Saturday, 27 October 2012

"Global warming" hits Germany: Coldest and snowiest day in decades

Germans are experiencing a severe bout of "global warming": An outbreak of cold weather has already in October, for the first time in decades, brought close to -6° temperatures and a thick (up to 20cm) snow cover to large areas of the country. 

"This is something that happens only once in 30 or 40 years", according to meteorologist Christoph Hartmann from the German weather service. "It is the kind of weather that you experience probably only once in your lifetime", Hartmann told the newspaper Die Welt

The icy roads have caused hundreds of traffic accidents, not only in Germany, but also in the Baltic countries and Russia. The cold spell is expected to last at least until the middle of next week. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

A portrait of Obama: " His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp."

" His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp."

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan deservedly praises Bob Woodward's portrait of Barack Obama

Which gets us to Bob Woodward's "The Price of Politics," published last month. The portrait it contains of Mr. Obama—of a president who is at once over his head, out of his depth and wholly unaware of the fact—hasn't received the attention it deserves. Throughout the book, which is a journalistic history of the president's key economic negotiations with Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama is portrayed as having the appearance and presentation of an academic or intellectual while being strangely clueless in his reading of political situations and dynamics. He is bad at negotiating—in fact doesn't know how. His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.
He misread his Republican opponents from day one. If he had been large-spirited and conciliatory he would have effectively undercut them, and kept them from uniting. (If he'd been large-spirited with Mr. Romney, he would have undercut him, too.) Instead he was toughly partisan, he shut them out, and positions hardened. In time Republicans came to think he doesn't really listen, doesn't really hear. So did some Democrats. Business leaders and mighty CEOs felt patronized: After inviting them to meet with him, the president read from a teleprompter and included the press. They felt like "window dressing." One spoke of Obama's surface polish and essential remoteness. In negotiation he did not cajole, seduce, muscle or win sympathy. He instructed. He claimed deep understanding of his adversaries and their motives but was often incorrect. He told staffers that John Boehner, one of 11 children of a small-town bar owner, was a "country club Republican." He was often patronizing, which in the old and accomplished is irritating but in the young and inexperienced is infuriating. "Boehner said he hated going down to the White House to listen to what amounted to presidential lectures," Mr. Woodward writes.
Mr. Obama's was a White House that had—and showed—no respect for Republicans trying to negotiate with Republicans. Through it all he was confident—"Eric, don't call my bluff"—because he believed, as did his staff, that his talents would save the day.
They saved nothing. Washington became immobilized.
Mr. Woodward's portrait of the president is not precisely new—it has been drawn in other ways in other accounts, and has been a staple of D.C. gossip for three years now—but it is vivid and believable. And there's probably a direct line between that portrait and the Obama seen in the first debate. Maybe that's what made it so indelible, and such an arc-changer.
People saw for the first time an Obama they may have heard about on radio or in a newspaper but had never seen.
They didn't see some odd version of the president. They saw the president
Read the entire article here

Warmist David Attenborough openly hoping for a disaster to hit North America

Attenborough hoping for a disaster

Naturalist - and warmist - David Attenborough is desperately hoping for a "disaster" to happen in "the most powerful nation in the world, North America" in order to wake up the climate heretics:

One of the world's leading naturalists has accused US politicians of ducking the issue of climate change because of the economic cost of tackling it and warned that it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers of global warming.
Speaking just days after the subject of climate change failed to get a mention in the US presidential debates for the first time in 24 years, Sir David Attenborough told the Guardian: "[It] does worry me that most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don't know what you do about that. It's easier to deny."
Asked what was needed to wake people up, the veteran broadcaster famous for series such as Life and Planet Earth said: "Disaster. It's a terrible thing to say, isn't it? Even disaster doesn't do it. There have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes and floods, yet still people deny and say 'oh, it has nothing to do with climate change.' It visibly has got [something] to do with climate change."
It is very sad indeed that Attenborough (and so many other enviro-fundamentalists agree with him) is openly expressing a wish for something terrible to happen to people. Attenborough even admits that "it's a terrible thing to say". But why does he say it? Although Attenborough lately has recognised the possibility that God could exist, a Christian would not hope for something bad to happen to fellow human beings anywhere. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The "family photos" at European "summits"

The European Council meeting in Brussels in March 2011

Always when European heads of state and government have their - mostly useless - "summits", we the citizens are invited to watch the nowadays compulsory "family photos". The choreography is always the same: The great leaders casually - always joking and smiling, no matter how serious their business is supposed to be - make their way to the stand, where protocol officers have carefully marked a standing place for each one, according to a complicated formula, which must be meticulously adhered to in order to avoid serious diplomatic complications.

