Thursday, September 28, 2006

Global warming worries 81% of the world

A poll of 19,579 citizens across 19 countries, to measure attitudes to current energy policy, was conducted for the BBC World Service in July.

Fully eight in ten citizens (81%) across the 19 countries are concerned about the impact current energy policy is having on the Earth's environment and climate. Among the more astonishing results, for me, was that Austalia is, of all the nations, the most concerned: "that the way the world produces and uses energy is causing environmental problems including climate change with 94% of us very concerned or concerned". :::[World Public Opinion: Energy_Jul06_quaire.PDF <-- that's a PDF of the full results, the summary is here]

We are also the nation most willing to accept an impost on energy in order to conserve energy with 30% of us strongly favouring this, and 39% of us somewhat favouring this. The survey was conducted when we were feeling the pinch from petrol pricing. What is astonishing is that we are one of the only two countries not to sign up to the Kyoto protocol, and that our government has proactively underminded it, putting it's faith in vapourware as the solution. Yet this clearly hasn't fooled the people, they know it is a lie.

The study received scant media attention in Australia, I just discovered it per chance, so spread the word and give me a link. I am proud that most Aussies see though Howard's bullshit to the reality - even more acutely than the rest of the world. Perhaps we feel the impacts more; our land a little more sensitive to climate variation and drought prone at the best of times, we have reef to bleach and this hurts tourism. Hot summers days hit mid 40's in celsius and that is enough to sear the crux of the problem right into the brain. :::[Life in a greenhouse is boring: witness] Big bushfires are more common as Ash Wednesday comes along every few years now. Perhaps we are more aware that the coal we export - our biggest earner - is making this climate change problem worse. Perhaps us not joining Kyoto fueled a more widespread national debate on the subject than I realised. To me the 'debate' sounded more like Howard and his cronies telling us our economy was stuffed if business as usual did not continue, and dismissing any other suggestion. I know this intransigence inspired me to find out more for myself - perhaps it also did for a fair few others.

Whatever the reason, or combinations of reasons, I want to know more.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clinton shows how real Presidents handle ambush

Chriss Wallace of Fox News invites Bill Clinton on his show to talk about his global warming Clinton Global Initiative, and at one point the conversation goes something like this:
CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you'd spend half the time talking about?

WALLACE: [laughs]

CLINTON: You said you'd spend half the time talking about
what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don't care.

But President Clinton?


WALLACE: We were going to ask half the question about it. I didn?t think this was going to set you off on such a tear.

CLINTON: It set me off on such a tear because you didn't formulate it in an honest way and you people ask me questions you don't ask the other side.

WALLACE: Sir that is not true...

CLINTON: ...and Richard Clarke...

WALLACE: That is not true...

CLINTON: Richard Clarke made it clear in his testimony...

WALLACE: Would you like to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: No, I want to finish this.

WALLACE: Alright.

See why Bill got so pissed-off, and then watch him inviscerate this Weasel Wallace character. You'll find out how refreshing it is to hear what a real US President sounds like again.

If you enjoyed that, then do the right thing and check out the Clinton Global Initiative ('cos this really is a blog about global warming). Raising $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different countries - that is something. Good on you, mate! Seven billion thank yous to all involved from all of us who are not yet involved.

Getting back to the interview - if we witnessed a natural leader leading we also witnessed a natural follower falling into line, the stag and the fawn - did you notice how this Weasel Wallace guy became so cringingly arse-puckered under fire that he inadvertantly called his guest, "President Clinton... "?

I bet no one makes that freudian slip with citizen Bush.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Bolt burger # 6 is undercooked and raw

Fossil-fuel industry shill, Andrew Bolt's 6th "minor quibble" with Al Gore's rendering of the science in "An Inconvenient Truth" dismisses rising sea levels as a minor dribble:

6: Gore claims the seas have already risen so high that New Zealand has had to take in refugees from drowning Pacific islands.

In fact, the Australian National Tidal Facility at Tuvalu in 2002 reported: ?The historical record from 1978 through 199 indicated a sea level rise of 0.07 mm per year.? Or the width of a hair.

Says Auckland University climate scientist Chris de Frietas: ?I can assure Mr Gore that no one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas.?

I have not had the time off to see the movie yet, so I don't know whether Gore made the call as Andrew relates it, or not. But I do know that late last year a UN study revealed that there could be as many as 50 million environmental refugees around the world by the end of the decade. Not all of these refugees will be a result of rising sea levels, of course.

The Guardian article linked above reports that New Zealand has already agreed to accept the 11, 600 inhabitants of the low-lying Pacific island state Tuvalu if rising sea levels swamp the country. Elsewhere, as many as 100 million people live in areas that are below sea level or liable to storm surge. A total of 213 communities in Alaska are threatened by tides that creep three metres further inland each year.

