Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Michael Mann's Climate Stimulus

A case study in one job 'saved.'

As for stimulus jobs—whether "saved" or "created"—we thought readers might be interested to know whose employment they are sustaining. More than $2.4 million is stimulating the career of none other than Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann.
Mr. Mann is the creator of the famous hockey stick graph, which purported to show some 900 years of minor temperature fluctuations, followed by a spike in temperatures over the past century. His work, which became a short-term sensation when seized upon by Al Gore, was later discredited. Mr. Mann made the climate spotlight again last year as a central player in the emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, which showed climatologists massaging data, squelching opposing views, and hiding their work from the public.
Mr. Mann came by his grants via the National Science Foundation, which received $3 billion in stimulus money. Last June, the foundation approved a $541,184 grant to fund work "Toward Improved Projections of the Climate Response to Anthropogenic Forcing," which will contribute "to the understanding of abrupt climate change." Principal investigator? Michael Mann.
He received another grant worth nearly $1.9 million to investigate the role of "environmental temperature on the transmission of vector-borne diseases." Mr. Mann is listed as a "co-principal investigator" on that project. Both grants say they were "funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."
The NSF made these awards prior to last year's climate email scandal, but a member of its Office of Legislative and Public Affairs told us she was "unaware of any discussion regarding suspending or changing the awards made to Michael Mann." So your tax dollars will continue to fund a climate scientist whose main contribution to the field has been to discredit climate science.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Man Dies in Miami of Hypothermia

Cold temps and no heat led to hypothermia for an elderly man


Getty Images
A 77-year-old man died of hypothermia Tuesday in what could be considered the first death in Miami that could be attributed to the record cold weather that has lingered in the city.
Wilfredo Arreyes died at Jackson Memorial Hospital and his roommate Miguel Alemon, 93, is still in critical condition after the two spent days in the frigid cold weather with no heat or covers in their apartment on Northwest 10th Avenue and Northwest 2nd Street in Little Havana.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office will do an autopsy to determine if something else may have contributed to the Arreyes' death.
Police and fire rescue officials found the two men inside their apartment huddled together on Friday night. Arreyes was already unconscious and Alemon was semi-conscious, officials said. There was no heat in the apartment and there did not appear to be any covers for the men to get warm.
Temperatures have dipped into the 30s several times over the past two weeks and freeze warnings have been in effect for Miami and other parts of South Florida for a few days now.
Police were notified of the plight of the men by a third roommate, who was out of town and became concerned after he couldn't get his phone calls answered.

Putin Worries About Global Warming

NOVO-OGARYEVO, January 11 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has urged power engineering specialists to fix energy failures without delays, Itar-Tass quotes him saying during a meeting with the regional development minister, Viktor Basargin, on Monday.
Putin said the country had entered the heating season on time, and “the national energy suppliers have been working practically without failures.”
However, he said, there are certain problems, and they need to be solved without any delay. Those affected do not care about statistics, he remarked.
The country, said Putin, had entered the season in a tougher environment than it was expected.
“In addition to the global warming challenges, we need to address 'global cooling' effects and to do so promptly,” he said.
In his opinion Russia has proved prepared for the cold weather better than many Western European countries.
“Yet, our own problems are many, too. Many are due to the breakdowns of thermal power trunk pipelines. We need to oversee the process, to promptly react in case of any failure and provide support for municipalities and regions,” Putin said.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Weather-related death toll rises to 22 as Britain braces for biggest freeze in 30 years

The winter whiteout conditions affecting the UK are clearly visible in a striking image of the whole country
(NEODAAS/University of Dundee)
Nasa satellite picture of Britain doused in snow received by the University of Dundee

The death toll from Britain’s biggest freeze for decades reached 22 today as the country prepared for its coldest night so far, bringing the promise of even more treacherous conditions.

Thousands of homes have been left without power, schools have closed and travellers have faced chaos as the weather hit roads, rail services and airports over the last two days. The disruption is estimated to have cost businesses around £700 million.

Councils continued to struggle with a growing salt emergency as police warned drivers in many areas not to travel unless their journey was essential.

The AA expect to have attended 20,000 breakdowns today - compared with about 9,000 for a normal Thursday - and warned that conditions were expected to remain “treacherous”.
Times Archive 1836 The snow storm

Only two or three of the mail coaches have arrived in London

* Big Ben frozen, 1947

* More snow today, 1962

Related Links

* Deaths during Britain's big freeze

* National Grid issue warning over gas supplies

* Ice-bound Britain struggles to work


* PICTURE: Nasa image of snowy Britain

* LIVE: updates on travel and weather

* PICTURES: British snowscape

Meanwhile, the shutdown of an offshore Norwegian gasfield pushed Britain's gas infrastructure into emergency mode, forcing the closure of industrial companies in the north of England in order to preserve supplies to homes, shops and offices.

Although major airports stayed open, some air passengers had long waits for their flights, particularly at Gatwick, on the outskirts of south London, where more than 130 flights were cancelled. EasyJet had to axe more than 100 flights and British Airways was among other carriers that had to cancel some services.

The body of Philip Hughes, 45, from Slough, was recovered from beneath ice at the Lakeside Country Club in Surrey where he was watching the the world darts championship. A spokesman said it appeared to have been a “tragic accident”.

His death brings to 22 the toll of people killed by conditions related to the weather since the cold snap began on December 18.

One of the suppliers of rock salt, Cleveland Potash, said it was struggling to meet demand with a spokesman saying that Cheshire’s salt mine, the biggest supplier of rock salt in the country, only had a few days’ supply left.

Harrow council, in north-west London, described its wait for supplies of rock salt as “pretty outrageous” as it came close to completely running out.

In the House of Commons, Sadiq Khan, the Transport Minister, said the Government was doing “everything possible” to keep the UK’s road network open.

However Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “This is not a dress rehearsal, it is the real thing, and everything must be done to get the supply moving and avoid the situation of London running out of salt to keep the roads open.”

National Grid, which operates Britain's gas network, issued a warning this morning that the system would run short of supply when pressure dropped in Langeled, a pipeline that brings gas from Norway to a terminal at Easington on the East coast of England.

