Archive for November, 2010

Alternative Energy Research Highlighted at Vancouver Engineering Conference

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I just returned from Vancouver (the one in Canada), where the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has been holding their annual meeting at the Vancouver Convention Center.

I was asked to present one of their keynote talks, so on Tuesday evening I spent about 45 minutes outlining some of the global warming science that the engineers might not heard about from global warming experts like Al Gore or Leonardo DiCaprio.

It was a treat for me to be able to assume the audience actually knew something about thermodynamics, which all mechanical engineers are taught, and which many of them use in their work.

Other than one lady in the audience who interpreted my message as part of a right-wing conspiracy to thwart saving the Earth from evil corporations bent on destroying it (OK, so I’m exaggerating), the audience was largely sympathetic to the outrageous minority view that climate might be able to (gasp!) change all by itself.

Many of these engineers are now working in various aspects of alternative energy research. I was amazed at how much of this kind of work is being done. Even large petroleum companies like Exxon Mobil are heavily invested in this research.

And why shouldn’t they be? Whoever comes up with cost-effective alternative energy sources will make lots of money.

One particularly interesting talk examined various ways of using solar energy. Growing corn for biofuels turns out to be particularly wasteful of both energy and land resources. (And thwarting market forces by subsidizing it ends up killing poor people around the world by creating fictitious demand, which sends world corn prices soaring. Gotta love the good intentions of politicians and environmentalists.)

Growing algae, in contrast, is very efficient. But getting substantial amounts of fuel from algae still has many practical problems to overcome. The speaker said he believed algae-based fuel will end up being a secondary product to algae-based plastics, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, sewage treatment, etc.

How much water is required for various energy generation technologies is also a major practical concern, especially in the western U.S. I was amazed to learn that it takes about 150 gallons of water to produce a single Sunday newspaper!

I wonder how many Sunday newspapers have carried op-eds about the need to conserve water?

I continue to believe that alternative energy technologies will germinate and grow without any governmental interference. Humans need energy for everything we do, and the market will never go away. Let free market forces work.

Fossil fuels will slowly become more expensive as they become scarcer and more difficult to extract, and this is the only mechanism needed to ensure that new energy sources will be developed to take their place.

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Climate Scientists Plan Campaign Against Global Warming Skeptics

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The American Geophysical Union plans to announce that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. Other scientists plan a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

A new article in the LA Times says that the American Geophysical Union (AGU) is enlisting the help of 700 scientists to fight back against a new congress that is viewed as a bunch of backwoods global warming deniers who are standing in the way of greenhouse gas regulations and laws required to same humanity from itself.

Scientific truth, after all, must prevail. And these scientists apparently believe they have been endowed with the truth of what has caused recent warming.

The message just hasn’t gotten across.

We skeptics are not smart enough to understand the science. We and the citizens of America, and the representatives we have just elected to go to Washington, just need to listen to them and let them tell us how we should be allowed to live.

OK, so, let me see if I understand this.

After 20 years, billions of dollars in scientific research and advertising campaigns, cooperation from the public schools, TV specials and concerts by a gaggle of entertainers, end-of-the-world movies, our ‘best’ politicians, heads of state, presidents, the United Nations, and complicity by most of the news media, it has been decided that the American public is not getting the message on global warming!?

Are they serious!?

Americans — hell, most of humanity — have already heard the 20 different ways we will all die miserable deaths from our emissions of that life giving — er, I mean poisonous –gas, carbon dioxide, that we are adding to the atmosphere every day.

So, NOW it no more mister nice guy? Give me a break.

Finally Time for a REAL Debate?

Actually, this announcement is a good thing. There has been a persistent refusal on the part of the elitist, group-think, left-leaning class of climate scientists to even debate the global warming issue in public. Maybe they have considered it beneath themselves to debate those of us who are clearly wrong on the global warming issue.

A complaint many of us skeptics have had for years is that those who constitute the “scientific consensus” (whatever that means) will not engage in public debates on global warming. Al Gore won’t even answer questions from the press.

This is why you will mostly hear only politicians and U.N. bureaucrats give pronouncements on the science. They are already adept at weaving a good story with carefully selected facts and figures.

