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10/21/2011
REVIEW FUNDED BY AGW SKEPTICS, LED BY SKEPTICAL SCIENTIST, CONFIRMS WARMING THEORY

A personal journey of discovery for me has ended today. Whatever skepticism I held about the efficacy of global warming theory has been satisfied by a new study that confirms the broad claims made by climate scientists that the earth is warming and that there is a very strong correlation with human activity that is causing it.

Still to be determined; how much and how fast the earth is warming and what threat this poses to civilization in the near, mid, and distant future.

I began as a believer in AGW theory back in the 1990’s. But as the political agenda of those promoting this theory became more and more evident — anti-capitalist, anti-western, and anti-growth –my skepticism kicked in and I began to pay more attention to the small, but growing group of scientists who dared question orthodoxy. Also contributing to my skepticism was the attitude of most of the climate change community who, rather than countering skeptics with reasoned, rational arguments, began a smear campaign, referring to their opponents as Nazis, equated them with Holocaust deniers, and accused them of being in the pay of big oil and other large corporations. This contributed to the notion that they had something to hide, or that they were guilty of cooking the books in deference to their pet theories.

Gradually, despite the politics being played, the science being challenged, and the refusal of many AGW scientists to grant their critics the normal legitimacy one would expect from those dedicated to the scientific process, my skepticism was melting. This piece at The Week last year gave me much food for thought, as one of the more credible skeptics, Bjorn Lomberg, had changed his mind and now supported AGW theory. Then, more recently, one of the major players in the Climategate affair, Michael Mann, was cleared of wrongdoing by the very well respected National Science Foundation. Mann had also been exonerated by the East Anglia lab whose emails became public in the Climategate matter.

My thinking on global warming had nearly come full circle. But for me, one of the most compelling skeptical arguments that resulted from the Climategate email dump, was that the temperature stations around the world that had contributed data over the last 150 years may have given false, or inaccurate measurements. The arguments in favor of that conclusion were logical, reasoned, and made a lot of sense.

Now a new study, led by a skeptical scientist and funded by the Koch Brothers among other skeptics, has confirmed, through independent analysis of the data, that research done by Mann and Dr. Phil Jones, as well as NASA and NOAA, was remarkably accurate in showing how the earth has warmed. There are now 4 graphs done by 4 different studies that confirm - unequivocally in my opinion — that the earth is warming and that it almost a certainty that it is because of human industrial activity.

The BBC:

The claim was that many stations have registered warming because they are located in or near cities, and those cities have been growing - the urban heat island effect.

The Berkeley group found about 40,000 weather stations around the world whose output has been recorded and stored in digital form.

It developed a new way of analysing the data to plot the global temperature trend over land since 1800.

What came out was a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world’s three most important and established groups, whose work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate sceptic circles.

[...]

“Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK,” said Prof Muller.

“This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.”

Some background on the group who conducted the new study, the Berkeley Earth Project:

The project was established by University of California physics professor Richard Muller, who was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data.

He gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including such luminaries as Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year’s Nobel Physics Prize for research showing the Universe’s expansion is accelerating.

Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable foundations maintained by the Koch brothers, the billionaire US industrialists, who have also donated large sums to organisations lobbying against acceptance of man-made global warming.

“I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data,” Prof Muller told BBC News.

“Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared.”

The key is that the Berkeley group did not use the same method of analysis used by the East Anglia group (NASA and NOAA used similar analytical methods as East Anglia to reach their conclusions). The fact that their conclusions matched the other studies so closely would seem to confirm the accuracy of all the studies.

Though the broad parameters of the problem have now been confirmed to my satisfaction, skepticism is still in order for when scientists make claims that certain phenomenon like hurricanes, or droughts, or other events are the direct result of global warming. That’s not science — it’s politics. And as long as there is a political agenda associated with global warming, these claims will have to be backed up by solid data and analysis, and not simply spouted by rote as if we should swallow everything being promoted by AGW scientists.

Some sneering sot wants an “apology” from skeptics:

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the warming of the Earth’s surface was unequivocal.

“So-called ’sceptics’ should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities,” he said.

“More broadly, this study also proves once again how false it was for ’sceptics’ to allege that the e-mails hacked from UEA proved that the CRU land temperature record had been doctored.

“It is now time for an apology from all those, including US presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists.”

The essence of science is skepticism. Anyone who wants an apology from scientists who were acting like scientists in questioning theories needs to ask the same of the bulk of the physics community for being skeptical about Einstein’s theories, or those who railed against quantum mechanics. I think Ward should be the one apologizing for being so insufferably smug.

There is little doubt that this new study will change few minds in the conservative camp. Most would rather ignore new information that might alter their comfortable assumptions rather than accept what is now obvious. They will attack the messenger (omigod, it’s from BERKELEY!). Or they will posit conspiracy. Or they will reject simply because they are unable to get beyond the epistemic closure that sadly permeates conservative thinking. They will reassure themselves that they are right and everyone else in the world is wrong, telling each other that their false assumptions are still valid because no other information will be allowed to penetrate their closed little circle of right thinking orthodoxy.

For myself, the journey of self discovery continues. For the last 7 years, this blog has allowed me to put down in writing “the velocity” of my thoughts, holding them up to critical examination, and, after comparing my assumptions and conclusions to facts both new and old, adjusting — or not — my beliefs accordingly. It is part of what the philosophers refer to as “an examined life.” It may not fit with current right wing dogma to change one’s mind about anything and everything from the Iraq War to climate change. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s one of the only things that truly makes life worth the bother.

By: Rick Moran at 10:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

12/31/2010
8 ENVIRONMENTAL FORECASTS SCIENTISTS WISH WOULD SLIP DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE

Fox News has an all-star grouping of environmental forecasts that turned out to be so off base that the only question remains is why are the people who made them still taken seriously?

A couple of examples:

1. Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.

Um…no. Kids in England today know very well what snow is. They’ve had to shovel so much of it off the walk this winter they probably want to find Dr. Viner and throttle him.

2. “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michael Oppenheimer, published in “Dead Heat,” St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Read what this mealy mouthed little snit has to say to defend himself:

Oppenheimer told FoxNews.com that he was trying to illustrate one possible outcome of failing to curb emissions, not making a specific prediction. He added that the gist of his story had in fact come true, even if the events had not occurred in the U.S.

Um, no again. Where are the food riots? The “black blizzards” that will shut down computers? Or strip paint from houses? Or stop traffic on highways?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Here’s one from our old friend Paul Ehrlich, who famously predicted in the 1970’s that both China and India would suffer famines by 1985 where hundreds of millions of people would die. Both China and India are now self sufficient in food production.

Here, Ehrlich points his mini-brain in the direction of England:

7. “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

How about that one, Paul?

“When you predict the future, you get things wrong,” Ehrlich admitted, but “how wrong is another question. I would have lost if I had had taken the bet. However, if you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems, just like everybody else.”

Incredible. How wrong are you? Fantastically, stupendously,egregiously, idiotically wrong, that’s how much. “All kinds of problems” is light years distant from “England will not exist in the year 2000.” It’s not close, even by cosmic standards. You can look as closely as you’d like at England and glean absolutely nothing that would make your prediction anything more than the drooling ranting of a clown.

To be clear, scientists always get stuff wrong. It’s part of the scientific process, and is valuable because other scientists can critique their work and find a new direction with which to discover the facts.

But each of these examples shows that having an agenda - personal, political, or professional - makes this kind of science useless and is thus, bad science. So much science is politically driven today as to make a lot of it suspect, and virtually useless to the goal of uncovering the mysteries of the universe. You can’t build upon work that has been thrust into the public debate so that the individual scientist can personally aggrandize their standing in their discipline, or slavishly devote themselves to a political agenda. That’s not science, its  marketing.