With demand for fuel at record levels, some gas companies cut off supplies to some industrial customers on interruptible contracts. These special contracts are often chosen by energy-intensive companies, such as chemical businesses, steel, glass or cement makers, who get cheaper rates if they agree to be cut off in exceptional circumstances. The pipeline later reopened.

Temperatures in part of the UK dropped as low as -17 in some areas last night, but were predicted to fall to their lowest level yet tonight, with some regions set to suffere conditions similar to a domestic freezer. Forecasters said temperatures of minus 20C could be expected in some of the Highland glens while Manchester could expect -11 and London -3.

In other news:
Times Archive 1836 The snow storm

Only two or three of the mail coaches have arrived in London

* Big Ben frozen, 1947

* More snow today, 1962

Related Links

* Deaths during Britain's big freeze

* National Grid issue warning over gas supplies

* Ice-bound Britain struggles to work


* PICTURE: Nasa image of snowy Britain

* LIVE: updates on travel and weather

* PICTURES: British snowscape

* Gordon Brown and the Cabinet have been forced to postpone planned visits to the South and the South West over the next couple of days because of concerns that the trips might divert the efforts of police and other authorities from dealing with the impact of snow.

* Farmers are facing a race against time to get food to starving sheep trapped in snow-covered fields. Blizzards and drifting snow have prevented farmers from moving sheep to fresh pastures. Instead, the animals are stuck on land without grazing. The problem has been intensified by a shortage of hay.

* A priest and 18 other passengers stranded at Gatwick slept in the airport’s chapel on Wednesday night. Although airport rules ban people from sleeping in the prayer room, Minister Kes Grant from south London led the crowd in there because “people just needed to sleep somewhere and I knew about the chapel”.

* Wildlife are struggling to survive in the harsh weather conditions, conservation groups have warned. The RSPB has urged householders to improve birds’ chances of survival by putting food out, including fat balls and crushed peanuts.

* Insurers say they have seen a sharp rise in home and motor claims as a result of the freezing weather. Many firms reported an increase of up to 50 per cent in the number of claims, particularly for burst pipes.

* A 10-year-old boy had to rescued after plunging down a manhole outside a property development in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The manhole had been covered by a piece of carpet and obscured by thick snow.

* Sales of shovels have soared by 40 per cent compared with the same week last year. Robert Dyas, the home and garden retailer, said that sales of de-icer and scrapers had also risen by 50 per cent year-on-year.

* An RAF Chinook helicopter forced to make a precautionary landing in Winterborne Whitechurch, Dorset on Monday night has been turned into a local tourist attraction after snow left it grounded. Engineers could not reach the Chinook so the four man crew gave tours of the cockpit to local schoolchildren.

* The Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative, which supplies more than 80 per cent of organic milk to supermarkets, said it may have to dump more than 100,000 litres due to devastating weather conditions which have hampered storage, collection and deliveries.

* Antony Jinman is using the wintry conditions to train for a trek to the Arctic. The 28-year-old usually has to train at night by dragging tyres but the snow and ice means he has spent the past few days using his top-of-the-range Artic sleigh.

* A sledge company has been selling 14,000 sledges a day since the snow started falling, up from its normal 2,000 daily total for this time of year., based in Glenmore, near Inverness said it had now sold out of sledges and was awaiting new supplies.

* A 16-year-old boy was killed and his mother seriously injured after they were involved in a car crash and then hit by lorry as they tried to reach the hard shoulder on foot. The pair were travelling on the A1 near Richmond, North Yorkshire at around 10pm on Wednesday night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Next Arctic Blast colder and a serious threat

Next Arctic Blast colder and a serious 
James Wilson, Lead Meteorologist, The Weather Channel
Jan. 6, 2010 7:36 pm ET
Snow and strong winds will engulf the Midwest with a renewed batch of arctic air following close behind through Thursday.
Accumulations of 3 to 6 inches (locally up to 8 inches) are possible along the path of this latest winter storm. Cities included are Omaha, Neb., Kansas City, Mo., Des Moines, Iowa, Moline, Ill. St. Louis, Mo., and Indianapolis, Ind.
Moisture from Lake Michigan will enhance snowfall in the Milwaukee, Wis. to Chicago, Ill. corridor. Total accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are in the forecast for Thursday.
Behind the snow, strong winds gusting between 30 and 40 mph will develop through the Plains by tonight and spread eastward to the near the Mississippi River Thursday. Blowing and drifting snow is likely to lead to dangerous travel and the potential for near-blizzard or blizzard conditions in some locales.
Bitter cold air will keep the mercury from rising above zero in the Dakotas, northern Nebraska and western Minnesota Thursday. Wind chills will bottom out in the -20s, -30s and even -40s across these states.
Farther east, highs will range from the 0s and 10s in the upper-Mississippi Valley to the 20s in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.
By Friday morning, lows from Kansas and western Missouri northward to the Dakotas and Minnesota will be below zero. The coldest readings, -20s and -30s, are expected in the Dakotas and northern Minnesota.
A cold front will quickly move through the South tonight through Thursday.
Enough cold air will be in place to produce light snow beginning overnight in northern Arkansas and spreading to northern Mississippi and Tennessee by early Thursday morning.
During the day and into Thursday night, light snow will push across northern Alabama eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and North Carolina.
Just south of this light snow corridor, a wintry mixture is possible.
Accumulations with this system will generally be on the light side with a dusting to an inch in most locations. Some spots may locally see up to 2 inches, especially in the higher terrain.
Rain showers will spread from the central Gulf Coast to southern Georgia and northern Florida.
Gusty winds will develop behind the system in Oklahoma and Texas tonight while spreading to the lower-Mississippi Valley Thursday.
Another shot of arctic air from the Midwest will keep temperatures well below average right through the weekend.
Highs Thursday will range from the 10s in far northern Oklahoma and northern Arkansas to the 50s along the Gulf Coast. Southern Florida will rise into the 60s.
Lows in the 10s and 20s will be common Friday morning. Northern Arkansas and the northern half of Oklahoma will hold in the 0s. Far south Texas and coastal Southeast will fall into the 30s.
Northeast | View Regional Video
Northwest flow from low pressure in the Canadian Maritimes will continue to bring snow showers to far Northern New England and western New York Thursday. Mostly sunny skies are expected along the I-95 corridor with increasing cloud cover coming through the day and into the evening.
Snow from the Midwest system will eventually push into western Pennsylvania and West Virginia by late in the day and into the evening. Light snows will then head across the rest of the region Thursday night into Friday.
Behind the quickly departing storm, lake-effect snows will develop and continue into the weekend southeast of Lakes Erie and Ontario.
Colder air will flood into the region after Thursday's highs peak in the 20s and 30s.
By Friday, expect 10s and 20s across western New York, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New England. Highs will top out in the low 30s from near New York City southward to the eastern Mid-Atlantic.
Even colder temperatures, up to 20 degrees below average, are expected by Saturday. Lows will be in the 0s, 10s and low 20s over the weekend.
The Southwest is the place to be for those suffering from the prolonged cold east of the Rockies. Highs will be in the several degrees above average 70s in southern portions of California and Arizona Thursday and Friday.
Montana, Wyoming and Colorado will not be so lucky with highs topping out in the 0s and 10s and wind chills well below zero. Portions of eastern Montana will be in the -0s and -10s with wind chills in the -30s and -40s.
Precipitation under an expansive area of high pressure will be rather limited. Some scattered snow showers are possible through the higher terrain from Nevada to the Southern Rockies.
Elsewhere, an offshore Pacific system may bring some showers in the Pacific Northwest later in the day and into the evening.

