|The Week That Was
November 1, 2003
1. New on the Web: WHILE THE KYOTO PROTOCOL IS DEBUNKED BY CANADIAN RESEARCHERS, THE CLIMATE STEWARDSHIP ACT OF SENATORS MCCAIN AND LIEBERMAN WOULD HAVE IMPOSED A KYOTO-LIKE REGIME ON THE U.S. - UNILATERALLY.
2. HOCKEYSTICK DEMOLISHED
3. KYOTO TREATY SETBACK
4. CALLING CARBON DIOXIDE A POLLUTANT DOESN'T MAKE IT A POLLUTANT
5. BLACKOUT RISK FORCES NUCLEAR RETHINK: U.K. Planning minister argues that Kyoto targets will be missed without an energy policy U-turn
6. SCIENTISTS DETERMINE BIOLOGICAL AND ECOSYSTEM CHANGES IN POLAR REGIONS Linked to Solar Variability Over Past 12,000 Years
7. WILL MAURICE STRONG BECOME CANADA'S ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISOR?
8. MCLIEBERMAN'S COMPLAINT
2. Hockeystick demolished
Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemispheric
Average Temperature Series.
The data set of proxies of past climate used in Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998, "MBH98" hereafter) for the estimation of temperatures from 1400 to 1980 contains collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects. We detail these errors and defects. We then apply MBH98 methodology to the construction of a Northern Hemisphere average temperature index for the 1400-1980 period, using corrected and updated source data.
The major finding is that the values in the early 15th century exceed any values in the 20th century. The particular "hockey stick" shape derived in the MBH98 proxy construction - a temperature index that decreases slightly between the early 15th century and early 20th century and then increases dramatically up to 1980 - is primarily an artifact of poor data handling, obsolete data and incorrect calculation of principal components.
Comment by Fred Singer on the initial response by Mann, Bradley, Hughes to McIntyre, McKitrick:
First, it is entirely appropriate for MBH to express their views about MM. They do so without invective or rancor, and without ad hominem attacks on MM, the journal and its editor , etc. In that sense, it is in the best scientific tradition.
Having said this, I notice that MBH do not reply to the specific criticisms discussed by MM regarding the data quality in the MBH data-set (as listed in MM's Audit Issues) but instead develop criticisms of their own against the reconstruction of MM.
The response of MBH also seems to indicate that their conclusions are highly sensitive to subtle points in "principal-component" analysis of tree rings. In itself, elucidation of this sensitivity will be an interesting result of this discussion.
I think we should hear what MM have to say before we jump to any conclusions. Even if MBH are successful in their critique of the MM reconstruction, but do not at the same time respond to the data-integrity issues, we may be left with the situation where both parties are wrong.
Accordingly, the first concern should be to resolve the data problems: let's get an agreed data-set representing the most up-to-date versions of the proxies used by MBH: no truncations, no obsolete data, etc.
It would also be helpful in resolving this controversy if there was full disclosure by MBH of their procedures in far more detail than done in MBH98. Until that is done, it is very difficult to express further opinions on any of the technical aspects of the analyses by MM and MBH.
After taking these steps, if the parties can resolve their differences in some way -- fine. If, as I suspect, they cannot, then one needs an independent body of experts in the analysis of time series, possibly economists and statisticians, who are uninvolved with climate issues.
I will therefore express no further opinion on any of the technical aspects
of the analyses by MM and MBH.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently chose prudence over public relations by postponing Russia's ratification of the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gases.
The announcement had been expected earlier this month, when Mr. Putin addressed the opening of the U.N. World Climate Change Conference in Moscow. Instead, Mr. Putin said that his government was still studying the "complex set of difficult problems with" the Kyoto Protocol and that any ratification decision would have to take into account Russia's interests.
Mr. Putin's step back was an unexpected setback for backers of the protocol. It will not take effect until the countries responsible for 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions ratify it, and nations accounting for 44 percent have already done so. Since Russia accounts for 17 percent of emissions, its ratification would put Kyoto in force.
Russia would seem to gain in the short-term by ratification. Its greenhouse gas emissions are well below the 1990 levels allowed by the protocol, and its surplus of emissions could theoretically be sold in the form of credits to countries unable to meet the treaty's targets. On paper, those credits could be worth billions.
They could also be worthless, since an emissions credit market has not been set up. Moreover, the Kyoto Protocol lacks enforcement mechanisms, making accurate remuneration problematic at best. Besides, Russia hopes to double its gross domestic product over the next decade, which will be impossible if it has to hold itself to the protocol. Mr. Putin's key economics advisor Andrei Illarionov argued recently, "The Kyoto Protocol will stymie economic growth. It will doom Russia to poverty, weakness and backwardness."
