Tuesday, December 23, 2008

US to announce War Against Global Warming?

Reuters has just posted news that US President elect Obama has filled his new administration with AGW proponents.

President-elect Barack Obama's new "green dream team" is committed to battling climate change and ready to push for big policy reforms, in stark contrast with the Bush administration, environmental advocates said on Monday.

"If this team can't advance strong national policy on global warming, then no one can," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, referring to Obama's picks for the top energy and environment jobs in his administration, which takes office on January 20.

Just great! From the country that brought us the war in IRAQ, the global financial collapse, ENRON and other startling failures, they are now going to inflict on us the perpetuation of the man made CO2 is bad for us myth.

... Karpinski said that with Obama's "great new green dream team" and more members in the U.S. Congress who support action to curb climate change, a law to limit greenhouse gas emissions is more likely, as is a global agreement to succeed the current phase of the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol.

Or is this just wishful thinking by the AGW proponents?

At least they didn't mention an emissions trading scheme, or is that what they mean by a "law to limit greenhouse gas emissions"?

Policy to protect the environment is good, but only if it is directed at the real causes and takes action that is going to make a real difference.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rising sea levels have hot spots!

If global warming causes rises in sea levels, why aren't rising sea levels "global"?

Why, if global sea levels have been falling since 2005, are some areas experiencing sea level surges which are causing very real problems to very real people?

Refer today's Solomon Star news item Giant Waves Hit Atolls. A fellow I work with is from one of the villages named and is concerned about his community and what he will find when he arrives for a Christmas visit this Sunday. I repeat - very real people. And matters are even more dire in PNG islands as per Tidal waves displace 75,000 people.

The University of Colorado has some very interesting illustrations of sea level rises.

The most interesting thing to me is that the sea level rises are not uniform around the globe. Another point I found interesting is that the sea level hot spots do not align with the IPCC's surface temperature hot spots which clearly move from hotter in the Arctic region to cooling in areas close to the Antarctic.

I have been living in the middle of one of these sea level rise hot spots for three "wet seasons" and this year's December full moon tidal surge is higher than the previous two. I know this is very short term observational data, but it doesn't align with the published global trends. Why? (I think I have picked up the habit of this question in recent times from my young son.)

Maybe "global warming" and sea level rises are not causal. I don't need to run the sea level data and temperature rise data through a regression analysis to tell there simply is little or no geographic correlation from these graphical representations of the data.

There is, however, a geographic correlation between the sea level rise hot spots and areas of seismic activity. The US Geological Survey (USGS) site has maps which are updated with the locations of seismic activity in the past 30 days. This only records "significant" events. The huge bang that momentarily shook my house last night isn't among the ones shown of this map.

Are these areas of sea level rise hot spots due to under sea seismic activity, or heat coming from the earth's core where there are movements along the fault lines?

Jennifer Marohasy stated in her blog Dip in Global Sea Level Won't Save Tuvalu:
Of course even a drop in the global sea level may not save Tuvalu because the great majority of oceanic islands, including Tuvalu, were formed by volcanic activity. While the volcanoes are active, the islands rise relative to the global averaged sea-level. When volcanic activity stops, the islands will cool and eventually start to sink. So there are islands rising and sinking all the time – and Tuvalu should be sinking.
The end point? Why not just get over this CO2 thing as the sole cause of environmental catastrophe, and concentrate on working out what the REAL cause of each problem is. The people of Tuvalu, Ontong Java, Papua New Guinea's islands and many others need help NOW. If sea inundation is a geological fact of life, let's deal with helping the affected people relocate. That in itself will be a major task for the world governments just negotiating somewhere for them to relocate to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is a computer model anyway?

Ever made an Excel spreadsheet, or know someone who has? Most people reading this would have. Lotus 123 (an earlier spreadsheet software program) became popular in the Eighties because it gave people with a little bit of computer expertise a simple way to do modelling.
  • Work out the household budget and see what effects a change in rent/ pay/ school fees has.

  • Work out the the effect on the household budget if interest rates are x% compared to y%.

  • Work out the Sales Department's net profit if sales of widget A are 100 units compared to 500 compared to 1000, including the different marketing costs to achieve each level of sales.
These are all examples of very simple computer models. What ALL computer models have in common is that some factors stay the same and some factors can be changed to see "what if".

