Archive

Archive for March, 2008

>Washington DC cherry trees bloom at normal time. Climate Faithful see it as a sign of global warming.

March 20, 2008 4 comments

>In the article below, Stanford University biologist Terry Root is either:

a) quoted out of context;
b) an incompetent clown;
c) a liar; or
d) an environmental activist

WASHINGTON – Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying.

“The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast,” says Stanford University biologist Terry Root. The famous cherry trees in Washington, D.C., are primed to burst out in a perfect pink peak about the end of this month. Thirty years ago, the trees usually waited to bloom till around April 5.

Thirty years ago I suppose they would. The world was coming to the end of three to four decades of relatively cold temperatures. It’s a classic example of climate science’s use of outliers and low-end data points as a comparison point.

But what does a quick Internet search tell us? How about this?

When do the cherry blossoms bloom and when do they reach their peak?

The date when the Yoshino cherry blossoms reach their peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on the weather. Unseasonably warm and/or cool temperatures have resulted in the trees reaching peak bloom as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958). The blooming period can last up to 14 days. They are considered to be at their peak when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. The dates of the National Cherry Blossom Festival are set based on the average date of blooming, which is around April 4th.

Sooooo, they bloomed in 1990 earlier than 2008? Sound the alarms!

Back to the article…

In central California, the first of the field skipper sachem, a drab little butterfly, was fluttering about on March 12. Just 25 years ago, that creature predictably emerged there anywhere from mid-April to mid-May.

And sneezes are coming earlier in Philadelphia. On March 9, when allergist Dr. Donald Dvorin set up his monitor, maple pollen was already heavy in the air. Less than two decades ago, that pollen couldn’t be measured until late April.

Blame global warming.

I stubbed my toe this morning. I blamed global warming. The headache I had last week was quite bad. I blamed global warming. Last week I went to the Coke machine; it swallowed my money and gave me no delicious, black elixir. More global warming. Back in January I had to put blankets on the bed in what is usually the hottest month of the year here. Global warming. The heat sends people crazy, they sign up for loans they shouldn’t have and can’t repay leading to the collapse of Bear Stearns. Conclusive proof of global warming.

The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year’s authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the United States, in nearly every state.

What’s happening is so noticeable that scientists can track it from space. Satellites measuring when land turns green found that spring “green-up” is arriving eight hours earlier every year on average since 1982 north of the Mason-Dixon line. In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, the satellites show spring coming a tad later, and bizarrely, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said.

Florida, Texas and Louisiana all had later springs and that’s somehow proof of global warming? I presume that in those states drab little butterflies weren’t prancing around earlier than usual and allergy sufferers started sniffling later? And 1982 – there’s that low starting point in action again.

By the way. If the world was cooling and it could be blamed on, say, man made aerosols then wouldn’t the article use the Florida, Texas and Louisiana situation as proof of global cooling?

Biological timing is called phenology. Biological spring, which this year begins at 1:48 a.m. EDT Thursday, is based on the tilt of Earth as it circles the sun. The U.S. government and some university scientists are so alarmed by the changes that last fall they created a National Phenology Network at the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor these changes.

The idea, said biologist and network director Jake Weltzin, is “to better understand the changes, and more important what do they mean? How does it affect humankind?”

There are winners, losers and lots of unknowns when global warming messes with natural timing. People may appreciate the smaller heating bills from shorter winters, the longer growing season and maybe even better-tasting wines from some early grape harvests. But biologists also foresee big problems.

The changes could push some species to extinction. That’s because certain plants and animals are dependent on each other for food and shelter. If the plants bloom or bear fruit before animals return or surface from hibernation, the critters could starve. Also, plants that bud too early can still be whacked by a late freeze.

The young of tree swallows – which in upstate New York are laying eggs nine days earlier than in the 1960s – often starve in those last-gasp cold snaps because insects stop flying in the cold, ornithologists said. University of Maryland biology professor David Inouye noticed an unusually early February robin in his neighbourhood this year and noted, “Sometimes the early bird is the one that’s killed by the winter storm.”

The checkerspot butterfly disappeared from Stanford’s Jasper Ridge preserve because shifts in rainfall patterns changed the timing of plants on which it develops. When the plant dries out too early, the caterpillars die, said Notre Dame biology professor Jessica Hellmann.

“It’s an early warning sign in that it’s an additional onslaught that a lot of our threatened species can’t handle,” Hellmann said.

It’s not easy on some people either. A controlled federal field study shows that warmer temperatures and increased carbon dioxide cause earlier, longer and stronger allergy seasons.

“For wind-pollinated plants, it’s probably the strongest signal we have yet of climate change,” said University of Massachusetts professor of aerobiology Christine Rogers. “It’s a huge health impact. Seventeen per cent of the American population is allergic to pollen.”

While some plants and animals use the amount of sunlight to figure out when it is spring, others base it on heat building in their tissues, much like a roasting turkey with a pop-up thermometer. Around the world, those internal thermometers are going to “pop” earlier than they once did.

This past winter’s weather could send a mixed message. Globally, it was the coolest December through February since 2001 and a year of heavy snowfall. Despite that, it was still warmer than average for the 20th century.

Canadians endured almost six months of brutal winter weather that plunged the Prairies in the deep freeze, Prince Edward Island in the dark and central and Atlantic Canada under mounds and more mounds of snow.

And now the top weather man says the country’s groundhogs got it wrong – even as spring arrives according to the calendar, Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips is forecasting six more weeks of winter. Environment Canada is predicting that the first month of spring, mid-March to mid-April, is going to be colder than normal across the country.

Phenology data go back to the 14th century for harvest of wine grapes in France. There is a change in the timing of fall, but the change is biggest in spring. In the 1980s there was a sudden, big leap forward in spring blooming, scientists noticed. And spring keeps coming earlier at an accelerating rate.

