice things about using a data service like Statcounter is that I usually find out pretty quickly when somebody has linked to this site. Today I found out that I had the distinct honor of being a case-in-point in a college freshman's lab exercise on reliable and unreliable sources of information on the internet.

In case you were wondering, I was singled out as an example of an unreliable source of information on global warming. As soon as I got over the shock and shame at being thus labeled, I read on.

Before I relate why Ms. Cooper determined my site to be unreliable, I thought it might be good to note the qualities that she thinks makes a site reliable and/or credible. To sum up, a reliable/credible source is:
  1. Associated with a commercial publication of some kind; or
  2. Associated with some known organization; or
  3. Associated with a government, military or academic internet domain.
That's about it. It's safe to cite anything that comes from such sources.

How did I fail Ms. Cooper? My sins are threefold:
  1. I use "sarcasm" in the "About the Heretic" section on the sidebar when comparing my credentials to those of Al Gore. I thought of it more as dryly humorous hyperbole, but okay. I guess her complaint here is that by the use of such humor, I have surrendered any claim to objectivity. However, objectivity is not my aim, as I explain in the next item.
  2. In that same blurb I mention that I use this site to present my opinions on the various issues surrounding the global warming debate. I have never pretended that this site was to be seen as a source of original news reporting or original research. There are other excellent sites out there (many linked in the sidebar) which accomplish this quite well. My goal is to analyze what others are reporting as news or publishing as science, and to look at possible cultural and ideological trends therein. So, if I was dinged for not being an original source for news and research results... guilty.
  3. I'm shocked -- shocked! --
    to learn that opinions
    are expressed on this blog!
  4. I publish on Blogspot. To the same extent that anything published on a site ending in .edu, .mil or .gov is deemed automatically reliable, so anything published on is automatically unreliable. In both extremes, the judgment is made without regard to actual content. Although I do work for a university, this site is a personal project of mine and is unrelated to my current work. Too bad. If I was a college professor I could move my analyses to my departmental web page, and by virtue of the .edu domain it seems that my essays would be citeable. Nice racket, if you can get into it.
Please note that I am not accusing Ms. Cooper of attacking my point of view. In fact, she presents fellow heretic as an example of a reliable site.

Ms. Cooper's assignment appears to have been about which kinds of sources should be citeable when writing a college research paper. Fair enough, but I think that the broad generalizations given by Cooper discourage critical thinking.

Better to have the following standard regarding internet sources: Cite whatever you want, but be prepared to defend your choices.

(P.S. Here's a philosophical poser: Was it okay for Ms. Cooper to cite this site in support of her thesis that this site should not be cited?)

Update on the indoctrination of our youth

WJBF-TV in Atlanta brings us this February 28 story of a boy who appears to have a fine future in politics:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger helped a student who fainted at a speech in Sacramento.


The boy and the Governor got a chance to talk later in the nurse's office. The student told the Governor he blames global warming for the incident.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A modest request to those who believe in anthropogenic "climate change"

Despite the name of this blog, some time ago many in the CoGW abandoned the exclusive use of the term "global warming" to describe current climate trends. "Climate change" is the preferred term now, since many weather events in recent years do not appear to fit the perception of what we would see on an unnaturally warming planet.

I will continue to use "Anthropogenic Global Warming" (AGW) to describe this ideology. Although atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to increase, global temperatures have more or less plateaued in the past decade. Since the plateau occurred at a warm average temperature, we've been treated to innumerable accounts of the fact that recent years have been among the warmest in recent history. So, despite the use of the term "climate change", it's clear that proponents are invested in creating the public perception that the earth is continuing to warm (and that such warming will soon accelerate out of control).

Climate change really is a term of art, because it allows CoGW adherents to insist that all weather -- wet or dry, hot or cold -- validates the AGW orthodoxy.

