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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11125/science-or-nonscience/

Science or Nonscience?

December 1, 2009 by

The black mark earned by alarmists during the 1970s, for predicting continued global cooling, may be replicated for global-warming alarmists. One day, scientists will cry wolf to a public that has learned to ignore them. FULL ARTICLE by Clifford F. Thies

{ 51 comments }

Hans Palmstierna December 1, 2009 at 7:10 am

I would just like to add a few brief details that weren’t mentioned in the article :

The graph where IPCC played “hide the decline” is constructed by a certain Keith Briffa, from “proxy-data”, in this case tree-rings. The validity of this data as a measurement of past temperatures has been debated, and the removed part of the graph represents the time since 1960 – which for some reason diverges a lot from temperature data as measured by temperature stations.

One would think that this would lead any good scientist to the conclusion that “no, these tree rings are not a good proxy for past temperatures”, however, instead they decided (after publishing the graph in as it was in two papers in 1998 and 2001) to “hide the decline” from 1960 when publishing in the 2001 IPCC report, and use this graph together with a number of other graphs to show that they all showed the same trend.

….the fact that the entire “trend” of late 20th-century warming is missing in this graph seems to have gone them completely by. While one could argue (like the IPCC through their blog/political outlet RealClimate has) that the decline wasn’t “hidden”, it was possible for anyone to see that the graph was cut off at the end, this is hardly the point. As mentioned even by official peer reviewers before publication, publishing this graph together with other similar graphs in order to give the picture that many different datasets lead to the same conclusions is misleading at the very least, probably to be counted as intentionally fraudulent .

KP December 1, 2009 at 7:22 am

Is not the fact that science is a bad thing, you find ideas changing and progress being made. However, when science pushes policy and government intervention, that’s where I draw the line. Let’s hope the recent hacking of scientist’s e-mails sheds some more light on a polarized view point that many individuals have in the field of global warming.

Ben Rast December 1, 2009 at 7:44 am

Intimidation. Data tampering. Fraud. Unconstitutional policy mandates.

And they dare call it science.

JULIO December 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

Maybe humans are adding to global warming. But I think there are other more important human actions on nature far more dangerous, far more damaging than industry.

Mark December 1, 2009 at 9:20 am

It would be nice to have a reference for Figure 1. That doesn’t look like any global temperature plot I’ve seen.

EconAndre December 1, 2009 at 11:26 am

Don’t just read, take action and contact (email, call, write) your local weather forecaster and ask for their opinion of this article. Force them to choose sides. Present the arguments and data and enjoy more sunshine on this sector.

Michael December 1, 2009 at 11:53 am

I find this article a bit hard to believe. There are absolutely no citations, just statements that “this is wrong” or “this didn’t work.” I personally have a copy of the “hacked files” and have gone through a few of them but far from all (there are thousands) and useful information is hard to find in these files. Most of the articles I read (WSJ for example) attacked very specific files which I did look at and found nothing questionable. Your article opens up stating that these emails prove everything and yet it doesn’t sound like you’ve even looked through them.

I am appalled that this article is allowed on the front page of mises. If one is to examine such a complex issue one should do research themselves instead of just accepting the word of others, particularly when so much money does depend on the outcome of this research.

I am not saying that warming is happening but there has been lots of evidence and the only scientist who was strongly opposed to such evidence has changed his mind after his data turned out to have errors in it. If you intend to question the work of hard working academics and are saying that they are misled by theory (this is a real issue in science and has led to many setbacks throughout the centuries) then you must look into the work and find some fresh minds to conduct research. Only such fresh minds that actually DO THE WORK can decide if previous records are accurate.

I do find the claim of socialist influence for global warming to be interesting however since one of (in my opinion) the fathers of greenhouse gas theory did study socialism and may have been more for it than I would like. At the same time accusing third world countries of pushing policy on us while not considering the possibility of corporations pushing policies also seems a bit… well… not thought through?

Please consider finding proper citation or just taking this article down, I don’t see how it is considered appropriate to discuss something so controversial with nothing but “of course it’s a lie” as your argument.

George December 1, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Citations and references, please?

Katipo December 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Ah, here come the AGW pimps, hell bent on damage control, trying to smooth over what has been revealed with gentle excuses and a pretence of sensible “moderation”. They’re doing the same thing all over! Soothe the masses. Raise some doubts. Obscure the facts. Hide the truth.

Fact is the evidence is in. AGW theory is false. Worse, it was a deliberate fraud- “An orchestrated litany of lies.”

My late cousin and friend used to point out, “AGW is not proven and, worse, the evidence contradicts the theory.”

If ever there was a dirty low fraud this AGW “science” is the example! It is also a fine example of what occurs when science is effectively nationalised with whole portions dependent upon government largess & political indulgence granting.

“You have sat too long.” “Out with you!”

Morgan Stanford December 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

To debate the science of climate change is the wrong path.

Libertarians should instead make a strong case for private property, economic freedoms and individual freedoms and show that private property and economic freedoms is the best system for pollution management.

It doesn’t matter if the earth is warming up or not, I will not surrender my economic nor my individual freedoms.

By debating the science, you run the risk of being proven wrong and that warm up is really taking place after all. If that happens, how will you justify your economic and individual freedoms ?

Luis Ramirez December 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Agree totally with Michael and George. In order to have any sort of a rational opinion on such a complex issue, we have to discard the layers and layers of politically manipulated opinion (which are thick on either side of the controversy). Personal preferences aside, perpetuating politically-laden arguments will not help in identifying (if there is an actual problem to be identified), prioritizing and taking steps to attenuate it´s consequences. Unfortunately, there is a lot of money and power at stake, complicating things. As a normal Joe, I´d wish for more clarity and less craziness surrounding this or any other issue.

Morgan Stanford December 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Environmentalists are really socialists in disguise. They couldn’t care less about the earth’s temperature nor the environment. All they want is a pretext to attack and destroy capitalism, to destroy private property, to destroy economic freedoms and to destroy individual freedoms.

If the earth was cooling instead of warming, they would apply the same tactics and if the climate was stable, then they would find another excuse to attack individual rights.

Morgan Stanford December 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

@Luis Ramirez,

“As a normal Joe, I´d wish for more clarity and less craziness surrounding this or any other issue.”

And as a normal 2 bit Joe myself, the issue cannot be clearer than it is now.

My private property rights, my economic freedoms and my individual freedoms are not negociable no matter how high the earth’s temperature is and no matter if the world is about to end or not. Period.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I don’t know what happened with appropriate Science Etiquette.

For some reason, I learned on my own proper Science from individuals like Kant, Humes, Bacon, Locke, Maxwell, etc. But very few, if any, Universities teach true Physosophy of Science. Amazing, however, because if I’m not mistaken, that’s what PhD means.