Why has the global warming message been presented mostly by politicians and bureaucrats up until now? Probably because it is too dangerous to put their scientists out there.

Scientists might admit to something counterproductive — like uncertainty — which would jeopardize what the politicians have been trying to accomplish for decades — control over energy, which is necessary for everything that humans do.

Scientists Ready to Enter the Lion’s Den

The LA Times articles goes on to explain how there will be “scientists prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk radio and television shows.”

Gee, how brave of them.

Kind of like when I went up against Henry Waxman? Or Barbara Boxer?

I can sympathize with Republican’s desire to have hearings to investigate how your tax dollars have been spent on this issue. But I will guarantee that if such hearings are held, the news media will make it sound like Galileo is being tried all over again.

As if climate scientists are objective seekers of the truth. I hate to break it to you, but scientists are human. Well..most of us are, anyway.

Most have strong personal, quasi-religious views of the role of humans in the natural world, and this inevitably guides how they interpret measurements of the climate system. Especially the young ones who have been indoctrinated on the subject.

Those few of us who are publishing climate researchers and who are willing to take the risk of speaking out on the biased science on this issue are now late in our careers, and we have seen the climate research field be transformed from one where “climate change” used to necessarily imply natural climate change, to one where nature does not have the power to cause its own change — only mankind does.

I have repeatedly pointed out how virtually all global warming research funds either (1) build the case for humanity as the primary cause of recent warming, or (2) simply assume humans are the cause.

Virtually NO funding has supported research into the possibility that warming might be mostly part of a natural climate cycle. And if you give scientists enough money to find something, they will do their best to find it.

Politicians have orchestrated and guided this effort from the outset, and scientists like to believe they are helping to Save the Earth when they participate in global warming research.

Anthropogenic Global Warming is a Hypothesis, Nothing More

What the big-government funded climate science community has come up with is a plausible hypothesis which is being passed off as a proven explanation.

Science advances primarily by searching for new and better explanations (hypotheses) for how nature works. Unfortunately, this basic task of science has been abandoned when it comes to explaining climate change.

About the only alternative explanation they have mostly ruled out is an increase in the total output of the sun.

The possibility that small changes in ocean circulation have caused clouds to let in more sunlight is just one of many alternative explanations which are being ignored.

Not only have natural, internal climate cycles been ignored as a potential explanation, some researchers have done their best to revise climate history to do away with events such as the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. This is how the ‘hockey stick’ controversy got started.

If you can get rid of all evidence for natural climate change in Earth’s history, you can make it look like no climate changes happened until humans (and cows) came on the scene.

Bring It On

I look forward to the opportunity to debate a scientist from the other side who actually knows what they are talking about. I’ve gone one-on-one with some speakers who so mangled the consensus explanation of global warming that I had to use up half my speaking time cleaning up the mess they made.

Those few I have debated in a public forum who know what they are talking about are actually much more reserved in their judgment on the subject than those who the pop culture presents to us.

But for those newbie’s who want to enter the fray, I have a couple of pieces of advice on preparation.

First, we skeptics already know your arguments …it would do you well to study up a little on ours.

And second, those of us who have been at this a long time actually knew Galileo. Galileo was a good friend of ours. And you are no Galileo.

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Oct. 2010 UAH Global Temperature Update: +0.42 deg. C

Monday, November 1st, 2010



YR MON GLOBE NH SH TROPICS
2009 1 0.251 0.472 0.030 -0.068
2009 2 0.247 0.565 -0.071 -0.045
2009 3 0.191 0.324 0.058 -0.159
2009 4 0.162 0.315 0.008 0.012
2009 5 0.139 0.161 0.118 -0.059
2009 6 0.041 -0.021 0.103 0.105
2009 7 0.429 0.190 0.668 0.506
2009 8 0.242 0.236 0.248 0.406
2009 9 0.505 0.597 0.413 0.594
2009 10 0.362 0.332 0.393 0.383
2009 11 0.498 0.453 0.543 0.479
2009 12 0.284 0.358 0.211 0.506
2010 1 0.648 0.860 0.436 0.681
2010 2 0.603 0.720 0.486 0.791
2010 3 0.653 0.850 0.455 0.726
2010 4 0.501 0.799 0.203 0.633
2010 5 0.534 0.775 0.292 0.708
2010 6 0.436 0.550 0.323 0.476
2010 7 0.489 0.635 0.342 0.420
2010 8 0.511 0.674 0.347 0.364
2010 9 0.603 0.555 0.650 0.285
2010 10 0.419 0.365 0.473 0.152

UAH_LT_1979_thru_Oct_10

As the tropical tropospheric temperatures continue to cool, the global average is finally beginning to follow suit:+0.42 deg. C for October, 2010. This is the lowest monthly temperature anomaly we’ve seen in what has been a very warm year.

