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Starck message

Walter Starck surveys the global economy and wonders about the focus on climate change.

All over the developed world, governments have committed to unfunded liabilities and fostered a proliferation of bureaucracy which their increasingly uncompetitive productive sectors cannot sustain. Most are now running on empty with no credit left, no plan B and no apparent recognition that the path they are on leads only to the edge of a cliff.


Cuccinelli appeals

I have covered the ongoing back and forth between the University of Virginia and VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, as the latter tries to obtain Michael Mann's emails to further the investigation into grant applications made by the hockey stick maestro.

I'm slightly confused by all this toing and froing. Last I heard, Cuccinelli had applied for the release of the emails once again - this was back at the end of September - with the university applying to have the demand set aside in mid-October.

Click to read more ...


More wind

Apparently the Times has a story on the continuing failure of windmills to deliver sufficient energy. It's not online, but this looks like the key excerpt (H/T Philip Bratby)

Concern over huge fluctuations in the supply of electricity from Britain’s 3,000 wind turbines has prompted National Grid to begin detailed forecasts of wind strength.

The turbines have delivered well below their usual output this winter and in the 24 hours to 5pm yesterday contributed only 0.5 per cent of the country’s power. Parts of the day were so still that wind power’s contribution fell below 0.2 per cent. On the windiest days, the turbines deliver about 8 per cent. A record of 10 per cent over a 24-hour period was set on September 6 last year.

But since the beginning of December, turbines have been operating at only 20 per cent of their maximum capacity compared with an annual average of about 30 per cent.



Autonomous Mind has interviewed Joe Bastardi and Piers Corbyn about the use of supercomputers in long-range weather forecasting. I liked Joe's last word on the subject:

It’s not the computer, it’s the limits of the computer in  trying to adjust to what only men can understand and use. I dont think you need more money to arrive at the wrong answer faster. Should put it into fighting hunger, or giving men a chance to be free enough to dream and pursue that dream… much better causes in my opinion.


More cold

The BBC is reporting that ten ships and 600 mariners have been trapped by sea ice in the Sea of Okhotsk. Apparently it's minus 22 out there at the moment.




Greens distance themselves from wind power

The leading Scottish environmental group, the John Muir Trust, have described wind power as a scandal and called for an urgent review. The story is on the front page of today's Sunday Times. More details are available from Rob Schneider.


Lack of historical perspective

Two excerpts from posts at Haunting the Library.

First, Michael Oppenheimer, the enviroscientist:

‘I bought a sled in ’96 for my daughter,” said Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. ”It’s been sitting in the stairwell, and hasn’t been used. I used to go sledding all the time. It’s one of my most vivid and pleasant memories as a kid, hauling the sled out to Cunningham Park in Queens.”

Next Edward Gibbon, from the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

The great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy wagons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice. Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon.


Briggs on doommongers

Matt Briggs has been reading that Fox piece on doommongers and is charmed by Messrs Erlich, Viner et al.

In a way, Erlich’s, Viner’s, and the other gentlemen’s bald assertions of faultlessness in the face of adverse actuality is charming. You have to love a guy who is never right but sticks to his guns. He does so because his core beliefs—the theories and hypotheses that drive his predictions—are just too pretty to give up. He cherishes his theories, he pets them and speaks softly to them, he lavishes gifts on them and upon others who can appreciate the same beauty he sees—and he savages those who would call them ugly. 


Telegraph letters

Two letters to the Telegraph from familiar faces today. First Bob Ward takes a pot-shot at Booker for questioning the integrity of the Climatic Research Unit.

SIR – Christopher Booker (December 26) claims that emails from the University of East Anglia “showed how the little group of scientists at the heart of the IPCC had been prepared to bend their data and to suppress any dissent from warming orthodoxy”.

Independent inquiries led by the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Sir Muir Russell, Lord Oxburgh, and the US Environmental Protection Agency found such allegations to be untrue.