Unlike sea ice in the Arctic, the way climate change is tinkering with the natural timing of day-to-day life is concrete and local. People can experience it with all five senses:

-You can see the trees and bushes blooming earlier. A photo of Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Mass., taken May 30, 1868, shows bare limbs. But the same scene photographed May 30, 2005, by Boston University biology professor Richard Primack shows them in full spring greenery.

-You can smell the lilacs and honeysuckle. In the West they are coming out two to four days earlier each decade over more than half a century, according to a 2001 study.

-You can hear it in the birds. Scientists in Gothic, Colo., have watched the first robin of spring arrive earlier each year in that mountain ghost town, marching forward from April 9 in 1981 to March 14 last year. This year, heavy snows may keep the birds away until April.

-You can feel it in your nose from increased allergies. Spring airborne pollen is being released about 20 hours earlier every year, according to a Swiss study that looked at common allergies since 1979.

-You can even taste it in the honey. Bees, which sample many plants, are producing their peak amount of honey weeks earlier. The nectar is coming from different plants now, which means noticeably different honey – at least in Highland, Md., where Wayne Esaias has been monitoring honey production since 1992. Instead of the rich, red, earthy tulip poplar honey that used to be prevalent, bees are producing lighter, fruitier black locust honey. Esaias, a NASA oceanographer as well as beekeeper, says global warming is a factor.

The early red maple is creating buzz, as well as sniffles. A New Jersey conservationist posted an urgent message on a biology listserv on Feb. 1 about the early blooming. A 2001 study found that since 1970, that tree is blossoming on average at least 19 days earlier in Washington, D.C.

Such changes have “implications for the animals that are dependent on this plant,” Weltzin said, as he stood beneath a blooming red maple in late February. By the time the animals arrive, “the flowers may already be done for the year.” The animals may have to find a new food source.

“It’s all a part of life,” Weltzin said. “Timing is everything.”

Categories: Climate Change

>The Islamification of France

March 20, 2008 2 comments

>When a society decides to pursue equality of outcome over equality of opportunity then that society has abandoned its values system. When confronted with the backward, racist, sexist, homophobic and violent Religion of Peace the society’s non-values cannot hold off Islam’s bad values.

In the picture tells a thousand words category, check out the following couple of graphics showing the rise in the number of mosques in each department (the numbers on the map) from 1985 to 2008…

With a huge Muslim population that is particularly fecund, who’s willing to bet that France will survive as a free democracy through the next 30 years?

By the way, France is the world’s most disgusting free nation in terms of promoting peace and stability in the world. Their record in Africa is especially egregious and perhaps the Islamification of the place will be for the better.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: France

>More Inconvenient Truth for the Climate Faithful – Oceans don’t know they’re meant to be warming up

March 18, 2008 14 comments

>All predictions of future climate conditions come from climate models. The UN IPCC uses a blend of about 20 models to create high, low and average scenarios.

As I’ve commented before, climate models have a zero (nil, nada, none, bugger all) percentage success rate at predicting earth’s climate. The Climate Faithful use the hilarious example of Hansen’s ‘Scenario B’ to show that models do, in fact, work.

For the uninitiated – Scenario B is one of NASA climate scientist James Hansen’s models that proved to be reasonably accurate. “Huzzah!” cried the Climate Faithful, “Models do work!” Unfortunately, Scenario B uses parameters for greenhouse gasses that do not reflect what actually happened – not even close – meaning that the right result was achieved with the wrong method. I don’t know how your maths papers were graded when you went to school but when I did if I presented a solution to a problem that got the right answer but with the wrong method then my test would come back with a dirty great X next to it.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of Xs in climate science.

With that as background we now have an article published in NPR The Mystery of Global Warming’s Missing Heat, which details that the oceans are not warming up in the manner that they’re supposed to be according to climate theory and the predictions of climate models.

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren’t quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

Seriously? What’s not to understand? The robots are telling them exactly what’s happening.

This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.

“There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant,” Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. “Global warming doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming.”

Don’t you worry about that, though, all of you Climate Faithful. Climate science has a solid track record at fudging figures, from NASA’s GISS data to the Hockey Stick to UHI adjustments and to ground station data manipulation. Just give them a year or so to ‘explain’ why the robots are producing ‘wrong’ results and order will be restored.

In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it’s also possible that something more mysterious is going on.

Sounds like a job for Dirk Gentry’s Holistic Detective Agency to me.

That becomes clear when you consider what’s happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That’s a lot.

Or the measurements are wrong. Climate science is all about low-balling previous numbers to make current data look high by comparison.

Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.

Except for the fact that both continents are quite stable in net ice cover and even the worst predictions of sea levels rises can’t create four inches in four years.

“But in fact there’s a little bit of a mystery. We can’t account for all of the sea level increase we’ve seen over the last three or four years,” he says.

That’s not “a little bit of a mystery”. If it’s actually true then it’s a huge mystery.

One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded — and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys.

But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it’s probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.

Climate models are spectacularly bad at modelling how much heat makes it into space because they have no capacity to model cloud cover.

That can’t be directly measured at the moment, however.

They can’t???? But, but, but…ah, what the heck. Wreck economies, spend trillions of dollars. It’ll be OK. Not.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they’ve been playing during this period,” Trenberth says.

Told you. For ‘adequate’ read ‘any’.

It’s also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it’s possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don’t know about. It’s an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate.

“…correct for some other feature of the planet they don’t know about”? What did I tell you? Expect a huge data fudge sometime soon.

“I suspect that we’ll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis,” Trenberth says. “But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board.”

Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat.

