Friday, September 04, 2015

Scientific Reaction to Velikovsky - Symptomatic of Climate Science Debacle

The immediate reaction of the Green/Left to the article below will be an "ad hominem" one.  They will say that Tim Ball has now proven himself a loony.  "He believes in that crazy Velikovsky guy", they will say.

That is of course NOT the point of the article below at all.  Ball does NOT say that he accepts the Velikovsky theories. He does however note that some of Velikovsky's predictions have been  borne out, which is more than you can say about Warmist predictions.

The point of the article below is that Velikovsky was greeted with censorship, not reasoned debate.  Sound familiar?

As it happens, I long ago read all three of Velikovsky's books and found them interesting.  His cosmological explanations however require a much more changing solar system than is plausible so I do not accept his explanation for the interesting phenomena that he draws together.  If his work had been regarded as an interesting starting point we might by now have some improvenents in historical knowledge (and note that Tim Ball is mostly an  historian).  But that was not to be.  Velikovsky upset too much of that wonderful "consensus" so minds snapped shut.

Many years ago, a colleague approached the President of the University with our plan to hold a conference on the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky. He angrily rejected the plan saying he would not allow anything on campus associated with that charlatan. The President was a physicist and Velikovsky had challenged prevailing scientific views.

In some ways, it doesn’t matter whether Velikovsky was right or wrong. The problem was the reprehensible actions of the scientific community. His treatment holds many lessons for today’s debate over climate change.

Complexity of the corruption by the few scientists who hijacked climate science is revealed by comparison. They quickly established their views as the prevailing ‘truth’ through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by deliberately misusing climate science and also misusing basic science. They isolated anyone who challenged either part of their false science in the same way Velikovsky was marginalized.

Dogma Replaces Dogma

Western science and religion battled for hundreds of years. Many conflicts involved new ideas and their final victories were considered turning points in the fight for people’s beliefs. In winning, science became more dogmatic than the religion it replaced.

Gradually the focus shifted from a conflict with religion to rejection of new ideas by practitioners of the prevailing scientific views.

Historically, new scientific ideas were vigorously resisted and their proponents attacked by religion. That comment is now true within science. Usually most people don’t care or don’t understand the significance of the new ideas. Copernicus put the Sun at the centre of our solar system but it doesn’t matter for most as long as the sun rises and sets.

A critical change in the adoption and infiltration of ideas came with extension of government-controlled education. From kindergarten through university, it became indoctrination not education.

Graduation is allowed once you’ve demonstrated a grasp of the current ‘truths’. Questioning those truths poses a threat to your assessment and even progress. The quandary is that this contradicts advancement of knowledge and understanding, especially of science. Consider the general reaction to Gore’s comment about global warming theory that “the science is settled.”

Rapid spread and lack of understanding of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory occurred because it quickly became part of school curricula. This was exacerbated because knowledge of science is necessary, but the subject was mostly covered in social sciences. It reflects the political nature of the subject and resulted in extensive indoctrination of ignorance. Graduates of this ignorance now control education, science and politics at all levels.

The Velikovsky Affair

Velikovsky was a Russian medical doctor with a lifelong interest in providing possible explanations for events recorded in historic records. A multi-linguist, he read original works from several middle-eastern cultures. He was on sabbatical in the US researching a book when World War II began. He stayed and began producing works on what the establishment categorized as catastrophism. Putting him in that category is part of the attack on his ideas from mainstream scientists.

Consider the pejorative nature of this quote from Wikipedia. “Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious.” Why “radical” or “notorious”; these are judgmental adjectives used because he dared to suggest there is another interpretation of the evidence.

His views became problematic when Macmillan published Worlds in Collision in 1950. The book immediately became a best seller. There were several problems for establishment thinking.

    Catastrophic events were contrary to the prevailing philosophy of uniformitarianism.

    He was trained in medicine not geology or astronomy.

    He was Russian, a serious problem in the McCarthy era.

    He dared to suggest that historical records were of actual events – an idea problematic in climate science even today.

    Worse, he used the Bible as a source of evidence.

Wikipedia comments again show the bias. “Even before its appearance, the book was enveloped by furious controversy, when Harper’s Magazine published a highly positive feature on it, as did Reader’s Digest with what would today be called a creationist slant.” Ah, the dreaded anti-science word creationism.

    He was not indoctrinated by formal education in academic science – the bastions of dogmatism and intellectual tunnel vision.

    His ideas did not conform to established astronomical views on planetary motion.

    He published his ideas in popular magazines and trade books that went directly to the public who might challenge official science.

    He followed success of World’s in Collision with another bestseller Ages in Chaos.

    His work was interdisciplinary at a time of specialization. Worse, it blended science with the humanities and the social sciences.

Velikovsky’s story is fascinating, but my focus is on the reactions of the establishment, especially of Harlow Shapley. He had a checkered career apparently shaped by his rigid thinking and personal animosities. After graduating from Princeton, he worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory, then Harvard College Observatories. He attended the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, which is at best a most pointed title. He was influential in forming government funded science institutions including the National Academy of Sciences. The latter has an ignominious part in the global warming debacle.

Macmillan was the only publisher in history who surrendered a best seller at peak sales. Shapely denied any involvement in the action. Velikovsky subsequently exposed his role in a letter to the Harvard Crimson. Macmillan was vulnerable to Shapley’s threats of curtailing academic textbooks because that was their major source of income. As with all these matters, the action is blameworthy, but the cover up compounds the error. Velikovsky discusses the events in Stargazers and Gravediggers.

Velikovsky’s major ideas built on the claim that Earth has experienced natural global disasters throughout its history. The major cause of natural catastrophes was brushes with other objects in the solar system and beyond. It’s probably thanks to Velikovsky that Walter and Luis Alvarez were able to propose the claim that a collision with an asteroid 65 million years ago led to extinction of dinosaurs. The father/son connection serendipitously allowed cross-discipline discussion between physics and geology. The intellectual isolation of specialization has undermined the ability to understand.

Science is the Ability to Predict

In the end, Velikovsky succeeded because he passed the ultimate test of science: the ability to predict. More important, they were in contradiction to prevailing views.

He made many and apparently, none is incorrect to date. The interesting one was the temperature of Venus which was almost double what the textbooks said.

The same textbooks that incorrectly use Venus as an example of runaway CO2 induced Greenhouse Effect.

Failure of the University President to approve a conference on Velikovsky was symptomatic of the dogmatic, closed minds that pervade modern science.

The few scientists involved with the AGW debacle deliberately exploited and practiced that condition.

Their actions indicate they saw this as a battle, but it was against the truth and as Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”


Love those "adjustments" and "data filling"

Oceans getting toasty?  They're just guessing

A new study by Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) proposed a new estimate on upper 0-700m ocean warming rate from 1970 to 2014: 0.55 ± 0.14 × 1022 J yr−1 (168TW). This estimate indicates a quicker upper ocean warming than previous estimates (i.e. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC-AR5).

Ocean heat content (OHC) change contributes substantially to global sea level rise (30%~50%), and provides a key metric for the earth’s energy budget (90% of the earth’s energy imbalance is stored in the ocean), so it is a vital task for the climate research community to estimate historical OHC. While there are large uncertainties regarding its value. IPCC AR5 provided five independent estimates of historical OHC change from 1970 to 2010 by five different international groups ranging from 74TW~137TW. Among these values, the minimum is as much as a half of the maximum, implying large divergence in the assessment of the ocean warming rate. That’s because there are several major error sources during OHC estimation.

Dr. Cheng Lijing, Prof. Zhu Jiang from IAP carried out a series of studies examining and quantifying the error sources in OHC estimates, including systematic biases in ocean temperature observations: expendable bathythermograph (XBT) data (Cheng et al. 2014), insufficient vertical resolution of historical temperature profiles (Cheng and Zhu, 2014a), choosing a proper climatology, and  how to infill the data gaps (Cheng and Zhu, 2014b). These improvements lead to a new reconstruction of historical upper (0–700 m) OHC change, which is presented in this study as the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) version of historical upper OHC assessment.

