Flannery and the Climate Council are at it again — trying to scare money out of people with their prophecies of bushfires. They are milking the fear factor from the October fires in the Blue Mountains, telling us disaster planning means we have to get “the facts straight”.
Let’s get the facts straight on exactly how human emissions of CO2 have affected the temperature and rainfall in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. How much hotter and drier is the climate? Ninety percent of human emissions have been produced since WWII. Katoomba has the longest running temperature series I could find in the BOM records -see below. But where is that rising trend? The string of hot years in the late 1930s appears to be just as hot as the last decade. The 1920s and 30s look a lot like the 1980 and 90s.
The facts about Katoomba annual temperatures
Source: Katoomba annual mean temperature
see also Katoomba October mean temperatures
But wait, the Climate Council tells us “Hot, dry conditions create conditions favourable for bushfires. Australia has just experienced its hottest 12 months ever recorded.” Any sane person would assume the Blue Mountains must be getting drier – strange the Climate Council don’t provide a graph on that. Let’s look at the drying climate in Katoomba.
Source: Katoomba annual rainfall
See also the same trends in Blackheath annual rainfall and Lithgow annual rainfall.
In other words Katoomba has a noisy annual rainfall, there is no obvious trend, there have been dry years and wet years, and if heat and dryness make fires worse, then there is no sign that CO2 makes any difference.
In Katoomba at least, the late 30s and 40s appear to be a bit hotter, and also drier than the last few years. That was when CO2 levels were ideal.
Climate scientists used to tell us that only the long term trends mattered. What the Climate Council does is not science. They are simply stringing keywords together, confounding concepts, and cherry picking any disaster anywhere, to whip up a scare just like the local tribal witchdoctors used to. There is no chain-of-evidence to link CO2 to bushfires. Mere conjecture and broken models. But don’t wait for the Climate Council to tell you the facts that matter.
Severe bushfires in October are not unusual. The ferocity of the fires was not unprecedented. The ignition points for some of the Blue Mountains fires were not due to CO2 but to arson and an accident in the Army. Fuel loads are the factor we most need to discuss.
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… (Click to enlarge) Photo: Jo
I took this flying from Denpasar to Perth. Glorious ancient landscape in the dry season far north WA. Click for a larger broader image.
Rain rain go away, let’s chop a forest down today?
Mark Andrich and Jorg Imberger compare the rainfall patterns in different regions of southwest Western Australia. The areas where the most land was cleared show the greatest decline. They estimate that as much as 50 – 80% of the observed decline in rainfall is the result of land clearing, which doesn’t leave much to blame on CO2. The paper came out in 2012.
This fits with other researchers working on the Amazon who estimated chopping down the forests could reduce rain by as much as 90%. Once again: it’s not so much that trees grow where the rain falls, but that the rain falls where the trees grow, and the taller the trees, the better.
So the good news for Greenies is that we ought to plant more trees (and I’m all for that). But driving a Prius, building windmills, and using solar panels won’t do much for our rainfall. (It’s so strange anyone thought it would. The witchdoctors have them completely bamboozled.) The Abbott government’s plan to plant trees to sequester carbon may work, but by accident, not because of anything to do with CO2.
Oh the irony. The evil climate skeptics want more trees, while the good and earth-loving gullible Greens want a forced financial markets of fake goods (sounds more like bank-loving!).
If you are a rainfall analyst, WA (where I live) is a bit of a prize spot because, unlike most of the world, the flora was mostly chopped down after long-term rainfall data started being collected. So it’s possible to analyze the effect clearing has on rainfall patterns. The rainfall has declined by 30% since 1970 in the inland areas of southwest Western Australia, as climate activists like to remind us at every opportunity. Instead of being a prime example of a global warming disaster, it turns out that southwest WA is a bit of a poster-child to show the effects of land clearing.
The many ways land clearing can affect rainfall
To gloss over a complicated array of effects: clearing land increases the albedo (which means the surface reflects more light), and there are lower transpiration rates (the air is drier and there is less latent heat flux in the boundary layer). Trees affect something called the Biotic Pump (see here as well), and produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that seed cloud nuclei, so there are less cloud seeding particles if there are less trees.
Taller trees break up the surface, and without them the surface profile is flatter, so the wind flows faster. Inland WA is a pretty flat region, mostly around 300 m above sea level, and trees as high as 100m tall would make a big difference to the profile. Indeed rainfall increases by 40mm for every 100m in altitude between Fremantle (the port) and the hills. This is known as the orographic effect. We don’t just want trees, apparently, we want tall trees.
Figure 7. Rainfall zones. Moving from east to west, Zone 1 includes the uncleared region east of SWWA, Zone 2 includes the wheatbelt, Zone 3 includes the hills region, and Zone 4 covers rainfall station locations along the coast. The station location details and rainfall data are available from BOM . The station locations are as follows: 1.1 Bullfinch; 1.2 Lake Carmody; 1.3 Ravensthorpe; 2.1 Northampton; 2.2 Beverley; 2.3 Duranillin; 2.4 Broomehill; 2.5 Deeside; 2.6 Merredin; 3.1 Mundaring Weir; 3.2 Dwellingup; 3.3 Brunswick Junction; 3.4 Collie; 3.5 Nannup; 3.6 Wilgarrup; 3.7 Manjimup; 3.8 Pemberton; 4.1 Mandurah; 4.2 Cape Naturaliste; 4.3 Busselton; 4.4 Cape Leeuwin; and 4.5 Albany. All zone station location numbering corresponds with the rainfall at station locations shown in Figure 8.