We must have lost that material, because we’ve forgotten that Politics, Religion, Wealth, Entertainment, or Fame have nothing what so ever to do with Sicence.

Seems to me that Science was built upon Altruism?

Robert Redelmeier December 1, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Some cracks in the facade are starting. Count me as an AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) questioner if not skeptic. Some easy science questions:

Ever open a warm beer? Carbon dioxide comes out! Cause vs Effect: What evidence shows man-made carbon dioxide emissions significantly _causes_ global warming? Atmospheric CO2 levels will increase from warming whatever the cause.

Second, a question of scale: Is man “big” enough to cause or affect global warming? Sure, 6 tons CO2 emission per person per year sounds impressive. But the earth is big and hard to grasp scale. Try per-person: those 6 tons go into 850,000 tons of atmosphere which already has 450 tons CO2 and is rain scrubbed by 68,000 tons per year. Man looks small. How can any effect be reliably determined above the noise level?

Third, a greenhouse works because the glass traps energy. CO2 will only trap energy on specific wavenumbers: 2349, 1333 and 667 cm-1. But at 350 ppmv the atmospheric CO2 blanket is already 5.4 kg/m2, or 99+% opaque on these frequencies. The glass is already on the greenhouse, how can another layer do much? The total net atmosphere’s effect is relatively small ~10′C .

– Robert in Houston

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Scientists measured 10,000 tons/day of CO2 production during the recent Mt. Redoubt activity.

CO2 is an indicator or Volcano activity!

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Sorry,

I meant to say:

CO2 levels are an indicator “OF” the degree of Volcanic activity.

Russ December 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Morgan Stanford wrote:

“To debate the science of climate change is the wrong path.”

I disagree.

“It doesn’t matter if the earth is warming up or not, I will not surrender my economic nor my individual freedoms.”

Here’s why I disagree. If the emissions of other peoples’ machines are causing the environment to change, thus violating the rights of others, then *their* freedoms are being infringed. Individual freedoms does not mean the freedom to do whatever you want, no matter the consequences to others.

Morgan Stanford wrote:

“Environmentalists are really socialists in disguise.”

Some are, some are not. Yes, there are people out there who want global warming to be true, because it’s a problem that would not be solvable without a one-world government, otherwise developing nations will opt out. In other words, global warming is a great excuse for one-world socialist government, and they want one-world socialist government, therefore they want global warming to be true, whether it really is or not. But there are others who are just useful idiots, who really believe that the environment is in peril, that the polar bears are in danger, etc.

Here’s why we need to focus on the science. First, good science will hopefully prove to the useful idiots that the planet is not really in peril. Then we’re just left with the hard-core watermelons, who really want socialism. We can then use the good science to prove to the rest of the world that the watermelons aren’t at all interested in the truth, but in shoving a socialist agenda down our throats that will hurt the standard of living of almost everybody. These people have to be outed as the devious scare-mongers that they are in the eyes of the masses.

Mark Davis December 1, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Morgan Stanford you nailed it. I would add that it is such a shame that good people, honest people with good intentions (like many “climate scientists” seem to be) are so easily duped by the progressive collectivist agenda over and over again.

The fear mongering socialists have been caught with their pants down. Any bets on whether Copenhagen goes on with “business as usual”? They are so close to their primary goal of creating a world regulating/taxing authority that minor things like, say facts undermining their credibility, are irrelevant.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Russ,

Very good.

But instead of “useful idiots”, maybe the “Enlightened or Intellectually Challenged”. Or something like that.

Walt D. December 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm

There are four actors in this game:
Honest Scientists
Dishonest Scientists
Dishonest Politicians (apologies for the pleonasm!)
EnvironMentalRetards

Brad December 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

***One day, scientists will cry wolf to a public that has learned to ignore them.***

I am not overly optimistic that people will not find some other outlet for their superstition. Some other religion proper or some secularized version will manifest itself soon enough. Man has an inexhaustible wealth of desire to fill the time between when a life is thrust upon one to the time one inevitably dies with dread. It is easy to soothe the dread with superstition and the superstition is pleasantly reinforced by forcing others to abide by the silly catechisms and liturgies springing from the rot of said superstition. Socialism has been alive and well for a century and half in one form or another, manifesting itself most forthrightly in the form of greenism at the moment. If socialist traction IS lost on the green front it will perhaps be dormant for a while, but will inevitably spring to life in some other form.

As long as a majority of the people cannot rationally reconcile themselves to the fact that their life is a bit of an absurdity – life unasked for given to them, emerging from a haze of ignorance and dependency, a period of strength and self-possession staving off pain and death, only to stumble and fall and ultimately die regardless – and take it for what it is, they will dread their demise and make sense of the world not as it is but as they want it to be. If they refuse to accept their mortality, they will attempt to become immortal by tapping into some oversoul cosmology if some kind. People are ready to delude themselves at a moment’s notice. The next soothing easy answer is right around the corner. And the desire to crack someone else over the skull who threatens their view along with it.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Brad,

Quite profound but insightful…..

Russ December 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

ehmoran wrote:

“But instead of “useful idiots”, maybe the “Enlightened or Intellectually Challenged”. Or something like that.”

How about we take a page from Walt D. and call them the EnvironMentally Challenged? Hehehe… I like it.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Russ,

That will work too, I think…..

terry_freeman December 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

This paper debunks the “greenhouse gas” theory itself on the grounds that it violates several laws of physics.

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf

Poptech December 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm

CITATIONS: (By Request)

Emails:

Alleged CRU Emails – Searchable

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” – Phil Jones, Director Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

“…it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back.” – Michael Mann, Lead Author IPCC (2001)

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” – Phil Jones, Director Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

“I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!” – Phil Jones, Director Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

“The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.” – Phil Jones, Director Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

“…If the RMS is going to require authors to make ALL data available – raw data PLUS results from all intermediate calculations – I will not submit any further papers to RMS journals.” – Ben Santer, Lead Author IPCC (1995)

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” – Kevin Trenberth, Lead Author IPCC (2001, 2007)

Subject: John L. Daly [Skeptic] Dead

“…this is cheering news!” – Phil Jones, Director Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

“Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted.” – Ben Santer, Lead Author IPCC (1995)

Warmer in the Past (MWP):

A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies (PDF)
(Energy & Environment, Volume 18, Numbers 7-8, pp. 1049-1058, December 2007)
- Craig Loehle

IPCC:

Digging up the roots of the IPCC (Spiked, UK)
The UN Climate Change Numbers Hoax (Canada Free Press)
Independent Summary for Policymakers: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (PDF) (Fraser Institute)

Now You See It, Now You Don’t:

The Deleted Data from the “Hide the Decline” Trick (WattsUpWithThat?)

