29 January, 2016

Global Warming-In Brief

A 'comment' from a certain David Brewer, in the Catallaxy Files last night-
"The global warming narrative is a long chain of causation from industrial emissions to climate disruption – industrial CO2 emissions are not absorbed, they increase radiative forcing, then that is amplified by more water vapour in the upper atmosphere, and the thus-tripled radiative effect then raises temperatures which leads to all sorts of climate shifts and consequent biosphere changes.
The first link in the chain is none too strong – most emissions are reabsorbed and the reabsorption rate is not falling. But the key weak point is step 3 – the amplification of the initial radiative forcing by extra water vapour in the upper troposphere. This is undemonstrated, and cannot be occurring in the way the models say, since the temperature in that part of the atmosphere is hardly going up at all. Just like Semmelweis, we don’t know why, but the fact is the amplification of radiative forcing is not happening.
And so, logically enough, from that point on in the global warming narrative, nothing is happening the way it is supposed to. No rapid surface warming, no rapid ocean temperature rise, no acceleration of sea level rise, no significant change in droughts, floods, cyclones, the monsoon, or other weather patterns, no increase in extinctions, climate-induced deforestation, coral reef loss from water temperature rise etc etc etc.
What is really amazing and in need of explanation is how supposedly intelligent people are so sure of the entire narrative when they couldn’t even tell you the steps in the story, and have no idea what the real evidence is for any of them."
I Couldn't have said it better myself!

23 January, 2016

Nick Cater and Black Box Thinking-Learning from Mistakes-The Left Should try It.

Some extracted ,out of context, but useful quotes.

The pursuit of equality comes at the expense of liberty.

Left wing philosophers refuse to let the facts get in the way-

If you have a good theory, forget about the reality.

29 December, 2015

Chilling Climate of UN Control

 

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Like ancient Druids pleading with the gods for good seasons, world leaders and their aides recently devoted a fortnight in Paris to pleading with each other to stop global temperatures from rising more than an average 2C above pre-industrial levels, when the Earth was emerging from the Little Ice Age.
Of the 196 nations represented at the COP21 conference, 154 were developing economies. Regardless of the direction of world temperatures, they left Paris happy that the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which aims to reach $US100 billion a year by 2020, will give them cash for anything they can pass off as remotely ­related to their intended national contributions to world CO2 ­reduction. They argue this is only fair. Poor countries fare worst from climate change and must be compensated for unspecified damage and their share of repairing the West’s legacy. You can bet $US100bn a year won’t do it.
Overwhelmingly, the money for the fund will come from 42 guilt-racked wealthy nations. That is their moral responsibility. They caused the warming. They threaten the planet. It’s time for them to repay their climate debts.
It matters not that there is no empirical scientific evidence to support these claims. Even the 2C target is not based on science, it was originally plucked out of thin air by the European People’s Party for election purposes. But then climate change is not about credible scientific evidence. It has its roots in Marxism, and ultimately the Green Fund is presided over by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, run by Costa Rican Marxist Christiana Figueres. The “paradigm-shifting” fund will provide employment for an army of green bureaucrats who will offer “concessional finance” for the development needs of less advanced countries.
China, the leading emitter, venting one billion tonnes of CO2 a year more than it admits to, has been adroit in dealing with the politics. It approaches its domestic air quality crisis under the banner of climate action and so turns a domestic necessity into a global virtue. From this and its lack of interest in aid for itself, China projects moral authority and, while there is no cap on its emissions and only a promise that they will peak by 2030, promotes emission restraints for others, for its own competitive advantage.
India has adopted a similar line. The world’s third largest emitter is set to overtake China. It will not accept constraints on ­development and does not spell out when emissions will peak. Like China, it will adopt cleaner energy to improve air quality and will claim UN compensation.
Having successfully captured the West, post-Paris, the noose will tighten. Despite assurances that intended nationally determined contributions, delivered before the conference, would keep temperature increases to no more than 2C, we are now told that even if fully implemented, temperatures will rise by 2.7C by 2100. So the Paris agreement will “only lay the groundwork” and all those hard-won pledges were based on a miscalculation.
How disappointing. But there is now an aspirational 1.5C ambition on the table that Figueres quickly endorsed. Should it ever be agreed to, expect more ambit claims. And without a Tony ­Abbott in Canberra or a Stephen Harper in Ottawa, no world leader utters a peep in protest.
Caught in a moral dilemma of its own making, the developed world concedes its culpability. Its representatives succumb to propaganda and bullying and credulously accept bogus science and catastrophism. They pay no heed to alternative views. They consider abandoning fossil fuels, the world’s cheapest, most ­efficient and wealth-creating power source, and baulk at ­nuclear alternatives.
Instead, they pour hundreds of billions of dollars into costly, ­­in-efficient renewable energy, robbing their industries of flexibility and competitiveness and, punishing the world’s poorest citizens.
Indeed, Western capitalist societies have given up on rational thinking. They embrace junk ­science and junk economics and adopt wealth-destroying postmodern pseudo-economics, which teaches that taxpayer subsidies can produce desirable “economic transformation” and faster growth. Pigs may also fly.
Climate change has cowed once great powers into meekly surrendering sovereignty and independent thought to unelected bureaucrats in Geneva. From the White House to the Lodge, private choice now runs a distant second to collectivist visions.
Although only an aspiration now, the 1.5C target will be relentlessly pursued until adopted. The media, in step with the Green ­Machine, will bombard us with climate alarmism to the applause of the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, who says: “My mission is to make the world aware that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism.” ­Really? That’s serious. Clearly authority, not common sense or science, now rules the world.
While some activists such as James Hansen may criticise the Paris agreement as “worthless words”, those such as Figueres, interested in reconfiguring the world’s political and economic structure, will be pleased with progress. We are another step closer to her ideal of ‘‘centralised transformation”, with the UN at the authoritarian centre, calling the shots and doling out transfer payments from the rich to ensure poor countries remain her ­mendicants. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “If we really want to put an end to global poverty, if we really want to make the world healthier and planet Earth environmentally sustainable, we have first to address the climate change issue.”
The only certainty to come out of COP21 is that there will be a COP22.