Zone 1 above is the most arid and furthest inland, but also the least cleared, and it hasn’t lost rainfall (though it didn’t have much to start with). Zone 4 is the wettest area close to the coast. But Zone 3 is the hilly escarpment where the biggest trees live, which has the highest annual rainfall, and it shows the largest decline in rainfall. Zone 2 (the wheatbelt) was drier to begin with and was more heathland and forest.
Note the scale changes. Zone 1 gets about 20 cm (8 inches) in winter which is the “wet” season. Zone 3, the wettest, gets five times as much.
Figure 8. 9-year moving average of winter rainfall. Zone 1 has a slight increase in rainfall over time, Zone 2 rainfall declines, Zone 3 rainfall has the largest decline, and Zone 4 also declines, but by less than Zones 2 and 3. The zones are shown in Figure 7 and exact locations are available from the BOM . (Click to enlarge)
Most of the clearing happened from 1950 – 1980
In 1910 around 90% of the wheatbelt was covered in native vegetation. Clearing accelerated from 1950 to 1980 when 40% of the land was cleared. By 1980 a mere 20% of natural cover remained.
Andrich and Imberger calculate the dollar effect of deforestation on water resources: “if deforestation had been managed in a way that did not reduce rainfall at reservoirs or increase streamflow salinity, then SWWA residents could be paying as little as $765 M/year for their water (instead of $1,165 M/year).” The additional expenses on water work out to be around $250 – $300 dollars a year per household.
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More good news.
The CDM is one of the only truly global carbon markets. It’s been the main mechanism for “mitigation” in developing countries, (China says “thank you”). Born with the Kyoto agreement, it was in a sick state last year and was even said to have collapsed. Now however it’s reached a state of “coma”.
Each CDM was worth 20 euros in 2008. Now they are selling for 50c.
Reuters: Investment under the U.N.’s $315 billion Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has ground to a halt as the value of the credits they generate has plunged 95 percent in five years to around 0.30 euros, crushing profits that investors count on to set up carbon-cutting schemes in the developing world.
“As a tradable commodity, it’s in a coma and will be unless and until a 2015 agreement wakes it up,” said Jorund Buen, co-founder and partner at consultancy and project developer Differ.
A lot of things could be said about the last UNFCCC meeting in Warsaw. Here’s the one that matters:
“…no major nation offered to set or deepen emission targets, while Japan scaled down its 2020 goal.”
The language of death:
“…almost 200 nations “expressed concern” over the state of the CDM market, but measures that could have helped prop up the scheme were removed…”
There’s a paltry rescue effort which only makes it look more sick, and more pointless:
“In the absence of new targets, several European nations firmed up pledges in Warsaw to pay a premium over market rates for a handful of CDM projects in the world’s poorest countries to keep the scheme alive.”
Norway’s government is sending $30m of taxpayer funds to buy CDM credits. Lucky UK Taxpayers are tossing in 50 million pounds. Do I read this correctly — of the 50 million, only 33 is going to buy of the credits, the other 17million is going to train people on getting through UN red tape. Those compliance costs… really? And people call this a “free” market.
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I guess it is winter. In a cold snap last week nearly 1,400 records were broken in the US. 886 places recorded the lowest maximum, 325 recorded the coldest minimum, and 127 places recorded the highest snowfall.
|Low Max Temp:
|High Min Temp:
A few days ago the records for that seven day period were even higher: 205 snowfall records. 969 Low Max. 203 Low temps. 17 High Temp. 61 High minimum.
Media coverage of the record cold? Almost non-existent
A search for news of cold records set in US from Nov 26 to Nov 30 turns up one story in the Christian Science Monitor and pretty much no where else (did I miss some?). When 1,000 heat records fell in a week USA today covered it. They don’t seem to have mentioned the cold records, but we might wonder whether that’s an editorial bias, or (I think more likely) that no official climate or meteorological group issued a press release.
More cold is apparently on the way, look at the forecast map:
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It’s just another day tracking the decline of the global warming meme.
Things were so pear-shaped for global carbon trading markets in 2012 that the World Bank canceled its annual State of the Carbon Market report. But how bad were they? In their last report in 2012 the grand global total was $176b USD for the 2011 year. Since the World Bank figure are not publishing their tally any more, I’ve switched to the Reuters Point Carbon figures instead, which are issued in Euro.
Rather devastatingly, despite the fact the FTSE grew 6% in 2012 and Euro Stoxx grew by 13% in 2012, the global carbon market (which is mostly an EU market) fell by a whopping 36% in 2012. Money printing is running rife and new money is pouring into asset markets worldwide, yet globally the money is running from invisible, rortable, pointless carbon certificates. We are past the peak, and over the hill. This parrot is almost dead.
Back in the heady days of 2008 the growth was described as “explosive” and it was predicted it would grow to $1.2 trillion by 2020 (about 880 billion €) .
These figures are different to previous USD ones, but since most of the trading is in euro it is probably more useful. In the USD graphs there were some spurious “rises” due to shifts in exchange rates. Even though a record in US dollars was claimed then the reality is that the carbon markets were flat for nearly four years.
Look out for new publicity claims saying market volume is growing, or even, more pointlessly, that the number of markets is growing. There is almost always a way to spin a “growing” headline.
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Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory Australia (Click to enlarge) Photo: JoNova
Well, well, well. When Big-Oil fund skeptics, they’re evil polluters. When Big-Oil pay green lobbyists, they’re just being good citizens (see the ads, right?). Naturally Royal Dutch Shell are concerned about the environment, families, rare marsupials and what not. They wouldn’t just be green for the profit would they… oh, wait. Shell is one of the six gas “super majors” and all gas providers profit when coal is unfashionable. In terms of resources, Shell is now more of a gas company than an oil company.