I don’t know why they say ‘mild’ when half the planet has been freezing their collective arses off and all indicators are that lack of solar activity will bring even more cold in years to come.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change

>The Art of Climate Science – Redux

March 17, 2008 2 comments

>I wrote this spoof interview over a year ago. The name ‘Malcolm Bradmann’ comes from the creators of the infamous and now utterly discredited Hockey Stick while ‘Steve Mullofkintyre’ is a play on the great Steve McIntyre of Climateaudit fame who is doing sterling work analysing the data that the global warming hypothesis is based on.

Since this was first posted climate science has become an even greater parody of itself with outrageous claims of doom that have very little basis in real science.

The BBC’s chief science correspondent, Jasper Fothingham, interviews renowned climate scientist, Malcolm Bradmann, on the state of climate research and discusses the likely impact of our failure to heed the signs of global warming.

Fothingham:

It’s no understatement that the world faces a challenge like never before in its history. The scourge that is Global Warming has led to not only record high temperatures around the globe but also withering blizzards, torrential flooding, an increase in hurricane activity and intensity, longer droughts, and the loss of vast tracts of Antarctica’s and Greenland’s ice sheets, which leading scientists in the field tell us will inevitably lead to unparalleled human catastrophe. At the root of the problem is mankind and its insatiable appetite for energy, pumping huge quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere resulting in the planet warming dramatically. To paint us a picture I’m joined by renowned climate scientist, Malcolm Bradmann, who has spent most of the last twenty years devoted to better understanding the field. Welcome to the program, Malcolm.

Bradmann:

Thank you, Jasper. It’s very good to be here.

Fothingham:

Malcolm, there’s quite clearly an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists on the scale of the problem. What’s the up to date view?

Bradmann:

Yes. You’re right, Jasper. The consensus view is that global warming is real, that it’s anthropogenic in origin – that is, to say, man made – and that unless we do something about it immediately the world will face the huge problems you described in your introduction.

Fothingham:

There has been quite a bit of controversy, especially in the last year or so, from scientists opposing the consensus and actually challenging the fundamentals of climate science. How do you respond to them?

Bradmann:

In the normal course of events I don’t respond. When you have in your corner such scientific luminaries as James Hansen, James Lovelock and Lonnie Thompson you know you’re in good company. The science is completely established, and accepted, as fact, so the views of these Flat Earthers really does nothing more than make us waste time on the debate.

Fothingham:

I’m sure that viewers will be interested in putting that one to bed so I’d like to get you to comment on some of the criticisms. Out of left field has come a statistician, Steve Mullofkintyre, whose analysis of the iconic Hockey Stick used to support the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change position on global warming has seemed to gain traction with many of the critics. What’s your position on Mullofkintyre?

Bradmann:

Ha-ha. Yes. Ha-ha. Well, not only is Mullofkintyre not a climate scientist but he has also worked for Big Oil so your viewers can decide for themselves what his real motives are in attacking us. But seriously, Jasper, we pointed out errors in his analysis a long time ago and, as far as climate science goes, the debate has moved on since then.

Fothingham:

Yes, you did point out the errors but weren’t Mullofkintyre’s statistics demonstrated to be valid by none other than Edward Wegman, a very well respected statistician and chair of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics in his report to the Barton Commission? Doesn’t that call into question the validity of your work?

Bradmann:

No not at all. Certainly Wegman sided with Mullofkintyre on the statistical method that he used but as we pointed out they used the wrong method. We have our own method that is peer reviewed and validates our results.

Fothingham:

Well, can you explain the method you used, then?

Bradmann:

Unfortunately, no. I’m a climate scientist. I am not a statistician.

Fothingham:

You mentioned before that the debate had ‘moved on’. Can you expand on that statement for our audience, please?

Bradmann:

Certainly! To remind people, our work is based on the field called dendroclimatology. That is, the use of tree ring data to analyse the earth’s climate from the distant past. By looking at how the tree rings are formed we can make an assessment of the impact of CO2 and other factors and make predictions about what climate changes the world faces with the current increase in CO2. However, there is a new field of research that has climate scientists even more excited than dendroclimatology.

Fothingham:

And what’s that?

Bradmann:

Artoclimatology!

Fothingham:

Artoclimatology?

Bradmann:

Yes! Artoclimatology.

Fothingham:

I must confess that I’ve never heard of the term. Please tell us what that is.

Bradmann:

I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard of the field yet, Jasper, as it’s very new and very exciting and there are only a few people working in it. The use of proxies is what underpins any analysis of past climate. Therefore, we look for those things that provide an indicator of climate through history. What better way to view nature than through the eyes of those people who were alive at the time and who actually painted the scenery? Artists! There are thousands of examples of the same landscape being painted by artists through the ages so an analysis of these paintings provides a huge clue as to the prevailing climate of the time. Thus, artoclimatology.

Fothingham:

Fascinating! And what is the research showing?

Bradmann:

The best way to demonstrate the results is to show people a number of views of the same landscape that have been painted at different periods, hundreds of years apart. I’ve brought in paintings from the same scene at the lovely Hyde Park in London. The first is a picture of a lady painted by monks in around 1300. At that time, Hyde Park was part of the Manor of Eia, which was run by the monks. The second painting is also of a lady and it was painted just before the civil war in about 1630. Finally, we have a painting from 1998, the warmest year on record, also of a lady.

Fothingham:

So, Malcolm, why are the paintings important and what can we deduce from them?

Bradmann:

Well, Jasper, as you can see these three paintings are all of exactly the same scene and are painted at the same time of the season. The reason that these paintings are important is that the first was painted when there was supposedly a medieval warm period, the second during a supposed little ice age and the third during the hottest year ever. When we examine them we see that the women in the first two paintings are wearing pretty much the same outfits, indicating that the temperature must have been much the same. This supports the conclusion of our research, which is that there was no Medieval Warm Period and no Little Ice Age. Dress standards had obviously changed by the twentieth century but there’s no doubt that the subject is wearing much less because it’s so much hotter.