Cheng and Zhu then worked with John Abraham from University of St. Thomas, USA, and obtained upper 0–700 m OHC trend which is 0.55 ± 0.14 × 1022 J yr−1 (168TW) from 1970 to 2014 (Figure 1a, in red), stronger than IPCC-AR5’s estimates. The long-term trend reveals the signal of anthropogenic forcing since industrial revolution, and inter-annual variability is dominated by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Furthermore, they show that Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations have limited ability in capturing the interannual and decadal variability of historical upper OHC changes during the past 45 years (Figure 1b).

Co-author John Abraham has described this research in his bog posting for The Guardian. Here is an excerpt:

"My colleagues and I have a new publication, which better characterizes this heating and also compares climate model predictions with actual measurements. It turns out models have under-predicted ocean warming over the past few decades.

"But how would you measure the ocean? How would you make consistent, long-term measurements that would allow people to compare ocean heat from decades ago to today? How would you make enough measurements throughout the ocean so that we have a true global picture?

"This is one of the most challenging problems in climate science, and one that my colleagues and I are working hard on. We look throughout measurement history; first measurements were made with canvas buckets, then insulated buckets, and other more progressively complex devices. Many measurements were made along ocean passageways as ships transported goods across the planet.

"As more ship travel occurred, and more measurements were made, the coverage of temperature measurements across the globe increased. So, over time, we say the temporal and spatial resolution increased. As these changes occurred, you have to be careful that any trend you see isn’t just an artifact of the resolution or the instrument accuracy.

"We also pay attention on one particularly important measurement device called the eXpendable BathyThermograph (XBT). This device, originally designed to make crude measurements for navies, has been used for years by climate scientists. There is systematic bias in XBT data, which creates spurious “ocean warm decades” from 1970s to early 1980s as reported in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

"What my colleagues determined was that we could reduce past errors in the ocean heat content (OHC) record by correcting systematic measurement biases, filling in gaps where no information is available, and by choosing a proper comparison climate. This new paper doesn’t solve all of the OHC issues, but it makes a great stride in clearing up past questions.

"Lead author, Dr. Lijing Cheng (who works for the International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences in China) applied four separate improvements to data. He focused his attention on the heating in the upper 700 meters of ocean waters because that depth has the best measurements and it also is the region where much of the global warming heat goes.

"Going back to 1970, we find that the upper 700-meter water layer temperature has increased approximately 0.3°C (approximately 0.55°F). While that may not sound like a lot, we have to remember this is a huge amount of water and consequently it requires an enormous amount of energy.

"We separated the world’s oceans into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. All three of these oceans are warming with the Atlantic warming the most. We also calculated the ocean heating by using 40 state-of-the-art climate models. Over the period from 1970, the climate models have under-predicted the warming by 15%.

"A remarkably close match that gives us a lot of confidence in the models. On the other hand, the models were not able to predict shorter-term fluctuations in ocean heating contained within the observed time period."


Ocean heat content (OHC) change contributes substantially to global sea level rise, so it is a vital task for the climate research community to estimate historical OHC. While there are large uncertainties regarding its value, in this study, the authors discuss recent progress to reduce the errors in OHC estimates, including corrections to the systematic biases in expendable bathythermograph (XBT) data, filling gaps in the data, and choosing a proper climatology. These improvements lead to a better reconstruction of historical upper (0–700 m) OHC change, which is presented in this study as the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) version of historical upper OHC assessment. Challenges still remain; for example, there is still no general consensus on mapping methods. Furthermore, we show that Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations have limited ability in capturing the interannual and decadal variability of historical upper OHC changes during the past 45 years.

Global upper ocean heat content estimation: recent progress and the remaining challenges by Cheng L. J. Zhu, and J. Abraham published in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 8. DOI:10.3878/AOSL20150031


Obama Is Ignoring the Science on Climate Change

President Obama gave a doom and gloom speech yesterday at the Global Leadership in the Arctic (GLACIER) conference in Alaska to build momentum for the U.N. climate deal in Paris this December.

So far less than one third of countries have submitted plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by the Wall Street Journal’s count.

According to Obama, “Climate change is happening faster than we’re acting” and the world is facing a future of more fires, more melting, more warming, more suffering.

But there are at least two major problems with his focus on global warming as he’s presented it in Alaska.

Ignoring Evidence On Climate Change

Obama continues to ignore science that doesn’t fit his narrative and has ignored sound evidence from people who disagree with him. Many of the environmental trends Obama has warned of do not appear to fit current realities.

In his speech he warned that,

“If [current] trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this earth that’s not going to be impacted negatively…More drought, more floods, rising sea levels, greater migration, more refugees, more scarcity, more conflict.”

However, Judith Curry, professor at Georgia Institute for Technology and participant in the International Panel on Climate Change and National Academy of Sciences, writes that when politicians talk about an undeniable climate “consensus” they are brushing over “very substantial disagreement about climate change that arises from:

Insufficient observational evidence

Disagreement about the value of different classes of evidence (e.g. models)

Disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence

Assessments of areas of ambiguity and ignorance

Belief polarization as a result of politicization of the science
All this leaves multiple ways to interpret and reason about the available evidence.”

Curry, and others with evidence countering the president’s narrative of an accelerating and catastrophic warming, are labeled by Obama as “critics,” “cynics,” “deniers,” and on “their own shrinking island.”

Yet data of observed reality collected from the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Data Center does not show increasing frequency of extreme weather across the globe, whether you look at hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, or floods.

With so much yet unknown or unclear, one has to wonder if we are entirely misdiagnosing the problem.

What Will New Measures Do?

Obama hasn’t given Americans, or the world, an answer to perhaps the most important question: what kind of impact will global warming measures accomplish?

For starters, Federal subsidies and tax credits for wind and solar have cost billions of dollars while only increasing wind and solar contribution to the American energy by only 5 percent. In addition, it has tied both industries to government dependence with only minor success.

Energy efficiency mandates have reduced choices for Americans through the back door of regulation.

That has meant more expensive kitchen appliances or car models that must prioritize carbon dioxide emissions over other preferences like size, safety, or performance, not to mention an insult to the ability of Americans to make good energy efficiency choices for themselves.

And the Clean Power Plan, should it survive the serious legal problems with the regulations, promises to create a $2.5 trillion loss in GDP, hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, and a total income loss of $7,000 per person by 2030.

Those hardest hit will be people in manufacturing and with lower incomes.

Rich with irony, Obama warned that if we don’t act on climate change there would be “entire industries of people who can’t practice their livelihood.”

Tell that to those in the coal industry facing the gauntlet of the Clean Power Plan and a slew of other federal regulations, or miners and oil companies in Alaska in the crosshairs of the Obama administration’s zero carbon economy.

As it turns out, these mandates and subsidies also prove to be barriers to the progress and innovation the Obama administration wants.

Where does it get us on the path to addressing global warming?

Just shy of nowhere, or less than 0.002 degrees Celsius using an EPA model.

Jim Hansen, far from Obama’s global warming “deniers,” called the Clean Power Plan “practically worthless,” even though it is the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate agenda.

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for the Clean Power Plan, has testified before Congress that the Clean Power Plan isn’t about reducing global temperatures but “an investment opportunity” and “the tone and tenor” of international climate discussions.

Too many government policies, at home and abroad, make opportunity further out of reach under the misguided notion of making a dent in global warming.

In the process they thwart the opportunity, mobility, and wealth that can empower people to deal with environmental challenges.


Hidden emails reveal a secret anti-fossil fuel network involving the White House, Democrat governors, wealthy donors and foundations, and front groups

By Marita Noon

Most of us feel that time goes by faster as we get older. It does. When you are five years old, one year represents 20 percent of your life. Yet, when you are fifty, that same calendar year is only 2 percent of your life — making that single timeframe much smaller. Those of us involved in fighting the bad energy policies coming out of Washington have a similar feeling: the second term of the Obama Administration seems to be throwing much more at us and at such speed that we can barely keep up. Likewise, they are.

We knew that President Obama was planning to fundamentally transform America, but even many of his initial supporters have been shocked as his true intentions have been revealed. Following his November 2012 reelection, his administration has removed any pretense of representing the majority of Americans and has pursued his ideological agenda with wild abandon — leaving many of us feeling incapacitated, thrown to the curb as it speeds by.

His legacy climate change agenda is at the core of the rapid-fire regulations and the disregard for any speed bump the courts may place in front of the administration. When the Supreme Court smacked it down for failing to consider economic impacts of the mercury and air toxics standards for power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded with a shrug, as their goal had essentially already been met. On August 27, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction — blocking the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing the Waters of the United States rule in the thirteen states that requested the injunction. The response? The Hill reports, “The Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned.”