Presumably the global warming/ climate change computer models are much more complex. Regardless of the complexity, the value of some factors are built in and fixed, and some are changed to see "what if".

The computer model, simple or ultra complex, is only as good as the value of the factors that are used and the accuracy of the formula for predicting the effect of the changed value.

Therefore computer models for climate change effects are only as good as the numbers and the equations that are put into the model. They are not magic or superior to human judgement. They are only as good as the research and open mindedness of the person who creates the model. And computer models only show "what if". The result depends on the "if" factor.

There is a very technical computer term which applies here - GIGO. This stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out.

David Bellamy's price of dissent on global warming

The Australian newspaper has published David Bellamy's "The price of dissent on global warming".

PLEASE read this article! This is one person's description of what happened when he dared to voice his opinion about the global warming retoric. This man is well known for his concern for the environment and the living creatures on this planet.

If this very public fugure has been shunned by the AGW supporters to the extent that his opinion is now blocked from the rest of the world, how many other respected people are in a similar position, but we don't know about them because they have not had the same public profile in the past?

I thought that science was about critical examination of all the evidence, not supporting politically acceptable views at the time?

How will democracy survive if people's views and opinions are hushed up? The increasingly popular line that the global warming science is too technical for ordinary people, so we should all just listen and believe what we are told is chilling. (Pardon the unintended pun.) Dictatorships and other people control doctrines are based on this line of argument.

Politicians take note
I think and I vote.

And so do millions of others! Let us hear all of the arguments so we can make up our own minds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First ETS spin "gotcha"

I haven't even finished reading the first news item I opened (Kids take the heat out of climate costs) on the Australian Government's new emissions reduction target of 5% (from 2000 levels) and the first whopper bites me on the nose -

Some 60 per cent of middle income earners - 2.4 million households - would be compensated for all price rises. The extra money would come through a 2.5 per cent rise in welfare payments, including Family Tax benefits A and B, from July 2010.
This would include a 1.1 per cent indexation due in September but to be brought forward, and 1.4 per cent to cover cost increases.

In other words, over 40% of what the government claims they will be paying families to compensate for the costs of the scheme they would have been paying any way! This is called spin in polite political circles.

What would the figures look like if they showed only the actual true increase in welfare assistance as 1.4%?

The figures in the couriermail.com.au article compared to the true 1.4% extra payments:

(My comments and calculations at 1.4% are in red beside each quote.)

"How the emissions trading scheme will impact you, assuming you do not alter your energy consumption:

Single-person household - no children

  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $324, government assistance is $390 - therefore $66 a year better off - really $106 worse off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $574, assistance from government is $290 - therefore $284 a year worse off - really $412 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $877, government assistance is nil - therefore $877 a year worse off - still $877 worse off
Sole parent with one dependent child under five-years-old
  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost if living impact is $487, government assistance is $963 - therefore $476 a year better off - really $52 better off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $622, government assistance is $904 - therefore $282 a year better off - really $116 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $900, government assistance is $99 - therefore $801 a year worse off - really $845 worse off

Single income couple with two dependent children, one aged 6-12 and one aged 13-15

  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $553, government assistance is $1189 - therefore $636 a year better off - really $113 better off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $701, government assistance is $1044 - therefore $343 a year better off - really $116 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $925, government assistance is $897 - therefore $28 a year worse off - really $423 worse off

Dual income couple (50:50 income split) - no children

  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $436, government assistance is $1249 - therefore $813 a year better off - really $263 better off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $658, government assistance is $780 - therefore $122 a year better off - really $221 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $960, government assistance is $780 - therefore $180 worse off - really $523 worse off

Dual income couple (50:50 income split) with two dependent children, one aged under five and one aged 6-12

  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $554, government assistance is $1540 - therefore $986 a year better off - really $308 better off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $741, government assistance is $1028 - therefore $287 a year better off - really $165 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $985, government assistance is $984 - therefore $1 a year worse off - really $434 worse off

Dual income couple (70:30 income split) with three dependent children, one aged under five-year-old and two aged 6-12

  • On $30,000 a year: Average cost if living impact is $623, government assistance is $1322 - therefore $699 a year better off - really $117 better off
  • On $70,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $793, government assistance is $1265 - therefore $472 a year better off - really $85 worse off
  • On $120,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $1040, government assistance is $750 - therefore $290 a year worse off - really $620 worse off

Single aged pensioner

  • On $20,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $358, government assistance is $382 - therefore $24 a year better off - really $144 worse off
  • On $40,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $406, government assistance is $845 - therefore $439 a year better off - really $67 better off

Age pensioner couple

  • On $20,000 a year: Average cost of living impact $461, government assistance is $640 - therefore $179 a year better off - really $103 worse off
  • On $50,000 a year: Average cost of living impact is $611, government assistance is $1894 - therefore $1283 a year better off - really $450 better off

In other words, most people will be worse off!