Big-Gas loves wind turbines. Wind farms are fickle and coal power can’t ramp up and down quickly to fill in the gaps, but the more expensive gas can. No wonder Shell are lobbying actively against coal, and for wind.
Thanks in part to Shell’s campaign, the poor family in the Shell Ad are going to have to pay more to stay warm this winter. Meanwhile the marsupials will manage without Shell lobbyists like they have for the last 100 million years, and the environment won’t notice any effect from a carbon tax.
As with all cut-throat business deals, Shell (and others) are doing what they are supposed to do: make money. There is nothing illegal about lobbying. The real problem is the cherry picking, one-eyed, half truth campaign that “vested” interests are running a denial industry–as if there were not 5000 times as many vested interests benefiting from Climate Fear, and as if there were not a truckload of reasons for volunteers to rail against stupid spending, junk modeling, bad assumptions, and naked profiteering.
The worst of all are the dupe journalists who swallow and pump the mindless meme uncritically.
Shell really wants people to avoid coal
[The Australian] ROYAL Dutch Shell actively lobbied the World Bank to stop funding coal-fired plants before an announcement this year that the lender would dramatically reduce its support of coal, Australia’s second biggest export.
Shell’s head of gas, Maarten Wetselaar, said the energy giant had formed an advocacy department whose sole purpose was to convince governments and government-funded bodies to encourage gas as a power source over more polluting forms of energy, such as coal.
He said the company also was very active in reducing subsidies for coal in South Korea, the second biggest buyer of Australian coal.
Shell even worked on the World Bank — leaning on them to cut back their funding for new coal stations. Shell is making life harder for people in the third world who desperately need cheap coal powered electricity.
[The Australian] “We found out most coal plants get their funding started by using the bilateral funding agencies, such as the World Bank, so we were talking to them about the impact their policies have on the energy mix of the world,” Mr Wetselaar said.
In June, the World Bank and the US Export Import Bank said they would dramatically reduce their contributions to coal-fired power stations because of their high carbon emissions.
Big-Oil is in bed with Big-Green. No wonder the world is a mess.
“We don’t sell them (governments) gas, we sell them policy. The climate agenda is broader than just selling gas into the system, it’s about trying to give gas its rightful place in the global energy mix,” he said of the company’s advocacy group.
Big-Gas really wants more windmills
Windmills provide unreliable energy, and coal powered stations don’t switch and down quickly enough to take up the slack when the wind slows. Gas powered plants are more expensive but much better suited to changeable production. Each new solar or windmill farm is really a gas burner in disguise, because gas-fired electricity generating capacity has to be built to accompany each unreliable renewable — like a show-pony and a work horse.
Wall Street Journal Sept 11, 2008, Wind Fuels Gas By EDGAR GÄRTNER
Gas turbines … can be turned on and off almost instantly, whereas traditional coal-fired plants need to be maintained in a very inefficient standby mode if they are to respond to large fluctuations in power demand.
A proliferation of windmills, then, can become a windfall for gas sellers. Just look at the cases of Spain and Germany, Europe’s leading producers of wind power.
By the end of 2007 Spain had 14,700 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, according to Enagás, which manages the national gas network, producing 8.7% of the country’s total power supplies. Most of these wind generators are located in scarcely populated areas, while the power consumption is concentrated in big cities with their many air-conditioned buildings. The peak load of the Spanish power grid is thus in the hot summer months —but this is precisely the time of year when there usually isn’t much wind.
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It’s been 200 years since the last brand new sun-grazing comet from the Oort Cloud, according to Matthew Knight. This one is going within 0.0124 AU (which means slightly more than 2 solar radii).
—–UPDATE#3 (Post Perihelion): No one is quite sure what happened. The talk on twitter is that there’s no sign of a nucleus (not good), but there is a dust stream, Ison is not like any other comet they’ve seen. @SungrazerComets tweets: “THIS > RT
@RandomSpaceFact It is now clear that Comet #ISON either survived or did not survive, or… maybe both. Hope that clarifies things” Latest pic shows a faint streak leaving…
—– UPDATE #4 – for the best final wrap and spectacular movie see CIOC
Comet Ison is swinging around the sun today. It’s so close to perihelion it has made it onto both the LASCO and the SOHO solar viewers — the instruments we watch the sun with. (LASCO, means Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph. SOHO is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory).
Karl Battams writes:
…this is one of the more extraordinary astronomical events to happen in modern history, and we get to sit in our comfy chairs and watch a giant ball of 4.5 billion year old ice hurtle through the Sun’s million-degree outer atmosphere at 0.1% of the speed of light, 93-million miles away from us. Regardless of sizzle, fizzle, or a victorious reemergence, comet ISON’s perihelion is a truly spectacular event!
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It’s not just the money that is leaving the room as reality bites, the chattering classes are not chattering about it so much either. The New York Times closed their Green Blog earlier this year, which covered energy and environment. Seven reporters and two editors were moved into different roles. Did that matter? Seems so.
Think Progress tells the sad story:
The decision was met with disbelief and consternation by many, although readers were promised that The Times’s environmental coverage would be as aggressive as ever, and that the decision was purely structural.
It’s always about “seeming” and not about doing isn’t it?
