Saturday, 30 June 2012

George Clooney in search of missing millions for Obama in Switzerland

George Clooney and the Obama fundraising team seem to know where the money is:

Actor George Clooney is offering more help to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign by headlining a European fundraiser this summer for Americans living abroad.
An invitation posted on Obama's campaign website says Clooney will be the special guest at an Obama fundraiser in Geneva, Switzerland, on Aug. 27.
Tickets start at $1,000 per person, and dinner for two costs a cool $30,000.
However, it remains to be seen, whether seriously rich Americans who prefer to live in Switzerland will open their check books for Obama:  
Rich Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship rose sevenfold since UBS AG (UBSN) whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld triggered a crackdown on tax evasion four years ago.
About 1,780 expatriates gave up their nationality at U.S. embassies last year, up from 235 in 2008, according to Andy Sundberg, secretary of Geneva’s Overseas American Academy, citing figures from the government’s Federal Register. The embassy in Bern, the Swiss capital, redeployed staff to clear a backlog as Americans queued to relinquish their passports.
The U.S., the only nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that taxes citizens wherever they reside, is searching for tax cheats in offshore centers, including Switzerland, as the government tries to curb the budget deficit. Shunned by Swiss and German banks and facing tougher asset-disclosure rules under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, more of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas are weighing the cost of holding a U.S. passport.

Sensational study: Global warming turning Africa´s savannahs into green forests

This barren savannah could soon be a green forest

Great news for Africa: Forget all the tree planting, global warming will turn the continent´s barren savannahs into green forests, according to a new German study, published in the journal Nature

New research from researchers based at two German research institutes predicts that large parts of Africa's savannahs may well be forests by the time the year 2100 comes round. 

Writing in the journal Nature, Steven Higgins from the Goethe University Frankfurt and Simon Scheiter from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt suggest that fertilisation by atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is leading to major increases in tree cover throughout Africa. 

Grasses and trees differ fundamentally in their response to temperature, CO2 supply and fire, and continually struggle for dominance in savannahs. 

Previously, these shifts in dominance have taken place over long periods of time, but the current wave of atmospheric changes has sped up rates of change. 
Once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, savannahs become less grassy and more forest-like. However, each savannah has its own critical threshold which means that each savannah will make the switch at different times. This helps reduce the risk of a simultaneous and dramatic change emanating from the savannahs.  

The new findings should of course apply to other savannah type areas in the world as well, which makes a warmer future all the more welcome! 

Friday, 29 June 2012

NYC pension funds in the hands of Al Gore - probably not very smart

If I were a present or future New York City pensioner, this piece of news would definitively not cheer me up:  

Embattled city Comptroller John Liu has delivered a $16.56 million contract to the former vice president's environmentally-friendly investment firm, Generation Investment Management, to help manage hundreds of millions of dollars in city pension funds, the New York Post has learned. 

The Comptroller's Office had previously awarded Gore's firm $12.8 million in pension-fund business under Liu's predecessor, Bill Thompson. 

Since 2009, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has approved $6 million in contracts to the firm, co-founded and chaired by Gore. Generation now manages nearly a half-billion dollars of state pension-fund investments, records show. 

Bill Gunderson, the owner of Gunderson Capital Management, is - rightly - not impressed by Al Gore´s "green" business or green investments in general: 

I'm sorry if I am as skeptical of Al's financial acumen as I am of his meteorological expertise. But green investments are terrible performers.
More than a year ago I told my clients and readers to 'sell everything under the sun.' I shorted First Solar, America's largest solar manufacturer.
The stock was at $120. Today is at $14.
Line 'em up: The green energy cars, green battery companies, green solar, green wind, green you name it: They are toxic to a portfolio. Unless of course you short them.
Four years ago, the Solar Index -- TAN -- was $307 a share. Today is is $19.
The Wind Index was $31 a share. Today it is $6.
Vestas Wind was $25 in 2009. Today is $1.70.
The list of lousy green stocks is just about the closest thing we have to an infinite renewable resource.
Curious how almost all of investments in green energy that Al would make for public employees require public subsidies and regulatory relief from the same people who are investing in the technology.
These are also the people who issue the numbers on Green Job growth. If you drive a bus, you have a green job. If you push a broom at the bus station, you have a green job. If you type a memo to the bus drive, you have a green job.
Remember that the next time some green broker tells you about the growth in the hundreds of thousands of green jobs in this country.
Months before President Obama made his now infamous visit to Solyndra, I wrote about how Solyndra was 'not a going concern' in several papers throughout the country.
A lot of people in the investment business knew it. If any reporters did, they did not see fit to share it with us. Maybe they were in it for the long term.
But the money still poured in.
That is green investing: If it feels good, do it. If you can brag about it at a dinner party, tell your broker to buy it. If Al Gore likes it, that's all you need to know.
But if your state pension fund actually needs the money, don't.

