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Friday, May 30, 2008

Global Dumbing update post number two

For those who weary of me posting information from other sources, my next article will be extremely self-generated...but first, while we wait for my math expert to weigh in on questions posed by scohen and before I post my essay...

LOBOINOK was kind enough to send me this article:

The end of the fake consensus on global warming

Mark Milke, For The Calgary Herald

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2008

An anti-nuclear, Toronto-based, urban-loving, 1970s peace activist who opposes subsidies to the oil industry might be the last person expected to detail cracks in the science of global warming.

But Lawrence Solomon has done just that in a short book with a long subtitle: The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud (and those who are too fearful to do so).

The spark for the book came after an American TV reporter compared those who question the Kyoto Protocol to Holocaust deniers. But Solomon wondered about that so he sought out the experts in specific fields to garner their views.

Consider Edward Wegman, asked by the U.S. Congress to assess the famous "hockey stick" graph from Michael Mann, published by the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and which purported to show temperatures as mostly constant over the last 1,000 years -- except for a spike in the last century.

The IPCC claimed the hockey stick "proved" unique 20th century global warming.

But it didn't. Wegman, who drew on the initial skepticism of two Canadians who questioned Mann's statistical handling, found that Mann's "hockey stick" was the result of a statistical error -- the statistical model actually mined data to produce the hockey stick and excluded contrary data. That mistake occurred not because Mann was deceptive or a poor scientist -- he's an expert in the paleoclimate community as were those who reviewed his paper. But that was the problem: the paleoclimate scientists were trapped in their own disciplinary ghetto and not up to speed on the latest, most appropriate statistical methods.

Is Wegman the scientific equivalent of medical quack? No. His CV includes eight books, over 160 published papers, editorships of prestigious journals and who was a past-president of the International Association of Statistical Computing, among other distinctions. Opinions in The Deniers vary dramatically and Solomon, a non-scientist, does not try to settle the disputes. He instead attempts to give readers insight into how non-settled and fragmentary the science actually is on climate change.

For example, think the polar icecaps are melting? That's true at the North Pole, but it's not certain at the South Pole, according to Duncan Wingham. A portion of Antarctica's northern peninsula is melting. But that's a tiny slice of the 14 million square kilometre continent. And confounding evidence exists. Since the inception of the South Pole research station in 1957, recorded temperatures have actually fallen.

Wingham is cautious. He doesn't deny global warming might exist. But his data show the Antarctic ice sheet is growing, not shrinking, and the chapter on why ice measurements are tricky is another fine, informative part of The Deniers.

Is Wingham a flake, a denier in league with flat-earthers? Only if you think the chair of the department of space and climate physics and head of earth sciences at University College London, and a member of the Earth Observation Experts Group, among other qualifications, qualifies for such a label.

The most intriguing part of The Deniers is the attempt by dozens of credible scientists to point out what should be common-sense obvious: the sun might affect Earth's climate.

"We understand the greenhouse effect pretty well," writes Solomon, "we know vanishingly little about how the sun -- our main source of energy driving the climate -- affects climate change."

But the IPCC refuses to even consider the sun's influence on Earth's climate -- it conceives of its mission only to investigate possible man-made effects upon climate. But that's akin to a hit-and-run investigation where police rule out all cars except one model, this before they even question witnesses.

No one who reads The Deniers will be able to claim a scientific consensus exists on global warming. (Some scientists even argue the planet's climate is about to cool.) But it might leave honest readers with this question: So what? Why not spend billions to reduce possible human-induced climate change just in case? Because, as Antonio Zichichi (a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna and author of more than 800 papers) argues, global warming is only one alleged calamity that faces the world's poor. As Solomon writes in his interview with Zichichi, "every dollar and hour diverted to a crisis that might not exist, has real and tragic costs."

The "deniers" and The Deniers matter because the book is about the search for scientific explanations for a complex phenomenon by eminent scientists in a better position than most to judge whether a consensus exists on global warming. Their collective verdict, much varied in the particulars, is "no."

Mark Milke is the Frontier Centre's senior fellow in Alberta.


