UN: sustainability an "easier sell" than climate change


"I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it"

As Basil Fawlty said, “Don’t mention the war”, or in this case, climate change. Who’d have thought it? Climate change has been good to the UN over the past few decades, delivering the global organisation influence and power well beyond its wildest dreams, and far in excess of what it deserves.

It has also provided a healthy revenue stream to the UN, allowing its delegates to enjoy the high life, swanning around the globe to attend hundreds of climate talk-fests, almost invariably in exotic, luxury locations. And all paid for by someone else: you.

But the gravy train is coming off the rails at alarming speed. Watts Up With That reported yesterday that the US public rate “global warming” dead last in a list of priorities for 2012, after campaign finance, lobbyist influence, moral breakdown, and even general environmental issues! So much for the greatest challenge since the dawn of time.

Where the US goes, the rest of the world generally follows, so the UN is beginning, subtly, to hedge its bets. It has already flagged “biodiversity” as the next great cash cow (see here), but now it is almost embarrassed to mention climate change for fear of the world shrugging its collective shoulders:

Representatives from around the world gather in Rio in June to try to hammer out goals for sustainable development at a U.N. conference designed to avoid being tripped up by the intractable issue of climate change.

But there is concern in the lead-up to the conference, known as Rio+20 or the Earth Summit, that it risks ending up as all talk and little action.

In an attempt to avoid too much confrontation, the conference will focus not on climate change but on sustainable development – making sure economies can grow now without endangering resources and the environment for future generations.

U.N. conferences over the past decade have begun with high hopes for agreements to compel nations to cut climate-warming emissions and help adapt to a hotter world, but they often ended with disappointingly modest results. That was the case last year in the global climate change summit in Durban, South Africa. Participants at that meeting agreed to forge a new deal by 2015 that would go into force by 2020.

The “sustainable” branding for this year’s summit, rather than climate, is by design, said Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago, who headed Brazil’s delegation to the U.N. climate talks in Durban and will be a chief negotiator for Brazil in Rio.

Sustainable development is an easier sell globally than climate change, even though sustainable development is a way of tackling global warming and other environmental issues, he said. (source)

“An easier sell globally than climate change.” I think that tells us all we need to know.

Solar decline "unlikely to offset greenhouse warming": Met Office


Irrelevant, apparently

Naturally, nothing the Sun (1.9891×1030 kg of blazing hot nuclear fusion right on our doorstep) can do compares with what our omnipotent man-made CO2 can do – all, er, hundred odd parts per million of it. Another study,  undertaken by the University of Reading and the UK Met Office, dismisses solar effects on the climate:

New research has found that solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years but that will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases.

Carried out by the University of Reading and the Met Office, the study establishes the most likely changes in the Sun’s activity and looks at how this could affect near-surface temperatures on Earth.

It found that the most likely outcome was that the Sun’s output would decrease up to 2100, but this would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08 °C. This compares to an expected warming of about 2.5 °C over the same period due to greenhouse gases (according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s B2 scenario for greenhouse gas emissions that does not involve efforts to mitigate emissions).

Gareth Jones, a climate change detection scientist with the Met Office, said: “This research shows that the most likely change in the Sun’s output will not have a big impact on global temperatures or do much to slow the warming we expect from greenhouse gases.

“It’s important to note this study is based on a single climate model, rather than multiple models which would capture more of the uncertainties in the climate system.”

And just to ram home the “it ain’t the sun, stupid” point even further:

Peter Stott, who also worked on the research for the Met Office, said: “Our findings suggest that a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases on global temperatures in the 21st century.” (source – University of Reading)

Focussing on TSI as the only variable ignores many other possible mechanisms of climatic influence, not least cosmic ray modulation, which, whilst not proven, is about as convincing as the CO2 argument right now.

The abstract from JGR is here.

Activist website targets sceptical US TV weathermen


Forecast the propaganda

This says more about the website’s creators, seeking yet again to demonise and silence anyone who dares question the global warming consensus, than it does about the TV weathermen speaking their opinions. From the site, forecastthefacts.org:

Intense droughts, fierce storms, increased flooding. Scientists have been predicting for years that human-induced climate change would lead to a future of increasingly dangerous extreme weather events. That future is now upon us.

But when most Americans tune into their local weather report, they won’t hear a peep about climate change. Why? Because the majority of TV meteorologists don’t believe in it. That’s right: the professionals most responsible for informing the public about the weather are systematically missing the most important weather story of our lifetime.