Read the entire article here

Game over for wind and solar power

Even the most die-hard propagandists of wind and solar energy, like the UN International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), are now forced to admit that the the American led shale gas revolution is a gamechanger. An interview with Dolf Gielen, the director of Irena's Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, is quite revealing: 

  • The question today is whether the arrival of cheaper hydrocarbons, in the form of shale gas, could also spell the end of renewable energy as a major player.
  • The arrival of vast quantities of previously inaccessible hydrocarbons has driven down the price of natural gas in the US from its 2003 peak of US$20 per million British thermal units to today's $2.
  • The solar manufacturing industry that has undergone rounds of bankruptcies and consolidation over the past year seems to have finally bottomed out. "We've reached a situation where most of the solar cell and module manufacturers are making losses," said Mr Gielen. 
  • Already, the global economic crisis has pushed nations such as Spain and the Czech Republic to roll back subsidies that made the costs of green power more equal to fossil fuels and motivated homeowners to pitch solar panels on their roofs." (the bolded text is of course sheer propaganda, NNoN)
  • "... in the long term, the failure of nations to come to a meaningful climate change agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions has sapped confidence in cap-and-trade carbon markets and investor appetite for projects from carbon burial to nuclear to solar."

Still these solar and wind energy propagandists cling to futile hopes about some kind of a miracle - which will not happen - for wind and solar energy after 2030:
Continued low prices pose a threat to the pace of growth for wind and solar energy, at least until 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), a United Nations agency with headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and Abu Dhabi.
In power generation, renewables account for a little more than 20 per cent of the world capacity, and Mr Gielen forecasts that will rise to 50 per cent with new hydropower, wind and solar plants that are becoming increasingly cost competitive.
It is highly unlikely that renewables - even if they would include hydropower - will rise to the 50% in the foreseeable future, when one considers the abundance of shale and conventional oil and gas available. And even the 20% capacity claim for today is misleading. If one looks at the global energy consumtion figures -  as opposed to capacity - the share of hydro, wind, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to just about 8%:
It is crucial, at this point, to differentiate between the installed capacity of renewables and the actual share of renewables satisfying the final energy consumption.
Substracting the use of traditional biomass, the figure for renewables in the modern sense, that is, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to 8.2% of the entire global energy consumption.
And of this 8,2% only a fraction comes from wind, solar and bioenergy. Their share might have grown somewhat during the last couple of years, but this figure from the Danish Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy from 2009 still shows the reality behind all the hype: 
Only 1% of the world’s energy consumption comes from modern renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar and bioenergy. 

Vladimir Putin: "The Man Without a Face"

Putin in a KGB uniform
The Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen - whose excellent Putin biography "The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin"  has recently been published by Riverhead Books - has some interesting things to say in a Harper´s Magazine interview

 From 1985 to 1990, Putin was stationed as a KGB officer in Dresden, where you note that he had dealings with West German radicals associated with the Red Army Faction. During this time, the RAF carried out the assassination of Deutsche Bank chairman Alfred Herrhausen, among other terrorist acts. Is there anything tying Putin to the RAF’s trail of assassinations and robberies?
I had a source claim that there was, but I was never able to corroborate what he told me. That is why I refrain from speculating on this in the book.