Chilly politics: Gore ice sculpture back in Fairbanks

Link: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Two Fairbanks businessmen are still so annoyed by former Vice President Al Gore's stand on global warming that they have commissioned another "Frozen Gore" ice sculpture for display in front of a liquor store. This year's version features Gore blowing smoke -- but only when a truck exhaust is connected. Businessmen Craig Compeau and Rudy Gavora say they'll commission the sculpture annually until Gore comes to Fairbanks to debate climate change. "Before we start carbon taxing ... let's try and educate ourselves," Compeau said. The Frozen Gore Web site also has pictures of last year's creation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years

SEOUL, South Korea – Seoul residents slogged through the heaviest snowfall in modern Korean history after a winter storm dumped more than 11 inches (28 centimeters) Monday, forcing airports to cancel flights and paralyzing traffic in South Korea's bustling capital.
The snow and icy roads snarled traffic in and out of Seoul, and at least three people died in traffic accidents. Many commuters squeezed into packed subways to get to work, and a Cabinet meeting was delayed because ministers were stuck in traffic.
The snowfall, which continued through Monday afternoon, was the heaviest in a single day since Korea began conducting meteorological surveys in 1937, the state weather agency said.
Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul canceled 224 flights before resuming service Monday afternoon when the snowfall stopped, airport official Choi Choon-ja said.
More than 20 flights between Incheon International Airport, just west of Seoul, to cities in China also coping with snowfall were canceled. More than 100 flights to other regions were delayed, Incheon airport official Kang Soo-kyung said.
In southern South Korea, three people were killed in a traffic accident blamed on icy roads, according to the Yonhap news agency. However, officials said no deaths or serious property damage was directly related to the heavy snowfall.
About 3,600 workers and 5,000 soldiers were mobilized to clear the snow in Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi Province, officials said.
The snow and freezing temperatures didn't stop 50-year-old Park Hee-soon from delivering milk and yogurt to homes and offices in western Seoul. However, Park — trudging through the streets in her regular yellow uniform — said the snow and ice were dangerous.
"I slipped on streets several times today, and my back hurts because of that," she said.
The snow forced American figure skater Michelle Kwan to cancel appearances in South Korea on Monday. The five-time world champion, visiting the country as goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department, had been slated to give a master class to South Korean figure skaters.
She is scheduled to meet with students, U.S. soldiers and participate in a Special Olympics event this week, U.S. Embassy officials said.
Beijing also was digging out Monday from a weekend winter storm.
More than 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of snow accumulated in the city center Sunday, according to China's National Meteorological Center. State media called it the highest snowfall in the capital in a single day in January since 1951. Upward of 8 inches (20 centimeters) was recorded in the suburbs of Changping near the Great Wall of China.
Hundreds of flights from Beijing were canceled or delayed Sunday because of the snowfall.
Primary and middle schools were closed in Beijing and the nearby port of Tianjin, and with snow plows in short supply, more than 300,000 people were assigned to clear snow in the capital with shovels, scrapers and brooms.
Heavy snow also blanketed Sapporo on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, forcing the main airport to cancel nearly 80 flights since last Wednesday.
In South Korea, not everyone was complaining.
"It's something unique in Seoul," Kang Kyung-hye, a 58-year-old housewife, said after taking a photo of the snow-covered statue of 15th-century ruler King Sejong downtown.
Nearby, dozens of police in neon uniforms used shovels and shields to clear away the snow and helped push cars stuck in snowdrifts.
Associated Press writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Monday, January 4, 2010

As Britain told to expect snow for 'next 10 days', how is the rest of the world is coping with this Arctic weather?

When Britain woke up on the first day of the New Year it was met with freezing cold temperatures, feet of snow in places and the promise of travel chaos.
And now, three days into 2010, forecasters have warned to expect continued snowfall for the next 10 days - bringing with it added stress for commuters heading back to work after a festive break and children returning to school tomorrow.
Yet as Britain struggles to cope with the freezing weather conditions, other countries throughout the world are also finding themselves in the same predicament.


Snow storms today have caused chaos in China's capital of Beijing, grinding aeroplanes to a halt and causing severe traffic delays.
Around 90 per cent of all flights were either delayed or cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
Paramilitary policemen stand guard in front of the late Chairman Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square, Beijing
In addition, major roads in Beijing and Tianjin, as well as nearby provinces Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, were forced to close due to the heavy snow.