Fothingham:

She’s wearing a bikini!

Bradmann:

Of course she is. It’s the warmest year ever.

Fothingham:

Malcolm, I can’t help noticing that the lady in the first painting is standing in the shade of the tree and has a closed parasol by her side. Wouldn’t that seem to indicate that it was indeed warm at that time?

Bradmann:

I agree that her position and the parasol are anomalous but my team did extensive research on 14th century fashion and parasols were quite the order of the day. As for standing in the shade – you can see that she’s quite a pale lady and she’s probably protecting her complexion from the sun.

Fothingham:

Hmmmm. OK. So this second painting indicates that there was no Little Ice Age because she’s dressed the same way?

Bradmann:

Well done! That’s exactly correct, Jasper.

Fothingham:

It appears to me that it really must be a deal colder because…well…um…this is a general viewing rated program so I need to be careful how I put it…her nipples seem to be standing out due to the hardness caused by the cold. Isn’t it possible that it really was colder when this was painted?

Bradmann:

To be perfectly frank, we were quite concerned by the hard nipples at first. However, if you look at the lady’s face you’ll see a little smile, sort of mischievous, and a bit of a gleam, a spark, in her eye. We believe that the painter was her lover and that she was simply aroused by it all.

Fothingham:

You’re not serious?

Bradmann:

Absolutely serious, Jasper. This is the future of the planet we’re talking about here!

Fothingham:

Well then, can you tell who the painters are and look at any of their other work? Does their style give a hint to their identity?

Bradmann:

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you. I’m a climate scientist. I am not a classical painter.

Fothingham:

So how much more research is there to be done in the field of artoclimatology?

Bradmann:

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very new field but the results are so promising that we’ve been awarded quite a few million dollars from the IPCC to continue the research.

Fothingham:

And do you have any other paintings that you’re able to compare from different centuries?

Bradmann:

We do already. There are quite a few of the Swiss Alps, Paris and from Egypt and Mesopotamia that we’re looking at. Fortunately, the grants allow us to do quite a lot of flying to Switzerland, Paris, Egypt and the Middle East to continue our research.

Fothingham:

Flying? But isn’t that a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions?

Bradmann:

It certainly is, Jasper, but our research is so important that the environmental damage our flying around does just has to be borne. It’s a race against time and time is running short. If we can’t do this work and then Greenland melts in ten years’ time, putting us all under twenty feet of water then what will people say then?

Fothingham:

They probably won’t say much, Malcolm, as they’ll be quite drowned by then. You don’t happen to live on the coast do you?

Bradmann:

As a matter of fact I do.

Fothingham:

Goodly. Let’s hope that we get at least a little global warming, eh! Thank you, Malcolm Bradmann for being with us tonight.

Bradmann:

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me


(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change

>Raising awareness of a topic we’re clearly not aware of

>Is there anyone on the planet not aware of the supposed catastrophic impact, Al Gore’s “planetary emergency”, of global warming aka climate change?

A few months ago I did a Google news search to see how awareness was being reported and what activities are being done in its name.

First up, the kids at Charlettetown Rural High School are getting into it:

Charlottetown Rural High School has been selected to participate in an international climate change youth expedition later this year in Iceland by British Council Canada.

The expedition is part of Cape Farewell, an international climate awareness program created to bring scientists and artists together to address climate change.

The children. It’s always about the children. Indoctrinating children is the first sign of a totalitarian ideology.

Naturally, polar explorers are useful in the propaganda war:

Via long-distance conference call, Will Steger, an explorer and environmental activist, encouraged young people to curb global warming before he set out on another polar expedition to witness its effects.

Steger conducted the call from a station in northeast Canada before embarking on a 1,400 mile trek on dogsled across Ellesmere Island, the northernmost point of the North American continent.

Accompanying Steger is a group of six young people ages 21 to 28 from four different countries, who as a team, will attempt to raise more global warming awareness.

“The goal of the expedition is to take our audience to the very front lines of the ice shelves,” Steger said. “Every ice shelf I’ve traveled on has collapsed considerably.”

I suppose they would collapse. That’s pretty much what they do and have done since time immemorial. Good luck on the awareness raising adventure for the six ‘young’ people travelling with him.

In the Philippines they’re raising awareness by participating in Earth Hour. What an embarrassing contribution to the awareness campaign Australia has made.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines is encouraging every Filipino household to switch off their lights and electrical gadgets when the “Earth Hour” strikes at 8 p.m. on the 29th as a way of joining global efforts to address climate change.

To manifest the country’s participation in the global movement, a portion of well-lit Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City will be plunged into darkness simultaneously with Sydney, Toronto, Chicago, Copenhagen and 28 other cities across the world, said the environmental group.

“Earth Hour is about awareness-raising and empowering people to make a difference, while aiming for a 5-percent reduction in power usage,” said Gregg Yan, WWF-Philippines information and communication officer.

The global movement was first launched in Australia on March 31, 2007, moving 2.2 million people and 2,100 business establishments in Sydney to shut off all the lights for one hour.

Even Sydney’s famous landmarks such as the Harbor Bridge and Opera House descended into darkness.

Yan said the collective effort reduced the city’s energy consumption by 10.2 percent, which had the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for an hour.

Um, Yan must be unaware that Sydney’s Earth Hour actually saw an increase in energy consumption for the day, as people gorged on energy in the few hours before the switch off putting the day’s energy use well above average.

For those of you who are into cognitive dissonance in a big way there’s money to be made. How?

Join an international consulting firm’s climate change arm as a Business Development Manager.

