Saturday, January 23, 2010

Climategate - it's worse than most people ever suspected

Perhaps the key point discovered by Smith was that by 1990, NOAA had deleted from its datasets all but 1,500 of the 6,000 thermometers in service around the globe.

Now, 75% represents quite a drop in sampling population, particularly considering that these stations provide the readings used to compile both the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) and United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) datasets. These are the same datasets, incidentally, which serve as primary sources of temperature data not only for climate researchers and universities worldwide, but also for the many international agencies using the data to create analytical temperature anomaly maps and charts.

Yet as disturbing as the number of dropped stations was, it is the nature of NOAA’s “selection bias” that Smith found infinitely more troubling.

It seems that stations placed in historically cooler, rural areas of higher latitude and elevation were scrapped from the data series in favor of more urban locales at lower latitudes and elevations. Consequently, post-1990 readings have been biased to the warm side not only by selective geographic location, but also by the anthropogenic heating influence of a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI).

he was deadly serious after comparing current to previous versions of USHCN data and discovering that this “selection bias” creates a +0.6°C warming in U.S. temperature history.
Prior to publication, NOAA effects a number of “adjustments” to the cherry-picked stations’ data, supposedly to eliminate flagrant outliers, adjust for time of day heat variance, and “homogenize” stations with their neighbors in order to compensate for discontinuities. This last one, they state, is accomplished by essentially adjusting each to jive closely with the mean of its five closest “neighbors.” But given the plummeting number of stations, and the likely disregard for the latitude, elevation, or UHI of such neighbors, it’s no surprise that such “homogenizing” seems to always result in warmer readings.
WUWT’s editor, Anthony Watts, has calculated the overall U.S. homogeneity bias to be 0.5°F to the positive, which alone accounts for almost one half of the 1.2°F warming over the last century. Add Smith’s selection bias to the mix and poof – actual warming completely disappears!
The scientists at NASA’s GISS are widely considered to be the world’s leading researchers into atmospheric and climate changes. And their Surface Temperature (GISTemp) analysis system is undoubtedly the premiere source for global surface temperature anomaly reports.

In creating its widely disseminated maps and charts, the program merges station readings collected from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) with GHCN and USHCN data from NOAA.

It then puts the merged data through a few “adjustments” of its own.

Smith attributes up to 3°F (more in some places) of added “warming trend” between NOAA’s data adjustment and GIStemp processing.
That’s over twice last century’s reported warming.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Green vs. Green

Big solar and even wind projects face a lot of stiff opposition - from other environmentalists:

The construction would come with a cost: Government scientists have concluded that more than 6 square miles of habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise would be permanently lost.

The Sierra Club and other environmentalists want the complex relocated to preserve what they call a near-pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including the protected tortoise, the Western burrowing owl and bighorn sheep.


In November, federal and state biologists reviewing the plan proposed that the company catch and move the tortoises and preserve 12,000 acres elsewhere, a proposal that could cost BrightSource an estimated $25 million.


BrightSource President John Woolard warned in government filings released this month that heavy-handed regulation could kill the proposal. He did not mention the tortoises directly but referred to "unbounded and extreme" requirements being placed on the company.

At a time when the White House is pushing for the rapid development of green power, Woolard predicted the outcome in the California desert would reverberate widely.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thorium - 21st Century Nuclear Power

Great article in Wired magazine about the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR):

...thorium could solve the nuclear power industry’s most intractable problems. After it has been used as fuel for power plants, the element leaves behind minuscule amounts of waste. And that waste needs to be stored for only a few hundred years, not a few hundred thousand like other nuclear byproducts. Because it’s so plentiful in nature, it’s virtually inexhaustible. It’s also one of only a few substances that acts as a thermal breeder, in theory creating enough new fuel as it breaks down to sustain a high-temperature chain reaction indefinitely. And it would be virtually impossible for the byproducts of a thorium reactor to be used by terrorists or anyone else to make nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Energy Facts

Go to page three of the report to get to the lists by topic. Here are some of my favorites:

American nuclear decision-making process
2. Radiation treated as more harmful than other biological hazards, such as chemical or biological threats.
3. “Man-made” radiation declared more dangerous than same radiation from natural sources.
5. Nuclear charged up-front for decommissioning, insurance, financial viability, etc.
6. Unique multimillion-dollar licensing process continues despite 50-year, nearly flawless safety record.