The snow shows no sign of stopping, however, and temperatures are expected to drop to -16C in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, causing more problems for those attempting to returning to work after a three-day New Year holiday.

Primary and middle schools in Beijing will be closed tomorrow as people are unable to drive their cars in the heavy snow
Authorities in Beijing and Tianjin announced today there will be no classes at primary and middle schools tomorrow as the snow had caused traffic chaos.


Not a country usually associated with snow, India has experienced severe problems since Saturday when snowfall and a dense blanket of fog began to cause chaos.
More than 30 people died in cold-weather related incidents in Northern India over the past 24 hours, with 10 of those losing their lives in train accidents caused by the fog.

India train
More than 40 people were injured, and 10 killed, in train accidents in India caused by the bad weather. Here, Indian Central Reserve Police Force soldiers patrol a railway track as a train moves during heavy snowfall in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir
Meanwhile, 24 homeless people have also died in the Uttar Pradesh state since Saturday due to the severe drop in temperature.
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir were all hit with heavy snow, while Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi also recorded snowfall over the past 24 hours.
A Kashmiri man struggles to see through the snow as he walks in Srinagar
A Kashmiri man struggles to see through the snow as he walks in Srinagar
Flights from New Delhi were grounded or delayed yesterday because of poor visibility, Shashanka Nanda, a spokesman for the Delhi International Airport Limited said, before adding that conditions had improved today.


A country much more used to dealing with high levels of snow, Russia saw temperature lows of a chilling -20C in Moscow today.

Those travelling on trains at stations near the Russian city of Vorkuta, attempted to continue their journeys despite the freezing conditions.

Russia train
A man crosses a railway track during heavy snowfall when temperatures fell to minus 18 degrees Celsius
A worker tries to clear the train tracks while a man, unaware of the train approaching him, attempts to cross
Workers also tried to sweep snow from the train tracks, but found it was falling too fast to clear.
However, two men making the most of the snow were Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who decided to take to the slopes in Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi in southern Russia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on their skiing trip

The pair relax on a snowmobile after exerting themselves skiing
The duo donned heavy jackets and goggles as they skiied together, with Putin looking serious as the pair indulged in some seemingly serious political conversations.


The snow caused more problems with flights in Germany, with one jet veering off the runway at Dortmund airport in western Germany.
The Air Berlin Boeing 737-800 broke to abort the take-off due to a 'technical  irregularity', but none of the 165 passengers and six crew members were injured.

Air Berlin plane
All passengers and crew were left unharmed after the Air Berlin plane aborted its take-off
The plane was not damaged but flights from the airport were cancelled or diverted for a large part of the day.
Airline spokeswoman Diane Daedelow said: 'A combination of the snowy weather and the speed the plane was travelling at forced the plane to skid off the runway.'
Over 30 flights from Frankfurt airport were also cancelled this morning.
Snow covers the trees on the mountain Schauinsland in the Black Forest, Germany
Snow covers the trees on the mountain Schauinsland in the Black Forest, Germany

Tourists photograph each other beside the snow-covered concrete steles at the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin
Tourists photograph each other beside the snow-covered concrete steles at the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin


While they are much more accustomed to dealing with snow, even native Austrians were struggling to cope with the freezing lows of -8C at night and -3C during the day.

But one creature happy to bound around in the fluffy snow was a mix breed dog called Lotta, who seemed entirely unconcerned as she became coated in snow during her run in Unken, in the Austrian province of Salzburg.
Lotta bounds through the snow in Salzburg
Meteorologists have predicted continued light snowfalls for the upcoming days in Austria.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Copenhagen climate summit: activists who contributed nothing but obstruction

If I ever see another singing, dancing, sloganising polar bear, I shall do my best to melt its ice-floe, says Geoffrey Lean. 

