Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Max Raabe makes Britney Spears appear sophisticated

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China's Wind Farms Come With a Catch: Coal-fired Power Plants

SHANGHAI—China's ambition to create "green cities" powered by huge wind farms comes with a dirty little secret: Dozens of new coal-fired power plants need to be installed as well.

Part of the reason is that wind power depends on, well, the wind. To safeguard against blackouts when conditions are too calm, officials have turned to coal-fired power as a backup.

China wants renewable energy like wind to meet 15% of its energy needs by 2020, double its share in 2005, as it seeks to rein in emissions that have made its cities among the smoggiest on Earth. But experts say the country's transmission network currently can't absorb the rate of growth in renewable-energy output. Last year, as much as 30% of wind-power capacity wasn't connected to the grid. As a result, more coal is being burned in existing plants, and new thermal capacity is being built to cover this shortfall in renewable energy.


In addition, officials want enough new coal-fired capacity in reserve so that they can meet demand whenever the wind doesn't blow. This is important because wind is less reliable as an energy source than coal, which fuels two-thirds of China's electricity output.

Full article here

Sigh. You still get idiots who think that you can get energy for free from the wind! Obviously these people can't count or something.

Once you look at the real costs involved and the real carbon footprint of renewable energy, you soon realise that the numbers do not add up.

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Is godlessness killing America?

Allahpundit at Hot Air takes on Glenn Beck's contention that this is so.
I don’t get the either/or dichotomy Beck draws between social justice and eternal justice either; for starters, I can imagine Martin Luther King objecting rather strenuously to that. Nor do I understand the snotty, presumptuous accusation that atheists are “filling the void” with money and careers. Personally, I don’t feel any spiritual void, and even if I did, I’d rather not be lectured about it by a guy who has his own media empire and who’ll make more money this year than my entire extended family has made in the past century. What “void” in Beck’s soul is he filling with his fantastically popular show? See how condescending it is to even ask that?

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Another Obama-as-Hitler idiot

Good grief. Been through eight years of Bush=Hitler and incipient fascism crap, and now the intellectual sewage is flowing back the other way.

During her session, Werthmann went through a litany of examples of how President Obama is like Adolf Hitler. She noted that Hitler, who acted “like an American politician,” was “elected in a 100% Christian nation.” Although she failed to once mention Antisemitism or militarism, Werthmann explained how universal healthcare, an Equal Rights Amendment, and increased taxes were telltale signs of Nazism. Werthmann also warned the audience:


If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition. [...] Take back America. Don’t let them take the country into Socialism. And I refer again, Hitler’s party was National Socialism. [...] And that’s what we are having here right now, which is bordering on Marxism.

And which is it, Nazism or Marxism? I suspect she wouldn't know Marxism if she fell over it!

Anyhoo, you can watch the video there too if you want.

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Huffington Post readers revolt

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Kevin Rudd Mash-up

"Red Symons turns his remixing talents to some quotes from Kevin Rudd, new leader of the Australian Labor Party."

Well over 2 years old, but nothing has changed.

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Ultimate Praying Championship - Round 1

The Greek Orthodox Church faces off against the Armenian Apostolic Church!

Oh dear. This is funny, but gee, the punch-up you see is real.

An absolutely disgraceful incident not so long ago at the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Sadly, each Christian sect has its bit of the building, (with the Ethiopians apparently confined to the roof), and jealously guards their patch.

Any perceived trespass or slight, real or imagined, can set off such unedifying scenes.

But let's face it, the Armenians are just a bunch of Monophysite heretics (even if they deny this)

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Carl Sagan & Stephen Hawking - A Glorious Dawn

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It's dead Jim! The Yamal tree ring implosion in laymans' terms

WUWT readers may remember when Bishop Hill wrote Caspar and the Jesus paper. It was a wonderful narrative of the complex subject of tree rings and Steve McIntyre’s quest with debunking the Mann MBH98 paper, which created the original hockey stick. Now Bishop Hill has done it again with another great narrative. – Anthony


DateSeptember 29, 2009

There is a great deal of excitement among climate sceptics over Steve McIntyre’s recent posting on Yamal. Several people have asked me to do a layman’s guide to the story in the manner of Caspar and the Jesus paper. Here it is.

The story of Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick reconstruction, its statistical bias and the influence of the bristlecone pines is well known. McIntyre’s research into the other reconstructions has received less publicity, however. The story of the Yamal chronology may change that.

The bristlecone pines that created the shape of the Hockey Stick graph are used in nearly every millennial temperature reconstruction around today, but there are also a handful of other tree ring series that are nearly as common and just as influential on the results. Back at the start of McIntyre’s research into the area of paleoclimate, one of the most significant of these was called Polar Urals, a chronology first published by Keith Briffa of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. At the time, it was used in pretty much every temperature reconstruction around. In his paper, Briffa made the startling claim that the coldest year of the millennium was AD 1032, a statement that, if true, would have completely overturned the idea of the Medieval Warm Period.  It is not hard to see why paleoclimatologists found the series so alluring.

Keith Briffa

Some of McIntyre’s research into Polar Urals deserves a story in its own right, but it is one that will have to wait for another day. We can pick up the narrative again in 2005, when McIntyre discovered that an update to the Polar Urals series had been collected in 1999. Through a contact he was able to obtain a copy of the revised series. Remarkably, in the update the eleventh century appeared to be much warmer than in the original – in fact it was higher even than the twentieth century. This must have been a severe blow to paleoclimatologists, a supposition that is borne out by what happened next, or rather what didn’t: the update to the Polar Urals was not published, it was not archived and it was almost never seen again.

Read the rest here at Bishop Hill’s blog, and be sure to leave a nice comment if you like his writing.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leading UK Climate Scientists Must Explain or Resign

Just as a little into before I give you the intro from the post from Watts Up With That?, note this bit: "While continues deleting the ongoing river of comments posted on their threads"

This is absolutely typical behaviour for climate alarmist websites and blogs - no contrary or inconvenient opinion is allowed, and comments deemed to be too troubling, no matter how soundly argued or politely expressed, very often never see the light of day.

They are always filtered through a moderator and he or she simply refuses to authorise any that contradict the "party line."

If you are just joining us, first you should read about what started it all here.