Andrew Bolt specifically states that "In fact, the National Tidal Facility at Tuvalu in 2002 reported: the historical record from 1978 through 199 (sic) indicated a sea level rise of 0.07mm per year". These data are now 6 years old. The most up-to-date recordings from Tuvalu available from the National Tidal Centre show a sea level rise of +6.1mm/year, some 100 times faster than the value Andrew Bolt quotes. Similar rates of sea level are evident across the entire Pacific SEAFRAME network maintained by the National Tidal Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology.

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Public challenging global warming skeptics

It's good to see people challenging the global warming skeptics that make it to the Letter pages of my Sydney Morning Herald:

:::[SMH Letters to the Editor, 23/9/2006]

A role for sceptics

Pat Sheil's article, "Earth frying by the seat of its pants" (September 21), exemplifies the orthodoxy and fervour of those who urge action to prevent global warming.

There is no acknowledgment that back in the 1970s most climatologists were predicting exactly the opposite: a forthcoming ice age. Are they just crying wolf again?

Worse, why are scientists so eager to dismiss sceptics? Sheil says, "These people can be ignored. The data is solid."

This is an appeal to prejudice, not the language of science. I prefer to go with Albert Einstein who said, "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

Paul Roberts Lake Cathie

In response to Allan Lehepuu (Letters, September 22), dried-up rivers are not prime evidence for or against global warming. Funnily enough, the prime evidence is the warming of our globe: temperatures are rising at a far greater rate than at any time in history.

Luke Egan Ermington

:::[SMH Letters to the Editor 24/09/2006]

Heat causes brain drain

Paul Roberts (Letters, September 23-24) laments the loss of voice for sceptics in the global warming debate. This could not be further from the truth.

Indeed, all good scientists are sceptics. However, when research provides an overwhelming body of evidence a consensus starts to form. Like the dangers of smoking and exposure to asbestos, the role of human activity in changing our climate is accepted by the vast majority of those who know the most about the subject. To remain in denial is to ignore the combined knowledge and experience of the scientific community. I'm sure Einstein would agree, it's great to have an open mind, but not so open as to let your brain fall out.

Eamon Grattan-Smith Avalon

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Royal Society smacks ExxonMobil fair square on the nose

Britian's leading and longest serving scientific institution, The Royal Society, writes to Exxon Mobil asking it to cease the funding of think-tanks tasked to confuse the public about the science of global warming. (For a comprehensive understanding of this skullduggery check the eye-opening

Bob Ward of the Royal Society for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge explains why for the first time since being founded in 1660 that the Royal Society has written to a company about its anti-science activities.

"It is now more crucial than ever that we have a debate which is properly informed by the science. For people to be still producing information that misleads people about climate change is unhelpful. The next IPCC report should give people the final push that they need to take action and we can't have people trying to undermine it."

The letter from Bob Ward to

Nick Thomas
Director, Corporate Affairs
Esso UK Limited
UK Public Affairs
ExxomMobil House, Mailpoint 8
Ermyn Bay
KT22 8UX

(Address lovingly typed out for those who would like to express their opinions on the matter), lives here.

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Arnie to auto-makers: I'll be back

One of the strategies of the fossil-fuel lobby is to confuse people down to a state of hopelessness - the argument you hear goes, "It's sheer arrogance to think that mankind can affect something as big as the atmosphere." It's fatalistc, wrong and dangerous.

Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn't matter.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

It was easy to laugh from all the way from Down-Under when the film-mogul Schwarzenegger became the Republican Governor of California, especially after marrying a Kennedy. The joke had been nicely set up by the Gipper becoming US President Ronald Reagan. But this guy seems to be doing a good job, and with him recognising his leadership responsibilities, i.e. to face up to climate change and take the hard decisons needed to implement laws to fight it, he's got my cyber-vote as a global citizen on a global issue: :::[SMH: Arnie goes green]

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday is expected to sign into law the United States' first state cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

But even before the bill is signed, the law's future is in doubt.

Federal lawsuits related to greenhouse gas issues, involving California, Vermont and Massachusetts, could cloud California's latest attempt to be a leader in the fight against global climate change.

At the heart of California's attempt to curb the gases believed responsible for global warming are state vehicle regulations that are being challenged by US and foreign car makers. The rules, adopted in 2004 by the state Air Resources Board, would force vehicle companies to cut emissions from their cars and light trucks.

Rulings favourable to industry would greatly complicate efforts to cut overall emissions in California, knocking out nearly a quarter of the state's reduction strategy. The goal is to reduce emissions to 1990 levels over the next 14 years.