American LWR commercial nuclear power plants
3. American commercial nukes have > 90% availability vs. 20-40% for wind or solar. No radiation deaths.
6. Nuclear power is potentially renewable. Enough fuel and “fertile material” to last for many millennia.
8. Peer-reviewed article in Science concludes American nukes cannot create a radiological catastrophe.
9. Yet NRC requires mass evacuation procedures, involving large numbers of people and organizations.
10. Government officials state: Predicting deaths from low-dose radiation is scientifically indefensible.
11. Yet radiation protection practice claims: There’s no safe radiation level; one gamma ray can kill you.

Wind and Solar Energy for the American electric power grid
  • Cannot supply power on demand. Electricity that is not dispatchable is hard to sell, and harder to store.
  • Shut down > 60% of the time, sometimes for long, unpredictable periods, over wide area.
  • Fossil plants backing wind-farms showing increased degradation from unaccustomed power swings.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) systems use highly toxic materials. Must be treated like radwaste, but forever.
  • PV panels on all US south-facing roofs could generate only few % of electrical output from one nuke.
  • Federal subsidies for wind-power total $23 per megawatt hour, vs. $1.59 for nuclear.
  • Federal subsidies for solar power total $24 per megawatt hour, vs. $1.59 for nuclear.
  • These tax-payer subsidies could buy nuclear electricity directly at market cost with money left over.
  • Windmills have reportedly caused 651 accidents, 61 deaths, from blade and ice-throw, fires, etc

Monday, November 30, 2009

Good news: negative feedback will prevent climate catastrophe

The notion that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible, and the history of the earth's climate offers some guidance on this matter. About 2.5 billion years ago, the sun was 20%-30% less bright than now (compare this with the 2% perturbation that a doubling of CO2 would produce), and yet the evidence is that the oceans were unfrozen at the time, and that temperatures might not have been very different from today's. Carl Sagan in the 1970s referred to this as the "Early Faint Sun Paradox."

For more than 30 years there have been attempts to resolve the paradox with greenhouse gases. Some have suggested CO2—but the amount needed was thousands of times greater than present levels and incompatible with geological evidence. Methane also proved unlikely. It turns out that increased thin cirrus cloud coverage in the tropics readily resolves the paradox—but only if the clouds constitute a negative feedback. In present terms this means that they would diminish rather than enhance the impact of CO2.

There are quite a few papers in the literature that also point to the absence of positive feedbacks. The implied low sensitivity is entirely compatible with the small warming that has been observed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Burt Rutan now a skeptic of man-made catastrophic climate change

One of Mr. Rutan's power point slides from a recent climate change presentation:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The best of intentions

The following quote is from a review of the book, "Degrees of Disaster: How Nature Reels and Rebounds" by Jeff Wheelwright. It shows how man's attempts to help remediate the damage caused by a man-made disaster can sometimes make things worse.

"In this book I have argued that the ability of science to detect and measure hydrocarbons and their metabolites far exceeded science's ability to know what to make of those measurements," he concludes. "The measurements actually impeded understanding. There was the acute phase of the oil spill, which was soon over in the Sound, and now the chronic phase, whose events were unproved, most likely unprovable and diminishing fast into the background. That was the end of it as far as I was concerned. . . ."

Wheelwright's assertion of nature's resiliency confirms predictions made by federal oil-spill-response experts such as NOAA's Seattle-based Dave Kennedy and Jerry Galt. It borrows heavily from chief government scientist Bob Spies, a controversial figure for his skepticism of long-term damage claims. Some support from ecologists

The author's position gets some support from ecologists such as the University of Washington's Dee Boersma, who tracked spill damage in Alaska's Barren Islands. Boersma doubts claims that the more than 30,000 bird carcasses recovered suggested a total mortality in the hundreds of thousands, or that affected colonies will take decades to recover.

Boersma found a kill of murres in 1989, a 21 percent rebound in numbers in 1990-91, and minor increases thereafter.

"There is no scientific data to support these claims of long-term chronic effects," she said.

Jonathan Houghton, an Edmonds-based consultant for PENTEC who contracted first to Exxon and then NOAA to study the spill, thinks Wheelwright did a good job of laying out the scientific controversies.

As an example of surprises, Houghton said, the pressure-washed beaches he is monitoring are proving the slowest to recover, while the oiliest beach he watches, for unclear reasons, has the highest concentration of steamer clams.

