Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Utility Bills and Global Warming

This just in. Al Gore, the "president of the Whole Earth (Catalog)", suggests that Americans reduce their energy usage to help the fight against global warming. Meantime, his own utility bills for his mansion in Tennessee are on the rise. $30,000 a year for gas and electricity, apparently 20 times the average American home's utility bill. Hey! Give the man an oscar!

[a day later: It's disappointing that a copy of Gore's annual utility bill has been posted for all to see. I consider that an unnecessary invasion of privacy. However, every assertion should be backed up with solid data, so at least those that exposed this piece of news are also providing the evidence.]

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Blame Game

Latin American politics have always been interesting. The new breed of left wing leaders are no exception. So it is no surprise that Bolivia's Evo Morales has blamed recent flooding on global warming and therefore has accused the developed countries of causing the deaths and damage.

Countries that straddle the Andes have too often experienced natural disasters, simply due to the nature of the terrain, but now there is a new scapegoat.

And a side effect. While it is very likely, almost 100% certain, that international aid would be forthcoming anyway, Morales puts a new sense of moral urgency into the equation. Global warming blackmail has been used before (in the Maldives, for example) and we can expect to hear about it a lot more in the future.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When Environmentalists' agendas do more harm than good

The Washington Times' The Inconvenient Truth offers an interesting take on a number of issues within a theme that is partially humorous - imagine Al Gore as President of the Whole Earth, or at least the Whole Earth Catalog!

But read on and it turns out that environmentalists objected to having the steel framework of the Twin Towers coated in asbestos - an omission that may have been responsible for the rapid collapse of the towers. They also managed to defeat a plan to provide New Orleans with sea gates that would have probably prevented major loss of life during Hurricane Katrina - just so that fish could more easily mate.

Neither of these outcomes are amusing. In fact you have to wonder why it has taken so long for this information to get out into the mainstream.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Global Warming would have been good for the Neanderthals!

For, as reported here, they were probably killed off by global cooling.

Warm the Globe on a Light Bulb!

The Australian Government has joined Cuba, Venezuela and possibly California in introducing a ban of incandescent light bulbs in favor of fluorescent light bulbs. This plan will apparently lop a whacking 0.7% off Australian greenhouse gas emissions!

We must all do our bit!

I am surprised the Ozzies are starting to think "hairshirt" politics. This move will affect quality of life - just think, no more dimmer switches providing that warm orange incandescent glow to enhance a romantic evening. . . .

Steam portrayed as pollution

The recent BBC article on the European Environmental Ministers' decision to cut emissions by 20% by 2020 contains the usual political nonsense that is hardly worth bringing to anyone's attention. For one thing, what they say they will do won't happen. It hasn't happened in the past so why expect it to happen in the future. These people are the planet's greatest hypocrits.

But what I found interesting is the Getty Image used by the BBC to paint the appropriate picture, numerous "smokestacks", presumably in an oil refinery or petrochemicals plant, belching out what look like white clouds of steam.

Steam is water vapor. It's not pollution. But it kinda looks like it could be, so why not use it to sway people's emotive reactions? Just in case you didn't know, the BBC has an agenda!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A lesson for the global warming researchers?

I was listening to a recent Engines of our Ingenuity podcast this evening and was fascinated by this episode on Plate Tectonic Theory (the link is to the text of the podcast). Being somewhat close to my heart I was listening to every word. Then it came to me. This short podcast sums up what is wrong with the current global warming debate.

Let me explain. In the late 19th Century most geologists believed that sections of the crust simply moved up and down to create the mountains and the deeps. Then, in 1912, Alfred Wegener, a meteorologist, noted that the continents appear to "fit" together, suggesting that they had once moved apart or along side of each other. He also examined the rocks on each side of the Atlantic and noted similarities that could only be explained by the continents having drifted.

For decades the 19th Century theory of vertical movement held sway and geologists continued to look for evidence to support their notions of mountain and ocean deep formation. Of course they could find lots of evidence as long as they ignored what they didn't want to see! Whole tomes and text books were written on the subject and during the years I studied geology many of the standard texts were still espousing various theories (such as Van Bemmelen's Undation Theory, published in 1931).

Then, several major advances in the way geologists could better measure the planet came into being and these techniques began to erode away the old thinking, providing more and more evidence that individual plates moved around the surface (at incredibly slow speeds, of course) and collided with each other or separated from each other to create the mountain chains and ocean deeps. Finally, around 1968, a number of key papers were presented that placed the theory of plate tectonics at the forefront of geological thinking. Today the theory is adopted universally (well, almost) and provides a working basis for most ongoing geological research.

Many geologists, wedded as they were to the old theory, had sought out selective evidence. They failed to use a basic test in science, that we must continue to test a theory, assuming it has flaws and could be wrong. The more we test the stronger the theory can become.