So much for “structural”, now there are 30% less stories:
Maxwell T. Boykoff, who tracks media coverage of the environment at the University of Colorado, reported to Sullivan that The Times published just 247 print articles that prominently featured climate change between April and September of last year, In 2012, there were 362 such articles during the same time period – that’s a decline of about one third.
Furthermore, in that six-month period since the environment desk closed, there were only three front-page stories in which climate change was the main focus, compared with nine the year before.
The NY Times is just one of many cutting down on climate change related stories as I noted in The day the Global Warming death spiral began. That global trend continues as measured by the Carbon Capture Report. This graph includes all mentions of “climate change” so it includes skeptical articles too.
Carbon Capture Report:
“This page summarizes all English-language monitored mainstream and social media coverage worldwide of Climate Change”
Milestones came and went
In the second half of 2013 we’ve had the fanfare release of the once-every-five-years AR5 report (as well as the more comprehensive and accurate NIPCC report) as well as the usual yearly two week junket. You might notice those small blips on the graph.
The cause is declining in popularity, but we’re still at the stage where the major players are pretending to go along — “it’s only structural” — and saying how much they are concerned even as their actions suggest the opposite. Look for the next shift where people don’t bother pretending.
One day people will rush to declare that they never really believed it.
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More money leaves the room. Last week David Cameron said the UK needed to get rid of all that green crap (or double-speak words to that effect). The message, confounded as it is, may be getting through.
(Reuters) – German utility RWE has scrapped plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind parks in Britain, as soaring gas and electricity prices fuel uncertainty over the UK government’s commitment to renewable energy subsidies.
[Bloomberg] RWE’s renewable-energy unit has decided to drop a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.3 billion) offshore wind project in the U.K. because engineering challenges made it too expensive.
RWE says that it’s because of engineering challenges, but we could assume they didn’t suddenly discover how deep the water was this week.
[Bloomberg] “At the current time, it is not viable for RWE to continue” the Atlantic Array farm because of deep waters and adverse seabed conditions, RWE Innogy said in a statement on its website. The 278-turbine project in the Bristol Channel can’t be justified under “current market conditions,” it said.
Engineering challenges can usually be fixed with money. But translate “current market conditions” and we see that it was really a money challenge: not enough taxpayer money to line the deep sea.
While this development (or non-development as it happens) is good news for the people of the British Isles, they are still paying for all the other projects that should have been canceled.
“The average household power bill has risen 68 percent since 2008…”
In response Ed Milliband (Opposition leader) did what any big-government anti-free-market politician would do. After big-government has spent years commanding that energy should be unaffordable (so we’d use less), his solution is that governments should also command the price to stay the same. It’s fairies in the garden stuff: the hunt for the mythical free lunch, the instant fix, the Stalin solution. (Scarily, 4 out of 5 voters like it).
When there is no free market, a price freeze means a capital freeze. So be it:
[Guardian] Peter Atherton, a leading energy analyst, warned last week that investment in power generation was “killed stone dead” until the next election by Ed Miliband‘s call for a price freeze and government delays in introducing promised electricity market reform.
Reality bites. Note the implication, and the language:
But the pullout will also raise concerns about the investment landscape in Britain for energy companies such as RWE, which have been under ferocious attack by politicians, regulator and the public.
What the green market calls a ferocious attack is normally called competition.
RWE indicated that the government might have to raise green subsidies – and thus increase bills or the burden on the taxpayer – after admitting that technical difficulties had pushed the price up so far that it could not be justified under the current subsidy regime.
It’s not the only project on the slide.
But RWE has already pulled out of a £350m nuclear-power project, is selling its DEA North Sea oil business and last week disposed of part of its UK gas and electricity supply arm. Developers have been warning for some time that they would need more subsidies from the government if ministers were to realise low-carbon energy targets
When it costs too much, the answer is more subsidies.
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From Sleepwalking to Extinction. Climate Madness is coming, and to save us Richard Smith says we need an eco-socialist civilization! Jo Nova thinks we need people who can add up numbers.
Capitalism and the destruction of life and earth
Super Typhoon Haiyan has sent a chill through the global nervous system. Thousands dead. Weather scientists in shock. Lives destroyed. The greatest typhoon to touch land in recorded history brings with it more than total destruction. It ups the level of urgency for a new economic paradigm … one that puts the planet first. Radical economist Richard Smith shows us a way out of the “climate madness” about to descend everywhere.
Haiyan was the worst typhoon, — apart from all the worse ones. (Like 1912 , 1898, 1882 etc etc and those were just the ones in the Philippines.)
So long as we live under this corporate capitalist system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative — impossible as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political democracy, an eco-socialist civilization.
What’s a radical bottom up political democracy if not the kind where every citizen can vote? Is that where cats dogs and chickens vote too? Or is it where everyone votes, but they can only pick a government Richard Smith wants?
In this parallel universe we are all deniers – even Obama
Hansen, McKibben, Obama — and most of us really — don’t want to face up to the economic implications of the need to put the brakes on growth and fossil fuel-based overconsumption. We all “need” to live in denial, and believe in delusions that carbon taxes or some tech fix will save us because we all know that capitalism has to grow or we’ll all be out of work. And the thought of replacing capitalism seems so impossible, especially given the powers arrayed against change. But what’s the alternative? In the not-so-distant future, this is all going to come to a screeching halt one way or another — either we seize hold of this out-of-control locomotive, or we ride this train right off the cliff to collapse.
At least he recognises the carbon taxes and fake free market is not the answer. Too bad he wants to throw out the real free-market too. I guess it’ll have to be state-run — what could possibly go wrong? Bring in the politburo!