Until those scientists who promote climate change as a catastrophic problem that needs to be addressed can assure the public that they are, if not pure of heart, at least basing their conclusions on solid scientific research and principles, there will continue to be a huge distrust of their motives and conclusions.

It is a tragedy for science that the practitioners don’t recognize this.

Check out the piece for more jaw droppers.

This post originally appears on the American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/8/2009
WHAT’S SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT CLIMATEGATE? EVERYTHING

We humans like things nice and simple. If we have to expend any more than minimal brain power to understand something, we get all cranky and upset. This is especially true if something that we thought we understood goes against our preconceived notions of the truth once we internalize more information.

I envy the technically inclined. They seem to be able to grasp difficult concepts with an ease that escapes me. And I’m not talking about those who might be educated in the sciences or other technical fields. It is much more basic than that. There are some people who are simply better at understanding complexities than the rest of us. It probably has something to do with the way their minds are organized.

No doubt in 10,000 years, their DNA will have survived while mine and the other technically challenged humans will see our DNA go the way of the Neanderthals. Such is the relentless logic of evolution that favors the problem solvers, the adapters.

I bring this up because the more I read about Climategate, the less informed I become. I have to really work at understanding even the basics of what people like Mark Sheppard, Charlie Martin, and this fellow at Watts Up With That blog Willis Eschenbach seem to understand intuitively.

All three of these gentlemen are telling me that Climategate contains revelations so profound that they call into question a quarter century of scientific observations and theory about climate change. I have no reason to doubt their anaylses or conclusions. That’s because I barely have a clue of what they are writing about.

Distilling basics from this trio of very smart, accomplished people is difficult. But what I can gather is that something is very wrong with the temperature data, not just for CRU, but for the entire knowledge base on which the very idea of rising temperatures above what would normally be expected rests.

If true, this would be a flabbergasting turn of events. The theory of global warming rests on the observation that rising levels of CO2 corresponds directly with rising temperatures. The inference to be drawn from the data is that the rise in CO2 is the result of industrialized economies spewing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Correlation in both sets of data is necessary for the the theory to hold water. If you remove the rise in temperatures from the equation, all you have is increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and a theory that eventually, this will lead to a warmer planet. But without that temperature data showing a rise, it would be impossible to construct a viable model of how fast and how much warming would take place. It would be pure speculation if a climatologist tried to model future temperatures if what the record showed were normal fluctuations that could be accounted for by other indices (lack of solar activity, “Little Ice Age” warming, etc.).

So this is what has me flummoxed. Are the leaked documents from CRU a closing of the coffin for the AGW theory? This from Eschenbach would seem to make a strong case for it:

People keep saying “Yes, the Climategate scientists behaved badly. But that doesn’t mean the data is bad. That doesn’t mean the earth is not warming.”

Let me start with the second objection first. The earth has generally been warming since the Little Ice Age, around 1650. There is general agreement that the earth has warmed since then. See e.g. Akasofu . Climategate doesn’t affect that.

The second question, the integrity of the data, is different. People say “Yes, they destroyed emails, and hid from Freedom of information Acts, and messed with proxies, and fought to keep other scientists’ papers out of the journals … but that doesn’t affect the data, the data is still good.” Which sounds reasonable.

There are three main global temperature datasets. One is at the CRU, Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, where we’ve been trying to get access to the raw numbers. One is at NOAA/GHCN, the Global Historical Climate Network. The final one is at NASA/GISS, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The three groups take raw data, and they “homogenize” it to remove things like when a station was moved to a warmer location and there’s a 2C jump in the temperature. The three global temperature records are usually called CRU, GISS, and GHCN. Both GISS and CRU, however, get almost all of their raw data from GHCN. All three produce very similar global historical temperature records from the raw data.

OK - this I understand. But after examining a recent controversy in Australia where the raw data was, in fact, released for the temperature stations, what Eschenbach finds, is that those “homogenized” adjustments appear to be…biased in favor of warming:

YIKES! Before getting homogenized, temperatures in Darwin were falling at 0.7 Celcius per century … but after the homogenization, they were warming at 1.2 Celcius per century. And the adjustment that they made was over two degrees per century … when those guys “adjust”, they don’t mess around. And the adjustment is an odd shape, with the adjustment first going stepwise, then climbing roughly to stop at 2.4C.

Of course, that led me to look at exactly how the GHCN “adjusts” the temperature data.

[...]

They pick five neighboring stations, and average them. Then they compare the average to the station in question. If it looks wonky compared to the average of the reference five, they check any historical records for changes, and if necessary, they homogenize the poor data mercilessly. I have some problems with what they do to homogenize it, but that’s how they identify the inhomogeneous stations.

OK … but given the scarcity of stations in Australia, I wondered how they would find five “neighboring stations” in 1941 …

So I looked it up. The nearest station that covers the year 1941 is 500 km away from Darwin. Not only is it 500 km away, it is the only station within 750 km of Darwin that covers the 1941 time period. (It’s also a pub, Daly Waters Pub to be exact, but hey, it’s Australia, good on ya.) So there simply aren’t five stations to make a “reference series” out of to check the 1936-1941 drop at Darwin.

Yikes, indeed. Half a world away from CRU and we apparently have a similar situation where the scientists solve their “problem” with falling temps by simply massaging the data until it says what they want it to say.

But the thought gnaws at me; am I missing something here? Surely the way they massaged the data has some scientific basis, right?

Yikes again, double yikes! What on earth justifies that adjustment? How can they do that? We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? They’ve just added a huge artificial totally imaginary trend to the last half of the raw data! Now it looks like the IPCC diagram in Figure 1, all right … but a six degree per century trend? And in the shape of a regular stepped pyramid climbing to heaven? What’s up with that?

Those, dear friends, are the clumsy fingerprints of someone messing with the data Egyptian style … they are indisputable evidence that the “homogenized” data has been changed to fit someone’s preconceptions about whether the earth is warming.

If this, as we are told, is “how science is done in the real world,” lemme outa here.

But is it?

In reaching its conclusion, the climate panel relied only partly on temperature data like that collected by the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, whose circulated e-mail correspondence set off the current uproar. It also considered a wide range of data from other sources, including measurements showing the retreat of glaciers in mountain ranges around the world, changes in the length and character of the seasons, heating of the oceans and marked retreats of sea ice in the Arctic.

Since 1979, satellites have provided another check on surface temperature measurements. Strong disagreements about how to interpret the satellite data were largely resolved after the Bush administration began a review in which competing research groups worked out some of their differences.

Science is about probability, not certainty. And the persisting uncertainties in climate science leave room for argument. What is a realistic estimate of how much temperatures will rise? How severe will the effects be? Are there tipping points beyond which the changes are uncontrollable?

Even climate scientists disagree on many of these questions. But skeptics have been critical of the data assembled to show that warming is occurring and the analytic methods that climate scientists use, including mathematical models used to demonstrate a human cause for warming and project future trends.

This is where my personal conundrum ensues. There are literally dozens of studies showing that glaciers are retreating. And yet when one study comes out showing the opposite, the global warming deniers latch on to it with the fervency of a recent convert to a religion. Arctic ice is another measurement that features a host of studies showing it is shrinking and getting thinner while far fewer observations reveals the opposite.

They can’t all be frauds. They can’t all be hiding data, cooking the books, just for grant money. They can’t all be far left commies out to set up a one world government. Many of these observations must be accepted based on the idea that there is widespread agreement across several scientific disciplines that these observations reflect the facts. And if that’s true, then global warming as a theory has not been “debunked” but rather called into question - something the Al Gores of the world don’t want to do but which science, with its infinite capacity to be skeptical, must do if the scientific process itself is to remain a viable part of our civilization.