"Reducing greenhouse gases is a hugely difficult challenge," said Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. "It's going to be very difficult with the auto regulations. Without them, it's going to be impossible."

Vehicle makers have sued California and Vermont for setting greenhouse gas emission standards on vehicles, saying the rules are tantamount to imposing a fuel-economy standard. Only the federal government can set gas-mileage rules.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts and 11 other states, including California, are challenging the Bush administration's decision not to regulate heat-trapping carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The case is before the US Supreme Court.

A lot is riding on Govenor Schwarzenegger winning:

California is the world's 12th largest producer of greenhouse gases, and experts warn that the state will suffer if industries and vehicles aren't forced to cut their pollutants.

It will be a tough fight against the motor industry.

Climate change experts say the state can't afford to wait any longer to begin scaling back its carbon emissions - slashing its use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

But a win in court for the motor industry on the previous regulations would send state regulators scrambling to meet the deadlines outlined in the global warming bill that Schwarzenegger is scheduled to sign this week.

They would have to find other ways to force the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 30 million metric tons, about 20 per cent of the statewide cap.

Linda Adams, head of Schwarzenegger's Environmental Protection Agency, said a court loss would take away an essential tool.

"Any attempt to undo the progress California has made to reduce climate change emissions would threaten the state's ability to meet the governor's goals," Adams said in a statement.

As a precaution, state MPs inserted a provision into the global warming bill that would give the Air Resources Board power to impose other regulations on the motor industry designed to reduce greenhouse gases.

One reason why I like him is that he had a previous life. Isn't a career-politician. But like all these high-profiles that political parties like to parachute in, the question is, is he tough enough? And in this case it's, is he tough enough to take on the motor industry and win?:

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tone the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

The wisdom he brings from his job before politics augers well for a post-material world:

Money doesn't make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

My grandfather was funnier: "Money may not make you happy, but I wouldn't mind finding out." I think he was paraphrasing Marx. The other Marx.

But this is the funniest yet:

I just use my muscles as a conversation piece, like someone walking a cheetah down 42nd Street.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Funny man.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bolt burger #5 - snow burger

Andrew Bolt's 5th picky point with Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth", keeping in mind that the cream of Australia's climate scientists rate it 4.5 out of 5, is purposefully discombobulating:

5: Gore shows scary maps of how New York and Shanghai would drown under 20 feet (600cm) of water if all Greenland?s ice melted.

In fact, various studies say Greenland's snow cover, and Antarctica's,is increasing or stable. The scientists of even the fiercely pro-warming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict seas will rise (as they have for centuries) not by Gore's 600cm by 2100, but by between 14 and 43cm.

Andrew, if you are seeking to be picky, the least you can do is cite your references. Or follow through from your initial premise, rather that get stuck out in the middle of nowhere like a polar bear trapped on shrinking ice-flow. If Greenland's snow-cover is increasing, or stable, it does not mean it isn't melting faster elsewhere. This fossil-fuel funded talking point first started to do the rounds in May this year. The CEI, the ExxonMobil-funded think tank, selectively used the research they refer to in their An Inconvenient Truth attack-ad called Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life. View it here: :::[Carbon dioxide spot: They call it an ad. We call it a lie] (While you are there, please read my counter-ad that got such a good response from so many good people who linked to it so Google listed the counter-ad as #1, poetically above CEI's, justicewise.).

Yes indeedy. The thinking in the CEI ad is what one would ascribe more to death-cult stuff, really. Quite bizarre. It beggars belief, Bolt. The professor from the University of Missouri, whose research was used, went public to claim that the CEI deliberately misrepresents his research: :::[]

The ads drew a protest from a University of Missouri professor who says they are "a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate." He said one of them misuses a study he published in Science magazine last year on the Antarctic ice sheet. An editor of Science also said the ads misrepresent the findings of that study as well as a second study on Greenland's glaciers.

The second CEI ad notes that carbon dioxide (CO2) is "essential to life," and says, "they call it pollution. We call it life." That ad fails to mention that too much CO2 can cause global temperatures to rise or that there is more of it in the atmosphere than any time during the last 420,000 years.

Andrew, you have the link now. Use it, or go out with the polar bears. Because the world will miss the polar bears a lot more than those of your elk.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sailing right over the North Pole

Looking on the bright side, global warming has opened up possibilities for a new niche market: extreme tourism: :::[LiveScience - Meltdown: Ice Cracks at North Pole]

By Sara Goudarzi

Satellite images of the Arctic show large openings in the perennial ice cover, yet another consequence of greenhouse warming, scientists announced this week.