What is the lesson? In the case of Mt. St. Helens, mankind's involvement in the restoration of the forest was remarkably successful in speeding up the recovery of that huge natural disaster. In the case of Prince William Sound, mankind's efforts to reverse the damage of a man-made disaster appear to have been ill-advised, possibly making the situation worse.

The lesson, I think, is that knowledgable restoration efforts, driven by mankind's needs for the products of nature (trees, fish, recreational wilderness, etc.) can help. Misguided efforts prompted by feelings of what seems more "natural" and an overwrought emotional reaction to a man-made disaster caused by an "evil" oil company can cost many millions of dollars and not be very effective - indeed, can even make things worse.

Mother knows best?

Does Mother Nature always know best? It seems in the case of Mt. St. Helens, mankind was able to speed up the process of reforestation by as much as a century.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Higher fuel standards to cost 2000+ lives a year?

Back in 2002, the National Academy of Sciences did a study on the effects of CAFE. They found that over the three decades CAFE has been in effect, downsizing of cars and trucks for fuel economy has cost us about 2,000 lives per year.

Less steel framing and smaller size equals more miles per gallon. It also means you’re rolling down the road in a vehicle with much less crashworthiness, making you more vulnerable to every stationary object, to that semi behind you … and to the guy in the normal-sized car.

This death toll figure was arrived at long before President Obama recently upped the CAFE standards by 30% and more. The death toll going forward will be even higher.

I have twice been at the scene of fatal one-car accidents. Once where I knew the crash victim personally, and once where I happened to come upon an accident before the police arrived. Both of these were situations where the person would have lived had they been driving something larger — a Prius in the first case and a Ford Fiesta in the other.

In both cases, they were convinced to value a gallon of gas over their own lives, and paid the price.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

GW bill on the brink - your help needed!!!

May I suggest that you send your congressional representative this story with a request to read it on the floor. And while you are at it, the EPA shenanigans and my surfacestations report. – Anthony

WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Democratic leaders are furiously lobbying their members and moderate Republicans to support a landmark energy bill in the face of resistance from some conservative members of their own party, and staunch opposition from the GOP — roadblocks that are making it difficult to find the 218 votes necessary to pass the measure, according to Democratic leadership aides.

“There is no question that the cap and trade bill will cost millions of jobs and it is pretty evident, I think now, given the word that we are hearing that the other side has 190 votes at this point, far short of that which are needed to pass this bill,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Will Western Civilization commit suicide?

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle .... Worse yet, there was a minority community of skeptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The repeated failure of the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfill the necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. ...

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. ... To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest migrated.

Like the prophet Mhlakaza, Al Gore promises that if we stop using carbon-based energy, new energy technologies will magically appear. The laws of physics and chemistry will be repealed by political will power. We will achieve prosperity by destroying the very means by which prosperity is created.

David Deming is associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scientists: genetically modified food is safe

During its 2008 EU presidency, France, with the support of nine member states, pushed for socioeconomic factors to be taken into account during the risk-assessment process of GMOs, which might push scientific evidence into the background and politicize the whole process even more, said Agriculture Ministry spokesman Petr Vorlíček.

Drawing from field studies of the Biology Center at the Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice as well as the Crop Research Institute, the White Book's authors conclude: "GM crops are more profitable for farmers and more environmentally friendly than comparable technologies."

"Two key advantages of GMOs include the reduced need for insecticides and tolerance of herbicides," said Luboš Babička from the Czech University of Life Sciences.

Štěpán Čížek, head of agricultural co-op ZD Mořina, which has cultivated Bt corn since it became legal in 2005, echoes these findings. "[Bt corn] yields at least 20 percent more," he said of the co-op's 500 hectares of crops in Mořina, south of Prague. "The corn is much healthier, not infested at all by the maize moth, and that's also why it vegetates for longer periods."

From the report's press release:

Many European scientists are disturbed by the fact that political factors and ideology prevent unbiased assessment of the GM technology in some EU countries, with a negative effect on the whole Community. Being aware of the responsibility their country bears during the EU Presidency, Czech scientists working with GM crops prepared a White Book summarizing their experience and analyzing relevant EU legislation.

The report is available here: White Book - Genetically Modified Crops

Correlation is not causation

During a ten year period, the number of cancers for the population under the age of 25 in the affected county rose at a rate more than three times faster than that for the rest of the state; it rose from 18.5 cases to 23.4 cases per 100,000 people. In the rest of Michigan, the rate rose from 20.2 cases to 21.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Since there are about 50,000 people under the age of 25 living in this particular county, the normal number of cancers in people under 25 is an average of nine ...