Floods in China: check. Drought in China: check. More hurricanes: check. Fewer hurricanes: check. Summer ice melt in the Arctic: check. Winter refreezing of Arctic ice that exceeds that which originally melted: check. Collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Shelf: check. Net increase in Antarctic ice: check. Record warm winter in 2006-2007: check. Record cold winter in 2007-2008: check.

And so on.

This leads me to ask a question of those of you who believe that human activity is negatively and catastrophically impacting the earth's climate:

Is the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis falsifiable?

I am asking this within the context of the scientific method. Integrity demands that a scientist, when proposing a hypothesis, list the conditions whereby the hypothesis would fall apart:
We believe that this hypothesis sufficiently describes the reality we are studying, but if anybody can demonstrate any of conditions a, b, c, d or e, our hypothesis is fatally compromised and it's back to the drawing board.
So, AGW folks: can you name any condition (series of weather events, temperature trends, etc.) that would make you doubt the current orthodoxy, or are we witnessing the most bulletproof hypothesis ever?

UPDATE: After a quick Google search, I was pleased to discover that this question has already occurred to minds much greater than mine. As I composed this post earlier today, I had the folks at RealClimate in mind (among others). It turns out that Roger Pielke, Jr. tossed the following rhetorical grenade into the midst of a RealClimate discussion about how awfully cold Antarctica is right now:

There are a vast number of behaviors of the climate system that are consistent with climate model predictions, along the lines of your conclusion: “A cold Antarctica and Southern Ocean do not contradict our models of global warming.”

I have asked many times and never received an answer here: What behavior of the climate system would contradict models of global warming? Specifically what behavior of what variables over what time scales? This should be a simple question to answer.


The ensuing debate is pretty interesting.

Pielke followed up on the question in his own blog. The debate is pretty lively in the comment section over there as well.

(Found via: Seeker Blog)

Friday, February 22, 2008

NOAA, in a fit of common sense, points out the blindingly obvious

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, often found in the AGW camp, made a surprising admission today:
A team of scientists have found that the economic damages from hurricanes have increased in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S. coastlines, and not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes.
More people and more stuff on the coast? Wow, more damage!

“We found that although some decades were quieter and less damaging in the U.S. and others had more land-falling hurricanes and more damage, the economic costs of land-falling hurricanes have steadily increased over time,” said Chris Landsea, one of the researchers as well as the science and operations officer at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami. “There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts.”

In a newly published paper in Natural Hazards Review, the researchers also found that economic hurricane damage in the U.S. has been doubling every 10 to 15 years. If more people continue to move to the hurricane-prone coastline, future economic hurricane losses may be far greater than previously thought.

Al Gore, call your office.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Flex Fuel(ishness): Eco-hostile Ethanol

If you own a vehicle that depends to any extent on ethanol to run, you may want to set your latte down before reading the following from a February 7 AP article:

The widespread use of ethanol from corn could result in nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it would replace because of expected land-use changes, researchers concluded Thursday. The study challenges the rush to biofuels as a response to global warming.

The researchers said that past studies showing the benefits of ethanol in combating climate change have not taken into account almost certain changes in land use worldwide if ethanol from corn — and in the future from other feedstocks such as switchgrass — become a prized commodity.

"Using good cropland to expand biofuels will probably exacerbate global warming," concludes the study published in Science magazine.

The researchers said that farmers under economic pressure to produce biofuels will increasingly "plow up more forest or grasslands," releasing much of the carbon formerly stored in plants and soils through decomposition or fires. Globally, more grasslands and forests will be converted to growing the crops to replace the loss of grains when U.S. farmers convert land to biofuels, the study said.

The rebuttal is pretty weak:

The Renewable Fuels Association, which represents ethanol producers, called the researchers' view of land-use changes "simplistic" and said the study "fails to put the issue in context."

"Assigning the blame for rainforest deforestation and grassland conversion to agriculture solely on the renewable fuels industry ignores key factors that play a greater role," said Bob Dinneen, the association's president.