The Arctic's thick perennial sea ice typically survives the warmth of the summer and lasts through the year. But satellite images taken in late August show that up to 10 percent of the perennial sea ice has been fractured by summer storms. The surprising change involves an area larger than the size of the British Isles.

Hot Topic

Goldilocks and the Greenhouse
What makes Earth habitable? This LiveScience original video explores the science of global warming and explains how, for now, conditions here are just right.

The striking openings in the pack ice were found north of Svalbard, Norway and extend to the Russian Arctic all the way to the North Pole. This condition is likely due to the thinning and extra mobility in the European section of the central Arctic ice pack seen in recent years.

"This situation is unlike anything observed in previous record low ice seasons," said Mark Drinkwater of the European Space Agency's Oceans/Ice Unit. "It is highly imaginable that a ship could have passed from Spitzbergen or Northern Siberia through what is normally pack ice to reach the North Pole without difficulty."

The minimum ice extent?the lowest amount of ice recorded in the area annually?has shrunk from 3 million square miles in the early 1980's to less than 2 million square miles in 2005. A recent study showed that between 2004 and 2005, the ice shrunk by 14 percent, a decrease in area the size of Texas.

"If this anomaly trend continues, the North-East Passage or 'Northern Sea Route'between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next 10-20 years," Drinkwater said.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gore's plan for global warming window

At last someone has a plan. No less then the former vice president of the USA, the biggest emmitter of CO2. So far so good for bang for buck: :::[Washington Post: Gore Unveils Global-Warming Plan]

Gore proposed a Carbon Neutral Mortgage Association ("Connie Mae," to echo the familiar Fannie Mae) devoted to helping homeowners retrofit and build energy-efficient homes. He urged creation of an "electranet," which would let homeowners and business owners buy and sell surplus electricity.

Former vice president Al Gore proposed creating an
Former vice president Al Gore proposed creating an "electranet" for buying and selling surplus energy. (By Susan Walsh -- Associated Press)

"This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue -- it affects the survival of human civilization," Gore said in an hour-long speech at the New York University School of Law. "Put simply, it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours."

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Gristle detected in Bolt burger #4.

UPDATE: With respect to Bolt Burger #4 an alert reader has pointed out that:

"The Nature paper Andrew refers to in 2004 didn't actually come out that year. It appeared in 2003. It is not a science paper, but rather an account of plans to put a big white tarpaulin over the remaining ice cap to preserve it from melt.

It contained no research about deforestation. The link to deforestation is based on the views of a Euan Nisbet of the University of London which have no support in the paper and which have no references. In short its use is a scam."

If I search google on "Euan Nisbet of the University of London deforestation mt kilimanjaro" I get 16 entries. Not much search-engine impact for such ground-breaking science. Only six entries relate to our Euan Nisbet, the remaining entries look like spam-farms. Half of the six are media reports about a proposal of Nisbet's to wrap-up the glacier edge to slow melting, the rest use the same report to engage in global-warming bashing, people like Greenie-Watch. Clearly there was no uptake of the attention-grabbing mountain-wrapping idea but, like a trojan meme virus, the media articles all slipped in the deforestation story.

From: New York Times

Although it is tempting to blame global warming, the most likely culprit is deforestation. Forests at the base of the mountain, which once exhaled moisture that replenished and protected the ice fields, have largely disappeared, leaving the glaciers to the mercy of hot, dry winds that erode and melt the high cliffs that form their edges. Experts say the glaciers could disappear within a decade or two, taking with them a frozen record of East Africa's climate over the ages.

Enter Professor Nisbet, who suggests that huge white tarpaulins be draped over the edges to retard wind erosion and reflect the sunlight, much as the artist Christo adorns the countryside with miles of white fabric. The goal is to slow the melting long enough to replant the forests.

Tellingly, there are no references to research or scientific studies that could be duplicated by Nisbet's peers in order to test the hypothesis that the culprit is deforestation. Just the "most likely" assertion. The CNNTraveller uses the same wobbly approach to their report, but have changed the emphasis:

One likely culprit is global warming, but local deforestation could also be to blame.

It's good that both reports use cautious language, but why even publish anything that is not verifiable if making scientific claims? It's not even news.

As for Bolt... Bolt don't do nuance; you can't grind an axe on qualifiers:

And Mt Kilimanjaro was losing its snows more than a century ago, not because of global warming, but, says a 2004 study in Nature, largely because deforestation has cut the moisture in the air.

