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Polar Bear Hunting on Rise Despite Species' Decline As the biennial meeting of the international Polar Bear Agreement begins in Moscow, Russia, new data points to an unsustainable rise in hunting that threatens the species. Despite the grim outlook for polar bears due to the growing threat of climate change, Canadian polar bear kills have risen at alarming rate, in excess of 10 percent over previous years.
"Canada's claims at this conference that polar bear hunting is not harming polar bear populations are disingenuous," said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife at Humane Society International, referring to a recent report by Canada's Polar Bear Technical Committee. "Canada's own scientists are raising alarm about over-harvest not only in the past year but in the past three to five years. Canada and the other parties to the Polar Bear Agreement urgently need to address this problem."
Scientific experts at the meeting detailed the impact of sea-ice loss on polar bear survival, including loss of food source, loss of body condition, and fewer cubs surviving. Scientists continue to predict that two-thirds of polar bears will be lost by 2050. (Humane Society International)
sceptics vs. academics This is part of a long term project to try to understand why the “two sides” in the climate debate look at pretty much the same information and come to very different conclusions. Having met both sides, and tried to understand their motivation and outlook, I am thoroughly convinced that both approach the subject in what they think is the right way and both are horrified at the “antics” of the other. If I have said anything that can be taken as derogatory, that was not the intention. I am sorry but I have done my best to describe what I see.
[From early responses it is clear I need to define more precisely what I mean by sceptic and non-sceptic. Broadly, those supporting the IPCC conclusions that we are heading toward catastrophic warming would be on one side and those who are sceptical of this on the other. For a more precise definition of sceptic I would consider sceptics to be those who generally agree with the statement outlined in the: "The Sceptic View"]
I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE COMMENTS FROM BOTH "SIDES". (Scottish Sceptic)
Climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists and free market advocates, study claims -- Research confirms previous findings which caused fury among sceptics of human-caused climate change Do you think the Apollo moon landings might have been faked or that Britain's Royal family maybe, just maybe, conspired to assassinate Princess Diana because they didn't like her very much?
How about that other conspiracy theory, where there really is this secret New World Order group with designs on global domination.
Maybe you're up for that other chestnut that has the US government knowing beforehand about the September 11 attacks but letting them happen anyway so as to have a good excuse to bomb Afghanistan?
If you answered yes to any of these conspiracy theories then a new study published today has found that you probably also think the science of human-caused climate change is some sort of hoax and you might think too that there's no good evidence for vaccinating children.
The study, titled The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science and published in the journal PLOS ONE, also finds another strong predictor for the dismissal of the science of human-caused climate change.
That is, if you're a conservative who believes the world runs best when businesses operate in a "free market" with little government interference, then the chances are you don't think human-caused climate change represents a significant risk to human civilisation. (London Guardian)
MIT scientist ridicules IPCC climate change report, calls findings 'hilarious incoherence' Not all experts agree with the latest United Nations report on global warming, some are even amused by its findings.
A climate scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has come out blasting the report for blaming humans for a global warming trend that appears to have cooled in recent decades – and then glossing over the warming slowdown.
‘I think that the latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence,’ Dr. Richard Lindzen told Climate Depot – a site known for questioning the theory of global warming.
Dr Linzen’s amusement from the lack of correlation between predictions and actual conditions.
‘They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase,’ Dr Linzen continued.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserted in the report that it is 95 per cent sure humans’ use of fossil fuels is the cause of global warming.
The report also provided what Dr Linzen felt was a shoddy explanation for the lack of warming over the past 17 years. (UK Daily Mail)
Why the IPCC climate change report is flawed The following was written on Thursday, Sept. 26, as a post on Facebook, before the release of the IPCC report on Friday. It was edited and re-posted here on Sunday, Sept. 29.
Tomorrow you will likely hear about a new global warming report released from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will claim that scientists are more certain than ever (95 per cent certainty) that humans are causing the Earth to warm.
The report will argue that the situation is becoming more and more dire and that failure to act will lead to a “point of no return” where the temperature train will race out of control and Earth’s ice caps will completely melt, and that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and droughts will all become more frequent.
I hope you take the time to look at some of the facts and do your own research on the matter. (Global Research)
The IPCC and geoengineering The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) just released by the IPCC’s Working Group 1 (pdf) ends with a para on geoengineering (p21), and this fact is receiving some play in media coverage. Not everyone is writing about it, and very few are putting it high up the story, but it’s there, and as various people have pointed out, last time WG1 reported, in 2007, it wasn’t.
