Fitting An Elephant

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“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” – Albert Einstein

Einstein was just joking, but that is exactly what the Climategate team has done to the surface temperature record.

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We have all grown used to seeing graphs like the one at above from NASA, showing nearly continuous global warming over the last 135 years – with a flat period between 1940 and 1980, and 1.2C warming from 1880 through 2000.

Much of climate science, journalism and public policy is based around the belief that these NASA graphs are an accurate representation of the temperature record, and that the apparent warming which is shown in the graphs is due to an increase in atmospheric CO2. It is therefore very important to understand the accuracy, consistency and integrity of these graphs.

However, if we look at earlier versions of the same graph, we see something very different. The graph below was published by NASA in 2001, and showed 1975 as barely warmer than 1880 – with less than 0.6C warming from 1880 to 2000. The 2001 version showed only half as much warming from 1880 to 2000 as the 2016 version of the same graph above.

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UK Energy Chief: Green Energy an “appalling delusion”

Written by Andrew Follett

The United Kingdom’s former chief scientific adviser, the late Dr. David MacKay, told a prominent newspaper the country’s financial support of green energy is an “appalling delusion.”

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MacKay, who died in April 2016, said the U.K. should have ignored wind and solar power to focus on nuclear energy and clean coal. MacKay pointed out only nuclear and clean coal could power the U.K in the winter when energy demand is highest but sunshine is lowest and winds can drop for days at a time.

“There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing that is currently producing 1% of our electricity and we can just scale it up and if there is a slight issue of it not adding up, then we can just do energy efficiency,” MacKay told the Guardian in an interview published Tuesday. “Humanity really does needs to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics – we need a plan that adds up.”

MacKay was a physicist at the University of Cambridge and served as chief scientific adviser to Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2009-2014. He had gained public prominence after writing the book, Sustainable Energy – without the Hot Air, which stated that solar and wind energy simply cannot produce enough reliable power to meet the world’s energy needs.

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Prophets of doom in high places

Written by IVO VEGTER

Before climate change, there was the population explosion. Predicting disaster for humanity and environmental doom became the means by which government power could be expanded, even if the record of such prophesies is dismal.
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The record of populist predictions about the evils of modern society is terrible. The most alarming predictions, which garner the most headlines and have the most impact on public policy, never come to pass. Perennial pessimism is nothing but paranoid neurosis.

Prophesies about the catastrophes that would follow population growth have long been both shrill and high-profile. Yet they simply failed to materialise. The prophets of doom wish they would be quietly forgotten, and for the most part they have been. But they shouldn’t be, when the very same fearmongers remain in positions of influence or power.

In 1967, the brothers William and Paul Paddock wrote a book, calmly entitled Famine 1975! In it, they predict that most nations will be unable to sustain their growing populations by expanding agriculture, leading to a “Time of Famines” within a decade from the book’s publication. They believed that the United States would become the “sole hope of the hungry nations”, but that its charity had to be limited by necessity, forcing it to choose which countries it would simply leave to starve.

The scientific community, far from rejecting the preposterous alarmism, took it seriously. A review in the magazine Science explains: “From its title, one might infer that this book is an attention-seeking potboiler, on one of today’s ever more gripping and therefore popular subjects. It is not. It is deadly serious, a solemn analysis of things to come in the food domain, together with a proposed plan for action in a field where others have none. … All serious students of the plight of the underdeveloped nations agree that famine among the peoples of the underdeveloped nations is invetiable. The US Department of Agriculture, for example, sees 1985 as the beginning of the years of hunger.”

The Paddock brothers may have faded into obscurity, but their book received high praise from a more famous prognosticator of environmental apocalypse. The central thesis of Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb (full text) is stated in the prologue: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programmes embarked upon now.”

Ehrlich’s problem statement was the same as that of the Paddock brothers, but his proposed solutions were different. As suggested in the subtitle, “Population control or race to oblivion?”, Ehrlich was a proponent of penalty taxes on families with more children, levying luxury taxes on childcare products, and incentivising sterilisation after two children. He even suggested putting sterilants in the drinking water, but dismissed the idea as impractical because of the “criminal inadequacy of biomedical research in this area”.