Not being able to find that 2004 study in Nature (as my alert reader warned) I did find a reference to a 2003 study in RealClimate, where the resident climate geeks demolish fossil-fuel media fraud with regularity. Suddenly Bolt appears to be just another dumb relay for a piece of propaganda from The Heartland Institute, whose other tacky anti-global warming shills include such scientific respectables as Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear:

The Heartland Institute's propagation of the notion that the Kilimanjaro glacier retreat has been proved to be due to deforestation is even more egregious. They quote "an article published in Nature" by Betsy Mason ("African ice under wraps," Nature, 24 November, 2003) which contains the statement "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit." Elsewhere, Heartland refers to this as a "study." The "study" is in reality no scientific study at all, but a news piece devoted almost entirely to Euan Nesbit's proposal to save the Kilimanjaro glacier by wrapping it in a giant tarp. The article never says who the "experts" are, nor does it quote any scientific studies supporting the claim. The Mason news article is what Crichton quotes as "peer reviewed research" proving that it is deforestation, not global warming, which is causing the Kilimanjaro glaciers to retreat. (George Monbiot's article in The Guardian documents a similar case of systematic misrepresentation of glacier data by skeptics.)

So what would the agenda of the Heartland Institute be? Sometimes can give up real nuggets when you want to know who you are dealing with in the fossil-fuel lobby:

Founded in the early 1990s, Heartland Institute claims to apply "cutting-edge research to state and local public policy issues." Additionally, Heartland bills itself as "the marketing arm of the free-market movement."

The Heartland Institute sponsors, a web page ostensibly dedicated to objective research on global warming, but at the same time presenting heavily biased research by organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute as an FAQ section. The Heartland Institute networks heavily with other conservative policy organizations, and is part of the State Policy Network, a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition (as of 4/04), and co-sponsored the 2001 Fly In for Freedom with the Wise Use umbrella group, Alliance for America. Heartland also co-sponsored a New York state Conference on Property Rights, hosted by the Property Rights Foundation of America. The Institute puts out several publications, including "Environment & Climate News" which frequently features anti-environmentalist and climate skeptic writing. They also published "Earth Day '96," a compilation of articles on environmental topics. The publication, distributed on college campuses, featured "Adventures in the Ozone Layer" by S. Fred Singer, and "the Cold Facts on Global Warming" by Sallie Baliunas. The articles denied the serious nature of ozone depletion and global warming.Walter F. Buchholtz, an ExxonMobil executive, sits on Heartland's Board of Directors. (4/04)

It's not enough that ExxonMobil sits on the Board of Directors of a lobby group that passes manufactured denial off as climate science, the Heatland Institute earns a nice little crust in the caper.

Total funding to Heartland Institute from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 561,500

Perhaps Heatland is the source for all of Bolt's research. Thanks for the tip.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Solar to power world's poor out of poverty

We are going to have to think our way out of our global warming predicament. Greenpeace and the European Photovoltaics Industry Association have developed a way to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions and help fight world poverty:

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- By 2025, nearly 2 billion people around the world will be able to get their electricity from solar power, according to a new report by Greenpeace and the European Photovoltaics Industry Association.

In perhaps more surprising news, more than 1.6 billion of those people now have no access to electricity at all.

Though installing photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity through a chemical reaction, in these poor, rural areas is already cheaper in most cases than extending the national grid to them, few countries have ventured into solar so far.

The report, called Solar Generation, cites Brazil and India as exceptions. So how will the world go from a handful of solar projects to 1.6 billion solar users in less than 20 years?

"It's a two-step strategy," said European Photovoltaic Industries Association Communications Officer Marie Latour, speaking to UPI by telephone from France.

The solar boom will "start from grid-connected technology supported by (government) policies like the feed-in tariff system, and these markets will enable the takeoff of the rural solar market by reducing the cost of the modules," Latour said.

Feed-in tariffs are payments for solar energy -- in places such as California and Germany, utilities pay customers with solar panels for the electricity they provide to the grid.

According to the study, the numbers look like this: "By 2025, PV systems could be generating approximately 589 terawatt hours of electricity around the world."

The International Energy Agency predicts that world electricity demand will be about 23,000 terawatt hours in 2025.

Greenpeace International Renewables Director Sven Teske told UPI that "in 35 to 40 years, PV could deliver 15 percent of the world's electricity production."

He said this would be mostly from household use, as photovoltaic systems are decentralized by nature.

Using lateral thinking to come up with a smart and practical approach to reducing the mutually-reinforcing problems of world poverty and GHG emissions is the sort of thing we need more of.

Mood: Pensive: This is more the direction I am going to take with this blog, and I think I am going to find interesting stuff happen in the business world, which is greening faster than an advanced AGW spring. Just reporting the bad news gets depressing. And slaying skeptics? There's not that much value in doing it for me - it's just sport - but if readers learn about how these people work they can fight their pernicious crap.