You will need to have business development management experience – that’s sales experience, folks, the evil capitalists – and an “Extensive network of clients and key players relating to climate change and its impacts.”

Climate Change/Global Warming are euphemisms for anti-capitalism/anti-free markets so it must drive the Climate Faithful nuts that capitalists are profiting from the whole scam.

But then again, it’s always been about the money.

Raise awareness of the myth of man made global warming, charge for your services. Sounds like a good scam to me.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change

>Sunday night rock ‘n’ roll

March 16, 2008 1 comment

>Deep Purple are an English hard rock band formed in Hertfordshire in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although the members of the band have always refused to label themselves as heavy metal. The band has also incorporated pop and progressive rock elements, was once listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s loudest band, and has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.

The band has gone through many line-up changes and an eight-year hiatus. The 1968-76 line-ups are commonly labelled Mark I, II, III and IV. Their second and most commercially successful line-up featured: Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass guitar) and Ian Paice (drums). This line-up was revived from 1984-89 and again in 1993 before the rift between Blackmore and other members became unbridgeable. The current line-up including guitarist Steve Morse has been much more stable, though Lord’s retirement in 2002 has left Paice as the only original member.

I’ve seen Deep Purple a few times but probably won’t see them again, as Ian Gillan’s voice has pretty much had it and they spend too much of their act playing tracks from whatever their new album is rather than playing the classics that people have actually come to listen.

That said, at their peak they were one of the great rock bands of all time. The combined genius of Jon Lord and Richie Blackmore created classic rock songs that have stood the test of time. As far as live albums go, Made In Japan is in my top 10 live albums of all time.

I could include dozens of videos but have a maximum of four so here they are.

Black Knight

Smoke On The Water

When A Blind Man Cries

Lazy

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Music

>Despatches from Lebanon – Part 3

>I asked my friend who is currently punting around in Lebanon for a political view of things. He and I disagree on some matters concerning Israel but, as I point out to him, he needs to read more of the history of the region rather than believe the bulldust presented by a profoundly biased mainstream media.

Israel and Lebanon

As a passerby in the land of confusion, Lebanon, a fervent mix of European and Arab culture, I am caught between the politically correct speak of supporting Israel and its right exist and the effect of war and intolerance.

Today, I went down to Tyr near the border with Israel. After crossing all of the bridges that were bombed out in 2006 and seeing the power station and oil facilities that were bombed I was appalled. As a former army officer looking at the rationale for the attack on infrastructure, I can only conclude that it was politically inspired and not advised by the military. This may be a forlorn hope or conclusion.

The Israeli intelligence services have had a well publicized history in tracking down errant groups such as the Black September Movement, settling scores from Munich and dabbling in counter terrorism during Entebbe. There is a sense of professional awe about their skills and resolve. In undertaking any military activity, professionalism and the mantra of ‘doing no more harm than necessary’ springs to mind. The military of any nation is do the bidding of their masters (hopefully), tomorrow ones enemy may become ones ally. Remaining professional in the execution of the task is paramount. It is not about settling old scores. This only leads to the ground hog day scenarios that are now being visited upon us in the Balkans. Here there was harmony for over 50 years with different flavours of Christianity and Islam, but due to the leadership vacuum and minor war lords left over by the leadership vacuum that was created by Tito’s inability to accept succession to power these trite minor leaders forced the genie of nationalism out of the bottle to help themselves garner power. Like all genies they don’t want to go back into the bottle.

From my own experience, if an officer cadet had come up with a plan from the Israeli perspective to take out infrastructure in the way that they did in 2006, he/she would have secured a lucrative position the pay corps for the rest of their career. Apart from being clearly in breach of the Geneva conventions of which Israel seems to baulk, ignore or just vacillate, this action has only galvanized the ordinary people to see the Israelis as aggressors. One can argue that the Hezbollah have been firing rockets into Israeli territory, not a smart thing to do, but from a military perspective there needs to be an approach that attacks the teeth not the belly of the third party. Here the plan from Israel seems to take on shades of Washington.

Advice from intelligence services is most likely being ‘modified’. George Tenet as the former head of the CIA, took a great swing at the White House after his retirement about how the intelligence advice was ‘altered’. Condoleesa Rice denied the accusations. History through the freedom of information ,may provide the answers after the protagonists have long parted their mortal coil.

During lunch I had the opportunity to meet the Lebanese commander of 12 Brigade. A garrulous womanizer that looked like George Clooney, without the grey hair. He and a number of senior cohorts were enjoying a quiet lunch away from the troops. I was having lunch with 22 doctors from the National Social Security Fund and was not seen as one who might have caused problems for this dear chap. I always find it amazing how people open up when they think that their thoughts are confidential. A few schooners of Arak and he was very loquacious about life in general.

It was during our conversation that I thought that the Israeli actions against the civil infrastructure was yet again a salient reminder of my own training that you need to have a military objective and not a political one.

If I was a local politician I would right now be sidling up to the Russians to get sufficient anti aircraft missiles to make the issue of one Israeli corporal look insignificant against the number of pilots that I now have interred, after they were shot down. We need to remember that the 2006 crisis was started with the capture of one hapless Israeli corporal. Looking at him photos during that period one wonders why his mother let him out of school. Not exactly Steven Segal caught up in a school yard brawl.

I would also be looking at buying a few disused SS 24 missiles as reminder that attacks on Israeli infrastructure will help bring both parties to the negotiation table. If I can hurt your infrastructure you might listen to my claims of sovereignty. Perhaps you might think twice before sending young pilots across the border to take out bridges that are used by ordinary people to get to work each day. The only problem with SS 24 is that Lebanon does not have a rail system.

I don’t know what the casualty numbers are on either side but neither side has ever had claim to the moral high ground.