Here’s the para is in full. I’ve annotated it to highlight changes made to the authors’ final draft, prepared after all the review stages of the document and thus forming the text that the governments attending the Stockholm plenary started from: (Heliophage)
The new IPCC climate change report makes deniers overheat -- As their erroneous efforts to discredit the 'Hockey Stick' curve reveal, sceptics are tying themselves in knots to maintain denial The fifth IPCC report express confidence that climate change is causing various forms of extreme weather.
It happens every six years or so: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its assessment of the current state of scientific understanding regarding human-caused climate change. That assessment is based on contributions from thousands of experts around the world through an exhaustive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and a rigorous, several-years-long review process.
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to publication, fossil-fuel industry front groups and their paid advocates gear up to attack and malign the report, and to mislead and confuse the public about its sobering message. So, in the weeks leading up to the release of the IPCC Fifth Assessment scientific report, professional climate change deniers and their willing abettors and enablers have done their best to distort what the report actually says about the genuine scientific evidence and the reality of the climate change threat.
This time, however, climate change deniers seem divided in their preferred contrarian narrative. Some would have us believe that the IPCC has downgraded the strength of the evidence and the degree of threat. Career fossil fuel-industry apologist Bjorn Lomborg, in Rupert Murdoch's the Australian, wrote on 16 September:
UN's mild climate change message will be lost in alarmist translation.
On the other hand, serial climate disinformer Judith Curry, in a commentary for the same outlet five days later, announced:
Consensus distorts the climate picture.
So, make up your mind, critics: is it a "mild message" or a "distorted picture"? (London Guardian)
IPCC Climate Change Report Expresses Extreme Confidence In Human Cause Of Global Warming Scientists now believe it's "extremely likely" that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, a long-term trend that is clear despite a recent plateau in the temperatures, an international climate panel said Friday.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used its strongest language yet in a report on the causes of climate change, prompting calls for global action to control emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
"If this isn't an alarm bell, then I don't know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The IPCC, which has 195 member countries, adopted the report Friday after all-night talks at a meeting in Stockholm.
In its previous assessment, in 2007, the U.N.-sponsored panel said it was "very likely" that global warming was due to human activity, particularly the CO2 emissions resulting from the burning of coal, oil and gas. (Associated Press)
Climate Report Struggles With Temperature Quirks Scientists working on a landmark U.N. report on climate change are struggling over how to address a wrinkle in the meteorological data that has given ammunition to global-warming skeptics: The heating of Earth's surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.
For years, skeptics have touted what looks like a slowdown in surface warming since 1998 to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are cooking the planet by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Scientists and statisticians have dismissed the purported slowdown as a statistical mirage, arguing among other things that it reflects random climate fluctuations and an unusually hot year picked as the starting point for charting temperatures. They also say the data suggests the "missing" heat is simply settling — temporarily — in the ocean.
But as scientists study the issue, the notion of a slowdown has gained more mainstream attention, putting pressure on the authors of the new U.N. report to deal with it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is expected to assert that global warming is continuing. It is also expected to affirm with greater certainty than ever before the link between global warming and human activity. (Associated Press)
IPCC models getting mushy In the next five years, the global warming paradigm may fall apart if the models prove worthless
There has been a lot of talk lately about the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and whether it will take into account the lack of warming since the 1990s. Everything you need to know about the dilemma the IPCC faces is summed up in one remarkable graph.
IPCCThe above graphic is Figure 1.4 from Chapter 1 of a draft of the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The initials at the top represent the First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, the Second (SAR) in 1995. Shaded banks show range of predictions from each of the four climate models used for all four reports since 1990. That last report, AR4, was issued in 2007. Model runs after 1992 were tuned to track temporary cooling due to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in The Philippines. The black squares, show with uncertainty bars, measure the observed average surface temperatures over the same interval. The range of model runs is syndicated by the vertical bars. The light grey area above and below is not part of the model prediction range. The final version of the new IPCC report, AR5, will be issued later this month. (Financial Post)
World's top climate scientists confess: Global warming is just QUARTER what we thought -- and computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong Leaked report reveals the world has warmed at quarter the rate claimed by IPCC in 2007 -- Scientists accept their computers may have exaggerated - A leaked copy of the world’s most authoritative climate study reveals scientific forecasts of imminent doom were drastically wrong.
The Mail on Sunday has obtained the final draft of a report to be published later this month by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ultimate watchdog whose massive, six-yearly ‘assessments’ are accepted by environmentalists, politicians and experts as the gospel of climate science.
They are cited worldwide to justify swingeing fossil fuel taxes and subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy.
Yet the leaked report makes the extraordinary concession that over the past 15 years, recorded world temperatures have increased at only a quarter of the rate of IPCC claimed when it published its last assessment in 2007.