I have often wondered what the purpose of these photographic gatherings is, other than providing job opportunities for a great number of photographers and camera crews. One reason may be that the participants themselves are fond of being photographed together with the rest of the great leaders. (Some of the veteran participants must already be in possession of several large photo albums, full of exciting "family photos". Something to show their grandchildren - "look, grandpa is in all these pictures!")

Maybe somebody in the future will do a scientific study of the political group photo culture. Already a quick look at of just two group photos, the one above and the one below from last week's "summit", offers a chance to make some interesting observations.

Family photo, Brussels 18.10. 2012

On the photo from last year's summit you can see Baroness Ashton - the highest paid female politician in Europe - on the extreme right. At last week's summit photo opportunity the Baroness surprisingly has moved to the extreme left.

What does this sudden change of sides mean? Has the Baroness, who is a Labour peer, perhaps insisted that she does not want to be seen among the people on the extreme right?

At 0:14 in the video, it appears that Jyrki Katainen, prime minister of Finland, is telling a colleague about how big a fish he caught during his summer holiday?

The video also shows the two top EU bureaucrats - Van Rompuy and Barroso - walking away alone after the photo opportunity. Maybe it means that they don't have real friends among the heads of state and government?

Is Barroso here making inquiries about how to find a cheap Greek cleaning lady, who could help him with  ironing the trousers?

The summit photo gatherings need not be as boring as they are now.
Here is a suggestion for the Commission:
Why not invite Mr. Choir himself, Gareth Malone come and teach the heads of state and government sing the Anthem of Europe, which then would be performed at every "summit" photo opportunity? The EU leaders would make a truly interesting mixed choir. Maybe it could even be the beginning of a whole new television reality show?

Gareth Malone - the new EU choir leader?

European federalists praise democracy, but do not want citizens to have a say

Stubb: "a treaty change would probably be derailed by referenda"

Alexander Stubb, Finland's Minister for European Affairs, is known as a firm believer in a federal European state. He is also a typical representative of an EU elite scared to death by democratic participation of the citizens in decision making. Stubb's speech on Tuesday at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum is an another example of the thinking of the Brussels bureaucrats and their political allies in the member countries:
The major tool for institutional development is changing the treaties. So the question arises – do we need treaty change to makes things work, to improve the Union, make EMU stronger.
I have no problems with treaty change as such – but we should be careful. Treaty change has shown to be an unpredictable and time-consuming process. I belong to the persuasion ‘never-say-never’, but the case for treaty change would need to be absolutely compelling for the risk being worth taking. The safest and most practical way ahead is to work with the treaties we have.
And let’s be practical – a treaty change would probably be derailed by referenda. And let me add another dimension – would it not tempt our British friends to question their involvement with Europe – a move that would be a tragedy for both the United Kingdom and Europe. With a half-British family I feel entitled to speaking boldly on the subject.
In festive speeches Stubb and the other "federalists" like to talk about democracy and the value of a functioning civil society. But if somebody proposes that an important issue should be decided by a popular vote - a referendum - these federalists always find a number of reasons why the citizens should be excluded. That is how "democracy" works in the European Union. And that is also why people in most EU countries are fed up with Brussels and the EUSSR!
It is also difficult to understand why Stubb should be particularly "entitled to speak boldly" on British involvement with Europe, just because his wife apparently belongs to an almost extinct breed - British federalists. 

Colorado is fast turning into a showpiece for a failed renewable energy policy

Colorado, the previously proud home of the "new energy economy", is fast becoming a showpiece for a failed renewable energy policy: 

The combined layoffs, plant closure and mothballed projects in Colorado represent the loss of more than 1,000 existing and projected jobs, plus millions of dollars of tax revenue and spinoff economic activity.

"It's not just Colorado," said William Yeatman, an energy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based free-market think tank.
"Renewable-energy manufacturing is taking a beating across the country, primarily due to the fact that federal subsidies have run their course," he said. "The 2009 stimulus has been spent, and the wind production-tax credit is set to expire in December. Without taxpayer handouts, these green industries simply cannot compete."