The increase in the rate of cancer (18.5 to 24.3 cases per 100,000), as discussed in the health report, is based on three additional cases of cancer. This difference, 9 cancer cases versus 12 cancer cases, is not out of line of what we would expect based upon random variability. We would expect up to 17 in any given year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is the global warming debate over?

The thermostat of the Earth?

The Thermostat Hypothesis is that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at a equilibrium temperature.

The stability of the earth’s temperature over time has been a long-standing climatological puzzle. The globe has maintained a temperature of ± ~ 3% (including ice ages) for at least the last half a billion years during which we can estimate the temperature. During the Holocene, temperatures have not varied by ±1%. And during the ice ages, the temperature was generally similarly stable as well.

...some scientists have claimed that clouds have a positive feedback. Because of this, the areas where there are more clouds will end up warmer than areas with less clouds. This positive feedback is seen as the reason that clouds and warmth are correlated.

I and others take the opposite view of that correlation. I hold that the clouds are caused by the warmth, not that the warmth is caused by the clouds.

A thunderstorm can do more than just reduce the amount of surface warming. It can actually mechanically cool the surface to below the required initiation temperature. This allows it to actively maintain a fixed temperature in the region surrounding the thunderstorm.

When tropical temperatures are cool, tropical skies clear and the earth rapidly warms. But when the tropics heat up, cumulus and cumulonimbus put a limit on the warming. This system keeps the earth within a fairly narrow band of temperatures.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Important report on global warming released by NIPCC

In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.

The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The World is (NOT) Running Out of Oil

The important thing is that you feel guilty

...there is no precedent for today’s media enlistment in the crusade to promote global warming “awareness.” Concerning this, journalism, which fancies itself skeptical and nonconforming, is neither.

The incessant hectoring by the media-political complex’s “consciousness-raising” campaign has provoked a comic riposte in the form of “The Goode Family,” an animated ABC entertainment program ...
Gerald and Helen Goode, their children and dog Che (when supervised, he is a vegan; when unsupervised, squirrels disappear) live in a college town, where T-shirts and other media instruct (”Meat is murder”), admonish (”Don’t kill wood”) and exhort (”Support our troops … and their opponents”). The college, where Gerald works, gives students tenure. And when Gerald says his department needs money to raise the percentage of minority employees, his boss cheerily replies, “Or we could just fire three white guys. Everybody wins!” Helen shops at the One Earth store, where community shaming enforces social responsibility: “Attention One Earth shoppers, the driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He’s wearing the baseball cap.”

The New York Times television critic disapproves. The show “feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-’90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed.”

That is a perfect (because completely complacent) sample of the grating smugness of the planet-savers, delivered by an entertainment writer: Reasonable dissent is impossible.
...when a Goode child apologizes to his parent for driving too much, and the parent responds, “It’s OK … what’s important is that you feel guilty about it,” the program touches upon an important phenomenon: ecology as psychology.
Green consumption became “positional consumption” that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite.
That's some nice writing. Not much I can add, so go feel guilty! It'll make you feel better.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Why the global warming models are wrong - a simple explanation

A great explanation of why the global warming models used by the IPCC are wrong:

...the most important debate is global warming research today is the same as it was 20 years ago: How will clouds (and to a lesser extent other elements in the climate system) respond to warming, thereby enhancing or reducing the warming? These indirect changes that further influence temperature are called feedbacks, and they determine whether manmade global warming will be catastrophic, or just lost in the noise of natural climate variability.
We analyzed 7.5 years of our latest and best NASA satellite data and discovered that, when the effect of clouds-causing-temperature-change is accounted for, cloud feedbacks in the real climate system are strongly negative. The negative feedback was so strong that it more than cancelled out the positive water vapor feedback we also found. It was also consistent with evidence of negative feedback we found in the tropics and published in 2007.

In fact, the resulting net negative feedback was so strong that, if it exists on the long time scales associated with global warming, it would result in only 0.6 deg. C of warming by late in this century.
Even though they never say so, the IPCC has simply assumed that the average cloud cover of the Earth does not change, century after century. This is a totally arbitrary assumption, and given the chaotic variations that the ocean and atmosphere circulations are capable of, it is probably wrong. Little more than a 1% change in cloud cover up or down, and sustained over many decades, could cause events such as the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age.

As far as I know, the IPCC has never discussed their assumption that global average cloud cover always stays the same.