Recently we have seen the events in Serbia where Kosovo has claimed independence. What a grand concept! The battle of Kosovo was in 1389. Unfortunately the Serbs lost the war. Vienna on the other hand was rejoicing as it had contained the marauding Ottomans. This would only have been repeated some 500 years later where the Balkans were yet again the bulk head against the Islamic thrust towards the conquering of European Christianity.

On this note there seems to be a major anomaly. Kosovo which is now inhabited by the descendants of Albanian shepherds, once invited in by lazy Serbians landowners to be the shepherds, have breed themselves into the dominant ethnic group. Generations later after having more children than fingers and toes, they are the dominant ethnic group. The world including the evangelistic Christian chorus of the United States have recognized the new state. Just wonderful!!

I as a tourist and only recently I looked at the local history and discovered that Palestine is part of Israel. A quick look at recent events since the birth of General MacArthur and I can see that the late British Empire decreed that the Jews should yet again be brought back by Moses and the Palestinians should get the Torrens title to their bit of the sandy outcrop. But alas Palestine is part of Israel ( and they collect the taxes according to Caesar, which they withhold), there seems to be a rationale and simple argument that if the Albanians can claim Kosovo due to squatting rights then the Palestinians should be able to do the same. If America was fair and just in its approach with the world around it then. Palestine would today be emulating Kosovo. A bunch of people that have inhabited the land and therefore have a right to it. How long does it take for the Torrens title to take hold? Or is there something that I am missing???

Despatches from Lebanon – Part 2
Despatches from Lebanon – Part 1

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East

>Despatches from Lebanon – Part 2

>Here’s the next instalment in my friend’s Despatches from Lebanon emails. His military experience is useful in helping understand the situation there.

More musings from Habibi’s Kebab Emporium.

March 8, 2008 has come and gone, not too much to report just a few gun shots in the middle distance. Not enough to have the sounds of sirens approaching. Apparently the police in Lakemba have a similar approach with drive byes. There really needs to be a substantial issue before the desk sergeant gives up his coffee and takes a first hand look. Anyway each street corner has its own personal APC complete with 50 cal machine gun and some smaller ones when they don’t want to waste the ammunition on unarmored vehicles and pedestrians. So the need for backup only comes rarely.

There are a few upcoming dates for political decisions so this could increase the excitement level here over the next few days. Time to get out the camera and put the photos up on google earth.

It seems that the political tension here won’t ever abate as Lebanon is a buffer zone between the Arab world and the rest of the world. Israel is just a beachhead to the rest of the world. Orange groves and tanks set on a lovely backdrop of sand and rocky outcrops, where even weeds won’t grow without chemical and economic assistance. From a real estate perspective you wouldn’t build there. Lebanon is more European than Arab. Just walking around you could be anywhere in the western world. A few women have headscarf’s though most are dressed in the same gear as you would find in the fashion conscience areas of Sydney. Yes unfortunately muffin tops have found their way into the local fashion scene and are highly prized by the local youth. The fully covered Saudi fashion statement is very rare here. The traditional dress of dowdy country folk (Balkan mountains circa 1928) is restricted to the poorer people. It is the preferred outfit for the blue collar class.

A trip to Geant the local equivalent of a Westfields. Just like Bondi Junction except I couldn’t find Frank Lowy. Saw a movie there, high expectations, a few awards, Daniel Day Lewis, an appalling stage to his acting. It seemed that someone wrote a movie script to showcase his acting talents and failed to make a plot, a story, or anything else that that would constitute a movie. Not even in the league of B grade movies. With a title of ‘There will be blood’ I think that the false advertising laws may come into play. It had all of the appeal of a Mariah Carey song.

My first thoughts and expectations of Lebanon were created in Abu Dhabi as I boarded the flight to Beirut. With the good fortune of traveling business class I was spared the hustle and bustle of the hoi polloi. So I thought until I tried to take my seat in 2A. There was a gentleman squarely taking up my seat . I suggested to him that he was in my seat and he told me that the hostie had told him that it was his seat. A quick look at the boarding passes had him in 16D. This evidence did not deter him as he took his instructions for the hostie and he was sure that he was correct. He continued to peer out the window is if he was seeking the second coming.

He was about 60 with two packets of cigarettes in his top pocket and a Nigerian samsonite at his feet holding about 20 cartons of cigarettes. He was not a good smuggler. Seeking assistance from the hostie eventually had him take his rightful place. It did take a while as he didn’t want to budge. Business class was very full up to the time that the doors were closed. At this point the arguments started with a number of the groups in business class. Dodgy young lads had taken possession of seats up front and were putting their cases to the hosties as to why they should stay. The reasons included true love for the hostie and it is not being used through to not understanding any language that was currently being used. There were other groups of families enjoying the comfort, they had spent their lives traveling on airlines that did not indulge in seat allocations and were appalled that this airline was so restrictive. They were on the plane first and were entitled to the seat that they chose. They should not be moved by those people who were lazy and took their time to board the plane. Also it was very crowded down the back as some weary travelers had already taken up three seats to get a good sleep. It was not good form to disturb them. It was like a high school debating team lead by the football coach.

Apparently this happens on this route as consistently as the safety briefing. The hosties were very professional and very firm. A quality that could see them excel in a variety of other employments.

This set the tone for what I thought would be a hustlers paradise. As it turns out Beirut is very civilized in that respect and there is no real hassling. These passengers were most likely trained in Bankstown and were not a reflection on the locals.