Back then, it said observed warming over the 15 years from 1990-2005 had taken place at a rate of 0.2C per decade, and it predicted this would continue for the following 20 years, on the basis of forecasts made by computer climate models.
But the new report says the observed warming over the more recent 15 years to 2012 was just 0.05C per decade - below almost all computer predictions.
The 31-page ‘summary for policymakers’ is based on a more technical 2,000-page analysis which will be issued at the same time. It also surprisingly reveals: IPCC scientists accept their forecast computers may have exaggerated the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures – and not taken enough notice of natural variability. (UK Daily Mail)
Science confirms: Politics wrecks your ability to do math Everybody knows that our political views can sometimes get in the way of thinking clearly. But perhaps we don’t realize how bad the problem actually is. According to a new psychology paper, our political passions can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills. More specifically, the study finds that people who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.
The study, by Yale law professor Dan Kahan and his colleagues, has an ingenious design. At the outset, 1,111 study participants were asked about their political views and also asked a series of questions designed to gauge their “numeracy,” that is, their mathematical reasoning ability. Participants were then asked to solve a fairly difficult problem that involved interpreting the results of a (fake) scientific study. But here was the trick: While the fake study data that they were supposed to assess remained the same, sometimes the study was described as measuring the effectiveness of a “new cream for treating skin rashes.” But in other cases, the study was described as involving the effectiveness of “a law banning private citizens from carrying concealed handguns in public.”
The result? Survey respondents performed wildly differently on what was in essence the same basic problem, simply depending upon whether they had been told that it involved guns or whether they had been told that it involved a new skin cream. What’s more, it turns out that highly numerate liberals and conservatives were even more – not less — susceptible to letting politics skew their reasoning than were those with less mathematical ability. (grist)
Conspiracy Theory Poll Results On our national poll this week we took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many of these theories are well known to the public, others perhaps to just the darker corners of the internet. Here’s what we found:
- 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at 41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax
- 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive
- 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup
- 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t
- 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not (Public Policy Polling)
Living With Less. A Lot Less. I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did.
I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets.
Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t.
We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products.
There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true.
For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected and live a bigger, better, richer life with less. (New York Times)
Culture and Agriculture ~ Sue Spaid looks at farming as art Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “Untitled (bicycle shower),” one of the BMA’s new acquisitions, might seem a bit out of place in the formal halls of the museum. That’s because Tiravanija designed it to actually function as a shower for the land, an experimental art/farming/political compound he founded in Thailand in 1998.
According to Sue Spaid’s new book Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots, it is becoming increasingly common to see such works at museums. The book accompanies a show at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, which will come to the area this summer, but Spaid will facilitate a conversation about art and farming at Red Emma’s on Friday, Jan. 18.
Before Spaid came to Baltimore to take over the directorship of the Contemporary Museum in 2010—a position she held until the museum suspended operations and let her go last May—she worked as curator at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, where she co-curated Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies, which led, a decade later, to Green Acres. (Baltimore City Paper)
Global Risks 2013, Eighth Edition The World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2013 report is developed from an annual survey of over 1,000 experts from industry, government, academia and civil society who were asked to review a landscape of 50 global risks. - Rogue Deployment of Geoengineering.
In response to growing concerns about climate change, scientists are exploring ways in which they could, with international agreement, manipulate the earth’s climate. But what if this technology were to be hijacked by a rogue state or individual? (World Economic Forum)
What’s Your Meme? Changing the Climate Change Conversation Yes we can! Ermahgerd. Occupy. I had a dream. Haters gonna hate. Tear down this wall! Gangnam Style. Drill, baby, drill.
We are constantly bombarded by memes in our daily lives. Some spontaneously flare up and then burn out as quickly as they appeared, while others stick around for decades. We hardly consider their presence, much less contemplate their possible influence on our lives.
Researchers in the emerging field of meme science are digging deeper, however, investigating how and why these sticky phrases or trends sink into our cultural psyche and subconsciously influence the way we process the world around us.
“Our goal is to introduce rigorous market research tools that have been developed for the corporate sector and apply them to the most pressing social issues in the world,” said Joe Brewer, co-founder of DarwinSF, a San Francisco-based company founded six months ago to help identify and spread memes that may influence significant global issues, starting with climate change. (New York Times)
California cap and trade: Climate-change bidding begins -- State's initial auction of emission credits is set for Wednesday despite suit California is soon to launch a bold attempt at climate-change reversal: a cap-and-trade program allowing businesses to buy and sell credits for emission of the most notorious greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
The first auction of carbon credits is scheduled for Wednesday – despite a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the California Chamber of Commerce that seeks a court ruling to invalidate such auctions.