While continues deleting the ongoing river of comments posted on their threads ( Note: Any of you who find that your posts to those sites are being rejected {as usual without any explanation} can keep a copy of the post, and post it at if you want. Keep those screencaps going folks) asking about the McIntyre Yamal data development, Jennifer Marohasy of Australia is drawing a bit of a line in the sand. Given the churlishness of the Team and the blockades put up by Hadley, I can’t say that I blame her stance. – Anthony

Jennifer_marohasyBy Jennifer Marohasy

MOST scientific sceptics have been dismissive of the various reconstructions of temperature which suggest 1998 is the warmest year of the past millennium.    Our case has been significantly bolstered over the last week with statistician Steve McIntyre finally getting access to data used by Keith Briffa,  Tim Osborn  and Phil Jones to support the idea that there has been an unprecedented upswing in temperatures over the last hundred years –  the infamous hockey stick graph.

Mr McIntyre’s analysis of the data – which he had been asking for since 2003 – suggests that scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the United Kingdom’s Bureau of Meteorology  have been using only a small subset of the available data to make their claims that recent years have been the hottest of the last millennium.   When the entire data set is used, Mr McIntyre claims that the hockey stick shape disappears completely.

Follow the link for the rest.

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Margarine consumption linked to lower IQs in children?

Almost certainly this is the usual pseudo-scientific bullshit that has become all too common in the field of health research.

Dr John Ray from the Food & Health Skeptic blog comments:

Most amusing: A "healthy" choice turns out to be anything but. I wonder how the "health" establishment will handle that? Sadly, however, this is not as good an example of the limits of official wisdom as it looks.

The article is a much better example of how medical researchers tend to work in a sort of vacuum and ignore the big picture. It in fact reveals an extraordinary lack of insight into their own society by these eight New Zealand researchers. It was once illegal to buy margarine without a doctor's prescription in N.Z. They have a big dairy industry that they like to prop up. So, given the peculiarly strong emphasis on margarine as a therapeutic agent in New Zealand, it would seem highly likely that people who felt less healthy to start with tended most to buy it. And people with poor health have less healthy children -- and lower IQ is one correlate of poor health. The findings then tell us about who buys margarine rather than any effect that margarine has.

Trans fats indeed! What we see in the report is not the influence of trans fats but the influence of unwarranted assumptions and conventional thinking. It never ceases to amaze me that people who claim to be scientists seem to think they can just intuit the causal relationships in a dataset. They are witchdoctors, not scientists. Not one out of the eight of them said: "Hey! Wait a minute!"

The journal abstract is here. The title of the article is "Dietary patterns and intelligence in early and middle childhood" and the leading author is Reremoana F. Theodore. No corresponding author or email address is given, which is rather strange

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Alan Jones and Julia Gillard's love-in

Alan Jones and Julia Gillard provided information, not ideology


ALAN Jones is back on Sydney radio station 2GB, and yesterday he celebrated a welcome return from sick leave by bowling up hard questions to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It was a tougher interview than her boss has ever endured on Rove, or with any of the comedians who host the breakfast shows on FM radio he enjoys. Jones produced bouncers about the way the government is treating a whistle-blower and the widow of a soldier killed on active service. He sent down curly questions about spending on school construction, and he bowled straight on workplace reform. Ms Gillard would have done well to play a straight bat, to have got through an uninterrupted 30-minute interview with her temper and credibility intact. She did more than that. She listened to the questions and answered them. Certainly she challenged Jones when she thought he was being too tough, but she was unfailingly polite and informative, without, as Jones informed his audience, any notes. "She is not frightened of the questions and whatever they are she takes them," he said.

You do not need to agree with Ms Gillard's policies to be impressed by her performance. She dealt with specific questions about her portfolio - school spending and how changes to industrial awards will alter employment for weekend workers in the retail and hospitality industries. She was well-briefed to address other issues, and when she could not answer a question - whether a capital gains tax on the family home would come out of the Henry tax review - she politely explained why, suggesting we wait and see what the inquiry proposes. It was an interview aspiring politicians could learn from. Ms Gillard demonstrated that ministers and their opposition equivalents need not fear the fiercest of interviewers if they know their subjects and understand how to explain them.

It was also an exchange many interviewers should study, especially those who think their job is to express their own opinions, thinly disguised as questions. Certainly Jones raised issues that interested his audience but there was none of the sermonising common among interviewers who assume what they think matters most. He was interested in eliciting information rather than point-scoring. Yesterday's interview was a robust exchange but it was free of ideology. While Jones wanted answers, he did not try to browbeat Ms Gillard into agreeing with him. Nor was it an example of the exchange that occurs when an interviewer agrees with the politician they are talking to, such as the way ministers regularly get a soft go from the Canberra press gallery on climate change. But there was one question Jones did not ask Ms Gillard, one that a journalist put to her later - why Kevin Rudd does not go on the radio with Jones? It was the only question she ducked all day.

Like that other right-wing death beast Andrew Bolt, I am not so secretly in love with Julia Gillard.

Even when I disagree with her I can't help but be impressed with her at the same time. She just oozes an almost sexual, (don't worry, I'm not on the turn), combination of genuine strength and confidence.

Can't say the same for her prissy glass-jawed boss.

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Janet Albrechtsen - Beware socialist snake-oil vendors

THOSE on the Left have a new spring in their step. Right across the spectrum of left-wing politics, from Michael Moore to Kevin Rudd, they are determined to build momentum for a new social democratic project. On these pages others have spent the past week bouncing around their ideas about progressive economics and the need to resuscitate the moral impulse behind social democracy. Determined not to waste a crisis, the language of the Left is, as always, clever, tapping our emotions with talk of rebuilding a better society. Yet, under new disguises, the same old frauds are being peddled. What is being sold as progressive is regressive if genuine progress is our aim. As the global Left rises up to claim its ideology will prevail, there has never been a more critical time to be reminded that economic freedom sits at the heart of liberty and human advancement.

Most sensible people won’t fall for the far Left’s new anti-capitalist racket. Moore, who is filling his pockets by denouncing capitalism in his latest shock-doc, Capitalism: A Love Story, is preaching to the converted. Ditto economics professor Richard Wolff, star of another documentary, Capitalism Hits the Fan. Delighted that the global recession “creates space for people like me”, Wolff is riding high on the international speaking circuit as a critic of capitalism. Good luck to them. 

Most people, however, realise that free markets have lifted people from poverty in numbers never before seen: those subsisting on less than $US3 a day dropped from half the world’s population in 1970 to 17 per cent by 2000.

Full article here.