March 9, 2008. A day off and to Byblos for some sightseeing. Byblos from the Greek means bible or book. Here the first instances of the written alphabets, four apparently, were found. I am sure that others scholars have their own views but it sounds good to me. Byblos is in Beirut as I have just found out. It is an area the size of the Taronga Park Zoo perhaps a little smaller. I thought that it was a town somewhere off into the distance (it was once). A taxi ride up there and back. Philip is now becoming relieved when we get a Christain taxi driver. Previously this was a group of people he avoided the world over. I guess a bad experience at Sunday school or not making to senior altar boy. They are very distinctive, a cross and rosary hanging from the rear vision mirror, generally made of wood and approaching about one kilo in weight. Much better than the Australian equivalent of fluffy dice and car perfume to mask the odour of kebabs, MacDonald’s and Pizza Hut refuse littering the back of the car. Also there are a variety of photos and icons adorning the dashboard and glove box. Some of them are very artistic.

On Friday we had the experience of the Hezbollah taxi driver at lunchtime. He looked like a younger version of Yasser Arafat with blue eyes and the West Bank nose. The taxi was a Datsun Sunny circa 1982 replete with exposed seat springs and the wear of a thousand arses on the seats. Mechanically it barely worked. From the rear vision mirror dangled a Koran, the Middle Eastern sabre and his Hezbollah calling card in bronze. No real problem until he went past the next mosque and took the Mosque newsletter for later reading. We thought that we might be taken for a long detour, perhaps a meal or two and sleep over with some of his closest friends. He tuned the radio to the prayer station and turned up the volume so that we could hear the sermon to the tune of AK47s in the background. To me I enjoyed the cultural diversity, the others in the cab were not as happy. I think this why Philip has recently reviewed his position on Christians. I think that he is a little harsh, they all seem like mighty fine chaps. He has spent a lot of time in Serbia and I think that his experience there has jaundiced his view of humanity.

Byblos is a great piece of history saddled in a seaside suburb of Beirut. It has been ransacked and run by Phoenicians, the Arami, Arabs, Romans, Ottomans, Christian crusaders, French, English and some others. This has been going since about 6000 BC so plenty of time for all the groups to have their fair run of the place. The only ones not known to have had their turn are the Chinese. Much more interesting than some Australian history. Here people have been walking the streets for many centuries. In Australia we most likely just missed the first bloke to walk the street, he probably died just last year.

Up until the 1920s there was just a castle in the centre. Excavation by the French revealed layers of construction dating back through many centuries. I gather from the tour guide that the French have helped themselves to many artifacts in the process and there is an ongoing diplomatic issue about their return.

Each of the owners, marauders or ransackers contributed to varying constructions with some of the more spectacular constructions by the Romans. It was here towards the end of the Roman empire that Caligula held some of his many orgies. They were held in the public theatre. One needed to wear a mask before being allowed in to participate. This was to maintain the anonymity of the players to avoid complications in the work place. So not only have the first instances of the alphabet been attributed to Byblos but the early workplace regulations seemed to have found their genesis in the rocks and ruins of far more glorious days along the old Phoenician coast.

Getting up to Byblos had us traveling along over several new bridges. Apparently the Israeli Air force took out most of the bridges between the Gaza and Syria a few years ago. These Israeli chaps seem to have made a habit of conducting their military exercises in other people’s countries. Probably saves them getting permission from the relevant local authorities back home. There are a few signs of the destruction still there. My understanding is that the local communities rebuilt the bridges rather than use government funding. This was achieved by members of parliament strongly suggesting to very wealthy individuals that they should sponsor a bridge. With great philanthropy they obliged and with some bridges costing north of $30 million these individuals contributed greatly to restoring the road transport system.

There is also some scuttlebutt about land rezoning and personal benefits to the philanthropists but I find that very hard to believe.

Back to work over the next few days. Hopefully a few trips into more interesting places will be on this week.

Despatches from Lebanon – Part 1

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East

>Despatches from Lebanon – Part 1

>One of my friends is on his first trip to Lebanon. Here’s his first communication from that most Europe-like country.

It has been a week in Beirut without a side trip out to some interesting camp site or scene of a massive shootout. I was supposed to go to Tyre near the Israeli border last Thursday but due to some other arrangements this has been postponed.

My spare time has been used walking around Beirut taking interesting photos of buildings that were attempted to be demolished by small arms fire. Quite a feat when you look at how many rounds it takes to chip away at concrete. Some of the more industrious demolishers used rocket propelled grenades to hack off larger hunks. A much more efficient method of destruction. Most of these buildings are owned by developers waiting for the right time to develop and reconstruct their investment.

Beirut is quite an attractive city, in some ways it could be any European city set on the water at the foothills of a mountain range. Given the strong French influence it has some advantages, especially the food. But also the French leave a distinct disadvantage – their engineering. The French are definitely outside their skill sets when not in the kitchen or the winery. The roads and buildings are distinctly French. Great aesthetically but crap when it comes to functionality. The road system leaves a lot to be desired but this is only exacerbated by the skill of the Lebanese drivers. They drive like starlings or large schools of fish weaving in all directions rather than going straight. Watching traffic is a spectator sport that was once reserved for those with blood lust. Needless to say that the road toll is significant.

The other blight here is that everyone smokes, including newborns. The only advantage of this is that they do not have to invest in aged care. Mr Marlboro and Mr Kent will ensure that the life expectancy of the locals does not cause an aged care issue. Apparently aged care is not a current issue probably as a result of most of the locals having an aversion to oxygen and preferring to get their air intake filtered through a haze of smoke.

Last week there was cause for celebration when a provincial member of parliament gave some speech. The local tribesmen get very enthusiastic when their representative has something to say in public. The occasion was supported by fireworks of the traditional kind with the aid of machine guns and other small arms fire. This doesn’t normally cause concern but the local paper reported on the event and included comments from the police that the locals should refrain from using celebratory grenades at these celebrations. Probably a reasonable request. I don’t think that the small arms fire really causes anyone to take notice so perhaps the use of the occasional celebratory grenade will help the celebrations along.

