The Week That Was (Aug 2, 2008) brought to you by SEPP


Quote of the Week:

"Every political movement ultimately expires from an excess of its own principles." -- Statesman Thomas Macaulay


1.  Perhaps the greatest threat to the US economy: EPA’s ANPR:  The carbon police lay out their plans for your future.


2.  How EPA gets away with manipulating air quality standards 


3.  A climate of deception – by controlling the data


4.  Energy policy at the mercy of environmentalists


5.  Why some industries like Cap & Trade: The US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP)


6.  Drilling will produce domestic oil and gas and lower prices


7.  Climate computer models fail the test: The use of the IPCC model predictions as a basis for policy making is invalid and seriously misleading.


8.  And finally, by popular demand:  The full text of the Aria of Algorino



The UK has been living under a delusion over its claim to be cutting greenhouse gases, because of funny accounting:

Consumer-based GHG emissions are 49% higher than Kyoto-reported emissions

Trends show that between 1992 and 2004, Kyoto GHG emissions report a decrease of 13%, while consumer-based GHG emissions increased by 13%.


Fast natural climate changes without any human input: Ice core records have shown that substantial changes can happen very rapidly. Steffensen et al. (p. 680, published online in 19 June Science mag; see also the Perspective by Flückiger) employed sophisticated analytical methods to measure multiple climate proxies in a single, high-resolution ice core from Greenland. Some attributes of climate were observed to change in as little as a single year during two abrupt warmings within the last deglaciation.



"Al Gore Places Infant Son In Rocket To Escape Dying Planet" -- The Onion


WSJ Editorial, July 19, 2008

Al Gore blew into Washington on Thursday, warning that "our very way of life" is imperiled if the U.S. doesn't end "the carbon age" within 10 years. No one seriously believes such a goal is even remotely plausible. But if you want to know what he and his acolytes think this means in practice, the Environmental Protection Agency has just published the instruction manual. Get ready for the lawnmower inspector near you.

In a huge document released last Friday, the EPA lays out the thousands of carbon controls with which they'd like to shackle the whole economy. Central planning is too artful a term for the EPA's nana-management. Thankfully none of it has the force of law -- yet. However, the Bush Administration has done a public service by opening this window on new-wave green thinking like Mr. Gore's, and previewing what Democrats have in mind for next year.

The mess began in 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Mass. v. EPA that greenhouse gases are "air pollutants" under current environmental laws, despite the fact that the laws were written decades before the climate-change panic. The EPA was ordered to regulate if it decides that carbon emissions are a danger to the public. The 588-page "advance notice of proposed rulemaking" lays out how the EPA would like it to work in practice.

Justice Antonin Scalia noted in his dissent that under the Court's "pollutant" standard "everything airborne, from Frisbees to flatulence, qualifies," which the EPA appears to have taken literally. It is alarmed by "enteric fermentation in domestic livestock" -- that is, er, their "emissions." A farm with over 25 cows would exceed the EPA's proposed carbon limits. So would 500 acres of crops, due to harvesting and processing machinery.

But never fear. The EPA would regulate "farm tractors" too, plus "lawn and garden equipment." For example, it "could require a different unit of measure [for carbon emissions] tied to the machine's mission or output -- such as grams per kilogram of cuttings from a 'standard' lawn for lawnmowers."

In fact, the EPA has new mandates for everything with an engine. There's a slew of auto regulations, especially jacking up fuel-efficiency standards well beyond their current levels, and even controlling the weight and performance of cars and trucks. Carbon rules are offered for "dirt bikes and snowmobiles." Next up: Nascar.

The EPA didn't neglect planes and trains either, down to rules for how aircraft can taxi on the runway. Guidelines are proposed for boat design such as hulls and propellers. "Innovative strategies for reducing hull friction include coatings with textures similar to marine animals," the authors chirp. They also suggest "crew education campaigns" on energy use at sea. Fishermen will love their eco-sensitivity training.

New or modified buildings that went over the emissions limits would have to obtain EPA permits. This would cover power plants, manufacturers, etc. But it would also include "large office and residential buildings, hotels, large retail establishments and similar facilities" -- like schools and hospitals. The limits are so low that they would apply to "hundreds of thousands" of sources, as the EPA itself notes. "We expect that the entire country would be in nonattainment."