My point is that you have to look at the big picture. Picking and choosing which scientific evidence you wish to acknowledge is simply not acceptable. The raw temperature data looks flawed to me but what do I know? There are at least two instances of scientists massaging data to achieve a desired result. Does that destroy the entire theory of AGW?

What it should do is knock some sense into the fools who are gathering in Copenhagen. If this were truly about saving the planet, there would be no talk of requiring the kinds of draconian, economy destroying measures being contemplated by world leaders. But global warming is now out of the scientist’s hands and is in the political realm. And since politics is ultimately about control, government action to curb emissions will be the order of the day.

There will never be “certainty” about global warming. The question I have is, after we are finished pulverizing industrialized civilization and the climate doesn’t warm, where do we go to get our money back?

By: Rick Moran at 11:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

12/1/2009
CHARLES JOHNSON’S WORLD

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should go over to Little Green Footballs and read this J’accuse post by Charles Johnson where he briefly lists some of the reasons why he has now, officially “parted ways” with the right.

Irony abounds for me in this situation. The fact is, Johnson and I are in lockstep agreement when it comes to many of our criticisms of the right. We both despise the cotton candy conservatism of Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter et. al. that is occasionally tinged with sniffs of bigotry. We both bemoan the paranoid conspiracies - birthers, and other theories about Obama - that have risen up to inject some of their sickness into mainstream conservatism.

We both see an anti-science, anti-intellectual undercurrent in some of the critiques of liberalism employed by the base, including an inexplicable denial of Darwinism, and a “the science is settled” argument toward global climate change (the science is wrong and the whole thing is a conspiracy). And we both agree that the anarcho-conservatism expressed by many on the right is unrealistic and dangerously wrong.

Therefore, having established my bona fides, I can say flat out that Charles Johnson, in his wildly exaggerated, hyperbolic, injudicious, ad hominem, unreasonable, and illogical attacks on the right, has abandoned any claim to prudent analysis and temperate understanding, and has instead, joined the ranks of those on the right and left who don’t deserve to be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain.

To wit: (”Why I Parted Ways with the Right:)

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

Johnson’s use of the epithet “fascist” shows that he is ignorant of the history, the philosophy (such as it was), and the tenets of that odious ideology. He is as ignorant as the brain dead lefties who employed the smear against Bush and the moronic righties who use it to describe Obama.

Using the term immediately identifies one as an excessively ideological partisan. He condemns the entire right for the wayward beliefs of a few. There is hardly a mainstream conservative blog that has not skewered Buchanan at one time or another for his stupidity and bigotry. And the tenuous connections Johnson has sought to draw to the genuine article in Europe - neo-Fascists - is laughable. Six degrees of separation does not “connect” American conservatives to those putrid personalities and parties in Europe except in the overactive, fevered, and unbalanced imagination of Johnson.

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

If you are going to accuse someone of “hatred” or “white supremacism,” I suggest you take proving those charges very seriously. Johnson doesn’t and never has. In the case of McCain, he has quoted extensively from some of McCain’s postings around the internet through the years. The problem is that many of those entries that he so proudly features were not left by McCain, and many of the quotes he uses to crucify RSM are not even his.

McCain is quirky. He can be insufferable. His constant self promotion can be wearing. But I have met and come to know this man and I can state categorically that there isn’t a racist bone in his body and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Not recognizing that McCain was targeted by professional smear merchants only shows Johnson’s unreasoning hatred of McCain to be the product of rank emotionalism and not rational analysis.

(McCain can, and has, defended himself. I don’t agree with some of his published writings, but I have an idea of how his mind works. It is an expansive, sometimes brilliant instrument that plays with concepts and ideas as a child plays with blocks. Seizing upon out of context ramblings by McCain is a cottage industry for some of his detractors and unfortunately, RSM is also afflicted with a naivete about how some of what he writes is perceived. He actually believes his honesty and perspicacity should be rewarded. Pity it isn’t.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

The numbers of conservatives who Johnson is talking about could hold a convention in a Marriott conference room. The mainstream right may be devout, but I hardly think the exaggerated term “fanaticism” applies to all but a very small percentage. And the charge that the religious right supports “throwing women back into the Dark Ages” does not deserve acknowledgment except that it reveals Johnson’s overweening, ideological partisanship. No rational critic would make such a charge. An irrational mountebank would.

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

Ooooh - “anti-science bad craziness?” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the very deep thoughts of Charles Johnson.

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

Is there really “support” for “homophobic bigotry” among mainstream conservatives? There is support for DOMA. There is support for an anti-gay marriage amendment. There is opposition to including gays as victims in current hate crime legislation. As I have laid out, while there is a conservative case to be made for gay marriage, there is a secular conservative case to be made against it. There are also perfectly legitimate legal arguments to be made against any hate crime statute.

At issue is whether a pressure lobby can dictate the parameters of what constitutes “bigotry.” The GLBT lobby constantly injects politics into this question, screaming “Bigot!” at anyone who fails to support their agenda. I happen to support equal rights for gays but denounce their politicization of gay marriage and their attempts to circumvent the will of the people by calling on the courts to adjudicate what is, at bottom, a political question.

Are there homophobes and bigots on the right? Yes there are. But Johnson, as he does constantly throughout his Zola-esque rant, inflates their numbers to justify his own, narrow, rigid, ideological reasons for abandoning his former allies.

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

Here, I have to agree with Johnson that there is a very large plurality of conservatives who not only distrust government, but despise it as well, and would like nothing better than to roll back both the New Deal and the Great Society to achieve “limited” national government.

(I do not include committed Federalists in this group who are much more serious minded in their approach to government and recognize many of its modern responsibilities.)

This anarcho-conservatism, where some kind of 19th century government is envisioned as the optimal solution to our problems, is a throwback to pre-Buckley days. It is unthinking, illogical, and oblivious to how the world has changed since the heyday of Robert Taft. Ultimately, it is a fearful kind of conservatism that can’t recognize or deal with change and seeks the safety of an idealized past.

But Johnson falls off the rails by lumping the “tea partyers” in with the anti-government zealots. Certainly, some in the Tea Party movement fit the description. But having observed several of their events, I was surprised at the restraint showed by most marchers, their very ordinariness giving weight to their protests. As an echo of the anti-war movement, I would say there are many telling parallels as far as the average American who felt strongly enough to commit to a cause.

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

Yes, in addition to the Birthers, there’s the “Obama is a Moooslim” crap, and “Obama wants to impoverish us all so that we become dependent on government” stupidity. But again, prove to me that this kind of thinking represents a majority of conservatives who are spouting this nonsense and I will gladly join in the cussing.

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

“Almost universally?” Heh - that’s something a freshman in high school might use in an essay. It’s either “universal” or not. Sorry Charles, back to English composition 101 for you.

As for the rest - not even worth commenting on. Simple sophistry.

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

This is something of which Johnson knows a lot about. I stopped visiting his site 4 years ago because of the nauseating, anti-Muslim bigotry spewing forth in his comments - cataloged many times by those on the left who are currently making him out to be some kind of honest conservative. And Johnson was their greatest enabler, if not inventing, then popularizing the denigrating mongram R.O.P. (Religion of Peace) to describe Islam.

How many pictures of Palestinian kids dressed in fatigues and armed with toy guns did Johnson publish, usually with the caption “ROP Child Abuse?” How many 7th century practices of Islam did Johnson mock on his website? How many times did he make fun of women dressed in the chador?

All of this enabled his legions of “Lizardoids,” many of whom felt no compunction in airing their out and out bigotry of Muslims. For Johnson to use this as a reason for “parting ways” with the right is the height of hypocrisy.

