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Will there be a global famine in 2050? Crops will be overwhelmed by pests in the next 30 years, scientists warn

Another of the "coming shortage" scares that Greenies often resort to, none of which have ever come true.  The scare below  is sheer speculation.  To prove spread they needed similar population counts at two different dates.  But they did not have that.  All they had was "historical observation dates" for a minority of their species.  Anyway, genetic engineering techniques are alrady reducing pest loads and should continue to do so.  That is why Greenies are trying to ban it

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, a study has found.

More than one-in-ten pest types can already be found in around half the countries that grow their host crops.

And if this spread advances at its current rate, scientists fear that a significant proportion of global crop-producing countries will be overwhelmed by pests within the next 30 years.

The research from the University of Exeter was published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

COULD 'FRANKENFLIES' HELP PROTECT CROPS?

Experiments by British academics have found that GM insects could be used to wipe out fruit fly pests that damage crops such as oranges, peaches, apples and pears.

Genetically modified versions of the Mediterranean fruit fly were created earlier this year using controversial technology developed by the UK bioscience company Oxitec.

Millions of male GM flies have been created in the laboratory to include a gene which means that when they mate with wild females, any resulting female larvae die before reaching maturity.

The resulting fall in the number of female fruit flies should, in theory, lead to a collapse in the total population which will mean less damage is caused to food crops.

Oxitec has promoted the technology as an alternative to the use of harsh chemical pesticides to protect food crops and so boost yields and has held talks with UK government agencies to run trials in this country.

It describes the patterns and trends in the spread of crop pests, using global databases to investigate the factors that influence the number of countries reached by pests and the number of pests in each country.

Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes.

'If crop pests continue to spread at current rates, many of the world's biggest crop producing nations will be inundated by the middle of the century, posing a grave threat to global food security,' said Dr Dan Bebber of the Biosciences department at the University of Exeter.

The study identifies the pests likely to be the most invasive in coming years, which includes three species of tropical root knot nematode whose larvae infect the roots of thousands of different plant species.

Another, Blumeria graminis, is a fungus that causes powdery mildew on wheat and other cereals.

And the Citrus tristeza virus (given its name meaning 'sadness' in Portuguese and Spanish by farmers in the 1930s) is also a threat, having reached 105 of 145 countries growing citrus by the year 2000.

Fungi lead the worldwide invasion of crops and are the most widely dispersed group, despite having the narrowest range of hosts.

The study looked at the current distributions of 1,901 crop pests and pathogens and historical observations of a further 424 species.

Significant use was made of historical CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) records, which document crop pests and diseases around the world from 1822 to the present day.

'By unlocking the potential to understand the distribution of crop pests and diseases, we're moving one step closer to protecting our ability to feed a growing global population,' said Dr Timothy Holmes, Head of Technical Solutions at CABI's Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

'The hope is to turn data into positive action.'

It supports the view of previous studies that climate change is likely to significantly affect pest pressure on agriculture, with the warming Earth having a clear influence on the distribution of crop pests.

The authors also describe the global game of cat-and-mouse as crops are introduced to pest free regions and briefly thrive, before their pursuers catch up with them.

Professor Sarah Gurr of Biosciences the University of Exeter added: 'New, virulent variants of pests are constantly evolving.

'Their emergence is favoured by increased pest population sizes and their rapid life-cycles, which force diversified selection and heralds the appearance of new aggressive genotypes.

'There is hope if robust plant protection strategies and biosecurity measures are implemented, particularly in the developing world where knowledge is scant.

'Whether such precautions can slow or stop this process remains to be seen.'

SOURCE

The global spread of crop pests and pathogens

By Daniel P. Bebber et al.

Abstract

Methods

Current country- and state-level distributions of 1901 pests and pathogens and historical observation dates for 424 species were compared with potential distributions based upon distributions of host crops. The degree of ‘saturation’, i.e. the fraction of the potential distribution occupied, was related to pest type, host range, crop production, climate and socioeconomic variables using linear models.

Results

More than one-tenth of all pests have reached more than half the countries that grow their hosts. If current trends continue, many important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century. While dispersal increases with host range overall, fungi have the narrowest host range but are the most widely dispersed group. The global dispersal of some pests has been rapid, but pest assemblages remain strongly regionalized and follow the distributions of their hosts. Pest assemblages are significantly correlated with socioeconomics, climate and latitude. Tropical staple crops, with restricted latitudinal ranges, tend to be more saturated with pests and pathogens than temperate staples with broad latitudinal ranges. We list the pests likely to be the most invasive in coming years.

Main conclusions

Despite ongoing dispersal of crop pests and pathogens, the degree of biotic homogenization of the globe remains moderate and regionally constrained, but is growing. Fungal pathogens lead the global invasion of agriculture, despite their more restricted host range. Climate change is likely to influence future distributions. Improved surveillance would reveal greater levels of invasion, particularly in developing countries.

SOURCE



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Who would be giving the Communist clenched-fist salute these days? Ecofascists, of course. The pic above is apparently from a new film full of Warmist hysteria. Some of the speakers sound a lot like old uncle Adolf too. One totalitarianism is as good as another to them, I guess. Details here
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We're running out of food!

So says the gullible Justin Gillis of the NYT -- completely ignoring all the facts.  Take for instance the current situation  in icy Canada:  “In Western Canada, we’re moving from a huge glut of wheat to still a pretty big carry-over, but by no means the kind of over-supply we had in the last year.  And in 2013: “Canola - Nationally, canola production increased 29.5% from 2012 to a record 18.0 million tonnes; “Wheat: Farmers reported record wheat production of 37.5 million tonnes, a 38.0% increase from 2012.".  The only crop not a record in 2013 was Barley and Oats."  Anybody who knows anything about international trade in farm products knows that the chronic problem is surpluses, not shortages

Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.

Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.

The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet, with additional increases from other sources like melting Antarctic ice, potentially flooding the world’s major cities.

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the draft report said. “The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.”

The report was drafted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists and other experts appointed by the United Nations that periodically reviews and summarizes climate research. It is not final and could change substantially before release.

The report, intended to summarize and restate a string of earlier reports about climate change released over the past year, is to be unveiled in early November, after an intensive editing session in Copenhagen. A late draft was sent to the world’s governments for review this week, and a copy of that version was obtained by The New York Times.

Using blunter, more forceful language than the reports that underpin it, the new draft highlights the urgency of the risks that are likely to be intensified by continued emissions of heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level.

From 1970 to 2000, global emissions of greenhouse gases grew at 1.3 percent a year. But from 2000 to 2010, that rate jumped to 2.2 percent a year, the report found, and the pace seems to be accelerating further in this decade.

A major part of the jump was caused by industrialization in China, which now accounts for half the world’s coal use. Those emissions are being incurred in large part to produce goods for consumption in the West.

The report noted that severe weather events, some of them linked to human-produced emissions, had disrupted the food supply in recent years, leading to several spikes in the prices of staple grains and destabilizing some governments in poorer countries.

Continued warming, the report found, is likely to “slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”

More HERE

Further comments on the above from Prof. Don Easterbrook, who has studied global climate change for five decades:

"Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points", the report found, With no global warming in 15-18 years, how can 'global warming' cut grain production?