With over 1,000 TV meteorologists across the country, the level of denial varies widely. Some TV meteorologists spout outright falsehoods on air–like the idea that the earth is actually cooling, or that global warming is caused by sunspots (not Co2 and other greenhouse gasses.) In other cases, they cover increasingly extreme weather events like droughts, wild fires, flooding, and winter storms, without ever mentioning the scientific consensus that climate change is making these events more likely and more intense. It’s the equivalent of a news anchor reporting on a string of murders without saying that there is a suspect in custody. (source)

LOL! Where’s the evidence that we’re seeing more extreme weather events again?

The front page splash asks:

“Do you believe there is solid evidence the earth is warming?” Yes or No

If yes, then you’re a goody two-shoes. If no, you’re a filthy denier. The question is ridiculous of course, because most climate rationalists, including myself, would answer yes when faced with such simplistic options. But that seems to be the puerile level of the whole exercise, setting up straw men to bravely blow them over. The site’s authors obviously have so little understanding of the real issues that they have demonstrated themselves, on the front page, incapable of even asking a vaguely sensible question about climate change.

One of the site’s partners is the extreme environmental advocacy group 350.org, which believes that there is a mythical level of CO2 below which the planet will be safe:

Three years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2remained above 350 parts per million. Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist [by which I guess they must mean railway engineer Pachauri - Ed] has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster.

Don’t anyone tell them that there were floods, hurricanes, tornados and plenty of other weather-related disasters when CO2 was way below 350ppm. Any organisation associated with transparent nonsense like that has immediately lost any credibility it may have had. Furthermore, Watts Up With That claims to have found alleged shady funding links, and since Watts himself was once a TV weatherman, he lets rip at these cheap tactics (see more here).

And even the Washington Post is embarrassed by the schoolyard bully tactics:

“… a sincere effort to respectfully make science-based arguments and carry on a dialogue sure beats the tactic of denigrating those who disagree with you.” (source)

The warmist desperation grows apace. Maybe you’d like to send them a tip: tips@forecastthefacts.org.

Trenberth's missing heat found – it's hiding in the "uncertainties"


"Hey, where's my heat? Has anyone seen my heat?"

Phew. The Cause is back on track. A new study has “found” Kevin Trenberth’s missing ocean heat:

“When we looked at the results of previous work suggesting inconsistencies, we found that it hadn’t factored in the considerable uncertainties between systems used to record the measurements.”

Loeb’s team conducted a new analysis of data captured between 2001 and 2010 of global satellite data collected daily by CERES satellite-based instruments, as well as upper ocean temperature measurements taken by expendable bathythermographs and more recently Argo floats.

They found that once these uncertainties had been factored in, along with considerable short-term variations known to result from temperature, cloud cover and humidity changes associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the measurements were found to be in broad agreement.

What’s the saying, if you torture the data enough it will confess? And ACM old favourite David Karoly is crowing:

University of Melbourne Professor of Meteorology David Karoly, who wasn’t part of the research team, says this study is a wonderful example of scientists checking the facts when things don’t add up.

It helps answer the concerns originally raised by climate scientist Dr Kevin Trenberth [from the National Center for Atmospheric Research] over the adequacy of observational systems to monitor the response of the climate system to increasing green house gases.” (source)

So the moral of the story is, if the data simply won’t agree with your rigid global warming narrative, just widen the error bars until they do.

Here’s the abstract.

Bacteria produce ethanol from seaweed


Macrocystis

A promising development in biofuel energy research, and one that will not displace essential food production:

Seaweed has long made biofuel prospectors drool, but they hadn’t figured out how to efficiently chew through the stuff — until now. Researchers have engineered a bacterium that can break down and digest seaweed’s gummy cell walls to yield ethanol and other useful compounds. If scientists can make the process work at larger scales, seaweed could soon be a serious contender as a source of renewable fuel.

The new research “makes a pretty large leap forward,” says metabolic engineer Hal Alper of the University of Texas at Austin. Unlike corn and many other biofuel feedstocks, seaweed doesn’t need arable land, fertilizer or freshwater. If seaweed can be efficiently munched into ethanol, it broadens the biofuel horizon, says Alper, who was not involved in the research. Seaweed, he says, may be “that new source for unconventional carbon that everyone’s been looking for.” (source)

(h/t The Register)

Corals "adapting to climate change better than previously thought"


Photo of cute PhD student always helps

From The Science is Settled department. The death of the Great Barrier Reef from the evils of man-made global warming is one of the greatest scaremongering arguments of climate alarmists, despite the fact that pollution and run-off from agriculture are far more damaging.

The notion that organisms that have been around for millions of years are unable to adapt to the gentle warming of the late 20th century has always struck me as patently nonsensical. Hypersensitivity to small changes in climate would ensure that most life forms would fail to survive the billions of turbulent years on this planet to be still here today.