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

How can you take anyone seriously who uses the phrase “every other right wing source” to describe “hatred” of President Obama among all conservatives? Kind of a broad brush you’re using there Charles. Would the Volohk Conspiracy be a hate site? The Belmont Club? Outside the Beltway? Betsy’s Page? Q & O? I could keep going down my favorites page and add a couple of dozen of the larger blogs who offer reasoned analysis, and, if not always respectful, certainly rational critiques of the Obama administration.

And I certainly hope you don’t cast you lot with liberals. The fact that the leftysphere mirrors the right in the number of blogs who express virulent, unreasoning hatred of their political opponents would put you in the awkward position of going from the frying pan into the fire.

As a final thought, I would ask how adult is it to throw a tantrum in public in order to bask in the approbation of your former opponents? I have no reason to question Johnson’s sincerity, just his emotional maturity. Why make an announcement at all except to garner attention like some two year old who throws himself on the floor when he doesn’t get ice cream for dessert? Why not allow your opinions to shine through during the normal course of your writing rather than playing the drama queen and inflicting your exaggerated, insipid ill-reasoned diatribe on the rest of us?

Only Johnson can answer that. And since it is evident that he has neither the temperament, or intellect to engage in any kind of introspective analysis that would reveal his reasons to his own conscience, we’ll probably never know.

By: Rick Moran at 10:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (37)

11/28/2009
IT’S STILL A GOOD IDEA TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS

With the unraveling of the temperature aspect of global warming, what about the other half of the equation?

What about the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

The AGW theory rests on two pillars; the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere correlated with the rise in temperatures over the previous several decades. As even Ken Trenberth of CRU pointed out in one of the hacked emails:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong.

Since 1998, temps have flatlined while CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise. No amount of massaging the models can make that singular fact go away.

But let’s leave temperature problems behind and concentrate on CO2 levels. Are these measurements a fraud too? Are dozens of independent measuring centers in collusion to show a dramatic rise in CO2 levels in the troposphere?

This is the problem that deniers have when they say the entire AGW theory has been “debunked.” There isn’t a “consensus” that CO2 levels are rising. It is a measurable fact, independently confirmed around the world.

The problem for AGW advocates has always been to answer the question, what does it mean for climate? Most atmospheric physicists will not hazard a guess in that direction. Temps don’t concern them. They are interested in the chemical and molecular makeup of the atmosphere.

And right now, CO2 levels are about double what they were before industrial civilization.

(How scientists measure CO2 levels is one of those jaw dropping little tricks that impress to no end laymen like me. They measure gasses that have been trapped in air bubbles on the Antarctic ice sheet. They can date the samples using a fairly simple formula and are reasonably certain of their accuracy.)

Is this rise in CO2 a cause for concern? About 500 million years ago, CO2 was 20 times higher in the atmosphere. The average temp was much hotter (no polar ice caps) and oxygen content was also much higher. Life flourished in these hotter temps and the extra oxygen allowed for gigantic growth of the dinosaurs.

What’s different today is that the oceans are acting like a carbon sink, absorbing up to 70% of man made emissions. While the IPCC has said it is uncertain what effect this will have on the biosphere, there are already some indications that lower life forms - algae, plankton, coral - are slowing in growth.

If you understand that about 70% of the world’s humans depend on the oceans for their lives, you begin to see the outlines of disaster. Plankton and algae are absolutely vital to the food chain in the oceans and if they start disappearing, so do a lot of other life forms. The coral are also a huge part of life in the ocean and their colonies are slowing in growth dramatically in some parts of the ocean where there are reliable measurements.

It is too soon to blame this on rising levels of CO2 exclusively but the correlation is troubling. There is also the chance that warming oceans would change the almost magical currents that recycle ocean water around the world, bringing warm water from the south Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to the northern latitudes in Europe and America which makes the climate much milder than it otherwise would be.

(Ocean temps are another question and that data too, has suffered from inaccurate and suspect measurements.)

But the doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere cannot be ignored, nor can the rise of the gas in the oceans. That’s why it makes sense to make a concerted effort to reduce our emissions even if the temperature isn’t rising. There may or may not be a direct relationship between rising temps and rising CO2 levels. But dramatically rising atmospheric and ocean levels of the gas require us to take steps that are prudent, and that won’t destroy our economies in the process.

First and foremost we must wean ourselves from oil and coal as our primary source of energy. Whether we are at peak oil is not an issue. Demand is rising incredibly fast and supplies will be very tight. This is not a temporary problem. Globalization has allowed many third world economies to begin growing at astronomical rates while China and India’s energy requirements are also off the charts. Supply simply can’t keep up with demand even if we drilled every drop from our own coasts and wring every molecule out of what we have on land while demanding OPEC companies dramatically increase their output.

The way out of our bind is not through solar power, or wind power, or nuclear power, but a combination of all three with a little geothermal thrown in for good measure. If we started now with a crash course, we could build 100 nuclear power plants in the next 20 years. Sure, we’d have to bite the bullet and find the political will to store the waste. But perhaps somewhere in the next 20 years, Breeder reactors would be perfected where the fuel could be recycled. All it needs is political leadership and the will to make it work.

Solar and wind power are much more problematic. Industrial scale solar is not feasible at the present time. Neither will wind power be anything more than a local solution for decades to come. But the process of changing that must start now. Weaning ourselves from foreign oil should have been a top national security concern for the last 30 years and we could cut our reliance in half by 2030 if we started now.

The president’s alternative energy plans are, for the most part, sound. The goals are unrealistic (10% energy produced by alternative energy by 2020 where we produce less than 3% today), but there’s plenty of money for research and development. More than $80 billion over the next 5 years will be spent developing everything from new solar cells to batteries that will power the next generation of electric cars.

Even without global warming, these ideas are sound investments in our future. No cap and trade. No silly carbon gimmicks. No UN takeover of our economies. And no destruction of the oil and coal industries. In fact, we should step up our exploration and drilling while finding ways to burn fossil fuels more cleanly. That last is necessary so that we don’t choke on our own industrial waste, while making our cities healthier places to live.

We don’t need global warming catastrophism to see that it is simple common sense to find ways to lower our emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2. Draconian targets are not necessary nor would they likely be achievable anyway.

Perhaps it’s time to separate the concept of CO2 emissions from rising temperatures. If we could address CO2 as an independent issue, we might see the efficacy of lowering emissions for its own sake rather than have the issue get mixed up in the messy politics of global warming.

By: Rick Moran at 1:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)

11/27/2009
WARMING ADVOCATES: ‘REMAIN CALM! ALL IS WELL!

1-61

The human mind is an extraordinary organ, isn’t it? Perhaps one of its greatest fetes is its ability to compartmentalize information so that one side of the brain can ignore what the other side is trying to tell it. In extreme cases, this results in psychosis where the ignored memory is buried deep in the subconscious but still manifests itself in the outward behavior of the patient.

In the case of warming advocates, the logical side of the brain is being shut down so that the emotional part of the brain can continue as if nothing has happened recently that challenges their deeply held views toward climate change. It is a classic dissociative response, as Wikpedia describes it:

Dissociation is an unexpected partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s conscious or psychological functioning that cannot be easily explained by the person. Dissociation is a mental process that severs a connection to a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity.[1] Dissociation can be a response to trauma, and perhaps allows the mind to distance itself from experiences that are too much for the psyche to process at that time.[2] Dissociative disruptions can affect any aspect of a person’s functioning.

Now, a rational response to Climategate among warming advocates would be to examine the document dump from the CRU hack, and realize at the very least that serious questions about data on which much of the temperature theories regarding AGW are based need to be answered. There is no need to abandon one’s overall belief in AGW to do this. All that is needed is to challenge one’s basic assumptions about what we think we know.