The answer is always totalitarian
Emergency Contraction or Global Ecological Collapse?
If there’s no market mechanism to stop plundering the planet then, again, what alternative is there but to impose an emergency contraction on resource consumption?
(How about we wait until we get models that work, and scientists that predict things. Then we could try out some “bottom up democracy”?)
The good news is that Smith says that while we need to impose a martial law on resource consumption (like oil, coal, bricks, mining and metal) it doesn’t mean that we have to go without anything important.
This doesn’t mean we would have to de-industrialize and go back to riding horses and living in log cabins. But it does mean that we would have to abandon the “consumer economy” — shut down all kinds of unnecessary, wasteful and polluting industries from junkfood to cruise ships, disposable Pampers to disposable H&M clothes, disposable IKEA furniture, endless new model cars, phones, electronic games, the lot.
Somehow your house will be warmed, your old car will keep running, your old phone will turn up (and work), and furniture will appear in your group-share apartment. You will learn to like true retro-rusty-chrome chairs salvaged from 1965.
And who needs Pampers? Richard Smith will come to your house to help wash the nappies, right?
H/t Tom Nelson
And people wonder why Greece, Italy and Spain are in a mess.
By Sophie Yeo in Warsaw
20% of the EU’s budget will go towards fighting climate change, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced in Warsaw today.
This equates to €180 billion on climate spending between 2014 and 2020, which will be used to reduce emissions domestically and help developing countries adapt to climate change—three times what was provided in the previous budget.
Much of this will be spent on domestic projects, helping with the development of climate-smart agriculture, energy efficiency and the transport sector.
But of course, much of this is just a PR statement (otherwise 20% of the rest of the EU budget has been cut. Where are those screams?). The money is probably relabeled: shifted from one category to another. Same spending, greener tint.
They even admit themselves, they are taking €15 billion away from overseas aid in order to soothe their anxiety about the weather 100 years from now. This will mean a lot to hungry people in Cambodia.
If I thought that €15 billion would have been efficiently used, this would be a real disaster:
Over the next seven years, €15 billion from the EU’s overseas development budget will be ringfenced for climate spending. This is separate from what is provided each year by individual member states. For instance, the UK will provide £3.87bn of international climate aid between 2011 and 2015.
See more at: RTCC
We have arrived at the glorious point in the big-government growth-curve where a politician can boast they are spending a fifth of their budget trying to stop storms and hold back the tide, and journalists say “OK”.
But hey, it’s only €30 billion a year.
UPDATE: Manicbeancounter reminds us that though this is a news story now, the 20% figure was announced in Feb 2013, and as I noted then, even discussed back as long ago as June 2011. Amazing how long a dumb idea can live. Manic had a look at details, and concluded it was rearranged labels and hype. A PR exercise, so they can claim a “win” at an event that achieved nothing much.
A couple of hours north of Perth. It’s not snow.
This study on “skeptics” came out in the weeks just before the Australian election. I had quite some fun with it, then promptly forgot it. (You’ll see why soon).
But Amelia Sharman, of The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, seems genuinely interested, claiming skeptics haven’t been studied much, suggesting skeptical blogs are quite important, and wait for it, discovering that the thing that makes the most central skeptical blogs popular is that they are interested in the science.
Despite all the rumors that we are an organized funded campaign of political ideologues, she discovered we are not densely connected, not-centrally-organized, and what ho, we value a command of scientific knowledge. If perhaps she was hoping to uncover some secret structure that would reveal a coordinated chain of command, she must have been disappointed.
To her credit, she called it as the results described it. However that post-modern education leaves poor Sharman wandering in the dark.
I feel like such a killjoy. Usually when academics reach out to the skeptics to “study” us, it is to attack us. So I ought to be grateful that Amelia Sharman is one of the few who appears to be doing it more nicely — even impartially (sort of). It’s a big step up. But I can’t help it, the skeptic in me is … skeptical. It should be a badge of honor. Here JoNova is listed with the ground-breaking Watts Up and inestimable Climate Audit:
A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That.
What an honor. Bravo Bravo. I’m touched.
Figure 1: The climate sceptical blogosphere, where round nodes are category 1
(openly sceptical) and square nodes are category 2 (self-proclaimed ‘openminded’)
Jo, Anthony and Steve are some “central” grey dots in the black scribble. (Ask how much has your knowledge of the universe been increased.)
Despite the notoriety invoked by the conclusion – I’m dubious: The language is sloppy, the data iffy, the main variable has a low signal to noise ratio, and cause and effect is back to front. This is not science, nor is it about science. It’s barely sociology. (Sorry Amelia.)
Firstly, we’re mapping the skeptical world using what… blogrolls? Maybe that works for big corporate bodies with committees that keep those things up to date, who have time to consider and ponder, but, and I hate to say it, but for this this solo operator my blogroll is something I think about 0.0001% of the time. I just don’t use it. I forget it’s even there. A link could go defunct and I might notice two years later. Some people who deserve a link had to prod me, which means I’m bound to be missing valuable sites. There is information in there, true, let me just say (trying to be kind) it’s better than reading tea-leaves. Though the result resembles them and if you ask me what this means, I’d say it means tax dollars should be better spent.
Secondly, the magic mud that is post-modern science makes an appearance early on. This next passage essentially says that climate science can never be resolved. It’s not a rational debate. We can’t measure success, or know which side is right, but there is a pointed note telling everyone that skeptics say that climate change is just another attempt to diminish their freedom. This is coded way to suggest that skeptics are ideologically opposed and not very rational.