Gotta love that ethanol. Touted as an earth-friendly alternative to petroleum, instead it brings us deforestation, rising food prices, food shortages (especially in third-world countries), and lots and lots of CO2.

William Tucker writes in a February 13 American Spectator report that our country's current mentality regarding biofuels has roots going back more than 30 years:
From the beginning, the entire biofuels effort has been built on flimsy projections and dubious accounting that were seized upon by politicians eager to demonstrate they were "doing something" about energy. The whole fiasco can probably be traced to a single paragraph in Amory Lovins Soft Energy Paths, the 1976 book that inspired President Carter's embrace of "alternate energy" and convinced California Governor Jerry Brown that his state didn't need to build any more power plants. (Google "California Electrical Shortage" to see what happened there.) In one hasty brushstroke, Lovins outlined what a national biofuels industry might look like:
[E]xciting developments in the conversion of agricultural, forestry, and urban wastes to methanol and other liquid and gaseous fuels now offer practical, economically interesting technologies sufficient to run an efficient U.S. transport sector. The required scale of organic conversion can be estimated. Each year the U.S. beer and wine industry, for example, microbiologically produces 5 percent as many gallons (not all alcohol, of course) as the U.S. oil industry produces gasoline. Gasoline has 1.5 to 2 times the fuel value of alcohol per gallon. Thus a conversion industry roughly ten to fourteen times the physical scale (in gallons of fluid output per year) of U.S. cellars and breweries, albeit using different processes, would produce roughly one-third of the present gasohol requirements of the United States....The scale of effort required does not seem unreasonable.
In other words, since beer and wine were already one-twentieth the volume of our gasoline, a reasonable expansion of distilleries could supply us with one-third of our transportation needs. Unfortunately, this analysis contained a single oversight that has bedeviled biofuels ever since.

Notice that while Lovins estimated the size of the distilling industry, he never mentions the amount of land required to produce the crops. Hops and vineyards currently occupy 40 million acres of farmland. Using Lovins' figure of "roughly ten to fourteen times the scale," that gives us 480 million acres -- more than all of U.S. cropland put together.

Lovins also made a mistake. Although he mentioned that beer and wine are "not all alcohol," he forgot to factor this into the final equation. Wine is 12 percent alcohol and beer is about 5 percent, so let's take 7 percent as an average. This means we must again multiply those 480 million acres by a factor of fourteen. That leaves us with 6.5 billion acres - three times the area of the United States, including Alaska -- in order to produce one-third of our transportation fuel needs in 1977. On this fatal error was the entire U.S. ethanol industry built.
Regardless of how we got here, the news that ethanol is likely doing more harm than good is not likely to lead any time soon to a rethinking of our energy policy.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Punxsutawney Phil could be out of a job soon

Rick Kollinger:

(For those of you who don't know who Punxsutawney Phil is, you can read more here)

Groundhog Day 2009 update: A big HOWDY to all of you who arrived at this blog post via Google Image Search!

Groundhog Day 2010 update: See Groundhog Day 2009 update.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Allstate's prophets seek more profits in Florida

Allstate recently tried to push through a 42% premium rate increase on its Florida customers, using as its justification unscientific wild guess about future weather conditions, as this article reports:
Now we know why Allstate wanted a 42-percent increase in home insurance rates. The company is using an unapproved model that factors the growing threat of global warming.

Last month, company executives objected to a Senate subpoena. The state tried to suspend their license, and Governor Crist threatened to sue them.

Now Allstate executives said they aren't price gouging. They say they're just very concerned about climate change, and trying to make sure they keep rates in tune with the growing threat. The ocean is a hurricane's fuel tank. Warmer waters could mean more and stronger storms (though this is currently a subject of scientific debate).

"It's my professional opinion and others at Allstate, it appears that the increase in sea surface temperatures and the near term effect of hurricanes is something that is real and is a need that we need to consider for the protection of our insurers," said Allstate Floridian's Ryan Michel.