Read more: :::[Solar World: Report predicts a bright future]

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Bolt burger #4 is meat substituted

Warning to vegetarians: This burger is for display purposes only.

At first glance Andrew Bolt's 4th point criticising Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth seems at if it could be reasonable, but that's why we check his facts:

4: Gore shows a series of slides of vanishing lakes (like Lake Chad) and snow fields (like Mt Kilimanjaro's) and blames global warming for it all.

In fact, Lake Chad is so shallow it nearly dried out as far back as 1908, and again in 1984. So many more people depend on it now that the water pumped out for irrigation has quadrupled in 25 years. No wonder it's drying.

And Mt Kilimanjaro was losing its snows more than a century ago, not because of global warming, but, says a 2004 study in Nature, largely because deforestation has cut the moisture in the air.

And that worrying picture Gore shows of vanishing glaciers in the Himalayas? Newcastle University researchers last month said some glaciers there are now getting bigger again.

Regarding the Lake Chad thing, it is not clear what his criticism or point is, so it is hard to answer. His logic seems to be floundering. Global warming theory does not discount the causes of previous droughts or other manifestations of AGW. Human irrigation demands AND reduced rainfall has resulted in the lake surface area decreasing from 25,000 km2 in 1963 to 1,350 km2 today according to modelling studies.
It's not EITHER OR.

Bolt's claim about Mt Kilimanjaro's snows dissappearing largely because of deforestation not global warming is either disingenious or ignorant. One of the causes of global warming is deforestation. Forests are important elements in the carbon-cycle; one of the most obvious roles they play is that they 'fix' or 'sink' the carbon-dioxide by taking it out the atmosphere during photosynthesis. In this way they moderate our climate.

Growing glaciers? The University of Newcastle study findings don't challenge global warming theory. In fact they confirm them: :::[Newcastle University Press Release: Mountain climate change trends could predict water resources]

Date released: 24 August 2006
New research into climate change in the Western Himalaya and the surrounding Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains could explain why many glaciers there are growing and not melting.

The findings suggest this area, known as the Upper Indus Basin, could be reacting differently to global warming, the phenomenon blamed for causing glaciers in the Eastern Himalaya, Nepal and India, to melt and shrink.

What gets me about Bolt, is that it is so easy to check the facts, yet he doesn't.

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Bolt burger #3 is a FUD dud

3: Gore says ice cores from Antarctica, that go back 650,000 years, show the world got warmer each time there was more carbon dioxide in the air.

In fact, as the University of California's Professor Jeff Severinghaus and others note, at least three studies of ice cores show the earth first warmed and only then came more carbon dioxide, many hundreds of years later. So does extra carbon dioxide cause a warming world, or vice versa?

Both. One begets the other.

In a positive feeback loop, better termed a self-reinforcing feedback loop, extra carbon build-up produces a lagging warming in our shared atmosphere. This warms up the frozen permafrost of the Siberian tundra and thaws long dead organic matter from previous ages, plant and animal, releasing tonnes of safely trapped carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere to speed up the rate of warming again. See :::[Earth to climate model science: don't forget the permafrost!]

That is enough carbon to take us to a six degree increase on the globe's average temperature, if it was all released into the atmosphere:

If all the permafrost thawed and was released as heat-trapping carbon dioxide, it could nearly double the 730 billion tonnes of carbon now in the atmosphere, the scientists said.

It's not hard explain the lag observed by Professor Severinghaus:

Carbon stored over tens of thousands of years could bubble up from thawed soil in as little as 100 years.

If this is the worst thing (that I can find) that Severinghaus has to say about Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, "My wife fell asleep. Of course, I was on the edge of my chair.", I don't see what business Bolt has invoking him to for his uncertainty and doubt mongering. There are some pretty dodgy ingredients packed into this patty.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Gulled by the Bore? Bolt-burger #2 coming up

In Bolt's second gripe with "In Inconvenient Truth" he gets hoarier.

2: Gore says the man who first made him realise we were heating up the earth was his late professor, oceanographer Roger Revelle, who noticed carbon dioxide levels were increasing.

In fact, Revelle shortly before his death co-authored a paper warning that "the scientific basis for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time". And some warming might even be good, he added.