Many of Mr. Putin's critics argued that he held back to bargain for additional Western aid. But it is likely that the real reasons are that Kyoto's economic costs will be high, its scientific foundation is still unsettled and its mitigating effects will be almost insignificant. Even if all eligible nations subjected themselves to Kyoto's strictures, the change to global temperatures would still be almost negligible. After all, the treaty exempts developing countries like China and India. Besides, climate change models still do an incomplete job accounting for all the variables involved.
Considering the uncertainties of the science and the certain economic costs, Mr. Putin was right to delay ratification of the protocol. While greater efforts may be required in the future, a cautious approach seems wisest at the moment.
4. Calling Carbon Dioxide A Pollutant Doesn't Make It A Pollutant
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - It is becoming increasingly fashionable to maintain
that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, one that should be regulated under
the Clean Air Act. Seven Northeastern states have even announced their
intention to sue the administration for its failure to regulate power
plant emissions of carbon dioxide under the Act.
A government minister has made clear that nuclear power is back near the top of the energy agenda after the recent bout of electricity blackouts in Britain, mainland Europe and North America.
The comments from planning minister Lord Rooker come ahead of a report today saying the government is in danger of missing its targets to increase energy efficiency as part of its attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The new interest in the atomic power sector was spelled out in a parliamentary debate and has delighted a nuclear sector which looked all but doomed by a negative energy review last spring.
Answering a question from Lord Monro of Langholm calling for a halt to the construction of wind farms, Lord Rooker said: "Those who do not want fossil fuel generation must accept non-fossil generation which causes no pollution to the atmosphere - which could be wind farms, waves or even nuclear energy."
He added: "People cannot have it both ways. When people in this country put the light switch on in 20 or so years time, they expect the lights to go on, but they will not if we make the wrong decision now, and our generation will rightly get the blame."
The Nuclear Industry Association, which represents British Energy and others engaged in the atomic sector, said it was delighted to see the government was coming round to its way of thinking.
"The nuclear industry has always called for a sensible mix of electricity generating sources, including nuclear and renewables. As the only large scale greenhouse gas-free electricity source currently in the market, it is vital that nuclear power's output is maintained so the UK can meet its Kyoto commitments," said NIA chief executive Keith Parker.
The government's energy review did not completely close the door to nuclear but made clear that it would not be sanctioning a new generation of plants, at least for the time being.
That was a severe blow to an industry which had argued it needed to start planning immediately so it would be ready for the designs and capability to build modern plant as the present generation came to the end of their natural life cycle, between now and 2020.
Official publication of the white paper was preceded by the resignation of Norman Askew as chief executive of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. This was seen as a signal that the nuclear industry had given up any hopes of a renaissance, even though the government said it would revisit the issue in 2006.
The last few months has brought a spate of power outages which have concentrated politicians' minds across the developed world on the important role played by energy.
The British government has promised to reduce carbon emissions at a time when renewable energy such as wind is struggling to establish itself as a credible industry.
New research from the University of East Anglia sponsored by Powergen argues that the government must do much more if it is to meet its goals in reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency.
"Lord Rooker's comments only make public what was obvious at the Labour party conference and elsewhere recently. The government is terrified of the lights going out.
"It's probably not going to happen this winter, but Tony Blair and
others are looking beyond a successful next election," said one industry
LIVERMORE, Calif. -- A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist, in collaboration with an international team of colleagues, has reported that noticeable changes in the sub-polar climate and ecosystems appear to be linked to variations in the sun's intensity during the past 12,000 years.
The research, titled "Cyclic Variation and Solar Forcing of Holocene Climate in the Alaskan Subarctic," is reported in today's (Sept. 26) issue of Science.
Using core sediment samples from Arolik Lake in the tundra region along the southwestern coast of Alaska, Thomas Brown of Livermore's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry measured the amount of carbon-14 in samples to provide a chronological framework for the biological and organic evidence of climate and ecosystem changes, which occurred during the Holocene Epoch (12,000 years ago to present).
By studying biological, geochemical and isotopic constituents of sediment samples (such as biogenic silica from single-celled algae, which reflects lake productivity), the researchers determined that variations of these components provided evidence of climate and ecosystem variations over the past 12,000 years.
The scientists identified significant cycles lasting 200, 435, 590 and 950 years in the 12,000-year record, which are consistent with previously recognized cycles of solar activity. By comparison of the Alaskan subarctic record to recent findings of North Atlantic ice cover variations and solar-activity-modulated production records of beryllium-10 and carbon-14, the scientists showed that the changes in sub-polar climate and ecosystems are correlated with records related to slight variations in solar irradiance.