OK, let's segue to climate change. It seems to me that a great number of climatologists may have fallen into the same chasm as those vertical movement theory geologists. It is so easy to produce a piece of evidence that supports the popular theory. It is much harder to go after the evidence that pokes holes in that same theory. And when people do, they are, of course, treated like heretics!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wind Shifts and Ocean Currents

This article on the BBC website suggests that some point in time is a status quo and that any variation from that status quo is a negative result.

First question: How do you fix the reference point?

Answer: Simple, it is likely to be the point in time when data gathering starts (or, in many global warming scenario studies where "reliable" data can be dug up from historical records). In other words, wherever the reference point is picked, it is arbitrary.

Second question: How do you interpret the variation from that status quo?

Answer: In negative language (cycnically because that will prompt further research funding).

Graveyards of dead crab shells reminds me of numerous examples in the fossil record. Such fossil records are rarely preserved well so the fact that so many do exist implies that localized mass near-extinctions are more common that we would suppose. And that is the point. These are local extinctions. This is all quite normal!

The impact of ongoing climate change is not always going to be positive (we hear enough on this!) and is not always going to be negative (we rarely hear about this!) The truth is, of course, somewhere in the middle. Nature will provide winners and losers. It really is that simple.

Once again, the unsung problem we are not facing up to is that, with climate change, we can expect mass migrations of all species from one area to another. This process is, basically, how homo sapiens came to have a global distribution, as drought in East Africa caused by the Toba Volcanic explosion created a mass migration into North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and finally the Americas.

The Toba explosion was a far more devastating phenomenon than anything the wildest imagination could dream up about man-made global warming.

Kyoto II

Well, this week has seen a "sea change" in world opinion on tackling climate change. Using typical BBC rhetoric this report suggests that Kyoto will have a successor in 2009 (or is it going to be 2002?).

May I stress that there is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with attempts to cut emissions. Anyone who has lived in a polluted area would want for emissions to be cut. The smoggy cities of Industrial Britain were not healthy places. All we have done, apparently, is move the factories of, say, Birmingham UK to somewhere else, primarily China and India. So a protocol to cut emissions is logical. However, the touted reason for doing so is not. Politicians cannot control climate change and if they attempt to do so they will have no degree of certainty as to the outcome. Meantime they will put into law expensive measures that will have a damaging effect on humankind.

Politicians have a life span measured in years - the typical range may be as little as four, the maximum maybe 35. Nature operates on a much grander scale and also with far more nuances than the average politician will ever be capable of understanding. Nature has no vested interests, no local constituency, no "irons in the fire". Politicians do.

The idea that a significant portion of the planet's GDP be spent to attempt to do something that has no guaranteed outcome - a risky planet-wide experiment - is more scary to me than the alternative of not doing anything.

If we can cut emissions without wasting valuable resources, so be it. If not, let's treat the whole subject of managing climate change for what it is - a questionable, short term solution designed to please those who refuse to examine available evidence on a geological time scale.

No-one seems to be challenging the politicians on this. It's time we did.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Welsh First Minister gets it right!

I just saw this report on the BBC website. The headline will make you cringe but at least Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan refuses to retract on his statement that a little bit of warming would do Wales no harm. More important, though, is his acknowledgment that climate change is inevitable. Possibly a first for a politician. Bravo Mr. Morgan! We need more like you.

Coastlines Erode!

This doomsday type story is all too typical of the modern media approach and everybody is cashing in on it, even the National Trust, who should know better.

We read how the Welsh coastline is being eroded and, because of rising sea levels and increased storm activity, the coast will erode faster in the future. Well, I am sorry to disappoint people but coastal erosion is the status quo around most of Wales. It's all part and parcel of coming out of several major Ice Ages; there is an imbalance that has to be balanced and Nature will take her course regardless of what people, including the BBC and the National Trust might wish otherwise. Sea levels rise and fall and storm activity increases and decreases whether we think we cause them or think we can control them.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Politics of Global Warming

The mass hysteria that has been generated by politicians and the media knows no boundaries. Generally, it would appear that those of us over 50 years old are more likely to be quizzical about the entire global warming phenomenon. After all, we've had a lot more experience in dealing with "those who believe they know better and tell us so repeatedly".

The Stern Report is a fine example of the genre. To be absolutely cynical about the entire thing, here is my scenario of what happened.

Gordon Brown sits in his office, wondering what new taxes he can foist on an unsuspecting nation. He needs more money because he is wasting so much of what he already garners from a public that has long since laid down and played dead to taxation (and inheritance taxes are the biggest scam of all, by the way). He calls an economist friend and asks him if he will dream up a report to support a carbon tax.

Sir Nicholas Stern writes the report, making sure that it contradicts just about everything in the Copenhagen Consensus (a "deniers study"). As a "leading economist and knight of the realm", Stern makes the necessary banner headlines.