If this power grab wasn't enough, "EPA also believes that . . . it might be possible for the Agency to consider deeper reductions through a cap-and-trade program." The EPA thinks it can levy a carbon tax too, as long as it's called a "fee." In other words, the EPA wants to impose via regulatory ukase what Congress hasn't been able to enact via democratic debate.

That's why the global warmists have so much invested in the EPA's final ruling, which will come in the next Administration. Any climate tax involves arguments about costs and benefits; voting to raise energy prices is not conducive to re-election. But if liberals can outsource their policies to the EPA, they can take credit while avoiding any accountability for the huge economic costs they impose.

Meanwhile, the EPA's career staff is unsupervised. In December, they went ahead and made their so-called "endangerment finding" on carbon, deputizing themselves as the rulers of the global-warming bureaucracy. The adults in the White House were aghast when they saw the draft. EPA lifers retaliated by leaking the disputes of the standard interagency review process to Democrats like Henry Waxman and sympathetic reporters. Thus the stations-of-the-cross media narrative about "political interference," as if the EPA's careerists don't have their own agenda. So the Administration performed triage by making everything transparent.

At least getting the EPA on the record will help clarify the costs of carbon restrictions. Democrats complaining about "censorship" at the EPA are welcome to defend fiats about lawnmowers and flatulent cows.



The Sirkin Letter

The Environmental Protection Agency has never said the air is safe to breathe and never will--as clean-air expert Joel Schwartz has pointed out--because the day it does, is the day it is out of  a job.

EPA writes the regulations under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 for the six pollutants—seven, the Supreme Court having just added another, carbon dioxide.  Three times EPA has declared new standards, each one tougher, for ground-level ozone, first at  0.12  parts per million for one hour, then at  0.08 parts per million for eight hours, and in March at  0.075 ppm for eight hours.

This latest change, declares EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, is “the most protective” in history from air “simply too dirty to breathe.”  (EPA defines as “unhealthy” anything above its latest arbitrary standard.)   Each time the standard is changed, the new standard is always the most protective in history, since it is always tighter than the standard it replaces.

EPA declares that tightening the ozone standard will prevent 1,300 to 3,500 premature deaths annually.  But they have not found a single premature death that was caused by air pollution (smog) or particulate matter (soot).  (Meanwhile, in China, our Olympic athletes are wearing masks to protect against Beijing’s polluted air.)

For years, authorities have been looking—without successes—at data around Los Angeles, the elephant of American ozone, for people whose chronic illness has been caused by air pollution.  Acute health effects, which are interpreted to affect smell or sight, are temporary, disappearing in 24 hours or less.  Sensitive people can avoid them by avoiding physical activity or remaining indoors during the few hours in hot sunny summer afternoons when the ozone level is unusually high.

But this new ozone standard requires over a hundred counties still out of compliance and hundreds more that are in compliance to recalculate their State Implementation Plans to find more ways to clamp down on emissions from autos, utilities, power plants,  manufacturing facilities, and whatever.  By so doing, they force states to spend billions of dollars more or forfeit their customary Federal Highway funds.  Decisions on how to bring states into compliance depend on their local areas.  It is they that must devise more ways, lawn mowers, barbecues, car-pooling, whatever.

The tightening of the 1996-7 ozone standard is instructive because it shows the meticulous planning Administrator Browner had to go through to get questionable standards accepted.  She announced the change late one afternoon in November, 1996, just before Thanksgiving, three weeks after the reelection of President Clinton, and after 4:00 or 4:30 when the national media leave.  Congress had gone home and would not be back till late January.  There was nearly no one around to ask or answer questions.

Why new standards?  Both ground-level ozone and particulate-matter levels had been falling for years.  Over a hundred counties still had not been able to comply with the existing standards.  Hundreds more would be thrown into non-compliance.  There was no need for tighter standards. What justification did EPA Administrator Browner have?   EPA-watcher Bonner Cohen related the absence of scientific method to the 16th annual meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in 1998.

EPA, ignoring the law, had failed to review the PM25 standard after five years.  So EPA’s friends, the American Lung Association,  the Natural Resources Defense Council, and  others sued it.  EPA always appreciates them for their added pressure for publicity, and it  gives millions of dollars to them to maintain the public perception of fear.  This lawsuit made it possible for EPA to say it had to review the standards because it was under court order.

But not quite.  The order was to review PM2.5 standards, not ozone.  EPA then argued that the sources for ozone were the same as for PM, so it made sense for them to review ozone at the same time.