Computer Model Limitations and Falsification

Limitations of Climate Models as Predictors of Climate Change (PDF) (David R. Legates, Ph.D. Professor of Climatology)
Dyson: Climate models are rubbish (The Register, UK)
What happened to global warming? (BBC, October 9, 2009)

Market Solution:
An Austrian Theory of Environmental Economics (Roy E. Cordata, Ph.D. Economics)

…and I have many, many more, just ask!

Ribald December 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I agree with Michael, Ramirez, and others critical of the article for its declaration of scientific conclusions (which it can’t hope to justify scientifically) and for the possible damage to libertarian credibility if the conclusion is ultimately incorrect. We’d be jumping the gun and not looking before leaping. The LHC’s multi-billion dollar cost didn’t put a blip on the radar of many “follow-the-money” climate skeptics, after all. That should tell us something about caution and perspective.

Secondarily, I’d point out that even if the climate were not warming, there is a mountain of evidence of climatic change. Averaging global temperature readings hides local variations which can be highly damaging to sensitive ecologies. For instance, most everyone is aware that the ice caps are melting rapidly and that coral reefs are dying. The NSF has compiled much of this less direct, but highly relevant information, and it is downloadable online.

Despite my misgivings about the article itself, I’m glad to see enthusiasm about science. If anyone wants to delve down into some of the raw data collected by climate scientists, RealClimate has actually compiled some of it:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

'Nuke' Gray December 1, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Scientists misinterpret data all the time! Not just in climate change. Who has heard about the Bimini Road? Supposed to be just a natural phenomenon, with all the blocks showing the same magnetic orientation, which ‘proved’ that this underwater road was formed by natural forces, and wasn’t made by unknown humans (certainly not Atlanteans, data forbid!).
The magnetic orientation of the blocks was not, apparently, uniform, but ‘averaged’. In fact, they were different, which suggests they were moved and shaped, but by giving an average figure, science could suggest, without actually saying so, that there was nothing to see here folks. Another paradigm preserved! In this case, the scientist didn’t peer-review it, but released the good news to the media. I wonder what a peer-review committee would have done with it?

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Poptech,

Very, Very impressive………..

Walt D. December 1, 2009 at 7:10 pm

“ClimateGate” does appear to be having repercussions:
Phil Jones has stepped down.
Michael Mann is under investigation by Penn State
The Australian leader of the opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, has stepped down.
There are also criminal investigations underway in the UK.
We can also expect to see lawsuits from businesses that have been affected by this fraud.
I don’t see anything happening in th US. Barbara Boxer is too invested to hold hearings, and neither of the Health Care Bills has a “Gonads for Holder” provision.

Gil December 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm

“Here’s why I disagree. If the emissions of other peoples’ machines are causing the environment to change, thus violating the rights of others, then *their* freedoms are being infringed. Individual freedoms does not mean the freedom to do whatever you want, no matter the consequences to others.”

Russ hits the nail on the head. Others, on the other hand, might as well argue about dumping in the ‘commons’ and how the ‘commons’ ought not be regulated.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Gil,

Now you’re talking about pollution, which your statement is correct and I agree.

But using AGW propaganda and CO2 emission as pollution is an excuse and would clearly be Bait-and-Switch and mass manipulation.

CO2 as a pollutant is a BIG PROPAGANDA SCIENTIFIC LIE and appears a excellent way for some to make a lot of money on YOUR DIME…….

'Nuke' Gray December 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Walt D., Malcolm Turnbull did not so much step down, as was pushed aside. Abbott beat him by one vote in a leadership contest. Whilst climate was part of the reason for replacing him, his style was also more like a CEO than a leader of otherwise equal partners. Opposition leaders shouldn’t act like CEOs.

Eric December 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I’ve been a computer programmer for 40 years. If these guys producing data are writing scripts and fortran code that can’t even figure out if they’ve read all the data in a file and even which of 2 identically named files is the right one, what level of confidence can one have in the output.

It’s not just garbage in / garbage out, it’s who knows what in, garbage massaging of data, and clearly garbage out. And apparently the original programmer bailed and left a mess for some poor slob to finish up. Just look at the readme file or the code that ignores errors. Classic bozo programming.

Anyone who has to spawn a system call to count the lines in a file (wc -l) and read back a file with the count just so they can set a limit in a loop counter is simply not a true programmer. I wouldn’t trust anything from such idiots.

And to think, trillions are at stake on code that bad.

ehmoran December 1, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Eric,

Do you Program “R”?

billwald December 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

The word, “SCIENCE,” has been corrupted. Every study that utilizes expensive technical equipment is not science. People want their area of expertise to be classified as a science because “science” pays better than the arts.

X-ray machines and other fancier gizmos are now used to investigate art forgeries. This doesn’t turn the fine arts into the “fine sciences.”

History is not science. The study of history of past climate conditions is not science. It is a historical analysis.

“Science” should be limited to repeatable observations and experiments.

In the same was, statistics and probability have been routinely perverted, particularly by right wing Christians and other “ID” types. Probability and statistics ONLY applies to large numbers and never to individual cases. We only have detailed information about one universe, one solar system, and one inhabited planet. It is not reasonable to apply statistical methods to one single experiment, one single earth.

Further, statistics ONLY applies to historical events and probability ONLY applies to future events. It is meaningless to talk about the probability of one past event. If an event occurred then the probability of it occurring is 100% even if the probability of it happening a second time is very small.

For a proper use of statistics and probability in analyzing historical data, see “The Bell Curve.”

DMajor December 1, 2009 at 9:19 pm

I too am skeptical of AGW. Moreover, based on my experience working in an academic physics lab as a graduate student, I am all too familiar with the tendency of both academic and private research scientists to manipulate data for both personal and financial reasons. Hence, it comes as no surprise that climate scientists would act in such a predictable manner.

That said, I think that some of the CRU emails are being taken out of context or misinterpreted. For instance consider this quote cited in Poptech’s post: “…it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back.” – Michael Mann, Lead Author IPCC’. In both private and academic research, when scientists are dealing with statistical analysis, contain can sometimes refer to the procedure of identifying, to the extent possible, when a trend began. The fact that Mann put quotation remarks around “contain” and then notes “the absence of hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back” suggests that is exactly what he meant. I see nothing sinister about about that particular passage, containment, even in the absence of all the data, can sometimes lead to more accurate statistical analysis.

For those interested, here is the complete quote:

“Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back.”- Michael Mann, Lead Author IPCC.

Observe that the full quote further confirms my interpretation.

These emails are damaging enough without taking things out of context and/or misinterpreting things– I could discuss other examples other than the one above. In fact, taking things out of context is a form of data manipulation…lets not be guilty of that ourselves, shall we?

Caley McKibbin December 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Modelling any complex system for which information is not completely available is rubbish. You don’t need emails to know this. However, there will likely be global warming eventually. I don’t think anything should or can be done about it, though.