The data from biogenic silica, North Atlantic sea ice, and beryllium-10 and carbon-14 showed "remarkable correlation during the cycles", Brown said.
"We found natural cycles involving climate and ecosystems that seem to be related to weak solar cycles, which, if verified, could be an important factor to help us understand potential future changes of Earth's climate," said principal investigator Feng Sheng Hu of the University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana.
"Will changes in solar irradiation in the future mitigate or exacerbate global warming in the future? They may do both. A period of high solar irradiance on top of high levels of greenhouse gases could result in unprecedented warming."
Other contributors come from Northern Arizona University, the Weizmann
Institute of Science in Israel, Brown University and Columbia University.
By Allan M.R. MacRae
This news brought cheers from the radical environmental movement and the political left, who regard Strong as a savior of the planet. It also elicited groans from the right, who regard Strong as a power-mad left-wing ideologue.
Strong has reportedly bought a condo in Ottawa and has a long history with Martin and his father, so the rumors may be true.
Should Canadians be concerned about Strong's influence on our next PM?
In 1976 Strong was appointed founding President and Chairman of PetroCanada, a part of our federal government's misguided energy strategy. The divisive and destructive National Energy Program followed in 1980.
PetroCanada, under Strong and his successors, bought foreign-owned oil companies at ever increasing prices, culminating in the controversial PetroFina Canada takeover in 1981. Enormous profits were made through insider trading, but no one was convicted of wrongdoing.
Strong is an advocate of world governance by an intrusive global bureaucracy, a serious concern for those who cherish democracy. The Vatican has criticized his Earth Charter as an "eco-religion" that seeks to supplant traditional Christian values.
Strong is a man of considerable achievements. Perhaps his greatest triumph is the Kyoto Protocol, which he launched as Secretary General of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
However, if the deeply flawed Kyoto process is any indication, Canadians should be concerned about Strong's influence on Martin. The Kyoto process occurred as follows:
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) commissioned climate scientists from around the world to record the current state of climate science research. They wrote a scientific, non-political document that reached no alarming conclusions about imminent catastrophic human-made global warming.
Then a group of IPCC bureaucrats wrote the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), a very different document that was not approved by the scientists. The SPM reached a radically different set of conclusions, stating that human-made catastrophic global warming was an imminent threat to the planet. It is the SPM that is incorrectly quoted by politicians and the press to support Kyoto.
Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of the lead authors of the full IPCC scientists' report and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel on climate change. In the June 11, 2001 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Lindzen wrote:
The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations' Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Lindzen and other scientists on both sides of the Kyoto debate testified before the U.S. Senate in 2001. The Senate then voted 95-0 against Kyoto, blocking its passage.
In contrast, Prime Minister Chretien, urged on by environmental extremists, ratified Kyoto in late 2002 without conducing any independent scientific investigations. Strong, Suzuki and the federal government constantly cited the corrupted SPM to support their case, and did not tell Canadians what the IPCC scientists really said.
Recent work, including groundbreaking research by University of Ottawa geology professor Dr. Jan Veizer and Israeli astrophysicist Dr. Nir J. Shaviv, further verifies that the Kyoto Protocol is based on junk science and humankind is not causing catastrophic global warming.
The breakthrough work by Veizer and Shaviv estimates an upper limit to the impact of CO2 on global warming, allowing us to conclude that human-caused increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not harmful.
The process that led to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was incompetent and corrupt, and was used to stampede gullible politicians and the public to support a costly boondoggle. Kyoto gives unelected bureaucrats unprecedented powers to interfere in the lives of every individual and business, by artificially controlling our energy consumption.
Why does this matter? Kyoto is a fraudulent abuse of government power, and a diversion from much more important priorities.
Who was harmed? Danish mathematics professor Bjorn Lomborg estimates that for the cost of Kyoto compliance for just one year, we could provide clean water and sanitation to every community in the developing world forever. In the ten years that Kyoto has been the focus of billions in spending, about 15 million children have died before their fifth birthday due to contaminated water. Yet not one person has died due to catastrophic human-made global warming, and probably no one ever will.
That is just one cost of badly misplaced priorities. Unfortunately, Kyoto
advocates will continue to mislead the public, saying "the science
is settled". It is true that the science is becoming increasingly
settled - increasingly settled against the flawed theory of human-made
global warming and the Kyoto Protocol. Canadians are justified in asking
whether we want Maurice Strong, the primary architect of the Kyoto fiasco,
to act as Paul Martin's senior advisor.
Whether sickly or healthy or hale,
F.R. Duplantier (Wash Times 10/27/03)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! WATCH OUT FOR THOSE