Icing The Hype
Jun 08, 2007
Ice ages dried up African monsoons

New Scientist, June 10, 2007

When ice ages held Europe in their grip, Africa also felt the pinch - though in a different way. They also discovered big swings in monsoon activity over timescales as small as 100 years, linked to rapid climate change caused by changes in ice sheet size (Science, vol 316, p 1303). “Something that happens right up in the poles can have a dramatic effect on the climate in the tropics,” says Lea.
It has long been suspected that there is a connection between the west African monsoon and climate at higher latitudes - especially over geological timescales, says David Lea at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But until now, there hasn’t been enough supporting evidence.” Now Lea, with team leader Syee Weldeab and colleagues, has reconstructed the most detailed history of the monsoon yet, spanning 155,000 years and two ice ages.

The team analysed the amount of barium in plankton shells found in an ocean sediment core drilled beneath the Gulf of Guinea. Barium is found in freshwater run-off from the river Niger, says Lea, and is a gauge of past run-off levels and monsoon intensities. When the northern latitudes were frozen over, monsoon rains were much weaker, only gaining strength again when the temperatures in the north increased, the team found.  See full story here.

Jun 06, 2007
The Skeptic Weekend Weatherman

by Doron Taussig, citypaper.net

David Aldrich, the weekend weatherman at Fox 29, considers himself a green guy. He recycles, uses nontoxic cleaning products in his house and his next car will probably be a hybrid. But when it comes to the biggest, most controversial environmental issue of our time, Aldrich isn’t signing on.

This weatherman is a self-proclaimed “Global Warming Skeptic.” On the blog he maintains for Fox29’s Web site, Aldrich liberally employs varying font colors, sizes and styles to cast doubt on the biggest forecast of them all. “After the 13th COLDEST February in Philadelphia and the coldest since 1979, many are scratching their heads on what to believe when it comes to global warming,” he wrote. “My goal is NOT to convince or persuade you one way or the other — but rather, to expose you to the multiple sides of this argument. And yes, there are MULTIPLE sides.”

I totally believe that we are in a warm phase,” he began. “There’s no doubt the Earth is warmer.” But? “There’s a different side to what is causing climate change. I think too much emphasis has been put on CO2. I do not believe CO2 is a pollutant. I’m made of CO2, you’re made of CO2 ... the ocean is a reservoir of CO2.” Aldrich says he believes the Earth is warming because of natural cycles of the sun and the ocean. See full story here.

Jun 05, 2007
Let’s Move Cautiously on Warming

Economics editor Alan Wood, The Australian

So Kevin Rudd (Australia’s Leader of the Opposition Labor Party) is going to get rid of his Ford Territory and buy a Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle. Obviously he wants to avoid the Al Gore trap. Gore, self-anointed high priest of the green faith and awarded the sacred Oscar by vacuous Hollywood luvvies, has been exposed as a grade-A personal contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Gore is going to plant some trees (well, pay someone else to), a new act of repentance favoured by adherents of the faith.

The Prius is another. Ego te absolvo, hey Kevin? Rudd’s purchase of the Prius brings to mind an episode from South Park where the Prius was rebadged the Pious and its owners depicted as self-righteous prigs who considered themselves saviours of the planet, set apart from other sinful, polluting motorists. Says it all, really.

In its submission to John Howard’s Task Group on Emissions Trading, the Productivity Commission makes some pointed observations about buying hybrid petrol-electric cars such as the Prius. It says that buying such vehicles amounts to achieving greenhouse gas abatement (the cutting of emissions) at a cost of $400 a tonne of carbon dioxide.

Not only is this an extraordinarily high cost, alternatives costing $10 a tonne and less are ignored. “Of course,” the commission says, “it could be argued the purchase of hybrid vehicles helps in the development of a low-emissions technology (Rudd’s claim), but the question of whether this is the best way to support technology is rarely asked.” The answer is: it isn’t.  Rudd’s Prius is symbolic of a much wider problem. State Labor governments and local councils are also keen buyers of the Prius. And they do a lot of other unproductive things in the name of emissions abatement.  See full story here.

Jun 02, 2007
Scientists Rally Around NASA Chief After Global Warming Comments

Science and Public Policy Institute

Washington, DC June 1: NASA’s top administrator, Michael Griffin, speaking on NPR radio made some refreshingly sensible comments about the present global warming scare,” said Robert Ferguson, Director of the Science and Public Policy Institute. “Many rationalist scientists agree with him, clearly demonstrating there is no scientific consensus on man-made, catastrophic global warming,” said Ferguson. Griffin said he doubted global warming is “a problem we must wrestle with,” and that it is arrogant to believe that today’s climate is the best we could have and that “we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.” While NASA scientist, James Hansen, was sharply critical of his boss, other scientists from around the world came to Griffin’s support. 

Among the many comments was one from Kansas geologist Lee Gerhard “Griffin’s statement focuses on the hubris that affects much of public policy. It is great to know that someone out there besides geologists understands that humans do not dominate earth’s dynamic systems.  Said Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, “Claims of major, impending catastrophe are speculative and go far beyond what has been credibly established by researchers to date. Hence Griffin’s view is not at all controversial or out of step with available evidence, and he should be commended for having the courage to say it. The fact that it took courage, however, points to the deeper problem that questioning the catastrophic propaganda we hear so much is now considered politically incorrect.” Harvard University physicist Lubos Motl praised Griffin’s climate comments, calling them “sensible.” On his public blog, Motl said he applauds Michael Griffin and encourages him to act as “a self-confident boss of a highly prestigious institution.” “I have always believed that the people who actually work with hard sciences and technology simply shouldn’t buy a cheap and soft pseudoscientific propaganda such as the ‘fight against climate change,’” Motl added.  See all the comments here.

