The weather isn't getting weirder

Big weather for sure, but weather just the same

Try telling that to Bob Brown, or Tim Flannery or any of the countless other alarmists who have no concept of geological time, or even recent weather history. All you need to do is search the news archive to find countless stories of terrible disasters well before man’s emissions of carbon dioxide could possibly have had any effect.

But instead, whenever we suffer extreme weather, the Chicken Littles rush to blame “man-made global warming” because they cannot think of anything else, and they have a political agenda to advance by whatever means possible. We saw it with the Queensland floods, and Cyclone Yasi, the Big Dry and the Victorian bushfires, and we will no doubt continue to see it for every extreme weather event in the foreseeable future.

But unfortunately, a recent study shows no evidence of increasing severe or extreme weather, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

Last week a severe storm froze Dallas under a sheet of ice, just in time to disrupt the plans of the tens of thousands of (American) football fans descending on the city for the Super Bowl. On the other side of the globe, Cyclone Yasi slammed northeastern Australia, destroying homes and crops and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Some climate alarmists would have us believe that these storms are yet another baleful consequence of man-made CO2 emissions. In addition to the latest weather events, they also point to recent cyclones in Burma, last winter’s fatal chills in Nepal and Bangladesh, December’s blizzards in Britain, and every other drought, typhoon and unseasonable heat wave around the world.

But is it true? To answer that question, you need to understand whether recent weather trends are extreme by historical standards. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project is the latest attempt to find out, using super-computers to generate a dataset of global atmospheric circulation from 1871 to the present.

As it happens, the project’s initial findings, published last month, show no evidence of an intensifying weather trend. “In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years,” atmospheric scientist Gilbert Compo, one of the researchers on the project, tells me from his office at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”

In other words, researchers have yet to find evidence of more-extreme weather patterns over the period, contrary to what the models predict. “There’s no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather,” adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher. (source)

And the conclusion makes even more sense: “prosperity and preparedness help”. In other words, we must have strong economies in order to adapt to the inevitable climate changes that will affect humanity in the future, not economies that are fatally crippled by pointless emissions reduction taxes.

(h/t Peter C)

Gillard's flood disaster

"Tax and spend, tax and spend!"

The flood levy is turning into a disaster in its own right for Julia Gillard and Labor. People who have given generously of their own free will over the last few weeks to the flood appeals are now furious at being slugged with a compulsory donation via a new tax, when all they have seen over the past four years from Labor is reckless spending and waste. This will stick in the craw of many (including me). Why should we pay more in tax when Labor already manage to waste so much, is the question people should, and no doubt will, be asking.

Wayne Swan on ABC News Radio this morning was particularly nauseating, urging the crossbench MPs to wave the new tax through without a pause for breath because its “what the Australian people want”, and playing emotional blackmail by claiming that the Opposition, by not supporting the levy, were heartlessly abandoning Queenslanders who have suffered in the floods. The reality is the opposite, of course. The Opposition in fact cares more, because it treats taxpayer’s money with respect, ensuring that it is spent wisely and with value for money as a priority, not simply wasted or spent recklessly. Labor on the other hand splash it around like its going out of fashion – they are the ones that don’t care.

Rarely has a government been so out of touch with what the public want, except perhaps in New South Wales, but that’s a whole other story…

From The Australian:

COMPELLING people to do that which you refuse to do yourself goes beyond hypocrisy: it’s plain nasty. That’s why Julia Gillard’s flood levy is likely to sink her as being a viable Prime Minister.

The levy is based on the rationale that the rich (those on more than $100,000 annually) have enough fat in their family budget to cut 1 per cent of their spending to give to flood rebuilding.

The levy will raise $1.8 billion. The government’s annual budget is $350bn. So why can’t the government that gave us the pink batts debacle, that mailed out $900 cheques (now apparently loans) and is going to splash $36bn to give us quicker internet, cut a measly 0.5 per cent of its mega-budget to fix the flood damage?

The answer has nothing to do with capacity.

It has everything to do with misplaced ideology. In times of crisis, people and institutions revert to their default position. And for Labor, problem-solving option A is always tax the rich.

Read it all.

Climate madness and climate sense


A few articles caught my eye this morning – more madness than sanity, as usual. Firstly a truly extraordinary rant by Paddy Manning in Fairfax, which I show just for amusement, really:

HOW pathetic watching sceptics squirm over the link between the recent floods and climate change. How much more risk do they want us to tolerate while we wait for the proof that might satisfy them?