Now, if an emissions trading scheme is such a great idea, why does the government need to bribe us to accept it?

If the government is telling such obvious spin to exaggerate the effect of government assistance, what makes them think we are going to believe the cost of living impact will be as low as they say?

What other spin has been put on the global warming and emissions trading sales pitch?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

UNFCCC working on son of Kyoto Protocol

AFP yesterday reported the UNFCCC has scheduled a program of work to be undertaken during 2009 which will culminate in another global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol which ends in 2012.

THE world's forum for tackling climate change has agreed on a program to culminate in a treaty to tackle the threat from greenhouse gases.
The 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has set a schedule of work in 2009 designed to conclude with an historic pact in Copenhagen next December.
Taking effect after 2012, the envisioned deal will set down unprecedented measures for curbing emissions of heat-trapping carbon gases and helping poor countries in the firing line of climate change.

Refer full report at news.com

The UNFCCC website has several documents which came out of the talks in Poznan over 1 -12 December 2008.

The UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol page actually includes the work plan as a document link called FCCC/KP/AWG/2008/L.19. This is very heavy reading. In a nutshell it provides for further study on measuring greenhouse gases, improvements to emissions trading and tying down parties to the Kyoto Protocol to firm and detailed commitments and targets.

This is part of several streams of activity leading up to the next major meeting in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. There are several working group meetings planned at different venues around the world to continue to prepare for the major meeting in Bali mid-year and then Copenhagen.

While I was typing this the UNFCCC updated their website to say the decisions adopted during Poznan will be available there shortly.

This very serious business and it is apparent that considerable resources are being committed to this process.

There is still time for studying and lobbying.

Greenhouse Gases? What rubbish!

Thought for the day -

Why use high faluting words to describe a basic concept? Greenhouse gases are stuff we put into the air that some say shouldn't be there. So why not just call it, hmmm, let's see, ummm, I know - pollution!

This word has been around a lot longer than greenhouse gases.

If this doesn't sound technical enough, why not try atmospheric pollution?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why argue with solid ice core data?

You freeze water and you get ice. During the freezing process some of the air that is around or dissolved in the water gets frozen too. However, when the ice melts, the frozen air goes too. See?

Back to my key credible source of information on global warming and climate change. Page 33 of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers in the Climate Change 2001 reports has a great chart which illustrates the CO2 levels found in core ice which they somehow worked out was formed as far back as the year 1000. This shows very even concentrations of CO2 right up until more recent times when the scientists used direct atmospheric measurements (ie they used some real air).

This is very impressive evidence that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were incredibly stable until the 20th century. When I read this graph I wondered what the ice core readings would show compared to the atmospheric readings for the past few decades. That would be really interesting! Hmmm. Maybe the ice core data isn't available because the polar ice caps have been melting, not building up to provide evidence for us to study?

Ahhhh! That's why the CO2 concentration levels in ice cores are so consistent for the past thousand years! When there was more CO2, the world was warmer, the ice melted a little, and didn't build up. There is no evidence in the ice of higher CO2 concentrations because the evidence melted!

What interesting item will I find in these reports next?

Is Global Warming a Northern Hemisphere thing?

An illustration in the IPCC report "Summary for Policymakers" based on the fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007" shows a very interesting pattern.

(I'll need to print the page and scan it in - sorry for the delay.)

Refer to page 4 where there is a diagram of the world showing changes in surface temperatures from 1970 to 2004. There is a clear gradient in the degree of temperature change from the Arctic region with up to +3.5o C (increase) to -1o C (DECREASE!) in areas close to the Antarctic in the southern hemisphere.

Why is this? (If you know, please post a comment.)

It is also interesting that over 90% of the "Observed Data Series" for both physical and biological systems are for the Northern Hemisphere.