May 31, 2007
Two Radio Events Worth Listening To

One is a NPR radio interview which will be available today with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who although he agrees with Hansen that global warming is probably ocurring, admiits “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with”. See highlight and link to transcript and audio here.  See Hansen’s predictable overreaction to Griffin’s interview here. It included this comment. “It’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement,” Hansen told ABC News. “It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change.” And finally this comment on the Reference Frame for Griffin to hang tough.

“The Reference Frame applauds Michael Griffin and encourages him to act as a self-confident boss of a highly prestigious institution. Let me re-emphasize that it is Griffin, not Hansen, who is the boss of NASA and this fact should be taken into account if it turns out that one of them should leave NASA. Any sign of weakness, Dr Griffin, will be used against you. More precisely, I would recommend the boss of NASA to fire Hansen for his despicable comments about his boss as soon as possible.”

Also Dr. Bob Carter, Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Australia debated Stephen Schneider in Australia. Stephen, once a global cooling proponent switched sides in the 1980s.  Schneider in an interview in Discover Magazine 1989 said “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” Listen to the debate here

May 31, 2007
What if AGW proves to be a fiction?

By Bob Brinsmead

What if AGW proves to be a fiction?  I would like to point out the some of those who are pushing AGW have raised this question themselves, and they have said that even if AGW proves to be groundless, the campaign will be a great benefit anyhow.  But the reason they have given is not advancement in technology, better energy sources, less dependence on politically unstable countries, etc. It seems that some of the leading proponents of AGW are thinking about achieving socio/econo/political objectives. 

The real hard green environmentalists and these people with socialist objectives don’t want America’s or the AP 6’s technological solutions. They are not the least impressed with the latest statistics that show that the US has been far more successful in minimizing growth in greenhouse emissions than the EU Kyoto group - I think the growth in the US emissions in the last few years comes in as about half of the EU emissions growth. If, or rather when the technological fixes and advancements come to the fore, these AGW crusaders will be as bitterly disappointed as the dyed-in-the-wool socialists were disappointed when there was dancing on the Berlin Wall instead of dancing on the grave of Western capitalism - and more importantly, Western freedom.  The Australian’s editorial was partly right when it opined that some of these climate advocates won’t be satisfied until we are all taking cold showers in the dark. 

This movement at its core is not just anti free market, but it is profoundly anti-human.  Humans are depicted as the great enemy of mother nature (Gaia), the cancer of the earth, and the big rub is that human freedom cannot be trusted but must be radically curtailed.  Humans supposedly don’t know what is good for them, and at the end of the day, we will have to be told and directed in the matter of what is good for us and the environment.  Read more here.

May 30, 2007
NASA: Danger Point Closer Than Thought from From Warming ‘Disastrous Effects’

Bill Blakemore, ABC News

Even “moderate additional” greenhouse emissions are likely to push Earth past “critical tipping points” with “dangerous consequences for the planet,” according to research conducted by NASA and the Columbia University Earth Institute.  With just 10 more years of “business as usual” emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas, says the NASA/Columbia paper, “it becomes impractical” to avoid “disastrous effects.” The study appears in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Its lead author is James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

The forecast effects include “increasingly rapid sea-level rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting climate zones,” according to the NASA announcement. See full story here

Note: Blakemore told the Conference of Environmental Journalists last fall that he will only talk to people like Hansen and Erlich, the real experts on climate change after being misled years ago by another senior scientist who discounted the alarmist position.  Hansen had 3 years ago also noted we only had 10 years left to save the planet. The new warning comes even as many of the measures show we may have peaked in the global warmth anywhere from 1998 to 2001 and have leveled off or begun a decline since then. 

May 29, 2007
Web Journals Threaten Peer-Review System

By Alicia Chang, AP

Scientists frustrated by the iron grip that academic journals hold over their research can now pursue another path to fame by taking their research straight to the public online. Instead of having a group of hand-picked scholars review research in secret before publication, a growing number of Internet-based journals are publishing studies with little or no scrutiny by the authors’ peers. It’s then up to rank-and-file researchers to debate the value of the work in cyberspace.

The Web journals are threatening to turn on its head the traditional peer-review system that for decades has been the established way to pick apart research before it’s made public. Even some mainstream journals are toying with a tame form of open peer review. Last summer, Nature allowed authors whose papers were selected for traditional peer review to have their manuscripts judged by the public at the same time. Editors weigh both sides when deciding whether to publish a paper, and rejected research can be submitted elsewhere. Linda Miller, the journal’s U.S. executive editor, said she was encouraged by the participation. More than 60 papers have been posted on Nature’s site for open peer review as of mid-September including one that has been accepted for publication. Several others are on the path to being published.  Miller said Nature’s experimentation with the Internet is just another way the journal is trying to reach out to the public. Two of its specialized journals on neuroscience and genetics already offer a blog-like forum for researchers to post their thoughts on published articles, though they have attracted little attention, she said.  “If we don’t serve the community well, we will become irrelevant,” she said. See full story here.

Note: This story is a little dated (last October) but very relevant to scientists in this climate change field where some of the journals have editors and peer reviewers that are very like-minded on this issue. Along similar lines, more people read the more popular web sites and web blogs than will ever read a peer reviewed paper, so today, it is possible to reach many people with information the traditional media and journals are not reporting.

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