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Max Raabe does Britney Spears - Oops I Did It Again


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Max Raabe - Sex Bomb

This guy is hysterical. He's German and recreates the pre-Hitler Weimar Berlin vibe.

It's all white tie and tails.

This version of Tom Jones' "classic" Sex Bomb is very funny and very good.


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Mr Obama, General McChrystal and the chain of command

Many on the right side of the blogosphere are concerned with the revelation that Mr Obama has only spoken once to the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Below the Beltway takes a different view and says this is more a case of Mr Obama paying due attention to the chain of command.

The fact that Obama isn’t meeting with McChrystal directly isn’t indicative of anything, because it doesn’t mean that he isn’t meeting with McChrystal’s bosses — General David Petraeus at Central Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Until you can provide some evidence of that, this is really much ado about nothing.

As an aside, though, there is something else troubling about this in that it indicates a tendency on McChrystal’s part to attempt to basically go over Obama’s head and speak directly, sometimes negatively, to the media. We saw it with the leak of the incomplete report on Afghanistan, and we see it with this. That’s not conduct that a military officer should be engaging in.

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Sura 'Nicky The Stick' Theerakol's nine inches still intact

Model Sura 'Nicky The Stick' Theerakol, in hospital after a motorcycle accident, is still in one piece where it counts.

'My right elbow is shattered, and I cut my nose, but my nine inches are still intact,' said Nicky, referring to the ''stick'' which gives him his nickname.

He was speaking from Piyawet Hospital, where Nicky is recovering after his motorcycle overturned in the Rachayothin Rd area early on Tuesday.

Nicky was heading to the market when the front tyre on his bike burst.

The model underwent a three-hour operation on his elbow, and will wear a cast over his arm for six weeks.

Nicky still intends taking part in this year’s Superstar reality show/performance contest on television, a show ‘where they make D-list Thai stars do crazy musical numbers on stage’, as Lyn of the Lakorns blog puts it.

The Godfather of Nude, as he is also known, says he will press ahead with competing on the show because he needs the money.

Bangkok of the Mind

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How the global warming industry is based on one MASSIVE lie

Well, the dirty secrets of climate change alarmism are slowly reaching a wider audience. James Delingpole from the Daily Telegraph in the UK has the latest revelation.

(You can follow him on Twitter here

Other than the recently released data pertaining to the Yamal tree ring series from Russia, (though the story of Steve McIntyre's endless battles trying to get access to what is supposed to be freely available data is one of the great ignored scandals of science), this is in a sense not much in the way of new news.

It was already obvious from the available evidence that the Hockey Stick graph was based upon data carefully selected to produce a predetermined result.

But in another sense it is dynamite.

The supposed spike in temperatures in the late 19th Century and going into the 20th Century disappears once more complete data is added, and not just the carefully selected data of Michael Mann and co.

What we see with the green merged data line is the gentle warming one would expect as the Earth recovers from the Little Ice Age (from about AD 1300 to about AD 1850), the coldest it has been in the last 10,000 years.

If you have to tell lies to advance your case, then how strong is your case?

For the growing band of AGW “Sceptics” the following story is dynamite. And for those who do believe in Al Gore’s highly profitable myth about “Man-Made Global Warming”, it will no doubt feel as comfortable as the rectally inserted suicide bomb that put paid to an Al Qaeda operative earlier this week.

Now read on.

Those of you who saw An Inconvenient Truth  may remember, if you weren’t asleep by that stage, the key scene where big green Al deploys his terrifying graph to show how totally screwed we all are by man-made global warming. This graph - known as the Hockey Stick Curve - purports to show rising global temperatures through the ages. In the part representing the late twentieth century it shoots up almost vertically. To emphasise his point that this is serious and that if we don’t act NOW we’re doomed, Al Gore - wearing a wry smile which says: “Sure folks, this is kinda funny. But don’t forget how serious it is too” - climbs on to a mini-lift in order to be able to reach the top of the chart. Cue consensual gasps from his parti pris audience.

Except that the graph - devised in 1998 by a US climatologist called Dr Michael Mann -  is based on a huge lie

He concludes:

We “Global Warming Deniers” are often accused of ignoring the weight of scientific opinion. Well if the “science” on which they base their theories is as shoddy as Mann’s Hockey Stick, is it any wonder we think they’re talking cobblers?

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Tales from the Canadian health system

From Powerline:

Various interest groups use patently bogus statistics to try to convince us that socialized medicine would be a good thing. But those who live under government medicine have a different story to tell:
When the pain in Christina Woodkey's legs became so severe that she could no long hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she'd need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she'd have to wait about a year.

So wait she did.

In January, the hip doctor told her that a narrowing of the spine was compressing her nerves and causing the pain. She needed a back specialist. The appointment was set for Sept. 30. "When I was given that date, I asked when could I expect to have surgery," said Woodkey, 72. "They said it would be a year and a half after I had seen this doctor."

So this month, she drove across the border into Montana and got the $50,000 surgery done in two days.

"I don't have insurance. We're not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada," Woodkey said. "It's not going to be easy to come up with the money. But I'm happy to say the pain is almost all gone."
When the relationship between supply and demand is broken by government controls, one common if not inevitable result is rationing by queue. Thus, in the Soviet Union you had to stand in line for hours to buy milk. In Canada (and anywhere else where socialized medicine prevails), you have to wait in line for months or years for medical treatment. Costs are saved because many patients die waiting.

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17 NUCLEAR REACTORS, saved by Germany’s election. That’s good news for the planet!

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Yeah, but at least Polanski didn't vote for Sarah Palin!

That would have been of course beyond the pale and unforgivable. Drugging a 13 year old so you can have sex with her is, well.....the idea is probably a bit of a turn on for some of these people.

And would our cultural and artistic elite be so forgiving of Polanski if he was a Roman Catholic priest?

Now, I know some people are sexually precocious at a very young age. Let's not forget that the wife of Bob Hawke, Blanche d'Alpuget, has been open about the fact that she had sex with a family friend, (who happened to be a judge), when she was 12.

She has spoken about how she couldn't understand his mortification after the event.

I know someone who was propositioned by a 14 year old at the beach.

But the fact remains that a law was broken by Polanski, he did ply a minor with drugs and alcohol, and why should he get away with it because he's famous and the luvvies love him when you or I, in a similar situation, would have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions?