19 December, 2015

We Need Publicaly Funded Sceptics

We need publicly funded sceptics to challenge CO2 witch-hunt

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In 1589, Princess Anne of Denmark left to marry King James VI of Scotland. En route, her boat was struck by storms. Someone had to be blamed and, as was standard for the time, witches were the usual suspects.
More than 100 suspected witches were duly arrested and at least four people were burned at the stake. The fact James and Anne went on to be happily married, apparently unmolested by tempests, must have reassured them that justice had been done.
The supposed connection between human activity and the weather is an instinctive one and perhaps helps explain the remarkable persistence of incorrect views on climate change.
Every time there is a big cyclone a finger is soon pointed to the modern witch of carbon dioxide emissions. This continues despite there being no evidence that extreme weather events have increased because of global warming. The latest reportof the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits that “evidence suggests slight decreases in the frequency of tropical cyclones making landfall in the North Atlantic and the South Pacific”.
A significant issue with climate change science is that often only one side of the debate is heard, so clear exaggerations and untruths can remain unchallenged.
The US military pioneered the use of so-called red teams whose job was to argue against prevailing wisdom, making its strategies more robust. Climate change science would benefit from more red team analysis.
For example, if you listen to the mainstream media, you would not realise that since the last major attempt to forge a climate change agreement in Copenhagen six years ago, the science has become less certain and gives us less reason to worry. This is primarily because the globe’s climate seems less sensitive to increases in carbon dioxide than previously thought.
In just the past 18 years we have experienced one-third of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution, but temperatures have not increased as expected.
Satellite data shows no or only minimal warming, and surface-based measures show a warming rate far below projected climate models. At a US Senate hearing this week, John Christy, a lead author on previous IPCC reports, presented evidence that, on average, climate models over-estimated the rate of warming by three times compared with what actually has occurred.
If these models cannot replicate the past, how can we rely on them to predict the future?
The IPCC has recognised this uncertainty by winding down its estimates of how sensitive the climate is to carbon dioxide levels.
In 2007 it reported a possible range of 2C to 4.5C, whereas last year it reported a range of between 1.5C and 4.5C. More recent evidence indicates that the figures could be even lower.
The greatest uncertainty revolves around debates about the climate impact of aerosols in the atmosphere. A paper published this year in the Journal of Climate by Bjorn Stevens from the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology argues that the impact of aerosols on climate is significantly smaller than the latest IPCC report assumes.
Using these estimates shows that the upper bound of climate sensitivity should not be 4.5C but just 2.2C.
That is pretty close to what we were told the world needed to avoid dangerous climate change. Readers who are paying attention will note that some green activists are now saying we need to keep warming below 1.5C rather than 2C.
When the facts change, so can your arguments.
Whatever the facts, too much weight is placed on conformity in climate change science — most widely demonstrated by the inane argument that “97 per cent of scientists agree”.
Presumably 97 per cent of pundits agreed in the power of witchcraft in the 16th century.
Science is not a democracy. Scientific knowledge progresses from the ruthless exposure of competing hypotheses to criticism. But who is doing that critique of climate change theories today?
Public funding of climate change science almost exclusively flows to one side of the debate. Even just a small sliver of the reported $US100 billion ($139bn) fund that Paris is creating for developing countries could make a difference.
We need red team funding of scientists who take a different view on climate change. Even if such teams ultimately take positions that are incorrect, by challenging the climate zeitgeist they would make our scientific knowledge stronger. That means the policies we implement would be based less on dogma and more on a true appreciation of how carbon dioxide emissions affect our world.
Matthew Canavan is a Nationals senator for Queensland.