Having failed to push the unpopular policies through Congress, the administration has resorted to regulatory overreach — and assembled a campaign to use friendly governors and state attorneys general offices, in collaboration with pressure groups and ideologically aligned benefactors, to advance the agenda.

The White House knows that the public is not with them. While polls show that slightly more than half of the American public believe the “effects of global warming are already happening,” it repeatedly comes in at the bottom of the list of priorities on which Americans think Obama and Congress should focus. The President’s pet policy fares even worse when pollsters ask if Americans agree that “government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth.” Only 12 percent “strongly agree.” Additionally, the very age group — young voters — that helped propel Obama into the Oval Office, is the group least convinced that climate change is a reality and the least “likely to support government funding for climate change solutions.”

It is, presumably, for this reason that a scheme hatched by now-disgraced former Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s highest-paid aide Dan Carol — “a former Democratic opposition researcher,” who, according to the Oregonian, “worked on behalf of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama” — received an enthusiastic response from the White House and its allies. Remember, Kitzhaber resigned from office on February 13, 2015, amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing for the role his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, held in his office and whether she used that role to obtain private consulting work promoting the climate change agenda. Carol, who was paid close to double Kitzhaber’s salary, according to a new report from Energy & Environment Legal Institute, left his public position “after appearing to have too closely intertwined government and the tax-payer dependent ‘clean energy’ industry with interest group lobbies.”

The goal of what was originally called “Dan’s concept” was to bring about a “coalescence of private financial and ideological interests with public offices to advance the officeholders’ agenda and political aspiration” — more specifically: “to bring the Obama Administration’s plans to reality and to protect them.”

This was done, according to dozens of emails obtained through federal and state open record laws “through a coordinated campaign of parallel advocacy to support close coordination of public offices” and involved a “political operation with outside staff funded by some of the biggest names in left-liberal foundation giving,” including, according to the emails, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, the Rockefeller Brothers, and the Hewlett Foundation. The first emails in the scandal began in mid-2013.

Kitzhaber wasn’t the only governor involved — he’s just the only one, so far, to resign. Many Democrat governors and their staff supported the scheme. You’d expect that California’s Governor Jerry Brown or Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe are part of the plan — called, among other names, the Governors Climate Compact — as they are avid supporters of the President’s climate change initiatives. What is surprising is Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s “quiet engagement.” He decried Obama’s Clean Power Plan (final rule announced on August 3, 2015), as being “disastrous” for Kentucky. In a statement about the Plan, he said, “I have remained steadfast in my support of Kentucky’s important coal and manufacturing industries, and the affordable energy and good jobs they provide the Commonwealth and the nation.” Yet, he isn’t opposing the rule and emails show that he is part of the “core group of governors quietly working to promote the climate agenda.”

In response to the records request, Beshear’s office “asserts that ‘no records’ exist in its files involving the Steyer campaign.” According to the E&E Legal report, there are “numerous emails from other governors copying a senior Beshear aide on her official account, emails which Beshear’s office surely possesses, unless it has chosen to destroy politically damaging emails.” An email bearing that aide’s name, Rebecca Byers, includes Kentucky as one of the states “that can’t commit to the GCC [Governors Climate Compact] publicly now but would welcome quiet engagement.”

Other states indicated in the emails include Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, New York, Vermont, and Virginia. Three newly-elected Republican governors have been targeted by the campaign — Larry Hogan (Md.), Charlie Baker (Mass.), and Bruce Rauner (Ill.). Reelected Republican Governor Rick Snyder (Mich.) has apparently joined the “core group.”

I’ve read the entire report — which had me holding my breath as if I were reading a spy thriller — and reviewed the emails.

The amount of coordination involved in the multi-state plan is shocking. The amount of money involved is staggering — a six-month budget of $1,030,000 for the orchestrators and multi-state director and $180,000 to a group to produce a paper supporting the plan’s claims. And, as the 55-page report points out, this collection of emails is in no way complete. As the report notes, “Context and common sense indicate that the emails E&E Legal obtained and detail in this report do not represent all relevant correspondence pulling together the scheme they describe. Public records laws extend to those records created, sent or received by public servants; private sector correspondence is only captured when copying public offices, with the caveat that most of the White House is exempt. Further, however, the records we have obtained reflect more than the time and other parameters of our requests; they are also a function of the thoroughness of offices’ responses, the willingness of former and current staff to search nonofficial accounts, and even several stonewalls as noted in the following pages.”

The E&E Legal report was of particular interest to me in that it followed the theme of my extensive coverage of Obama’s green energy, crony corruption scandal. Many of the same names, with which I’d become familiar, popped up over and over again: Terry McAuliffe, who received government funding for his failed electric car enterprise; Cathy Zoi, who worked for the Department of Energy; and, of course, John Podesta, who ran the Center for American Progress and who helped write the 2009 Stimulus Bill, and who then became a “senior advisor” to President Obama and is presently campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

It also caught my attention because little more than a month ago — perhaps with a hint that this report was forthcoming — the Huffington Post published a story claiming that groups like mine were part of a “secret network of fossil fuel and utility backed groups working to stop clean energy.” Calling me — along with others — out by name, the author states, “The strategy of creating and funding many different organizations and front groups provides an artificial chorus of voices united behind eliminating or weakening renewable energy laws.” He concludes that the attacks “are the result of coordinated, national campaigns orchestrated by utilities and fossil fuel companies through their trade associations and front groups.”

Oh, how I wish we were that well-coordinated and funded. If we were, I would have written this column last week when the E&E Legal report was released. Instead of receiving the information from the source, a New York City journalist forwarded it to me.

Yes, I am part of a loosely-affiliated network of people who share similar concerns. Once a year, I meet with a group of private citizens and activists over property rights issues. I am on an email list of individuals and groups opposing wind turbines — often for different reasons. I have a cadre of scientists I’ve met at different meetings upon whom I do call for their varied expertise. Individuals often email me tips and news stories. True, most of the folks on my nearly 5,000-person email distribution list are part of the energy industry — though there are plenty of concerned citizens, too. In 2014, the average donation to my organization was under $500.

Imagine what we could do with the same amount of money and coordination the E&E Legal report revealed, after all we have the public on our side — average citizens whose utility bills are going up by double digits due to the policies espoused by President Obama and his politically connected allies who benefit from Americans’ tax dollars.

I hope you’ll join our chorus — you can subscribe and/or contribute to my efforts. We are not working in the shadows and are, in fact, proud of our efforts on behalf of all Americans, their jobs, and energy that is effective, efficient, and economical.

If this small — but organized and well-funded — group pushing Obama’s agenda were allowed to run rampant, without the roadblocks little pockets of opposition (like my group) erect though public education and exposure of the facts (such this E&E Legal report), it is scary to think about where America would be today. Remember, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.


Obama coal plan will boost electricity bills 16%, drive companies offshore

As President Obama jetted to Alaska Monday to talk up his climate change plans, burning through nearly 17,000 gallons of fuel, a new report showed that his "Clean Power Plan" will increase consumer electric bills 16 percent and speed plans by job-creating manufacturers to flee America's high fuel costs.

The free-market focused Institute for Energy Research said that Obama's plan to replace coal-fired plants with renewable energy makers like windmills and solar will force companies to spend up to four times more on energy and hit consumers.

"The so-called Clean Power Plan is expected to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in the generating sector by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2032. To do this, massive amounts of coal-fired generating capacity will be shuttered and wind and solar power will be built in their stead—technologies that cost 2 to 4 times more than the coal capacity that is being shuttered," said the group in a report issued Monday.

They also cited the impact on consumers: "According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential electricity prices are expected to be 16 percent higher in real prices than today due to the proposed regulation and others imposed on the generating sector by EIA."

Obama and his supporters have been touting the positive impacts of the plan, but the report attempts to put a price on the initiative.

He was expected to discuss climate change in Alaska and the results of doing nothing. Air Force One burns about five gallons per mile, for a total of 16,875 gallons used to promote climate change initiatives in Alaska.

Several states have sued to stop his plan.

The report, which quotes multiple government and other official sources, said that the development of energy in the United States, leading to cheaper prices, has lured many American companies back to the homeland to set up shop. Even some Chinese firms are relocating to the U.S. because of cheaper energy.