And it's funny, but while I've known about Polanski being effectively on the run from this matter for a long time, I'd never heard about the drug and alcohol angle to the story, and it has been interesting to see how on the SBS news the other night the reporter clearly was intent on giving as critical a treatment of Polanski's arrest and those who support it as possible, while yet again avoiding any mention of this aspect of what he did.

More from the Instapundit:

MEGAN MCARDLE ON ROMAN POLANSKI: “You would think we’d busted him for unpaid parking tickets. The guy drugged a thirteen year old girl in order to rape her. Perhaps the French have some sophisticated, European point of view on these things that I, with my puritan ancestry, simply cannot rise to.”

Or they could just be miserable shitheels. Related item here: “Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her.” Just remember: If he weren’t a member of the politico-artistic elite, he’d have done hard time already.

But, since he is, we get this: Hollywood Unites To Defend Polanski. “If his unspeakable deed doesn’t meet the standard, what exactly would Roman Polanski have to do in order to become a pariah in this town … I mean, besides vote for Sarah Palin?”

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Monday, September 28, 2009

You mean a ZERO emission electric car?

The Federal Government has joined with the Victorian Government to predict trends in the local car industry leading up to 2020.

Well, yes, yes indeed. We all know how good governments are at predicting things

But even if they are right, this story is of course completely misleading bullshit.

These cars will not be zero emitters of carbon dioxide.

What's going to produce the friggen electricity that is going to charge them? The power needed to manufacture them in the first place and then maintain them throughout their life cycle?

So all that is happening is that the emissions associated with these hypothetical cars will be produced elsewhere.

Oh, and by what? If not nuclear power, then by the burning of coal or gas.

Don't kid yourself petal, it 'aint going to be done by useless wind or solar power.

You can't run a manufacturing business on a power source that you can't rely on, and you cannot rely on power that isn't there because the sun has gone down or it's gotten cloudy or the wind has stopped blowing.

That's why the Water Corporation here in Western Australia had to withdraw ads deemed to be false and misleading when they said that its desalination plant was run by renewable energy.

It was always a lie. Nothing important can be run by renewable energy.

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Sylvestor does the job on iSnack2.0


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According to Michael White, 70 per cent of us are swivel-eyed

From Daniel Hannan's Torygraph blog:


According to The Guardian’s Michael White, “Dan was on TV yesterday being swivel-eyed about a UK referendum on the Lisbon Treaty”. Swivel-eyed? As it happens, I have learned the trick of moving my eyeballs independently of each other, and occasionally perform it to amuse young children. But I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing so during the interview Michael is refering to. Judge for yourself:


Want a referendum? You must be mad

What the old boy means, I think, is that it is intrinsically deranged to call for a popular vote on Europe. In which case, all three parties were swivel-eyed at the last election when they promised a plebiscite (a promise which Labour and the LibDems then broke). As for the 70 per cent of British voters who want a referendum, they must be dribbling, yammering loons.

Perhaps, as Shakespeare’s gravedigger observes when musing on why the insane Hamlet was sent to England, “‘Twill not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he”. Except that the Germans, the Dutch, the French and others seem to want a referendum just as much as the psychotic Brits. How terrifying it must be for Michael, being one of a few sane men on a demented continent.


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Polar bear expert banned for daring to think differently

From Jennifer Marohasy. This shows that scientists are not immune from fashionable and hysterical movements and will act in unscientific ways, punishing those who dare to challenge and question the prevailing orthodoxy.


“MITCHELL Taylor is a Polar Bear researcher who has caught more polar bears and worked on more polar bear groups than any other, but he was effectively ostracized from the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) specifically because he has publicly expressed doubts that there is a crisis due to carbon dioxide emissions. 

“Dr Andy Derocher, the outgoing chairman of the PSBG and Professor at the University of  Alberta, wrote to inform Taylor that he was not welcome at the 2009 meeting of the PBSG.

“Keep in mind as you read his comments (below) that Taylor had arranged funding to attend the meeting in Copenhagen, and has been at every meeting of this group since 1981. With 30 years of experience in polar bear research, it goes without saying that he has something to contribute to any discussion about polar bear conservation. This is the original email from Derocher to Taylor explaining why he was not invited: 

Hi Mitch,

The world is a political place and for polar bears, more so now than ever before. I have no problem with dissenting views as long as they are supportable by logic, scientific reasoning, and the literature.  

I do believe, as do many Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) members, that for the sake of polar bear conservation, views that run counter to human induced climate change are extremely unhelpful. In this vein, your positions and statements in the Manhattan Declaration, the Frontier Institute, and the Science and Public Policy Institute are inconsistent with positions taken by the PBSG.

I too was not surprised by the members not endorsing an invitation.

Nothing I heard had to do with your science on harvesting or your research on polar bears – it was the positions you’ve taken on global warming that brought opposition.

Time will tell who is correct but the scientific literature is not on the side of those arguing against human induced climate change.

I look forward to having someone else chair the PBSG.

Best regards,
Andy (Derocher) …

‘Exile for Non-Believers’, by Joanne Nova, published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, September 2009 

Photo Credit: Susanne Miller, United States Fish and Wildlife Service

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Quote of the day - conspiracy theories

  • The average conspiracy theorist will argue with NASA, Nobel-prize winners and every expert in the world despite having fewer qualifications than the average fry cook.
  • Conspiracy theorists view logical argument as cheating.
  • Like pissing fetishes and tentacle rape comics, conspiracy theories are a problem made much worse by the Internet.
  • That’s from’s brilliant page on conspiracy theories.

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    Even more quackery at--where else?--The Huffington Post

    I'll let you in on a secret. Whenever and where-ever you see the term "wellness" these days you know you are dealing with pseudo-scientific bullshit. Don't say you weren't warned.

    I mean, Arriiiaaaaannaaa!

    Ever since its very inception, I've been--shall we say?--less than enthusiastic about the Huffington Post's medical blogging. Indeed, the level of anti-vaccine rhetoric there from the very beginning, back in 2005, astounded me. If anything, HuffPo's record has gotten even worse over the last four years, be it Deepak Chopra, or, in 2009, the addition of a variety of quacks to its roster, not to mention a brain-blisteringly stupid anti-vaccine rant by Fire Marshal Bill--I mean Jim Carrey--the promotion of "functional medicine" quackery by Mark Hyman, "detox" woo, or several different varieties of swine flu quackery. (Speaking of swine flu quackery, there's been some more at HuffPo just the other day. Fortunately, PalMD's on the case.) Heck, there's even at least one post advocating "distant healing."