In contrast to controversies such as the health impacts of tobacco smoking which is no longer widely publicly disputed, the scientifically abstract nature of climate science and its inherently values-laden character means that scientific evidence alone is inadequate to drive policy decision-making (Hulme 2009). Hoffman (2011b) argues that the climate debate may have entered into the realm of what Pielke (2007) coins “abortion politics”, that is, a situation where no amount of scientific information can reconcile the different values held on a certain topic. While a speaking truth to power model would suggest that climate change could resolved by systematically uncovering factual knowledge, this “rational-instrument” approach whereby science is seen as providing ‘verifiable facts about reality on which rational policy decisions can be based’ (Gulbrandsen 2008: 100) is inadequate. The range of potential policy responses to climate change each hold deeply embedded ideological implications, with Hoffman providing the example of attendees at a climate sceptics’ conference in 2010 stating that ‘the issue isn’t the issue’; instead, that ‘climate change is just another attempt to diminish our freedom’ (2011b: 3).
In short thanks to academia, Amelia has been sold a bag of rocks. The climate is not “values laden”. The rain falls or it doesn’t, there is no parallel reality where it is raining on free marketeers but not raining on socialists. It’s not about whether the rain has the right to fall, or whether we should be pro-choice about rainfall. With atmospheric physics there is an answer. If climate science cannot be resolved by observations, then it is not science.
One day we will know how much effect CO2 has, we’ll also know whether the world got warmer. Right now, we’re not even sure whether man-made emissions drive the atmospheric level of CO2 directly.
But there is some light and the project is in a league above Lewandowsky. Thank you Amelia who says skeptics have an “important contribution” on the public debate.
While it is possible that these climate sceptical blogs are not making a significant impact on public discourse outside the online environment, this seems increasingly unlikely, as blogs are increasingly recognised as important contributors to the public debate about climate change (Guimaraes 2012).
Structure? What Structure?
The paper uses “Social network analysis (SNA)” telling us that it “is a useful method to examine blogospheres as it provides a coherent mechanism to interrogate their structure.” All I can say is that “Structure” is the wrong word. We are looking at a random distributed network. If anyone was hoping to find the Grand-Poo-Bah of climate skeptics at the centre of the string-art puzzle in Black and White, I have bad news.
There is no private JournoList (or SkeptoList) where we discuss strategic moves and adopt new key phrases in the PR war. There is no hub where original content gets produced by Exxon researchers and dished out in waves to each key site. The skeptics network is organic, evolving, competitive, cooperative, and above all aimed at finding the truth. That’s why it’s winning.
Strip back the jargon and this next paragraph tells us that skeptics do their own thing (I could have told her if she’d asked). We aren’t natural networkers, and there is no coordinated government grant or Koch run agency that keeps skeptics linked. Not that Sharman raised that possibility. But anyone reading counter arguments to skeptics would hear it over and over.
Of the 171 blogs, 114 list links in a blog-roll. Only one blog (found via the initial scoping process using WebCrawler) is not linked somehow to the remainder of the network. The geodesic distance of the entire network is measured at 2.71, that is, only 2.71 blogs on average separate each blog from another. While this may seem like a densely connected network, employing UCINET’s density algorithm shows a density rating of only 0.0561. The density of the network examines the proportion of possible ties that are present. A density rating of 1 means that every blog would be directly connected, with a density rating of 0.9 or less considered to be low (Faust 2006). This result means that of all possible ties (i.e. every blog linked to every other blog) only 5.61% are present, suggesting, as can be seen in Figure 1 which visualises the blogosphere using an ego network display, that other clusters of relationships, for example through particularly central nodes, may be more important.
Wherefore art thou data?
The paper uses Adwords data to guess the traffic, and “Table 8 shows that WUWT is the most visited site, followed by JoNova and Climate Audit”. For the record, those stats are inaccurate. According to google analytics (which has tracking code on all my pages ) I get 50,000 unique visitors a month (not 22,000 as reported). Since you asked…
Who knew: Skeptics like to read about science?
Did it take a whole research project and thousands of dollars to find that the most popular blogs in the skeptic world write about science?
The most noteworthy finding of this research however is that the blogs identified as the most central predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate.
And in a flash of banality – skeptics like linking to the science that they like reading.
The three blogs identified as the most central are also the top three most linked-to sites according to Freeman’s indegree rating.
But it doesn’t reconcile very well with the idea that skeptics are ideologues driven by politics, eh?
Skeptics are fixed on scientific detail, and value people with scientific expertise:
The climate sceptical blogosphere appears to thus be preoccupied with a particular type of climate scepticism—“scientific scepticism”—and is less focused on other types such as ideologically-motivated scepticism which more explicitly highlights ‘attitudes and worldviews…[and] political ideology and personal values’ (Poortinga et al. 2011: 1022). The expertise that appears to be the most valued in this alternative knowledge network—command of scientific knowledge and willingness to use it to critique mainstream climate science—is thus also different to that valued in other networks of alternative knowledge.
“Alternative knowledge” my foot – be afraid, be very afraid. For this marks the stain of postmodern thinking. There is only one climate, and there are no alternatives. On climate sensitivity, one team is right, and the other wrong, or we are both wrong. There is no alternate world where skeptics and alarmists are both right.
Conspiracy theory? What conspiracy?
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It goes without saying that all of these folk could just as easily prefer a sensible, small spending government that was frugal with taxpayer funds. Right?