"and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked."  The total increase in atmospheric CO2 during the only period when both CO2 and temp increased (1978-1998) was a whopping 0.004%.  That's going to cause a lot of warming?

Higher seas, In areas cited as 'drowning (Maldives, Kiribati, Bangladesh), the sea level in the Maldives has dropped a full meter since 1979; sea level in Kiribati is not rising faster than coral is growing upward; sea level change in Bangladesh is due largely to compaction of delta sediments, and on and on.  In the next 50 years (2064) global sea level rise will be only about 3 inches!

"devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes" This is simply not true--hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, etc are all declining, not increasing.

"The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet, with additional increases from other sources like melting Antarctic ice, potentially flooding the world’s major cities."  Nonsense! Except for a few small blips, all of the past 10,000 years to 1500 years ago were 2.5 to 5.5 F warmer than present in Greenland and the ice sheet didn't disappear. As for the Antarctic, the average annual temp is -58 F so warming of 100 F would be required to melt the Antarctic ice sheet.

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” Global snow and ice is on the increase, not decreasing, the rate of global sea level rise has decreased in recent years, modeling results have not even come close to predicting global temperatures in the past few decades and with no warming in 18 years, how can human influence be invoked?

"A continued rapid growth of emissions in coming decades could conceivably lead to a global warming exceeding 8 degrees Fahrenheit, the report found."  This is based on computer models that have proven to be totally worthless in predicting global temperature for even a few decades, so why should this number have any credibility?

What is really astonishing, is how the discredited IPCC can continue to put out such nonsense totally contrary to real evidence and still pretend to be scientists.

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Study: Cutting Emissions Pays for Itself

This is just another model-driven fantasy.  There is NO WAY less CO2 in the air would be healthier.  We breathe CO2 out every minute of our day.  We are totally used to it.  And it would be a WARMER world, not a cooler one that is more healthy.  Cold weather (winter) is the time of our great dying.  Just ask any hospital administrator.

The only scintilla of sense in the article is that burning fossil fuel tends to give off particulate matter, which can be a health hazard in large quantities. But such health hazards mainly exist in third world countries.  Where power is produced in modern power stations, particulate matter is filtered out.  No doubt some very fine particles escape but, despite many attempts, there has been no study that shows such pollution to have health effects.  I reviewed such studies over and over on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog and found them all to be flawed and therefore inconclusive.  The article below is just one big train of dubious assumptions

Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution.

But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big—in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation.

“Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality,” says Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT, and co-author of a study published today in Nature Climate Change. “In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution.”

Selin and colleagues compared the health benefits to the economic costs of three climate policies: a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy, and a cap-and-trade program. The three were designed to resemble proposed U.S. climate policies, with the clean-energy standard requiring emissions reductions from power plants similar to those proposed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Health savings constant across policies

The researchers found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26 percent of the cost to implement a transportation policy, but up to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program. The difference depended largely on the costs of the policies, as the savings—in the form of avoided medical care and saved sick days—remained roughly constant: Policies aimed at specific sources of air pollution, such as power plants and vehicles, did not lead to substantially larger benefits than cheaper policies, such as a cap-and-trade approach.

Savings from health benefits dwarf the estimated $14 billion cost of a cap-and-trade program. At the other end of the spectrum, a transportation policy with rigid fuel-economy requirements is the most expensive policy, costing more than $1 trillion in 2006 dollars, with health benefits recouping only a quarter of those costs. The price tag of a clean energy standard fell between the costs of the two other policies, with associated health benefits just edging out costs, at $247 billion versus $208 billion.

“If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies,” says lead author Tammy Thompson, now at Colorado State University, who conducted the research as a postdoc in Selin’s group.

Most detailed assessment to date

The study is the most detailed assessment to date of the interwoven effects of climate policy on the economy, air pollution, and the cost of health problems related to air pollution. The MIT group paid especially close attention to how changes in emissions caused by policy translate into improvements in local and regional air quality, using comprehensive models of both the economy and the atmosphere.

In addition to carbon dioxide, burning fossil fuels releases a host of other chemicals into the atmosphere. Some of these substances interact to form ground-level ozone, as well as fine particulate matter. The researchers modeled where and when these chemical reactions occurred, and where the resulting pollutants ended up—in cities where many people would come into contact with them, or in less populated areas.

The researchers projected the health effects of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter, two of the biggest health offenders related to fossil-fuel emissions. Both pollutants can cause asthma attacks and heart and lung disease, and can lead to premature death.

In 2011, 231 counties in the U.S. exceeded the EPA’s regulatory standards for ozone, the main component of smog. Standards for fine particulate matter—airborne particles small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs and even absorbed into the bloodstream—were exceeded in 118 counties.

While cutting carbon dioxide from current levels in the U.S. will result in savings from better air quality, pollution-related benefits decline as carbon policies become more stringent. Selin cautions that after a certain point, most of the health benefits have already been reaped, and additional emissions reductions won’t translate into greater improvements.

“While air-pollution benefits can help motivate carbon policies today, these carbon policies are just the first step,” Selin says. “To manage climate change, we’ll have to make carbon cuts that go beyond the initial reductions that lead to the largest air-pollution benefits.”

The study shows that climate policies can also have significant local benefits not related to their impact on climate, says Gregory Nemet, a professor of public affairs and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who was not involved in the study.

“A particularly notable aspect of this study is that even though several recent studies have shown large co-benefits, this study finds large co-benefits in the U.S., where air quality is assumed to be high relative to other countries,” Nemet says. “Now that states are on the hook to come up with plans to meet federal emissions targets by 2016, you can bet they will take a close look at these results.

SOURCE

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The Wunsch/Lloyd controversy and the ocean deeps

A month ago, "The Australian" published a summary by Graham Lloyd of a forthcoming paper by Carl Wunsch which found cooling, not the warming predicted by Warmists, in the ocean deeps.  This embarrassed Wunsch, who wrote a "corrective" letter which was published in "The Australian" shortly thereafter.  A warmist blog then piled onto the action in an attempt to rubbish the Lloyd article but added little to what Wunsch had said.  I have now had time to read all three documents and can see nothing wrong with the Lloyd article.  I reproduce below both the original article and Wunsch's reply so that people can judge for themselves.

The only substantial point Wunsch makes in his short reply was that he believes that the ocean is warming overall, though he does not say by how much.  That may have saved Wunsch's reputation among Warmists but it was not the point of the Lloyd article.  The point is that all the warming allegedly hidden in the ocean deeps was not found. There was in fact on average a tiny degree of cooling.  Even in his reply Wunsch admits that.  So the Lloyd article is indeed fatal to the last-ditch defence of their theory currently being mounted by Warmists

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Lloyd article, however, was a comment obtained from a Prof. Hogg at the very end of the article.  He pointed out that change comes very slowly to the ocean deeps:  “So if cooling has occurred over large parts of the abyssal ocean, it is unrelated to global warming of the atmosphere over the last century.”  Equally, then, if warming has occurred over large parts of the abyssal ocean, it is unrelated to global warming of the atmosphere over the last century.  The implication of that would seem clearly to be that there is NO CHANCE of current warming being found in the ocean deeps.