The program itself is set to begin Jan. 1.
Some 360 manufacturers, utilities and other businesses are expected to take part, representing nearly 600 facilities across the state.
The cap-and-trade market is part of the state's controversial 2006 climate-change law, AB32, which also includes low-carbon fuel standards and promotion of renewable energy projects. (OC Register)
Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax Climate change is suddenly a hot topic again. The issue is resurfacing in talks about a once radical idea: a possible carbon tax.
On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.
A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
The idea was considered so radical that in 2009, when President Barack Obama tried to pass a bill on global warming, that he instead opted for the more moderate approach of capping power plant emissions and trading credits that allowed utilities to pollute more. That idea, after passing the House, stalled in the Senate in 2010 and has been considered dead since. (Associated Press)
Gary Johnson Talks Nwo, Bilderberg & Bohemian Grove Gary Johnson has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, balanced budgets, rational drug policy reform, protection of civil liberties, comprehensive tax reform, and personal freedom. As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson was known for his common sense business approach to governing. He eliminated New Mexico's budget deficit, cut the rate of growth in state government in half, and privatized half of the state prisons. (Prison Planet)
Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released... and here is the chart to prove it The figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures
This means that the ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996 - The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.
This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.
Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased. (UK Daily Mail)
Germany sets solar record, meets half of electricity demand Germany's investment in renewables has seen the country set the world record for photovoltaic energy generation at 22 gigawatts per hour -- or approximately 50 percent of German electricity demand.
A spate of good weather has helped the country break the record, along with the fact that the milestone was reached on 26 May: a Saturday, with factories and offices closed. However, on 25 May a third of electricity generated in the country still came from solar generators. (Wired)
An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula Zunli Lua, Rosalind E.M. Rickabyb, Hilary Kennedyc, Paul Kennedyc, Richard D. Pancostd, Samuel Shawe, Alistair Lennief, Julia Wellnerg, John B. Andersonh - Abstract:
Calcium carbonate can crystallize in a hydrated form as ikaite at low temperatures. The hydration water in ikaite grown in laboratory experiments records the δ18O of ambient water, a feature potentially useful for reconstructing δ18O of local seawater. We report the first downcore δ18O record of natural ikaite hydration waters and crystals collected from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP), a region sensitive to climate fluctuations. We are able to establish the zone of ikaite formation within shallow sediments, based on porewater chemical and isotopic data. Having constrained the depth of ikaite formation and δ18O of ikaite crystals and hydration waters, we are able to infer local changes in fjord δ18O versus time during the late Holocene. This ikaite record qualitatively supports that both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula. (Earth and Planetary Science Letters)
Medieval warming WAS global -- new science contradicts IPCC -- 'It was consensual' claims looking shaky More peer-reviewed science contradicting the warming-alarmist "scientific consensus" was announced yesterday, as a new study shows that the well-documented warm period which took place in medieval times was not limited to Europe, or the northern hemisphere: it reached all the way to Antarctica.
The research involved the development of a new means of assessing past temperatures, to add to existing methods such as tree ring analysis and ice cores. In this study, scientists analysed samples of a crystal called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.
“Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,” explains earth-sciences prof Zunli Lu. “The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.”
Down in the Antarctic peninsula that isn't a problem, and Lu and his colleagues were able to take samples which had been present for hundreds of years and date their formation. The structure of Ikaite, it turns out, varies measurably depending on the temperature when it forms, allowing boffins to construct an accurate past temperature record. (The Register)
Scientists use rare mineral to correlate past climate events in Europe, Antarctica The first day of spring brought record high temperatures across the northern part of the United States, while much of the Southwest was digging out from a record-breaking spring snowstorm. The weather, it seems, has gone topsy-turvy. Are the phenomena related? Are climate changes in one part of the world felt half a world away?
To understand the present, scientists look for ways to unlock information about past climate hidden in the fossil record. A team of scientists led by Syracuse University geochemist Zunli Lu has found a new key in the form of ikaite, a rare mineral that forms in cold waters. Composed of calcium carbonate and water, ikaite crystals can be found off the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland.
“Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,” say Lu, assistant professor of earth sciences in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.” (Syracuse University)
Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong The threat of climate change is an increasingly important environmental issue for the globe. Because the economic questions involved have received relatively little attention, I have been writing a nontechnical book for people who would like to see how market-based approaches could be used to formulate policy on climate change. When I showed an early draft to colleagues, their response was that I had left out the arguments of skeptics about climate change, and I accordingly addressed this at length.