Way too much. For decades we’ve been told that global warming will lead to more extreme weather events. Now it’s happening before our eyes. (source)

The rest’s the same. What’s even more pathetic, however, is watching pig-ignorant journalists and politicians with the memory span of a goldfish use the floods to make cheap political points, when there have been worse floods before, even in the microscopic 150 year flood record, with no evidence of increasing frequency or severity. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

Now, on to the UN. Whenever a sceptic dares mention that there may be an ulterior motive behind climate change action, like anti-globalisation, or anti-capitalism, or scaling back western economies, the Fairfax-reading, ABC-watching lefty heads can’t wait to pop. So isn’t it odd that Ban Ki-Moon(bat) is advocating precisely that:

The world’s current economic model is an environmental “global suicide pact” that will result in disaster if it isn’t reformed, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, warned today.

Ban said that political and business leaders need to embrace economic innovation in order to save the planet.

“We need a revolution,” he told a panel at the World Economic Forum inDavos, Switzerland, on how best to make the global economy sustainable. “Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete.”

He called the current economic model a recipe for “national disaster” and said: “We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change, time to ensure sustainable … growth.” The Guardian revealed yesterday that Ban is ending his hands-on efforts to reach a global climate deal through UN negotiations, and move to focus on a broader sustainability agenda. (source)

“Sustainability” being a codeword for massive wealth redistribution, abandoning capitalism and its replacement with socialism and Marxism, of course.

But amongst all the madness, a glimmer of hope. Remember that the basis of science is scepticism and that “Question everything” should be the mantra… except in climate science, however, where the mantra is “climate models trump empirical evidence”. The opposite of sceptical is “gullible”, and more and more people are abandoning gullibility for scepticism:

The number of climate change sceptics has almost doubled in four years, official research showed yesterday.

A quarter of Britons are unconvinced that the world is warming following successive freezing winters and a series of scandals over the credibility of climate science.

The figures suggest that a growing proportion of the public do not share the belief of all three major political parties and Whitehall – that climate change is a major and urgent challenge requiring radical and expensive policies.

The survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, has plotted levels of acceptance of the theory of man-made global warming since 2006.

In that year it found that 87 per cent of people were at least ‘fairly convinced’ that climate change was happening.

Last year that share had dropped to 75 per cent. Numbers who say they are unconvinced went up from 12 to 23 per cent. (source)

Green gimmicks axed to pay for floods

… has a silver lining

Every cloud…

GREEN programs have been hit hard by spending cuts to help pay for rebuilding in flood-devastated parts of Australia.

They include Julia Gillard’s much derided $394 million “cash for clunkers” program, an election promise designed to get older cars off Australian roads.

Other programs axed include the green car innovation fund and the green start fund.

Savings have also been found across the forward estimates in the solar hot water program and the solar homes and communities program, and in funding for the global carbon capture and storage institute.

The Greens are apoplectic:

“It beggars belief that the government would choose to cut climate change programs like solar flagships, energy efficiency and the solar hot water rebate to fund disaster relief when such disasters will be made worse by climate change,” Senator Milne said. (source)

Double joy.

Julia's Australia Day present: another new tax

Just what we wanted… not.

By all accounts, the flood levy is going ahead. Thanks, Julia. And a happy Australia Day to you, too. So not only is there a new tax, but people will be paying a fortune for food. What planet are the pollies on?

THE federal government has agreed to hit taxpayers with a one-off levy to help cover the cost of flood damage, at the same time warning that food prices will skyrocket during the next three months.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, held meetings in Canberra yesterday with the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, the Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, and officials to thrash out the details of the levy as well as budget cuts to find the billions needed to rebuild roads, railway lines and bridges in flood-affected areas. [Not difficult, chaps: NBN, Pink Batts, BER etc etc – Ed]

While the levy was still being finalised late yesterday, the main option involved an increase in the 1.5 per cent Medicare levy over 12 months. It is understood other options were being canvassed.

Ms Gillard was to announce the levy next week after Mr Swan outlined the financial impact of the floods during a speech on Friday.

But it was decided to bring forward the announcement to a National Press Club address tomorrow while public sentiment over the floods was high and so the government could start selling the levy against opposition attacks.