Paul Stephens December 1, 2009 at 10:54 pm

There are lots of free-market and otherwise compatible views of climate change and how we might respond to it without recourse to “socialist one-world governments”. How about a straight carbon tax, which could be implemented by treaty, and enforced by tariffs which add the tax to all imports and shipping through international waters? Sweden already imposes a carbon tax of ~$150/tonne, with no harmful effects (except, maybe, to put SAAB out of business – at GM’s expense, since they now own it).
Rocky Mountain Institute, founded by Amory Lovins (Soft Energy Paths) in Aspen, CO, is a pioneer in using free-market solutions to every aspect of energy and climate policy.

For those interested in reading some of the vast literature on this subject, here’s the latest from

Earth Equity News

http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/

The Weekly Edition
Climate Crisis Coalition
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Click the highlighted headlines for links to these stories.

Citizens, Voices, Action

Stolen Climate Scientists’ Emails Alleged to Be Selectively Posted to Undermine Copenhagen. By David Stringer, AP, November 22, 2009.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091122/ap_on_sc/climate_hacked_e_mails;_ylt=A0wNdPpxuQlLOC4AQTBpl88F;_ylu=X3oDMTJzazczbWJrBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkxMTIyL2NsaW1hdGVfaGFja2VkX2VfbWFpbHMEcG9zAzcEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDc2NpZW50aXN0bGVh

“A leading climate change scientist whose private e-mails are included in thousands of documents that were stolen by hackers and posted online said Sunday the leaks may have been aimed at undermining next month’s global climate summit in Denmark. Kevin Trenberth, of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado, said he believes the hackers who stole a decade’s worth of correspondence from a British university’s computer server deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. Trenberth, a well respected atmospheric scientist, said it did not appear that all the documents stolen from the university had been distributed on the Internet by the hackers. The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said hackers last week stole from its computer server about a decade’s worth of data from its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research center on climate change. About 1,000 e-mails and 3,000 documents have been posted on Web sites and seized on by climate change skeptics, who claim correspondence shows collusion between scientists to overstate the case for global warming, and evidence that some have manipulated evidence.”

The Road to Copenhagen

Sobering Report Issued on Eve of Copenhagen of Climate Talks. By Elizabeth Kolbert, YaleEnviro360, November 24, 2009. “Ahead of talks in Copenhagen, a group of leading climate scientists has issued a new report summarizing the most recent research findings from around the world and concluding that scientists have underestimated the pace and extent of global warming. The report — titled The Copenhagen Diagnosis [full report, PDF, 64 pp] — finds that in several key areas observed changes are outstripping the most recent projections by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and warns that ‘there is a very high probability of the warming exceeding 2°C unless global emissions peak and start to decline rapidly’ within the next decade.

“The report points to dramatic declines in Arctic sea ice, recent measurements that show a large net loss of ice from both Greenland and Antarctica, and the relatively rapid rise in global sea levels — 3.4 millimeters per year — as particular reasons for concern. Sea-level rise this century, it states, ‘is likely to be at least twice as large’ as predicted by the most recent IPCC report, issued in 2007, with an upper limit of roughly two meters. ‘Sea level is rising much faster and Arctic sea ice cover shrinking more rapidly than we previously expected,’ Stefan Rahmstorf, department head at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said in a [November 24] press release accompanying the report. ‘Unfortunately, the data now show us that we have underestimated the climate crisis in the past.’”

Copenhagen Conference Beckoning Heads of State. By John Archer, Reuters, November 22, 2009. “Sixty-five world leaders have confirmed they will attend next month’s U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen which Danish officials hope will bring strong political commitment for a new treaty to combat global warming. Though hopes of reaching a legally binding agreement have slipped into next year, Denmark has upgraded the December 7-18 climate talks by inviting 191 heads of state and government to attend the final two days of the Copenhagen meeting to muster forces for a political deal. The Copenhagen conference was initially for environment ministers, but now the stage is set for a summit though it remains unclear if U.S. President Barack Obama will attend. ‘To cut through the outstanding issues and make an ambitious deal … the active involvement of heads of state and government is crucial,’ Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told a meeting of his Liberal Party on Sunday. ‘That is why we are encouraged that already more than 60 heads of state and government have confirmed they will participate, and just as important that many more have also been positive.’”

U.S. to Present Emissions Target Before Copenhagen. By John Broder, NYTimes, November 24, 2009. “The United States will propose a near-term target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions before the United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen next month, a senior administration official said Monday. President Obama, the official said, will announce the specific target ‘in coming days.’ The announcement of a target will take the current legislative stalemate over a climate bill into account, the senior official said, and thus might present a range of possible reductions rather than a single figure. The lack of consensus in Congress puts Mr. Obama in a tricky domestic and diplomatic bind. He cannot promise more than Congress may eventually deliver when it takes up climate change legislation next year. But if he does not offer some concrete pledge, the United States will bear the brunt of the blame for the lack of an international agreement. The official also said the president would decide shortly whether and for how long he might attend the December climate meeting, which runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. He repeated the president’s assertion that he would consider attending if his presence could be a useful impetus to a deal.”

Expecting More from Copenhagen: Obama Should Go. Commentary by Tensie Whelan, HuffPost, November 20, 2009. “Expectations for a climate treaty had been in a dramatic downward spiral until President Obama’s meeting with Hu Jintao in Beijing this week, where they agreed to shoot for emissions targets, and press for an agreement at Copenhagen that would ‘rally the world.’ Was it was all part of a concerted White House strategy to downplay expectations for a global treaty, then build them up again, so Copenhagen felt like a success?… President Obama put conditions on his willingness to attend the Copenhagen conference, saying he’d go only ‘If I am confident that all the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement.’ There should be no room for hedging on this. There is no excuse for failing to conduct good-faith negotiations that produce a meaningful agreement next month. Copenhagen can and must commit the world leaders to taking bold, ambitious action to seal the deal on a new climate treaty… Even a 2010 binding agreement will require taking major steps forward on remaining issues now. To encourage delegates to take them, many NGOs, including mine, are going to Copenhagen to make some noise. President Obama should too. He should consider that we are ‘on the brink of a meaningful agreement,’ because we have to be. Instead of lowering our expectations of Copenhagen, we must expect and demand more of negotiators, and push them over that brink.” Tensie Whelan is the president of the Rainforest Alliance.

U.S., China, India

U.S. and China Announce Joint Clean Energy Measures. Press Release, White House, November 17, 2009. “President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao announced a far-reaching package of measures to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy… [They include:] 1) The establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center… 2) The launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative… 3) A new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan… 4) U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership… 5) Cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, including large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects… 6) A new U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative… 7) The establishment of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program. The program will leverage private sector resources for project development work in China across a broad array of clean energy projects, to the benefit of both nations. More than 22 companies are founding members of the program. The ECP will include collaborative projects on renewable energy, smart grid, clean transportation, green building, clean coal, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency.”