Copenhagen activists
Oxfam has made a useful contribution - but the bears are unbearable
Just how dumb – and self-indulgent – is this? On Wednesday morning the Copenhagen summit, widely seen as the last chance to stop global warming running out of control, stood – in boy wonder Ed Miliband's words – at "four minutes to midnight". Ministers from around the world had just arrived at the deadlocked talks in a last-minute attempt to rescue them. And green activists chose the moment to try to shut everything down.
Thousands of protesters, organised by Climate Justice Action – a worldwide coalition of grass-roots groups – stormed the conference centre, blocking its entrance as they tussled with police and stopping delegates from entering. Gordon Brown, trapped inside, was prevented from starting his shuttle diplomacy with other heads of government to try to negotiate a deal.
Environmental groups inside the centre, meanwhile, shouted and banged drums to try to drown out proceedings. Indeed, many did their best to disrupt things throughout: staging sit-downs in the cavernous, crowded Bella Centre, in which the talks have been held – hindering negotiators from getting to key meetings – and holding noisy protests.
Now, don't get me wrong. Many green groups played really important parts both in the run-up to Copenhagen and at the conference itself. The World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam remained constructively on top of the proceedings. Greenpeace characteristically carried out its gadfly role, while the even more radical, virally spreading 350 campaign did much to mobilise pressure for tougher emissions reductions. And other, less well-known organisations – such as the unappetisingly named Stakeholder Forum and Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development – did patient, valuable work to try to get important issues that might otherwise have been neglected into the agreement.
But they were outweighed by thousands of activists who contributed nothing but obstruction. They were dubbed "policy tourists" by the more engaged groups, but that seems over-generous: they seemed mainly interested in having a good time and staging stunts for the cameras. If I ever see another singing, dancing, sloganising polar bear, I shall do my best to melt its ice-floe. And that goes for the climate-sceptic Ursus maritimus that turned up at one point, megaphone in paw, howling imprecations about the scientists who wrote the hacked and much-hyped emails.
In fairness, much of the blame lies with the Danish government and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which organised the summit. In an attempt to be inclusive, they accredited 46,000 people in a centre that holds 15,000. Most came from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), ranging from serious institutes to industry lobbyists, as well as the policy tourists.
The rationale was that they would not all turn up at once – but enough did to create chaos. Huge queues snaked around the centre, with people waiting up to 10 hours to get in. Substantial figures such as John Prescott and Lord Stern, of the eponymous report, were among those left in the cold for hours.
Do them good to suffer like anyone else, you might say – but they had something to contribute, unlike the demonstrators inside. Ian Johnson – a former vice-president of the World Bank in charge of environmental issues, with vast experience of making difficult negotiations work – also queued for hours, only to be frogmarched out of the centre by security guards because the policy tourists had filled the place up.
Those who did get in found a centre so jammed up that it became dysfunctional, contributing to the bad-tempered atmosphere that bogged the talks down in fractious manoeuvring and points of order. Busy delegates had to wait for half an hour to get cold and indifferent food, progress was difficult, and the sheer press of people inhibited the chance corridor encounters that traditionally lubricate such negotiations.
But when the organisers tried to cut the number of NGO representatives to a far from ungenerous 1,000, you'd have thought from the outrage that they were sending tanks into Tiananmen Square. Fifty organisations – including Friends of the Earth, the World Development Movement, Cafod and Christian Aid – fumed at the "undemocratic"` and "draconian" measure.
The irritated authorities responded by cutting the numbers to just 300 … and suddenly the policy tourists were gone and the blessedly polar-bear-free centre started functioning. It may be no coincidence that that was also the first day – even closer to midnight – when any progress was made in the negotiations.
Canada is visited by an unwelcome jest
Danes are much the jolliest of the Scandinavians (which, admittedly, is not saying much) but, even so, there have not been many laughs in Copenhagen over the past two weeks. There has, though, been one successful hoax – and no, before you ask, I am not referring to the constant claims by extreme climate sceptics that the 200-year volume of science behind global warming adds up to the greatest con ever perpetrated.
The victims were the Canadians, widely excoriated as the most climate-unfriendly government in the industrialised world since the departure of George W Bush – not least for allowing their carbon dioxide emissions to rise by more than 20 per cent instead of cutting them as they agreed to do under the Kyoto Protocol; and for developing their vast tar sands to make the world’s dirtiest fuel.
Activists put out a hoax press release, supposedly from the Canadian government, announcing that it was reversing its position and taking on one of the world’s toughest reduction targets because “taking full responsibility for our emissions is just Canadian good sense”.
For good measure, it followed up with a fake video of a supposed Ugandan delegate welcoming the U-turn. The media was duly fooled, to everyone’s embarrassment.
The official response, when it came, was even stranger than the hoax. Canada’s environment minister Jim Prentice called the prank a “moral misfire” and denounced its “cruelty, hypocrisy and immorality”.
Poor lamb – your heart bleeds for him, doesn’t it?


Monday, December 28, 2009

The New Climate Litigation

How about if we sue you for breathing?

Fresh from the fiasco in Copenhagen and with a failure in the U.S. Senate looming this coming year, the climate-change lobby is already shifting to Plan B, or is it already Plan D? Meet the carbon tort.
Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that's not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under "nuisance" laws.
A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.
What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. "My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions," Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. "We're trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature."
Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn't suing to right a wrong. He admits that he's suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public's elected representatives choose.
Cap and trade or a global treaty like the one that collapsed in Copenhagen would be destructive—but at least either would need the assent of a politically accountable Congress. The Obama Administration's antidemocratic decision to impose carbon regulation via the Environmental Protection Agency would be even more destructive—but at least it would be grounded in an existing law, the 1977 Clean Air Act, however misinterpreted. The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.
And now that you mention it, the U.S. appeals courts seem more than ready to arrogate to themselves this power. In September, the Second Circuit allowed Mr. Blumenthal's suit to proceed, while a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court's dismissal of the Katrina case in October. An en banc hearing is now under consideration.
But global warming is, well, global: It doesn't matter whether ubiquitous CO2 emissions come from American Electric Power or Exxon—or China. "There is no logical reason to draw the line at 30 defendants as opposed to 150, or 500, or even 10,000 defendants," says David Rivkin, an attorney at Baker Hostetler and a contributor to our pages, in an amicus brief in the Katrina case. "These plaintiffs—and any others alleging injury by climatic phenomena—would have standing to assert a damages claim against virtually every entity and individual on the planet, since each 'contributes' to global concentrations of carbon dioxide."
In other words, the courts would become a venue for a carbon war of all against all. Not only might businesses sue to shackle their competitors—could we sue the New York Times for deforestation?—but judges would decide the remedies against specific defendants. In practice this would mean ad hoc command-and-control regulation against any industries that happen to catch the green lobby's eye.
Carbon litigation without legislation is one more way to harm the economy, and the rule of law. We hope the Fifth Circuit will have the good sense to deflect this damaging legal theory before it crash-lands at the Supreme Court.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time for a Climate Change Plan B

The U.S. president is in deep denial.