Having been down to the site of the explosion that took out the late Rafik Hariri it is interesting to see how much damage a two ton truck bomb can do. If you are in the glass replacement business such acts are good for business as they can remove the glass for at least two city blocks. Probably a share price sensitive activity for the glass companies.

I was informed that when it happened a group of doctors some 2 kilometres away heard a loud noise. Unsure of what it was they were heartened by one of their Bosnian colleagues who informed them without raising an eyebrow that it was a two ton truck bomb. He continued working without any further thought. It is always good to have someone with good environmental knowledge on the team. One wonders what his experiences included.

This weekend will have more meetings with interesting people and intelligence reports inform me that the 8 March will bring interesting times. Also 11 March and 14 March should bring more interesting events. Can’t wait.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East

>Former Commie recognises climate totalitarianism. Climate Faithful don’t.

March 12, 2008 2 comments

>Czech President Vaclav Klaus really is a terrific fellow. In calling out climate change advocates as totalitarians of the type that used to run the Communist world he calls a spade a front end loader.

A WEEK ago, I gave a speech at an official gathering at Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia, writes Vaclav Klaus.

One of the arguments of my speech, quoted in all the leading newspapers in the country the next morning, went as follows: Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will nevertheless be identical: the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality. What I had in mind was, of course, environmentalism and its present strongest version, climate alarmism.

As an economist, I have to start by stressing the obvious. Carbon dioxide emissions do not fall from heaven. Their volume (ECO2) is a function of gross domestic product per capita (which means of the size of economic activity, SEA), of the number of people (POP) and of the emissions intensity (EI), which is the amount of CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP. This is usually expressed in a simple relationship: ECO2 = EI x SEA x POP. What this relationship tells is simple: If we really want to decrease ECO2 we have to either stop the economic growth and thus block further rise in the standard of living, stop the population growth, or make miracles with the emissions intensity.

I am afraid there are people who want to stop the economic growth, the rise in the standard of living (though not their own) and the ability of man to use the expanding wealth, science and technology for solving the actual pressing problems of mankind, especially of the developing countries. This ambition goes very much against past human experience which has always been connected with a strong motivation to better human conditions. There is no reason to make the change just now, especially with arguments based on such incomplete and faulty science. Human wants are unlimited and should stay so. Asceticism is a respectable individual attitude but should not be forcefully imposed upon the rest of us.

I am also afraid that the same people, imprisoned in the Malthusian tenets and in their own megalomaniacal ambitions, want to regulate and constrain demographic development, which is something only the totalitarian regimes have until now dared to experiment with. Without resisting it we would find ourselves on the slippery road to serfdom. The freedom to have children without regulation and control is one of the undisputable human rights.

There are people among the global-warming alarmists who would protest against being included in any of these categories, but who do call for a radical decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. It can be achieved only by means of a radical decline in the emissions intensity.

This is surprising because we probably believe in technical progress more than our opponents. We know, however, that such revolutions in economic efficiency (and emissions intensity is part of it) have never been realised in the past and will not happen in the future either. To expect anything like that is a non-serious speculation.

I recently looked at the European CO2 emissions data covering the period 1990-2005, the Kyoto protocol era. You don’t need huge computer models to very easily distinguish three different types of countries in Europe.

In the less developed countries, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, which during this period were trying to catch up with the economic performance of the more developed EU countries, rapid economic growth led to a 53 per cent increase in CO2 emissions. In the post-communist countries, which went through a radical economic restructuring with the heavy industry disappearing, GDP drastically declined. These countries decreased their CO2 emissions in the same period by 32 per cent. In the EU’s slow-growing if not stagnating countries (excluding Germany where its difficult to eliminate the impact of the fact that the east German economy almost ceased to exist in that period) CO2 emissions increased by 4 per cent.

The huge differences in these three figures are fascinating. And yet there is a dream among European politicians to reduce CO2 emissions for the entire EU by 30 per cent in the next 13 years compared to the 1990 level.

What does it mean? Do they assume that all countries would undergo a similar economic shock as was experienced by the central and eastern European countries after the fall of communism? Do they assume that economically weaker countries will stop their catching-up process? Do they intend to organise a decrease in the number of people living in Europe? Or do they expect a technological revolution of unheard-of proportions?

What I see in Europe, the US and other countries is a powerful combination of irresponsibility and wishful thinking together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project.

This brings me to politics. As a politician who personally experienced communist central planning of all kinds of human activities, I feel obliged to bring back the already almost forgotten arguments used in the famous plan-versus-market debate in the 1930s in economic theory (between Mises and Hayek on the one side and Lange and Lerner on the other), the arguments we had been using for decades until the moment of the fall of communism. The innocence with which climate alarmists and their fellow-travellers in politics and media now present and justify their ambitions to mastermind human society belongs to the same fatal conceit. To my great despair, this is not sufficiently challenged, neither in the field of social sciences, nor in the field of climatology.

The climate alarmists believe in their own omnipotency, in knowing better than millions of rationally behaving men and women what is right or wrong. They believe in their own ability to assemble all relevant data into their Central Climate Change Regulatory Office equipped with huge supercomputers, in the possibility of giving adequate instructions to hundreds of millions of individuals and institutions.

We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society. We need to learn the uncompromising lesson from the inevitable collapse of communism 18 years ago. It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.

He is spot on. It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.

Why is it that the free are so keen to give it up while the not free and badly oppressed are so keen to move to free countries?

If the West wants to maintain its standard of living while minimising CO2 output then by applying his formula ECO2 = EI x SEA x POP on a global scale the answer is simple – force developing countries to stop developing.

I’m not too sure that India and China and others would be too thrilled at the idea.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change