Presidents Obama and Hu Issue Joint Statement on Climate Change. By Cara Anna, AP, November 18, 2009. “A joint statement by the U.S. and Chinese presidents on climate change is encouraging as pressure builds in the last few weeks before a 192-nation conference in Copenhagen, but the language leaves a lot unsaid, observers in both countries said Wednesday. The world’s two largest polluters talked on November 17 of a joint desire to tackle climate change, but failed to publicly address the root problems that could unravel a deal at the Dec. 7-18 conference — mainly, how much each country can contribute to emissions cuts and how the world will pay for it. The joint statement by Joint Statement by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao has positive language about aiming for a comprehensive deal, ‘but it leaves a lot of room for different interpretations, ranging from a real ambitious climate rescue deal to another meaningless declaration,’ said Ailun Yang, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace China. ‘The real test is still at Copenhagen.’”

U.S, and India Sign Energy/Climate Memorandum. By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg, November 24, 2009. “The U.S. and India signed an agreement on Tuesday to collaborate on energy security, energy efficiency, clean-energy technology and research to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna signed the memorandum of understanding committing the two nations to mobilize public and private resources to support a fund to invest in clean-energy projects in India… The U.S. and India will work together on wind- and solar- energy development and clean-coal technology, including carbon capture and storage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help the Indian government set up a companion agency. Singh and President Barack Obama earlier today affirmed their commitment to increase finance, technology and capacity- building to help developing countries meet targets for reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. The leaders also promised to fully implement a landmark agreement to allow India to buy nuclear energy technology from the U.S. The deal was negotiated by the Bush administration. ‘Our partnership will contribute to global efforts to combat climate change and achieve energy security,’ Singh said.”

Taxing, Trading, Offsetting Carbon

Sen Rockefeller: Half of Senators Don’t Understand Cap-and-Trade. By Alexander Bolton and Ben Geman, The Hill, November 17, 2009. “Clear differences have emerged among the Democratic chairmen of the six Senate committees with jurisdiction over climate change legislation. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, who both represent states with significant coal industries, would like to proceed cautiously. ‘Most of the country doesn’t know what cap-and-trade is. They have no idea. I would say half the Senate have no idea what cap-and-trade is and could not explain it,’ Rockefeller told The Hill on Tuesday. He said climate legislation should not reach the floor before July of next year, putting the controversial bill on the schedule only months before Election Day… Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) would like to pass the bill as soon as possible…

“In the middle is Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Natural Resources Committee whose home-state coal interests are not as significant as Baucus’s and Rockefeller’s but whose constituents are not as liberal as Boxer’s and Kerry’s… A sixth chairwoman with jurisdiction, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) of the Agriculture Committee, told The Hill earlier this month that the Senate should focus on jobs and the economy. Hanging in the balance is one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities, as well as the president’s credibility among potential signatories to an international climate pact. Five of the six chairmen tried to patch up their differences on November 16 during a meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is trying to bring his senior colleagues together before sketching out a plan on how to proceed in 2010, when lawmakers will work with one eye on the midterm elections. Lincoln was traveling and unable to attend the meeting.”

Tax Those Carbon Gluttons. Commentary by Silver Donald Cameron, Nova Scotian, November 22, 2009. “Lemme tell you about a carbon tax you’re gonna love… The fun starts with the government giving you maybe $2,000 as a carbon dividend. You like it so far? Thought so. And the government gets the money by imposing a tax on everything that emits carbon dioxide into the air. The total amount raised by the carbon tax is the same amount that’s being distributed as a dividend. So it’s a wash. The government is no better off at the end of the day. But you’re better off — if you’ve been frugal with energy, living in a snug house with solar hot water and wood heat, traveling on public transport, eating local food. You lose a bit of your dividend in taxes on gasoline and electricity and what-not — but you get to keep a good chunk of your carbon dividend. Let’s say you pay $400 more in taxes. That money just reduces your windfall dividend. The carbon tax still leaves you $1,600 ahead. How does that sound, sonny?…

“Fred Foulwater’s a carbon glutton, so he’s definitely worse off. Sure, he also gets his $2,000 dividend — but he lives in a huge house in the outer suburbs, he doesn’t turn down his thermostat and he commutes 60 kilometres to work in a monstrous SUV. He has a penchant for exotic tropical fruit in midwinter and he flies a lot, so in the end he pays a lot of tax — which doesn’t exactly feel like a tax, but feels like higher prices. Let’s say Fred’s profligacy adds $3,600 to his overall tax bill. So the new taxes have eaten up all of his $2,000 dividend — and another $1,600 besides. That’s the $1,600 that ended up in your pocket, buddy… More jobs, a green economy, better air, better food. All brought to you not by magic, but by the astute application of taxes. Taxes, kid! Gotta love ‘em!”

Ukraine’s ‘Hot Air’ Bedevils Kyoto Protocol. By Arthur Max, AP, November 21, 2009. “Ukraine produces less than half the greenhouse gases it did 20 years ago, and under a trading system devised in the negotiations for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, curbing the gases blamed for global warming, it is allowed to sell credits for every ton of carbon dioxide saved. Countries or companies that cannot meet commitments to reduce emissions can buy these ‘allowances’ from those that have cut emissions more than required and have a surplus to sell. Point Carbon, a Norwegian-based consulting firm, estimates 9 billion allowances are available, mostly in Russia. Earlier this year, each one-ton allowance sold for $10 when Ukraine signed a $300 million deal with Japan. The Kiev government has almost 1 billion more tons to put on the market, said Irina Stavchuk of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine. ‘The hot air business is the main goal of the government,’ Stavchuk said. Income from such deals is supposed to be earmarked for clean-energy and other ‘green’ projects. But critics have questioned how well that guideline is followed.

“While Western industrial powers must cut carbon emissions, and many developing nations are asked to shift to low-carbon economic growth, a few Eastern European countries have little incentive to constrain their polluting, since they’re already far below emissions limits. In a way, these nations have the best of both worlds. They can make millions selling carbon credits, while enjoying a comfortable cushion to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without worrying about energy efficiency or cleaning up their factories. But the credits could lapse in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. Russia, Ukraine and other beneficiaries want these pollution rights extended in the new deal to be struck at Copenhagen. Other countries want to redress what they believe is an unfair loophole. Carbon traders, meanwhile, fear the weight of hot air credits will drive down market prices sharply.”

Wind, Solar, Efficiency

Vestas Seeks to Double Wind Turbines in India. By Dinakar Sethuraman,Bloomberg, November 19, 2009. “Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s biggest maker of wind turbines, said it plans to almost double its capacity to produce wind-power equipment in India as the government offers new incentives for renewable energy. The Denmark-based company aims to boost capacity to about 500 megawatts in India in the next three years… India’s wind generation capacity ranks fifth in the world, according to the 2008 Global Wind Energy Council report.”