Alas, the Presidential candidates for 2008 remind me of the three blind mice. See how they run away from the energy crisis...see how they run away from the Global Warming mess. Not one of them has the guts to stand up and say that the GW hysteria is a crazy, runaway train of a movement that is anti-human and anti-progress. The government decides that Polar Bears are endangered even as their population reaches record numbers. John McCain claims to be a disciple of Teddy Roosevelt, who sought to expand the protected areas of the nation and was proud to be considered a conservationist. Well, Teddy is dead and modern oil-drilling techniques can harvest oil without destroying the environment. I expect the left-wing side to be against anything that helps us out of the oil crisis because a limping economy helps propel them into office. But when the Republicans drink the same kool-aid, then I shake my head in dismay.

Not one of the three candidates (yeah, I am including Hilary while she still has a heartbeat) sees the need to drill for oil in shale, in Alaska, off the coast, heck, everywhere we can get our mitts on the stuff. Meanwhile gas prices have cause prices to rise in almost every segment of the marketplace, fueling a price inflation that has stalled what was a growing economy. If gas was still going for even two bucks a gallon, no one would be claiming that we are in or are about to enter a recession. It is almost entirely because of the rise in fossil fuel costs.

Would drilling today help prices tomorrow? No, because we also need more refineries and because there will be a long delay between the time a site gets drilled and recovered crude is transported and refined and enters the marketplace. But, yes, because the price of oil is dependant in large part due to the bids entered in for it - it is a kind of futures market. The knowledge that more oil will be incoming from domestic sources would help drive down the future price bidding and that change would be felt more quickly.

I laugh when Congress grills the top oil executives on their salaries and the company profits. Oil companies make normal profit margins and a huge portion of their profits go to developing new sources. R & D is a major portion of their expenses right now, you don't want to cap their earnings because then they would be forced to slow down their search for new sources and new methods of claiming crude from the ground.

The pornographic salaries of CEOs in general, not just in the oil industry, are sickening. Still, if you took the few millions they earn and dropped it into the barrel, it wouldn't be enough to change the price of gas even one penny. In a multi-multi-billion-dollar industry a few million is a drop in the ocean. The only way to drop the price of oil is either to increase the supply or drop the demand.

With the rapidly developing Chinese economy taking bigger and bigger gulps from the fossil fuel spigot, there is little likelihood of a drop in demand. So we need to go after more supply and normalize prices that way.

The days of one dollar gas are gone forever. When I was a teenager I bought it for about 19 cents a gallon during a gas price war once and several times got it for less than 29 cents a gallon. The good old USA didn't know how good we had it, price-wise. Even now, the prices for gasoline in place like France and Belgium are two and three times what we pay here. But two dollar a gallon gasoline is possible in the not-too-distant future if we aggressively work to get what we can get our hands on now.

I want to see someone in the government to come up with a real energy policy that makes sense. I think it goes like this:

1- Get all the crude you can get your hands on now and refine it like mad to keep the economy flowing and the income coming in to the hands of John Q Public and Uncle Sam alike.

2- Begin building more nuclear plants to generate electricity. Nuclear power plants are becoming commonplace in Europe and, for once, they are ahead of us here.

3- Hydroelectric plants, well, we have utilized that pretty well so far. But wind power has been neglected. There should be windmill farms all across this land and it is a shame how we have neglected this basically free source of energy.

4- Tax credits for folding in solar power and other energy saving methods into new construction should be kept and probably expanded.

5- Private industry is usually best at R & D. New means of powering cars and trucks are being developed and hybrid and cell and related technologies being improved upon. The government could help by deciding to purchase only the newest kinds of vehicles when recycling their fleets of government automobiles.

6- CNG and Coal should continue to be a major source of energy for the next sixty-to-one hundred years. There is still a great deal of coal to be mined and expended in this country.

7- Energy from trash is the coming big energy source. This is one arena where the government should intervene by sponsoring prizes for the best new innovations in this area each year and by expanding the military's R & D in this area. One day turning trash into energy may well be the primary source of electric power in the world and that day cannot come a minute too soon.

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