But one of the difficulties I found in examining the views of climate skeptics is that they are scattered widely in blogs, talks, and pamphlets. Then, I saw an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal of January 27, 2012, by a group of sixteen scientists, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” This is useful because it contains many of the standard criticisms in a succinct statement. The basic message of the article is that the globe is not warming, that dissident voices are being suppressed, and that delaying policies to slow climate change for fifty years will have no serious economic or environment consequences.
My response is primarily designed to correct their misleading description of my own research; but it also is directed more broadly at their attempt to discredit scientists and scientific research on climate change.1 I have identified six key issues that are raised in the article, and I provide commentary about their substance and accuracy. They are:
• Is the planet in fact warming?
• Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
• Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
• Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
• Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
• Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?
As I will indicate below, on each of these questions, the sixteen scientists provide incorrect or misleading answers. At a time when we need to clarify public confusions about the science and economics of climate change, they have muddied the waters. I will describe their mistakes and explain the findings of current climate science and economics. (The New York Review of Books)
How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama: The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be.
When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”
I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It was this Act, above all, which let the US housing bubble blow up, far beyond the point where it was obvious that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would be likely to default. Yet, in 2005, no one more actively opposed moves to halt these reckless guarantees than Senator Obama, who received more donations from Fannie Mae than any other US politician (although Senator Hillary Clinton ran him close). (London Telegraph)
No Need to Panic About Global Warming -- There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy. Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts. (Wall Street Journal)
Librarians, Researchers Concerned as U.S. Terminates Only National Biodiversity Network The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) program and its website will be terminated on January 15. As a result, the United States will no longer have a single, integrated point of access to federal and non-federal biological and biodiversity information.
The NBII program is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Biological Informatics Office whose FY12 budget was zeroed out (down from $7 million in FY10 and $3.5 million in FY11).
The NBII integrates biological databases, analytic tools, and 259 applications via various partners in government agencies, academic institutions, non-government organizations and others. By 2010, the number of unique visitors to the NBII’s online sites exceeded 3 million, with users downloading an average of a terabyte of data per month on topics ranging from bald eagles to malformed amphibians and far more.
But the disposition of these resources and their future accessibility is now highly uncertain and a source of concern for researchers and librarians. (The Digital Shift)
Scientific case for man-made global warming fears is dead (Op Ed) Many of the proponents of man-made global warming are now claiming that climate change is worse than they predicted. According to an Oct. 18, 2011, Daily Climate article, global warming activists claim that the "evidence builds that scientists underplay climate impacts," and "if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested."
But a forthcoming Climate Depot A-Z Climate Reality Check report on the failure of the science behind man-made global warming theory will shatter any such illusions that the climate is "worse than we thought." Recent scientific data and developments reveal that Mother Nature is playing a cruel joke on the promoters of man-made climate fears.
The scientific reality is that on virtually every claim, the scientific case for man-made climate fears has collapsed. The only thing "worse than we thought" is the shoddy journalism of the mainstream media, which parrots global warming activists' baseless talking points. (Washington Examiner)
61% Say Global Warming Serious Problem Most voters continue to believe global warming is a serious problem, but they still have mixed views on what the primary cause of climate change is.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely Voters say global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem. Thirty-five percent (35%) don’t believe climate change is a serious problem. Those figures include 28% who say it’s a Very Serious problem and 13% who believe it’s Not At All Serious. (Rasmussen)
69% Say It’s Likely Scientists Have Falsified Global Warming Research The debate over global warming has intensified in recent weeks after a new NASA study was interpreted by skeptics to reveal that global warming is not man-made. While a majority of Americans nationwide continue to acknowledge significant disagreement about global warming in the scientific community, most go even further to say some scientists falsify data to support their own beliefs. (Rasmussen)
CERN 'gags' physicists in cosmic ray climate experiment The chief of the world's leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets") experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. CLOUD uses CERN's proton synchrotron to examine nucleation.
CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Welt Online that the scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions from the latest experiment.
"I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them," reports veteran science editor Nigel Calder on his blog. Why?
Because, Heuer says, "That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters." (The Register)
"Hold Both Parties to High Standards": Van Jones, Obama’s Ex-Green Jobs Czar More than 10,000 people converged in Washington, D.C., this past week to mobilize around the issue of climate change at the Power Shift 2011 conference. Van Jones, a longtime environmental advocate and former green jobs adviser in the Obama White House, gave the keynote address. "We pull out of the ground death, and we burn it in our engines. And we burn death in our power plants, without ceremony," Jones said. "And then we act shocked when, having pulled death out of the ground and burned it—we act shocked when we get death from our skies in the form of global warming and death on our oceans in the form of oil spills and death in our children’s lungs in the form of asthma and cancer." - VAN JONES: Shift the power politically, and don’t let anybody tell you that you should only hold one party in this town accountable. You have to be wise enough to hold both parties to high standards. Both parties. Hold this whole town accountable. Hold people, but keep them accountable, because that’s how you can shift the power.