Clearly this isn’t what we observe. On a similar note, an earlier post examined how tropical fish can adapt to dramatic temperature changes in just two generations. This assumption of fragility is yet another example of our failure to appreciate the robustness of the ecosystem.

CORAL reefs may be much better able to adapt to rising sea temperatures due to climate change than previously thought, according to a breakthrough Australian discovery revealed yesterday.

The research undertaken at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and published in the journal Nature Climate Change has overturned previously held assumptions about coral bleaching and which corals may survive in warmer waters.

According to PhD student Emily Howells, the findings demonstrate the potential for corals to adapt is more widespread than previously thought.

Further research is under way to establish the speed at which coral can adapt to rising water temperatures, and whether it will be fast enough to survive the impact of climate change.

“As with all scientific discovery it raises further questions,” Ms Howells said. “We hope to have some early results from preliminary experiments later this year.”

The latest discovery is considered important because it has radically increases [sic] the estimated scope of corals that may survive a changing environment. (source)

Given the sea surface temperatures around the GBR are pretty flat, it’s even less likely that your SUV is destroying one of the natural wonders of the world:

GBR Sea Surface Temps

Climate scepticism akin to creationism?


Al Gore creating the alarmist religion

This is just the latest in the long line of attempts to demonise climate scepticism. The US National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) has announced that it will be tackling the teaching of climate scepticism in the classroom, just as it has tackled the teaching of creationism:

NCSE is proud to announce the launch of its new initiative aimed at defending the teaching of climate change. Like evolution, climate change is accepted by the scientific community but controversial among the public. As a result, educators trying to teach climate change, like their counterparts trying to teach evolution, are often likewise pressured to compromise the scientific and pedagogical integrity of their instruction. But there was no NCSE for climate — no organization, that is, specializing in providing advice and support to those facing challenges to climate change education.

With the launching of the initiative, NCSE itself becomes that organization. As NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott explained in a January 16, 2012, press release, “We consider climate change a critical issue in our own mission to protect the integrity of science education.” She added, “Climate affects everyone, and the decisions we make today will affect generations to come. We need to teach kids now about the realities of global warming and climate change, so that they’re prepared to make informed, intelligent decisions in the future.” (source)

But which side of the climate debate is really closer to creationism?

  • Which side has a pre-determined “cause” that must be defended at all costs?
  • Which side suppresses inconvenient data that doesn’t fit the cause?
  • Which side attacks heretics that dare challenge the cause?
  • Which side takes scientific findings and shoehorns them into the results it needs to support the cause?
  • Which side hides uncertainties in order to prevent the cause from being diluted?
  • Which side tries to stifle debate in order to protect the cause?
  • Which side has armies of paid organisations the spread “the word”? Think all the Green-bankrolled blogs and websites
  • Which side believes that the world will end unless the cause is blindly worshipped?

On the other hand, however:

  • Which side champions impartial, free-thinking scientific enquiry?
  • Which side isn’t beholden to any “cause”?
  • Which side welcomes all data, whether inconvenient or otherwise, to increase understanding?
  • Which side welcomes debate, since, again, it leads to greater understanding?

Check out this great essay over at Number Watch, which exposes in great detail the frightening similarities between climate alarmism and organised religion. Here is the introduction:

It was Michael Crichton who first prominently identified environmentalism as a religion. That was in a speech in 2003, but the world has moved on apace since then and adherents of the creed now have a firm grip on the world at large.

Global Warming has become the core belief in a new eco-theology. The term is used as shorthand for anthropogenic (or man made) global warming. It is closely related to other modern belief systems, such as political correctness, chemophobia and various other forms of scaremongering, but it represents the vanguard in the assault on scientific man.

The activists now prefer to call it “climate change”. This gives them two advantages:

  1. It allows them to seize as “evidence” the inevitable occurrences of unusually cold weather as well as warm ones.
  2. The climate is always changing, so they must be right.

Only the relatively elderly can remember the cynical haste with which the scaremongers dropped the “coming ice age” and embraced exactly the opposite prediction, but aimed at the same culprit – industry. This was in Britain, which was the cradle of the new belief and was a response to the derision resulting from the searing summer of 1976. The father of the new religion was Sir Crispin Tickell, and because he had the ear of Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was engaged in a battle with the coal miners and the oil sheiks, it was introduced into international politics with the authority of the only major political leader holding a qualification in science. The introduction was timely yet ironic since, in the wake of the world’s political upheavals, a powerful new grouping of left-wing interests was coalescing around environmental issues. The result was a new form of godless religion. 

I recommend you read it all. And then decide whether it’s the sceptics that should be lumped in with the creationists.