Who is Marina Salye, and how did she help you resolve the puzzle about the “missing years” in Putin’s biography?
 Marina Salye is Putin’s oldest enemy. In the late 1980s, she emerged from the world of academia to become the most popular politician in Leningrad. She was a leader of the popular, pro-reform People’s Front, and she was elected to city council and became a leader there, too (though, sticking to her radically democratic principles, she chose not to seek the chairmanship). In 1992 she spearheaded a city-council investigation that concluded that Putin, as St. Petersburg’s deputy mayor, had embezzled or helped embezzle as much as $100 million. The council passed a resolution calling on the mayor to dismiss Putin and refer the case to the prosecutor’s office for investigation. Instead, the mayor dismissed the council, and ruled the city by decree for the next year. Salye became a professional organizer and eventually moved to Moscow.
When Putin suddenly rose to national prominence in 1999 and was running for president in 2000, she tried to draw attention to her old investigation, warning in one memorable article that he would become “the president of a corrupt oligarchy.” This uncannily accurate prediction was ignored by the public and by Salye’s old comrades from the pro-democracy movement, as was Salye herself (though she was not ignored by everyone). She was threatened—she refuses to say by whom or how—and she fled the city. Rumor had it she was in Paris, but I eventually found her in a tiny, semi-abandoned village in the woods not far from the Russia–Latvia border. She had been living there for a decade. She talked to me about her investigation (I had the report itself), allowed me to make copies of many important documents relating to corruption in the St. Petersburg city administration, and talked about that period in detail. On February 4 of this year, she emerged from her hideout to be the lead speaker at an anti-Putin protest in St. Petersburg.
After becoming president, Putin spoke of a “dictatorship of the law,” and when Dmitri Medvedev ran for the presidency in 2008, he criticized the cynicism and weakness of Russia’s legal culture and promised reform. This seems to have appealed to a whole generation of young Russians, who thought their nation was charting a new course. One of them was a young auditor named Sergei Magnitsky. What happened to Magnitsky and what does this say about the Putin government’s commitment to law?
I found the “dictatorship of the law” slogan disturbingly oxymoronic from the beginning: the law does not rule by dictatorship; the law serves as an arbiter. It facilitates deliberation and ultimately leads to justice. Or it should. But we got exactly what Putin promised: a corrupt system of law enforcement and the judiciary, which acts in concert with the executive branch to exert terror—just like a dictatorship would. Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a corruption scheme that allowed a group of tax-police officers to use the courts to steal several companies and then fraudulently obtain $230 million in tax returns filed on their behalf. When Magnitsky pushed for an investigation, he was jailed; when he persisted while in jail, he was tortured to death. He died in November 2009, at the age of thirty-six, in prison.
In a review of Gessen´s book in the Australian Quadrant Online, Daryl McCann writes: 
Over the years Putin has repeatedly stolen the assets of prosperous companies and individual billionaires, the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004 providing as good an example as any: 
And with the assets of the country’s largest private company hijacked in broad daylight, Putin had claimed his place as the godfather of a mafia clan ruling the country. Like all mafia bosses, he barely distinguished between his personal property, the property of his clan, and the property of those beholden to his clan.  
Putin’s compulsion to pilfer apparently knows no bounds, high or low. In 2005, while hosting a delegation of American businessmen in St Petersburg, Putin expressed his admiration for the 124-diamond Super Bowl ring of Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. With no more ado Putin pocketed the ring and abruptly left the room: “After a flurry of articles in the US press, Kraft announced a few days later that the ring had been a gift—preventing an uncomfortable situation from spiralling out of control.” Putin’s insatiable greed, contends Gessen, is not a case of kleptomania so much as pleonexia, “the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others”.
What Putin has done to Russia is very sad. Russia deserves something better. Fortunately more and more people have began to realize what kind of a person Vladimir Putin is. 

Obama, Merkel, Cameron and other western leaders of course know the truth about Putin, but they continue to treat him like an ordinary head of state. The ultimate reason for this is fear: Madman Putin is in charge of a huge nuclear arsenal. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Great news for Panetta: Climate change does not increase risk of armed conflict

"Our mission at the Department is to secure this nation against threats to our homeland and to our people.  In the 21st Century, the reality is that there are environmental threats which constitute threats to our national security.  For example, the area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security"
Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense

"Over the next 20 years and more, certain pressures-population, energy, climate, economic, environmental-could combine with rapid cultural, social, and technological change to produce new sources of deprivation, rage, and instability." 
Robert Gates, former secretary of Defense:

There is great news for Panetta and the other Pentagon warmists.  A new study on Climate Change and Armed Civil Conflict shows that climate change does not increase the risk of conflicts: 

What was learned
In the first stage of their analysis, the two Norwegian researchers did indeed find that "climate-related disasters have a negative impact on growth," but they say that their analysis of disaster data and conflict onset shows that "climate-related natural disasters do not have any direct effect on conflict onset." And they additionally report that they "did not find any evidence that economic shocks caused by climate-related disasters have an effect on conflict onset," noting that their findings "are similar to those in the recent cross-country study by Ciccone (2011)."
What it means
In the concluding words of the authors, "storms and floods adversely affect people and production inputs such as land, infrastructure, and factories, which in turn have a negative impact on the aggregate economy," but they determined that, "interestingly, these negative income shocks do not increase the risk of armed civil conflict as predicted by prominent studies in the field (Collier and Hoeffler, 2004; Fearon and Laitin, 2003; Miguel et al., 2004)."