Read the entire article here

Of course the wind and solar energy barons claim that tax credits and loan guarantees are necessary for their industries to survive until they are able to compete with other power sources. But that is of course pure green nonsense. In the foreseeable future wind and solar power will not be competitive sources of energy. Besides, there is no need for them, as there is more than enough of clean shale gas (and oil) for at least one hundred years in the U.S. - and in other parts of the world. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bad economic times ahead for Germany and the euro zone

Germany has over 140 billion worth of these, most  of them  stored  in  New York, London  and Paris

Activity in Germany's manufacturing and service sectors declined for the sixth straight month in October. The economic slowdown in Germany was also confirmed by the Ifo Business Climate Index, which in October also deteriorated for the sixth consecutive month. "The clouds on the German economic sky are darkening", says Hans-Werner Sinn, who heads the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

The problems in Germany, the powerhouse of the euro zone, are not good news for the crisis-ridden euro zone, which is drifting towards a deepening recession. Economic activity in the euro zone has hit its lowest levels since June 2009, according to the October  Purchasing Managers' Index for the 17-nation zone. 

No wonder that more and more German politicians and economists are beginning to question the wisdom of the continuing bail-outs and ECB boss Mario Draghi's plan for unlimited purchases of government bonds to stem the debt crisis. Draghi, who is today to appear before a joint session of three committees of the German Bundestag, will  most certainly be heavily criticized by a number of parliamentarians. 

Another sign of the growing economic unease in Germany are the growing demands that country's gold reserves - the second largest in the world, worth up to 142 billion euros - should be returned to Germany from New York, London and Paris, where they have been stored for a long time. 

What does all this mean for Germany and the euro zone? The short answer: Continued instability. 

(image by wikipedia)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

BP partners with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin

The London-based oil and gas company BP has just made the probably biggest mistake in its entire history, when it announced its partnership with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to oversee the Russian oil industry. BP's chairman was bullish about the deal (according to which BP first sells its 50% shareholding in TNK-BP to Putin's new favourite Rosneft, after which BP intends to use part of the cash to acquire a further stake in Rosneft):

BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said: "This is an important day for BP. Russia is vital to world energy security and will be increasingly significant in years to come. Russia has also been an important country for us over the past 20 years. Our involvement has moved with the times. TNK-BP has been a good investment and we are now laying a new foundation for our work in Russia.
"Rosneft is set to be a major player in the global oil industry. This material holding in Rosneft will, we believe, give BP solid returns. We consider that this is a deal which will deliver both cash and long term value for BP and its shareholders. It provides us with a sustainable stake in Russia’s energy future and is consistent with our Group strategy.

"Over the coming months we will work hard to complete the transaction and we look forward to the next step of deepening our already strong relationship with Russia.” 

Before sending congratulations to BP's Swedish chairman, it maybe useful to look at what the deal between BP and Putin actually means:

“By signing this deal, the highest levels of the Russian government, up to and including Vladimir Putin, are endorsing BP as the principal western partner of the Russian oil and gas industry,” Molchanov said. “This is a big, big seal of approval for BP by Moscow and it means no other company is going to have access to the corridors of power like BP does.”
Since 2004, Putin has been tightening the government’s grip on the Russian oil sector, moves that made it increasingly difficult for foreign producers to establish or maintain footholds in the country, said William J. Andrews, a fund manager at C.S. McKee & Co. in Pittsburgh. Buying TNK-BP from the London-based producer and the Russian billionaires who own the other half will transfer to Rosneft fields that accounted for about 25 percent of BP’s annual output worldwide.

“The Russians are nationalistic and are going to keep the oil reserves for themselves,” said Andrews, who helps manage $14 billion. “They don’t really have a legal system or a political system. It’s a dictatorship.”

Read the entire article here

The big danger for BP and its shareholders is that deals done with dictators (like Putin) are an extremely risky business. For some strange reason, Svanberg and his cronies appear to want to forget what happened just a year ago:

"Black-clad special forces raided BP's Moscow offices on Wednesday, deepening the British company's problems in Russia after its attempts to salvage an oil exploration agreement in the Russian Arctic collapsed.

The raid, a day after ExxonMobil signed a deal giving it access to fields BP had hoped to develop, was ordered to let bailiffs search for documents in a legal battle over BP's failed bid to partner Russia in the Arctic, a spokeswoman said.

But BP, which has a long history of problems in Russia, denounced the raid and said it feared the search could continue for the rest of this week.