So don’t let anybody divide you. I love that we have a movement of people in America now talking about liberty: our sisters and brothers in the Tea Party. I’m glad they’re talking about liberty. And we need to understand that we believe in liberty in this movement. But we’re not stopping with just the first word in the Pledge of Allegiance. I love liberty. Given what’s happened with my ancestors, nobody loves liberty more than I do. But the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t stop there. The Pledge of Allegiance says, "Liberty and justice for all." "Liberty and justice for all." And that’s what your movement is about: liberty, yes, and justice—justice for the immigrants, justice for the lesbians and the gays, justice for the African Americans, justice for women, justice for the rural poor, justice for the Native Americans. "Liberty and justice for all." Shift the power! Shift the power! Shift the power! Shift the power! Thank you. (Democracy Now)
Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power Japan's disaster would weigh more heavily if there were less harmful alternatives. Atomic power is part of the mix - You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.
A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.
Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.
If other forms of energy production caused no damage, these impacts would weigh more heavily. But energy is like medicine: if there are no side-effects, the chances are that it doesn't work. (London Guardian)
Japan Earthquake Shortened Days, Increased Earth's Wobble The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan last Friday was powerful enough to shorten Earth's day by 1.8 microseconds and throw an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) into the planet's wobble, scientists say.
That doesn't mean shockwaves from the event somehow knocked Earth off its north-south axis, around which the planet revolves.
Instead the quake shifted what's called Earth's figure axis, an imaginary line around which the world's mass is balanced, about 33 feet (10 meters) from the north-south axis.
Earth naturally wobbles slightly as it spins, because shifting surface mass such as melting glaciers and moving ocean currents can throw the planet off balance. (National Geographic)
Does climate change mean more tsunamis? Update: The intent of this piece isn’t to attribute today’s tragedy to climate change. Apologies to those whom I misled with the headline. It was meant literally, as in: Tsunamis are inundations of shorelines and therefore have impacts that resemble storm surges, which are one of the most immediate threats of a warmer planet. In addition, climate change may cause tsunamis directly, so it’s possible we’ll someday see more images like this as a result.
Update 2: Changed the headline (it originally read “Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like”) and updated the text to reflect the discussion of the science and the framing in the comments. Thanks to Tom Yulsman for holding my feet to the fire on this.
* * *
So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan—there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai—but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday’s tragedy.
A 2009 paper by Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, says “observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere.”
It’s important to note that this response has nothing to do with Friday’s tsunami, which is a ‘subduction zone earthquake,’ whereas the tsunamis discussed by scientists cited here would be the product of catastrophic events—collapse of methane hydrate deposits at the bottom of the ocean on the continental shelf, for example—for which a tsunami would be but one of many negative impacts. (Grist)
Can geoengineering put the freeze on global warming? Scientists call it "geoengineering," but in plain speak, it means things like this: blasting tons of sulfate particles into the sky to reflect sunlight away from Earth; filling the ocean with iron filings to grow plankton that will suck up carbon; even dimming sunlight with space shades.
Each brings its own set of risks, but in a world fretting about the consequences of global warming, are these ideas whose time has come?
With 2010 tying as the world's warmest year on record and efforts to slow greenhouse gas emissions looking stymied, calls are rising for research into engineering our way out of global warming — everything from launching solar shade spacecraft to genetically engineering green deserts. An international consortium of 12 universities and research institutes on Tuesday, for example, announced plans to pioneer large-scale "ocean fertilization" experiments aimed at using the sea to pull more greenhouse gases out of the sky. (USA Today)
Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Superstorms: Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries to collapse. Others may go to war with each other. NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples…
Now "it" is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.
Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun's magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet's own magnetic field.
When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.
Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth's history. It's happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.
The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.
The superstorms have arrived
The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has started is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late 2010. (Salem News)
Did The Sun Rise 2 Days Early In Greenland? Global Warming May Be Cause Vampires aren't the only ones who worry about the sun rising. After living in complete darkness for a chunk of winter, one might think Greenland citizens would be happy to finally see sunlight. But instead, the first sight of sun sent residents of Ilulissat, a town on the western coast, into a panic, with good reason -- the sun supposedly rose two days early.