But that isn’t happening - at least, not by most AGW believers. What is ironic is that perhaps the least rational warming advocate (and political commentator) George Monbiot (whose name became synonymous with “Moonbat”), has penned the most rational response among the promoters of AGW.

I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. The emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, they say, are a storm in a tea cup, no big deal, exaggerated out of all recognition. It is true that climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can’t possibly support (the end of global warming, the death of climate science). But it is also true that the emails are very damaging.

The response of the greens and most of the scientists I know is profoundly ironic, as we spend so much of our time confronting other people’s denial. Pretending that this isn’t a real crisis isn’t going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We’ll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.

[...]

Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the university’s handling of it, which has been a total trainwreck: a textbook example of how not to respond. RealClimate reports that “We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.” In other words, the university knew what was coming three days before the story broke. As far as I can tell, it sat like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting for disaster to strike.

The tack of AGW advocates seems to be to concentrate solely on the release of the emails to make their case that the evidence can be construed different ways by different people.

Just for fun, let’s concede that point to AGW advocates. Their problem is that the emails only constitute 5% of the released documents and the real meat of the hack - so far - has been the revelations about computer codes used to power the models on which so much of the temperature evidence is based. In a word, they are “buggy” - and thus, other scientists would find it impossible to replicate their experimental results.

Even beyond that, is the little reported, and perhaps even more disturbing news from New Zealand where the scientists working for the government’s climate lab were stupid enough to attempt to put one over on the public via the release of a climate graph along with the raw data from temperature stations around the country. To make a long story short, while the graph showed an alarming increase in temperature over the past century - ostensibly due to human activity - the raw data on which the graph was based tells another story:

What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections. But we were astonished to find that strong adjustments have indeed been made.

About half the adjustments actually created a warming trend where none existed; the other half greatly exaggerated existing warming. All the adjustments increased or even created a warming trend, with only one (Dunedin) going the other way and slightly reducing the original trend.

The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments and to date Dr Salinger and NIWA have not revealed why they did this.

One station, Hokitika, had its early temperatures reduced by a huge 1.3°C, creating strong warming from a mild cooling, yet there’s no apparent reason for it.

We have discovered that the warming in New Zealand over the past 156 years was indeed man-made, but it had nothing to do with emissions of CO2—it was created by man-made adjustments of the temperature. It’s a disgrace.

Why would a temperature graph supposedly based on raw data readings from stations around New Zealand show a different result when others attempt to apply the same data points to their own graph?

I am not a scientist so I don’t know if there is a logical explanation for this. There may be. The scientist in charge - David Wratt - gave this explanation for the discrepancy:

The NIWA climate controversy took a new twist tonight with the release of new data from the government run climate agency.

Reeling from claims that it has massaged data to show a 150 year warming trend where there isn’t one, NIWA’s chief climate scientist David Wratt, an IPCC vice-chair on the 2007 AR4 report, issued a news release stating adjustments had been made to compensate for changes in sensor locations over the years.

While such an adjustment is valid, it needs to be fully explained so other scientists can test the reasonableness of the adjustment.

And Wratt is refusing to release the data so that other scientists can duplicate his results - except for one temp station:

Wratt is refusing to release data his organisation claims to have justifying adjustments on other weather stations, meaning the science cannot be reviewed. However, he has released information relating to Wellington temperature readings, and they make for interesting reading.

Here’s the rub. Up until 1927, temperatures for Wellington had been taken at Thorndon, only 3 m above sea level and an inner-city suburb. That station closed and, as I suspected in my earlier post, there is no overlap data allowing a comparison between Thorndon and Kelburn, where the gauge moved, at an altitude of 135 metres.

With no overlap of continuous temperature readings from both sites, there is no way to truly know how temperatures should be properly adjusted to compensate for the location shift.

So it’s back to square one with the onus of proof squarely on the government scientist to release the data so that his work can be verified.

One would think that before we employ methods like cap and trade or other draconian carbon reducing gimmicks to cut our emissions, that we make sure it is, 1) necessary, and 2) that it will actually save the planet. As for the latter, there is no reliable information that drastically cutting CO2 emissions will do anything to slow warming. It’s not even clear that it will reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. As for the former, I agree somewhat with Eugene Robinson:

The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don’t know.

It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced each other, but so far they haven’t gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.

Well, that last by Robinson depends on what you read. Antarctica’s ice is growing, while the Arctic ice seems to be shrinking.

Is the planet hotter than it was a century ago? If it is - and the thrust of Climategate revelations would seem to indicate that this is once again, an open question - is it a statistical fluke, a natural hiccup in the gradual warming we have seen for the last 10,000 years made more pronounced by a measured lack of solar storms? Or has it been caused by industrialized civilization?

Trillions of dollars, the health and vibrancy of the world’s economies, and perhaps the future of life on the planet depends on the answer. I don’t think it too much to ask that we get it right. And those AGW advocates in denial over this growing scientific scandal - perhaps the biggest since Piltdown Man was shown to be a hoax - need to reunite the two sides of their brains that are in conflict and get to work.

By: Rick Moran at 10:57 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

11/26/2009
ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE SCIENCE ISN’T ‘SETTLED?’

The meltdown continues among those who sought to stifle scientific debate about man made global warming by claiming the science proving such was “settled,” or “solid,” or undeniable.”

Latest to make an ass of himself is Alan Combs who is a few days behind the curve as far as what the CRU hack has revealed:

Climate scientists who just released “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” say ice sheets are melting at an increased rate, and future sea-level rise will be higher than previously forecast. But scientific evidence means nothing to those with an anti-global warming agenda, who point to illegally hacked mails to try to prove that global warming is a hoax. Sadly for them, the anti-global-warming hysteria isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sadly for Alan, the emails constituted about 5% of the total information that has been spilling out on to the internet for nearly a week now. Charlie Martin went into the “Harry Read Me” file that was kept by a harried programmer who couldn’t replicate the “scientific” findings of Mann and Jones because the computer code they used to reach their conclusion was such a mess. Earth to Alan: If you or others can’t duplicate your experimental results - in this case, temperature data - then your theory doesn’t pass muster.

Then there’s Marc Sheppard’s piece that delves more deeply into the codes and finds enormous problems with them. Evidence of fraud? The jury is out on that. But even giving the scientists in question the benefit of the doubt any fool can see that their theory on millenial temps is in deep, deep trouble.

Except the science is settled, right? Al Gore said so back in 2007:

Even once-skeptical Republicans are coming over to Gore’s side — and it seems the debate has shifted from arguing whether there is a climate crisis to disagreement over how to fix it.

The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers. Carbon-dioxide emissions — from cars, power plants, buildings and other sources — are heating the Earth’s atmosphere.

Others agreed:

John Quiggin, economist

* “There’s no longer any serious debate among climate scientists about either the reality of global warming or about the fact that its substantially caused by human activity…” [2]

David Milliband, UK Environment Minister

* “I think that the scientific debate has now closed on global warming, and the popular debate is closing as well”[3]

Camilla Cavendish

* “The science debate is effectively over. The Stern review means that the economic debate is all but over. Only the political debate is left…”[4]

The science has never been “settled,” or “closed, or “effectively over.” There is good evidence that supports the theory and good evidence that rejects it. What is so hard about accepting that fact? What is so difficult about having an open debate without having skeptics compared to Holocaust deniers and Nazis?

Colmes and others who are seeing the ground shift under their feet as their long held beliefs are revealed as not set in stone, are dealing with this situation by saying they were for open debate all along and it is the skeptics that were for closing it!