The world's political leaders, not least President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in a state of severe, almost clinical, denial. While acknowledging that the outcome of the United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen fell short of their demand for a legally binding, enforceable and verifiable global agreement on emissions reductions by developed and developing countries alike, they insist that what has been achieved is a breakthrough and a decisive step forward.
Just one more heave, just one more venue for the great climate-change traveling circus—Mexico City next year—and the job will be done.
Or so we are told. It is, of course, the purest nonsense. The only breakthrough was the political coup for China and India in concluding the anodyne communiqué with the United States behind closed doors, with Brazil and South Africa allowed in the room and Europe left to languish in the cold outside.
Far from achieving a major step forward, Copenhagen—predictably—achieved precisely nothing. The nearest thing to a commitment was the promise by the developed world to pay the developing world $30 billion of "climate aid" over the next three years, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020. Not only is that (perhaps fortunately) not legally binding, but there is no agreement whatsoever about which countries it will go to, in which amounts, and on what conditions.
The reasons for the complete and utter failure of Copenhagen are both fundamental and irresolvable. The first is that the economic cost of decarbonizing the world's economies is massive, and of at least the same order of magnitude as any benefits it may conceivably bring in terms of a cooler world in the next century.
The reason we use carbon-based energy is not the political power of the oil lobby or the coal industry. It is because it is far and away the cheapest source of energy at the present time and is likely to remain so, not forever, but for the foreseeable future.
Switching to much more expensive energy may be acceptable to us in the developed world (although I see no present evidence of this). But in the developing world, including the rapidly developing nations such as China and India, there are still tens if not hundreds of millions of people suffering from acute poverty, and from the consequences of such poverty, in the shape of malnutrition, preventable disease and premature death.
The overriding priority for the developing world has to be the fastest feasible rate of economic development, which means, inter alia, using the cheapest available source of energy: carbon energy.
Moreover, the argument that they should make this economic and human sacrifice to benefit future generations 100 years and more hence is all the less compelling, given that these future generations will, despite any problems caused by warming, be many times better off than the people of the developing world are today.
Or, at least, that is the assumption on which the climate scientists' warming projections are based. It is projected economic growth that determines projected carbon emissions, and projected carbon emissions that (according to the somewhat conjectural computer models on which they rely) determine projected warming (according to the same models).
All this overlaps with the second of the two fundamental reasons why Copenhagen failed, and why Mexico City (if our leaders insist on continuing this futile charade) will fail, too. That is the problem of burden-sharing, and in particular how much of the economic cost of decarbonization should be borne by the developed world, which accounts for the bulk of past emissions, and how much by the faster-growing developing world, which will account for the bulk of future emissions.
The 2006 Stern Review, quite the shoddiest pseudo-scientific and pseudo-economic document any British Government has ever produced, claims the overall burden is very small. If that were so, the problem of how to share the burden would be readily overcome—as indeed occurred with the phasing out of chorofluorocarbons (CFCs) under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. But the true cost of decarbonization is massive, and the distribution of the burden an insoluble problem.
Moreover, any assessment of the impact of any future warming that may occur is inevitably highly conjectural, depending as it does not only on the uncertainties of climate science but also on the uncertainties of future technological development. So what we are talking about is risk.

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Review & Outlook: The Copenhagen Shakedown
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Not that the risk is all one way. The risk of a 1930s-style outbreak of protectionism—if the developed world were to abjure cheap energy and faced enhanced competition from China and other rapidly industrializing countries that declined to do so—is probably greater than any risk from warming.
But even without that, there is not even a theoretical (let alone a practical) basis for a global agreement on burden-sharing, since, so far as the risk of global warming is concerned (and probably in other areas too) risk aversion is not uniform throughout the world. Not only do different cultures embody very different degrees of risk aversion, but in general the richer countries will tend to be more risk-averse than the poorer countries, if only because we have more to lose.
The time has come to abandon the Kyoto-style folly that reached its apotheosis in Copenhagen last week, and move to plan B.
And the outlines of a credible plan B are clear. First and foremost, we must do what mankind has always done, and adapt to whatever changes in temperature may in the future arise.
This enables us to pocket the benefits of any warming (and there are many) while reducing the costs. None of the projected costs are new phenomena, but the possible exacerbation of problems our climate already throws at us. Addressing these problems directly is many times more cost-effective than anything discussed at Copenhagen. And adaptation does not require a global agreement, although we may well need to help the very poorest countries (not China) to adapt.
Beyond adaptation, plan B should involve a relatively modest, increased government investment in technological research and development—in energy, in adaptation and in geoengineering.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the Copenhagen debacle, it is not going to be easy to get our leaders to move to plan B. There is no doubt that calling a halt to the high-profile climate-change traveling circus risks causing a severe conference-deprivation trauma among the participants. If there has to be a small public investment in counseling, it would be money well spent.
Lord Lawson was U.K. chancellor of the exchequer in the Thatcher government from 1983 to 1989. He is the author of "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming" (Overlook Duckworth, paperback 2009), and is chairman of the recently formed Global Warming Policy Foundation (


Friday, December 18, 2009

How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus

The East Anglia emails are just the tip of the iceberg. I should know.

Few people understand the real significance of Climategate, the now-famous hacking of emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Most see the contents as demonstrating some arbitrary manipulating of various climate data sources in order to fit preconceived hypotheses (true), or as stonewalling and requesting colleagues to destroy emails to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the face of potential or actual Freedom of Information requests (also true).
But there's something much, much worse going on—a silencing of climate scientists, akin to filtering what goes in the bible, that will have consequences for public policy, including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recent categorization of carbon dioxide as a "pollutant."
The bible I'm referring to, of course, is the refereed scientific literature. It's our canon, and it's all we have really had to go on in climate science (until the Internet has so rudely interrupted). When scientists make putative compendia of that literature, such as is done by the U.N. climate change panel every six years, the writers assume that the peer-reviewed literature is a true and unbiased sample of the state of climate science.
Martin Kozlowsk
 That can no longer be the case. The alliance of scientists at East Anglia, Penn State and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (in Boulder, Colo.) has done its best to bias it.
A refereed journal, Climate Research, published two particular papers that offended Michael Mann of Penn State and Tom Wigley of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. One of the papers, published in 2003 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), was a meta-analysis of dozens of "paleoclimate" studies that extended back 1,000 years. They concluded that 20th-century temperatures could not confidently be considered to be warmer than those indicated at the beginning of the last millennium.
In fact, that period, known as the "Medieval Warm Period" (MWP), was generally considered warmer than the 20th century in climate textbooks and climate compendia, including those in the 1990s from the IPCC.
Then, in 1999, Mr. Mann published his famous "hockey stick" article in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), which, through the magic of multivariate statistics and questionable data weighting, wiped out both the Medieval Warm Period and the subsequent "Little Ice Age" (a cold period from the late 16th century to the mid-19th century), leaving only the 20th-century warming as an anomaly of note.
Messrs. Mann and Wigley also didn't like a paper I published in Climate Research in 2002. It said human activity was warming surface temperatures, and that this was consistent with the mathematical form (but not the size) of projections from computer models. Why? The magnitude of the warming in CRU's own data was not as great as in the models, so therefore the models merely were a bit enthusiastic about the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Mr. Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," he wrote in one of the emails. "We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."
After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned. People who didn't toe Messrs. Wigley, Mann and Jones's line began to experience increasing difficulty in publishing their results.
This happened to me and to the University of Alabama's Roy Spencer, who also hypothesized that global warming is likely to be modest. Others surely stopped trying, tiring of summary rejections of good work by editors scared of the mob. Sallie Baliunas, for example, has disappeared from the scientific scene.
GRL is a very popular refereed journal. Mr. Wigley was concerned that one of the editors was "in the skeptics camp." He emailed Michael Mann to say that "if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official . . . channels to get him ousted."
Mr. Mann wrote to Mr. Wigley on Nov. 20, 2005 that "It's one thing to lose 'Climate Research.' We can't afford to lose GRL." In this context, "losing" obviously means the publication of anything that they did not approve of on global warming.
Soon the suspect editor, Yale's James Saiers, was gone. Mr. Mann wrote to the CRU's Phil Jones that "the GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there."
It didn't stop there. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory complained that the Royal Meteorological Society (RMS) was now requiring authors to provide actual copies of the actual data that was used in published papers. He wrote to Phil Jones on March 19, 2009, that "If the RMS is going to require authors to make ALL data available—raw data PLUS results from all intermediate calculations—I will not submit any further papers to RMS journals."
Messrs. Jones and Santer were Ph.D. students of Mr. Wigley. Mr. Santer is the same fellow who, in an email to Phil Jones on Oct. 9, 2009, wrote that he was "very tempted" to "beat the crap" out of me at a scientific meeting. He was angry that I published "The Dog Ate Global Warming" in National Review, about CRU's claim that it had lost primary warming data.
The result of all this is that our refereed literature has been inestimably damaged, and reputations have been trashed. Mr. Wigley repeatedly tells news reporters not to listen to "skeptics" (or even nonskeptics like me), because they didn't publish enough in the peer-reviewed literature—even as he and his friends sought to make it difficult or impossible to do so.
Ironically, with the release of the Climategate emails, the Climatic Research Unit, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley have dramatically weakened the case for emissions reductions. The EPA claimed to rely solely upon compendia of the refereed literature such as the IPCC reports, in order to make its finding of endangerment from carbon dioxide. Now that we know that literature was biased by the heavy-handed tactics of the East Anglia mob, the EPA has lost the basis for its finding.
Mr. Michaels, formerly professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia (1980-2007), is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen climate summit: Al Gore condemned over Arctic ice melting prediction