Carbon dioxide "driving fish crazy"


Pissed again…

You have to hand it to the humble CO2 molecule, it certainly is multi-talented. Not only can a few extra measly parts per million allegedly wreck the climate of a planet that has been in existence for 4.5 billion years, and turn the oceans into corrosive battery acid, but it can make fish drunk as well:

Rising human carbon dioxide emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous system of sea fishes with serious consequences for their survival, an international scientific team has found.

Carbon dioxide concentrations predicted to occur in the ocean by the end of this century will interfere with fishes’ ability to hear, smell, turn and evade predators, says Professor Philip Munday of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.

“For several years our team have been testing the performance of baby coral fishes in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2 – and it is now pretty clear that they sustain significant disruption to their central nervous system, which is likely to impair their chances of survival,” Prof. Munday says. (source)

Mine’s a CO2 and tonic, please. No ice (‘cos it’s all melted).

Law firm tells government we need more laws to tackle climate change


Yet more climate regulation?

Ask a law firm to advise the government on anything, and the answer will invariably be: we need more laws, which inevitably means more lawyers.

And so it is with the latest announcement from the Department of Climate Change, which has released a report from law firm Maddocks on the “threats” to infrastructure from “climate change”, as The Australian reports:

LAWS governing key infrastructure assets such as airports, ports, roads, buildings and the electricity network should be tightened to cope with potential catastrophic events caused by climate change.

A report to be released by the federal government today warns that risks to the nation’s infrastructure “cannot be overstated” and intrusive regulations may be justified where key assets are vulnerable to catastrophic weather events.

The review was prompted by CSIRO predictions that the nation will suffer longer dry spells interspersed with increases in the intensity of wet spells.

More days of higher fire danger are predicted and forecast sea level rises will make coastal communities more vulnerable to storm surges.

The report by Maddocks Solicitors says liability laws could be used in the transport industry as “motivation” for the industry to adapt to climate change.

Rules governing airport master plans could be changed to take into account potential climate change events and the nation’s building codes altered to take into account extreme events.

The report says existing assets are more vulnerable than new infrastructure and governments may have to consider “retreat” strategies.

“This will require consideration of property rights, constitutional provisions, insurance, risk sharing, government funding and new regulatory provisions,” the report says.

The report also calls for the government to examine setting up a new national body to co-ordinate regulations aimed at climate change adaptation, with representatives from federal,state and local government. (source)

This proposal appears to have the potential to open the floodgates to yet more control and interference from government concerning areas of our lives in which government has no place, all justified by the overarching imperative to “tackle climate change”.

“Intrusive regulations may be justified”? An excuse for draconian legislation.

“Liability laws” used as “motivation”? Sounds more like a threat – in other words, widening the scope of liability to include losses suffered by third parties arising from an organisation’s failure to implement the government-decreed climate risk mitigation strategies.

“A consideration of property rights”? Using the planning regulatory regime to force property owners to take certain actions (or face the consequences).

“Retreat” strategies? Ordering people to leave property where some bureaucrat says so, for example due to projected sea level rise.

And the phrase “New regulatory provisions” to a government addicted to regulation (like Labor) is akin to giving Dracula the keys to the blood bank.

Not to mention the millions of dollars wasted annually on yet another “national body” on climate change.

So not only will our economy be slugged with a carbon tax which will achieve nothing, it will also, if the recommendations of this report are implemented, be hamstrung with miles and miles of additional climate-based red tape and bureaucracy, forcing businesses to prepare for events predicted by the cracked crystal ball of notoriously unreliable climate models.

See the Department of Climate Change page here, and the full report (170+ pages) is here (PDF).

Quote of the Day: Brian Schmidt


Quote of the Day

The Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, announced today as the Australian of the Year, on science and politics:

Science should inform policy, but must not become politicised, he says. “On issues like climate change, coal-seam gas, water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and stem cells we have seen science and public policy get mixed together,” he said. “We have seen policymakers challenging science, which they are ill-equipped to do. It is important for scientists not to get involved in the policy debate because if we do that then we are tainting the scientific argument.” (source)

Schmidt’s has previously defended the AGW consensus (see here), and his comment about policymakers not challenging science would be more credible if the scientists in question possessed proper standards of scientific integrity.

Unfortunately, in climate science consensus circles, political and financial motivations have usurped impartial free-thinking research, so that inconvenient data and results, rather than being welcomed as illuminating a path to greater understanding, are suppressed, hidden and explained away in order to avoid clouding the “message”, or should I say “The Cause” (© Climategate II).

By the way, there should be no such thing as “a cause”, in the sense of a belief or conviction, in science. Such a concept belongs firmly in the realm of propaganda and politics.

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