Mr Booker stated that “much of the northern hemisphere” in 2007 suffered “the winter from hell”. In fact, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature in the northern hemisphere for the boreal winter in 2007-8 was the 14th highest since records began, and 0.36C above the standard reference average for 1961-90.

He also claimed that the boreal winters in the northern hemisphere in 2008-9 and 2009-10 were “colder still”, when they were, respectively, the 8th and 9th warmest on record.

Bob Ward
Grantham Research Institute
London School of Economics
London WC2

Then Tim Worstall considers yet another piece of government lunacy, this time centred around the recommendations of the Stern report.

SIR – Having read the Stern Review, the various IPCC reports and multitudes of economic papers on what to do about the entire problem, assuming we accept that there is such a problem, it is clear that the policies being recommended by those experts are: a carbon tax, or a cap-and-trade system, or subsidies to new technologies.

All of the economists say the same thing. Any one of the three are viable and whole solutions.

Cap-and-trade limits emissions; a carbon tax provides the incentive to reduce them to the needed level; and subsidies will replace emitting with non-emitting sources of energy.

So now my question: having hired Lord Stern at some expense, having analysed his recommendations at presumably greater, why is the Government now insisting at gargantuan expense in doing what Lord Stern said we should not do?

We only need to choose one of the three – rather than be charged thrice to do all of them.

Tim Worstall
Messines, Portugal


Kontradictory Kukla

Climatologist George Kukla finds evidence of an impending ice age in 1974:

When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Climatologist George Kukla finds evidence for global warming in 1981

They found that the typical summer ice pack had decreased about 35 percent, by 2.5 million square kilometers, or about 1 million square miles from 1973 to 1980. The Antarctic ice cover was also found to be considerably lighter than shown in atlases published in 1957 and 1966 and in the ship reports from the 1930's. This was taken as an indirect measure of higher temperatures.

(H/T Glyn Ferguson)


Slingo on climate models

There is an interesting interview with Julia Slingo at Nature's website at the moment. No mention of climate change, but the twin spectres of Pakistan floods and Russian warmth doing service in its place as a means to drum up support for the Met Office's hoped-for new supercomputer. Scaremongering has served the weather/climate community for so long, I guess it's hard to break the habit.

What's the biggest obstacle to creating better, hazard-relevant weather forecasts?

Access to supercomputers. The science is well ahead of our ability to implement it. It's quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job — tomorrow — in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It's so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power. We're talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters. Yet it's a difficult argument to win. You just think: why is this so hard?

I'm sure I read somewhere recently that there is no guarantee that climate models at high resolution will be any better than what we have now. Can anyone recall having seen something like that?


Condensing boilers

North has an interesting piece (H/T Autonomous Mind) about the widespread failure of condensing boilers in the UK this winter and last. The problems have been caused by the condensate pipes freezing up in cold weather. Unfortunately condensing boilers seem to have been pushed hard by the government in one of their fits of eco-madness.

A few years back I discussed condensing boilers with a local plumber - an Englishman - who couldn't understand the Scottish fixation on combi boilers. Now I wonder if perhaps the Scots didn't just know something he didn't.


The Greenhouse Conspiracy

I'm sure many of my readers have seen this 1990 documentary on the greenhouse effect - sort of an early version of the Great Global Warming Swindle - but it's the first time I've seen it.

I was struck firstly by how shifty-eyed Tom Wigley and John Mitchell come across, particularly when Wigley is asked about funding at around 46 mins. If you don't want to invest the time in the full video, this is the excerpt to watch.

Then there is the clear statement by the late Reginald Newell that he had his funding cut because of he had published a paper that undermined the greenhouse theory.

It's all rather amazing how little the debate has moved on in twenty years.


The naked climatologist?

Now available for 2011, the University of East Anglia Naked Calendar.

Whether any residents of CRU have volunteered to appear is regrettably unclear. However, information on getting a copy here, although it looks like it may be unavailable except in person. Proceeds are for the St John Ambulance Society.


Veiled threats of violence

According to a commenter on the Skeptical Science website, I permit veiled threats of violence by my commenters.

Anyone know what they're talking about?