There is reason to be sceptical about the Norwegian researchers´concept of "climate-related disasters", but that does not invalidate their conclusion that natural disasters do not increase the risk of armed conflicts. 

Study: Poorest countries adapt well to climate change

"One of the biggest injustices of climate change is that the poorest countries are most exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change even though they have done least to raise atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. Now they must contend with the brutal arithmetic of a tight budget for global emissions as they try to fight poverty, develop and grow, while managing the enormous risks of climate change."
Nicholas Stern, I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government and chair of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics
José Antonio Ocampo, Professor,Columbia University 
“The huge injustice of climate change is that it is those who have done the least to cause the problem - the most vulnerable from the world’s poorest communities - who are hardest hit by it.
“That is why Scotland is committed to supporting climate justice and why we are launching Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund.”
Alex Salmond, First Minister, Scotland

There is great news for Salmond, Stern and all the other warmists who pretend to be worried about the impact of global warming in poor countries. A new study shows that the poorest countries actually adapt better to climate change: 

A new study involving experts in the School of Geography at The University of Nottingham found that the very poor and the relatively wealthy countries are less vulnerable — it was the group in the middle that was most at risk. This unexpected result was found at several different scales and by different members of the research team. They’ve called on policy-makers and NGOs to take their findings into account.

Scottish taxpayers´ money will hopefully now be used for some more urgent purposes. 

Wind turbines are killing machines threatening endangered species

Wind turbines are veritable killing machines. And the really sad thing is that they kill birds and bats that are already struggling:

The Spanish Ornithological Society in Madrid estimates that Spain's 18,000 wind turbines may be killing 6 million to 18 million birds and bats annually. “A blade will cut a griffon vulture in half,” says Bechard. “I've seen them just decapitated."
“The troubling issue with wind development is that we're seeing a growing number of birds of conservation concern being killed by wind turbines,” says Albert Manville, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arlington, Virginia.
But the rapid expansion of wind power can harm wildlife in multiple ways. Beyond direct collisions with turbines, wind farms threaten species by displacing habitat. And bats can develop fatal internal haemorrhaging as a result of air-pressure changes when they fly through the wake of a spinning blade.
But the concern is that turbines threaten species that are already struggling, such as bats, which in North America have been hit hard by white-nose fungus. Another vulnerable group is raptors, which are slow to reproduce and favour the wind corridors that energy companies covet. “There are species of birds that are getting killed by wind turbines that do not get killed by autos, windows or buildings,” says Shawn Smallwood, an ecologist who has worked extensively in Altamont Pass, California, notorious for its expansive wind farms and raptor deaths. Smallwood has found that Altamont blades slay an average of 65 golden eagles a year2. “We could lose eagles in this country if we keep on doing this,” he says.

Other species at risk include the critically endangered California condors (Gymnogyps californicus) — which number only 226 in the wild and the few hundred remaining whooping cranes (Grus americanus), concentrated in the central United States. Biologists can't say whether the increase in wind farms will cause the collapse of these or other bird species, which already face many threats. But waiting for an answer is not an option, says Smallwood. “By the time we do understand the population-level impacts, we might be in a place we don't want to be.”

Read the entire article here

This senseless killing of endangered birds and bats should of course be condemned by all, particularly those who say they are working for the protection of wild animals. But don´t expect that e.g. Greenpeace "activists" will be chaining themselves to wind turbines any time soon. No, Greenpeace is instead actively spreading false information about the danger to birds by wind turbines:

Myth: Wind turbines threaten bird populations.
Fact: Studies show that for every 10,000 bird fatalities, less than one is caused by wind turbines. For comparison, cats cause about 10 percent of bird deaths and nearly half are caused by collisions with buildings or windows.
In fact, a recent study published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that 40 percent of all species could face extinction because of global warming.
Monitoring of existing wind farms suggests that with proper location and construction, there is no adverse impact on bird populations.  

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The American led shale gas revolution is rocking Russia - and Putin

The Financial Times´s Eastern Europe Editor Neil Buckley has not understood the deep impact  of the US led shale gas revolution on global - and European - energy markets. He seems to think that Exxon´s decision to pull of out of Polish shale gas exploration is of great significance:  

Six months later, however, the challenge from shale gas to Gazprom’s European energy dominance looks to be waning.
In a further blow to Poland’s hopes of breaking free from dependence on Russian imports, ExxonMobil this week pulled out of Polish shale gas exploration after disappointing flow rates from test wells.