According to LiveScience, Ilulissat is about three degrees north of the Arctic Circle -- where the sun doesn't set during summer solstice, and the sun doesn't rise on winter solstice. In other words, people living near this region experience winters without any sunlight. Ilulissat normally sees its first sunrise on January 13th -- this year, the sun allegedly rose on January 11th instead. (Huffington Post)
Strange Claim: The Sun Rose 2 Days Early in Greenland Residents of a town on the western coast of Greenland may have seen the sun peek over the horizon 48 hours earlier than its usual arrival on Jan. 13, sparking speculation, and disagreements, over possible causes.
The town of Ilulissat sits just above the Arctic Circle, meaning its residents had been without any sunlight for a good chunk of the winter, and traditionally they'd expect to see their "first sunrise" on Jan. 13.
News that the sun had peeked over the horizon on Jan. 11 appeared online in British and German-language publications and it appears to trace back to a story by the Greenland broadcasting company KNR that quotes residents who noticed the change. [Image Gallery: Sunrises and Sunsets]
Of about half a dozen scientists contacted, most were unaware of the report, which was circulating on the Internet. They offered a number of hypothetical explanations, including an illusion caused by an atmospheric effect and conflicting opinions about whether global warming might be to blame for melting along the edges of Greenland's ice sheet. With less ice, Greenland's elevation may take a dip such that the sun would have less distance to travel before appearing over the horizon. (Live Science)
Background of the HAARP Project Military interest in space became intense during and after World War II because of the introduction of rocket science, the companion to nuclear technology. The early versions include the buzz bomb and guided missiles. They were thought of as potential carriers of both nuclear and conventional bombs.
Rocket technology and nuclear weapon technology developed simultaneously between 1945 and 1963. During this time of intensive atmospheric nuclear testing, explosions at various levels above and below the surface of the earth were attempted. Some of the now familiar descriptions of the earth's protective atmosphere, such as the existence of the Van Allen belts, were based on information gained through stratospheric and ionospheric experimentation.
The earth's atmosphere consists of the troposphere, from sea level to about 16 km above the earth's surface; the stratosphere (which contains the ozone level) which extends from about the 16 to 48 km above the earth; and the ionosphere which extends from 48 km to over 50,000 km above the surface of the earth.
The earth's protective atmosphere or "skin" extends beyond 3,200 km above sea level to the large magnetic fields, called the Van Allen Belts, which can capture the charged particles sprayed through the cosmos by the solar and galactic winds. These belts were discovered in 1958 during the first weeks of the operation of America's first satellite, Explorer I. They appear to contain charged particles trapped in the earth's gravity and magnetic fields. Primary galactic cosmic rays enter the solar system from interstellar space, and are made up of protons with energies above 100 MeV, extending up to astronomically high energies. They make up about 100 percent of the high energy rays. Solar rays are generally of lower energy, below 20 MeV (which is still high energy in earth terms). These high energy particles are affected by the earth's magnetic field and by geomagnetic latitude (distance above or below the geomagnetic equator). The flux density of low energy protons at the top of the atmosphere is normally greater at the poles than at the equator. The density also varies with solar activity, being at a minimum when solar flares are at a minimum. (EarthPulse.com)
IPCC Official: "Climate Policy Is Redistributing The World's Wealth" Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection, says the German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world's resources will be negotiated. - Interview: Bernard Potter
NZZ am Sonntag: Mr. Edenhofer, everybody concerned with climate protection demands emissions reductions. You now speak of "dangerous emissions reduction." What do you mean?
Ottmar Edenhofer: So far economic growth has gone hand in hand with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. One percent growth means one percent more emissions. The historic memory of mankind remembers: In order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas. And therefore, the emerging economies fear CO2 emission limits.
But everybody should take part in climate protection, otherwise it does not work.
That is so easy to say. But particularly the industrialized countries have a system that relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels. There is no historical precedent and no region in the world that has decoupled its economic growth from emissions. Thus, you cannot expect that India or China will regard CO2 emissions reduction as a great idea. And it gets worse: We are in the midst of a renaissance of coal, because oil and gas (sic) have become more expensive, but coal has not. The emerging markets are building their cities and power plants for the next 70 years, as if there would be permanently no high CO 2 price.
The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.
That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.
That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.
Ottmar Edenhofer was appointed as joint chair of Working Group 3 at the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The deputy director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor of the Economics of Climate Change at the Berlin Institute of Technology will be co-chairing the Working Group “Mitigation of Climate Change” with Ramón Pichs Madruga from Cuba and Youba Sokona from Mali. (Global Warming Policy Foundation)
Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues -- Why can't we have a civil conversation about climate? In trying to understand the Judith Curry phenomenon, it is tempting to default to one of two comfortable and familiar story lines.