But it warns that the attractiveness of the United States will end with the new Obama regulations.

"Low energy prices and American ingenuity have brought manufacturing back to this country. However, all this is likely to change as President Obama's regulations go into effect, making electricity and natural gas prices escalate, forcing companies to accept higher domestic operating costs or move offshore," warned the report.

The report concluded: "President Obama is making energy prices escalate due to stringent environmental regulations being promulgated by the EPA. Due to the timing of these regulations, most of the price increases will not been seen by the public until his second term is up. Nonetheless, the headway the United States made to bring manufacturing back to America is being threatened. The result will be a loss of jobs that we cannot afford."


Australia:  "Organic" farmer loses his attempt to impose organic practices on his neighbours

An organic farmer in Western Australia whose crop was contaminated with genetically modified (GM) canola from a neighbouring farm has lost his court appeal for compensation.

Steve Marsh of Kojonup lost organic certification over most of his farmland in 2010 after genetically modified seeds and swathes blew onto his farm.

Mr Marsh went to court, seeking more than $80,000 in compensation.

But last year the Supreme Court dismissed the case, saying neighbour Michael Baxter had not acted negligently and could not be held responsible just for growing a GM crop in a conventional way.  It also awarded Mr Baxter costs.

The Court of Appeal has now dismissed appeals on the case and the costs in a two-to-one decision.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Monsanto had contributed to Mr Baxter's costs while Mr Marsh's campaign has been supported by the Safe Food Foundation.

Outside the court, Mr Baxter said he had been confident of winning.  "We certainly never doubted all the way through that we were probably going to be on the winning side," he said.

"This should never have even gone to court because between farmers, we should've just had a chat over the fence, had a couple of beers, you know, this would've been all sorted out.

"He's an organic farmer, he can't spray, he can't use chemicals, you know he's got red mite, he's got aphids, he's got rust, he's got all the diseases in the world, does he worry about that?

"They blow over the fence, I get them all the time.  "Do I whinge, do I complain? No, not at all."

Mr Baxter said he had no relationship with Mr Marsh anymore.

"He took the hard line, he made the decision," he said.

He thanked the Pastoralists and Graziers Association for their support.

The decision was another blow for Mr Marsh.  "I guess what this has demonstrated is that common law does not protect farmers against GM contamination, that's obviously very clear," he said.

"This argument that it's like a leaf blowing next door or something blowing next door, it's quite ridiculous.

"This product's got a technology in it, it's got a patent on it to start with, so you can't tell me a leaf blowing next door or an aphid or a weed is the same as GM technologies."

Mr Marsh said he was considering whether to appeal to the High Court.  "It was obviously a two-one decision so they weren't all against us," he said.

Mr Marsh was asked whether he was prepared for the possibility of losing his farm.

"You've got to deal with what you've got to deal with - if you don't stand for what you believe is right then that's it," he said.

The court had sought to rule on costs, but that will be decided on submissions in the coming weeks after a request from Mr Marsh's counsel.  Costs are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr Baxter has said the funds he received from Monsanto were considered to be a loan, and the support was no different to what Mr Marsh had received from other groups.

Safe Food Foundation Director Scott Kinnear described Mr Marsh as a "hero" for "standing up" to GM technology.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Kinnear said the farmer would continue to have the organisation's support if he decided to appeal further.  "We have to sort this issue out, we have to sort it out either in the courts, or politically it needs to be sorted out," he said.

Mr Kinnear said Mr Marsh was already "down significantly on funds".  "He's lost his sheep, which was a significant part of his income," he said.  "We have to help him get back to where he was."

Pastoralists and Graziers Association grain growers' committee chairman John Snook said the decision had big implications for farmers.

"What it means is [farmers] can grow GM canola with certainty, they don't have to be worried about being potentially attacked and sued by an organic neighbour," he said.  "We have always stood by Michael Baxter and will continue to do so until this issue is completely finished."

Appeals Court president Justice Carmel McLure decided in favour of Mr Marsh and his wife, who were both appellants.

She found the interference with the appellants' use and enjoyment of their property was both substantial and unreasonable and constituted a private nuisance.

Justice McLure said Mr Baxter "had actual knowledge of the risk of decertification when he engaged in the conduct which caused the harm to the appellants". She said Mr Marsh was entitled to damages amounting to $85,000.

But Justice David Newnes and Justice Graeme Murphy decided in favour of Mr Baxter.

They said Mr Marsh's choice of farming operations did not mean Mr Baxter's lawful use of his own land "constituted a wrongful interference with the appellants' use or enjoyment of their land".

They also said Mr Marsh and his wife had "put their land to an abnormally sensitive use" and they could not "unilaterally enlarge their own rights" and impose limitations on their neighbours to a greater extent than would otherwise be the case.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Obama’s war on the poor continues

By Rick Manning

The past few years have been marked by Obama releasing new regulation after new regulation designed to increase the price of low-cost, readily-available fuel so that higher-cost, less-available alternatives become economically viable. The resulting higher electricity costs represent the most regressive form of regulatory taxation imaginable as the less fortunate have almost no way, short of being cold, of avoiding the costs.

The stated objective of lowering carbon emissions might make sense if these very regulations weren’t projected to have the perverse effect of encouraging the continued and expanded burning of these fuels in countries with significantly lower environmental standards while costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

When coupled with the Obama Administration’s goal of establishing a Trans-Pacific Partnership that will encourage outsourcing manufacturing to nations with virtually non-existent environmental protections, the net result would be fewer well-paying jobs here at home to help raise the middle class and more pollution worldwide.

But this may be considered an esoteric argument. One Obama EPA regulation that would have an obvious devastating impact on the very poor is the EPA’s rule on residential wood heaters. This regulation would make the cost of manufacturing heaters that burn wood prohibitively expensive denying consumers a low-cost means to safely heat their homes using wood.

In spite of the belief of those who cash government paychecks every other week, many people in our nation depend upon burning wood for heat in the winter even in the affluent Washington, D.C. area. Nationally, one in ten homes depends upon wood heat in some form with just under two percent using it as their primary source.

The need is so great that the men at Chesapeake Church in Calvert County, Maryland, spend a couple of weekends in the late fall and winter chopping and delivering wood to those who depend upon burning that wood to stay warm.

This is not a vanity, return-to-the-rustic-days-of-old crackpot fantasy of better living that entices Birkenstock-wearing enviros to cook and heat with wood. No, it is survival for people who find themselves struggling to put food on the table.

Yet, the elitists at the EPA are trying to regulate safe, wood-burning heaters out of existence, leaving the poor to use dangerous alternatives to survive sub-freezing temperatures.

Fortunately, Representative David Rouzer (R-N.C.) has introduced legislation to repeal this War on the Poor regulation saying, “The federal government has no business telling private citizens how they should heat their homes.”

It is expected that Rouzer will be working with his colleagues in the House in September to attach language to the upcoming government funding bill which will stop the wood-burning heater rule in its tracks.

With winter on the way, Congress needs to act to protect the less fortunate by allowing them to choose affordable alternatives to safely heat their homes. The only better option would be to force the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to trade places for a few weeks in February with those who depend upon wood heat in sub-freezing temperatures and see if she changes her mind about her Agency’s attempt to force the poor to sacrifice basic necessities on the altar of climate change.


Bicycles don't belong on busy city streets

Jeff Jacoby is talking about his native Boston but his words have wide applicability elsewhere

The Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain is more than a renowned horticultural jewel; it is also a splendid venue for cyclists, with miles of meandering paths and gorgeous views of Boston. The Charles River Esplanade is another bikers' oasis, part of an 18-mile loop along the river that separates Boston from Cambridge. For commuters, the Southwest Corridor Park that stretches from Back Bay to Forest Hills is a marvel of urban design that offers terrific biking in the heart of the city.

Busy thoroughfares aren't meant for cyclists. They are meant for the cars, trucks, and buses that transport the vast majority of people moving through the nation's cities.

If you want to ride a bicycle in Boston, you've got plenty of great places to do it.

Massachusetts Avenue during business hours isn't — and shouldn't be — one of them.