Kudos to the article writer for noting that the link between warmer waters and hurricane frequency and intensity has not been established.

Allstate's Florida customers really ought to ponder whether they really are "in good hands".

Monday, February 4, 2008

The polar bear: poster child of the environmental left

Sen. Inhofe's EPW staff has gathered a variety of scientific sources indicating that polar bears, the majestic icon of the CoGW, are not declining -- in fact, they are now near record high levels (at least double their population of half a century ago). Many of these extinction scenarios are floated using a raft of scientifically unsound assumptions.

And yet, yesterday we read this in the Los Angeles Times:
The Bush administration is nearing a decision that would officially acknowledge the environmental damage of global warming, and name its first potential victim: the polar bear.

The Interior Department may act as soon as this week on its year-old proposal to make the polar bear the first species to be listed as threatened with extinction because of melting ice due to a warming planet.
The environmental left candidly admits the importance of the polar bear as a cute, cuddly symbol of their cause:
Both sides agree that conservationists finally have the poster species they have sought to use the Endangered Species Act as a lever to force federal limits on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, and possibly to battle smokestack industry projects far from the Arctic.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. "And then there is the polar bear."
Keep in mind that the decline isn't actually occurring right now. The movement to get the polar bear listed as threatened is based on what-if computer scenarios.

But what if the assumptions are wrong, and the projected warming does not occur? No matter. Once the polar bear is listed, environmental law can more easily be used as a bludgeon for The Cause. Just about any human activity can -- with appropriate logical gymnastics -- be tied to climate change, so pretty much no human activity in America would remain beyond the reach of the environmental regulators.

The Times article lists a more obvious example:
Heavy industry has reason to fear. At least one part of the environmental community believes the bear's listing would provide the leverage to stop a coal-fired power plant thousands of miles away from the Arctic.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is known for his skepticism about global-warming measures, asked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall last week whether listing the polar bear could be used to halt the construction of a new power plant in Oklahoma City.

"The Endangered Species Act is not the vehicle to reach out and demand all of the things that need to happen to address climate change," Hall said, to Inhofe's apparent satisfaction.

Andrew E. Wetzler, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's endangered species project, said Hall misunderstands the legal principles underlying the act, which was fortified by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide can be regulated as a pollutant.

If the builders of a coal-fired plant needed a federal permit, they would probably have to show how its emissions would not erode the polar bear's habitat or jeopardize its survival, Wetzler said.
If the drive to get the polar bear listed succeeds, the opportunity for environmentalist mischief will be boundless.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rewriting history, enshrining fallacy

Given that 2000 years of non-tree-ring proxy data show nothing extraordinary about the warming of the past two centuries, this proposal by British scientists seems to be a bit over the top:

A HEATED scientific row is brewing as British geoscientists lead a push to establish a new chapter in the history of Earth - one based on human activity.

Led by geologist Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester, the rabble-rousers argue that changes wrought since the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago are so profound they are now visible in the physical and living fabric of the planet.

As a result, they have called for the creation of a new Epoch in the official geological time scale, one they have named the Anthropocene.

Along with Eons, Eras, Periods and Ages, Epochs are classifications of Earth history based on characteristic changes in the layers, or strata, of rocks.

Writing in the latest issue of GSA Today, a publication of the Geological Society of America, Dr Zalasiewicz and 20 like-minded experts claim there is "sufficient evidence" of human-induced changes to plants, animals, oceans and lands to warrant recognition of the Anthropocene by the official geological time lords, the International Commission on Stratigraphy. Their proposal came at the same time as the American Geophysical Union at the weekend released its updated position on climate change.

Yes, clean energy is good, but at what cost? And who pays?

President Bush demonstrated in his State of the Union address that congressional Democrats are not the only ones capable of throwing lots of good money at a bad idea. As Reuters reports in a pre-speech article:
THE US will commit $US2 billion ($2.27 billion) over the next three years for a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, President George W. Bush will tell Congress today in his annual State of the Union speech.

"Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive," the White House said in a fact sheet on Mr Bush's speech.
Is it wrong to "promote clean energy technologies" in developing nations? Of course not. The problem is that misguided climate alarmism produces the urgency that makes it politically acceptable to commit American taxpayer money to such endeavors.

I don't wish to dive too deeply into the American presidential race in this post, but I've got to say that the remaining candidates leave much to be desired on this issue.

Study: Tree ring data has significant shortcomings as climate proxy

Abstract from Loehle, C. 2007. A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies. Energy & Environment 18(7-8): 1049-1058; and Loehle, C., and J.H. McCulloch. 2008: Correction to: A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies. Energy & Environment 19(1): 93-100 (emphasis added):
Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3°C warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.
The study can be downloaded here.

The first graph below (found here), adapted from the Loehle paper, deviates significantly from the tree-ring-based "hockey stick" graph (second below, found here) of Mann, et al., and thus is likely to be declared heterodox and anathema by the CoGW.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shocker: Congress throws taxpayer money into black hole, gets nothing in return

I guess I missed this when it first happened, but in November the Democrat-led House of Representatives voted to set aside nearly $90,000 to offset carbon emissions associated with our esteemed legislators' activities.

[Insert your own joke here regarding Congress and emissions]

Today the WaPo (via MSNBC) reports that our congressfolks have been taught a lesson about the nature of the carbon offset industry:

The House of Representatives has presumably learned that money cannot buy love or happiness. Now, it turns out it's not a sure solution to climate guilt, either.

In November, the Democratic-led House spent about $89,000 on so-called carbon offsets. This purchase was supposed to cancel out greenhouse-gas emissions from House buildings -- including half of the U.S. Capitol -- by triggering an equal reduction in emissions elsewhere.

Some of the money went to farmers in North Dakota, for tilling practices that keep carbon buried in the soil. But some farmers were already doing this, for other reasons, before the House paid a cent.

Other funds went to Iowa, where a power plant had been temporarily rejiggered to burn more cleanly. But that test project had ended more than a year before the money arrived.

The House's purchase provides a view into the confusing world of carbon offsets, a newly popular commodity with few rules. Analysts say some offsets really do cause new reductions in pollution. But others seem to change very little.

To environmentalists, the House's experience is a powerful lesson about a market where pure intentions can produce murky results.

"It didn't change much behavior that wasn't going to happen anyway," said Joseph Romm, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who writes a blog calling for more aggressive action on climate change. "It just, I think, demonstrated why offsets are controversial and possibly pointless. . . . This is a waste of taxpayer money."

The House bought its offsets through the Chicago Climate Exchange, a five-year-old commodities market where greenhouse-gas credits are traded like pork bellies.

Yes, they've been taught a lesson, but to paraphrase our current president, Is our congressfolks learning? Not likely, if they justify their behavior using the logic offered by the Chicago Climate Exchange:

This month, officials at the exchange vigorously defended the sale, saying the House's money had done a great deal of good by funneling money to those who were helping to combat climate change.

"It basically rewards people for having done things that had environmental good in the past and incentivizes people to do things that have environmental good in the future," said Richard Sandor, the exchange's chairman and chief executive.

Read Sandor's comment carefully. Carbon offsets, ostensibly meant by their purchasers to offset current emissions, do not necessarily go to people or organizations currently engaged in offsetting activities. Rather, offset money can be used to reward people that had "done things that had environmental good in the past". Even better, the money can be used to "incentivize" these good folks to do environmental good in the future. No obligation, it appears.

It's much worse than anybody thought!

People with internet access back in the 1990s are probably quite familiar with the multitude of computer virus hoaxes that circulated back then (you do know that they were hoaxes, don't you?). I was greatly amused when someone wrote a way-over-the-top parody of such hoaxes, warning us of the evils of the "Good Times" virus.