How, when both PM and O3 were fast falling, could Mrs. Browner justify tougher standards?  By premature deaths. And by children’s asthma cases, which Mrs. Browner had to know had nothing at all to do with ozone. As ozone has been decreasing over the decades, asthma cases have been increasing, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Are premature deaths a justification for tougher standards?  Where are they?  Who has seen them?  There were nearly no data.  There were 86 studies on PM2.5, but only 12 of them  related PM2.5  to mortality, and only one of those related PM2.5 to premature deaths.  Mrs. Browner claimed that that study, which came out of Harvard, had been “peer reviewed,” but no one including the peer-reviewers saw the underlying data.  That was not permitted by author and former EPA official Mr. Schwartz, “together with two other gentlemen, Dockery and Pope.”  EPA’s Mary Nichols asserted EPA had not requested the data because they weren’t necessary.  [She now heads CARB in Sacramento, CA]

Bonner Cohen suggests a reason for the change at that particular time.  In five months, the Kyoto Protocol would be coming up for its initial agreement.  The same sources were common to global warming as to air pollution.  As Vice President Al Gore’s protege, Administrator Browner was offering what could be support for Gore.

If the Clean Air Amendment law is rewritten, Congress  should remember  a)  that ground-level ozone at a certain level provides protection against ultraviolet radiation;  b)  that not just benefits but costs must be allowed to be considered;  c) that only those risks that are unreasonable should be considered illegal.



A comment on Christopher Booker’s article in The Telegraph (UK)

One of the interesting phenomena of our times is the parallel between euro-scepticism and "global warming denial": those that are antagonistic towards the European Union also tend to disbelieve the hype on anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  On the other side of the divide, there is also a close relationship between europhilia and belief in AGW, the EU having enthusiastically embraced the dogma of the warmist religion, not least because of the opportunities it affords to pursue the integrationalist agenda.

But there is another link. As is the EU built on a foundation of deception, so too is the global warming hype, so much so that it has become not "climate change" but a climate of deception.

One strand of that deception is brought home to us today in the Booker column, which highlights to extent to which the great climate change guru James Hansen, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), is manipulating temperature figures to promote his own beliefs and to pursue what is quite evidently a political agenda.

What is fascinating about this is that Hansen's data manipulation brings home an essential truth about modern politics: he who controls the statistics controls the high ground. It does not matter what the reality it – what matters is how that "reality" is portrayed.

We actually saw this in graphic form right at the beginning of the modern "scare" cycle, with the great "salmonella in eggs" scare. Then, the public perception was greatly influenced by the appearance of a new database on salmonella food poisoning, produced by a certain Dr Bernard Rowe of the then Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre.

Almost as a free-lance operation, in 1987, he started producing his own weekly digest showing what appeared to be a massive upsurge in food poisoning outbreaks, to which he – and he alone, in the early stages – was able to attribute a cause. And it was that database which provided the raw material which was to fuel the salmonella scare which dominated the media through late 1988 and early 1989.  That is not to say that there was not a problem with salmonella at the time, but it was the ability to shape the data which allowed Rowe, behind the scenes, to turn a statistical phenomenon into a highly political agenda.

To demonstrate the power of the figures, while the UK media in 1999-9 was dominated with scare stories about food safety, based on statistics produced by the ever-willing authorities, back in Holland, which had an even bigger problem with salmonella, there was no such diet of scares.

The way this was managed was breathtakingly simple and ingenious. While, in the UK, salmonella food poisoning was a "notifiable disease" which meant that all cases had to be reported to the authorities, the Dutch authorities made sure that this did not happen.

What they did in fact was change the law on diagnosing and reporting salmonella food poisoning, in a devilishly clever series of moves. Firstly, while the laboratory service to doctors for identifying the presence of salmonellas in patients was free, they introduced swingeing charges for identifying the type of salmonellas involved. Then, they introduced a rule that said salmonella notifications could not be included on the official database unless the isolations had been typed.

The entirely predictable result was that, while doctors continued to use laboratory services for basic diagnosis, to treat their patients they did not need to know the type of salmonellas involved, and stopped calling for typing information. The consequence was that, while the reported incidence of salmonella food poisoning was rising everywhere in Europe (and America), the Dutch authorities were able to show that their figures were falling. And, with an apparently declining incidence, there was no material to fuel a scare.

