Earth ChangesS


Decision-based evidence making - Global warming policy

The Obama administration yesterday released its blockbuster global-warming propaganda document, "Global Climate Change Impacts on the United States." It's a doozy, filled with colour graphics, maps and dramatic pictures. The message: We're all going to climate hell. Action needed now.

Scrolling through the 200-page output reminded me of a funny phrase a policy-wonk friend invented to describe the current state of policy research around the world. He called it, jokingly, "decision-based evidence making." Everybody who hears the phrase cracks up.

The joke, obviously, is a flip version of the slogan "evidence-based decision making," which has been all the rage for years in other fields, notably health care. Google produces thousands of hits for the idea that decisions should be evidence-based.

But the art of policy making has moved on, led by the global warming crusade, which daily produces science reports that turn the original slogan on its head. The new Obama report yesterday joins the Global Humanitarian Forum's recent claim to have found evidence for up to 300,000 annual deaths from global warming (see Peter Foster's article) or the recent MIT climate projections (reviewed here).


MIT's unscientific, catastrophic climate forecast

When we drive on a long bridge over a river or fly in a passenger aircraft, we expect the bridge and the plane to have been designed and built in ways that are consistent with proven scientific principles. Should we expect similar standards to apply to forecasts that are intended to help policymakers make important decisions that will affect people's jobs and even their lives? Of course we should. Such standards exist. But are they being followed?

The Financial Post asked us to look at a report last month from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, titled "Probabilistic Forecast for 21st Century Climate based on uncertainties in emissions (without policy) and climate parameters."

The MIT report authors predicted that, without massive government action, global warming could be twice as severe as previously forecast, and more severe than the official projections of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The MIT authors said their report is based in part on 400 runs of a computer model of the global climate and economic activity.

While the MIT group espouses lofty-sounding objectives to provide leadership with "independent policy analysis and public education in global environmental change," we found their procedures inconsistent with important forecasting principles. No more than 30% of forecasting principles were properly applied by the MIT modellers and 49 principles were violated. For an important problem such as this, we do not think it is defensible to violate a single principle.


Australia leads media debate on global warming

A major country is getting media debate on the science of global warming for the first time ever - thanks to Australia's Senator Steve Fielding. As one of a half-dozen swing votes on Prime Minister Rudd's massive carbon tax bill, Fielding recently spent his own money to attend an international conference of climate skeptics in Washington, D.C.

"It seems every Australian has an opinion on the Rudd government's emission trading scheme," wrote Senator Fielding in The Australian on June 8th, "The one question, however, that no one seems to be asking, is whether or not we even need an emissions trading scheme at all?"

Fielding now has an appointment to talk warming theories with Australia's Environment Minister, Penny Wong. He wants to know how Minister Wong can be sure that humans have caused the recent warming - since global temperatures are now cooling though CO2 levels are still rising.

Senator Fielding says 500 years ago the whole world "knew" the sun revolved around the Earth. Galileo dared challenge the prevailing dogma anyway - and was put under house arrest for the rest of his life.

Galileo's story reminds Fielding of the present debate on climate change. "Opponents of the popular opinion that global warming is a direct result of carbon emissions, a group that includes many notable and distinguished scientists, are often derided and quickly dismissed. As an engineer, I have been trained to listen to both sides."


World cooling has set in and it will stay colder for at least 100 years predicts scientist in forecast breakthrough

Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn of long range weather and climate forecasters today revealed a major breakthrough in climate forecasting and predicted general world cooling for the next 100 years in direct opposition to The Met office and UN forecast announced on the same day.
I met Piers Corbyn last year when I was in London. I think he's a brilliant man. But I have to put in my two-cent's worth here, because I think we're headed into a cooling period that will last thousands of years, not merely a hundred. Whichever scenario comes true, I think we'll be fighting in the streets for food long before we're covered by ice.
"World cooling is here to stay and the new round of climate alarmism just announced by UK Government ministers and the Met Office of more extreme weather and warming in coming decades driven by mankind has no merit and is defied by the facts and front-line science", said Piers as his forecast from three weeks ahead was confirmed for the formation of the first East Pacific typhoon of the season off Mexico.

"Ministers have been saying a lot about accountability recently so now let's apply that to climate change policy and scrutinize what they are up to in the light of the facts and the application of sound science. "

Evil Rays

An exceptionally soggy June for many in US

Washington - Mud season has been extended. From North Dakota to Long Island, rain after rain after rain has dampened spirits and swamped roads. Picnics and kids' baseball games have been washed out, rescheduled and rained out again. Big-time sports, too.

_ In Farmingdale, N.Y., Tiger Woods' defense of the U.S. Open championship was delayed Thursday as rain pelted an already soaked course and postponed most of the first round until Friday. "Where's my canoe," England's Ian Poulter wrote on his Twitter feed.