The Australian finally gets the information on the ABC salaries: “ABC spares no expense”
|Mark Scott |
|Tony Jones |
|Juanita Phillips |
|Quentin Dempster |
|Richard Glover |
|Jon Faine |
|Leigh Sales |
|Barrie Cassidy |
“The ABC received $1.03 billion of taxpayer funds last financial year, of which $465 million was spent on wages, superannuation and other entitlements.”
The culture is obvious. The ABC show their respect for the taxpayer… by fighting doggedly for years in court to hide the details of their taxpayer funded salaries from legitimate FOI’s. Now that they’ve been leaked, Mark Scott has apologized to
the public his staff and promises an investigation into how it happened. (Imagine taxpayers finding out how their money was spent!)
Remember Richard Glover? He gets paid $290,000 for insight like this:
“Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies”. – June 6, 2011
It’s not like you can pick up that kind of ill-informed prejudice at any ol’ university refectory for free eh?
But seriously, it takes money to fund hatred on a mass scale. And where in the private sector could they find it?
So what happens when a single advertiser doesn’t just buy out all the ads, it buys the whole media outlet? Could it be that a culture of confirmation bias develops that’s invisible to those within because no one, literally no one of influence at the organisation has any interest in critical analysis of the fount of the funding? There is no one in-house to point out the Keynsian flaws, no one to remind them of the broken window fallacy. No one whose self-interest aligns with the taxpayer. It’s not about a political party per se, it’s about big-government versus small. (Though we all know which parties are more likely to deal out generous cash and conditions to the government media, and hobble the private competition.)
To say the bleeding obvious, the ABC is entirely dependent on government funding, and it very much serves their self-interest if voters also find big-government appealing. How handy then, that they also have the tools to try to influence voter opinions? Likewise, in the culture war against taxpayers who protest, other co-dependents make for useful compatriots. It’s in the ABC’s interest to promote groups who will themselves lobby ferociously for big-government, which will in turn be blindly generous to the ABC. Co-dependents that spring to mind are irrational academics (the more irrational the better), useless industrial firms (e,g. renewable generators) and fake free markets, all of which only exist thanks to government whim.
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At least someone once thought London was the home of carbon finance. Now, not so much. According to the Financial Times, JP Morgan has scaled down their carbon trading team, Morgan Stanley traders are now “part time”, Barclays sold theirs last year, Deutsche Bank closed the office, and UBS shut its climate change advisory panel. Then there is a slew of smaller fish cutting back: EcoSecurities, Camco Clean Energy, Nedbank, Sindacatum, and TFS Green.
[Financial Times] At least 10 London banks have scaled back or closed their carbon trading desks amid turmoil in the European emissions trading scheme.
The fledgling market was once seen as a promising growth area, with the City of London Corporation predicting in 2006 that London would become the leading provider of services to the “mushrooming” sector.
But the number of City workers employed on carbon desks has fallen by 70 per cent in the past four years, according to Anthony Hobley, president of the Climate Markets & Investors Association.
Things are dire:
“…as a stand alone business it is basically over,” said an executive who oversees European energy trading at one large bank.
Read the full story here (Paywalled for some?)
The State of the EU market is so sick the World Bank canceled the report.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the money is leaving the room…
UPDATED with another reply (See below)
Across my desk came another one of Christopher Monckton’s many analytical entertaining parries, which I see SPPI has published already. Monckton and SPPI have supporting information in the documents linked from the images. – Jo
Dear Professor Bada,
You reply to my earlier email as follows (with some ad-hominem instances of the ignoratio elenchi fallacy removed):
“OK so you accept global warming but say from an economic standpoint we would destroy our societies by trying to mend our ways. What about all the other creatures on the Earth? Do they have any say in your economic based claims we should to do nothing? What about ocean acidification from increasing CO2 and its affects on photosynthetic organisms?”
Let me deal with your three points seriatim.
First, mitigation economics. You may like to look at the attached reviewed paper that was published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the World Federation of Scientists. The analysis is in line with the reviewed literature in concluding that attempted mitigation today would be 1-2 orders of magnitude costlier than adaptation the day after tomorrow. The calculation, which is simple and survived unchallenged after 90 minutes of vigorous debate at last year’s Federation meeting on planetary emergencies, at which I presented the paper, takes no account of the opportunity losses from diverting what is now $1 billion a day worldwide from where it could do some good to where it can do no good at all. Already there are more deaths among people who cannot afford to heat their homes because mad global-warming mitigation policies have doubled and tripled their electricity prices than among people damaged by global warming (which has not occurred for 17 years in any event). My calculations, for the first time, combined the IPCC’s principal climate-sensitivity equations and results with the standard techniques of intertemporal investment appraisal and, for the first time, revealed just how extravagantly cost-ineffective any attempted measure to mitigate global warming must be, even if the IPCC’s mad exaggerations of climate sensitivity were correct, and even if Stern’s mad exaggerations of the cost of adapting to the IPCC’s madly-exaggerated warming were correct.
Secondly, the other creatures on the Earth.