For those following the race for warmest year in the satellite tropospheric temperature record (which began in 1979), 2010 is still within striking distance of the record warm year of 1998. Here are the 1998 and 2010 averages for January 1st through October 31:

1998 +0.57
2010 +0.54

Note that the difference between the two is not statistically significant…just symbolically.

[NOTE: These satellite measurements are not calibrated to surface thermometer data in any way, but instead use on-board redundant precision platinum resistance thermometers (PRTs) carried on the satellite radiometers. The PRT's are individually calibrated in a laboratory before being installed in the instruments.]

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Global Warming Elitism, Tomorrow’s Election, and The Future

Monday, November 1st, 2010


The NASA A-Train satellite constellation symposium I attended last week in New Orleans was in some sense a celebration of the wide variety of global satellite observations we are now collecting from Earth orbit.

This really is the Golden Age in satellite data collection of the global climate system. While a few A-Train satellites are still to be launched, other older satellite assets in the A-Train are now operating well past their planned lifetimes.

There are no plans to replace many of these one-of-a-kind instruments, so much of what we will learn in the coming years will have to come from the analysis of previously collected data.

Unfortunately — at least in my opinion — the existence of this superb national resource depended upon convincing congress almost 2 decades ago that manmade global warming was a clear and present danger to the world.

Manmade Global Warming as the Justification

Since I believe the majority of what we now view as “climate change” is just part of a natural cycle in the climate system, I argued from the outset that NASA should be also selling “Mission to Planet Earth” as a way to better prepare ourselves for natural climate change — something that history tells us has indeed occurred, and we can be assured will occur again.

But behind the scenes there was a strong push for policy changes that even most of the scientists involved supported — ultimately culminating in the governmental control over how much and the kinds of energy sources humanity would be allowed to use in the future.

Cap and Trade, as well as potential regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by the EPA, are the fruits of the labor of politicians, governmental representatives, bureaucrats, the United Nations, and activist scientists who have used global warming as an excuse to accomplish policy goals that would have never been accomplished on their own merits.

Of course, most who speak out on this issue continue to point to the supposed “scientific consensus” on global warming as the justification, but those of us who knew the players also knew of these other motives.

I am often asked, “So, are you saying there is a conspiracy here?”

No, because the ultimate goals were not a secret. Just a bunch of elitists carrying out plans that the politicians supported — with continuing promises of congressional funding for research that those politicians knew would support Job #1 of government — to stay needed by the people. Many of the scientists involved are just along for a ride on the gravy train. Even I ride that train.

The elitism clearly shows through in the behavior of those who speak out publically on the need for humanity to change its Earth-destroying ways: Al Gore, James Cameron, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, RFK, Jr.

These people apparently believe they are God’s gift to humanity. How else can we explain that they do not see the hypocrisy the rest of the nation sees in their behavior?

Unfortunately, I saw this attitude on a smaller scale at the New Orleans meeting. There are many new, young scientists now joining the ranks. They are being mentored by the older scientists who helped spread the alarm concerning manmade global warming. And they will be rewarded for playing the game.

Or will they?

The Times They Are A-Changin’

How is it that government agencies long ago decided to put all their eggs in the manmade global warming basket? Why have the movers and shakers around the world ignored natural climate change — even going so far as to claim it does not exist?

The only reason I can think of again goes back to their elitist beliefs and desired policy outcomes. The belief that a better-educated few should be allowed power over the less educated masses. That government knows better than the people do.

Tomorrow’s election is widely viewed as a referendum on the proper role of government in people’s lives. There is no question that the founders of our country intended there to be maximum of freedom on the part of individuals and the states, while placing strong limits on the role of the federal government.