    In any case, it seems to me that the quackery quotient of HuffPo has been escalating ever since Patricia Fitzgerald, acupuncturist and homeopath, was hired as HuffPo's "Wellness Editor." The trend has continued since Dr. Dean Ornish was hired to become HuffPo's medical editor.

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    The price of anti-vaccine fanaticism: Case histories

    There is another price, however. There is a price that is paid by autistic children themselves and their parents. It is a price paid in money and lost time. It is a price paid in being subjected to treatments that are highly implausible from a scientific standpoint and for which there is no good scientific evidence. It is a price that can result in bankruptcy, suffering, and, yes, even death.

    It is a price, I think, that is best demonstrated through a few case studies. This is a situation when anecdotes have their use.

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    Rabid Right is the flip side of yesterday's far Left coin

    Like all good populist anxiety-mongers, Beck has a lively, engaging and clear-as-daylight personality. He has a light tenor voice with an intimate delivery; eyes that sparkle boyishly; a mouth turned down self-deprecatingly at the edges. There are teary moments, self-revelatory glimpses and instances of genuine indecision. And yet, for all this, there is a calculated recklessness and wantonness of opinion that takes the breath away. Beck is that most disturbing of figures: likably human and sincerely scary, all at once. The model of the pure partisan.

    There's an old saw to the effect that every grand political movement starts on the Left, only sooner or later to reappear on the Right. And in point of fact, if Beck resembles anyone, it is some charismatic beret-wearer of the 1960s far Left, digging up the Paris paving stones to find the beach, with the small difference that while every impulse and posture is the same, every cause and slogan has been turned, quite simply, on its head.

    In Beck's universe, like that of the old New Left, every institution is an enemy and every political party corrupt: only grassroots movements, in their elemental purity, can live up to the pristine promise of the people. Because he speaks only from the heart, he demonstrates that virtue comes from within. With his well-told tales of an out-of-control counter-culture mother who killed herself, leaving him to rebuild himself out of the traditional moral verities, Beck is a paragon of identity politics, radical-conservative style. Even his invocation of the Obama White House as a cabal of white-haters is nothing more than Black Pantherism gone into reverse. He is the living incarnation of that old warning to political demagogues everywhere: be careful what you put out there, because in time it is certain to return.

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    All of the sudden, it isn’t the "hottest period in 2000 years" anymore

    Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit strikes again.

    Watts Up With That? comments:

    The quote of the week is:

    I hardly know where to begin in terms of commentary on this difference.
    - Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit in Yamal: A “Divergence” Problem

    The graph above shows what happens to the “Hockey Stick” after additional tree ring data, recently released (after a long and protracted fight over data access) is added to the analysis of Hadley’s archived tree ring data in Yamal, Russia.

    All of the sudden, it isn’t the “hottest period in 2000 years” anymore.

    Read it all.

    The ten top-paid environmentalists

    Do you donate to outfits like Greenpeace or the WWF?

    Ever wondered what happens to your money?

    Well, part of the answer is that you are supporting massive transnational organisations with large numbers of paid, (in some cases highly paid), employees and with often substantial property portfolios.

    This is an American list, but have a think for a moment about the situation here in Australia. Is there a day that goes by when there isn't a full-time paid representative of the WWF, the Climate Institute or some other environmental group appearing on TV or being quoted in the press and telling us that we are all doomed if (by implication) we don't give money to them?

    (I doubt the spokespeople for the WWF in Australia or the Climate Institute earn anything like the amounts below, but I'd be surprised if they were on anything less than $100,000 a year.)

    Very often spruiking yet another report, (produced by a friendly academic that they know will produce the "right" results), that they had commissioned and paid for.

    Just how much money is at the disposal of the green movement? It seems almost bottomless. I know that internationally over the last ten years or so the income for Greenpeace and the WWF alone has been in the billions of dollars. Honestly. They publish their accounts online, (or at least the WWF used to - they seem to have gone a bit shy about this recently).

    And while Greenpeace, to its credit, refuses to take money from governments it criticises, the WWF shows no such scruples.

    It is actually a fact that in terms of climate change the alarmists outspend the sceptics many times over. And much of this money these days is from taxpayers, as governments around the world pour vast amounts of money into bureaucracies set up to promote climate alarmism.

    I've had to simplify the table because of formatting issues, so the figures quoted are the gross amount of salary plus retirement plan/deferred compensation.

    As you can see, there's a lot of money in the environmental/climate change caper and a lot of people with a lot at stake in it.

    Big Green is a profitable enterprise

    By: David Freddoso
    Commentary Staff Writer
    09/22/09 2:12 PM EDT

    "Do you have a minute to save the planet?"

    Perhaps you've been asked this question recently on some Washington sidewalk by a young twenty-something. But where do you suppose the money goes if you accept his sales-pitch and make a financial pledge to his organization or one like it?

    One possible destination for your cash: huge salaries for top environmental non-profit executives.

    The chart below lists only the top beneficiaries of the Green non-profit culture. Among the honorable mentions is former Clerk of the House Jeffrey Trandahl, who made a mere $270,000 at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 2007. For the purpose of comparison, Fred Smith of the pro-business Competitive Enterprise institute, which deals mostly with envirnomental issues as well, makes just over $200,000.
    The ten top-paid environmental executives

    Frederic Krupp,  Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., President - $496,174.00

    Carter Roberts,  World Wildlife Fund, President - $486,394.00

    Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council, President - $432,959.00

    David Yarnold, Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., Executive Director - $365,773.00

    David Festa, Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., VP West Coast - $360,872.00

    Stephanie K. Meeks, Nature Conservancy, Acting President - $349,373.00

    Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation, President - $345,004.00

    Eileen Claussen, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, President - $335,099.00

    Rodger Schlickeisen, Defenders of Wildlife, President - $312,896.00

    William Meadows, The Wilderness Society, President - $308,465.00

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Your boss will weigh you now

    From Junkfood Science (where you can find the full article):

    Employers will now perform random tests of employees for evidence that they’ve smoked outside of work and will weigh employees in the workplace and report their BMIs to the state. Employees deemed noncompliant with the State Health Plan’s employer wellness initiative, will pay one-third-more for health insurance. Employers believed that eliminating smokers and fat people would lower health costs.

    But what if many of the assumptions behind this and other measures are wrong? What if, counter-intuitive as it seems, they raise costs, not reduce them?

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    The myth of the smoking ban "miracle." I knew it was BS!