RealClimate - a creature of the very lab where the emails and other data emerged - is now sounding a reasonable note:

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

They sound almost reasonable, don’t they? Of course, the real skeptics in the scientific community did not accuse the CRU or any other lab of being communists, or part of a global conspiracy. That’s for the nutcases who are saying today that the entire warming theory has been “disproved.” No responsible skeptic has made that claim as far as I can tell. If they have, they are as bad as Colmes and his ilk who are ignoring the probability of at least some fraud and certainly an effort to stifle dissent in the crudest way imaginable at the CRU lab.

George Monbiot blames…the skeptics!

It is true that much of what has been revealed could be explained as the usual cut and thrust of the peer review process, exacerbated by the extraordinary pressure the scientists were facing from a denial industry determined to crush them. One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

One of these papers which was published in the journal Climate Research turned out to be so badly flawed that the scandal resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief. Jones knew that any incorrect papers by sceptical scientists would be picked up and amplified by climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause.

Yes - all that “extraordinary pressure” from fellow scientists determined to “crush them” brings out the momma in me. I just want to wrap my arms around Jones et. al. and protect them from those mean old meanies who disagree with them.

Proof that deniers are all funded by oil companies - or even prominent ones like Lindzen or McIntyre - is a little scarce from George. And how ironic is it to accuse skeptics of “dirty tricks” when the emails show that Jones and Mann used every trick in the book to keep dissenting views out of important journals?

But Monbiot sees a “crisis” for the global warming community. I don’t see it as a crisis at all. This is the absolute best thing that could have happened to the debate over climate change.

When I asked Charlie Martin on my show the other night whether I thought this would slow down cap and trade and other AGW gimmicks he thought it wouldn’t, although cap and trade may already have been dead in the US senate. But I have to disagree. The story is out there despite an amusing refusal by the major media to cover it. What makes it amusing is that they still believe they are the gatekeepers with the ability to keep a story they don’t like under wraps. But people get a lot of their news now from the internet and there is just no way this story will die anytime soon.

This will give new impetus to skeptics who may find the atmosphere to publish their findings a little friendlier. And if their papers are bogus, or flawed, they will be handled the way all science should be handled; their peers will vet their findings ruthlessly and thoroughly. If they can’t stand up to scrutiny then they will be rejected. And the same goes for the other side in the debate.

It won’t be perfect. One thing those emails honestly show is that the scientists are human. They are as susceptible to human emotions like jealousy, anger, and envy as non-scientists. They are not robots and therefore, the process will not be without problems.

But it is a process that has served us well for 500 years and has led to astonishing breakthroughs in knowledge despite the problems. Eventually, the observed phenomenon and measured data will give us enough facts to honestly reach conclusions about AGW - hopefully without much political pressure. That last may be a pipe dream but if anything can teach the scientific community to leave politics to the side, it is this scientific scandal that is as much about the politics of global warming as anything else.

By: Rick Moran at 10:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

11/21/2009
HADLEY EMAILS DON’T ‘PROVE’ GLOBAL WARMING A CROCK

I know how tempting it is to take these files and emails and try to make a blanket condemnation of all the science that has been done on climate change. And there is no doubt that these specific scientists have a lot to explain with regard to some of their language used in the emails and apparent participation in at least some withholding of data that would contradict their findings.

But examining these revelations from a macro perspective would convince most reasonable skeptics that, while the case against AGW may be growing, the problem of climate change cannot be swept under the rug so easily.

I hate to disabuse some of the more excitable conspiracy theorists out there of their total AGW debunking dreams, but the climate is indeed, changing. It has been changing for 20,000 years and will continue to change. Sometimes,the change can be measured in decades, sometimes centuries, sometimes millenia. The question should be not whether the entire climate change community of thousands of scientists and hundreds of research labs is trying to put one over on us but whether there is anything we can or should be doing to deal with the problem.

It is unfortunate that so many non-scientists have latched on to AGW to promote their own political and economic agendas. I suggest that this is where the fight must be directed; governments, corporations, NGO’s, and the Al Gores of the world who stand to profit enormously from the ruinous policies they promote.

There appear to be many leading advocates for the AGW theory involved in this email controversy. But positing a “global conspiracy” is a stretch. The reason is that the AGW scientific community is just too diverse, too spread out over too many scientific disciplines for such a conspiracy to take root. To believe in such a conspiracy is to posit the idea that thousands of scientists are frauds - a laughable notion that is belied by solid evidence of warming in hundreds of observations and experiments around the world, published in peer reviewed journals for the express purpose of confirming - or denying - these conclusions.

And even some of the language in these emails that has been leapt upon by skeptics may, indeed, be misunderstood:

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail message was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often used the word “trick” to refer to a good way to solve a problem, “and not something secret.”

At issue were sets of data, both employed in two studies. One data set showed long-term temperature effects on tree rings; the other, thermometer readings for the past 100 years.

Through the last century, tree rings and thermometers show a consistent rise in temperature until 1960, when some tree rings, for unknown reasons, no longer show that rise, while the thermometers continue to do so until the present.

Dr. Mann explained that the reliability of the tree-ring data was called into question, so they were no longer used to track temperature fluctuations. But he said dropping the use of the tree rings was never something that was hidden, and had been in the scientific literature for more than a decade. “It sounds incriminating, but when you look at what you’re talking about, there’s nothing there,” Dr. Mann said.

In addition, other independent but indirect measurements of temperature fluctuations in the studies broadly agreed with the thermometer data showing rising temperatures.

Believable? I would say at this point that the burden of proof is on Mann and his colleagues but that some of that explanation sounds reasonable.

This, however, is pretty damning:

Not surprisingly, the Keith mentioned is none other than CRU’s own Keith Briffa, another Hockey-Team leader, whose temperature graphs, derived from tree ring data from Yamal, Russia, were cited by the IPCC as supporting evidence of MBH’s assertion of unprecedented 20th-century warming. But as we reported at the time, that buttress crumbled last month when Briffa’s results were proven to stand no more reliably than Mann’s.

Ultimately, neither reconstruction attained its alarmist imperative goal of proving today’s global temperatures unprecedented. Despite repeated fraudulent efforts to demonstrate otherwise, 20th-century highs remain documented as several degrees cooler than those of the Medieval Warming Period of 900-1300 AD. Bad news for the mankind-stinks crowd in general; worse news for those actually involved in this devious deception.

Both Mann and Briffa had been challenged for years to produce their data, methods, and source code by Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre. Both ignored the tenets of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) McIntyre cited and fought every effort to induce their coming clean. And actually not without good reason — last month, CRU was effectively forced to release the Yamal information, whereupon an analysis by McIntyre proved that Briffa et al. had cherry-picked and manipulated data, intentionally omitting records not friendly to their position.

The journal in which Mann and Briffa’s data was published failed to demand that the pair release the details of their studies on which the “hockey stick” graph was based, which flew in the face of their own policy! For his part, McIntyre has done a great service to science and the public with his single minded pursuit of the facts. (This WSJ article on McIntyre goes into detail about his quest.)

But does debunking the hockey stick graph debunk global warming as a theory? Not hardly. What makes AGW such a problematic theory is that the evidence is so contradictory, depending on which scientific discipline you choose to study. That, and the almost surreal opposition by AGW advocates in the scientific community to contrary findings. I say surreal because the scientific method does not allow for such rock solid certainty for a theory where the facts are still being gathered and analyzed. The atmosphere is such a monumentally complex system - the AGW theory itself is incredibly diversified to include the oceans, volcanoes, weathering of the mountains, meteorology, chemistry - all of this information plugged into models that so far, have been wildly inaccurate.