Puzzle of deep ocean cooling

THE deep oceans have been cooling for the past two decades and it is not possible to say whether changes in ocean heat adequately explain the “pause” in global warming, two of the world’s leading ocean scientists have said.

Warmer oceans have been a key explanation for the “missing” heat. Global average surface temperatures have not increased dramatically for more than a decade despite steadily rising carbon dioxide levels in the ­atmosphere.

A paper by Carl Wunsch from Harvard University and Patrick Heimbach from MIT, accepted for publication with the Journal of Physical Oceanography, says more work is needed.

“Direct determination of changes in ocean heat content over the past 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalise, e.g. the apparent ‘pause’ in warming,” Professor Wunsch and Dr Heimbach say.

They conclude that much less heat is being added to the oceans than has been claimed in previous studies.

Professor Wunsch and Dr Heimbach say trends showed a warming in the upper ocean and a net cooling below 2000m. Below 3600m, the cooling is about 0.01C over 19 years.

“As with many climate-­related records, the unanswerable question here is whether these changes are truly secular, and/or a response to anthropogenic forcing, or whether they are fragments of a general red noise behaviour,’’ the paper says.

Some climate scientists claim the deep oceans are not significant because of the long time­frames over which temperature changes occur.

Professor Wunsch and Dr Heimbach say shifts in deep ocean properties “may indeed be so slight that their neglect in discussions of heat uptake and sea level change is justified”.

“The history of exploration suggests, however, that blank places on the map have either been assumed to be without any interesting features and dropped from further discussion, or at the other extreme filled with ‘dragons’ invoked to explain strange reports,” they say.

The paper says that, given the combination of the high stakes for society in the accurate ­estimation of global heating rates and sea level rise, and the fundamental science questions of understanding of oceanic variability, direct confirmation or refutation of the existing hypothesis was essential.

Andy Hogg from ANU said while there was uncertainty about temperatures in the deep ocean, shallower regions were well understood, and the findings of the Wunsch paper were “consistent” with warming oceans. He said cooling of the deep ocean was not necessarily significant. “Most parts of the abyssal ocean take a very long time (centuries to millennia) to come into equilibrium with surface forcing,” he said. “So if cooling has occurred over large parts of the abyssal ocean, it is unrelated to global warming of the atmosphere over the last century.”

He said there were key parts of the abyss, which had a closer connection with the surface. “The paper indicates that these regions have indeed been consistent with the expected heat uptake of the ocean in a warmer world,” Dr Hogg said.

A recent paper by Matthew England, executive director of the climate change research centre at the University of NSW, said the global surface temperature “hiatus” could be explained by increased winds in the Pacific Ocean. The paper claims the strong trade winds, which pushed heat deeper into the ocean, explained why climate models had not matched physical observations on global temperatures, a key area of dispute between climate scientists and sceptics.





Understanding the ocean

THE article by Graham Lloyd will likely leave a mis-impression with many of your readers concerning the substance of our paper that will appear in the Journal of Physical Oceanography (“Puzzle of deep ocean cooling”, 25/7).

We never assert that global warming and warming of the oceans are not occurring — we do find an ocean warming, particularly in the upper regions.

Contrary to the implications of Lloyd’s article, parts of the deep ocean are warming, parts are cooling, and although the global abyssal average is negative, the value is tiny in a global warming context.

Those parts of the abyss that are warming are most directly linked to the surface (as pointed out by Andy Hogg from the ANU).

Scientifically, we need to better understand what is going on everywhere, and that is an issue oceanographers must address over the next few years — a challenging observational problem that our paper is intended to raise.

Carl Wunsch, Harvard University and Massachusetts, Institute of Technology


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Large conclusions drawn from just 3 years of Cryosat-2 data

Even using ICEsat data extends the series to only 5 years  -- far too little to support claims of a trend.  A larger series could reveal very different earlier changes. The report below is objective enough.  It is only the spin Warmists are putting on it that is fanciful.  Note that the report below admits that the Antarctic sheet is both thickening and thinning (in different places)  -- so any trend is not even Antarctic-wide, let alone global

Elevation and elevation change of Greenland and Antarctica derived from CryoSat-2

By V. Helm, A. Humbert, and H. Miller

Abstract.

This study focuses on the present-day surface elevation of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Based on 3 years of CryoSat-2 data acquisition we derived new elevation models (DEMs) as well as elevation change maps and volume change estimates for both ice sheets. Here we present the new DEMs and their corresponding error maps. The accuracy of the derived DEMs for Greenland and Antarctica is similar to those of previous DEMs obtained by satellite-based laser and radar altimeters. Comparisons with ICESat data show that 80% of the CryoSat-2 DEMs have an uncertainty of less than 3 m ± 15 m. The surface elevation change rates between January 2011 and January 2014 are presented for both ice sheets. We compared our results to elevation change rates obtained from ICESat data covering the time period from 2003 to 2009. The comparison reveals that in West Antarctica the volume loss has increased by a factor of 3. It also shows an anomalous thickening in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica which represents a known large-scale accumulation event. This anomaly partly compensates for the observed increased volume loss of the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica. For Greenland we find a volume loss increased by a factor of 2.5 compared to the ICESat period with large negative elevation changes concentrated at the west and southeast coasts. The combined volume change of Greenland and Antarctica for the observation period is estimated to be −503 ± 107 km3 yr−1. Greenland contributes nearly 75% to the total volume change with −375 ± 24 km3 yr−1.

The Cryosphere, 8, 1539-1559, 2014.

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Authoritarianism and the Leftist mental bubble

Nothing could be more obvious than the fact that Leftism is authoritarian.  Wanting to "change society" in some way is definitional of Leftism. That wish, in various forms, is what makes you a Leftist.  Conservatives want change too but generally in the direction of unwinding Leftist changes.  But, as Margaret Thatcher memorably said, there is no such thing as society.  There are only people.  So the Leftist wants to change what people do.   And that is the essence and goal of the authoritarian.  And once they gain untrammelled power, socialists such as Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot etc show how very authoritarian they in fact are.

But no Leftist seems to be able to see that.  They are in fact so heavily defended against reality that they believe it is conservatives who are the authoritarians.  I have on my bookshelf a book by Robert Altemeyer which is titled: "Enemies of freedom".  Any conservative would immediately identify the Left as the enemies of freedom but to Altemeyer the enemy is a type of conservative.  Like most Leftist psychologists, Altemeyer has obviously read nothing of what conservatives actually advocate.  Leftists need their cloak of self-righteousness so badly that they have to stay within a mental bubble formed by fellow Leftists -- a bubble into which uncomfortable thoughts must not intrude.

And that malarkey has been going on for a long time.  The ball really got rolling with the publication of "The authoritarian personality" under the lead authorship of Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno (born Theodor Wiesengrund) in 1950.  And Altemeyer's writings are just an update on that.  Adorno identified conservatives as the authoritarians.

In my days doing psychological research, I had over 100 papers published pointing to the holes in the Adorno theory but the  papers had nil effect.  My findings could not be allowed to penetrate the little mental bubble that enabled Leftists to tar conservatives with what were in fact the traits of Leftists.