The book makes no bones about how doomed he thought the world to be: “At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate, although many lives could be saved through dramatic programmes to ‘stretch’ the carrying capacity of the earth by increasing food production and providing for more equitable distribution of whatever food is available. But these programmes will only provide a stay of execution unless they are accompanied by determined and successful efforts at population control. Population control is the conscious regulation of the numbers of human beings to meet the needs not just of individual families, but of society as a whole.”

He proposed that the United States establish a Department of Population and Environment, which “should be set up with the power to take whatever steps are necessary to establish a reasonable population size in the United States and to put an end to the steady deterioration of our environment”.

Despite the stubborn refusal of the population to grow poor and die, half of this wish did come true, and environmental bureaucrats have been spewing forth reams of rules and regulations ever since. Some of them have been sensible and beneficial, but many are driven purely by fear, political opportunism, cronyism, or sheer hunger for power.

As is common, Ehrlich invoked the presumed plight of the next generation, whose future his own generation were presumably destroying: “Nothing could be more misleading to our children than our present affluent society. They will inherit a totally different world, a world in which the standards, politics and economics of the past decade are dead. … We are today involved in the events leading to famine and ecocatastrophe; tomorrow we may be destroyed by them. Our position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective action worldwide.”

Almost 50 years later there is no sign of Ehrlich’s dystopian delusions about poverty and famine. Population growth, which peaked in 1963 at 2.2%, has halved. There are fewer poor people now than ever before, and even the poor are far better fed than they were in 1968. Agriculture has been boosted immeasurably by the adoption of modern farming techniques and new techologies, feeding a population of more than 7-billion better than it did a population half this size in 1968. Yet the echoes of Ehrlich’s language are louder than ever. Ironically, the generation that wasn’t yet born in Ehrlich’s day, but are parents and grandparents today, fret just as much about the future they’re bequeathing to their children as Ehrlich himself did.

At the first Earth Day in 1970s, predictions of the Ehrlich variety were commonplace headline-grabbers. According to Senator Gaylord Nelson, who quoted Dr Dillon Ripley of the Smithsonian, 80% of all species would be extinct by 2000. Four billion people would starve to death during the 1980s, predicted Ehrlich himself. Kenneth Watt, an ecologist, predicted that the world would be 11 degrees colder by 2000, but that we’d have run out of crude oil.

None of these alarming predictions has come true.

A later book in a similar vein, co-authored in 1977 by Ehrlich, his wife Anne, and John Holdren, is Ecoscience (full text). Instead of dialling back the alarmism in light of a decade of experience, this dull, academic-looking tome – amounting to 1649 pages – doubles down on it. Famine, environmental disaster, energy crises and war all feature prominently in the Holdren-Ehrlich dystopia.

“A continuing set of interlocking shortages is likely – food, energy, raw materials – generating not only direct increases in human suffering and deprivation, but also increased political tension and (perversely) increased availability of the military wherewithal for LDCs to relieve their frustrations aggressively. Resort to military action is possible, not only in the case of LDCs unwilling to suffer quietly, but, with equal or greater likelihood, in the case of industrial powers whose high standard of living is threatened by denial of external resources. The probability that conflicts of any origin will escalate into an exchange of nuclear weapons, moreover, can hardly fail to be greater in 1985’s world of perhaps 15 or 20 nuclear armed nations than it has been in the recent world of five. …

“This gloomy prognosis, to which a growing number of scholars and other observers reluctantly subscribes, has motivated a host of proposals for organised evasive action: population control, limitation of material consumption, redistribution of wealth, transitions to technologies that are environmentally and socially less disruptive than today’s, and movement toward some kind of world government, among others.”

Their objective is not hidden; it isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s patently clear to anyone who can be bothered to wade through the massive volume.