The fact that Exxon - which never was an important actor in Poland - is pulling out, has no major significance for Poland. Many other companies are still continuing with their exploration efforts, and the latest reports by e.g. San Leon Energy look promising. 
But even if Polish shale gas would be of smaller importance than previously thought, the larger picture of shale gas must be causing panic in the Gazprom boardrooms - and in the Kremlin
The natural-gas boom reshaping America is rocking Russia, where state producer OAO Gazprom (GAZP) is slow to react and at risk of becoming the world’s biggest loser from the new technology to drill shale rock.
The U.S. no longer needs Russia’s gas, leaving President Vladimir Putin fighting to salvage Gazprom’s $20 billion Shtokman project in the Arctic. China, the biggest energy consumer, is exploring its own shale reserves and hesitating to accept a pipeline from Russia. Gazprom’s shipments fell about 14 percent so far in 2012, and the stock has lost 9.6 percent.
Should Gazprom founder, Russia could follow. With most of its contract prices pegged to oil, which has fallen about 15 percent this year, its profit outlook weakened.
Read the entire article here
The likely scenario is not that Russia could founder but that it - and with it Putin -  will founder. That is what is making Putin so nervous, because his dictatorial grip on power is totally dependent on easy money from European customers paying far too much for Russian gas. 

Why is Obama protecting Putin´s criminal cronies?

Why is the Obama administration trying to protect gang of Putin loyalists who are complicit in the murder of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky? Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov points out that Ronald Reagan understood that appeasing dictators never works for long:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the "Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act," named after an anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 after a year in Russian jails.
Despite bipartisan support in Congress, the measure's future prospects remain uncertain, in part because the Obama administration is unenthusiastic about it.
Immediately prior to the G-20 summit, top Russian officials announced that Mr. Putin's highest priority in meeting Mr. Obama would be the Magnitsky Act, a piece of pending U.S. legislation that would apply travel and financial sanctions against Russian functionaries complicit in the 2009 torture and murder of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Critically, the act can also be extended to those who commit similar crimes.

This was a startling admission for the Putin regime to make. I have long promoted the idea of going after the money and travel privileges of the Kremlin loyalists who keep Mr. Putin's criminal regime operational. The surprise was his in effect confessing how afraid of the act he is. He clearly felt it necessary to publicly reassure his rank and file that he would fight to protect their ill-gotten wealth and lifestyles.
Mr. Putin's May 7 inauguration was followed by crackdowns against the pro-democracy movement, including raids on the homes of opposition leaders and their families and a massive raise in the fines and jail sentences for participating in demonstrations. While more than a dozen protesters are already behind bars, the raids and arrests continue. As ever, the application of the law is focused on punishing opposition activities that are supposed to be protected by the Russian constitution. The police and judiciary understand that by protecting Mr. Putin's power, they gain ultimate immunity.
The Magnitsky Act would shake the foundation of Mr. Putin's power base. It is less clear why the Obama administration has worked so hard to bury it. Abroad, Mr. Putin's Russia continues to sell arms to the Assad dictatorship in Syria and generally do everything possible to keep the Middle East at a boil—the better to keep oil prices high.

In March, President Obama was overheard telling Mr. Medvedev he would have "more flexibility" to address Russian interests after his re-election. Yet Mr. Obama looks all too flexible already. Negotiating on trade or missile defense is all well and good, but when you put moral values on the table with a dictatorship you lose every time.

America should be siding with the Russian people, not with Mr. Putin. Russia is not America's foe. We have much in common—struggles with radical Islam, concerns about Chinese influence and expansionism, real shared strategic interests. Mr. Putin's Russia, on the other hand, is concerned only with power and the oil and gas profits needed to maintain it. Yes, a free Russia will compete with the U.S., but it will not be an unwavering adversary.