    Just as a probably necessary caveat - these comments relate solely to the claimed reduction in heart attacks caused by the banning of smoking in public places and the junk science behind them, NOT to the relationship between smoking and various illnesses, which in my view is as rock solid as can be expected.

    Good grief. I mean really, just how stupid and credulous are people?

    These stories always had bullshit written across them in big neon capital letters.

    And still they have been repeated right around the world without a single syllable of doubt or questioning.

    Gee mainstream media, thanks for nothing yet again! (Honestly, there are times when you are worse than useless.)

    The proposition that measures such as simply banning smoking in public places - note carefully here, we're not talking about a measured reduction in the rate of smoking itself - could virtually immediately be responsible for a pronounced drop in the rate of heart attacks should have been immediately seen as highly suspect and dodgy.

    But at least there are people in the "new media" who aren't stupid and who can think logically and dispassionately. Spiked Online does what the old media singularly failed to do, that is, actually look for what evidence supposedly supported the breathless claims.

    Guess what? There basically isn't any.

    Who would have thought?

    Oh, as ever, there are "studies" that claim to show such results. But as anyone who isn't scientifically illiterate knows, there are studies and then there are studies.

    Some are well conducted with strong and robust findings, some are just simply pseudo-scientific junk.

    The "evidence" that banning smoking in public places reduces heart attacks definitely falls into the latter category.

    The Spiked Online article gives a good insight into how all too much "research" in matters related to health is designed to produce a predetermined "right" result so that the "right" message can be sent.

    If the immediate statistics for heart attacks following the banning of smoking in the work place or where ever show an increase in heart attacks, just ignore it! Or cut out older people, who are inconsiderate enough to be more likely to have heart attacks and thus wreck the results you are trying to achieve

    Or try and argue that passive smoking is more dangerous than actually smoking! No, don't laugh, this is in effect what has seriously been suggested by various health campaigners.
    Flawed though it may have been, the Helena research was followed by several studies that displayed such a cavalier approach to the scientific process that they bordered on the comical. Researchers in Bowling Green, Ohio, for example, saw a large rise in heart attacks during the first year of the smoking ban. Side-stepping this awkward fact, they simply redefined year two of the ban as the ‘real’ post-ban period and, since that year followed an abnormal peak, there was naturally a decline in the heart attack rate. As a consequence, the researchers could triumphantly declare that the smoking ban had led to a 47 per cent reduction in heart attacks.

    In the Piedmont region of Italy, there was an inconvenient rise in heart attacks amongst those over the age of 60 after the ban, and so those people were simply ignored. In a study that was trailed by the BBC (‘Smoking ban reduces heart risk’), the researchers focused entirely on those under 60, thereby recording an 11 per cent drop in cases.

    Studies such as these form the basis for the recent reports of smoking bans slashing heart attacks by ‘up to a third’.

    Now these all tend to be small scale regional studies. What happens when somebody does a large scale national study?
    The paper does not, however, include a mammoth (published) study of the entire United States, which concluded: ‘In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that workplace bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases.’

    Nor does it include an (unpublished) paper which found no statistically significant fall in heart attacks amongst the entire populations of California, Florida, New York and Oregon.

    Also, in relation to the most recent nonsense swallowed so naively and gullibly by the media, Spiked makes the simple point that if any journalist had just bothered to check the statistics for acute myocardial infarction before and after the smoking bans of England, Scotland and Wales they "would see that smokefree legislation has had no tangible influence on heart attack rates at all."

    But unfortunately these days journalism has been replaced with churnalism. Newspapers and TV stations don't investigate stories anymore, they simply want to get "news" pumped out onto their websites as quickly as possible.

    So any press release received is just repackaged as required and posted or printed with the least delay. Job done. No thought needed. Simple and cheap.

    That it is also a failure to do journalism properly and a betrayal of their readers' or viewers' trust does not appear to matter.

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    And Don't Let Us Catch You Being Neighbourly Again

    Insane. And Kevin Rudd thinks the idea that more government will solve our problems is a good one? That's insane.

    State bureaucrats threaten to fine, jail a Michigan woman for watching her neighbors' kids.
    Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.

    The Department of Human Services received a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home. DHS contacted Snyder and told her to get licensed, stop watching her neighbors' kids, or face the consequences.

    "It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting...

    A DHS spokesperson would not comment on the specifics of the case but says they have no choice but to comply with state law, which is designed...
    ...wait for it... protect Michigan children.

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    The dollar is dead - long live the renminbi

    "Whatever happens at the G20, the days of Western dominance are at an end, says Jeremy Warner."
    Sometimes it takes a crisis to restore reason and equilibrium to the world, and so it is with the trade and capital imbalances that were arguably the root cause of the financial collapse of the past two years.

    To economic purists, the changes now under way in demand and trade are inevitable, necessary and even desirable. Even so, dollar supremacy and the geo-political dominance of the West are both likely long-term casualties.

    These trends – all of which pre-date the crisis but which, out of necessity, are being greatly accelerated by it – will eventually drive a move away from the dollar as the world's reserve currency of choice. As China takes control of its economic destiny, spends more and saves less, there will be less willingness both to hold dollar assets and to submit to the domestic priorities of US monetary policy.

    None of this will happen overnight. Depressed it might be, but US consumption is still substantially bigger than that of all the surplus nations put together. All the same, that the dollar's reign as the world's dominant currency is drawing to a close is no longer in doubt.

    Time will tell. From the Torygraph via the Instapundit

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    Federal court protects Westboro Baptist Church's right to free speech


    RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court on Thursday tossed out a $5 million verdict against protesters who carried signs with inflammatory messages like "Thank God for dead soldiers" outside the Maryland funeral of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq.

    As vile and disgusting as the Rev Fred Phelps and his congregation (which seems to be mostly family and in-laws) are, this is the right way to deal with differences of opinion.

    Let it all out into the open.

    Unfortunately outside of America we are increasingly seeing the State effectively strip away our right to express our opinions and views if they are not deemed to be the "right" views.

    The very notion of hate crimes - a kind of Orwellian "thought crime" - and the like is a poison to freedom that is slowly killing it. That the poison is comprised chiefly of good intentions only serves to make it even more dangerous.

    The fact that various human rights and equal opportunity commissions increasingly decide what is or is not acceptable speech and then, acting as Star Chambers or kangaroo courts, punish those they have decided have crossed a boundary they have set.