18 November, 2015

Humanity's Best Days Lie Ahead

Published on: 
Munk Debate, Toronto, 6 November 2105
I took part in a Munk debate on 6 November, in which Steven Pinker and I argued that "humanity's best days lie ahead" while Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Botton argued against us. It was entertaining and we shifted the audience our way a little, although three-quarters were on our side at the start (which is probably not representative of the population as a whole).
Here's the text of my opening statement:
Woody Allen once said: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
That’s the way pretty well everybody talks about the future. When I was young the future was grim. The population explosion was unstoppable, famine was inevitable, pesticides were giving us cancer, the deserts were advancing, the oil was running out, the rain forests were doomed, acid rain, bird flu, and the hole in the ozone layer were going to make us sick, my sperm count was on the way down, and a nuclear winter would finish us off.
You think I am exaggerating. He’s what a best-selling book  by the economist Robert Heilbroner concluded in the year I left school: "The outlook for man, I believe, is painful, difficult, perhaps desperate, and the hope that can be held out for his future prospects seem to be very slim indeed."
It was only a decade later that it dawned on me that every one of these threats had either been a false alarm or had been greatly exaggerated. The dreadful future was not as bad as the grown-ups had told me. Life just keeps on getting better and better for the vast majority of people.
Human lifespan has been growing at about five hours a day for 50 years.
The greatest measure of misery anybody can think of – child mortality – has gone down by two thirds in that time.
Malaria mortality has fallen by an amazing 60% in 15 years.
Oil spills in the ocean are down by 90% since the 1970s.
An object the size of a slice of bread lets you send letters, have conversations, watch movies, find your way around, take pictures, and tell hundreds of people what you had for breakfast.
And what’s getting worse? Traffic, obesity? Problems of abundance, note. 
Here’s a funny thing. Most improvements are gradual so they don’t make the news. Bad news tends to come suddenly. Falling airliners always make the news; falling child mortality doesn’t.
As Steve says, every year the average person on the planet grows wealthier, healthier, happier, cleverer, cleaner, kinder, freer, safer, more peaceful and more equal.
More equal?
Yes, global inequality is on the way down. Fast. Why? because people in poor countries are getting rich faster than people in rich countries.
Africa is experiencing an astonishing miracle these days, a bit like Asia did a decade ago. Mozambique is 60% richer per capita than it was in 2008. Ethiopia’s economy’s growing at 10% a year.
The world economy has shrunk in only one year since the second world war – in 2009 when it dipped by less than 1% before growing by 5% the next year. If anything the march of prosperity is speeding up.
But my optimism isn’t just based on extrapolating the past. It’s based on WHY these things are happening.
Innovation, driven by the meeting and mating of ideas to produce baby ideas is the fuel that drives them.
And far from running out of fuel, we’re only just getting started. There’s an infinity of ways of recombining ideas to make new ideas.
And we no longer have to rely on North Americans and Europeans to come up with them.
The internet has speeded up the rate at which ideas have sex.
Take vaping. In my country there are now more than 3m people who’ve given up smoking because of e-cigarettes. It’s proving to be the best aid to quitting we’ve ever come up with.
It’s as safe as coffee.
And it was invented in China, by a man named Hon Lik, who combined a bit of chemistry with a bit of electronics.