The three authors go on to consider solutions to the problem of population control, some of them quite extreme and totalitarian. “Indeed, … compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” they wrote. They admit that “[f]ew today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion,” but promptly follow up with “compelling arguments that might be used to justify government regulation of reproduction” and “sound reasons that support the use of law to regulate reproduction”.

Besides forced abortions, they contemplate other laws, such as forcing unmarried women to put illegitimate babies up for adoption, or requiring pregnant single women to marry. The idea of mass sterilisation again rears its ugly head: “Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock.”

That would make it “acceptable”, would it? The implied sexism of that last sentence is made explicit elsewhere: “A programme of sterilising women after their second or third child, despite the relatively greater difficulty of the operation than vasectomy, might be easier to implement than trying to sterilise men.”

Taking a leaf out of communist China’s playbook, they propose limiting the number of children families would be entitled to have: “In today’s world … the number of children in a family is a matter of profound public concern. The law regulates other highly personal matters. For example, no one may lawfully have more than one spouse at a time. Why should the law not be able to prevent a person from having more than two children?”

Enforcing all these laws would require a powerful government, of course. The Ehrlichs and Holdren have just the thing: A “Planetary Regime” which they describe as “sort of an international superagency for population, resources, and environment. Such a comprehensive Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable, at least insofar as international implications exist.

“Thus the Regime could have the power to control pollution not only in the atmosphere and oceans, but also in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes that cross international boundaries or that discharge into the oceans. The Regime might also be a logical central agency for regulating all international trade, perhaps including assistance from [developed countries] to [less developed countries], and including all food on the international market. The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits.”

Now you’d think that these are the ravings of extremist lunatics, but you’d be wrong. Ehrlich is still happily employed at Stanford University, as Bing Professor of Population Studies and president of its Center for Conservation Biology. He’s still banging on about population growth. Here he is, quoted in the French magazine Le Temps, just last week: “Humanity would do well to return to 1.5-billion people. The world is heading for disaster.”

John Holdren is equally gainfully employed, as “Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.” He is Barack Obama’s right-hand man on science, occupying perhaps the most powerful scientific policy advisory position in the world.

None of their predictions have come to pass, yet these people continue to occupy influential or powerful positions. Worse, they pose an actual danger to society by proposing drastic measures to solve nonexistent problems. But then, that is true for many alarmists who exaggerate problems to advance a commercial or political agenda.

We should stop believing them.


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Paper Retracted in Climate Change Moths Model Mix Up

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Ecologists have retracted a paper published only months ago in Science Advances, after realizing that they had misinterpreted a climate model.

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The October paper examined the effects of climate change on populations of 155 species of British moths and butterflies. According to a press release from the authors’ institution, the University of York:

“Using data collected by thousands of volunteers through ‘citizen science’ schemes, responses to recent climate change were seen to vary greatly from species to species.”

But the authors quickly realized that the variation they had measured was not due to climate change alone, according to the retraction notice they issued for the paper last week:

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DNA secrets of Ice Age Europe unlocked

Written by Paul Rincon

A study of DNA from ancient human bones has helped unlock the secrets of Europe’s Ice Age inhabitants.

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Researchers analysed the genomes of 51 individuals who lived between 45,000 years ago and 7,000 years ago.

The results reveal details about the biology of these early inhabitants, such as skin and eye colour, and how different populations were related.

It also shows that Neanderthal ancestry in Europeans has been shrinking over time, perhaps due to natural selection.

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Europe’s Earth-watching sat beams back icy first pic

Written by Lester Haines

Svalbard archipelago poses for Sentinel-1B
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Europe’s Sentinel-1B Earth-watching satellite has delivered its first image, a tad over two days aftersoaring aloft from Kourou, French Guiana, and a mere two hours after its Synthetic Aperture Radarwas fired up.

Norway’s Svalbard archipelago – including the Austfonna glacier – was the satellite’s inaugural snap (full version here):

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Global Warming Question: How does the Air get hot?

Written by Anthony Bright-Paul

Now here’s a problem all you Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warmers can help me with, especially as I notice that at least one of you seems to know some Physics. How does the atmosphere get warm?