The death last month of cyclist Anita Kurmann, who was fatally struck by a tractor-trailer turning from Mass. Ave. onto Beacon Street, was a terrible tragedy. The 38-year-old medical researcher was at least the 13th cyclist killed in a collision with a motor vehicle on city streets since 2010. That number is sure to rise if Boston keeps encouraging people to ride bicycles where bicycles don't belong.

Busy thoroughfares aren't meant for cyclists. They are meant for the cars, trucks, and buses that transport the vast majority of people moving through the nation's cities. Those vehicles weigh thousands of pounds, operate at 300-plus horsepower, and are indispensable to the economic and social well-being of virtually every American community. Bicycles can be an enjoyable, even exhilarating, way to get around. So can horses, skis, and roller skates. Adding any of them to the flow of motorized traffic on roads that already tend to be too clogged, however, is irresponsible and dangerous.

According to the latest Census Bureau data, more than 122 million people commute each day by car, truck, or van. Fewer than 900,000 bike to work. Do the math: For every cyclist pedaling to or from work, there are 136 drivers. Add the passengers who commute by bus and streetcar, and that ratio is even more lopsided. When it comes to urban transportation, bike riders play a trifling role — literally less than a rounding error. Far more people walk to work.

This isn't "sharing the road." It is a foolhardy policy of treating bicycles — flimsy, slow, and distracting — as the equivalent of motor vehicles, which are faster, more powerful, and vastly more numerous.

But that doesn't deter the bicycle lobby, which could give lessons in brass to Donald Trump. Advocates demand more and more access to city streets, no matter how frustrating to the vast majority of drivers for whom those streets are designed. On many major roads, lanes for cars have been shrunk in order to carve out cycling lanes. "Share the Road," signs pointedly admonish drivers, as though sound traffic management calls for treating flimsy, slow, and distracting bikes as the equal of faster, more powerful motor vehicles.

And "sharing" the road, increasingly, isn't enough: Signs now decree "Bicycles May Use Full Lane," warning motorists that the biker ahead of them causing traffic to crawl has every right to be in the middle of the lane. And if there's only one lane of traffic in each direction, so that traffic on a city street is effectively reduced to the speed of a lone cyclist? Too bad.

All of which might be marginally more tolerable if bikers operated under the same restrictions that drivers do. But cyclists pay no taxes, don't have to be insured, undergo no safety inspections, and needn't register their vehicles. They don't get pulled over for riding without reflectors or headlamps, don't have to carry an operator's license, and aren't required to pass either a written or a road test in order to pedal in the streets. And have you ever seen a cop ticket a cyclist who ran a red light, weaved recklessly among lanes, or made an illegal turn? Me neither.

Bikes aren't treated like cars for a very good reason: Bikes aren't like cars. Which is exactly why they don't belong on busy city streets. Cyclists and traffic don't mix. It's not just foolish to pretend otherwise. It's deadly.


Oil, America's Inexhaustible Resource

By Stephen Moore

“The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground.” —Barack Obama, 2011.

In August 1859 on the eve of the Civil War, Col. Edwin Laurentine Drake completed the first commercial oil well in the United States on Oil Creek just outside of Titusville, Pa. Over the next century and a half, oil and gas companies have extracted tens of billions of barrels of oil from the ground from California to New York and nearly everywhere in between.

During that time period, one thing has been constant: Doomsayers and declinists have predicted that we would soon drill the last barrel of oil. Famously in the 1920s, the U.S. Department of Interior projected less than a few decades' worth of recoverable oil in the United States. Jimmy Carter declared in 1980 that by 2000 we’d be nearly out of oil — running on empty.

Last month, the Department of Energy reported that the U.S. hit a new energy milestone: We produced 9.52 million barrels a day. That was very close to the highest output level in recorded history. So much for running out.

Something else has happened in recent weeks that almost no one — least of all President Obama — would have predicted. The price of oil fell below $40 a barrel. Adjusted for inflation, that makes oil cheaper today than at almost anytime in history. Adjusted for wages, we work less to buy gasoline and oil today than nearly ever before.

Welcome to the age of oil and gas abundance. One of the people who predicted all of this 40 years ago was the late, great economist Julian Simon. When cultural icons like doomsayer Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University were assuring us that the end was nigh when it came to oil, food, copper, tin and farmland, and that the earth would soon be freezing over because of cooling trends, it was Julian Simon who declared they were all wrong. He was regarded as a lunatic, in today’s left-wing jargon, a “denier,” but he was right, and the “scientific consensus” was entirely and almost negligently wrong.

The experts at the Institute for Energy Research recently published an inventory of American energy given current technological capabilities. Their research shows that we have 500 years worth of coal and natural gas and at least 200 years worth of oil. The wellspring of energy in America will never run dry.

The reason we never run out of “finite” resources is that human ingenuity runs forward at a far faster pace than the rate we use up oil, gas or food. The shale oil and gas revolution — thanks to fracking technologies — nearly tripled overnight our oil and gas reserves. We now produce three times as much food with one-third as much manpower at one-third the cost than we did in 1950.

That the left-wing doomsayers have been time and again discredited in their Malthusian warnings has several policy implications. First, would you keep buying stock from a broker who kept giving you all the wrong advice and losing your money?

Then why do we listen to the same crowd of doomsayers who still say we are running out of oil or that the earth is going to heat up into a fireball? Their credibility and their “scientific consensus” have rarely been right. They are like the boy who cries wolf over and over.

Second, there are high costs to false fears. President Obama has many times justified the $100 billion we’ve wasted on renewable energy subsidies by the claim that we’re running out of oil.

Third, many of the same Malthusians who told us we were running out of oil and food are the intellectual giants behind the global warming industry. These are the ones who say that the debate is over on global warming, that they can’t possibly be wrong, that the science is settled and that those who question their religious-like conviction have been bought off by the Koch brothers or big oil. Given their abysmal track record, is it asking too much of them to consider that they might just be wrong?

Several years ago, I declared on a television show that America will never run out of oil and gas, and that our supplies are inexhaustible. I was flooded with angry letters and emails. My favorite note came from a junior high school science teacher who wrote me: “How could you say such a stupid thing? Even my sixth-graders understand that oil is a finite resource.” Well, a sixth-grader might believe that tripe.

What is disconcerting is that the president of the United States, the media and many “scientists” still believe it. Paul Ehrlich once said that one thing the world will never run out of “is idiots.” Alas, he was right for once.


Severe winters caused by global warming, says new study

”If your winter has been brutally cold in Tokyo or Toledo in recent years, you can thank global warming in the Arctic", a new study suggests

"Snowfalls across Europe and Asia were the highest in decades last year, while frigid cold in the northeast U.S. led to natural gas shortages and price spikes that year. This year, Boston got buried under more than 9 feet (2.7 meters) of snow, an all-time high.”

Such weather disasters will be more likely due to rising global temperatures,  the article continues, because changes in Arctic air flows “produce favorable conditions for severe winters in East Asia or North America.

We’re apparently supposed to believe that the hotter it gets, the colder it gets. The research was led by Jong-Seong Kug of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea.

They did test this story during the “polar vortex” of 2013-2014,   But now its backed by ‘studies’ (& just in time for the climate change conference).”

So now when you are neck deep in snow & your city runs out of grit, you can blame AGW.


Today's words of wisdom come from Ruth Dixon's review of Lord Stern's latest opus

Stern is...selective in his choice of data. He frequently ignores mainstream scientific evidence (such as that found in the authoritative reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) in favour of outlying estimates....

The type of small-scale solar PV [Stern] describes is a good way to supply electricity for lights, phone and internet access to remote communities, but it is fanciful to suppose that such systems can provide enough power for cooking....

Even in his own words, Stern makes clear that he does not view objectivity as an overriding concern...


Obama takes veiled shot at Australian PM on Climate?

Speaking to a global leadership conference on the Arctic, President Obama says that those who want to ignore the science 'are on their own shrinking island' and any world leader that doesn't take climate change seriously is 'not fit to lead.'  

As the highest profile leader to rebuff Obama's pressure on climate, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott famously called much of the science behind catastrophic climate change 'absolute crap' and successfully repealed Australia's deeply unpopular carbon tax.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: "So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers has passed. The time to plead ignorance is surely passed. Those who want to ignore the science they are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island. [...] Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that, any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke, is not fit to lead."


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Some real fun below

If deliberate deception is fun.  It's fun to expose it anyway. "Slate's" crooked "Bad astronomer", Phil Plait, is at it again.  Read here and here to see two of his recent attempted deceptions eviscerated.