Joe Hockey, however, nails it squarely:

You would have to have rocks in your head to impose a new tax on Australian families on the back of rising fruit prices and vegie prices,” he said. (source)

But they have, Joe, they have.

Green Climate Monster to cause "more natural disasters": expert

Blamed for more extreme weather

Look, he actually says global warming and greenhouse gases (which he refers to as if they are just two sides of the same coin, rather than totally independent phenomena) but readers of this blog know better. The Green Climate Monster causes all these natural disasters and severe weather events, but people haven’t woken up to the fact yet. Give it time.

An expert says Australia will see a higher incidence of extreme weather events like the flooding in Queensland.

Global Change Professor Peter Grace from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) says greenhouse gases and global warning are contributing factors, whether people want to accept it or not.

He says it will not happen tomorrow, but it will happen in years to come and people will come to know major flooding. [Like they “came to know” the severe flooding in 1893 and 1974, before the global warming scare was more than a twinkle in Bert Bolin’s eye – Ed]

“We will have an increased frequency of quite major events similar to what we had, particularly the flooding event in south-east Queensland,” he said. [I mean, has he actually looked at the flood records for SEQ? – Ed] (source)

Perhaps Professor Grace could let us know what climate signal or weather phenomena would demonstrate that the Green Climate Monster wasn’t to blame…

We can’t stop the Green Climate Monster – he will just keep on doing whatever he wants. All we can do is adapt and prepare for it – and look at history to remind ourselves (we have very short memories) that nothing that’s happened in the last few weeks, tragic though it is, can possibly be regarded as unprecedented, even just taking into account our tiny record of 150 years, let alone in any longer timescale.

Was the Brisbane flood avoidable?

Spillway at Wivenhoe

The Australian publishes an article analysing the events surrounding the releases from the Wivenhoe Dam (previously reported here at ACM) and its possible effect on the Brisbane flood. The inquiry will certainly have its work cut out::

For reasons that are now highly controversial, in the early hours of Thursday, January 13, Australia’s third-largest city was devastated by a major flood in the Brisbane River. Thousands of homes and businesses were severely damaged; priceless possessions including artefacts and photographs of incalculable sentimental value were destroyed; and a multi-billion-dollar bill was inflicted on the River City. Large swaths of a spectacular city were submerged as the sun shone.

At first it was put down to the wrath of Mother Nature. The video footage of vehicles and people being swept down large streets in Toowoomba (700m above sea level on the Great Dividing Range) by a raging torrent of dirty-brown floodwater after a freak downpour on January 10 was powerful. There were remarkable images of families safe on the roofs of their houses surrounded by floodwater in the Lockyer Valley, below Toowoomba and west of Brisbane (and outside the Wivenhoe catchment).

But, as engineers and hydrologists model increasing amounts of data from the Bureau of Meteorology and SEQWater on the performance of the dam – its inflows from the vast catchment, its releases during crucial periods, the changes in river heights and flow rates, and the manual that the operators are instructed to follow – a very different picture emerges.

The picture being painted before the start of a commission of inquiry, headed by Supreme Court judge Cate Holmes, is that the Brisbane River flood was largely the product of water released from the dam.

These calculations, yet to be tested by SEQWater, show that the urgent release from the dam of huge volumes at unprecedented rates of flow of up to 7500 cubic metres per second, when the operators were gravely concerned late on January 11 that the dam’s rising levels could trigger a collapse of the system, produced most of the flood in the Brisbane River. (source)

Gillard: addicted to tax and spend

Old fashioned socialist

We all appreciate that those who have suffered from the floods in Queensland and Victoria deserve financial help from the federal government to help them rebuild their lives and their homes. However, why is it that Julia Gillard’s immediate reaction is to consider a one-off “levy” (translation: tax) rather than the many alternatives? Tax ‘n’ spend is good old fashioned socialism, of course, which Julia with her crypto-communist past would be well aware of.

How about one of these instead:

  • postpone or abandon the pointless National Broadband Network, which will be out of date before it’s even completed. By the time our “state of the art” network is operational, having dug up every street in Australia to lay fibre cables, the rest of the world will have moved on to n-th generation wireless at a fraction of the cost;
  • postpone or abandon the pointless price on carbon, which will do nothing for the climate, nothing to “encouragize” China or India to cut their emissions, and will add massive costs to businesses trying to rebuild and huge increases for those struggling to pay their energy bills;
  • abandon the political posturing about returning the budget to surplus by the artificial deadline Labor itself has set. Vanity is the only thing preventing flexibility here;
  • stop wasting money on rubbish policies like cash-for-clunkers or the Pink Batts fiasco;
  • cut rafts of other wasteful government spending;
  • [readers are invited to fill in the blanks – Ed]

Of course, the federal government should contribute to this tragedy, but not via yet another slug on the poor Australian public.