China Harnesses Wind Power in Southwestern Mountains. By Jerome Cartillier, AFP, November 22, 2009. “In the mountains above the southwestern Chinese town of Dali, dozens of new wind turbines dot the landscape — a symbol of the country’s sky-high ambitions for clean, green energy. At an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), Dali Zhemoshan is the highest wind farm in China, where renewable energy has become a priority for a government keen to reduce its carbon emissions and which has taken full advantage of the global trade in carbon credits… The rapid boom in wind farming in China — where installed capacity doubled in 2008 for the fourth year running to sit at 12.2 gigawatts — places it behind only the United States, Germany and Spain.”

China Corners Rare Earths Market. By Allison Jackson, AFP, November 15, 2009. “As resource-hungry China scours the world for crude oil and natural gas supplies, it has managed to corner the global market for a group of obscure metals used to make iPods, wind farms and electric cars. China supplies at least 95% of the world’s rare earths — 17 chemical elements with hard-to-pronounce names such as praseodymium and yttrium — essential for a wide range of high-tech devices and green technologies. The nation has long recognized the value of these metals, with the late paramount leaderDeng Xiaoping noting the Middle East had oil but China had rare earths. And, as the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries does with oil, China is tightly controlling the supply of these vital natural resources. ‘China’s goal is to create jobs in China and create goods in China,’ Jack Lifton, a US-based independent rare earths analyst, told AFP. ‘We need to start producing these metals here (United States) as we did in the past. If we don’t do that, China will be the only country manufacturing devices using rare earths by the year 2015.’ A single mine in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region produces half of the world’s rare earths, with the rest coming from smaller mines in southern China as well as Russia, India and Brazil.”

Italy Leads the World with Smart Grid. By Mark Scott, Business Week, November 25, 2009. “Italy, which in less than a decade, has become the surprising world leader in the development of a smarter electrical grid. Some 85% of Italian homes are now outfitted with smart meters-the highest percentage in the world and more such devices than exist in the whole of the U.S. Utilities worldwide… are eager to learn how Enel pulled off its smart meter revolution.”

Osmotic Power Debuts in Norway. By Kate Galbraith, NYTimes, November 24, 2009. “The world’s first osmotic plant opened today in Tofte, Norway, harnessing the saltiness of the sea, along with freshwater, to produce electricity through a polymer membrane. The project, run by Statkraft, a Norwegian renewable energy company, is a tiny pilot, generating up to 4 kilowatts of electricity for the grid — or roughly enough to run a coffee maker. But while Stein Erik Skilhagan, the vice president of osmotic power at Statkraft, acknowledged that the project marked a small start, he said that he hoped to develop it quickly. The concept, according to a question-and-answer page on Statkraft’s Web site, holds the potential to provide half of Europe’s power and is a baseload resource that could run all the time.”

Green Business and Indigenous Rights. By Pete Browne, NYTimes, November 24, 2009. “A new report [PDF, 12 pp] released over the weekend calls attention to the plight of indigenous communities affected by climate change mitigation measures. The study by Survival International, a London-based organization promoting the interests of tribal peoples, documents the impact of the biofuels industry, hydro-electric power, carbon-offsetting and forest conservation schemes on indigenous communities worldwide… According to the report, some climate change mitigation measures have led to exploitation, violation and in some cases destruction of land recognized as belonging to indigenous communities… The study follows a statement by the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, who said last week that it was critical for indigenous people to be included in climate change talks. ‘Climate change exacerbates the difficulties that indigenous communities already face,’ Mr. Zoellick said in a published statement, ‘including loss of land and resources, lower human development indicators, discrimination, unemployment, and economic and political marginalization.’ The forest conservation scheme to be discussed at Copenhagen, which uses financial incentives to encourage developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is also a source of concern for indigenous communities. Previous draft versions of the scheme — officially called the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, or R.E.D.D. — refer to the possible inclusion of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, which gives indigenous communities the right to give or withhold consent to developments in their territories.”

Regional Initiatives

California Issues Cap-and-Trade Blueprint. By Margot Roosevelt, LATimes, November 24, 2009. “California issued on Tuesday the nation’s first blueprint for a broad-based cap-and-trade program to control global warming emissions. The pioneering effort would cap greenhouse gases emitted by more than 600 power plants, refineries, cement plants and other big factories at 15% below today’s levels by 2020. And it would allow companies to buy and sell emissions allowances among themselves as a way to meet the overall goal less expensively. The preliminary rule is a ‘milestone… to address our state’s contributions to climate change, as the eighth largest economy in the world,’ said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols… Cap-and-trade, a centerpiece of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s push for flexible market-based regulations, could yield $2 billion to $4 billion per year in revenue to the state from affected industries, depending on the market value of carbon, how many allowances for greenhouse gases are auctioned, how many are given away. The state’s landmark 2006 law requires emissions of planet-heating pollutants to drop to 1990 levels by 2020. The cap-and-trade program will take effect beginning in 2012, complementing strict rules to cut emissions from automobiles and slash the carbon content of fuels.”

Quebec Splits with Ottawa on Climate Change. By Rhéal Séguin, Toronto Globe and Mail, November 23, 2009. “Quebec is taking the final step in its break from Ottawa on climate change, unveiling an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gases and blasting the federal government for inaction only a few weeks before a major international environmental conference. Premier Jean Charest announced Monday that, by 2020, the province will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels, a goal similar to the target the European Union has adopted. The ambitious target-setting is the latest in a series of policy moves on the environment from the provinces, with Quebec and B.C. leading a surge ahead of the cautious position of the Harper government. Mr. Charest warned that Canada will pay a heavy price if it fails to reduce greenhouse gases significantly, because Europe is set to enforce aggressive emission cuts and is threatening to impose duties on imports from countries that don’t follow suit…

“Mr. Charest said he plans to reach the new objective by investing in public transportation and adopting tough regulations to reduce automobile emissions similar to the strict standards set in California. The province is also hoping rapid development and marketing of electric automobiles will significantly reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. The objective is tied to Quebec’s involvement in the Western Climate Initiative, an 11-member group of Canadian provinces and U.S. states that have agreed to implement a cap and trade greenhouse-gas emission system by 2012. Regulations will determine the amount of emissions for each industrial sector, and companies can trade carbon credits.”

Observing the Earth

Scientists Find Evidence of Mega Droughts in California During Climate Warming After Last Ice Age. By Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee, November 23, 2009. “While Californians worry about the three-year drought dragging on another season, researchers say climate change soon could create much longer dry spells — lasting decades or even centuries. Scientists from the University of California at Davis this month announced the first proof of such mega-droughts after studying mineral formations in caves along the Sierra Nevada. Just as important: The big droughts seem connected to rapid warming, especially in the Arctic. The dry spells occurred during a climate warm-up that started about 15,000 years ago after the last Ice Age, says Davis geochemist Isabel Montañez. Scientists fear climate warming this century might similarly trigger mega-droughts that would devastate agriculture, increase wildfires and cut water supply in the nation’s most populous state.”