OK, but isn’t all this progress coming at the expense of the environment? Well no, often the reverse. Many environmental indicators are improving in many countries: more forest, more wildlife, cleaner air, cleaner water.
Even the extinction rate’s down compared with 100 years ago, for the creatures we know about, birds and mammals, thanks to the efforts of conservationists.
And the richer countries are, the more likely their environment’s improving – the biggest environmental problems are in poor countries. 
But what about population? The population growth rate’s halved in my lifetime from 2% to 1% and the birth rate’s plummeting in Africa today. The world population quadrupled in the 20th century but it’s not even going to double in this century, and the UN thinks it will stop growing altogether by the 2080s.
Not because of war, pestilence and famine, as gloomy old Parson Malthus feared, but because of prosperity, education and health.
There’s a simple and beautiful fact about demography. When more children survive, people plan smaller families.
With slowing population growth and expanding farm yields, it’s getting easier and easier to feed the world.
Today it takes 68% less land to grow the same amount of food as 50 years ago. That means more land for nature.
In theory, you can feed the world from a hydroponic farm the size of Ontario and keep the rest as a nature reserve.
And the planet’s getting greener. Satellites have recorded 14% more green vegetation today than 30 years ago, especially in arid areas like the Sahel region of Africa.
But am I like the man who falls out of the skyscraper and as he passes the second floor, shouts “so far so good”? I don’t think so.
You’ll probably hear the phrase “turning point” in this debate. You’ll be told this generation is the one that’s going to be worse off than its parents, that it’s going to die younger, or see sudden deterioration in its environment.
Well, let me tell you about turning points. Every generation thinks it stands at a turning point, that the past is fine but the future’s bleak. As Lord Macaulay put it, “in every age everybody knows that up to his own time, progressive improvement has been taking place; nobody seems to reckon on any improvement in the next generation. We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who say society has reached a turning point – that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason.”
We filter the past for happy memories and filter the future for gloomy prognoses.
It’s a strange form of narcissism. We have to believe that our generation’s the special one, the one where the turning point comes. And it’s nonsense.
Macaulay again:
“On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

22 October, 2015

Boyer Lecture 4-Michael Fullilove

Like many Australians I have often thought we should not take ourselves too seriously and be careful not to make fools of ourselves by suggesting we are more important than we really are. In the opening to his fourth lecture Michael Fullilove suggests otherwise:-

It is often said that Australia is a middle power. But there is nothing middling about Australia.

There are two hundred-odd countries in the world. On every important measure except population, we rank in the top ten or twenty.

Our economy is the twelfth largest in the world. Our people are the fifth richest.

Australia is an old democracy and a free society. We are allied to the global leader and located in the most dynamic region in the world.

Our diaspora is one million strong: our own world wide web of ideas and influence.

We have a continent to ourselves. And we are fortunate enough to share it with the oldest continuing culture on earth.

Australia is not a middle power. Australia is a significant power with regional and global interests – and we should act like one.