Occasionally, however, some courageous person pokes his head above the parapet and endeavours to question the demonization of conservatives.  I have commented previously on the work of Yancey, who points out that the flood of hate directed at Christians by Leftists makes claims of "hate" among conservatives look ludicrous.  Just to disagree with Leftists allegedly makes you a "hater".  To see what real hate looks like you have to see what Leftists say.

And I have just become aware of the work of Jarret T. Crawford, who is at least even-handed in finding fault on both the Left and the Right.  It is rather a wonder that he gets away with it, but, like Yancey, he appears to have some African ancestry.  So he is at that rate a member of a protected class and can say what he likes.  For anybody with social science interests a list of some of his writings is here.

Another reason for the acceptance of his work is that he operates within conventional Leftist parameters -- accepting Leftist measuring instruments such as the RWA and SDO scales at face value.  That is rather a pity as both instruments are abortions.  Although allegedly a measure of "Right-wing authoritarianism", the RWA scale offers no useful prediction of vote at election time!  Not very right-wing, is it?  In psychometric terms the scale lacks predictive validity.  And the SDO scale is an even bigger joke -- as I pointed out some years ago.

I look forward to Crawford discovering psychometrics.  With better measuring instruments there is no telling what he might find.  My paper on  SDO does offer some alternatives.

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University rankings out again

There are now rather a lot of these rankings, all using slightly different methodology, but the latest out is the well established Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking.

No great surprises in the top ten, though Oxford would be sniffy about being ranked lower than Cambridge.

As usual, Australian universities had a good showing, with Melbourne in the top 50 and ANU at 74,  Queensland at 85 and UWA at 88.  Queensland is my Alma Mater so nobody can cast nasturtiums on my background.  My son is back there too.

And one of Brisbane's newer universities (Griffith) put out a press release expressing pleasure at being ranked 400th!  That is not as silly as it sounds when you realize that is 400th out of 10,000 -- and rankings lower than 500 are not released.
  
And Israelis will be pleased that their small community produced two in the top 100 -- Hebrew and Technion. And that is despite the "brain drain" of Ashkenazim to American universities.  No Palestinian universities made it into the top 500, however.  I believe there is one. Maybe the Palis could send some suicide bombers over to Shanghai to show those Chinamen at Jiao Tong University a thing or two!

The first non-American university on the list was -- at 19 -- The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which I know nothing about.  I have certainly never seen a paper from them.  Did Einstein go there or something?

The ranking of Leiden university in the Netherlands may indicate that there is such a thing as Dutch modesty.  They ranked at 77 when in the ranking system that they themselves run they come in only at 100!

Brits will be peeved that LSE made it only into the 100-150 bracket.  I gather that they have a lot of Muslims there.  And I was slightly peeved to see Sydney also in that bracket  I have a large document issued to me by that university. At least it did better than Macquarie, which was at 201-300.  I also have a large document issued to me  by Macquarie.

Three New Zealand universities made it into the top 500, which isn't bad for a country of only 4 million souls, though the ranking of Victoria University Wellington (401-500)  will disappoint many. I very nearly took a job there once.

The methodology used by the Shanghai rankings is entirely academic and research oriented. The project is supported by the Chinese government so it is a pretty good look "from outside".  The huge preponderance of American universities in the rankings would have to be taken with a large grain of salt if it were Americans who were doing the rankings but since the work was in fact done by Chinese academics, it is not subject to that suspicion.

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Two very different Warmists meet  -- and we see which is rational

Kevin Trenberth is allegedly a scientist but is certainly a global warming evangelist.  His second most famous quote is:  "The planet is warming", but "the warmth just isn’t being manifested at the surface".   Pielke Jr. says he believes in global warming but doesn't think anyone can do anything about it.  Pielke enrages other Warmists.  He reports via Twitter:

Roger Pielke Jr. @RogerPielkeJr

I debated Trenberth last week. From Kevin there was yelling, spittle & an apology. I stuck to IPCC AR5 which he called totally wrong. Weird.

IPCC AR5 is the latest U.N. climate report

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Gladwell

Steve Sailer demolishes in short order the ideas of Malcolm Gladwell here.  Gladwell is a real intellectual lightweight.  His grades were not good enough for graduate school. There is nothing creditable about propounding striking ideas if those ideas are wrong or unproven. I think it is mainly the bush of African hair on his head that gets Gladwell uncritical acceptance. He runs fast, though.  I have mentioned previously the demolition of Gladwell's most recent book by Christopher Chabris, a psychology professor and psychometrician.

It is generally conceded, however, that Gladwell is a good entertainer.  It is perhaps in that light that we can understand the success that his academically unsatisfactory writings have brought him.

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"Flores man" just had Down's syndrome

This vindicates what was my conclusion from the start:  That Flores man was not a new species. The small stature of the person seemed to indicate a new species to many but that was not in fact unusual in Australia once. And Australia and Indonesia are of course neighbouring countries. 

All mention of Australia's first inhabitants --a pygmy race -- is normally suppressed these days but there are old photographs to prove their existence. And one (height 3'7") was alive until recently. They have now interbred with the Aborigines but some are still very short.  Their last holdout was in Kuranda and one day in 2004 a very short man walked right past me in Kuranda's main street. 

So I think an explanation of the bones as those of a very short person with Downs syndrome covers the evidence very well


The oldest case of Down's syndrome? 15,000-year-old 'Flores man' bones are not evidence of a new human species, study reveals

In October 2004 skeletal remains found on the island of Flores in Indonesia hinted at a previously unknown species of human that existed 15,000 years ago.

Called Homo floresiensis, the species was dubbed a ‘hobbit’ as it was smaller than any other known species of human.

But reanalysis has revealed that it may not be a new species at all, but rather a human that has features consistent with someone with Down's syndrome.

The latest findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by an international team of researchers.

They suggest that the single specimen on which the new designation depends, known as LB1 after the cave it was discovered in - Liang Bua - does not represent a new species.

Indeed, aside from LB1, no substantial new bone discoveries have been made in the cave since this finding.

‘The skeletal sample from Liang Bua cave contains fragmentary remains of several individuals,’ said Dr Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolution at Penn State University.

‘LB1 has the only skull and thigh bones in the entire sample.’

The first indicator that the finding could be explained by Down's syndrome was craniofacial asymmetry, a left-right mismatch of the skull that is characteristic of the disorder.

The 15,000-year-old skeleton, officially known as Homo floresiensis, got its nickname from its squat stature.

The 3-foot (1-metre) tall, 30-year-old female was based on remains that were uncovered in the Liang Bua cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003.

Since the discovery, scientists debated whether the specimen actually represents an extinct species in the human family tree, perhaps a diminutive offshoot of Homo erectus, a 1.8-million-year-old hominid and the first to have body proportions comparable to those of modern Homo sapiens.

The researchers noted this asymmetry in LB1 as early as 2006, but it had not been reported by the excavating team and was later dismissed as a result of the skull's being long buried, he said.

Initial descriptions of Homo floresiensis focused on LB1's unusual anatomical characteristics: a cranial volume reported as only 380 milliliters (23.2 cubic inches), suggesting a brain less than one third the size of an average modern human.