"It is our opinion that the court order under which ... court bailiffs are now in our office has no legal grounds. The office's work has been paralyzed," BP Russia President Jeremy Huck was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

"We see these actions as pressure on BP's operations in Russia," he said."
No, instead of congratulating Svanberg and BP, we should send our best wishes to the other major oil companies, which now are without access to the corridors of Putin's power. That lack of access to a dictator will in the end be a blessing to these companies, who will be able to profit when the dictator is gone. And besides, in the age of the shale gas revolution, Russian oil is less interesting than most people thought just a couple of years ago. 

Siemens gets rid of its solar power activities - does not want to become another Solyndra

Another sign of the unraveling of the solar power business - German Siemens does not want to become another Solyndra:

German engineering giant Siemens said Monday that it plans to pull out of solar energy 
where business expectations have not been met and is currently negotiating to sell its activities in this area.

"The company plans to divest its solar business activities and is currently holding talks with potential buyers on this subject. Siemens intends to focus its renewable energy activities on wind and hydro power," the group said in a statement.

"The energy division will be slimmed down and the Solar and Hydro Division will be discontinued," it said, adding that the Solar and Hydro Division generated revenue "in the low triple-digit millions" in the business year ended September 30, 2012 and has "roughly 800 employees."

Siemens explained that the solar business had not been as profitable as hoped.

The next logical step for Siemens is to also get rid of its wind power activities. That is likely to happen when more and more governments begin to reduce subsidies for the ineffective, overexpensive, landscape destroying and bird killing wind turbines. 

"Creative" warmist scientists finally find a way to show that global warming increases violent conflicts

"Global warming leads to wars and increasing violence" has been one the warmists' favorite propaganda claims already for years. The problem, though, is that this claim is not supported by serious studies. 

This is e.g. what Nils Petter Gleditsch, Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO & Norwegian University of Science and Technology, says in the summary of a recent study, "Whither the weather? Climate change and conflict", published in the Journal for Peace Research:

Overall, the research reported here offers only limited support for viewing climate change as an important influence on armed conflict. However, framing the climate issue as a security problem could possibly influence the perceptions of the actors and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, now six creative scientists from the University of Colorado and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have finally found a way to get the results warmists have been longing for:

A study relating climate to conflict in East African nations finds that increased rainfall dampens conflict while unusually hot periods can cause a flare-up, reinforcing the theory that climate change will cause increased scarcity in the region. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How have the six warmist authors been able to succeed where others have failed? 
The answer is: By using a new database, in which the criteria for violence have been "relaxed" in order to get the results that suited their needs:

Compared with other datasets with high battle
death thresholds, such as Correlates of War (threshold of 1,000
battle deaths/y) (3) or the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and
Peace Research Institute Oslo (UCDP/PRIO; threshold of 25
battle deaths/y), the criteria for including violence in the ACLED
data are relaxed (4). The number of deaths or amount of property
damage associated with violence was not recorded in ACLED
because of unreliable data reporting in news outlets. Furthermore,
setting a fixed death threshold often does not make sense, because
conflict emerging in the face of ecological stress might include
small-scale skirmishes resulting in few deaths or injuries. The
Correlates of War and UCDP/PRIO data record conflict only
where it takes place between the government of an internationally
recognized state and a cohesive rebel group. For our purposes, we
identify and code violence that is not perpetrated by organized
rebels or government forces; conflict often takes place between
two nonstate actors, such as communal groups.

(I would not be surprised if family quarrels are included in the new dataset)

But even with the manipulated criteria, not everything went according to the wishes of the creative scientists:

Nevertheless, the researchers stressed that the contribution of climate is minor compared with other economic, political and social factors, which also went in to their models and explained conflict far better than changes in precipitation or weather.

Read the entire article here

Monday, 22 October 2012

Greatest mass of sea ice ever in Antarctica leaves warmist "experts" almost speechless

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center last week confirmed that Antarctica is surrounded by the greatest mass of sea ice ever recorded there, 19.44 million square kilometres. And it is growing, although slowly. 
This of course goes against the official warmist teachings of a warmer world, with sea levels rising and ice melting. The newly confirmed facts have left these "experts" in almost a state of shock. Here you can read how two of them, Gordon McBean, director of research at the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Environment and Sustainability and Jing Chen, professor with the department of geography at the University of Toronto desperately try to explain away the "inconvenient" truth: 

McBean says while the Antarctic is still cooler than the rest of the world, it is also warming up. “Just not as quickly,” he said.
The phenomenon in the Antarctic is not inconsistent with global warming, said McBean. “It was expected . . . it’s a complex situation.”

