The Week That Was (Dec 13, 2008) brought to you by SEPP


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Quote of the Week:

Obama will select Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobelist physicist, as Secretary of Energy, Carol Browner as head of the new National Energy Council, and Lisa Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles's deputy mayor for energy and environment, will chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Although Chu "is likely to focus his attention on the Energy Department's core missions: basic science, nuclear weapons and cleaning up a nuclear-weapons manufacturing complex contaminated since the Cold War," his selection is a strong signal of Obama's intentions for science-based climate policy.  If confirmed, the new team will be working closely with leaders in Congress such as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, to “forge a new path in solving the climate crisis."  More details on Obama’s energy-environment team at:


SEPP comment: Chu's views on energy and AGW show him a ‘true believer;’ but he’ll not ‘call the shots’

It looks as if Browner will run the show on climate and energy policy per se, and listening is not her strong suit.  An experienced bureaucratic infighter, with allies in Congress, she will become a big problem for Jim Jones (National Security Council) and Larry Summers (National Economic Council).  STAY TUNED…

SEPP Science Editorial #15 (12/13/08)

The Problem with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) (2)
Oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface; SST essentially determines surface temperature.  While not subject to the problems of land temperature data (urban heat islands, weather station placement and maintenance, etc), SST has even more severe problems, mainly related to coverage and to changes in methods of measurement.  Just recently, the Hadley Centre had to fix a ‘glitch’ caused by a change from wooden to canvas sampling buckets, which led to a temperature ‘discontinuity.’

Since 1980 we have a situation where data from floating buoys (from a warm layer of about 50 cm depth) are increasingly combined with ship inlet data (from a colder layer at depth of ~10 m).  Could this lead to a fictitious warming trend?  How to check whether this produces a problem?  One method would be to process ship data and buoy data separately before combining them.  I have not been successful in penetrating the data analysis bureaucracy to arrange for such a test.  But there may be a simpler way (which I first proposed at a conference in Erice in 2005):  Compare day-time and night-time SST trends.  If they do not differ, then the ‘buoy effect’ is likely of little importance.

Singer, S. F. (2006). How effective is greenhouse warming of sea surface temperatures? In International Seminar on

 Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies. Climatology: Global Warming. (ed. A Zichichi and R. Ragini). World

 Scientific Publishing Company, Singapore. pp. 176-182.

1.  Advice to Obama on carbon trading:  Watch the mess in Europe

5.  Report from COP meetings in Poznan



SEPP Comment: This is incredible!  The BBC should read the NIPCC report  “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”
Will the BBC take note of the Heartland Conference in NY March 8-10, 2009, with 500 climate skeptics?  Be sure to attend


Snow in New Orleans: today's was the earliest in the season ever recorded
AND:  Rare 50-year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California 13-20  December


Kyoto is noble but ineffective; at worst, it is a deadly distraction, wasting time we cannot afford to lose and blocking better policies.  You are the only leader who can persuade the world to change tack.

Kyoto's fundamental flaw is that it is based on "cap and trade", the same approach you plan to introduce in the US: a target is set for emissions, and countries or companies that beat their targets gain carbon credits they can sell to those that don't.  Cap-and-trade schemes might look good on paper but they are doomed to fail when it comes to weaning the world off its addiction to fossil fuels. For starters, without a strong enforcement regime, any cap is meaningless. Under the Kyoto Protocol, for instance, countries that do not meet their targets just increase them next time around. It is a joke.

What's more, the approach is a bureaucratic nightmare, needing complex regulation and providing all sorts of opportunities for corruption, particularly when attempted on a global scale. For example, under Kyoto's "clean development mechanism", companies in China are claiming carbon credits for hydroelectric schemes, which they'll sell to polluters in Europe. But these schemes were going to be built anyway, so the overall change to emissions is zero. The UN is cracking down, but many think the whole offsetting approach is flawed.

It increasingly seems that ideology and a wish to see the industrialized free West reduced in economic status is what motivates U.N. climate policy, not science. But these hundreds of competent scientists dedicated to the truth are not about to let their mouths be covered — even by a United Nations olive branch.


Reports compiled  by CCNet 12/9/2008

The first week's talks have brought fairly predictable condemnations from environment groups that western nations are not doing enough to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, either in the scale of the cuts they are contemplating or in the cuts they are actually implementing.

Perhaps the most significant events are taking place away from Poznan, as EU countries [in Brussels] try to finalise their climate and energy package, which will include a unilateral commitment to reduce emissions by 20% [by 2020], or by 30% if a global deal materialises.

Saturday saw a meeting in Gdansk where President Nicholas Sarkozy of France - which currently holds the EU presidency - tried to alleviate the fears of the Poles and others that the package would come with a crippling price tag.