Professor Roger Revelle died in 1991, the godfather of global warming science. It's odd that he would pen those words Bolt directly ascribes to him. He didn't. The "other" author was Dr S. Fred Singer, who's secretary, Ms. Christa Beran, claimed in affidavit two years later that the entire paper was Singer's work only, "[...] Roger had been very reluctant to be involved in this enterprise. [...] I know it was not one of Roger's priorities. [...] I do not remember seeing any review by Roger of any text by Dr. Singer before a day in February 1991 when he came to Roger's office. [...] I am sure that Roger and I together never worked on the article [...] After a series of unsuccessful attempts to get Roger to work on this document, Dr. Singer must have decided that the only way he was going to get this thing done was to come in person."

Revelle's friend and colleague, J. Justin Lancaster, has very recently clarified exactly what happened, and blows the cobwebs of this myth: :::[The Cosmos Myth - The Real Truth About the Revelle-Gore Story]

The 1991 Cosmos paper, "What to do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap", is not Revelle's article. That is a myth, perpetuated at first by a few participants and now being spread by the many people they have misled. Revelle did not write it.

The Truth

1. Revelle did not write the Cosmos article.

2. S. Fred Singer claimed sole authorship of the major statements of the article in his ES paper months before he put the finishing touches on his Cosmos Masterpiece.

3. If S. Fred Singer is sole author of this material, then Revelle cannot be an author.

4. If S. Fred Singer is not sole author of this material, then he has admitted in his deposition to ethical concern about one author publishing under his own sole authorship material that was co-authored.

5. Revelle appears not to have had full information --- not about the ES publication and not about the many energy-industry agents who were busy at work here.

This clarification is so recent, I don't imagine that the think-tank or lobby-group where Andrew must get this 'research' from, have had time to pull this off the talking points lists that they are circulating. Damn shame that. The other thing to note in Lancaster's diclosure, is just how ruthless the oil-lobby was to stymie the science, and the appreciation of it by the greater public. Underhand shenanigans seem to have been at play in getting Revelle's imprimatur to later become attack fodder for denial-mongering hacks like Bolt.

My understanding, from conversations with Roger in 1991 and Christa in 1992, was that Roger was pressed and worn down in a single multi-hour session on a single day in February of 1991. This was a time when Christa and I limited our own working sessions with Roger to 15-20 minutes because he would fatigue so quickly. Apparently the session with Singer was hours long. Shortly after publication of the Cosmos article, Roger showed it to me, saying, with clear embarrassment: "S. Fred is a rather persuasive fellow."

Is this tacky episode at the very end of a great man's life really what you want to use to make your case, Andrew? A chance to reconsider your wrong-headed stance on global warming might just be coming down the line to an editorial desk near you, given the happenings on the front page of your bosses London trashy tabloid, The Sun. Look - there's Al Gore, portrayed as a hero. As you know; the scientific debate is over, if Rupert Murdoch says the media 'debate' is over, Andrew, it's all over, green rover.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gulled by a Bore? One Bolt burger coming up

I promised Andrew Bolt, on his column/blog post "Bulled by a Gore" to make mincemeat out of it. To give it a jolly good fisking. I don't have the luxury of starting with the right ingredients for your standard burger patty, but here goes.

The post, that he has been threatening to do for a few days, sought to denigrate Al Gores efforts to educate the world about global warming consequences. Gore has been warning about climate change for 20 years, a field he has been interested in since he was the understudy of the first climate scientist to discover that increased atmospheric CO2 levels heat the planet up. It wasn't long before the consequences were understood and widely communicated in the 1988 IPCC Conference. The IPCC was formed that year by the United Nations Environmental Programme and World Meteorological Organization to gain a better understanding of global warming causes

This news wasn't good for those selling fossil-fuels, since atmospheric carbon dioxide is the by-product of their energy. So they mobilised their armies of think-tanks and lobbyists and right-wing hacks, like Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman and Miranda Devine in Australia, to aggressively confuse the public about the risks of dependence on fossil-fuel oil and gas. Over the years we have become so accepting of this where we accept a future technology is going to save us. There are those that ask us to exclusively depend on this future savior technology for salvation. The same sorts of people who equate science with religion. Believing their words is not suicide, these types don't guite have the guts. It's grand-progenicide: the mass killing off of our progeny and descendents. We don't have this concept in humanity's lexicon, but we have never been so in control of our existential demise before, so I have invented the word for the Bolt burgerthon and beyond.

Bolt's list of "minor quibbles" with Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" as fisked by me:

1: Gore claims that a survey of 928 scientific articles on global warming showed not one disputed that manÂ’sgasess were mostly to blame for rising global temperatures. Only dumb journalists and bad scientists in the pay of Big Oil pretended there was any genuine debate.

In fact, as Dr Benny Peiser, from Liverpool John Moores University has demonstrated, Gore relies on a bungled survey reported in Science.

Peiser checked again and found just 13 of those 928 papers explicitly endorsed man-made global warming, and 34 rejected or doubted it. The debate is real.