_ In Bismarck, N.D., heavy rain swamped streets, stressed storm sewers and stalled vehicles. Roads were shut down, and the roof of a bowling alley collapsed under the weight of water.

_ Rainfall has totaled 5.32 inches so far this month in New York's Central Park, more than double the normal 2.17 inches for the period.

"This has been a very rainy spring," observed Victoria Cahn, 27, dodging puddles on a lunch run from her office on the University of Pennsylvania campus. "Usually in June we have the air conditioning on half the time at least."

The lifelong Philadelphia resident said, "I'm a volunteer sailor on the (1883 tall ship) Gazela ... and we've been trying to find dry time to work outside on the weekends, and it just hasn't been there - we always find ourselves interrupted by a thunderstorm or two."

The City of Brotherly Love has sloshed through 3.40 inches of rain so far this month, far above the 1.81 normal reading.

Cloud Lightning

US: Another round of severe weather in North Dakota

Mother Nature added insult to injury tonight in Abercrombie. After getting 8 inches of rain Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the city got hit with another round of severe weather tonight and another 2 and a half inches of rain.

20 homes there already had some kind of water damage, some with as much as 4 feet of water; WDAY 6 Reporter Travis Skonseng is live with the latest.

Crews are scrambling with a struggling sewer system that just can't keep up with all the water. The past few days have swamped much of town.

Fire officials are trying to pump out water from the flooded town into fields. Many ditches are already full. Tonight, several inches of water are standing in streets and water is right up to homes.


US: Corpse flower offers rare bloom at California gardens

corpse flower
© unknown
Thousands of visitors have flocked to the Huntington Botanical Gardens today to see the brief bloom of a corpse flower, a plant famous for its rotting smell and its rare flowering, which happens once every few years or more.

The last time the corpse flower bloomed at the gardens in San Marino was in 2002, and the last time before that was in 1999 -- the first recorded bloom in California's history. Many have been monitoring the Huntington flower's progression in recent days. Once the bloom was announced Tuesday at 2 p.m., the deluge began.

Bizarro Earth

Indonesia mud volcano may last 30 years: expert

Indonesia's devastating 'mud volcano' could keep spewing for the next 30 years, filling the equivalent of 50 Olympic-size swimming pools every day, a top Australian expert warned.

Curtin University of Technology's doctor Mark Tingay, who has just returned from the disaster site in East Java, said about 100,000 people remained under threat from subsidence three years after the volcano first erupted.

"In effect, the whole region around the vent hole is sinking by about two to five centimetres each day due to the rising mud level, causing more damage to suburban villages and triggering frequent bursts of flammable gas around homes," he said, according to a Geological Society of Australia statement.

Better Earth

Midnight sun: Night-shining clouds light up dark skies of Britain

Noctilucent clouds in england
© Mark Humpage/'Noctilucent' or 'night-shining' clouds form at the outer limits of the upper atmosphere and reflect the sun's light long after it has gone down over the horizon.
With the sun dappled across these white clouds and a deep blue sky, it appears dawn is about to break.

But this remarkable photograph of an English rural landscape near was taken at midnight and shows the rare phenomenon of 'night shining.'

The shimmering clouds form at an altitude of around 55 miles above sea level and are made up of tiny ice droplets. Because they are so high up in the atmosphere the sun is able to illuminate the clouds from below the horizon.

Called 'noctilucent' clouds, which literally means 'night-shining' in Latin, they are normally spotted in polar regions during the summer months.

But stunned residents spotted a rare glimpse of the clouds lighting up Leicester's skyline shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

Comment: Notice the twist pointing once again to man-made global warming. However, a more plausible explanation is an increasing accumulation of cosmic dust at the highest altitudes. Especially disturbing is that the composition of this dust suggest the earth is entering a debris-filled region of space, upping the odds of a catastrophic collision with extraterrestrial objects. We would recommend a careful reading of the Comets and Catastropes series, starting here.

Better Earth

After 90 Years, the Wolverine (Just One) Returns to Colorado

© unknownWolverine
The last time wolverines were known to live in Colorado, Theodore Roosevelt had just died and women had not yet won the right to vote. But now, 90 years later, researchers using radio tracking devices have followed a wolverine into the state.

The scientists concede that the return of one animal to a species' ancient range is hardly cause for jubilation. "Somewhat of an anomaly," Rick Kahn, an official in the Colorado Division of Wildlife, called it in a statement.

But the researchers hope their efforts to track the young male, designated M56, will help explain why only an estimated 250 to 500 wolverines remain in the lower 48 states and what their fate might be in the face of development and climate change.

Wolverines live in Alaska and Canada, and "we know they used to be in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, California and Washington," said Robert M. Inman, who directs the Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that also runs the Bronx Zoo.

But "it is one of the most elusive and just mysterious creatures," Mr. Inman added. "Few people have seen them."