    Canada sadly is one of the worst examples, where its commissions exercise quasi-judicial power and always find the accused guilty of the charges they had brought against them.

    Mr Phelps, while obviously causing distress to the families of dead soldiers, (briefly, his schtick is that America is such a "fag loving" nation that it is offensive to God and deserves to be condemned and punished blah, blah, blah), ultimately does his own cause no good by these protests.

    Ordinary and decent people are repelled by them and him.

    Let him cut off his nose to spite his own face I say.

    But more than that, he has a right to be heard. Saying you agree with free speech is meaningless unless you are prepared to defend that right even for those who you despise.

    As Doug Mataconis from Below the Beltway observes:
    This is, I think, a completely correct decision. As I stated in a post on this issue more than three years ago, freedom of speech quite often means the freedom to say things that are very offensive to others. This is as true of these protesters spreading their offensive messages as it is of someone who wants to write a book questioning the truth of the Holocaust. We may not like what they say, but they have the right to say it.

    Ezra at Popehat makes the excellent point that, even though the revulsion at what men like Phelps say is near universal, we still have to protect it:
    [T]he jury was correct. Fred Phelps should be bankrupt. Fred Phelps should live the rest of his days as a pauper, or better still in debtor’s prison. The problem is that the judge should have dismissed this case before it ever got to a jury. The problem is that if we’re going to do that to Phelps, we’ll have to pauperize or imprison other people whose ideas and speech upset their neighbors. Those who blaspheme against the Prophet Muhammad for instance, a direction to which much of Europe and Canada are trending though they’re supposedly secular. Or perhaps those who say cruel things about Republicans or Democrats. Since I don’t want to live in a country where blaspheming against Muhammad, or insulting Republicans or Democrats is a crime, I’m willing to accord Fred Phelps the right to be a non-violent monster, even when he insults dead soldiers.
    Exactly. Once you go down the road of punishing people for “offensive” speech, it’s hard to turn back before you reach the point where free speech itself is gone.

    Fred Phelps is an offensive dumbass, but he has the right to be an offensive dumbass.

    The full opinion, which is worth reading is embedded below:


    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    Best protest sign of the week?

    The hatemongers from Westboro Baptist Church learned a lesson this week — don’t mess with Brooklyn:

    The Westboro protest ended earlier than planned.
    As school let out this afternoon, picketers from Westboro Baptist Church, a scabrously anti-gay group from Topeka, gathered outside Brooklyn Tech to spread the gospel found on their site and, according to their schedule (since updated), to “teach the rebels of Brooklyn what good looks like, and you had better behave.”

    But outnumbered by nearly 200 Tech students, the Westboro protesters, escorted by police officers, left the corner of Fort Greene Place and Fulton Street at 3:45, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. (The protest had been slated for 3:20 p.m. to 4 p.m.)

    Five members of the group, including one child, brought signs that said “You’re Going to Hell,” danced and shouted anti-gay slogans as they stood on the street corner around 3 p.m. this afternoon.

    Brian Benavides, a Brooklyn Tech student, said news of the Westboro protest had been spread among his classmates by word of mouth and through Facebook status. The alert evolved into a counter protest.

    Mr. Benavides, who at first stood near the Westboro five, said he was raised Christian and taught that God does not hate homosexuals.

    “I think they are completely wrong,” he said of the anti-gay group, before the police asked him to move across the street.
    The Brooklyn Tech group did not see the Westboro protesters disperse because traffic and buses blocked their views. When the buses moved, the students saw the empty corner and erupted in cheers.

    “I guess we won the protest, because they left first,” said Julia Aker, a Brooklyn Tech student.

    Good for them.

    And the kid in the picture above gets the award for best protest sign of the week.

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    An epidemic of OCD. Fuck, these people are nuts!

    From Spiked Online (for the full article), via Greenie Watch:

    Many have gone over to the dark side – literally – and may never recover. In 2007, Peter and Sarah Robinson explained to BBC News how they get up early in the morning, but refuse to put the lights on. They open the curtains just enough to let sufficient daylight into the room to help them navigate their furniture safely, but not so much that too much heat escapes. In the dark mornings of winter, they see by the borrowed light from a streetlamp fortuitously placed outside their window. They own no television and their children are allowed to watch DVDs only on the weekend and only if the brightness control is turned down.

    Most evenings, the family spends its time in the kitchen in order not to have to switch ‘more lights on than necessary’ in other rooms. Mr Robinson’s Obligatory Carbon Doctrine started after he visited a prison with a group of psychology students. He noticed the repetitive routine that warders used to unlock and secure doors and he was lulled into performing his own rigorous lock-down activity at home. Because of OCD, the Robinsons have turned their home into a personal prison (4).

    There is a simple cure for OCD sufferers and it is up to us who haven’t succumbed to the Obsessive Carbon Delusion to save them from themselves. We simply need to argue for rationality and reasoned debate.

    [Either that or just shoot the sad and dimwitted fuckers. I mean really, it's like those ponsy middle-class wankers who buy carbon credits for their pets' farts - don't laugh, there was one on the front cover of a newspaper once - and then go on about the new imported car they've just bought or the upcoming skiing trip to Switzerland. Actually no, staying in the kitchen so you wont turn lights on is way sadder.]

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    Greenpeace co-founder on whether melting glaciers are good or bad

    An email below from Patrick Moore [], a co-founder of Greenpeace, to Benny Peiser

    The issue of melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and elsewhere, makes my head hurt due to cognitive dissonance.

    The UN COP15 Newsletter states, "Mountain glaciers in Asia are melting at a rate that could eventually threaten water supplies, irrigation or hydropower for 20 percent to 25 percent of the world's population, according to the UNEP report."

    Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute puts it this way, "The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau will deprive the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers of the ice melt that sustains their flow during the dry season and the irrigation systems that depend on them."

    In other words the supply of melt water from the melting glaciers is threatened by the melting of the glaciers. This is correct in that if the glaciers melt completely there will be no more melt water from the glaciers.

    What if the glaciers were not melting due to a colder climate? Then where would the irrigation water come from? How about if the glaciers were advancing 100 meters per year toward the villages that need the melt water for irrigation? How does the logic of this situation escape these bright minds?

    It snows every winter in the Himalayas. When the snow melts it fills the rivers. Where there is net melting of the glaciers this adds additional water to the rivers. But they can't have it both ways. If they want to have continued melt water from the glaciers then the glaciers must continue to melt. Seeing that the glaciers are finite in size this would eventually result in no glacier, and reliance on annual snow melt. Am I missing something here?