Wadard says: Bolt is referring to what is known as the 'Peiser/Oreskes dispute about the scientific literature on climate change', and luckily it has been well studied. If you highlight Benny Peisner by left clicking your mouse, dragging it across his name, and select Search Web for "Benny Peisner" from the pop-up menu, you get the following Google listing (Firefox browsers only):

Welcome to my homepage
Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist with particular research interest in human and cultural evolution. His research focuses on the effects of ... - 31k - Cached - Similar pages

First listing, huh? Hmm, a 'social anthropologist with a particular interest in human and cultural evolution'? A climate scientist not. His research focuses on... "the effects of environmental change and catastrophic events on contemporary thought and societal evolution.". Not the science itself, please note, more like the politics. I smell something fishy, and it's going straight into the hamburger patty.

Bolt wildly swings, and misses, by measuring apples against oranges when comparing the two studies; a hoary old chestnut familiar to anyone who did high school science. The original study done by Oreskes was a review of the abstracts of 928 scientific-papers returned by the following keyword-search on the ISI (Web of Science) data bank: "global climate change". In selecting her sample she selected only peer-reviewed research whereas, in attempting to 'duplicate' her study, Peiser selects for "all document types", including sociology journals, and petro-chemical company publications.

A commenter on Deltoid, called Meyrick, reverse engineered the two studies after blog owner and NSW University Professor Tim Lambert threw the Peiser study to his ravenous pack of climate nerds in his May "Peiser's 34 abstracts":

Meyrick Says:

So to summarize, Dr Peiser has made 4 errors in his research:

1. Dr Peiser failed to replicate Dr Oreskes search properly. Dr Oreskes used (as far as I can tell) the following criteria:

TS="”global climate change" ;DocType=Article; Language=All languages;Database(s)=SCI-EXPANDED; Timespan=1993-2003

Dr Pieser used the following criteria:

TS="global climate change"”; DocType=All document types; Language=All languages; Database(s)=SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI; Timespan=1993-2003

2. Dr Peiser compounded the previous error by assuming that Dr Oreskes got her figures wrong, rather than contacting Dr Oreskes to obtain her search criteria.

3. Of the 34 abstracts identified by Dr Peiser that reject or question the view that human activities are the main driving force of the observed warming over the last 50 years”, 12 are not in Dr Oreskes sample.

Of the remain 22 articles, 21 do not fit that description (one argues that natural factors have been underestimated still does not reject or doubt that human activities are the main factor). In other words Dr Peiser has misinterpreted the abstracts of 21 articles.

4. Only one fits Dr Peiser's category, but it does not fit Oreskes's criteria of being a piece of published peer-reviewed research, but is instead a statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Dr Oreskes removed this from her sample partly because the statements by the AMS, AOG, & AAAS are not in her sample either.

It's a great read if you have the time, Peiser turned up to defend himself, but cut-and-Bolted as soon as he realised his game was up. He seems to do that a lot when up against scientists who challenge his methodology:

Brian S. Says:

Lars and Dano,

In the Peiser arguments youÂ’ve mentioned, does he repeat the claim that he analyzed the same set of abstracts as Oreskes? If he does and you can find the exact quote, I'd very much appreciate it if you could post it.

I've been corresponding with Peiser and posting on my own blog that his repeating such a claim goes beyond willful evasion to John Lott-style dishonesty. Peiser has cut off our correspondence. Sordid details here link
(May 16th and 17th posts).


Dano Says:


He appears to have abandoned that argument. Here is the thread.



It's neat that Bolt's sneering, "Only dumb journalists and bad scientists in the pay of Big Oil pretended there was any genuine debate.", turns out to be a spectacular own goal. There's no debate, dude, at least not in the climate-science community publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Consensus currently rules, and, as you can see by Oreskes's work, it is measurable.

This is not turning out to be a strict one-post fisk, I'll have to get to the other nine of Bolt's points as time allows. But I will keep my promise to Andrew. He can't get away with publishing that sloppy crap in today's day and age of blogging and Google; it's just too easy to hold him to task.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rebate research with carbon tax on coal

In re-watching the ABC News steaming video

What Price Global Warming?

by Jonathan Holmes on Australian businesses response to global warming I was struck. There is a way out of the impasse between Howard's argument that future technology will save us, and businesses plan that we need to set a carbon price signal to stimulate a market response now.

Without overstating it the threat is so great we need to start now with the carbon tax, and do something to give that future technology a wriggle on. One path, or the other is not an option anymore.

What about a carbon tax, setting the market signal, that fossil-fuel companies can redeem as clean coal and fuel research rebates?

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