The skeleton also had short thigh bones, which were used to reconstruct a creature standing only 3.5 feet (1.06 metres) tall.

Although LB1 lived only 15,000 years ago, comparisons were made to earlier hominins, including Homo erectus and Australopithecus.

Other traits were characterised as unique and therefore indicative of a new species.

But a thorough re-examination of the available evidence in the context of clinical studies, the researchers said, suggests a different explanation.

In the first place, they write, the original figures for cranial volume and stature are underestimates, ‘markedly lower than any later attempts to confirm them.’

The researchers have consistently found a cranial volume of about 430 milliliters (26.2 cubic inches).

'The difference is significant, and the revised figure falls in the range predicted for a modern human with Down's syndrome *from the same geographic region*, Dr Eckhardt said.

LB1 is shown in three different views to illustrate facial asymmetry. A is the actual specimen, B is the right side doubled at the midline and mirrored, and C is the left side doubled and mirrored. Differences in left and right side facial architectures are apparent, and illustrate growth abnormalities of LB1

LB1 is shown in three different views to illustrate facial asymmetry. A is the actual specimen, B is the right side doubled at the midline and mirrored, and C is the left side doubled and mirrored. Differences in left and right side facial architectures are apparent, and illustrate growth abnormalities of LB1

The original estimate of 3.5 feet (1.06 metres) for the creature's height was based on extrapolation combining the short thigh bone with a formula derived from an African pygmy population.

But humans with Down's syndrome also have diagnostically short thigh bones, Dr Eckhardt said.

Though these and other features are unusual, he acknowledged, 'unusual does not equal unique.

'The originally reported traits are not so rare as to have required the invention of a new hominin species.'

Instead, the researchers build the case for an alternative diagnosis: that of Down's syndrome, one of the most commonly occurring developmental disorders in modern humans.

'When we first saw these bones, several of us immediately spotted a developmental disturbance,' said Eckhardt, 'but we did not assign a specific diagnosis because the bones were so fragmentary.  'Over the years, several lines of evidence have converged on Down's syndrome.'

A previously unpublished measurement of LB1's occipital-frontal circumference - the circumference of the skull taken roughly above the tops of the ears - allowed the researchers to compare LB1 to clinical data routinely collected on patients with developmental disorders.

Here too, the brain size they estimate is within the range expected for an Australomelanesian human with Down's syndrome.

LB1's short thigh bones not only match the height reduction seen in Down's syndrome, Dr Eckhardt said, but when corrected statistically for normal growth, they would yield a stature of about 1.26 meters, or just over four feet, a figure matched by some humans now living on Flores and in surrounding regions. [Vietnamese can be very short too]

These and other Down-like characteristics, the researchers state, are present only in LB1, and not in the other Liang Bua skeletal remains, further evidence of LB1's abnormality.

'This work is not presented in the form of a fanciful story, but to test a hypothesis: Are the skeletons from Liang Bua cave sufficiently unusual to require invention of a new human species?' Dr Eckhardt said.

'Our reanalysis shows that they are not. The less strained explanation is a developmental disorder.

'Here the signs point rather clearly to Down's syndrome, which occurs in more than one per thousand human births around the world.'

SOURCE



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The latest survey cookery (Verheggen, Cook, et al.) by Warmists is worthless

A new survey of climate scientists has been published. The author team is headed by Bart Verheggen and includes John Cook. Here's the abstract:

    "Results are presented from a survey held among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The survey was unique in its size, broadness and level of detail. Consistent with other research, we found that, as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming. The respondents’ quantitative estimate of the GHG contribution appeared to strongly depend on their judgment or knowledge of the cooling effect of aerosols. The phrasing of the IPCC attribution statement in its fourth assessment report (AR4) providing a lower limit for the isolated GHG contribution may have led to an underestimation of the GHG influence on recent warming. The phrasing was improved in AR5. We also report on the respondents’ views on other factors contributing to global warming; of these Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) was considered the most important. Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change."

Having Cook on the author team is obviously going to lead many people to write the paper off without even taking a look at it. When you are proven to have set out to write a paper to meet a predetermined conclusion, that is the way people will treat your work.

SOURCE

Further comments by JR:

Note the following statement from the full paper:

"Participation in our survey was sought from scientists having authored or coauthored peer-reviewed articles or assessment reports related to climate change"

Also note:

"1868 questionaires were returned, although not all of these were fully completed. This amounts to a response rate of 29%"

So these were NOT atmospheric scientists.  They were anybody who had mentioned global warming in some paper or other.  It is hence NOT an expert sample.

Furthermore, the response rate was so low that it is not a representative sample either.  It is entirely possible that people  who wanted to keep their heads down in a very controversial area were the core of the non-respondents -- and a major reason for wanting to keep  heads down would be the risks of acknowledging skepticism.  The way Warmists have attacked and penalized skepticism has made it impossible to get open responses in the matter and hence vitiates any survey of the field.  The conclusions of the study are therefore worthless.


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When obscenity trumps the facts

Obscenity is a strange way to make a scientific point.  I have never seen it before.  But I think I know why the guy below used it.  He is desperate.  He must be aware of the latest findings in his own field and the latest finding is that current changes in the Arctic, particularly in thermokarsts, have a net COOLING effect. See "A shift of thermokarst lakes from carbon sources to sinks during the Holocene epoch".  That study concerns CO2 but the Warmist below makes no attempt to offset that finding against the methane observations that are giving him orgasms.  That the methane emissions ARE being offset in some way would seem to follow from the fact that there has been no global warming for 18 years.  And note that in the original methane study,  most of the "vast plumes" did not reach the surface so could not therefore affect the atmosphere

The planet is 'f**cked' after scientists found huge plumes of deadly methane escaping from the seafloor.  This is according to Dr Jason Box who claims that methane will be the main driver of climate change if it escapes into the atmosphere.

He said: 'If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd'

The scientist, based at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, tweeted the provocative statement after a Swedish study found methane leaking beneath the Arctic.

Some of this methane – which is over 20 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat - is now making it to the ocean's surface.

The leaking gas from the seafloor may have its origins in collapsing clusters of methane trapped in frozen water due to high pressure and low temperature.

Scientists at Stockholm University called the discovery 'somewhat of a surprise,' which, according to Dr Box, is an understatement.

Methane is the second-largest greenhouse gas contributor to climate change.  The gas is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat and is currently being targeted by government in an attempt to mitigate global warming.

Methane pollution has declined by 11 per cent since 1990 even as the governments has pushed for greater use of natural gas.

But the longer view on methane pollution show that it will rise. The Obama administration points to studies that show that methane pollution is projected to increase to a level equivalent to over 620 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution in 2030, if no action is taken.

The conventional thought is that the bubbles would be dissolved before they reached the surface and that microorganisms would consume that methane.

But Dr Box said if the plumes are making it to the surface, there's a new source of heat-trapping gases that the planet needs to worry about.

This, he claims, is particularly disturbing because the Arctic is warming faster than nearly anywhere else on Earth.

His comments follow research in May which found that freshwater sources may be an unrealised source of methane.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which is highly soluble in water, methane exists in two forms in these freshwater sources: as a dissolved gas and encapsulated in bubbles that rise from sediments.