So it is with James Hansen. As long as he has control of an apparently authoritative dataset which shows that global warming is increasing, he can sustain the climate change scare. And, as Booker observes, it is on his alarmist figures that our politicians are basing all their proposals for irrevocably changing our lives.

Thus builds the "climate of deception", based on a strategy that is now becoming completely transparent. But, as long as the hard-core warmists, the media and politicians continue to give Hansen's tarnished figures their credibility, this dangerous man will get away with it.



By WALTER E. WILLIAMS, July 29, 2008

Let's face it. The average individual American has little or no clout with Congress and can be safely ignored. But it's a different story with groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy.  When they speak, Congress listens. Unlike the average American, they are well organized, loaded with cash and well positioned to be a disobedient congressman's worse nightmare. Their political and economic success has been a near disaster for our nation.

For several decades, environmentalists have managed to get Congress to keep most of our oil resources off-limits to exploration and drilling.  They've managed to have the Congress enact onerous regulations that have made refinery construction impossible.

Similarly, they've used the courts and Congress to completely stymie the construction of nuclear power plants. As a result, energy prices are at historical highs and threaten our economy and national security.

What's the political response to our energy problems? It's more congressional and White House kowtowing to environmentalists, farmers and multibillion-dollar corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland.

Their "solution," rather than to solve our oil supply problem by permitting drilling for the billions upon billions of barrels of oil beneath the surface of our country, is to enact the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That mandates that oil companies increase the amount of ethanol mixed with gasoline.

Anyone with an ounce of brains would have realized that diverting crops from food to fuel use would raise the prices of corn-fed livestock, such as pork, beef, chicken and dairy products, and products made from corn, such as cereal.

Ethanol production has led to increases in the prices of other grains, such as soybean and wheat. Since the U.S. is the world's largest grain producer and exporter, higher grain prices have had a huge impact on food prices worldwide.

Congress and the environmentalists aren't through with us. If you're bothered by skyrocketing food and energy prices, wait until Congress reintroduces its environmentalist-inspired Climate Security Act, so-called cap and trade.  Cap and trade is deceptively peddled as a free-market solution to the yet-to-be-settled issue of man-made climate change. Under its provisions, companies would be able to emit greenhouse gases only if they had a government allowance.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a 15% cut in emissions would raise the annual average household's energy cost by $1,300.  Since energy is an input to everything we use, we can expect everything to become costlier, resulting in a reduction in economic growth.

There's a hateful side to cap and trade that's revealed by asking the question: How will it be decided who received how much allowance to emit greenhouse gases?

Congress could sell the allowances and/or give them away to favorite constituents. You can bet the rent money that a new army of lobbyists, with special pleadings, will descend on Washington to lobby Congress. And you can be sure that campaign contributions and favoritism will play an important role in the decision of who receives what allowances.

Much worse than that is the massive control government would have over our economy and lives. Congress might decide that since tobacco use is unhealthy, it might not issue allowances to tobacco companies.  While many Americans might applaud that, how many would like Congress to refuse to issue allowances to companies that produce food that some people deem unhealthy such as french fries, sodas, canned soups and potato chips?

Congress might deny, or threaten to deny, allowances to companies that in its opinion didn't hire enough women and minorities. The possibilities for control over our lives would be endless and could include nuisance-type edicts such a requiring us to buy a permit to barbecue in our backyard.

The thirst to wield massive control over our economy helps explain the near religious belief in man-made global warming and the attacks on scientists and others who offer contradictory evidence.



by Thomas J. Borelli

Al Gore, sensing the political shift towards fossil fuels, generated national headlines last week when he called for all of the nation’s electricity to be produced by renewable energy sources in 10 years. “The idea that we can drill our way out of this is just so absurd,” Gore told the annual meeting of the yearly gathering of left-wing activists, Netroots Nation.

It’s tragic that key corporate giants are on the wrong side of the energy debate. Rather than recognize that our current economy is dependent on fossil fuels, too many CEOs have been seduced by the notion that corporate responsibility is defined by Al Gore’s view of climate science.

“Green” CEOs naively believed that they could navigate the social and political terrain and benefit financially by advocating for federal control of greenhouse gas emissions. Over 20 corporations participated in the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) – a lobbying coalition of industry and environmental special interest groups that sought cap-and-trade legislation to address global warming. The USCAP lobbying effort produced Lieberman-Warner – a cap-and-trade bill that, had it been adopted, would have increased energy prices and reduced economic growth.

