Political Climate
Feb 21, 2008
Global Warming Right on Schedule

By Peter Friedman

Although there are many uncertainties in climate science, we do know with reasonable assuredness that the earth is currently experiencing a modest warming trend. We also know that CO2, which is a small contributor to the “greenhouse effect,” is increasing in concentration in the atmosphere. The short-term confluence of these trends has led many to disregard the more convincing longer-term data and jump to a conclusion that there is a cause-and-effect relationship. But while the media have decided that the science is settled, many in the scientific community are skeptical - and with good reason.

Much of the current panic began when Dr. Michael Mann and his coauthors published their now-discredited “hockey stick” temperature plot - so named for its shape that showed a long trend of steady temperature over a thousand-year period and a sudden rise since the early 1900s. Dr. Mann’s hockey stick became the foundation for policy leaders advocating mandatory emissions caps. Fortunately for mankind (but unfortunately for the professional reputation of Dr. Mann), the hockey stick was convincingly shown to be an artifact of his flawed statistical methodology, which exaggerated recent data and smoothed older data. Stephen McIntyre even demonstrated that Dr. Mann’s erroneous methodology generated hockey stick plots even when random data were inserted. In contrast with Dr. Mann’s conclusion, the current modest temperature trend is consistent in both magnitude and timing with the natural temperature cycles that the earth has been experiencing for millions of years, and it is nothing to fear.

While there is little we can do that would alter Earth’s temperature cycles, we may be leading ourselves down a road of economic suicide. Here in Massachusetts, our Legislature is in the process of capping CO2 emissions levels at 20 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. Does anybody who is knowledgeable about energy production believe that this is even achievable? Although our Legislature will not be able to alter the millions-year-old climate cycle, they have repeatedly shown that they are very capable of making life more expensive here in Massachusetts. For example, coal is much more plentiful and economical for power generation than alternatives such as natural gas. But because of regulatory reasons in Massachusetts, we rely on natural gas for about half of our electrical generation, raising the cost of both electricity and natural gas and making us more dependent on imported LNG. Internationally proposed “solutions,” which exempt developing nations, are an even greater mistake. Does it really make sense for the United States to sign a treaty that gives another economic advantage to China?

Although many are gripped in fear of global warming today, 30 years ago we feared the opposite. During my teenage years in Florida, cold weather kept creeping farther down the state, destroying more orange groves every year. “Experts” were predicting that the Florida orange industry would be wiped out as a result of the cooling climate, which was incidentally also blamed on human activities. President Franklin Roosevelt said during the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The same could also be said about global warming. Read more here.

Dr. Peter Friedman is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UMass Dartmouth and a member of the American Geophysical Union.

Feb 20, 2008
Readin’, Writin’ And Warmin’

Feb 19, 2008
180,000 Stranded in Southern China as Cold Weather Returns

AFX News Limited, Forbes.com

Icy temperatures have swept through south China, stranding 180,000 people and leading to widespread power cuts, just as the area was recovering from the worst weather in 50 years, the government said. The latest cold snap has taken a severe toll in mountainous but usually temperate Yunnan province, struck by heavy snowfalls since Thursday, a government official from the provincial disaster release office told Agence France-Presse.

In Yunnan, 12 people have died, the official Xinhua news agency reported, and four remained missing as of Saturday. The snowfalls over the past few days have cut off 14,000 kilometres of roads in Yunnan, stranding large numbers of people, the newspaper said, citing provincial transport authorities.’As the bad weather continues, the rescue work is becoming much harder,’ said the official from the provincial disaster release office, referring to helping stranded passengers, clearing roads and getting power back up.

‘Among all the cities affected by the snow disaster, Qujing city suffered from the greatest economic losses,’ the official added. Some 180,000 people were stranded in south China due to the latest weather troubles, the government and state media reported. Usually warm and sunny Yunnan was one of the areas hard hit by the frigid weather in January and early February, which pummelled China’s south, southwest and east, in the worst winter weather seen in five decades. The three weeks of severe weather left millions stranded, as the nation’s power and transport networks were unable to cope with the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures.
Read more here.

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