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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pointing out some scoundrels

A friend pointed out in an email today
- "P. J. O’Rourke is a talented and cogent author, but he has a vocabulary more suited to teamsters than to truth-seekers. He also has a sense of humor which is sometimes funny, but more often pernicious. On-the-other-hand, he is knowledgeable about science, especially so much of the pseudo-science that is passed off as truth today. His 1994 book, All The Trouble in the World, absolutely riddled the common themes of the extremist activists, those who not only know more than anyone else, but who also have completely accurate views and opinions about how and when the earth is going to be destroyed and furthermore, can identify without fail those who are going to trigger the destruction."

Naturally, their predictions always fail. But often you will have purchased the snake oil and they will have moved on before you realize you have been taken. O'Rourke's book begins with a quote by Mencken...

Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.

Henry Louis Mencken

Al Gore is a scoundrel. Most of our congressmen are scoundrels. The United Nations is a league of scoundrels.

Allow me to present some scoundrel-revealers:

#1 The Cornwall Alliance

Scientists Duel with Letters on Global Warming

By E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.

On June 19, the Woods Hole Research Center released an open letter from scientists to the President and members of Congress calling for “strong leadership” to avert “a rapidly developing global climatic catastrophe.” The letter called for passage of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill then pending in the House, now passed and moving to the Senate.

But on July 1 another group of scientists released a letter in direct response, questioning the independence of the Woods Hole group because of ties with presidential science advisor John Holdren, “the same science advisor who has given us predictions of ‘almost certain’ thermonuclear war or eco-catastrophe by the year 2000, and many other forecasts of doom that somehow never seem to arrive on time.”

Signed by physics professors Robert Austin and William Happer of Princeton, Laurence Gould of Harvard, and Harold Levins of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and meteorology professor Richard Lindzen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and environmental sciences professor and atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, the letter adds:

  • Earth has been cooling for ten years;
  • the present cooling was not predicted by the alarmists’ computer models;
  • legislation supported by the Woods Hole Letter “would cripple the US economy, putting us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors.”

“For such drastic action,” it continued, “it is only prudent to demand genuine proof that it is needed, not guesswork, and not false claims” that the evidence is clear and the debate is over.

The new letter concluded by warning, “Finally, climate alarmism pays well. Many alarmists are profiting from their activism. There are billions of dollars floating around for the taking, and being taken.”


#2 Watt'supwiththat

And now, the most influential station in the GISS record is …

20 07 2009

Guest post by John Goetz

#17 - Selinsgrove, PA (in 2003)

The GISS temperature record, with its various adjustments, estimations, and re-estimations, has drawn my attention since I first became interested in the methods used to measure a global temperature. In particular, I have wondered how the current global average can even be compared with that of 1987, which was produced using between six and seven times more stations than today. Commenter George E. Smith noted accurately that it is a “simple failure to observe the standard laws of sampled data systems.” GISS presents so many puzzles in this area, it is difficult to know where to begin.

My recent post on the June, 2009 temperature found that the vast majority of temperatures were taken from airports and urban stations. This would cause some concern if the urban heat island (UHI) effect were not accounted for in those stations. GISS does attempt to filter out UHI from urban stations by using “nearby” rural stations – “nearby” meaning anything within 1000 KM. No attempt is made to filter UHI from airports not strictly listed as urban.

If stations from far, far away can be used to filter UHI, then it stands to reason some stations may be used multiple times as filters for multiple urban stations. I thought it would be amusing to list which stations were used the most to adjust for UHI. Fortunately, NASA prints that data in the PApars.statn.use.GHCN.CL.1000.20 log file.

The results were as I expected – amusing. Here are the top ten, ranked in order of the number of urban stations they help adjust:

Usage Station Name Location From To Note
251 BRADFORD/FAA AIRPORT PA / USA 1957 2004 Airport
249 DUBOIS/FAA AIRPORT PA / USA 1962 1994 Airport
249 ALLEGANY STATE PARK PA / USA 1924 2007 Admin Building
246 PHILIPSBURG/MID-STATE AP PA / USA 1948 1986 Airport
243 WELLSBORO 4SSE PA / USA 1880 2007 Various Farms
243 WALES NY / USA 1931 2007 Various Homes
241 MANNINGTON 7WNW WVa / USA 1901 2007 Various Homes
241 PENN YAN 8W NY / USA 1888 1994 Various Homes
237 MILLPORT 2NW OH / USA 1893 2007 Various Farms
235 HEMLOCK NY / USA 1898 2007 Filtration Plant

Unfortunately, having three of the top four stations located at airports was the the sort of thing I expected.

Looking a little further, it turns out all of the top 100 stations are in either the US or Canada, and none of those 100 stations have reported data since 2007. (By the way, #100 is itself used 147 times.) Several of the top-100 stations have been surveyed by volunteers who have documented siting issues, such as the following:

  • Mohonk Lake, N.Y. (197 times) – much too close to ground, shading issues, nearby building
  • Falls Village, Conn. (193 times) – near building and parking lot
  • Cornwall, Vt. (187 times) – near building
  • Northfield, Vt. (187 times) – near driveway, building
  • Enosburg Falls, Vt. (180 times) – adjacent to driveway, nearby building.
  • Greenwood, Del. (171 times) – sited on concrete platform
  • Logan, Iowa (164 times) – near building, concrete slabs
  • Block Island, R.I. (150 times) – adjacent to parking lot and aircraft parking area.