Just read the Declaration of Independence if you want to see how pi$!ed off the settlers of the original colonies became at the King of England over his intrusion into their personal affairs.

And global warming legislation is now quite possibly the best opportunity the governments of the world have to increase the role of government in people’s lives.

The Basic Economics of Individual Freedom

Yet, many Americans believe that government can more equitably distribute the wealth generated by a country. This is a laudable goal on the face of it.
Unfortunately, history has taught us that trying to impose equality of outcomes only serves to make people equally miserable.

I like to think that I know something about basic economics. It was the subject of the 6th chapter in my first book –Climate Confusion — which received a nice blurb on the jacket from noted economist Walter Williams.

One of the reasons I am willing to stick my neck out and inform people of the uncertain nature of government-approved global warming science is because the basic economics behind any governmental (or environmental extremist) attempts to restrict personal choice in energy use will end up killing people.

In fact, it already has.

The biggest threat to humanity is poverty. Wealthier is healthier. When governments make energy more expensive, or environmental organizations pressure foreign countries to not build hydroelectric dams, poor people die.

Those already living on the edge are pushed over the edge. Energy is required for everything we do, and artificially raising the price of energy cannot help but destroy wealth generation.

If these elitists really were interested in the poor, they would be doing everything they could to help individuals take control of their own economic destinies. One billion people in the world still do not have electricity.

Worried about population growth? Then encourage the generation of wealth. It is the poor of the world that cause global population growth. The wealthy countries of the world have close to zero population growth.

Of course the main argument against this view is “sustainability”. Can the Earth sustain even more people consuming natural resources?
Interesting how those who ask the question have already gotten theirs, and now want to prevent others from doing the same.

But I would ask, can the world sustain the poverty-stricken? Poor countries have had most of their trees cut down. Imagine if global society collapsed and billions of people had to make do on their own with what they could scavenge from nature.

Now THAT would lead to a pollution problem.

What ensures sustainability is free markets. As natural resources of one type become more scarce, their price goes up, which makes alternatives more attractive. People are incentivized to develop new answers to old technological problems. This is why fossil fuels will never be used up. At some point, they simply will become too expensive to extract.

Mass production by factories and corporations should be embraced, rather than derided. It represents the most efficient way of providing goods and services. Waste is minimized because it hurts competitiveness.

But What About Equality?

Equality of outcomes is an illusion. It can never be achieved…unless we totally destroy the people’s motivation to make a better life for themselves.

A vibrant economy is what maximizes the tax revenue collected by the government. The two largest periods of growth in tax revenue collected by the government occurred after two major tax-CUTTING initiatives: JFK’s in the early 1960′s, and Reagan’s in the early 1980′s.

If you really want to help the poor, then help the country grow economically. Want to make sure the poor are taken care of? Then encourage businesses to grow, which will lead to more jobs. Economic activity is what is needed, and since the tax revenue the government receives is a “piece of the action”, more action means more money for government programs.

And whether we like it or not, the only way to ensure this growth happens is to give business owners and entrepreneurs some hope that their risk-taking and creativity will pay off for them personally in the future.

Yes, in the process, some people will get rich. A few will get obscenely rich. But this only occurs because so many consumers want the goods and services those rich few can offer them.

Call it a necessary evil, if you must. But it is, indeed, necessary. The end result will be more money for the poor, not less.

A New Fight Begins Tomorrow

The basic economics and desire to help the poor that have motivated me to speak out in the last 20 years on global warming policy will, starting tomorrow, be the subject of a national debate regarding the proper role of government in helping its people.

Tomorrow’s election is only the start. From then on, education about the practical importance of economic freedom will be central to that debate.

There is no question that our country has an unsustainable growth in our yearly budget deficits, and our total national debt is staggering. Everyone agrees this must change.

And reducing government expenditures must, of course, be part of the debate.

But increasing tax revenue to help support those programs is ALSO part of the solution. And since the only demonstrated (and sustainable)way to accomplish this is to grow the economy, it requires personal economic freedom.

So, what is the primary role of government in all this? In my opinion, it is two-fold: (1) make sure people play fair, and (2) get out of the way.

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