We are all agreed that 99% of the atmosphere is composed of Nitrogen and Oxygen, which leaves just 1% for the ‘Greenhouse Gases’, which includes Water Vapour and Carbon Dioxide at just 0.04% (or 400 parts per million, the human portion being just at most 0.000012%).  attenboroughNow the infrared radiation from the Sun encounters the mass of the Earth and heat is produced on the sands, rocks, oceans and lakes. So that is the picture. But the question is how does the air get hot?

The thing is – pardon my unlettered language – the thing is that Nitrogen and Oxygen are transparent to infrared radiation, near infrared and far infrared, that is oncoming and outgoing radiation. Of course, you guys have taught me that the ‘Greenhouse gases’ and in particular Carbon Dioxide is opaque to radiation, absorbs and emits it; -that is it emits radiation and thereby cools.

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1974 : Global Cooling Threatens “Unending Food Shortage”

Written by Tony Heller

In 1974, scientists said that global cooling threatened unending food shortages. They blamed the Polar Vortex and drought on expanding Arctic ice.

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October 15, 1974 – Weather changes here, abroad threaten unending food shortage

Now scientists blame drought and the Polar Vortex on global warming and shrinking Arctic ice caps. And of course, they made the global cooling since the 1940’s simply disappear.

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The Age of Cheap Oil and Natural Gas Is Just Beginning

Written by Marian Radetzki

Oil price rises over the past 40 years have been truly spectacular. In constant money, the price of oil rose by almost 900% between 1970 and 2013. This can be compared with a 68% increase for a metals and minerals price index, comprising a commodity group that, like oil, is exhaustible. In our view, it is political rather than economic forces that have shaped the inadequate growth of upstream oil production capacity, the dominant factor behind the sustained upward price push.

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But we believe the period of excessively high oil prices has come to an end. The international spread of two revolutions will assure much ampler oil supplies, and will deliver prices far below the highs that reigned between the end of 2010 and mid-2014.

Beginning less than a decade ago, the shale revolution – a result of technological breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and fracking – has turned the long run declining oil production trends in the US into rises of 88% from 2008 to 2015. Despite current low prices and the damage done to profits, an exceedingly high rate of productivity improvements in this relatively new industry promises to strengthen the competitiveness of shale output even further.

A series of environmental problems related to shale exploitation have been identified, most of which are likely to be successfully handled as the infant, “wild west” industry matures and as environmental regulation is introduced and sharpened.

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Indiana University researchers: Earth may be home to 1 trillion species

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Earth could contain nearly 1 trillion species, with only one-thousandth of 1 percent now identified, according to a study from biologists at Indiana University.

The estimate, based on the intersection of large datasets and universal scaling laws, appears May 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study’s authors are Jay T. Lennon, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, and Kenneth J. Locey, a postdoctoral fellow in the department.

The IU scientists combined microbial, plant and animal community datasets from government, academic and citizen science sources, resulting in the largest compilation of its kind. Altogether, these data represent over 5.6 million microscopic and nonmicroscopic species from 35,000 locations across all the world’s oceans and continents, except Antarctica.


“Estimating the number of species on Earth is among the great challenges in biology,” Lennon said. “Our study combines the largest available datasets with ecological models and new ecological rules for how biodiversity relates to abundance. This gave us a new and rigorous estimate for the number of microbial species on Earth.

“Until recently, we’ve lacked the tools to truly estimate the number of microbial species in the natural environment,” he added. “The advent of new genetic sequencing technology provides an unprecedentedly large pool of new information.”

The work is funded by an effort of the National Science Foundation to transform, by 2020, understanding about the scope of life on Earth by filling major gaps in humanity’s knowledge about the planet’s biodiversity.

“This research offers a view of the extensive diversity of microbes on Earth,” said Simon Malcomber, director of the NSF’s Dimensions of Biodiversity program. “It also highlights how much of that diversity still remains to be discovered and described.”

