“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Study: All-electric car may not be very green

cartoon-how-electric-cars-workPeople who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.

Ethanol isn't so green, either.

"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."

The key is the source of the electricity all-electric cars use. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study, published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire life cycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

False alarms have put us under the weather

floodNOT once when boarding a jet have I thought of ducking into the cockpit to give the pilot tips on engine thrust or fuel loads. He’s the expert. Still, if I’d booked for Bali only to land in Karachi I would know this: whatever the pilot’s credentials, he’d goofed.

I thought such a principle was so obvious that all laymen would consult it in every contact with any professional. Your extension falls down? Sue the builder.

But in one tiny yet catastrophically expensive field of human endeavour this law has been suspended. Yes, climate science.

This is the science where one plus one can equal three one day and six the next — yet never may we question the expert.

Taming the climate debate

climate protestThe climate controversy is one of the world’s most important discussions. At stake are billions of dollars, countless jobs, and, if U.N. representatives now meeting in Peru are right, the fate of the global environment itself. We need leaders in science, engineering, economics and public policy to contribute to the debate without fear of retribution.

Sadly, the opposite is happening. Because the issue is poisoned with personal attacks, censorship, illogic and even death threats, many of the world’s leading experts are too frightened to comment publicly. They don’t want to be falsely accused, as I was in the Dec. 10 Hutchinson Leader letter (“Gruenhagen not a clone for special interests?” by Gary Ballard), as having “led a public relations campaign with the purpose of discrediting any science that suggested tobacco increased cancer and heart problems.” And they certainly are afraid of being labeled as recipients of funding from “big money” and other nefarious groups, as the group I lead, the International Climate Science Coalition, was unjustifiably attacked in the same letter.

New Paper Tackles Ethical Disputes Of Climate Policy

cartoonA new paper by Dr Peter Lee and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation explores many of the ethical disputes that characterise climate science and policy in the twenty-first century.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message… Leaders must act.” These words by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, welcomed the latest IPCC Report as certain and indisputable.

But actions require choices to be made – each with economic and often overlooked ethical dimensions – and the uncertainties involved are greater than Ban Ki-moon and many of the IPCC authors publicly acknowledge.

A new paper by Dr Peter Lee and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation explores many of the ethical disputes that characterise climate science and policy in the twenty-first century.

Michael Mann, Author of Debunked Hockey Stick Graph, Presents Lecture on Scientific Ethics

mann wikipedia copyIn a moment of supreme irony, Michael Mann, the climatologist who constructed the now debunked hockey stick graph designed to make the case for global warming, has today delivered a lecture on “professional ethics for climate scientists”, Watts Up With That has reported.

Mann took to the stage alongside colleague Kent Peacock to “suggest that ethical training could be regularly incorporated into graduate curricula in fields such as climate science and geology,” at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting, currently taking place in San Francisco.

According to the lecture’s blurb on the AGU’s website, this is necessary as “several authors have warned that climate scientists sometimes exhibit a tendency to “err on the side of least drama” in reporting the risks associated with fossil fuel emissions.

Loophole In UN Climate Deal Lets Countries Avoid CO2 Targets

cartoonAnother city; pretty much the same outcome. The great climate change debate has rumbled along from Rio to Kyoto, through Copenhagen and on to Lima, without the breakthrough that campaigners have sought. There was an agreement of sorts in Peru, but nothing that lived up to the billing. --Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2014

Lima is just yet another re-enactment of the three-stage ritual that has become only too familiar over the past 20 years. First, we are treated to months of ludicrously unscientific hype, telling us that the threat of global warming is now worse than ever. Then, they all gather in some agreeable venue, for the “developing” nations – led by China and India – to say they will only play ball if the “developed” world, led by the EU, the US and Japan, pays them $100 billion a year to curb their “carbon emissions”. In days of acrimony and stupefying boredom it emerges that the rich countries aren’t really intending to deliver. Finally, at the eleventh hour – or more likely 4 o’clock in the morning – a “breakthrough” is announced. Everyone has finally agreed on a meaningless document that commits no one to anything. --Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2014

Still more politicized pseudo-science?

honeybeesWidening efforts to blame neonicotinoid pesticides for honeybee “colony collapse disorder” and other “beepocalypse” problems have taken a fascinating turn.