This in and of itself does not debunk global warming. As I’ve written previously, models that do not reflect reality are instructive for scientists in that it forces them to go back to the drawing board in order to improve their modeling. Trial and error is part of the scientific method - as long as it is done honestly and without cooking the books to achieve a desired result.

And yet, despite the uncertainty, the contradictory findings, and the almost religious fervor among both scientists and laymen who warn of catastrophe, we are being asked to ship trillions of dollars to other countries, allow the UN sovereignty-destroying power over our economy, and severely restrict industrial activity.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Even without this controversy, there were plenty of unanswered questions about AGW - enough to prevent non-scientists from hijacking the debate in order to achieve power, influence, and riches at the expense of healthy economies. At the very least, I hope that these revelations lead to slowdown in the rush to apply solutions that won’t address the problem as much as they cater to the desires of some powerful people.

I believe there is a case to be made to lower our emissions. This is common sense where uncertainty about AGW is prevelant. There is also an excellent case to be made to find alternative forms of energy to oil. Neither of these goals should be abandoned. But the draconian measures being proposed need to be deep sixed and climate change scientists need to abandon their opposition to skeptical viewpoints and get back to the business of discovering facts untainted by the desire for a specific outcome.

If that will be the lesson we take away from these troubling revelations, the world will be better for it.

By: Rick Moran at 11:33 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (46)

10/16/2009
‘WHY DON’T YOU PASS THE TIME BY WRITING ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING?’

TCM just had The Manchurian Candidate on the other night. No, not the Bush bashing, anti-capitalist version. The real one that was made in 1962 and featured really good actors like Laurence Harvey, the lovely Janet Leigh, Frank Sinatra, Angela Landsbury and a particularly good performance by character actor John McGiver as Senator Jordan.

No sense in holding back anything. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you. It is truly one of the finest cold war movies made and one of the best political thrillers of all time. The plot revolves around Korean War vet Raymond Shaw who won a Medal of Honor for saving his company during the war. It turns out, however, that all is not as it appears to be. Shaw and his company were actually captured by the Commies and, through a combination of drugs and psycho-therapy, turned Raymond (played in brilliant understated fashion by Harvey) into the “perfect assassin” - defined as a “mechanism” programmed to kill and not remember anything before or afterwards.

Twists abound as Raymond’s mother (Landsbury was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal) and step father (James Gregory) - portraying virulent, McCarthy-like anti-Communists - turn out to be Soviet agents who want to use Raymond to kill the party nominee at the convention and sweep the step father into power. Raymond’’s love-hate relationship with his mother includes incest (only hinted at in the film). The “trigger” that hypnotizes Raymond and gets him into his assassin mode is the phrase, “Why not pass the time by playing a little Solitaire?” When a red queen comes up, he gets his orders and goes out to kill.

The scene where we first learn of Raymond’s mother’s true nature as a Communist agent is perhaps one of the greatest screen surprises in history. As she turns to her son and utters the trigger phrase, the entire plot is revealed. Up until that time, the audience was led to believe that she was a strong anti-Communist crusader. There was no inkling whatsoever that she was anything except what she appeared to be. Absolutely unforgettable.

It may have been Ike himself who said that the Communists couldn’t have done any better at destroying the country than creating Joe McCarthy and letting him loose upon America.

The reason for this rather lengthy digression is that if you haven’t heard, today is “Blog Action Day” on global warming. It is a day when lots and lots of bloggers who don’t know any better - and even admit that fact - are posting about the dangers of “Climate Change” or whatever the global warming religionists are calling their quest to radically alter the world’s economy these days.

These kinds of mass activities trigger those who have been brainwashed - either in school or through popular media - into believing that not only is climate change a huge problem that we must solve NOW, but that even questioning some of the conclusions drawn by some scientists is akin to heresy.

I doubt whether there will be a lot of bloggers who actually question the scientific basis for climate change. In truth, I am not necessarily doing that myself. What I question are the motivations of those who are relentlessly pushing the global warming agenda, and their solutions which may or may not bring down CO2 levels, but will almost certainly enrich many advocates and see power - real power to control our lives - devolve into the hands of international bureaucrats.

So, like poor Raymond Shaw, these bloggers are unconsciously doing the bidding of people who do not have their interests at heart. And if we allow them success in their efforts, it would be catastrophic to the idea of the free market and free people.

Readers of this site know that I have taken an agnostic approach to global warming, granting that it may, in fact be happening but that the idea that the science has been so overwhelmingly proven that no counter argument is possible is a crock of baseless nonsense.

I think that reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses is probably not a bad idea at all but the draconian levels to which the UN and the Obama administration wish to reduce them and the speed that reduction will be mandated would destroy western economies. If things are as bad as the global warming supporters are saying, it is probably too late to do anything anyway - unless we simply called a halt to all economic activity that contributes to excess carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.

Since the strongest advocates of this policy would benefit financially (or aggrandize enormous power unto themselves), I can’t help but be concerned that the driving force behind Climate Change treaties and laws is not related to saving the planet but rather the economic and personal benefits that would accrue to the advocates, as well as protecting the reputations of scientists who have invested enormous personal capital into global warming living up to expectations.

Climate models have largely been debunked by meteorologists who point out that there are just too many variables to feed into the computer -even supercomputers - to come up with anything approaching accuracy.

Models predicting CO2 levels in the atmosphere are a little different. Those have also proved to be wildly inaccurate, but that is probably a result of our not modeling correctly due to our own ignorance. The more failures in prediction in this case, the more we learn. As Edison said about the lightbulb, he didn’t have a thousand failures, he discovered a thousand ways how not to make a lighbulb. I am much more hopeful that they can get CO2 models much better at predicting future levels than I am of scientists modeling the weather 100 years from now.

That said, the global warming literature that I’ve read (and been able to understand) is very dependent on predicting how that excess carbon dioxide will act once its in the upper atmosphere. Far from being settled, this is an open question with still much debate in the scientific community.

Do we look at the example of the planet Venus? What we’ve discovered there is quite chilling. It seems that a sort of feedback loop can get started and once CO2 levels reach a certain point, the atmospheric processes that block sunlight and trap heat reinforces itself and it become irreversible. No one knows when that point will be reached on planet Earth. Some believe we are very close now. Others think we have a few centuries as long as we begin now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The facts are clear; there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than there was a hundred years ago - quite a bit more. A likely villain is us. But the proof that it is anthropomorphic is not iron clad - not by a long shot. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start reducing our CO2 output. But it does mean that attacking capitalist economies in order to get them to reduce CO2 emissions to 1992 levels is absurd.

What I want is science and sanity in public policy - not quasi-religious pronouncements about the “end” of debate or the belief that every hot day signals the end of mankind.

And I would remind my skeptical friends that 11 years of cooling temperatures, or a thickening of Arctic ice does not “debunk” the entire theory. That’s as nonsensical as anything uttered by Al Gore, who would point to a warm spell during the 1990’s as proof that global warming is “real.”

Climate change is upon us. It has been changing for the last 20,000 years and will continue to change forever. That is the nature of our earth and denying it is silly. Over the last 20,000 years - the end of the last ice age - temps have warmed relatively quickly over a century or even a few decades. And then we have had periods for a thousand years or more where the earth cools. Such an interstitial may have killed off Neanderthals in Europe and led to the rise of modern humans.

The point is simple; we don’t know enough to be proposing what the UN is going to talk seriously about in Copenhagen in December. That is, an extraordinary intervention in the private economies of nation states in the name of “climate change:”

A United Nations document on “climate change” that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations “information note” on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an “effective framework” for dealing with global warming.

Would a treaty that contained provisions that challenged American sovereignty like that get through the Senate? Who knows. I wouldn’t put anything past President Obama or that crew in the Senate when it came to defending American interests in the international arena relating to either climate change or nuclear weapons. One would hope that reason would rule the day and we won’t have to worry about it.