Well, 99.9% of them had become extinct before we came along. I cannot find, anywhere in the literature, any paper asserting, still less demonstrating, that 0.7 Celsius degrees of warming over a century has been anything other than beneficial. Indeed, even the mad IPCC has had to admit not only that there is no economic case for action to mitigate global warming (you will find this revealing admission in WG3 of the 2007 report) but also that warming of a further 1.4 Celsius compared with today would, in net terms, be beneficial. I have noticed that only 1% of the Earth’s species live at the Poles, and more than 90% in tropics, from which one may perhaps legitimately infer that warmer, wetter weather is better for life on Earth than colder, drier weather. Even the polar bears are thriving: there are 7 or 8 times as many of them as there were when I was born. Let us not, therefore, be too emotional. Warmer weather is a good thing, not a bad thing: and my analysis of climate sensitivity, also reviewed and published, was one of the first to state that global warming in response to a doubling of Co2 concentration would be likely to be less than 1 Celsius degree. That was the significance of my question to you about the singularity in the Bode feedback-amplification equation and the consequent necessity of a damping term if that equation is to be wrenched from electronic circuitry, where it belongs and has a physical meaning, and forced into the climate models, where it does not belong and has no physical meaning. Any reasonable damping term would divide officially-projected climate sensitivity by at least 4, so that the warming by the time all reserves of fossil fuels are exhausted would scarcely exceed the 1.4 K that the admittedly mad IPCC regards as net-beneficial.
Thirdly, you raise the specter of what you bizarrely call ocean “acidification”.
The last time I looked, the oceans were pronouncedly alkaline, and even the mad IPCC says the acid-base balance has been altered by only 0.1 acid/base units in the direction of slightly reduced alkalinity. However, that estimate, like much else in the IPCC’s mad gospels, is entirely guesswork, because there is no sufficiently well-resolved global measurement program for ocean pH. However, elementary theoretical considerations would lead us to expect homoeostasis in the acid/base balance of the oceans because the buffering influence of the rock basins in which they live and move and have their being is overwhelmingly powerful. Acid/base neutrality is at a pH of 7.0. The oceans are at about 7.8-8.2 (no one knows, so that the IPCC’s alleged dealkalinization of 0.1 acid/base units is well within the measurement error, so that we cannot actually be sure that it has occurred at all; and, on the elementary ground I have described, it is unlikely to have done so). Besides, there is about 50 times as much CO2 already dissolved in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere, so that even if all of the CO2 in the atmosphere were to make its way into the oceans the pH would scarcely change even in the absence of the overwhelming buffering effect of the rocks. As for calcifying organisms, they are thriving. The calcite corals first achieved algal symbiosis and came into being 550 million years ago (you are too young to remember) during the Cambrian era, when atmospheric CO2 concentration was 25 times what it is today. The more delicate aragonite corals came into being 175 million years ago, during the Jurassic, when CO2 concentration was still 15 times today’s. “Ah,” you may say, “but it is the suddenness of the abrupt increase in CO2 concentration that the fragile corals will not be able to endure.” However, consider the great floods of the Brisbane River (eight of them from 1840-1900 and three of them since). The rainwater that pours into the ocean and meets the Great Barrier Reef is pronouncedly acid, at a pH of 5.4. Yet the corals do not curl up and die. “Ah,” you may say, “but what about the effect of sudden warming on the puir wee corals?” Well, the Great el Nino of 1997/8 gives us the answer to that one. Sudden increases in ocean temperature cause the corals to bleach. There have been two previous Great el Ninos in the past 300 years, and the corals bleached on both those occasions too. It is a natural defense mechanism against natural change. The corals continue to thrive. My brother and his three sport-mad boys dive on the reef every year and, like many others from whom I have heard, find the corals thriving except where the Crown of Thorns infestation has damaged small parts of the reef. Oh, and the Great Barrier Reef Authority, which has been moaning about the effects of rising sea temperatures on the corals, publish a dataset that shows zero increase in sea temperature in the region of the reef throughout the entire period of record. Don’t hold your breath worrying about ocean “acidification”: it can’t happen, even if all the CO2 in the air goes into the ocean.
Let me conclude by reviewing the principal scientific and economic reasons why, in my submission, we should do nothing at all about global warming.
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Funny what you see driving home from the shops…. hundreds of thousands of tons of water-vapor had condensed in giant suspended formations. No one seemed to notice.
Click to enlarge. Facing
west East (dammit East) over Perth, last night.
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The UN will not be happy about this. The global movement is falling apart.
Japan, third largest economy in the world, and the land of Kyoto itself, has dumped their ambitious plan to reduce emissions by 25% by 2020. Now they warn that their emissions may rise instead.
Cabinet members said on Friday they had agreed a new target with an updated time frame, under which Japan would seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3.8 per cent by 2020 compared with their level in 2005. Nobuteru Ishihara, the environment minister, is to defend the goal next week when he joins international climate talks in Warsaw.
Japan’s previous target used an earlier and more challenging baseline: 1990, the benchmark year for the Kyoto agreement and a time when Japanese emissions were lower. Compared with that year, Japan said in 2009, it would cut its emissions by one-quarter by 2020.
The new target announced on Friday represents a 3 per cent rise over the same 30-year period – a difference from the previous goal that is about equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Spain.
Read more at the Financial Times
It is being painted as being due to the Fukushima reactor, which no doubt played a role. Japan used to get 30% of its electricity from nuclear power and those reactors are currently out of action (though some may be restarted soon). But it was not meeting the targets beforehand anyway and was already paying billions to buy carbon credits.
Japan 2006: “Japan is at risk of falling well short of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, with fiscal 2005 combined discharges of all greenhouse gases having increased 8.1% from fiscal 1990 levels.”
“Achieving the target will be difficult,” says an Environment Ministry official (in 2006.)
Japan 2008: “Japanese households and businesses could end up paying more than $500 billion to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent over the next decade, the trade and industry ministry said Wednesday.”
Japan 2010: “Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T), Japan’s biggest utility, spent $229 million in the last business year on carbon credits, paving the way to achieve a self-imposed target to help Japan to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments.”
Japan did warn people in 2011 that it might have to revise the target.
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