Free Republic member Grizzled Bear has updated the parody to warn a new generation that Global Warming will ruin your life. And your hard drive. And your credit rating. And..... here it is (a couple of typos corrected, but -- apologies -- certain indelicate references kept in for the sake of completeness):


Global warming will erase your hard drive. Not the data, but your actual hard drive! Not only that, but it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your refrigerator's coolness setting so all your ice cream goes melty. It will demagnetize the strips on all your credit cards, screw up the tracking on your television and use subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you try to play.

It will give your ex-girlfriend your new phone number. It will mix Kool-aid into your fishtank. It will drink all your beer and leave its socks out on the coffee table when there's company coming over. It will put a dead kitten in the back pocket of your good suit pants and hide your car keys when you are late for work.

Global warming will make you fall in love with a penguin. It will give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while dating your girlfriend behind your back and billing the dinner and hotel room to your Discover card.

It will seduce your grandmother. It does not matter if she is dead, such is the power of Global warming, it reaches out beyond the grave to sully those things we hold most dear.

It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you can't find it. It will kick your dog. It will leave libidinous messages on your boss's voice mail in your voice! It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

Global warming will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the toilet seat up. It will make a batch of methamphetamines in your bathtub and then leave bacon cooking on the stove while it goes out to chase gradeschoolers with your new snowblower.

Listen to me. Global warming does not exist.

It cannot do anything to you. But I can. I am sending this message to everyone in the world. Tell your friends, tell your family. If anyone else bothers me with fearmongering concerning Global warming, I will turn hating them into a religion. I will do things to them that would make a horsehead in your bed look like Easter Sunday brunch.
I have one point of disagreement with the author. I do believe in the existence of global warming (although it seems to have plateaued in the past decade), but I remain unconvinced of its alleged anthropogenic nature. I agreed with just about everything else he said, though. AGW hasn't done anything to my hard drive yet, but it did fry my computer's motherboard last summer.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What a bizarre way to promote a news network

Fox News reports on a promotional advertisement being run on Dubai's Al Arabiya network:
In the ad, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Al Arabiya tries to attract viewers by suggesting that they can learn the effect of local actions on global issues, and vice versa, if they watch Al-Arabiya's news.
They illustrate this by showing a chain of events connecting a man eating chicken in a restaurant, a Brazilian chicken farm, soybeans used to feed the chicken, global warming resulting from energy expended in the production of the soybeans and the raising of the chicken, rising sea levels forcing the poor in tropical islands into refugee camps, embittered refugees becoming radical terrorists, a terrorist blowing himself up on a busy city street, war resulting from the terror attack, global trade disrupted by the war, no soybeans for the chicken farms, no chicken for the restaurants.

Fade to motto: Al Arabiya: To know more.

Hard to know where to start with this one. You're welcome to give it a go.

Mixed news from Greenland

From the London Times via Fox News, January 17:
Greenland Ice Sheet Rapidly Melting, Scientists Find

Greenland's ice sheet shrank more rapidly last summer than at any other time in the past 50 years, measurements have shown.

Researchers said the extent of the melt was evidence that the ice sheet was in "inexorable decline" because of global warming.

The researchers found a shift in meteorological patterns over the past 15 years, with a direct correlation being found between Greenland's weather and the generally warmer weather across both the northern and southern hemispheres.

From, January 17:
Ice Returns as Greenland Temps Plummet

On Disko Bay in western Greenland, where a number of prominent world leaders have visited in recent years to get a first-hand impression of climate change, temperatures have dropped so drastically that the water has frozen over for the first time in a decade. “The ice is up to 50cm thick,” said Henrik Matthiesen, an employee at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute who has also sailed the Greenlandic coastline for the Royal Arctic Line. ‘We’ve had loads of northerly winds since Christmas which has made the area miserably cold.’ Matthiesen suggested the cold weather marked a return to the frigid temperatures common a decade ago.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Surrendering our freedom for the common good

I opined yesterday that those who are driving the AGW agenda see no need to sit in the seats of power themselves, as long as they can persuade those who are in power to implement their agenda.