What we read below is no exception.  He is just a global warming apparatchik.  There is no truth in him (John 8:44). How do we know that?

He says that sea levels have been rising since 1992, which is correct.  They have been rising for much longer than that, in fact. He also says the rise is due to global warming, which is not correct. How do we know that?  Look at the chart below.  You can see that the graph of rises climbs steadily.  It did NOT stop 18 years ago when global warming stopped.  So clearly the two phenomena are unrelated.  Sea levels did not stop rising when warming stopped. QED.

Warmists really are the most disgusting crooks.  Fortunately they are also transparent crooks if one looks at all closely at their claims

Do you think global warming is something that only affects us sometime in the future, decades or centuries from now?

Think again. Our planet heating up is affecting us now, and has been for decades. We’re already seeing a lot of serious problems due to it: extreme weather, more devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and sea level rise.

Of all these, the last seems most like science fiction. Seriously, the levels of the ocean are going up? It can’t be much, right?

Think again, again. NASA just released results from several satellite observations going back to 1992. Those 23 years of data show that the oceans of the planet have risen substantially in that time: over 6 centimeters (2.5 inches) on average, with some places on Earth seeing more than 22 cm (9 inches)!

The cause of all this is obvious and very real: global warming. As human activity — primarily dumping 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year — causes the Earth’s surface temperature to go up, a lot of that energy is absorbed by the oceans, causing them to expand. Some of it is absorbed at the poles, melting ice there.

Sea ice melting at the north pole is bad enough, but the land ice melting is nothing short of catastrophic. Climatologists have already shown that the melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet may be unstoppable. We may be locked in — that is, inevitably going to suffer from — a full meter of sea level rise, three feet. This may take a century or more, but it’s coming. And while that may seem like a long time, think of it this way: A meter per century is a centimeter every year, an inch every 2.5 years.

Mind you, that’s vertical rise. Look at the slope of a beach and you can see that a small rise vertically means a lot of horizontal reach to the ocean, too. We’ll see beaches disappear, coastlines changed. More immediately, we’ll see storm surges do far more damage as it takes less rise in the water levels to inundate cities. Remember what the surge from Hurricane Sandy did to NYC? We’ll be seeing more and more of that.

This is the new normal. And the scary thing is not so much that the new normal is bad, it’s that with more warming, rising sea levels, and changing weather patterns, the new normal will continue to get worse. There may not be a normal any more.

And all that time, the temperatures will rise, the glaciers will melt, the sea levels will rise, and we’ll be that much deeper into a catastrophe that is already well underway.


Ethical collapse at the University of Western Australia

They will do anything to prop up their Warmist psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and his very odd research methods

The Lewandowsky, Gignac, and Oberauer paper in PLOS ONE has been substantially corrected. I had alerted the journal last fall that there were serious errors in the paper, including the presence of a 32,757-year-old in the data, along with a 5-year-old and six other minors. The paleoparticipant in particular had knocked out the true correlation between age and the conspiracy belief items (the authors had reported there was no correlation between age and anything else.)

Deeply troubling issues remain. The authors have been inexplicably unwilling to remove the minors from their data, and have in fact retained two 14-year-olds, two 15-year-olds, a 16-year-old, and a 17-year-old. This is strange given that the sample started with 1,001 participants. It is also wildly unethical.

To provide some context, let me lay out the timeline:

October 4, 2013: Lewandowsky was alerted on his own website that there was a 32,757-year-old and a 5-year-old in his data.

There was no correction. Recall that he had reported analyses of the age variable in the paper, and that these analyses were erroneous because of the 32,757-year-old.

August 18, 2014: On the PLOS ONE page for the paper, I alerted the authors to the 32,757-year-old, the 5-year-old, and the six other minors in their data (along with several other problems with the study.)

There was no correction.

September 22, 2014: I contacted PLOS ONE directly and reported the issue. I had waited over a month for the authors to correct their paper after the notification on August 18, but they had mysteriously done nothing, so it was time to contact the journal.

August 13, 2015: Finally, a correction was published. It is comprehensive, as there were many errors in their analyses beyond the age variable.

I'd like to pause here to say that PLOS ONE is beautiful and ethically distinctive. They insisted that the authors publish a proper correction, and that it thoroughly address the issues and errors in the original. They also placed a link to the correction on top of the original paper. The authors did not want to issue a proper correction. Rather, Lewandowsky preferred to simply post a comment on the PLOS ONE page for the paper and call it a corrigendum. This would not have been salient to people reading the paper on the PLOS ONE page, as it requires that one click on the Comments link and go into the threads. Notably, Lewandowsky's "corrigendum" was erroneous and required a corrigendum of its own... It was also remarkably vague and uninformative.

A serious ethical issue remains – they kept the minors in their data (except the 5-year-old.) They had no prior IRB approval to use minors, nor did they have prior IRB approval to waive parental consent. In fact, the "ethics" office at the University of Western Australia appears to be trying to retroactively approve the use of minors as well as ignoring the issue of parental consent. This is ethically impossible, and wildly out of step with human research ethics worldwide. It also cleanly contradicts the provisions of the Australian National Statement on Ethical Conduct of Human Research (PDF). In particular, it contradicts paragraphs 4.2.7 through 4.2.10, and 4.2.12. The conduct of the UWA ethics office is consistent with all their prior efforts to cover up Lewandowsky's misconduct, particularly with respect to Lewandowsky's Psych Science paper, which should be treated as a fraud case. UWA has refused everyone's data requests for that paper, and has refused to investigate. Corruption is serious problem with human institutions, one that I increasingly think deserves a social science Manhattan Project to better understand and ameliorate. UWA is a classic case of corruption, one that mirrors those reported by Martin.

Here is the critical paragraph regarding minors in the PLOS ONE correction:

"Several minors (age 14–17) were included in the data set for this study because this population contributes to public opinions on politics and scientific issues (e.g. in the classroom). This project was conducted under the guidelines of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC). According to NH&MRC there is no explicit minimum age at which people can give informed consent (as per​2-general-requirements-consent). What is required instead is to ascertain the young person’s competence to give informed consent. In our study, competence to give consent is evident from the fact that for a young person to be included in our study, they had to be a vetted member of a nationally representative survey panel run by (partner of, who collected the data). According to information received from the panel provider, they are legally empowered to empanel people as young as 13. However, young people under 15 are recruited to the panel with parental involvement. Parental consent was otherwise not required. Moreover, for survey respondents to have been included in the primary data set, they were required to answer an attention filter question correctly, further attesting to their competence to give informed consent. The UWA Human Rights Ethics Committee reviewed this issue and affirmed that “The project was undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the Australian National Statement of Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007).”

The above may be difficult for people to parse and unpack. Here are the essentials we can extract from it:

1. There was no prior IRB approval for the use of minors. (UWA's review was retroactive, amazingly.)

2. Parental consent was not obtained for minors who were at least 15 years of age.

3. Obtaining parental consent for 13 and 14-year-olds was delegated to a market research company. However, the term "consent" is not used in this case. Rather, the authors claim that the market research company recruited these kids with "parental involvement". It's not clear what this term means.

4. The UWA "ethics" committee is attempting to grant retroactive approval for the use of minors and the lack of parental consent, as well as the delegation of consent obtainment to a market research company. They cite the National Statement of (sic) Ethical Conduct in Human Research, even though it contains no provision for retroactive approvals or cover-ups. In fact, the Statement does not contemplate such absurdities at all.

Every one of the above four points is revolutionary. This is an ethical collapse. Researchers worldwide would be stunned to hear of this. No IRB approval for the use of minors? No parental consent? A new age threshold of 15 for parental consent, and 13 for participation? Delegating parental consent to a market research company? An IRB acting as a retroactive instrument? An IRB covering up the unapproved use of minors? I'm not sure we've ever encountered any one of these things. Having all of these happen at the same time is a singularity, an ethical event horizon that dims the sun.

Notably, their citation of the NH&MRC page is a sham. The page makes no mention of age or minimum ages. It ultimately defers to Chapter 4.2, which takes for granted that there is IRB approval to use minors, as well as parental consent. (See the Respect and Standing Parental Consent sections.) It does not contemplate a universe where IRB approval is not obtained. It's extremely disturbing that staff at UWA would try to deceive the scientific community with a sham citation.