And this methane can lead to ozone production and levels of the gas in the atmosphere are 150 per cent higher than they were before the industrial revolution in U.S.

It is already known that in the melting regions of the Arctic where lakes, known as thermokarsts, which are lakes that break down plant material into methane.

This methane can then escape out of the lake, and once lit, could set ice on fire.

'I may escape a lot of this,' Dr Box told Motherboard, 'but my daughter might not. She's three years old.'

SOURCE


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Australia in the grip of a ‘new stolen generation’?

The story below is totally biased.  It makes no mention of the high and chronic rate of alcohol abuse in Aboriginal families or the harsh way  Aboriginal men treat their women and children. I  have seen both with my own eyes.  Because of the "stolen generation" myth (triggered by child welfare authorities taking children away from severely dysfunctional Aboriginal homes) all State child welfare departments became very wary of removing Aboriginal children from their homes.  The result was a lot of dead and injured children.  It now seems that they have mostly returned to their  statutory responsibilities towards the children and are rescuing them once again

THE rate of indigenous children being taken from their families has become so rife, more are being removed today than at any other time in Australia’s sordid colonial history.

Figures reveal the number of indigenous children being forcibly taken from their homes has risen almost 400 per cent in 15 years, prompting Aboriginal Elders to condemn what they are labelling a ‘new Stolen Generation’.

Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children represent 4.6 per cent of the Australian population, and a whopping one third are in ‘out of home care’.

According to the Federal Government’s 1997 Bringing Them Home report, the number of indigenous children removed from their families at the time was 2785.

Fast forward fifteen years to 2012, where a report by the Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recorded the instance of removal had risen almost 400 per cent to 13,299.

“More than 14,000 Aboriginal children are in what they call ‘out of home care’ in any given night in Australia,” said Paddy Gibson, a senior researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“That is a far greater number of children removed in any year over the Stolen Generations period.”

According to Mr Gibson, Australia has essentially returned to an “assimilation policy” where mass removal of Aboriginal children is being used as a strategy to “deal with questions of Aboriginal disadvantage, just as it was in the Stolen Generations era”.

But the Federal Government has washed its hands of the problem, with the Minister for indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, telling news.com.au “Child protection is the responsibility of the states and territories. At all times and in all circumstances, the best interest of the child is paramount.

“However I do encourage states and territories to work harder to find solutions, where possible, within the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family. Experience has shown that where issues can be resolved, the extended family is at the centre of the solution.”

In NSW nearly 6300 indigenous children are wards of the state. That’s nearly 10 per cent of the state’s Aboriginal children. Meanwhile, only 1.6 per cent of white children have been removed.

According to the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner’s annual report, indigenous children were 395 per cent more likely to be put into care than non-indigenous children.

In the year to June 30, 2013, 624 indigenous kids were removed in the Northern Territory, in comparison to 126 non-indigenous children.

Child protection services have denied having an unfair focus on indigenous communities, claiming it is beyond the Department’s control and that the health and welfare of the child was at the core of the department’s interests.

“The NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has a statutory responsibility to protect children, and will only remove a child or young person as a last resort when court order finds there are serious concerns for their safety or wellbeing, said a spokesman.

“The decision to remove a child from its family is not taken lightly by the Children’s Court, which treats all cases equally, no matter what the racial or social background.”

FACS pointed news.com.au to the 2014 Report on Government Services, which stated NSW had the highest percentage of indigenous children in out of home care placements with relatives or kin (63.6 per cent of indigenous children as compared to the national average of 51.5 per cent).

But Mr Jackson remained unconvinced.  “Yes we do have drunks, yes we do have druggies, some of them are mothers even, but in the wider family, not all of them are drunk or drug-affected,” he said.

“When you walk into an Aboriginal house, the first thing you see is a wall covered with photos. “Photos of family of those who have gone, those have just come and those who are in between and growing. Walk into the kitchen, the fridge is covered with children’s drawings. That is a normal home.

“That is pride in your family and children, and that is not being recognised.

SOURCE


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Fun!  With kidney stones!

AS soon as I had put up yesterday my demolition of the idiotic Warmist use of the latest kidney stone study, I tweeted a short  summary of it, with link.  Marc Morano retweeted my tweet,  as he often does.  And that generated further tweets.

One tweeter (Dennis Krupski @Dkrupski) tweeted that, instead of saying I had demolished the kidney stone claims, I should have said that  I *pulverized* the claims. That was rather witty.  Lithotripsy is the first line of defence against kidney stones and pulverizing the stones is what lithotripsy hopefully does.

But a much more amusing tweet was by a Solon going by the name of "Thetracker" (@IdiotTracker).  He is evidently a Warmist so wanted to disrespect my kidney stone comments. And he did it in a classic Warmist way:  By abusing me and appealing to authority.  He made absolutely no mention of the scientific points I had made.  And even his abuse was not clever.  He accused me of writing from "Mom's basement".  Since I am a 71 year old academic with a couple of hundred published academic journal articles behind me, that little speculation was way off.

It is rather saddening how often Warmists talk about "The science" as supporting their ideas but rarely mention one single scientific fact.  Actual science clearly freaks them. Skeptics, by contrast, post scientific facts about the alleged warming all the time.

And the appeals to authority which Warmists substitute for scientific debate are logically problematic anyway.  The "argumentum ad verecundiam" (appeal to authority) is well known to logicians as one of the classic informal fallacies in logic.  It is quite simply illogical. That Warmists rely on it is therefore pathetic.  They are poor souls indeed. Their pernicious cult is founded on speculation only -- JR


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Kidney stone nonsense demolished

Warmists are chortling over a recent report that associated increased kidney stones with higher temperatures.  A close reading of the  press release that announced the findings is interesting, however.  First note the following excerpt:

"A painful condition that brings half a million patients a year to U.S. emergency rooms, kidney stones have increased markedly over the world in the past three decades. While stones remain more common in adults, the numbers of children developing kidney stones have climbed at a dramatically high rate over the last 25 years. The factors causing the increase in kidney stones are currently unknown, but may be influenced by changes in diet and fluid intake. When stones do not pass on their own, surgery may be necessary."

The study team also found that very low outdoor temperatures increased the risk of kidney stones in three cities: Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. The authors suggest that as frigid weather keeps people indoors more, higher indoor temperatures, changes in diet and decreased physical activity may raise their risk of kidney stones.

Then look at the international prevalence of stones  -- in Table 1.  We find that the USA in 1988-1994 had a kidney stone prevalence of 5.2% whereas Italy has a prevalence of 1.72% in 1993-1994.  We also find that Spain had an incidence of 2.0% in 1987 and a prevalence of 10.0% in 1991.

So what is going on?  It's hard to know where to start.  But let me draw attention to the statements highlighted in red.  They first admit that they DON'T know what causes stones.  Climate  change is simply a speculation.  Then they admit that LOW temperatures go with more stones in some cities.  Global warming does not affect Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia??  It's not very global in that case is it?