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    This is the "peer reviewed" science the UN relies on?

    United Nations Environment Programme uses unreviewed graph from an anonymous Wikipedia author for official report.

    26 09 2009

    United Nations Climate Change Science Compendium - click for PDF

    We’ve been lectured time and again about the importance of having climate science work come from peer reviewed papers, saying that the work of dedicated amateurs has no place in climate science unless the work rises to publication/peer review level.

    Yet that doesn’t seem to apply for United Nations science publications. Of course just one look at the front cover at left tells you its more about selling than science.

    The cover image pulls at heartstrings, making the world appear as if it is running out of time before turning entirely into an inhospitable desert. That is an extreme view in my opinion.

    Steve McIntyre’s discovery of a UNEP’s folly bears repeating, because it shows the sort of sloppy science that is going into “official” publications.


    In this case, the United Nations simply grabbed an image from Wikipedia that supported the view they wanted to sell. The problem with the graph in the upper right of page 5 of the UNEP report is that it itself has not been peer reviewed nor has it originated from a peer reviewed publication, having its inception at Wikipedia.

    And then there’s the problem of “Hanno” who is an anonymous contributor. This is simply his/her artwork and interpretation. We don’t have any idea who “Hanno” is, nor apparently does UNEP.

    Yet UNEP cites the graph as if it was a published and peer reviewed work as “Hanno 2009″. Yet UNEP doesn’t even get the year right as the graph was created in 2005

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    The 2007-2008 Global Cooling Event - clouds the cause?

    From Watts Up With That?:

    As I work on finishing our forcing/feedback paper for re-submission to Journal of Geophysical Research – a process that has been going on for months now – I keep finding new pieces of evidence in the data that keep changing the paper’s focus in small ways.

    For instance, yesterday I realized that NASA Langley has recently updated their CERES global radiative budget measurement dataset through 2008 (it had previously ran from March 2000 through August 2007).

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this update because of the major global cooling event we saw during late 2007 and early 2008. A plot of daily running 91-day global averages in UAH lower tropospheric (LT) temperature anomalies is shown below, which reveals the dramatic 2007-08 cool event.


    I was especially interested to see if this was caused by a natural increase in low clouds reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed by the climate system. As readers of my blog know, I believe that most climate change – including “global warming” – in the last 100 years or more has been caused by natural changes in low cloud cover, which in turn have been caused by natural, chaotic fluctuations in global circulation patterns in the atmosphere-ocean system. The leading candidate for this, in my opinion, is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation…possibly augmented by more frequent El Nino activity in the last 30 years.

    Now that we have 9 years of CERES data from the Terra satellite, we can more closely examine a possible low cloud connection to climate change.

    The rest here

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous

    "Virtual Water" and the Water-War Myth

    From - this is yet another reason to be very, very sceptical about climate and environmental scammers and carpetbaggers trying to get attention and make money out of hyping up fears about what may, (though more likely, may not), happen in the future. But the idiotic and ignorant scaremongering will continue.

    The Water-War Myth

    Spike those stories about water disputes leading to armed combat.

    By Jack Shafer

    Attention foreign-desk editors and those in charge of the environmental beat: Before assigning any pieces about impending wars between countries battling over this essential, scarce resource, read Wendy Barnaby's essay in Nature, "Do Nations Go to War Over Water?" (paid). She writes:
    Countries do not go to war over water, they solve their water shortages through trade and international agreements.
    Barnaby discovered this enduring truth after being approached by a publisher to write a book about water wars. It seemed logical enough. If countries were prepared to fight over oil, which makes modern life possible, why not water, without which there would be no life? And it's not a fringe idea, she notes. NGO leaders, academics, and journalists have all predicted that water struggles will inevitably turn into shooting wars when countries can no longer cover the demands of agriculture, industry, and citizens for the resource.

    In this scenario, Canada is the Saudi Arabia of the water world, drawing immense power from its surplus—and in the process becoming the target of a military strike by less-liquid nations.

    Barnaby, the editor of the British Science Association magazine People & Science, started lining up sources for the book, but her thinking shifted after being introduced to the concept of "embedded" or "virtual" water. It takes an average of about 1,000 cubic meters of water to grow enough food to feed one person for one year. Arid nations that can't muster that amount for each person can navigate around water scarcity by importing food, which contains "virtual" water from the land where it was grown. Barnaby writes:
    Ten million people now live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. If they were to be self-sufficient in food, they would need ten billion cubic metres of water per year. As it is, they have only about one-third of that: enough to grow 15-20% of their food. They import the rest in the form of food.
    Water scarcity in the region results in "conflict and tension," Barnaby adds, but the Israeli and the Palestinian officials have successfully used a committee (controlled by the Israelis) to peacefully resolve problems. In other places where competition for water should theoretically escalate into violence, Barnaby finds similar resolution. Egypt has become more fluid in its relations with its water neighbors because it wants to improve the climate for trade. Similarly, India and Pakistan, which war with each other with the same frequency that other nations exchange sister cities, have so far used a World Bank-arbitrated treaty to make water peace.

    Barnaby wanted to revise the thesis for her water book, but her publisher pointed out that "predicting an absence of war over water would not sell" many copies. So she bagged the idea.

    Despite Barnaby's findings, other writers sense water wars in the making. The March 31 issue of The Nation includes a feature titled "Blue Gold: Have the Next Resource Wars Begun?" that cites a report (PDF) by the British nonprofit International Alert that names 46 countries "where water and climate stress could ignite violent conflict by 2025" and quotes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying, "The consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict." Last month, a new U.N. water study about water scarcity warning of "a global water crisis … leading to political insecurity at various levels" prompted ominous coverage around the world (the Independent, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bangkok Post, Bloomberg News, AFP, and elsewhere).

    None of my skepticism should imply that I think everybody everywhere has all the clean, cheap water they need. Water, like all resources, is scarce, and I accept that scarcity can cause conflict. But before anyone starts frightening themselves about impending water wars, they might want to consider Barnaby's observation that in the last five decades there have been no "formal declarations of war over water."

    Although Israel has fought wars with Egypt and Jordan, Barnaby notes, it has never fought one over water, and "more 'virtual' water flows into the Middle East each year embedded in grain than flows down the Nile to Egyptian farmers."

    Posted via email from Garth's posterous