Microbial species are all forms of life too small to be seen with the naked eye, including all single-celled organisms, such as bacteria and archaea, as well as certain fungi. Many earlier attempts to estimate the number of species on Earth simply ignored microorganisms or were informed by older datasets that were based on biased techniques or questionable extrapolations, Lennon said.

“Older estimates were based on efforts that dramatically under-sampled the diversity of microorganisms,” he added. “Before high-throughput sequencing, scientists would characterize diversity based on 100 individuals, when we know that a gram of soil contains up to a billion organisms, and the total number on Earth is over 20 orders of magnitude greater.”

The realization that microorganisms were significantly under-sampled caused an explosion in new microbial sampling efforts over the past several years, including the collection of human-related microorganisms by the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project; marine microorganisms by the Tara Oceans Expedition; and aquatic, terrestrial and host-related microorganisms by the Earth Microbiome Project.

These data sources — and many others — were compiled to create the inventory in the IU study, which pulls together 20,376 sampling efforts on bacteria, archaea and microscopic fungi and 14,862 sampling efforts on communities of trees, birds and mammals. All of these sources were either publically available or provided access to IU.

“A massive amount of data has been collected from these new surveys,” said Locey, whose work included programming required to compile the inventory. “Yet few have actually tried to pull together all the data to test big questions.

“We suspected that aspects of biodiversity, like the number of species on Earth, would scale with the abundance of individual organisms,” he added. “After analyzing a massive amount of data, we observed simple but powerful trends in how biodiversity changes across scales of abundance. One of these trends is among the most expansive patterns in biology, holding across all magnitudes of abundance in nature.”

Scaling laws, like those discovered by the IU scientists, are known to accurately predict species numbers for plant and animal communities. For example, the number of species scales with the area of a landscape.

“Until now, we haven’t known whether aspects of biodiversity scale with something as simple as the abundance of organisms,” Locey said. “As it turns out, the relationships are not only simple but powerful, resulting in the estimate of upwards of 1 trillion species.”

The study’s results also suggest that actually identifying every microbial species on Earth is an almost unimaginably huge challenge. To put the task in perspective, the Earth Microbiome Project — a global multidisciplinary project to identify microscope organisms — has so far cataloged less than 10 million species.

“Of those cataloged species, only about 10,000 have ever been grown in a lab, and fewer than 100,000 have classified sequences,” Lennon said. “Our results show that this leaves 100,000 times more microorganisms awaiting discovery — and 100 million to be fully explored. Microbial biodiversity, it appears, is greater than ever imagined.”


This research was also supported in part by the U.S. Army Research Office.

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Political Distortions in Climatology

Written by Dr. Tim Ball

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim with 95 percent certainty that they completed a 5000-piece puzzle using only eleven pieces. The pieces are shown in the Radiative Forcing diagram (Figure 1) from AR5. By their assessment, they have high confidence in only five of these pieces. Those ratings are questionable and self-serving. For example, they list CO2 as very high when their prediction of its function is undermined by the lack of temperature increase for the last 20 years.


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One of the strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) against me emerged from an article with the central theme that the IPCC set climate research back 30 years. This was inevitable given the definition of climate change in Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The definition, as they planned, predetermined the results.

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El Chichon eruption implicated in Maya upheaval

Written by Jonathan Amos

Scientists think they can now tie the disruption that hit Maya civilisation in the 6th Century to an eruption of the El Chichon volcano.

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A Dutch team has investigated ash fall deposits, finding the age of the materials to be a good match for the so-called Maya “hiatus”.

This was a time when the sophisticated central Americans experienced cultural upheaval and political instability.

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North Atlantic Heat Content Plunges: “Serious Implications” for US Climate

Written by P Gosselin

Paul Donan of the excellent weather science site Vencore Weather here brings us up to date on the latest on one of the most powerful natural cycles driving our North Atlantic climate: North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) cycles.

Here I’ll sum up the main points. Of course do read the entire post at Vencore for all the details.

In a nutshell the sites writes that the North Atlantic “is now showing signs of a possible long-term shift back to colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures (SST) and this could have serious implications on US climate and sea ice areal extent in the Northern Hemisphere”.

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