By: Rick Moran at 11:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

3/30/2009
LIBERAL AUTHORITARIANISM AND EARTH HOUR

Got up this morning and shoveled 4 inches of Global Warming off my driveway.

I updated the old weather joke because it actually did snow 4 inches last night — a “Midwest Express” that roared through the plains bringing a springtime blast of winter’s dying breath. We are likely to have a couple more of these little surprises before we can officially celebrate the advent of the warming season. It better get here quick. Opening Day is a week from Tuesday.

I also altered the cliché above in honor of “Earth Hour” - one of those earnest, silly liberal attempts at “raising the consciousness” of people about one cause or another. Who can forget such planet altering events as “Hands Across America” or “Live Aid” concerts, or the “Let’s Give More Money to Africa so the Kleptocrats can fatten their Swiss Bank Accounts” concert? The total impact on public policy and probably on people’s “consciousness” was about the same as watching an episode of “Dancing with the Stars” — without the advantage of seeing scantily clad women twirling and dipping like Whirling Dervishes.

The attempt to raise the profile of Global Warming as an issue was apparently a success — at least among the left. I asked an elderly neighbor whether he was going to participate in Earth Hour by shutting off his lights for 60 minutes. When he discovered that the event was to take place at 8:30 local time around the globe he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Betty and I are already in bed by then. Maybe I should turn off the TV?”

I assured him that the target of this protest were electric lights and not essential stuff like TV’s. He thought perhaps he would turn off the nightlight in the bathroom but then he wondered if the Earth Hour folks would cover his medical costs if his wife stumbled and fell in the dark. I didn’t have an answer for him and just let it drop.

Of course, Global Warming deniers celebrated Earth Hour a little differently and probably had more fun with their participation given the circumstances. Many on the opposite side of AGW debate decided to turn every single light in their houses on for that hour. The response was declared to be “stupid” by leading lights of the left.

“Stupid” as opposed to what? Believing that it makes one iota of difference to anyone, anywhere, anytime that turning off your lights for an hour does anything except make the participant feel a false sense of moral superiority not to mention an obnoxious piety about an issue that, despite claims to the contrary, is still open for scientific debate?

Pardon me but the very idea that Earth Hour will show anybody anything, prove anything to anybody, raise the consciousness of anyone who doesn’t already have their consciousness raised on the issue, change any minds, alter the science, frighten politicians, or “help save the planet” is idiotic and bespeaks a frightening ignorance that is more dangerous than global warming itself.

I have news for my buddies on the left; Earth Hour was “stupid” - an insult to common sense, a slap in the face to reason and logic, and a as far from “reality” as the “reality based community” has ever strayed. It was a pointless waste of time and effort and calling your opponent’s counter-protest” “stupid” was more revealing of your inner demons on this issue than you realize.

Of course, all protests are “stupid” unless liberals start them. They are the arbiters of what is worthy of protest and what isn’t. They are the judges as to whether a protest is legitimate or whether it is “stupid.” Hence, all protests not started by liberals are, by definition, illicit by nature. In fact, by trying to delegitimize protests not given the liberal seal of approval, and dismissing them as “stupid,” the left demonstrates its love of authoritarian tactics in dealing with its opponents.

The AGW deniers “protest” was actually a clever way to mock the event — something that flew so far over the heads of Earth Day supporters that it didn’t even muss their hair on the way by. And there was plenty to point a finger at and laugh. First and foremost, the schoolboy earnestness with which these events are planned and executed, accompanied as they are by grandiose claims of importance and significance. Is it stupidity or hubris that makes the left think that ordinary people care one whit what they think is important? Yes all sorts of government buildings and landmarks as well as “socially conscious” corporations dimmed their lights for Earth Hour but how many individual citizens in various countries did the same? Grandiose claims of a billion people participating cannot possibly be proved — which is why AGW advocates are using that number. It might not even be close to the truth but it sure sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

Using their logic, I can claim that 100 million Americans participated in the counter-protest mocking Earth Hour and I would have the exact same legitimacy in making that assumption as they have in saying that a billion people dimmed their lights at 8:30 on Saturday night. The only difference is I’m not an AGW proponent which means my estimate is automatically “illegitimate.”

Being humorless twits that many in the AGW movement have shown themselves to be, the concepts of irony and sarcasm are as alien to them as if they originated on the moon. Hence, the idea of turning one’s lights on instead of off makes the counter-protestors dangerous and not simply trying to make an attempt at humor — a somewhat lame attempt I’ll admit but a better response to global warming than the United Nations is set to announce.

It seems the UN has got it in its head that it can run the economies of the entire planet. The same folks who ran the Oil For Food program for Saddam and ended up stealing more money than in any other caper in human history are proposing to “reorder” the economies of the world and save us all from rising temperatures.

This 16 page note that will be distributed at the climate change conference in Bonn next week and will form the basis for action when the “Copenhagen Accords” replace the Kyoto treaty in 2012 is the most draconian, sovereignty-destroying, illiberal plan ever devised by the UN. Every nightmare the right has ever had about the UN will come to pass if even part of this plan is adopted.

Now, it is not likely much of this plan will actually be adopted. The idea of the UN dictating to the United States, or any other industrial democracy, which economic policies they are to follow, from which new power plants they will permit to taking the power to impose tariffs away from our Congress, is ludicrous.

But it is instructive as to what the AGW crowd thinks they can get away with in the future. The plan calls for a reduction by the US of 20-40% of its emissions by 2020 and 90% by 2050 — an impossible goal that would destroy our economy. That result is secondary to the idea that the United Nations would have the power to regulate our energy consumption, our energy industries, and all industries that produce anything by burning fossil fuels.

As I said, a mad plan that has no chance of being ratified by the Senate — today. What the future will bring is anyone’s guess. A few more years of hysteria over AGW and it is foreseeable that people will be willing to give up anything in order that the United Nations save them. And the longer this economic crisis continues, the more likely people will be willing to give up their sovereignty. Like President Obama relying on the crisis to pass his left wing agenda items that have nothing to do with economic recovery but everything to do with “reordering” America, the world body will seek to use a crisis that they themselves manufacture in order to grab control of the world’s economy. And they will be cheered on by the very people who believe any protest not deemed by them as legitimate is by definition, invalid.

This streak of leftist authoritarianism manifests itself most noticeably in the debate over AGW. Stifling debate by threatening to try as criminals people who disagree with them, declaring an end to the scientific method by saying that the debate about AGW is “over,” spreading lies about skeptics by positing the notion that they are all being paid by oil and coal companies, attempting to ruin the careers of scientists who disagree with them, and seeking to censor scientific studies that challenge AGW orthodoxy — all point to a desire by AGW advocates to control minds by not allowing any dissent.

The fact that these tactics are generally supported by liberals is indicative of their own doubts about the efficacy of climate change and their desire to close their own minds to any information that would cause them to doubt, or otherwise alter their perception about the debate over AGW. This makes leftists not only authoritarians but stupid ones at that — a very dangerous combination that the United Nations appears to be counting on in order to make their plan a reality.

Personally, I am agnostic on the issue. Free people deciding freely to reduce CO2 levels while the jury is still out on climate change is fine with me. We should rely on the scientific method, one of the crowning glories of the western world: observation, hypothesis, predictions, experimentation.

To date, the authoritarian left has prevented this from dominating the global warming discussion. Perhaps it is due to so many of their observations proving to be wrong, or their hypotheses not panning out, or their experiments blowing up in their faces, or their predictions not coming true.

In that case, it is understandable why the left has taken to doing everything in their power to stifle free speech and debate over global warming.

 This article originally appears in The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 4:09 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)