So, what about these options?

  • There is greater land mass in the northern hemisphere. But doesn't the land heat and cool faster than the sea?
  • There have been more temperature readings taken in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere temperature data isn't as complete.
  • There is a change in the position of the northern hemisphere relative to the southern hemisphere in relation to the sun in the long term cycle of the Earth's orbit.
  • There is more industry in the northern hemisphere and temperature change is localised to a greater extent than global.
  • Changes in the Earth's magnetic field has caused some particles (which absorb heat such as water vapour) to concentrate more in areas north of the Equator.
  • The scientists obtained temperature increase readings in the northern hemisphere more easily than in the southern hemisphere, so they have concentrated on studying those areas.
  • There are more politicians in the northern hemisphere (sorry - I couldn't resist that one!)
  • The readings which didn't support the Global Warming theory were filtered out.
Interesting, but the illustration covers only a 34 year period. I did enough science at school to know that climatic trends span much greater time periods than that.

Also, the report talks about "average" surface temperature change. If more readings are taken in the northern hemisphere land masses close to cities, then doesn't that make the "average" data skew towards those areas, and not give a picture of the globe overall? That's what I had thought they meant by "average" temperature change up until I saw this illustration. Now I need to find out what data points they used for this average, and how many readings were taken from each.

Concern - Average means average of the data received, not average in global coverage.

Another noteworthy point is that very few of the "Observed Data Readings" are in countries which the United Nation's Millenium Development Goals aim to assist. Hmmmm - that could be worthy of a blog post all on it's own!

Interesting, but not conclusive. I'll keep reading................

IPCC says global warming is not a certainty!

Have you ever read an IPCC report?

Having become increasingly curious and concerned about the direction governments are heading in the name of saving the planet from this thing called Global Warming, or Climate Change, I decided to do my own research. After reading a number of assorted items I found by searching Google, I decided I was ready to tackle the big one - IPCC.

First, let's tackle the acronym. IPCC stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Their website is at http://www.ipcc.ch/

On their website they have a number of reports dating back to 1990.

The IPCC is a scientific body which was set up by the WMO and UNEP in 1988. More acronyms! WMO is Wolrd Meteorological Organisation and UNEP is the United Nations Environment Programme. On their About IPCC page they describes themselves as:

The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP). Its constituency is made of :
  • The governments: the IPCC is open to all member countries of WMO and UNEP. Governments of [member countries] participate in plenary Sessions of the IPCC where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. They also participate [in] the review of IPCC Reports.
  • The scientists: hundreds of scientists all over the world contribute to the
    work of the IPCC as authors, contributors and reviewers.
  • The people: as [an] United Nations body, the IPCC work aims at the promotion of the United Nations human development goals

So, this seems to be a very credible organisation. Pity the third dot point says they speak for "the people", and not that they consult them.

It is their work that lead to the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). See why they use acronyms?

The IPCC has several classifications of publications:

  • Assessment Reports
  • Special Reports
  • Technical Papers
  • Methodology Reports
  • Supporting material
IPCC has produced four Assessment Reports - 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007. The Assessment Reports have a number of parts or volumes. I found one of these, the Synthesis Report, which has a sub-report called "Summary for Policymakers" or SPM. Aha! This sounded like a good place to start. I downloaded the Summary for Policymakers for 2007 and 2001 last night.

Talk about good bed time reading!

I had a quick overview of the headings and diagrams, and glanced through some of the text. I will progressively study some the IPCC documents and post some observations and questions as I go. Be patient, it will take me a while!

Glancing through the 2007 Summary for Policymakers, some words caught my attention - "likely", "very likely", "high confidence", "very high confidence", "medium confidence" and "more likely than not"!

Having studied a little bit of statistics, and having worked in bureaucracy, I noted that the use of these words is significant. The words caught my attention because I don't recall the reports I have read and heard in the popular media using them.

IPCC says that global warming is not a certainty!

Talk about an "Aha!" moment!

They have my attention now. More reading and more blogging to come............

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Business is scared and so am I!

Another snippet from the Channel Nine News website -

As job losses mount because of the deteriorating world economy, opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb has again called for emissions trading to be delayed until 2012.

"If the government is not mugged by reality, certainly the rest of Australia is," Mr Robb said.