East Antarctic Ice Sheet May Be Losing Mass. By Richard Black, BBC, November 22, 2009. “The East Antarctic ice sheet, which, unlike the west, has been thought to be stable, has been losing mass for the last three years, according to surprising new scientific data.”

Melting Sea Ice Dilutes Waster, Endangers Sea Life. By Tan Ee Lyn, Reuters, November 19, 2009. “Melting of the Arctic sea ice due to global warming is diluting surface waters and this is endangering some species of shellfish which need minerals in the water to form their shells and skeletons, scientists have found. In a paper published in Science, they warned that this has serious implications for ecosystems in the Arctic. ‘Organisms that are likely to be affected are from the family of pteropods, also mussels and clams on the sea floor,’ said Fiona McLaughlin, research scientist at Canada’s Institute of Ocean Sciences’s department of fisheries and oceans. Pteropods are minute swimming sea snails. ‘It puts the food chain at risk. These organisms are a food source for fish that are a food source for seals and bears. The food chain in the Arctic is quite a short one, so it’s quite vulnerable.’”

Are the Earth’s Oceans Hitting Their Carbon Cap? By Bryan Walsh, Time, November 19, 2009. “Like the vast forests of the world, which continually suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, the planet’s oceans serve as vital carbon sinks. Last year the oceans absorbed as much as 2.3 billion tons of carbon, or about one-fourth of all manmade carbon emissions. Without the action of the oceans, the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere would have flame-broiled the planet by now. But a new paper published in the Nov. 19 issue of Nature demonstrates that the oceans’ ability to absorb man-made carbon may be dwindling – and that has worrying ramifications for future climate change. While the ocean is now absorbing more carbon in total than ever before, the waters are sucking up a smaller percentage of the CO2 emitted by humans. That could mean that there’s a physical limit to the oceans’ capacity — and we could be hitting it.”

Lawsuits Place Global Warming on More Dockets. By Chris Joyner, USA Today, November 23, 2009. “A group of 12 Mississippi Gulf Coast homeowners is using a novel legal strategy to try to recoup losses suffered during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The lawsuit seeks damages from a group of 33 energy companies, including ExxonMobil and coal giant Peabody Energy, electric utilities, and other conglomerates for allegedly emitting greenhouse gases that the litigants say contributed to global warming. That, the litigants claim, caused a rise in sea levels and increased air and water temperatures fueling the Category 5 hurricane that destroyed their homes. The lawsuit, considered a long shot by legal experts, cleared a hurdle last month when a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said it could continue, overruling a circuit court judge who had agreed with arguments from the companies that global warming is a political, not legal, issue… The Mississippi case is one of a small number of global warming cases to test the judiciary’s role in the climate debate.”

An Inconvenient Solution. Book Review by Bill McKibben, The Nation, November 19, 2009. “Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was one of the high points not only of the environmental movement but also of the documentary tradition in America. He figured out how to use a new medium, PowerPoint, to take the unavoidably wonkish story of global warming and make it scary, credible and manageable. It was, perhaps, as important as anything he could have done as president, and he deserved not only the Oscar but also the Nobel. As almost everyone noted at the time, however, there was one problem with the film: the section on what to actually do about the biggest problem we’ve ever faced was remarkably short, both in duration and on plausible ideas… Gore heard those criticisms and spent the next few years convening a series of more than thirty ‘Solutions Summits’ in Nashville and elsewhere, where he picked the brains of virtually everyone who ever thought professionally about climate and energy. He’s taken all those data and all those ideas, and with the help of a capable team of researchers he’s turned them into a book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, an ambitious and entirely successful attempt to lay out all that we know about mainstream answers to global warming…

“Gore ends his book with a lovely speech from the future, looking back on what was accomplished after ‘the turning point came in 2009′ with ‘the inauguration of a new president in the United States.’ Former opponents, impressed with the president’s sincerity and moved by the questions of their children, began to link arms in the struggle for a clean-energy future, and soon the right incentives were unleashed, new technology began to pour off the line, even passenger rail surged again across the land. ‘Although leadership came from many countries, once the United States finally awakened to its responsibilities, it reestablished the moral authority the world had come to expect from the U.S. during the 40 years after World War II.’ That’s a very pleasant dream, especially for someone like Gore, who was a firsthand witness to the period of American leadership he describes. But as he knows as well as anyone, at the moment it’s nothing more than a dream. Making it real will depend on how hard we push the system. There’s no question it’s capable of responding, and no question that left to its own devices it won’t.”

Morgan Stanford December 1, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Dear Paul Stephens,

Thanks very much for your clear and concise posting. You are an expert when it comes to get right to the point and saying things in the fewest words.

Keep up the good work.

newson December 1, 2009 at 11:40 pm

to paul stephens:
how “we” respond, and carbon taxes just aren’t compatible with the laissez-faire mindset.

Walt D. December 2, 2009 at 12:09 am

Paul Stephens:
“Sweden already imposes a carbon tax of ~$150/tonne”. Since we know know that the warming effects of CO2 are very small (1/6 th of what the IPCC predicted), and would be beneficial, shouldn’t we get a tax credit? People who burn fossil fuel should be reimbursed for the cost by the freeloaders who do not burn fossil fuel.

Alex December 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm

terry_freeman

Thanks for great reference to the debunking of the atmospheric greenhouse effect. Since this supposed greenhouse effect is the key for AGW, surely this particular paper is extremely important and should be THE scientific debate in this global warming stuff. It dwarfs the fictitious data, hockey stick and other inconvients AGW problems.

Mike Tabony December 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Following is the letter I sent to Professor Theis after reading his piece. So far I haven’t heard from him.

Mr. Thies,

Perhaps you can explain the attachment (www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/2008/ann/global-jan-dec-error-bar-pg.gif)
or why the Arctic ice is melting away (last three years were the lowest volume and area of Arctic ice since measurements began) or why the spruce trees in AK are suddenly being killed by a bark borer that was unable to survive year-round there until recently because it was too cold or why millions of acres of pine are being destroyed in the Pacific Northwest by another beetle which is suddenly able to live through winters in those mountains or even why for the first time I knew of it but ticks were to be found in my woods in Nelson County all winter in 2007 or a thousand other signs that nature is giving regarding a rapidly warming planet.

If you choose not to explain these things to me without bringing in the increase of fossil fuel generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it’s no big loss, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be you trying to explain the same thing to your grandson. He’s going to tell you that you’re a disgrace to truth.

It’s my opinion that what you published was a disservice to you, your institution, your country, and your planet. But most importantly, it was a disservice to the future and those who will try to survive in the world we changed so much with our ignorance, hubris, and greed.