Al Gore, the former US Vice-President, has become embroiled in a climate change spin row after claiming that the Arctic could be completely ice-free within five years. 

Al Gore
Al Gore Photo: AP
Speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, Mr Gore said new computer modelling suggests there is a 75 per cent chance of the entire polar ice cap melting during the summertime by 2014.
However, he faced embarrassment last night after Dr Wieslav Maslowski, the climatologist whose work the prediction was based on, refuted his claims.
Dr Maslowski, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, told The Times: “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at.
“I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”
The blunder follows the controversy over hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which sceptics claim suggest scientists manipulated data to strengthen their argument that global warming is man-made.
Mr Gore, who narrated the Oscar-winning climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, told the conference that record melting of Polar and Himalayan ice could deprive more than a billion people of access to clean water.
Alluding to Dr Maslowski’s work, he said: “These figures are fresh, I just got them yesterday.
"Some of the models suggest to Dr Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire polar ice cap during some of summer months could be completely ice free within five to seven years.
"There are more than a billion people on the planet who get more than half of their drinking water – many of them all of their drinking water – from the seasonal melting of snow melt and glacier ice."
His projection strongly contradicted forecasts made eight months ago by the US government agency that the ice cap may nearly vanish in the summer by 2030.
Dr Maslowki said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.
He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean.”
Following Dr Maslowski’s comments, Mr Gore’s office later said the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
Mr Gore’s speech also provoked criticism from leading members of the climate science community, who described the projection as “aggressive”.
Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Times: “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics.
“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”
Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said: “It's possible but not likely. We're sticking with 2030."
Average global temperatures have increased by 1.3F (0.74C) in the past century, but the mercury has risen at least twice as quickly in the Arctic.
Scientists say the make up of the frozen north polar sea has shifted significantly in recent years as much of the thick year-round ice has given way to thin seasonal ice.
In the summer of 2007, the Arctic ice cap dwindled to a record low minimum extent of 1.7 million square miles in September. The melting in 2008 and 2009 was not as extensive, but still ranked as the second and third greatest decreases on record.


Copenhagen summit veering towards farce, warns Ed Miliband

Climate talks at least 18 hours behind schedule as world leaders set to arrive in Copenhagen

Ed Miliband gestures during a press briefing at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen
Ed Miliband gestures during a press briefing at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Photograph: Anja Niedringhaus/AP
The climate change summit in Copenhagen was in jeopardy tonight with the complex negotiations falling far behind schedule as the climate secretary, Ed Miliband, warned of a "farce".
With just two days remaining, the inability to overcome disagreements about the shape of a deal to combat global warming led to hours of inaction today , while outside the negotiations police clashed with protesters who broke through a security cordon but failed in an attempt to storm the conference centre.
"We have made no progress" said a source close to the talks. "What people don't realise is that we are now not really ready for the leaders. These talks are now 18 hours late."
More than 115 world leaders arrive tomorrow and on Friday and had expected only to bargain over the final details in a prepared draft agreement but the earlier impasse could condemn the talks to failure.
For the first time frustrated negotiators spoke openly of – at best – reaching a weak political agreement that would leave no clear way forward to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions.
That would mean the negotiations staying in limbo well into next year, increasing the damage caused by global warming.
The day saw thousands of protesters take to the streets to demand a strong deal by Friday but, while they clashed with police, they failed in their objective to enter the conference centre.
A key meeting of 25 government ministers from different countries, chosen to streamline the negotiations, was 18 hours behind track tonight , having failed to meet for the entire day. The group, along with another 25 "shadow" ministers, had been scheduled for its first meeting in the early hours of Wednesday but it was delayed. Ministers from developing countries were shocked to find that, instead of making progress on producing the slimmed-down draft agreement for the leaders, talks starting at 5.45am had seen the document increase in complexity.
Miliband said people around the world would be rightly furious if negotiators failed to get a deal because the talks were delayed not over substance, but over the process. "It would be a tragedy if we failed to agree because of the substance. It would be a farce if we failed to reach agreement because of the process," he said.
"People will find it extraordinary that this conference that has been two years in the planning and involves 192 countries, which is such an important thing, such important stakes, is at the moment being stalled on points of order."
There was, however, some progress on other important issues. The US and China appeared to resolve some of their differences and a proposal from the Ethiopian prime minister on climate funding closed the gap between rich and poor countries. At the heart of the impasse is the fate of the Kyoto protocol, signed in 1997. It is the only legally binding agreement on climate change and requires industrialised nations – but not developing nations – to cut their emissions. Rich nations want a fresh treaty, arguing the world has changed and the major emerging economies such and China and India must commit to curbing their huge and fast growing national emissions. But the developing nations argue that rich nations grew wealthy by polluting the atmosphere and must take primary responsibility for it, which can only be guaranteed by Kyoto.
China, India, South Africa and Brazil brought one half of the talks to a halt in expectation that the Danish presidency was going to introduce a new text which would effectively kill Kyoto. "Things are getting held up by procedural wrangling," said Miliband. "People can kill this agreement with process arguments. It will be tragedy if we cannot reach an agreement on substance, but it will be a farce if we cannot agree on process."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Copenhagen Shakedown