Wivenhoe role in Brisbane floods

Spillway at Wivenhoe

An article in The Australian today highlights the role of the Wivenhoe Dam in the flooding that affected Brisbane:

The official records from SEQWater show that, at 6am on Friday, January 7, Wivenhoe Dam, Brisbane’s insurance policy to protect the city and surrounding suburbs from a massive rainfall and flood event, was at about 106 per cent capacity. This means that Wivenhoe had filled to 100 per cent of its capacity for water supply with a total 1.15 million megalitres, and it was 6 per cent into its additional 1.45ML of storage for flood mitigation.

On Saturday, January 8, it is understood to have let about 100,000ML go; on Sunday, when Mr Goodwin’s family was there, a further 116,000ML were released.

By 9am on Monday, the levels in the dam had soared to just over 148 per cent, and it was reported that managers at the dam had “scrambled”.

That afternoon, the extreme rainfall over Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley unleashed a maelstrom that the Bureau of Meteorology had not predicted. While the run-off from this event did not fall into Wivenhoe’s catchment of about 7000 sq km, the dam’s operators were caught by surprise and released 172,000ML as the capacity went past 150 per cent.

Through Tuesday, as Wivenhoe continued to rise past 175 per cent and then 190 per cent, the situation was becoming critical as the available buffer for more rain had been almost fully taken up. Nobody wanted the dam to go to 200 per cent, and the theoretical maximum of 225 per cent needed to be avoided at all costs.

One of the crucial questions that will be asked in a commission of inquiry, called late yesterday by Premier Anna Bligh, is whether the releases from the flood storage compartment of a little over 200,000ML on the weekend were too little, too late, necessitating a huge outpouring to get levels down quickly.

The operators of the dam gave the order on Tuesday, cranking up the release to a staggering peak rate of 645,000ML a day. At that point the Brisbane River flood was not a case of if but when: the computer modelling showed major flooding from this Wivenhoe discharge was inevitable and would peak in the 36 hours the water would take to reach the city gauge.

The release from Wivenhoe at a peak rate of 645,000ML a day represented up to 30 per cent of the dam’s total capacity. Nobody was under any misapprehension about the consequences. It was this release from Wivenhoe that represented about 80 per cent and perhaps more of the volume in the Brisbane River.

A rainfall event that could have been comfortably managed by the dam if its flood compartment had been lower had turned into a major flood that would devastate thousands of homes. (source)

So the question to be asked is, was it an oversight not to release water earlier, and at a more controlled rate, in anticipation of the floods, or was it to preserve water in the dam due to some diktat from the climate change department? Hopefully the inquiry will answer that question.

Will Steffen to report on Queensland floods

Impartiality personified

Yes, you read that right – the same Will Steffen who is the Labor government’s Chief Alarmist, and who has already made up his mind and linked the Queensland floods to climate change (see here). Kind of like the University of East Anglia investigating Climategate – no, wait, they did. What hope is there for an impartial, balanced report? None. The people of Queensland deserve better.

A report on the flood disaster and climate change will be undertaken by an expert on the federal government’s multi-party committee which is investigating ways to price carbon.

Professor Will Steffen, a member of the climate change committee set up by the Gillard government in September last year, told AAP he was working on a report covering the floods.

And just in case you missed the bias, here it is again:

Prof Steffen said there was evidence that extreme weather events appear to be increasing.

“We are getting more intense rainfall events as the earth warms, but it’s difficult to pin down any individual event,” he told AAP. [Oh, but how I wish I could, he thought – Ed]

“Rainfall events like the type we’ve seen in Queensland are becoming more likely as the earth warms.

“There is a long-term warming trend with or without La Nina.”

And lastly, so that you’re all thoroughly reassured about this process.

Prof Steffen said he would produce an update on the science for the committee, as part of the Garnaut climate change review update, as well as write his own independent report. (source)

Phew that’s OK then. Seriously, this guy is so compromised he shouldn’t be let anywhere near an “independent” enquiry.

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