But many of the USCAP members were unhappy with details of the legislation, so by the time Lieberman-Warner approached the Senate floor for a vote, business support for climate legislation had waned. Only six USCAP corporate members ultimately supported the bill. USCAP membership had promised its corporate members a “seat at the table,” that is, a role in the development of climate change policy, but when every climate policy on that table raised energy prices and hurt the bottom line, to many CEOs the seat must suddenly have seemed less appealing.

Some CEOs may have learned their lesson and will steer clear of coalitions like USCAP in the future, but not all will.

General Electric is among the latter. GE stubbornly adheres to climate change alarmism because it has placed a huge financial bet on carbon-free energy sources, such as wind, that are threatened by domestic oil production. Climate change fears and tight oil supplies are the driving force for renewable energy. Increasing the supply of oil will reduce its price, making wind power even less competitive, even with generous government subsidies.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt, already in hot water for poor stock performance, can’t afford to lose his gamble on renewable energy.  Faced with this threat, Immelt is shrewdly using his NBC news empire to promote climate change fears and wind turbines as a sound energy alternative.

Al Gore was the featured guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on July 20. For almost the entire program, Gore spoke about climate change, bashed oil exploration, and touted his idea to generate the country’s electricity needs from carbon-free sources, including wind turbines. Gore did support the use of coal, but only if it was associated with carbon capture and sequestration – another GE technology.

GE’s cable business channel CNBC has also promoted wind energy in its news programming. T. Boone Pickens was given air time on “Squawk Box,” CNBC’s early morning news program, to present his energy plan. A major thrust of the Pickens plan involves a significant increase in the use of natural gas and wind – two areas in which Pickens has major investments. Indeed, Pickens is building the world’s largest wind farm in Texas, and his company recently ordered about $2 billion worth of GE turbines.

While Pickens has said he is for all forms of domestic energy, including oil exploration, the imagery in his TV ad campaign – burning oil fields contrasting with wind turbines on green fields – clearly denigrates oil. During the commercial, Pickens says “I'm T. Boone Pickens. I've been an oil man my whole life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of. And I have a plan.”

The scheming of Immelt and Gore undermine our national interest. For economic and national security reasons Americans desperately need natural resource development in our own backyard.


Thomas J. Borelli, PhD, editor of, shareholder activist and  senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. The opinions expressed are his own.



Exerpt from

Between 2005 and 2030, worldwide demand for energy is expected to increase by 50 percent, and the U.S. demand could increase by as much as 18 percent.  Yet, today a substantial amount of our nation's resources beneath federal lands and in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are off limits.  For many years, Congress and the White House representing both political parties have prohibited exploration in about 85 percent of the OCS acreage offshore the lower 48 states.

In the OCS, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) estimates proven reserves at 8.6 billion barrels of oil and 29.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas.  However, there could be significantly greater amounts according to DOI estimates: the OCS may contain as much as 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 85 billion barrels of oil.

There is also limited access to vast federal lands, with resources totaling 231 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 30 billion barrels of oil.  DOI found in a congressionally-mandated study that only 8 percent of onshore federal oil and 10 percent of onshore federal gas are accessible under standard lease terms.

Untapped oil and natural gas resources off America's shores and beneath our land could yield 116 billion barrels of recoverable oil and more than 650 trillion cubic feet of natural gas for the American people.  Accessing these onshore and offshore resources using environmentally responsible technology could provide enough oil to replace U.S. oil imports for 23 years and enough natural gas to warm all American households, heated with natural gas, for well over a century.

This month, President Bush took positive action and lifted the Executive Branch ban on more offshore exploration and production.  But Congress must now act to allow access to these resources and allow for the exploration and development of taxpayer-owned oil and gas resources.

Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey reported this week that the area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas.  The Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas in the world.  It is fact-based analyses such as the USGS work and the anticipated November report by the International Energy Agency that will detail known reserves in existing fields that should inform our policymaking. 