…a long-running dispute between developed and developing countries over how to manage the UN Adaptation Fund, which channels money from the international carbon market into climate protection, appears still to be a live issue.  The developed countries paying the money regard it as theirs; but so do the developing nations, who argue that it is merely what the West owes them for having created the problem of man-made climate change.

So last week saw fresh objections from developing states - and the group of NGOs that acts with them - to having the World Bank involved in its management, or indeed in the management of any UN funds connected with climate change. They say that the Bank is in the political pocket of the West, and that some of its development programmes effectively fund deforestation.

The fund contains nothing like the $50bn that development agencies believe is a necessary annual sum, which also grates with developing states.  But especially in straitened times, are developed countries going to cough up more - especially to a fund whose management they are not happy with? One Japanese delegate reportedly said that rich governments could not become "the ATM for the world".

The Independent, 9 December 2008

This fabricated market in carbon has at its heart the UN's Clean Development Mechanism. This is how the EU, which had an obligation under Kyoto to reduce its emissions by two per cent by 2012, has managed to claim success while actually increasing its emissions by 13 per cent. By purchasing so called "offsets" from countries such as China, Britain, for example, proclaims itself a "leader in the fight against climate change".

Most of this is entirely fraudulent, in the sense that the Chinese have been paid billions to destroy particular atmospheric pollutants, such as CFC-23, which have actually been manufactured in order to be destroyed -- and for no other purpose. This is hardly surprising: if something is accorded a price (especially a fixed one) then companies will queue up to produce it.

The EU is inordinately proud of its Emissions Trading Scheme, which it calls "the world's first carbon market." But it is this scheme that has created the creative accounting scam known as "offsets". Even mortgage-backed securities, the financial instrument at the heart of the credit crunch, at least had something useful: houses at the bottom of the pile of junk.

Now that the EU is attempting at Poznan to set up a scheme, which will make its industries buy carbon allocations via an auction, rather than simply receiving them free of charge, reality is finally intruding on the madness.

Since 2005, when the Kyoto Protocol came into force, CDM projects under way in 51 countries are thought to have saved some 250 million tonnes in greenhouse-gas emissions. The UN hopes that the scheme will help to abate almost 3 billion tonnes by the end of 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol is due to be replaced by a new treaty, currently being debated at Poznan'.  But analysts say that ensuring reliable verification is a serious problem, and that the decision to suspend the largest player sends a powerful signal to others in the business.

By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist  |  December 7, 2008

THE MAIL brings an invitation to register for the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, which convenes on March 8 in New York City. Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank, the conference will host an international lineup of climate scientists and researchers who will focus on four broad areas: climatology, paleoclimatology, the impact of climate change, and climate-change politics and economics.

But if last year's gathering is any indication, the conference is likely to cover the climate-change waterfront. There were dozens of presentations in 2008, including: "Strengths and Weaknesses of Climate Models," "Ecological and Demographic Perspectives on the Status of Polar Bears," and "The Overstated Role of Carbon Dioxide on Climate Change."

Just another forum, then, sounding the usual alarums on the looming threat from global warming?

Actually, no. The scientists and scholars Heartland is assembling are not members of the gloom-and-doom chorus. They dispute the frantic claims that global warming is an onrushing catastrophe; many are skeptical of the notion that human activity has a significant effect on the planet's climate, or that such an effect can be reliably measured or predicted. Some point out that global temperatures peaked in 1998 and have been falling since then. Indeed, several argue that a period of global cooling is on the way. Nearly all would argue that climate is always changing, and that no one really knows whether current computer models can reliably account for the myriad of factors that cause that natural variability.

They are far from monolithic, but on this they would all agree: Science is not settled by majority vote, especially in a field as young as climate science. Skepticism and inquiry go to the essence of scientific progress. It is always legitimate to challenge the existing "consensus" with new data or an alternative hypothesis. Those who insist that dissent be silenced or even punished are not the allies of science, but something closer to religious fanatics.

Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change, far too many people have been all too ready to play the Grand Inquisitor. For example, The Weather Channel's senior climatologist, Heidi Cullen, has recommended that meteorologists be denied professional certification if they voice doubts about global-warming alarmism. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wants oil-company executives tried for "crimes against humanity if they continue to dispute what is understood scientifically" about global warming. Al Gore frequently derides those who dispute his climate dogma as fools who should be ignored. "Climate deniers fall into the same camp as people who still don't believe we landed on the moon," Gore's spokeswoman told The Politico a few days ago.

In fact, what prompted The Politico to solicit Gore's comment was its decision to report on the mounting dissent from global-warming orthodoxy. "Scientists urge caution on global warming," the story was headlined; it opened by noting "a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation."

Coverage of such skepticism is increasing. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Michael Scott reported last week that meteorologists at each of Cleveland's TV stations dissent from the alarmists' scenario. In the Canadian province of Alberta, the Edmonton Journal found, 68 percent of climate scientists and engineers do not believe "the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled."

Expect to see more of this. The debate goes on, as it should.