The current state of a rural station, however, is an insufficient criterion for deciding to use it to adjust the history of one or more other urban stations. The rural station’s history must be considered as well, with equipment record and location changes being two of the most important considerations.

Take for example good ‘ole Crawfordsville, which came in at #23, having been used 219 times. As discussed here, Crawfordsville’s station lives happily on a farm, and does seem to enjoy life in the country. However, up until 16 years ago the station lived in the middle of Crawfordsville, spending over 100 years at Wabash College and at the town’s power plant.

Mohonk Lake, N.Y. (197 times) – much too close to ground, shading issues, nearby building
Falls Village, Conn. (193 times) – near building and parking lot
Cornwall, Vt. (187 times) – near building
Northfield, Vt. (187 times) – near driveway, building
Enosburg Falls, Vt. (180 times) – adjacent to driveway, nearby building.
Greenwood, Del. (171 times) – sited on concrete platform
Logan, Iowa (164 times) – near building, concrete slabs
Block Island, R.I. (150 times) – adjacent to parking lot and aircraft parking area.

#3 Dr. Roy Spencer

Who recently wrote this article...

Here is an excerpt:

Cap and Trade and the Illusion of the New Green Economy

July 1st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I don’t think Al Gore in his wildest dreams could have imagined how successful the “climate crisis” movement would become. It is probably safe to assume that this success is not so much the result of Gore’s charisma as it is humanity’s spiritual need to be involved in something transcendent – like saving the Earth.

After all, who wouldn’t want to Save the Earth? I certainly would. If I really believed that manmade global warming was a serious threat to life on Earth, I would be actively campaigning to ‘fix’ the problem.

But there are two practical problems with the theory of anthropogenic global warming: (1) global warming is (or at least was) likely to be a mostly natural process; and (2) even if global warming is manmade, it will be immensely difficult to avoid further warming without new energy technologies that do not currently exist.

On the first point, since the scientific evidence against global warming being anthropogenic is what most of the rest of this website is about, I won’t repeat it here. But on the second point…what if the alarmists are correct? What if humanity’s burning of fossil fuels really is causing global warming? What is the best path to follow to fix the problem?


The most popular solution today is carbon cap-and-trade legislation. The European Union has hands-on experience with cap-and-trade over the last couple of years, and it isn’t pretty. Over there it is called their Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Here in the U.S., the House of Representatives last Friday narrowly passed the Waxman-Markey bill. The Senate plans on taking up the bill as early as the fall of 2009.

Under cap-and-trade, the government institutes “caps” on how much carbon dioxide can be emitted, and then allows companies to “trade” carbon credits so that the market rewards those companies that find ways to produce less CO2. If a company ends up having more credits than they need, they can then sell those credits to other companies.

While it’s advertised as a “market-based” approach to pollution reduction, it really isn’t since the market did not freely choose cap-and-trade…it was imposed upon the market by the government. The ‘free market’ aspect of it just helps to reduce the economic damage done as a result of the government regulations.

The Free Market Makes Waxman-Markey Unnecessary

There are several serious problems with cap-and-trade. In the big picture, as Europe has found out, it will damage the economy. This is simply because there are as yet no large-scale, practical, and cost-competitive replacements for fossil fuels. As a result, if you punish fossil fuel use with either taxes or by capping how much energy is allowed to be used, you punish the economy.

Now, if you are under the illusion that cap-and-trade will result in the development of high-tech replacements for fossil fuels, you do not understand basic economics. No matter how badly you might want it, you can not legislate a time-travel machine into existence. Space-based solar power might sound really cool, but the cost of it would be astronomical (no pun intended), and it could only provide the tiniest fraction of our energy needs. Wind power goes away when the wind stops, and is only practical in windy parts of the country. Land-based solar power goes away when the sun sets, and is only practical in the sunny Southwest U.S. While I personally favor nuclear power, it takes forever to license and build a nuclear power plant, and it would take 1,000 1-gigawatt nuclear power plants to meet electricity demand in the United States.

And no one wants any of these facilities near where they live.

Fortunately, cap-and-trade legislation is not necessary anyway because incentives already exist – right now — for anyone to come up with alternative technologies for energy generation and energy efficiency. Taxpayers and consumers already pay for billions of dollars in both government research (through taxes) and private research (through the cost of goods and services) to develop new energy technologies.

There is more, click on the link and read it all if you would.

And as said so well by a man who would know, as the first head of state to publicly challenge the methods and assumptions and findings of the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference:

My central argument was – in a condensed form – formulated in the subtitle of my recently published book devoted to this topic which asks: “What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?” My answer is clear and resolute: “it is our freedom.” I may also add “and our prosperity.”

Václav Klaus, Notes for the speech at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 4, 2008

I do not know if the Liberal Progressive movement is Machievellian or stupid or just plain evil, but Cap and Trade will push our teetering economy over the edge into a great depression from which will emerge many, many more poor people, who as a group usually vote for...wait for it...Liberal Progressives!

And, no, I am not a scoundrel. I may be annoying to you, but no law or force compels you to read my blog, you come here willingly. So if you find me annoying, you are actually annoying yourself and that makes you the scoundrel! Grins!