And, going to the statistics, why should the USA have a prevalence that is 3 times higher than Italy?  Is the USA 3 times warmer than Italy?  Obviously not.  And, finally, the Spanish statistics suggest that the whole thing is basically a mystery.  So the careful scientific conclusion by the authors that "The factors causing the increase in kidney stones are currently unknown" is well justified.  The Warmists have however ignored that scientific conclusion and hopped on to the speculations attached to it. -- JR

SOURCE
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Record high global temperature in June a lie

Drawing on NOAA data, it is asserted below that we did have a record high global temperature in June.  But the "record" temperature exceeded the previous high by only one twentieth of one degree, a figure that would be non-trivial only if it were repeated frequently.   More importantly, it is well outside the accuracy inherent in the data.  Temperature measurement is very spotty worldwide with large areas such as China, Russia and Africa having very few data sources. So a great deal of the "data" used to calculate world temperature is in fact "interpolations", in plain language guesses.  So one immidiately suspects that the guesses were simply more expansive in June.

And the U.S. temperature data strongly supports that suspicion.  The USA by far has the best temperature record.  The measurements are not perfect.  They are affected by siting problems in many cases but there are so many meassuring stations that interpolations are rarely needed.  So what does out best source of uninterpolated data show?  You can see it on the map below.  The USA was mostly one big COOL spot!  QED, as they used to say.  The global data is fudged

A minor source of amusement is that the NOAA report that formed the basis for the article below tabulates national temperatures for a number of nations, including such places as Latvia,  but does NOT give U.S. average temperatures!  I wonder why?

Last month was a scorcher for global temperatures with warmth over land and sea breaking records for June while sea-surface temperatures posted their largest departure from long-term averages for any month.

Combined average temperatures over land and sea were 0.72 degrees above the 20th century average of 15.5 degrees, making it the hottest June and adding to the record May and equal record April, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).



More striking for climatologists, though, were the sea-surface temperatures. These came in 0.64 degrees above the 20th century average of 16.4 degrees – the first time any month had exceeded the long-run norm by more than 0.6 degrees.

Parts of all major ocean basins notched their warmest June, with almost all the Indian Ocean and regions off south-eastern Australia the hottest on record.

An El Nino event remains about a 70 per cent chance of forming during the northern summer, which could see more records tumble. The weather pattern sees the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean becoming relatively warm compared with western regions, and typically brings hotter, drier than usual conditions to south-east Asia and Australia.

Climate scientists say man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are trapping more solar heat and leading to the global warming that increasing the likelihood that hot rather than cold records will be broken.

The first half of the year tied 2002 as the third-warmest on record for land and sea-surface temperatures, NOAA said.

SOURCE
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Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet; Increases in temperature, sea level and CO2 observed

The Warmists at NOAA are clutching at straws here.

1). They say that just three countries in the Southern hemisphere had record high temperatures. But if it's GLOBAL warming, shouldn't the high temperatures have happened in more countries than that? Nothing in the Northern hemisphere? If a phenomenon is not global it is local and of no use in upholding Warmist dogma.  There are plenty of local weather influences.

2). And it's a wonder that they mention the rise in CO2 at all, now at a level that was once predicted to be catastrophic.  Where is the catastrophe?

3). And they say that the global temperature  ranked "between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used". So which is it?  The ranking is obviously far from solid.

4). And they say: "sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record".  That means that there were 9 years when it was warmer.  So it actually COOLED in 2003.

I will comment no further on such hilarious garbage

In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea, and ice.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.”

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.

Highlights:

    Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 ppm in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958. This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this CO2 threshold of 400 ppm in spring 2012.

    Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest.

    Sea surface temperatures increased: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record. El NiƱo Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions in the eastern central Pacific Ocean and a negative Pacific decadal oscillation pattern in the North Pacific had the largest impacts on the global sea surface temperature during the year. The North Pacific was record warm for 2013.

    Sea level continued to rise: Global mean sea level continued to rise during 2013, on pace with a trend of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year over the past two decades.

    The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Record high temperatures were measured at 20-meter depth at permafrost stations in Alaska. Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.

    Antarctic sea ice extent reached record high for second year in a row; South Pole station set record high temperature: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.56 million square miles on October 1. This is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.51 million square miles that occurred in 2012 and 8.6 percent higher than the record low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986. Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.

    Tropical cyclones near average overall / Historic Super Typhoon: The number of tropical cyclones during 2013 was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms, in comparison to the 1981-2010 average of 89. The North Atlantic Basin had its quietest season since 1994. However, in the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan – the deadliest cyclone of 2013 – had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds estimated to be 196 miles per hour.

State of the Climate in 2013 is the 24th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online.

"State of the Climate is vital to documenting the world's climate," said Dr. Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director. "AMS members in all parts of the world contribute to this NOAA-led effort to give the public a detailed scientific snapshot of what's happening in our world and builds on prior reports we've published."

SOURCE

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Can America disengage?

I do not at all agree with the screed below but it represents a view that needs an answer.  And one point it makes is undoubtedly true:  It is sheer madness, not to mention cruel, to be arming and financing both sides of the Arab/Israel conflict.  Even the bleeding hearts must notice that it has led to over 100 dead Palestinians currently.  Is that what the supporters of the Arabs want?  It probably is -- the Left love death -- but they should be confronted with that consequence.  In my view, aid to all hostiles should be cut off while at the same time Israel continues to receive what she needs to defend herself.

So there is in principle no problem with aid to Egypt as long as it continues to honor its peace treaty with Israel -- something that Mubarak did and which the present military government has continued.

But the Palestinian authority is undoubtedly hostile to Israel so aid should be cut off until it too concludes an enforceable peace treaty with Israel.  I cannot see that there is any other moral course.

The second point below is that Israel is a no-account place that is not worth defending.  Many writers have pointed out ways in which Israel is materially useful to America but that is not the big factor of course.  The big factor comes down to morality, religion, values and feelings.  And in that sphere Israel is a giant among nations.  They wrote both parts of our holy book and even those who do not hold the Bible holy cannot avoid the fact that the Bible has been the principal foundation of our civilization. To give back to those who have given us so much seems again to me to be the only moral course.  As our own Bible tells us, they are a holy nation

“[The United States has] a fateful tie to the Israelis from which we have, in contradistinction to the Israelis, everything to lose, and nothing to gain.” George F. Kennan, Diaries, 25 April 1978.

“Our form of government, inestimable as it is, exposes us, more than any other, to the insidious intrigues and pestilent influence of foreign nations. Nothing but our inflexible neutrality can preserve us.” John Adams, c. 1809.

As the renewed Israeli-Palestinian war rages in Gaza, America is presented with an ideal moment to run — not walk — away from its suicidal commitment to both sides. Surely, no sane American — except the Neocons, whom it would be absurd to consider either sane or loyal Americans — could have missed the fact that what is going on in the current war has had absolutely no immediate impact on the United States.

The war is occurring in a far away place that is no longer of any strategic interest to the United States because the combination of Washington’s relentless, war-causing and Islamist-motivating interventionism and Obama’s cowardly surrenderism have already given the entire region to the Islamists and ensured — thanks to Jewish-American Neocons — Israel’s ultimate doom. Therefore it matters not a lick to any but disloyal Americans whether the Israelis kill all the Palestinians, the Palestinians kill all the Israelis, or, in the best case scenari0, they mutually destroy each other. At the end of the war they all simply will be dead foreigners of whom we had no need and for whom we need not bid any teary farewells. Peoples who want to fight religious wars deserve whatever they get, and these two peoples are determined to fight their religious war until one side or the other is destroyed. Well, so be it, let us get out of it now.