I contacted UWA about these issues some months ago. As far as I can tell, they refuse to investigate. It's as though their ethics office is specifically designed to not investigate complaints if they think they can escape scrutiny and legal consequences. Mark Dixon of the UWA anti-ethics office said the following in an e-mail:

"However, this project was designed for a general demographic. Surveys targeted to a general population do not prohibit the collection of data from minors should they happen to respond to the survey."

"You are probably aware that the survey written up in the article was an online survey, where consent is indicated by the act of taking the survey."

"Inclusion or omission of outliers, such as the '5 year old' and the '32,000 year old', are reasonable scholarship when accompanied by explanatory notes. However, it would be unusual to actually delete data points from a data-set, so I don't understand your concern about the remaining presence of such data-points in the data-set."

"You expressed concern that the survey “… did not even ask participants for their ages until the end of the study, after participation and any "consent" had been secured". Demographic information is routinely collected at the end of a survey. This is not an unusual practice."

To say that these statements are alarming is an understatement. He thinks research ethics doesn't apply to online studies. He thinks we don't need to obtain consent for online studies, that simply participating is consent. He thinks 5-year-olds and 32,757-year-olds are "outliers" and that it is reasonable to retain them (is he aware that the age variable was analyzed?) He thinks researchers can ask someone's age at the end of a study. This person retains the title "Associate Director (Research Integrity)", yet he appears to know nothing of research or research integrity. The best explanations here are that he has no training in human research ethics and/or he's corrupt. This is such an extraordinary case.

For lay readers, let me note the following:

1. An online study is a study like any other study. The same research ethics apply. There's nothing special about an online study. Whether someone is sitting in front of a computer in a campus lab, or in their bedroom, the same ethical provisions apply.

2. We always require people to be at least 18 years of age, unless we are specifically studyinging minors (which would require explicit IRB approval).

3. We always include a consent form or information sheet at the start of an online study. This form explains the nature of the study, what participants can expect, how long it should take, what risks participation may pose to the participant, any compensation they will receive, and so forth. Notably, the form will explicitly note that one must be at least 18 to participate.

4. We always ask age up front, typically the first page after a person chooses to participate (after having read the consent or information sheet.)

5. We always validate the age field, such that the entered age must be at least 18 (and typically we'll cap the acceptable age at 99 or so to prevent fake ages like 533 or 32,757.) All modern survey platforms offer this validation feature. A person cannot say that they are 5 years old, or 15 years old, and proceed to participate in an IRB-approved psychology study. We can't do anything about people who lie about their ages – either in an online study or an in-person study on campus – but if they submit a minor age, it's a full stop. Because of this, there should never be minors or immortals in our data.

At this point, I think PLOS ONE should retract the paper. We can't have unapproved – or retroactively approved – minors in data. UWA is clearly engaged in a cover-up, and their guidance should not inform PLOS ONE's, or any journal's, decisions. This exposes the structural ethical vulnerability we have in science – we rely on institutions with profound conflicts of interest to investigate themselves, to investigate their own researchers. We have broad evidence that they often attempt to cover up malpractice, though the percentages are unclear. Journals need to fashion their own processes, and rely much less on university "finders of fact". We should also think about provisioning independent investigators. In any case, UWA's conduct deserves to be be escalated and widely exposed, and it will be. This is far from over – we can't just sit passively given the severity of the ethical breaches here, and we won't.

Substantive note: The correction does not address one of the substantive errors in the original. Gender is the largest predictor of GMO attitudes. They never reported this, but rather implied that gender did no work. A lot of times boring variables like age and gender explain a lot of variance, and in this case gender explained more than any other. (Women trusted GMOs less, using Lewandowsky's primitive linear correlations on the scale index. It's unclear whether women actually distrusted GMOs – i.e. where the women clustered on the items. A correlation doesn't tell you this. A bad researcher would say "women distrusted GMOs" given a negative correlation coefficient, without specifying descriptives or their actual, substantive placement on the scale, which could in fact be pro-GMO, just less pro than men.)


The Old Farmer’s Almanac Versus Global Warming Alarmists

Climate change, previously known as global warming, is a national security issue according to President Obama. This was the message he delivered to recent U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates. Funny, but when I think of national security issues other things come to mind, such as the rise of ISIS, cyber hacking by the Russians and Chinese, nukes in “Death to America” Iran, or our open borders.

Global warming, touted by noted climate scientist Al Gore, has morphed into climate change since actual planetary warming stopped in 1998, when Mr. Gore was still the Vice-President. Since then we have been treated to cold snowy winters, not only here but elsewhere in the world.

What about the upcoming winter? Will we finally see the predicted warming? The Old Farmer’s Almanac just released its forecast for the upcoming winter. “Super cold with a slew of snow for much of the country, even in places that don’t usually see to much of it, like the Pacific Northwest.”
Special: New Probiotic Fat Burner Takes GNC by Storm

Who cares what a folksy book of hocus pocus for farmers says about the weather? We know better. Al Gore, Barack Obama, and the supposed consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists all say global warming, climate change, is real. They base their reasoning on “solar cycles, climatology, and meteorology” which happens to be what the Old Farmer’s Almanac uses for its forecast too.

So who’s right? Last year the Almanac predicted, “Snowfall will be above normal in most of the Northeast.” Turns out Boston set a new record for the snowiest season. Eight years ago, “Al Gore predicted that the North Pole could be completely liquidated by 2014 due to the impending threat of global warming.” Instead the Arctic ice cap is growing.

It seems global warming only exists in the world of computer models. And how accurate are these predictions? When tropical storm Sandy became a hurricane, the forecast track was all over the map, literally. Most models had her heading to Bermuda and only a few tracks leading to the New York metro area. This was only five days before she made landfall in New Jersey.
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Yet similar models used by Al Gore and the 97 percent consensus are guiding U.S. energy, economic, and foreign policy. It seems the Old Farmer’s Almanac is more accurate than the models used by the global warming alarmist smart set. But the Almanac isn’t being used to guide policy, instead it’s simply put out there to use or not use as you choose.

“Some meteorologists generally pooh-pooh the Almanac’s forecasts as too unscientific to be worth much,” but what about the government’s predictions about global warming or climate change? Pooh-pooh the pronouncements of Al Gore or Barack Obama and you are a “denier.” Who are the real deniers? Those questioning and challenging a decade of spurious government predictions? Or those doubling down in the face of ongoing contradictions to their predictions of impending calamity?

How about some science? Create a model and test its validity. If it predicts accurately, we’ll listen. If not, shut up and go back to the drawing board.


Biotech Foods Can Save People and the Environment

Approximately 800 million people are currently malnourished, and the world’s population is expected to rise by 2 billion by the year 2050. If we use current technologies—or, Heaven forbid, roll back use of modern agricultural practices—we will have to plow down literally millions of acres to relieve the projected hunger expected to come as a result of the growing population. Fortunately, a widespread embrace of biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops can help ensure there is enough food for all.

Earth is bountiful and fecund, but it does not yield its treasures without hard work. Earth’s natural ability to produce the food necessary to feed human and animal populations has been enhanced greatly since the agricultural revolution more than 10,000 years ago. Our forbearers applied ingenuity and innovation to the improvement of crops; increased the efficiency of our land and water use; and improved methods of distribution, storage, and defense against animal and plants pests.

Even so, millions of people still suffer from privation and starvation. The world’s farmers currently produce more than enough food to feed Earth’s 7 billion people, using approximately 6 million square miles—an amount of land equal in size to the United States and Europe. Where malnutrition, famine, and starvation still occur, it is caused by broken distribution systems due to wars (civil and otherwise), poor infrastructure, flawed political and economic institutions, and authoritarian regimes that use starvation as a political tool.

That won’t always be the case, however. The planet’s population is expected to peak during this century at approximately 9 billion. It will then likely taper off rapidly. In order to feed that peak population and their pets with diets similar to those currently enjoyed by people in developed countries, we will have to triple the production of food by 2050. Even if all farmers adopt the modern farming practices with high inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, the most we can realistically hope to do is double crop production on the current amount of land we are using.

There is only so much arable land and water usable for crop production. Substantially expanding the amount of land under active cultivation, which would be exceptionally difficult, would be a disaster for wildlife and native plants. The lands most likely to be converted to agriculture are forests, rangelands, and other wildlands, especially in the tropics—the most biodiverse region on Earth, where most population growth is occurring and where hunger and where malnutrition is most prominent.