Using More Than One Model Leads to Entirely Different Results' - Study finds
[Note: For good background reading on why computer models predictions of nature are suspect, see: Scientists Claim Computer Model Predictions are 'Useless Arithmetic' 2007 Book entitled Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future - ]

Excerpt: "What we've shown is if you use more than one model, you can get entirely different results, so (based on studies that used only one model) maybe we have no view at all of what the impacts are going to be." [] Of the 65 studies that have used the IPCC models since 1994, only about one in five used more than one model, the report found. []

Many biologists who are studying the potential impacts of climate change on different species and the environment could be coming to faulty conclusions unless they widen the scope of their research, a new Canadian study suggests. The report, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests biologists often use only one of the 31 different climate-change models provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. []

Co-author Jonathan Newman, a professor of environment biology at the University of Guelph, was researching the impact of climate change on the swede midge, an invasive insect that has been affecting canola crops in the United States since 1996 and has now migrated to southern Ontario. Newman's team used two models and expected some level of variation in the results. But they did not expect contradictory data. "We basically got opposite answers when we should have gotten the same answer," Newman said. "What we've shown is if you use more than one model you can get entirely different results, so (based on studies that used only one model) maybe we have no view at all of what the impacts are going to be."

A Canadian climate model found the swede midge could expand across Ontario and into northern and western regions of Canada and the United States due to warmer and moist conditions brought on by climate change. But a British model, one of the most commonly used by researchers, found that ideal conditions for the swede midge would disappear significantly with climate change, which surprised Newman. "That was worrying as a biologist engaged in the business of trying to elucidate biological impacts," he said. "What we need is a whole array of models that all make different assumptions and then we look for conclusions that are reasonably robust."

Of the 65 studies that have used the IPCC models since 1994, only about one in five used more than one model, the report found. It doesn't mean that the existing research is wrong, Newman said, but scientists should be working with multiple models so they can be certain about their research. "I certainly would hope that (the study) spurs more research like we've been doing in our lab," he said.

More IPCC Model Failure? Bangladesh gaining land, not losing - 'contradicting forecasts' it will be 'under the waves by the end of the century'

Excerpt: New data shows that Bangladesh's landmass is increasing, contradicting forecasts that the South Asian nation will be under the waves by the end of the century, experts say. Scientists from the Dhaka-based Center for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) have studied 32 years of satellite images and say Bangladesh's landmass has increased by 20 square kilometres (eight square miles) annually. [...] The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that impoverished Bangladesh, crisscrossed by a network of more than 200 rivers, will lose 17 percent of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel says 20 million Bangladeshis will become environmental refugees by 2050 and the country will lose some 30 percent of its food production. Director of the US-based NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, professor James Hansen, paints an even grimmer picture, predicting the entire country could be under water by the end of the century.;_ylt=Ai1fEIqHFVyfguECUfbGjKvPOrgF

On the credibility of climate predictions

Koutsoyiannis, D., A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides, 2008:, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 53 (4), 671-684.


Abstract:  “Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.”

Conclusion: “At the annual and the climatic (30-year) scales, GCM interpolated series are irrelevant to reality. GCMs do not reproduce natural over-year fluctuations and, generally, underestimate the variance and the Hurst coefficient of the observed series. Even worse, when the GCM time series imply a Hurst coefficient greater than 0.5, this results from a monotonic trend, whereas in historical data the high values of the Hurst coefficient are a result of large-scale over-year fluctuations (i.e. successions of upward and downward ‘trends’. The huge negative values of coefficients of efficiency show that model predictions are much poorer than an elementary prediction based on the time average. This makes future climate projections at the examined locations not credible. Whether or not this conclusion extends to other locations requires expansion of the study, which we have planned. However, the poor GCM performance in all eight locations examined in this study allows little hope, if any. An argument that the poor performance applies merely to the point basis of our comparison, whereas aggregation at large spatial scales would show that GCM outputs are credible, is an unproved conjecture and, in our opinion, a false one.”



John Tierney’s hilarious spoof:

 [Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” first a film and then a book, is becoming an opera. Officials of La Scala in Milan say the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been commissioned to write it for the 2011 season, The Associated Press reported.]


Dear Mr. Gore,


Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my draft of “Verità Inconveniente.” Rest assured that I and the management of La Scala are committed to a serious presentation of your scientific work. I will try to adopt some of your suggestions, but I hope you appreciate the constraints faced by the composer of an opera that is already five hours long.

     I agree it would “round out the résumé” of Prince Algorino in the opening scene if he were to sing about his creation of a communications network. But the “Mio magnifico Internet” aria you propose seems to me a distraction — and frankly out of place in an 18th-century Tuscan village. I believe the peasants’ choral celebration of Prince Algorino’s wisdom suffices to establish his virtues.