For most of her career, Curry, who heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been known for her work on hurricanes, Arctic ice dynamics and other climate-related topics. But over the past year or so she has become better known for something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, the Air Vent and the Blackboard. Along the way, she has come to question how climatologists react to those who question the science, no matter how well established it is. Although many of the skeptics recycle critiques that have long since been disproved, others, she believes, bring up valid points—and by lumping the good with the bad, climate researchers not only miss out on a chance to improve their science, they come across to the public as haughty. “Yes, there’s a lot of crankology out there,” Curry says. “But not all of it is. If only 1 percent of it or 10 percent of what the skeptics say is right, that is time well spent because we have just been too encumbered by groupthink.”
She reserves her harshest criticism for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For most climate scientists the major reports issued by the United Nations–sponsored body every five years or so constitute the consensus on climate science. Few scientists would claim the IPCC is perfect, but Curry thinks it needs thoroughgoing reform. She accuses it of “corruption.” “I’m not going to just spout off and endorse the IPCC,” she says, “because I think I don’t have confidence in the process.” - The uncertainty lies in both the data about past climate and the models that project future climate. Curry asserts that scientists haven’t adequately dealt with the uncertainty in their calculations and don’t even know with precision what’s arguably the most basic number in the field: the climate forcing from CO2—that is, the amount of warming a doubling of CO2 alone would cause without any amplifying or mitigating effects from melting ice, increased water vapor or any of a dozen other factors.
Things get worse, she argues, when you try to add in those feedbacks to project likely temperature increases over the next century, because the feedbacks are rife with uncertainty as well: “There’s a whole host of unknown unknowns that we don’t even know how to quantify but that should be factored into our confidence level.” One example she cites is the “hockey stick” chart showing that current temperatures are the warmest in hundreds of years. If you are going to say that this year or that decade is the hottest, you had better have a good idea of what temperatures have actually been over those hundreds of years—and Curry, along with many skeptics, does not think we have as good a handle on that as the scientific community believes. (Scientific American)
Heresy and the creation of monsters I’m having another “Alice down the rabbit hole” moment, in response to the Scientific American article, the explication of the article by its author Michael Lemonick, Scientific American’s survey on whether I am a dupe or a peacemaker, and the numerous discussions in blogosphere. My first such moment was in 2005 in response to the media attention associated with the hurricane wars, which was described in a Q&A with Keith Kloor at collide-a-scape. While I really want to make this blog about the science and not about personalities (and especially not about me), this article deserves a response.
The title of the article itself is rather astonishing. The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.” Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma. If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic. The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma. - What happened? Did the skeptics and the oil companies and the libertarian think tanks win? No, you lost. All in the name of supporting policies that I don’t think many of you fully understand. What I want is for the climate science community to shift gears and get back to doing science, and return to an environment where debate over the science is the spice of academic life. And because of the high relevance of our field, we need to figure out how to provide the best possible scientific information and assessment of uncertainties. This means abandoning this religious adherence to consensus dogma. (Judith Curry)
Why I Wrote About Judith Curry In trying to fulfill our mission to explain climate science to the public, Climate Central creates nonpartisan, nonadvocacy multimedia content for our own website and for outside media partners. When we do the latter, we normally just flag the publication or broadcast so our followers know about it.
In the just-published November issue of Scientific American, however, we’ve published a story that calls for a bit more explanation. It’s a profile of Judith Curry, the Georgia Tech researcher who’s been stirring up powerful feelings in the climate-science community by questioning the integrity of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and of individual scientists, and by befriending outsiders who are even more critical than she is. Some people see Curry as a whistleblower; others (including many climate scientists) think she’s a bit of a crank. (Climate Central)
Third Party Rising by Thomas Friedman - A friend in the U.S. military sent me an e-mail last week with a quote from the historian Lewis Mumford’s book, “The Condition of Man,” about the development of civilization. Mumford was describing Rome’s decline: “Everyone aimed at security: no one accepted responsibility. What was plainly lacking, long before the barbarian invasions had done their work, long before economic dislocations became serious, was an inner go. Rome’s life was now an imitation of life: a mere holding on. Security was the watchword — as if life knew any other stability than through constant change, or any form of security except through a constant willingness to take risks.”
It was one of those history passages that echo so loudly in the present that it sends a shiver down my spine — way, way too close for comfort.
I’ve just spent a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI and can definitively report that this region has not lost its “inner go.” But in talks here and elsewhere I continue to be astounded by the level of disgust with Washington, D.C., and our two-party system — so much so that I am ready to hazard a prediction: Barring a transformation of the Democratic and Republican Parties, there is going to be a serious third party candidate in 2012, with a serious political movement behind him or her — one definitely big enough to impact the election’s outcome. (New York Times)
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