Ronald Reagan understood history and its lesson that appeasing dictators never works for long. By passing the Magnitsky Act, which was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the United States will be supporting the Russian people, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and protecting its own long-term interests. Being "flexible" on these issues will only prove the old saying that by standing for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Read the entire article here

The latest episode of the "Russian Untouchables":

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

"Albert Einstein's famous 1905 paper on relativity was not peer reviewed"

Australian palaeoclimatologist and - climate realist - Bob Carter explains why the "gold standard" of peer reviewed climate science is not what people like R.K. Pachauri pretend it is: 

Peer review is a technique of quality control for scientific papers that emerged slowly through the 20th century, achieving a dominant influence in science after World War II. 
The process works like this: a potential scientific author conducts research, writes a paper on their results and submits the paper to a professional journal in the relevant specialist field of science.
The editor of the journal then scan-reads the paper. Based on their knowledge of the contents of the paper, and of the activities of other scientists in the same research field, the editor selects (usually) two people, termed referees, to whom he sends the draft manuscript of the paper for review.
Referees, who are unpaid, differ in the amount of time and effortthey devote to their task of review. At one extreme a referee will criticise and correct a paper in detail, including making comments on the scientific content. At the other extreme, a referee may merely skim-read a paper, ignoring obvious mistakes in writing style or grammar, and make some general comments to the editor about its scientific accuracy or otherwise.
Generally neither type of referee, nor those in between, check the original data, or the detailed statistical calculations (or, today, complex computer modelling) that often form the kernel of a piece of modern scientific research.
Each referee recommends whether the paper should be published (usually with corrections) or rejected, the editor making the final decision.
In essence, traditional peer review is a technique of editorial quality control, and that a scientific paper has been peer reviewed is absolutely no guarantee the science it portrays is correct.
Indeed, it is the nature of scientific research that nearly all scientific papers are followed by later emendation, or reinterpretation, in the light of new discoveries or understanding.
A case in point is the recent paper by University of Melbourne researcher Joelle Gergis and co-authors that claimed to establish the existence of a southern hemisphere temperature "hockey stick". Now, the authors have rapidly withdrawn the study after fundamental criticisms of it appeared on Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit blog and elsewhere.
The Gergis paper differs in kind from many other IPCC-related studies by establishment climate research groups only in that the tendentious science it contains has been rapidly exposed as flawed. This exemplifies how the role of nurturing strong and independent peer review has now passed from the editors of journals to experts in the blogosphere, and especially so for papers concerned with perceived environmental problems such as global warming.
Scientific knowledge, then, is always in a state of flux; there is simply no such thing as "settled science", peer reviewed or otherwise. During the latter part of the 20th century, Western governments started channelling large amounts of research money into favoured scientific fields, prime among which has been global warming research.
This money has a corrupting influence, not least on the peer-review process.
Many scientific journals, including prestigious ones, are captured by insider groups of leading researchers in particular fields. In such cases, editors deliberately select their referees from scientists who work in the same field and share similar views.
The "climategate" email leak in 2009 revealed this cancerous process is at an advanced stage of development in climate science. A worldwide network of leading climate researchers was revealed to be actively influencing editors and referees to approve for publication only research that supported the IPCC's alarmist view of global warming and to prevent the publication of alternative views.
Backed by this malfeasant system, leading researchers who support the IPCC's red-hot view of climate change endlessly promulgate their alarmist recommendations as "based only upon peer-reviewed research papers", as if this were some guarantee of quality or accuracy.
Peer review, of course, guarantees neither. What matters is not whether a scientific idea or article is peer reviewed, but whether the science described accords with empirical evidence.
Read the entire article here

The eurozone´s northern paymasters increasingly frustrated by bailouts

One after one, the eurozone´s southern member countries are joining the club of beggars. Yesterday Cyprus was the fifth country to request financial aid from its eurozone partners. Italy is still missing, but it cannot take long before it also applies for "membership" in this less and less exclusive club. However, there are clear signs that some of the few remaining northern paymasters are beginning ask whether it is worth to continue pretending that the current bailout policies are working: 
Although the Netherlands was one of the six founder members of the European Economic Community in 1957, the Dutch have soured towards EU integration over the last decade and voted down a European Union constitution in a 2005 referendum.
Taxpayers who pride themselves on frugality and clean government have been outraged by having to pay for fellow euro zone countries' perceived overspending and sleaze.
They are particularly allergic to the idea, driven by Germany and France, that the best and possibly the only way to save the euro is through much closer fiscal and political union.
A Maurice de Hond poll published on June 10 found that 64 percent were against Merkel's proposal to gradually move towards political union, and just 20 percent felt the only way to overcome the crisis was to transfer more power to Brussels.
About four-fifths, or 82 percent, said the issue of Europe would play a major role in the coming election, while 70 percent wanted to see less saving and more economic stimulus next year.
Previous polls have found that a substantial minority hanker for a return to the guilder. That has fuelled the populists.
The Netherlands is going through its own economic crisis, and has been in recession since the middle of last year.
The Dutch are nowhere near as badly off as the Greeks or Spanish, but many are feeling the pinch and this is hurting consumer confidence and spending.
Read the entire article here
Last week Finland´s finance minister ruled out a full financial union: 

Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen says Finland cannot support the idea of a full financial union to save the euro as put forward by the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde.