Developing countries understand the real costs of climate change.

The U.N. climate-change conference in Copenhagen was supposed to be the moment when the world came together to save us from an excess of carbon dioxide. Like all such confabs, it's coming down instead to cold, hard cash.
On Monday, the so-called G-77—in effect, the Third World—walked out of the talks for several hours in protest of the unwillingness, as they saw it, of rich countries to foot the bill for averting or mitigating climate catastrophe in the developing world. The negotiations have since resumed, but with the most difficult questions set aside and expectations lower than ever.
More than anything else, Monday's walkout revealed the real reason that the developing world is in Copenhagen in the first place: They see climate change as a potential foreign-aid bonanza, and they are at the table to leverage the West's environmental angst into massive transfers of wealth.

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In theory, the money is supposed to help poor countries pay for their transition to a carbon-neutral future. But the developed world has been pouring trillions of dollars into development aid in various forms for decades, with little to show for it. The reasons are well-known: Corruption, political oppression, government control of the economy and the absence of rule of law combine to keep poor countries poor. And those factors also ensure that most aid is squandered or skimmed off the top.Recasting foreign aid as "climate mitigation" won't change any of that.
Still, Copenhagen's fixation on who pays for these huge wealth transfers is instructive because it lays bare the myth that greening the global economy is a cost-free exercise. The G-77 scoffed at a European offer of €7.2 billion ($10 billion) over three years. Instead, the Sudanese chairman of the group, Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, suggested in an interview with Mother Jones magazine that something on the order of a trillion dollars, or more, would be appropriate.
"The world's scientists and policy decision makers have publicly stated that this is the greatest risk humanity has ever faced," says Mr. Di-Aping. "Now if that's the case, it's very strange that $10 billion is considered adequate financing." Mr. Di-Aping deserves credit for taking the climate alarmists on their own terms and drawing consistent conclusions.
Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of the Malthusian 1972 classic "The Limits to Growth," also served up some climate honesty in a recent interview with Der Spiegel. "I lived long enough in a country like Afghanistan to know that I don't want us to have to live like that in the future. But we have to learn to live a life that allows for fulfillment and development, with the CO2 emissions of Afghanistan." Mr. Meadows's chilling corollary: "If you want everyone to have the full potential of mobility, adequate food and self-development, then . . . one or two billion" people is about all the population the planet can sustain.
Given that the world's population is now about 6.8 billion people, that's not likely to happen. Nor is the developed world about to reinvent itself as a greener version of Afghanistan, much less fork over trillions of dollars to avert the supposed catastrophe it has done so much to trumpet. If the summit at Copenhagen achieves nothing else but to expose the disconnect between climate alarm and climate "solutions," it may even be worth it.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inconvenient truth for Al Gore as his North Pole sums don't add up

Al Gore
Al Gore's office admitted that the percentage he quoted in his speech was from an old, ballpark figure

There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.
The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.
Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.
In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”
However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.
“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”
Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
The embarrassing error cast another shadow over the conference after the controversy over the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which appeared to suggest that scientists had manipulated data to strengthen their argument that human activities were causing global warming.
Mr Gore is not the only titan of the world stage finding Copenhagen to be a tricky deal.
World leaders — with Gordon Brown arriving tonight in the vanguard — are facing the humiliating prospect of having little of substance to sign on Friday, when they are supposed to be clinching an historic deal.
Meanwhile, five hours of negotiating time were lost yesterday when developing countries walked out in protest over the lack of progress on their demand for legally binding emissions targets from rich nations. The move underlined the distrust between rich and poor countries over the proposed legal framework for the deal.
Last night key elements of the proposed deal were unravelling. British officials said they were no longer confident that it would contain specific commitments from individual countries on payments to a global fund to help poor nations to adapt to climate change while the draft text on protecting rainforests has also been weakened.
Even the long-term target of ending net deforestation by 2030 has been placed in square brackets, meaning that the date could be deferred. An international monitoring system to identify illegal logging is now described in the text as optional, where before it was compulsory. Negotiators are also unable to agree on a date for a global peak in greenhouse emissions.
Perhaps Mr Gore had felt the need to gild the lily to buttress resolve. But his speech was roundly criticised by members of the climate science community. “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”
Others said that, even if quoted correctly, Dr Maslowski’s six-year projection for near-ice-free conditions is at the extreme end of the scale. Most climate scientists agree that a 20 to 30-year timescale is more likely for the near-disappearance of sea ice.
“Maslowski’s work is very well respected, but he’s a bit out on a limb,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, a specialist in ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Maslowki, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.
He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.”
Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at the Massachusets Institute of Technology who does not believe that global warming is largely caused by man, said: “He’s just extrapolated from 2007, when there was a big retreat, and got zero.”