There is a rub for the United States, however, and that reality makes complete U.S. disengagement more urgent than ever before. That rub lies in the fact that each bomb or missile the Israeli air force uses in Gaza will eventually yield a dead American soldier or Marine and/or a dead civilian. This is not a fact that President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry will use to inform the American people about what is at stake for the United States in the long run, because they — along with most of their party and the Republican Party — really could not care less about our nation’s security as long as campaign contributions and media support keep flowing  from disloyal Israel First, U.S. citizens and their fundamentally anti-American organizations. As long as that graft keeps flowing their way from the Israel Firsters, they are all more than willing to motivate our Islamist enemies by backing Israel to the hilt.

All of these officials will seek to hide their corrupt relationship with U.S. citizen, Israel First leaders by blathering on about the need for a cease-fire, a two-state solution, and restraint from both sides. What is it, do suppose, that makes senior elected and appointed American officials live in the fantasy world that sees an amicable solution to this problem as a possibility.  The answer is bribery, as these people are all listed as members in good standing on Israel First’s bountiful payroll list. Because of the dire need to uphold what is left of the Constitution, we must permit these enemies of America to prattle on, but recognizing their flagrant disregard for genuine U.S. national interests we ought to just ignore them.

It is exquisitely clear, that Israelis and Arabs are going to fight each other until one or the other is annihilated, so let them fight.

SOURCE

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Carbon price helped curb emissions, ANU study finds

As something of a coincidence with Australia's repeal of the carbon tax, a study has come out claiming that the tax did have the effect intended.  A report of the study plus the journal abstract is given below.  There is no intrinsic problem with that conclusion.  Taxing something does generally reduce demand for it.  I nonetheless think that the report is pure guesswork.  I cannot see how they can separate out the effect of the tax from other  factors bearing down on electricity generation.

For most of the period surveyed the Labor government was in power, energetically pressing a variety of policies designed to have the same effect as the tax.  The winding back of brown coal powered generation in Victoria is the most obvious example of that.  Shutting down the cheapest power generators in the country took some time but it did eventually happen to some extent in the latter phase of ALP rule.

And if you read the abstract, it is clear that estimates (guesses) were involved.  Their admission:  "There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes" is very much to the point

Australia cut carbon dioxide emissions from its electricity sector by as much as 17 million tonnes because of the carbon price and would have curbed more had industry expected the price to be permanent, according to an Australian National University study.

The report, due to be submitted for peer-reviewed publication, found the two years of the carbon price had a discernible impact on emissions even assuming conservative responses by consumers and businesses.

“We see the carbon price doing what it was meant to do, and what it was expected to do, namely dampen demand and shift the supply from dirtier to cleaner sources of electricity,” said Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, and a co-author of the report with the centre’s Marianna O’Gorman.

The paper comes as the Senate voted on Thursday to bring almost five years of Coalition campaigning against a price on carbon to an end by repealing the tax. Labor and the Greens say they will continue to push for a price on emissions.

The ANU report, which used official market data to the end of June, found the drop in power demand attributed to the carbon price was between 2.5 and 4.2 terawatt-hours per year, or about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of the National Electricity Market serving about 80 per cent of Australia’s population.

Emissions-intensive brown and black coal-fired power generators cut output, with about 4 gigawatts of capacity taken offline. The emissions intensity of NEM supply dropped between 16 and 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of supply, underscoring the role of carbon pricing rather than slumping demand in curbing pollution, the paper said.

However, investors’ doubts that the carbon tax would last – fostered in part by then opposition leader Tony Abbott’s “blood oath” to repeal it if the Coalition took office - meant high-emissions generators were mothballed rather than permanently closed.

“We’d expect the impact of the carbon price would have been larger, perhaps far larger, if there had been an expectation that the carbon price would have continued,” Professor Jotzo said.

Falling demand

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said repeatedly that the carbon tax was ineffective, stating Australia’s total emissions fell 0.1 per cent in the first year.

More recent figures, though, show the emissions drop accelerated, with 2013’s 0.8 per cent economy-wide fall the largest annual reduction in the 24 years of monitoring. In the power sector, the industry most directly covered by the carbon price, emissions fell 5 per cent.

“As confirmed by Origin Energy managing director Grant King, there are other factors resulting in lower emissions in the electricity sector – including lower demand, the impact of the [Renewable Energy Target], flooding at the Yallourn power station and increased hydro output,” a spokesman for Mr Hunt said.

However, the ANU paper takes those factors into account in estimating the carbon price impact, Professor Jotzo said.

Rather, the impact of the carbon price is probably understated. The highly politicised debate preceded its implementation by about a year, prompting energy consumers to focus more on electricity costs – and presumably to begin making savings – well before the tax began.

“We would expect politically motivated talk ... may well have had a large impact on people’s power usage patterns,” Professor Jotzo said....

“The only thing that went wrong in Australia was the politics of climate change policy,” Professor Jotzo said. “There was nothing inherently wrong with scheme.”

SOURCE

Impact of the carbon price on Australia’s electricity demand, supply and emissions

Marianna O'Gorman, Frank Jotzo

Abstract:

Australia’s carbon price has been in operation for two years. The electricity sector accounts for the majority of emissions covered under the scheme. This paper examines the impact of the carbon price on the electricity sector between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2014, focusing on the National Electricity Market (NEM). Over this period, electricity demand in the NEM declined by 3.8 per cent, the emissions intensity of electricity supply by 4.6 per cent, and overall emissions by 8.2 per cent, compared to the two-year period before the carbon price. We detail observable changes in power demand and supply mix, and estimate the quantitative effect of the effect of the carbon price. We estimate that the carbon price led to an average 10 per cent increase in nominal retail household electricity prices, an average 15 per cent increase in industrial electricity prices and a 59 per cent increase in wholesale (spot) electricity prices. It is likely that in response, households, businesses and the industrial sector reduced their electricity use. We estimate the demand reduction attributable to the carbon price at 2.5 to 4.2 TWh per year, about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of total electricity demand in the NEM. The carbon price markedly changed relative costs between different types of power plants. Emissions-intensive brown coal and black coal generators reduced output and 4GW of emissions-intensive generation capacity was taken offline. We estimate that these shifts in the supply mix resulted in a 16 to 28kg CO2/MWh reduction in the emissions intensity of power supply in the NEM, a reduction between 1.8 and 3.3 per cent. The combined impact attributable to the carbon price is estimated as a reduction of between 5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (3.2 to 5 per cent) in 2012/13 and between 6 and 9 million tonnes (3.5 to 5.6 per cent) in 2013/14, and between 11 and 17 million tonnes cumulatively. There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes, especially over the short term, and in this light we use conservative parameters in the estimation of the effect of the carbon price. We conclude that the carbon price has worked as expected in terms of its short-term impacts. However, its effect on investment in power generation assets has probably been limited, because of policy uncertainty about the continuation of the carbon pricing mechanism. For emissions pricing to have its full effect, a stable, long-term policy framework is needed.

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