Please educate yourself by going to:

http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/forecast/docs/lectures.html

and studying Dr. Archer’s lectures before publicly commenting on global warming further.

Sincerely,

Mike Tabony

ehmoran December 2, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Eric,

Just found this, any comments:

“62. Nathaniel Says:
December 2nd, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Take a look at the code. They intentionally created an array used to fudge the numbers. It starts at 0, actually goes negative for a period, then rises to 2.6 degrees. The original programmer actually labeled this array “fudge factor” and if you go through the readme you can find the surprise expressed by the guy who was supposed to maintain this. Here is the fudge factor array taken verbatim from the code:

valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,...1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor”

My comments: These Scientists were using a polynomial fit on the data. But what’s worse is that they used the equation to extrapolate into the future using no real info.

WOW…….

Mike December 4, 2009 at 7:21 am

Having been born and raised, and currently reside in one of the most populated and polluted areas of the US, I’ve learned to have a healthy respect for Mother Nature. I consider myself a Conversationalist, not an Environmentalist. As a Conversationalist, I believe in conservation of natural resources, and preservation of open spaces through a minimum of coercion, and a maximum of education to preserve natural resources expressly for their continued sustainable use by humans. I believe that any coercion be limited to state and local governments. The AGW debate has shifted attention away from the very real and tangible effects of pollution, over development and over population. It begs for submission to a political will that is counter productive to both responsible economic development and freedom, and quality of life issues. I believe it is having the opposite effect for what it was intended.

Having expressed my meaningless opinions, I would like to point out that nobody seems to be discussing the coercion and government interference that allowed the polluters to grow and flourish and become the behemoths that they are in the first place. Perhaps, if we were to concentrate on that, there would be no need for cap and trade which will become nothing more than an investment opportunity for third party rent seekers.

Paul Stephens December 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

This article contains a response by the world’s leading climate science to the issue of the stolen e-mails. There was a very good profile of Hansen a few months ago in the New Yorker, which you can find by Googling.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen

Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist

The scientist who convinced the world to take notice of the looming danger of global warming says it would be better for the planet and for future generations if next week’s Copenhagen climate change summit ended in collapse.

In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch….

Hansen, in repeated appearances before Congress beginning in 1989, has done more than any other scientist to educate politicians about the causes of global warming and to prod them into action to avoid its most catastrophic consequences. But he is vehemently opposed to the carbon market schemes – in which permits to pollute are bought and sold – which are seen by the
EU and other governments as the most efficient way to cut emissions and move to a new clean energy economy.

Hansen is also fiercely critical of Barack Obama – and even Al Gore, who won a Nobel peace prize for his efforts to get the world to act on climate change – saying politicians have failed to meet what he regards as the moral challenge of our age.

In Hansen’s view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. “This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill,” he said.
“On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can’t say let’s reduce slavery, let’s find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%.”

He added: “We don’t have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual….”

That enormous body of scientific evidence has been put under a microscope by climate sceptics after last month’s release online of hacked emails sent by respected researchers at the climate
research unit of the University of East Anglia. Hansen admitted the controversy could shake public’s trust, and called for an investigation. “All that stuff they are arguing about the data doesn’t really change the analysis at all, but it does leave a
very bad impression,” he said.

The row reached Congress today, with Republicans accusing the researchers of engaging in “scientific fascism” and pressing the Obama administration’s top science adviser, John Holdren, to condemn the email. Holdren, a climate scientist who wrote one of the emails in the UEA trove, said he was prepared to denounce any misuse of data by the scientists – if one is proved.

Hansen has emerged as a leading campaigner against the coal industry, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other fuel source….

He has irked some environmentalists by espousing a direct carbon tax on fuel use. Some see that as a distraction from rallying support in Congress for cap-and-trade legislation that is on the table.

He is scathing of that approach. “This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what’s happening,” he said. “We’ve got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want
money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets].”

For all Hansen’s pessimism, he insists there is still hope. “It may be that we have already committed to a future sea level rise of a metre or even more but that doesn’t mean that you give up.

“Because if you give up you could be talking about tens of metres. So I find it screwy that people say you passed a tipping point so it’s too late. In that case what are you thinking: that we are going to abandon the planet? You want to minimise the
damage.”

Paul Stephens December 5, 2009 at 11:39 am

Here’s a link to an article by Brian Tokar, from the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont. This, along with Hansen’s work cited above, should be considered a definitive “Green” view and approach to these issues, not the phony “cap and trade” schemes invented by Enron and similar racketeers.

http://counterpunch.org/tokar12042009.html

Repackaging Copenhagen: Will There Be a Global Climate Agreement?
by Brian Tokar

On the eve of the UN’s long-awaited Copenhagen climate summit, officials are pulling out all the stops to spin the conference as a success, no matter what actually happens. Barack Obama’s announcement that he will briefly pass through Copenhagen was a headline story, as was China’s commitment to reduce their economy’s “carbon intensity,” merely lowering their rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Some are proclaiming the advantages of a non-binding “political” or “operational” agreement, as an incremental step toward reducing
worldwide emissions. Others are preoccupied with the manufactured scandal stemming from some UK climate researchers’ stolen emails (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack)
. It’s everything but what was once promised: the setting for a new binding global treaty to forestall catastrophic climate changes….

James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil December 31, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Like most conspiracy nits, obvious facts are ignored. First of all, the “leaked” emails showing false evidence have themselves been discounted. That’s a fact conveniently ignored.

Then the melting ice caps, disappearing glaciers and rising sea levels apparently are not worthy of consideration.

The actual causes of global warming have not totally been agreed upon. That’s called “good science”. More evidence on causes is needed.

But consider this. There are nearly 7 Billion people on earth and they are all using increasing amounts of energy.

The real problem is too many people on the planet using too much energy. The most basic law of physics is the law of conservation of energy. All energy, from whatever source, eventually becomes heat.

If you create electricity from hydroelectric plants, cleaner even than nuclear plants, making the electricity creates heat. Turning the turbines creates heat, running the generators creates heat. Transmitting the electricity through wires creates heat from the electrical resistance. Using the electricity creates heat. For that matter, building the dams, turbines, and generators all create heat and often other environmental pollutants.

It’s an unavoidable law of nature. All energy creation and use makes heat. Reduce the number of people on the planet by maybe 1/2 and most environmental problems are solved.

Wind energy? The bird kill problem would be solved by a different design for windmills. Vertical axis designs have been demonstrated that are more efficient, do not kill birds, and are cheaper to make. Even so, when you build them and their necessary generators and electronics, you create heat and other pollutants.

So the real problem is heat pollution, yes, there is accompanying problems of CO2 emissions, particulate pollution and all of the others. Each of those is possible to solve. But the heat pollution will remain and will continue to get worse until the world population is substantially reduced .

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