He said he had met with 51 companies recently and there was a "sense of fear" about the economic crisis. The last thing they needed was to grapple with emissions trading, Mr Robb said.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said the design of the emissions trading scheme should be delayed until the outcome of UN climate negotiations late next year.

The Government then countered with ......

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he had always expected criticism for taking action on climate change.
"We'll be attacked on the hard right by various businesses for going too far," he said.
"You're going to have people out there like the Liberal Party on the far right saying don't do anything at all."

PM Rudd's statement loses credibility just by calling the Aussie Liberals "far right". Of course you are going to be criticised PM Rudd! Didn't you read your job description before you entered politics? Australia is one of the world's few true democracies, and people love to exercise their freedom of expression (within socially acceptable boundaries).

For the reader, I am not affiliated with any political party. I once was and have learned my lesson - reality and politics don't mix.

Back to the news item....

How is killing jobs and putting the ordinary people in the developed world into poverty going to help? (People in the under developed world won't get poorer - they'll just die - sometimes it is not possible to get poorer.) Don't tell me you expect a tax to reduce carbon emissions? The rich will get richer, albeit more slowly, and the ordinary and the poor will get poorer. But carbon will keep pumping into the atmosphere.

What makes PM Rudd and his career focused advisers think that this will help stop the climate changing? Do they have a policy on stopping the tide from coming in and out?

Recent news is that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are still rising, but temperatures are moderating. The problem with letting politicians make the climate decisions is that they are focused on winning the next election in three or four years, and not in long term phenomena, like the climate. When we are too poor (because we squandered resources on chasing a vote winner) to adjust to whatever climate the earth's orbit and other physical realities throw at us, PM Rudd will either be retired and suffering along with his grandchildren, or no longer on this Earth.

Will someone PLEASE take off the short term blinkers and look at a hugely long term picture?

La Nina is coming to visit again!

Aha! Rain is on its way! Good news! Another piece of good news is that when I read yesterday's Channel Nine News website item from which this extract was taken, they didn't mention Global Warming or Climate Change once!

The Bureau of Meteorology said most experts were tipping neutral summer
conditions but some thought La Nina could be on the way.
"The development of a La Nina during the southern summer cannot be ruled out," the Bureau said in a statement.
"Some La Nina characteristics (are) developing across the Pacific."
This last happened in an Australian summer in 1999.
I doubt this will last though, at the first flood or cyclone, I bet those terms come out in headlines. Where did the reporter get this quote from though? The Aussie Bureau of Meteorology News pages don't have this posted yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm Confused

I don't know what you think (and I would like to), but I am rather sceptical about all this doomsayer talk about global warming and climate change.

I have been on this planet for over forty years, and I recall when my part of the world had the textbook sub-tropical climate. I walked to and from school in the rain in January and February. Until a decade or so ago the thunderstorm season was pretty predictable - October/ November every year. Summers were warm and winters were cool enough to need a jumper for weeks. Cyclones occurred along the Queensland coast nearly every summer. The dams were full. Dam water was released periodically to avoid flooding overflows.

In recent years the dams nearly emptied. Household rainwater tanks which were once banned by local councils have now become a must-have accessory for all new houses and many established ones. Cyclones on the Queensland coast still occur, but much less frequently. I can't remember the last time I had to walk through rain in my home town. I can't even remember where my umbrella is.

Things HAVE changed. But is this short term? Is it just a minor cyclical change in the greater scheme of things and in the history of this planet? If not, what IS the cause?

The popular media would have us believe that this is due to human beings burning fossil fuels which have released carbon in the form of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This in turn has changed the atmosphere and made the planet warmer. Warmer temperatures have changed the cycle of evaporation and precipitation. Droughts have become more extensive. The polar ice caps are melting and the ozone layer in the atmosphere is thinning to the extent that there are holes in the ozone layer at both poles.

Although I have observed some of these things myself, I am sceptical about whether these are recent phenomena, they are long term events, and whether they are totally influenced by man.

Don't get me wrong. I AM concerned about the ecological balance of this planet. I would even say I am a tree-hugger. It is BECAUSE I am concerned about the planet and the beauty and diversity of life on this planet that I believe that we need to ensure that mankind truly understands what is happening, whether it is a long term or short term event, and what is causing it.

Please add comments or email posts to me to add to this blog. It is through ordinary people who care that real and positive change occurs.

So - let's chat!