Insisting that scientific evidence shows a clear link between neonics and honeybee population declines, EU anti-insecticide campaigners persuaded the European Union to impose a two-year ban on using the chemicals. Farm organizations and the Union’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Department unsuccessfully opposed the ban, arguing that evidence for a link is not persuasive, and actual field studies in Canada and elsewhere have found little risk to bees from the pesticides.

Then this year’s canola (rapeseed) crop suffered serious losses of 30-50 percent, due to rampaging flea beetles. Over 44,000 acres (18,000 hectares) were declared a total loss. Euro farmers blamed the ban.

Time for the UN to get out of Climate Change

cop20“Climate change negotiators in Lima, Peru, seemed oblivious to the findings of the UN’s ongoing My World survey about what the people of the world really want the agency to focus on,” said Tom Harris, executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). “The seven million people polled so far indicate that, in comparison with issues such as education, health care, jobs, and energy, they care very little about climate change.”

“Perhaps most out of touch with reality is the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself who on Wednesday asserted that climate change remains his ‘top priority’," continued Harris.

ICSC chief science advisor, Professor Bob Carter, former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia explained, “That ‘action taken on climate change’ rates dead last among the 16 priorities the public wants to see action on is not surprising. They understand that the remote possibility of human activity contributing to climate problems decades from now is unimportant in comparison with the very real problems faced by the world’s poor today.

He’s flawed but needs a break

"Hey, gimme a break!""Hey, gimme a break!"WE conservatives have hammered Tony Abbott for weeks. It’s been merciless and now it’s hysterical.

Nothing the Prime Minister does is good enough.

Take last week, after Abbott backflipped on a vow not to donate to a United Nations’ global warming fund.

One conservative Murdoch paper, The Daily Telegraph, demanded Abbott not “appease environmentalists“ and avoid “alienating the core support that saw him elected last year as an opponent of Labor’s carbon tax”. But another conservative Murdoch paper, The Australian, demanded Abbott “place himself in the middle ground on climate change policy” and stop pandering to “the rabid elements of the conservative base”.

Likewise, conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen insists Treasurer Joe Hockey be sacked, but Piers Akerman insists he stay.

Global warming allegations false

polar-ice-sheet-growthWe’ve all heard that “97 percent of scientists” find “global warming” to be caused by human activity. Neither “percent of scientists” nor “global warming” has valid connotation.

In regard to the 97 percent claim: John Cook, an Australia-based blogger, and some of his friends reviewed abstracts of peer-reviewed papers published from 1991 to 2011, reporting that “97 percent of those who stated a position explicitly or implicitly suggest that human activity is responsible for some warming.”

But last year, David R. Legates of the University of Delaware and three coauthors, found from the same papers: “only 41 papers — 0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion” … had been found to endorse” John Cook’s opinion.

GWPF Welcomes Non-Binding And Toothless UN Climate Deal

cop20Dr Benny Peiser, the director of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), has welcomed the non-binding and toothless UN climate agreement which was adopted in Lima earlier today.

Dr Peiser said:

“The Lima agreement is another acknowledgement of international reality. The deal is further proof, if any was needed, that the developing world will not agree to any legally binding caps, never mind reductions of their CO2 emissions.”

“As seasoned observers predicted, the Lima deal is based on a voluntary basis which allows nations to set their own voluntary CO2 targets and policies without any legally binding caps or international oversight.”

Greenpeace again offends indigenous people

nazca-lines-damageGreenpeace likes to pretend it’s on the side of local people, especially indigenous peoples. But time and again they demonstrate a shocking degree of cultural boorishness.

Now Greenpeace activists have Peruvians up in arms, after trespassing all over treasured Incan cultural sites at Machu Picchu and Nazca, while doing ridiculous publicity stunts to highlight their claim that tiny amounts of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide are causing “dangerous” planet-wide climate change.

The Times of London’s Ben Webster says a Peruvian prosecutor investigating the incident was angry that the activists had caused “irreparable damage” to a large area of the “Nazca lines,” an ancient monument that UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site. The “lines” are a series of ancient glyphs in the country’s southern desert region. Hundreds of figures include stylized fish, hummingbirds, lizards, monkeys and spiders. Archeologists believe they were created by the Nacza culture 1360-1615 years ago.