Brown takes the report and with the help of colleagues such as David Milliband hits the airwaves and print media. The public are convinced. Carbon taxes are introduced, even retrospectively in the case of advance purchase airline tickets, and off the Treasury goes again. Another Stealth Tax, this one literally founded on hot air.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Deniers

This article, or series of articles is about the "other camp" in the global warming debate. If an individual wholeheartedly and blindly follows the rhetoric of bodies such as the IPCC then anyone who does not must be a denier. What this article makes clear, however, is that many of the "certainties" brought to our attention by the IPCC are often distortions of work done originally by careful scientists, mathematicians and statisticians, twisted to fit the message that global warming is not only man-made but also must be un-made by man at whatever cost. When these same upright individuals go to print to defend their work, they are told they are denying the "truth". How very ironic.

Once again we see evidence that Global Warming is nothing more than a religion. To be on the IPCC you must have faith. Faith to believe what you want to believe in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Public Opinion

Reactions to the IPCC's report on Global Warming make for interesting reading. Try this as an example.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Al Gore's nemesis!


Baffin Island in winter sunshine. I heard recently, while listening to an NPR podcast, that every time Al Gore gives one of his special presentations of the global warming scare movie "An Inconvenient Truth" the weather turns several degrees colder at the venue. Not that he has given a presentation at this location!

Industrial vs. Agricultural - the albedo factor

When the "global warmers" tell the rest of us that man made pollution is having a dire effect on climate change, they always mean industrial pollution. Why so?

The industrial revolution started relatively recently and the industrial era actually coincides quite well with the period of time through which modern temperature measurements have been taken. So it has been a temporal coincidence that has allowed such inferences to be made about global warming.

But if we are going to blame current climate change on man-made influences (and I do not necessarily subscribe to this) then I believe we must embrace another far more important man-made influence on the planet. And that is agriculture.

Ever since mankind started to roam the planet and either graze or farm, the surface of the planet has been modified. The result of this modification has been a change in the planet's albedo or reflectivity to electromagnetic radiation. The net change in the planet's albedo probably can't be quantified through time but when you think of deforestation and the massive change in farming practices over several thousands of years, it is "very likely" that agricultural modification of the planet will have had a huge effect on the ability of the planet's surface to absorb or reflect radiation. Ah! Note the "very likely" qualification and how similar it is to the IPCC's recent statement about man-made pollution and global warming effects!

But there's more! Agriculture has also had a major effect on greenhouse gas generation. Cattle are known to be a major contributor of greenhouse gases!

So why do I bring all this up?

Well, the problem with the global warming thesis is that the scientists involved believe that they can isolate one cause and effect from among multiple causes and effects. They also seem to subscribe to the belief that climate change is abnormal and this is clearly incorrect. The one thing we can be sure of is that the climate on this planet of ours is always changing and the change is due to an inter-action of many, many variables.

Taking a look at the history of agriculture, it seems strange to me that no-one has tried to calculate the global effects of albedo change. And as far as I know there have been no models constructed to see what might happen with major albedo change. But then perhaps no-one wants to try?

So, I will end this entry on a cautionary note. For all the warm air emanating from the IPCC, consider where their interests lie and what they haven't done to rule out other considerably important potential effects on the planet's climate. But if you go too far down this slippery path, it soon becomes apparent that there are so many variables (many of them canceling each other out) to climate change that man has only nibbled at the edges. And any expensive effort to modify climate change will also be nibbling at the edges, perhaps with direr consequences.

And that is why we should not allow politicians to dominate the debate.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

We're back and hotter than ever!

We're hotter than ever about what has been going on, despite the progress made in education of the "general public" about climate change.

So, back comes "Global Warming is Good" after an short absence. The number of respondents complaining at the cessation of this blog surprised me but I felt that their level of understanding was so refreshingly questioning of the powers that be that I still considered the job was done. But, a look at the media today tells a different story.

It was this story that got me hotter than a globally warmed (sunny side up) egg on a rock in the Sahara desert! The IPCC has come out with its "definitive" report that states that present day global warming is "most likely" to be the response to human activity. This translates into a guesswork statistic - "most likely" apparently means a "90% probability".

Now, two things immediately come to my mind. The first is the source of this report. The IPCC consists of a huge group of people who have a strong vested interest in the entire concept of man-made global warming. Heretics to their way of thinking are discredited and sent to scientific oblivion. Don't expect to be invited to speak at a climate change debate if you disagree with the IPCC's findings!

The second is the airy fairy way that the media reports the "official" findings. "Most likely" is an opinion, not a factual statement. Then, to say this means 90% probability, does little to confirm anything of their rationale for using anything else than "I don't really know".

OK, there's more. IPCC studied data all the way back to 1990. In geological time scale terms that is nothing, nada, zip. We are emerging from an Ice Age! We also know that sunspot activity has a strong control on climate and that nearly all the greenhouse gases are of natural origin.

And finally, one expert is quoted as saying "there is no doubt that for this period, the climate has been changing faster than the IPCC predicted." Think about that one!