“Our view is that we cannot share common responsibility for existing southern European debts,” Urpilainen affirmed.

Confirmed: Antarctic ice shelves NOT melting

Remember all those reports about the fast melting Antarctic ice shelves? A new study - based on real measurements, not computer models - by researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute published in the journal Geophysical Letters shows that they we wrong: 
“It has been unclear, until now, how much warm deep water rises below the Fimbul Ice shelf, and previous ocean models, focusing on the circulation below the Fimbul Ice Shelf, have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place as fast as previously thought,” said lead author of the study and PhD student at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Tore Hattermann.
The Fimbul Ice Shelf – located along eastern Antarctica in the Weddell Sea – is the sixth largest of the forty-three ice shelves that dapple Antarctica’s perimeter. Both its size and proximity to the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet – the largest ice sheet on Earth, which if it melted, could lead to extreme changes in sea level – have made the Fimbul Ice Shelf an attractive object of study.
The team is the first to provide direct, observational evidence that the Fimbul Ice Shelf is melting from underneath by three, equally important processes. Their results confirm a 20-year-old theory about how ice shelves melt that, until now, was too complex to be further investigated with models that had no direct observations for comparison. These processes likely apply to other areas of Antarctica, primarily the eastern half because of its similar water and wind circulation patterns, Hattermann said.

It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass. The model results were in contrast to the available data from satellite observations, which are supported by the new measurements.
The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted, which means that the Fimbul Ice Shelf is melting at a slower rate. Perhaps indicating that the shelf is neither losing nor gaining mass at the moment because ice buildup from snowfall has kept up with the rate of mass loss, Hattermann said.
“Our data shows what needs to be included in the next generation models, in order to be able to do a good job in predicting future melt rates,” Hattermann said.
Read the entire article here

Monday, 25 June 2012

The ultimate sustainability project: "Recycling the Dead"

By 2061 humankind will have failed to harness a single reliable renewable alternative energy source. Much of the fossil fuel supply will be depleted, and what remains will be too expensive for many to afford. As these fuels are depleted, CO2 emissions increase, and rapid global warming will occur. Atmospheric temperatures will increase by 7 degrees resulting in global climate change, large areas become uninhabitable and the population is redistributed. The effects of global warming will affect the climate and our existing way of life dramatically.
Kerry Greville and Coralie Bonnet MA Textile Futures

"Salvage explores a pragmatic approach to issues of material scarcity, exploring how cremated remains could be utilised to create woven textile products."
Kerry Greville, MA Textile Futures

Finally fashion is catching up with enviro-fundamentalism: A University of Arts London designer is excited about her project "Salvage - Recycling the Dead"

Kerry Greville believes that the human body has resource potential after death. The Central Saint Martins student, who's pursuing a master's degree in textile futures, is exploring the provocative notion that we can—and should—extract chemical components from cremated remains. "It is my belief that the only resource we can lay claim to is our body," Greville says. "Every other resource is taken without consent." Just one problem: Humans are sentimental creatures. "Could we allow ourselves to become detatched from our loved ones so that their bodies could be seen as a resource?" she asks.

“As a designer, I am concerned and driven by the ways we are able to detach ourselves from the source of our resource,” the designer tells Ecouterre. “Many in the western hemisphere see humankind as being separate from nature, as opposed to part of it. We identify materials as being ‘man-made,’ [which suggests] that the resources used in the making did not originate in nature. We are at odds with what is and should be available to us.”

The human body, after all, is a gold mine of base and precious metals, including copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Extracting these elements for textiles and other products would require us to reconcile our desire for pragmatism with the social and emotional implications of such a move.
Greville’s line of questioning is only the beginning. “There is much more to be investigated and I hope to continue develop my ideas further over the coming years,” she adds. “The next phase will focus on interrogating the material qualities within the ash.”