Meanwhile, Chen says the new data from the Antarctic is “very interesting” but warns against getting satisfied.
“We should not be too complacent about the recent ice increase,” he said. “If (global) warming keeps increasing, it pushes average temperatures above freezing points and the Antarctic area ice will decrease and the trend will quickly reverse.”
Growing sea ice in the Antarctic is good news “but (we) have to take it in the right perspective: it will not increase forever.”
Dr. McBean is right about one thing: " . . . it’s a complex situation.”  McBean, Chen and all the other alarmists would have been well advised to keep that in mind before they started to peddle their bogus global warming models to greater audiences.

Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado - An excellent initiative

Wyoming Air National Guard loadmasters aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft watch as a 1-ton hay bale lands near a herd of cows during an emergency feeding mission in southeast Colorado Jan. 3, 2007 (Wikipedia)

Severe winter weather in Colorado is a not only an inconvenience for many people - it can be deadly. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is to be congratulated for proclaiming the week October 21 to Octrober 27 Winter Weather Preparedness Week in his state.
From the National Weather Service:
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service
Grand Junction CO
..Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado…
Governor John Hickenlooper has proclaimed the week of October 21st through October 27th as Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado. This is an excellent time for all individuals…families…businesses…schools…and media outlets to review their winter storm preparedness plans. It is especially important for all new arrivals to the state to become familiar with the national weather service watch and warning definitions…as well as winter safety procedures.
Snow in Colorado is important to the farmers…the ski areas…and for filling up reservoirs. However…winter storms often bring heavy snow…bitterly cold temperatures…high winds…low visibilities and slick roads. This can lead to dangerous travel conditions and other life threatening situations such as avalanches and dangerously low wind chill temperatures.
To help you prepare for these hazards this coming winter…the National Weather Service will issue statements throughout the week to discuss:
  • Intro - Winter Weather Preparedness Week
  • Part 1 - Winter travel safety
  • Part 2- Watches…warnings…and advisories
  • Part 3- High winds
  • Part 4 - Wind chill temperatures and hypothermia
  • Part 5 - Avalanche safety
  • Review - Winter Weather Preparedness Week review

    The Colorado Winter Weather Preparedness Week is also an excellent reminder of the fact that winter weather is a much bigger problem globally than a few hot summer weeks. In Europe e.g. cold kills more than seven times as many people as heat does. Columnist George Will is right when he says that "worldwide, moderate warming will, on the balance, save more lives than it will cost - by a 9-to-1 ratio in China and India. So, if substantially cutting carbon dioxide reverses warming, that will mean a large net loss of life globally."

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Christopher Booker: Cameron's deluded wind energy policy driving millions into fuel poverty

Christopher Booker at his best, in the Telegraph:

What Mr Cameron clearly hasn’t realised is that the main reason why our energy companies need to charge us ever more for electricity lies in his own Government’s deluded policies. He and his colleagues prattle on about how, over the next eight years, we need to spend £100 billion on building 30,000 useless, unreliable and grotesquely subsidised wind turbines. They want to see billions more spent on giant pylons and interconnectors, to carry power from the remote onshore and offshore wind farms where it is generated to the places where it is needed. Then, as even Mr Davey has finally admitted, further billions will need to be spent on new gas-fired power stations – not only to fill the gap left by all the coal-fired and nuclear plants that are due to close, but also to provide ever more expensive, “carbon”-emitting back-up for the times when the wind drops and our turbines are scarcely functioning.
For all this it is we who will have to pay through ever-rising energy bills. Isn’t Mr Cameron aware, for instance, that the declared purpose of George Osborne’s “carbon tax” due next April (which alone will eventually double our energy bills) is to make energy from fossil fuels so costly that his beloved wind farms may one day seem competitive, despite our having to pay subsidies of 100 per cent (onshore) and 200 per cent (offshore) for the pitiful amounts of power they produce?
These are the reasons why our energy companies have no alternative but constantly to raise our bills, driving millions more households into fuel poverty. And we are having to pay for all this make-believe in the name of meeting the threat of global warming, at a time when even the Met Office shyly admits that there has been no significant warming of the planet for 15 years
Not very much needs to be added to Booker's words. Regrettably the same deluded policies are resulting in fuel poverty in many other countries as well. It's time to stop the madness! 
Read the entire column here