In times past I have remarked that the AGW agenda's implementation coincides quite nicely with long-held goals of both the world socialist movement and various leftist environmental organizations.

Duane Lester at All American Blogger has written a thought-provoking essay summarizing some of the fronts in which this agenda's implementation has met with considerable success (mostly through molding of public opinion, which is the politically necessary prerequisite to getting the legislation passed):

Population control -- Every new child is guaranteed to make the carbon dioxide levels worse over the course of his or her life, so it's better not to bring any children into the world at all. Toni Vernelli symbolizes to me the practical realization of this point of view (so does the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, but that group predates the AGW scare). Some in the west openly express admiration of China's coercive one-child policy. If the public can be alarmed sufficiently about AGW, opposition to mandatory sterilization according to rules set by [someone other than you] may crumble.

The Terror of Cow Farts -- This is Duane's indelicate way of referring to the human consumption of livestock. The animal-rights wing of the environmental left has long championed the elimination of beef and other meats from our diet, but no amount of cajoling has been able to
shake our love for cooked animal flesh. But wait! Cow flatulence is a significant source of atmospheric methane! How dare you contribute to the death of our planet by ordering that T-bone!

How You Get Around -- Duane notes how regulations are making both automobile and air travel more expensive. Many environmentalists have long wished for the day when gasoline-powered vehicles are nothing but a bad memory. Increasingly-stringent emissions standards for automobiles will likely end up increasing their cost to the point that many will be completely priced out of the market -- thus bringing the dream a little closer. Many also cheer the skyrocketing oil prices for the same reason.

In Your Home -- California floated the idea of mandating government-controlled thermostats in all new homes. They jumped the gun a little, because negative public reaction to the proposal forced a retreat. Better to back off a while so the public can be softened up a little more. Nationwide, it's a matter of time before incandescent light bulbs are legislated out of existence, either directly or by mandating efficiency standards that incandescents can't meet.

What's Left -- Duane relates how Britain is considering a government-issued "carbon credit card" which citizens must use when engaging in a wide variety of activities: buying gasoline, buying groceries, traveling, paying utility bills, etc. People who consume beyond some government-imposed limit would have to pay. To me, such a program would be the foundation stone of eventual totalitarian control of the lives of Britain's citizens.

America is thus far still politically hostile to such far-reaching measures as are being proposed in Britain...but for how long?

AGW alarmism will suck more money out of the economy in 2008

Amid growing fears of an economic slowdown, Yahoo! HotJobs reports that there's still plenty of money to be made trying to influence the natural variability of the earth's climate:
Environmental sector. There is a huge and growing industry geared to combat global warming. "Not only will professionals with skills in sustainability issues be in demand through the end of the decade, we are likely to shortages of professionals with 'green' skills," said Rona Fried, president of, a networking service for sustainable businesses.

Dating outside the faith

Mallard Fillmore, January 18:

I suppose I should repeat my disclaimer at least one more time: I don't consider the adherents to the AGW point of view to be ideologically monolithic. Not all of them favor a suppression of the debate so that people can decide for themselves.... but far too many of them do.

UPDATE: Tom Nelson came across an article in The Daily Tar Heel describing an event at the University of North Carolina that might help prevent the parents' heartbreak of seeing their child marry outside the AGW faith:
Freshman Sarah Mazza walked into the Campus Y building Wednesday night with a bit of hesitation.

Mazza was about to go on almost 20 dates in one evening.

"It is going to be awkward," she said, as she waited for the "It's Getting Hot In Here" speed-dating event, hosted by Focus the Nation UNC, to start.

But Mazza braved the possible awkwardness in hopes of meeting people who have similar interests in global warming and the environment.