    I will ask our technicians about the feasibility of producing “stinky smoke” to accompany the entrance of Petroleo, but it may be unnecessary. Doesn’t the wizard’s evilness become obvious once he beguiles the Minemaidens into relinquishing their buried treasure? (Note: I will try changing “treasure” to “fossil fuels,” but it will not be an easy rhyme.)

    Perhaps, as you complain, Petroleo does exude a certain glamour in his patter song promising magic lanterns and horseless carriages and flying machines. But when he seduces the chief Minemaiden, the music darkens with a menacing crescendo as they embrace, singing “Combustione! Combustione!” There is no mistaking the unholiness of their union, nor its catastrophic consequence once their daughter Carbonia is born.

    I grant you it would be more chemically precise to give Carbonia twin siblings named after oxygen. But this would dilute the role and doom our chances of getting Anna Netrebko for Carbonia, and she is essential for the scene on Olympus. If it is to be credible, we must have a Carbonia with the sinister beauty to inflame the passions of Zeus, Poseidon, Aether and the other weather gods.

    You ask for a detailed revelation of how Petroleo prevents Prince Algorino from becoming king. I understand your interest and desire to introduce another villain. (Incidentally, the translation of “Bush” would be “Arbusto,” not “Shrubulo.”)

    But no narrative purpose is served by Algorino’s singing about his “stolen throne” as he wanders in exile, particularly not in the glade where he encounters the earth goddess Gaia languishing near death. Instead of interrupting her “Molto caldo” aria, he should be focused on Gaia’s mysterious fever.

    Nor, I believe, is it necessary for him to “gather data” from Gaia before setting out on his quest to save her, or to involve a new weather goddess named Katrina in the hurricane he encounters on the way to the Isle of Seers. I assure you that the numerical category of the hurricane was omitted only for dramatic purposes — not, as you suspect, because of any doubts raised by your scientific critics of the link between global warming and strong hurricanes.

    During Algorino’s instruction in the Weather Seer’s castle, you again accuse me of “caving” to the critics by omitting your famous chart correlating rising temperatures and rising carbon dioxide over the past 600,000 years. But it is of no consequence to me which came first, the carbon dioxide or the temperature. As an artist, I simply felt it would be jarring to interrupt the Seer’s aria with a PowerPoint presentation.

    I did plan to use a simpler chart etched on the castle wall for the duet we originally planned for Algorino and the Seer. I loved your idea of matching the musical notes with the graphs of temperatures and CO2 concentrations, but the resulting melodies were unfortunate. I was unable to find any tenor or baritone able to sing either of the graphs. A pity — as you said, the High C0 Duet would have been “an opera first.”

    I don’t share your fear that audiences will expect Prince Algorino to “offset his travel footprint,” so I don’t see the need for the tree-planting scene you suggest. Once the Weather Seer has explained Poseidon’s passion and shown him the rising seas, Algorino should immediately rush back to save Gaia. And why, with his lover in peril, would he pause en route to rescue a drowning polar bear?

    I’m sorry you were so saddened by the battle scene and the finale. I agree it would end more happily if Algorino vanquished Petroleo and reburied the Minemaidens’ treasure. No doubt we could create a fine aria for Carbonia as she is “sequestered” underground (although we might be accused of copying the “Aida” entombment finale). As you suggest, we could end with an ensemble celebration of Algorino’s marriage to Gaia.

    But would a happy ending truly satisfy your devotees — or La Scala’s? Better to stay with tradition. I feel sure that audiences, like the earth goddess, will be moved to tears by the “Ciao, Gaia” aria of the mortally wounded Algorino, and then riveted as she feverishly wanders the stage. With the right soprano, I believe “Basta con la temperatura!” could be an unforgettable Mad Scene.

    You complain that it’s a “cliché” for Gaia to collapse and die alongside her lover. Perhaps, as you suggest, we could have her first drape a medal around his neck (although I think the Nobel would be anachronistic). But as much as I admire your other idea for an “outside the box” death scene, I cannot accept it — and again, despite your accusations, this has nothing to do with the scientific criticism of your work. Whether your predictions for sea level rise are correct or not, it would be logistically impossible to end the opera by drowning the village under 20 feet of water.



Giorgio Battistelli