Read the entire article here

It will be interesting to see which of the newly "green" fashion manufacturers - e.g. H & M or maybe even Gucci - is going to be the first to introduce an eco fashion line based on Greville´s innovative concept. It is bound to be a great hit in eco trendy environments like Hollywood

As for myself, I have to admit that I am not very much looking forward to a future as part of Penelope Cruz´s or Brad Pitt´s - or any other "green" celebrity´s - underpants or other clothing. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

"Cars For Climate Justice"?

Scientific American reports that "Poor communities, such as East Boston, are on the front lines of the environmental disruptions expected as a result of global warming":

Kim Foltz works on building and environmental issues for the organization and is a nine-year resident of East Boston. The stakes, she said, are different for those without money.
"We have lots of undocumented immigrants, who have a lot of social vulnerability to something like devastating flooding in East Boston.

"If you are working two jobs, and all of a sudden your transportation is cut off and you can't get to your job for a couple of days, it might be the end of your job. If you are an immigrant, your only option might be to go back home," she said.
"Poverty really makes a difference in one's ability to survive these events," said Jerold Kayden, a professor of urban planning and design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. "It impacts the ability of people to adapt individually through purchasing an air-conditioner, locating an air-conditioned space, having a car to transport them away, or having connections to others who can help them get over a disaster."

Read the entire article here

There is of course an excellent way for the "climate justice" movement to redress these problems: To help people to buy ordinary cheap cars (no expensive hybrids - they are only for rich and middle class liberals) and air-conditioners! Maybe Al Gore, the Sierra Club or Greenpeace could start a "Cars for Climate Justice" campaign?

Frank Furedi on the enviro-fundamentalist campaign against fat people

Overweight Americans are are using more resources, driving deforestation and the release of greenhouse gases that drive climate change, according to a new British research paper. 

"So we worked out that if every country in the world had the same body mass index distribution as the United States, in mass terms it would be like having an extra billion people in the world. So there's obviously an increase demand on food supplies, but also there is an increased demand on everything. You know, bigger people need more energy to move them. Airplanes take more energy to get off the ground. It takes more of the shares that, you know, of the Earth's resources to actually support all that extra weight."
Dr. Ian Roberts, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

University of Kent sociology professor Frank Furedi is - rightly - wondering why activists, professors, theologians are now promoting the depraved idea that human gluttony is plunging the planet into catastrophe: 

It is early Monday morning and a professor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, holding forth on the danger that human beings’ weight gain presents to the survival of the planet. ‘Having a heavy body is like driving a Range Rover’, he argues, with passion and conviction. Before you can even catch your breath, he is warning of the catastrophic things that will occur when ‘we are all as fat’ as people in America. After lecturing listeners about the need to factor people’s ‘body mass’ into all debates about the environment, he pauses and then reminds us again that fatness is an ‘ecological not just a health concern’.
I look across the breakfast table, and my wife affirms my suspicion that this must indeed be an Ali G moment. But alas, a few minutes later, the twenty-first-century equivalent of a Trollope-like, worldly cleric, the weight-conscious priest Giles Fraser, is on the air to give his ‘thought for the day’. He, too, is morally weighed down by the problem of body mass. His little homily on sustainability is on-message in this Ali G world of ours. When I hear him say that ‘bigger is not always better’, it becomes clear why theology is in trouble. But when he finishes by saying ‘economic growth is like getting fat’, I slowly start to realise that this is more than just a bad joke…
There is something deeply troubling about having a professor, followed by a cleric, casually turning the size of the human body into a marker of moral evil. And they weren’t only talking about the weight of humanity in metaphorical terms. The professor and his London-based team have apparently quantified fatness around the globe. According to their calculations, the weight of the global human population stands at 287million tonnes. Of this mass of human fat, 15million tonnes of it is a result of people being overweight and 3.5 million tonnes is a consequence of full-on obesity. Apparently, American fatties bear greatest responsibility for weighing down the planet: the professor’s team says that although Americans only make up six per cent of the global population, they’re responsible for more than a third of the obesity.

Sadly, it isn’t only small groups of scaremongers who have a tendency to present people’s eating and breeding habits as the cause of catastrophes to come. The current targeting of people’s allegedly immoral body mass coincides with the Rio+20 conference, the latest UN gathering to discuss sustainability, where the key argument doing the rounds is that human salvation will require a significant restraint of the breeding and consumption behaviour of human beings. This is a very fashionable prejudice these days. Indeed, on the eve of the Rio+20 conference, 105 science academies issued a statement warning that a failure to tackle population growth and overconsumption would have ‘potentially catastrophic implications for human wellbeing’. 

Read the entire article here

(image by wikipedia)