Fortunately, there is another way of raising yields: The judicious use of biotechnology to produce hardier, disease-resistant, pest-resistant, vitamin-fortified crops that more efficiently use water and can be grown more readily on marginal lands can increase global food production by the threefold margin needed for the world’s 9 billion people. And it can be done while only marginally increasing the amount of acreage in production.

Unfortunately, environmental extremists have targeted the use of bioengineering. They raise baseless fears about “Frankenfoods” escaping the lab, and they argue no technology should be used until it can be shown to pose absolutely no risks whatsoever to humans or the environment.

Arguing biotech researchers are “playing God,” environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have threatened to lead a consumer boycott of companies that use bioengineered foods and to create a flood of negative publicity.

Several countries have banned the use of bioengineered foods, and the Free Thought Project lists 400 mostly small companies that claim not to use bioengineered products. More countries and companies jumping on the “ban the genetically modified organisms” bandwagon could devastate farmers who have begun to rely on biotech foods to raise yields while reducing their use of costly pesticides.

These scares are decidedly unscientific. Responding to environmentalist scare tactics, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and every major research body that has looked into the health and safety of genetically modified crops have endorsed their use.

A research assessment published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology in 2014 examining 1,783 studies on the safety and environmental impacts of genetically modified foods confirmed this. The Italian researchers couldn’t find a single credible example of GM foods posing any harm to humans or animals. Nor did they find any evidence GM crops have any negative environmental impact.

Unlike crops developed through traditional crossbreeding techniques, genetically modified foods are among the most extensively studied scientific subjects in history. Simply put, they are safe.

Extreme environmentalists ignore the very real dangers of doing without the new technologies. Turning our back on nutritional, safe, bioengineered foods would irresponsibly condemn millions of people to unnecessary suffering and, in some cases, even death. Nowthat would be “playing God” with a vengeance.


How Environmental NGOs use junk science, hysteria about fracking-induced earthquakes to trash energy projects

Regulators do a good job of monitoring fracking-induced earthquakes, putting mitigation plans in place

In Part 1 of this column I examined how ENGOs and their “experts” used flimsy science and exaggerated claims to call for the end of fracking in NE British Columbia. In Part 2, I deflate their criticisms of fracking-induced earthquakes.

frackingThere is currently a public discussion in British Columbia around fracking-induced tremors because of news reporting about an Aug. 2014 4.6 magnitude earthquake north of Fort Nelson, BC. that was confirmed to be caused by Progress Energy fracking operations, as well as a 4.4 tremor on Aug. 17 2015 that is suspected of having the same cause.

In a recent Canadian Press story we ran in Beacon Energy News, a retired geoscientist who authored a report for a far-left think tank claimed LNG development in BC would increase seismic activity by five times. An “earthquake expert” from a far-left university claimed the USA suffered earthquakes of 5.0 to 6.0 because of fracking. And, wholly predictably, an eco-activist called for BC to stop fracking altogether.

What nonsense. Upon even a cursory examination, the anti-fracking argument falls flat on its face for a number of reasons.

One, Progress Energy said it doesn’t need to ramp up drilling – as claimed by David Hughes, the geoscientist – to supply Pacific NorthWest LNG’s planned plant and export terminal near Prince Rupert.

“Our upstream drilling activity will remain relatively consistent with current levels over the life of the LNG project or may even decline and therefore pose no incremental risk,” said spokeswoman Stacie Dley in an email to CP.

Two, the BC Oil and Gas Commission has industry standard rules in place to minimize fracking-induced quakes. And so far they seem to be working.

The regulator recorded 193 fracking-caused quakes between August 2013 and October 2014 in the Montney Trend, a siltstone formation stretching from near Dawson Creek to the Rocky Mountain foothills. Of about 7,500 fracking operations, only 11 triggered events felt at the surface. None caused injuries or damage.

A 2012 report showed that 297 seismic events were triggered by fracking but only one was felt at surface.

To geologists, an earthquake is an earthquake regardless of its strength. But the seismic incidents recorded by the Commission’s instruments were micro-earthquakes, most of them between 1.8 and 3 on the Richter scale. Fracking-induced earthquakes above 4.0 are very rare.

And if the Commission’s protocols continue to work as designed, the number of felt quakes will continue to be tiny.

Three, earthquakes have not been linked to fracking in the US, as claimed by John Clague, a Simon Fraser University earthquake expert quoted in the CP story.

American induced-earthquakes are almost always caused by waste water disposal wells, which are entirely different from fracking. For every barrel of oil produced from a well, about eight to 10 barrels of water are brought to surface. The “produced water” is re-injected under high pressure into the reservoir at special disposal wells, which in a few cases have been found to create fractures several miles away. The result has been a big increase in earthquake activity in Oklahoma and to a lesser extent in Texas.

A recent study by a team of researchers from Southern Methodist University made that very clear, but American media – including CNN – got it all wrong and said the study attributed the quakes to fracking. The scientists were so frustrated with the technically illiterate reporters that Dr. Michael Hornbach said, “[W]e’re not talking at all about fracking. In fact, it’s been driving us crazy, frankly, that people keep using it in the press.”

So, what do the facts of this story tell us?

To date  both Canadian and American experience says that fracking generally induces a small number of micro-earthquakes and a very tiny number of larger earthquakes that are felt on surface but do not damage property. Regulators in British Columbia and Alberta – and American jurisdictions like Texas – have strict protocols in place that require fracking crews to cease operations in the event of a larger quake and to not start up again until a mitigation plan has been approved.

In other words, absolutely no justification for the demand by Eoin Madden of the Wilderness Committee “to press pause, take a step back, and say, ‘Do we want to fragment the whole of northeastern BC so we can extract gas out of it this way, or is there a different way for us?”’

At least, no justification based upon science and the known facts.


Obama’s Focus in Oil-Rich Alaska Is Climate Change--As Putin Deploys Warships

As President Obama prepares to become the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle this week, the administration’s concerns revolve largely around climate change.

This contrasts with the more overtly geostrategic approach to the contested region being pursued by Russia, which this year carried out large-scale military maneuvers in the region involving Northern Fleet vessels and aircraft.

Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a major conference in Anchorage, which Obama will attend on Monday, ahead of the president’s visit Wednesday to the small town of Kotzebue in the Alaskan Arctic.

The focus of the Anchorage event and the president’s three-day visit to the state is climate change, as Obama made clear in his weekly broadcast.

Citing wildfires, storm surges, shoreline erosion and melting glaciers, Obama said Alaskans are already living with the effects of climate change, adding that “if we do nothing,” temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise by 6-12 degrees by 2100.

“This is all real,” he said. “This is happening to our fellow Americans right now.”

Although Obama also spoke in the broadcast about ongoing U.S. oil and gas needs and the importance of relying more on domestic than foreign supplies, climate change appears to be center stage during the Alaska visit.

The one-day event being chaired by Kerry is called the “Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience” – or GLACIER.

According to the department, representatives from the U.S. and some 20 other nations with direct or indirect Arctic interests “will discuss individual and collective action to address climate change in the Arctic” and “raise the visibility of climate impacts in the Arctic as a harbinger for the world, and the Arctic’s unique role in global climate change.”

Further down the agenda, participants will also discuss other issues, such as emergency response and unregulated fishing in the region.

“It’s obvious that the president has chosen climate change as one of his legacy issues,” a senior State Department official briefing on the trip said from Anchorage on Friday. “It is the broader global issue of climate change, but as he’s learned more about the American Arctic and the rather significant impact that climate change is having on his country, he’s made the time to come up here and take a look at it himself.”

By contrast, Russia’s interests in the region center on expanding its military presence in support of its claims to a region believed to have significant untapped resources – especially as sea routes become more accessible due to receding sea ice, attributed to rising temperatures.

President Vladimir Putin in late 2013 announced that he had instructed military commanders to “devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic,” to protect Russia’s national interests.

Russia then reopened a Soviet-era military outpost on the New Siberian (Novosibirsk) islands – an archipelago in Russia’s far northeast – and said more would follow.

The Defense Ministry announced a decision to set up an Arctic Strategic Command, and the move to expand military presence in the Arctic was underscored by Putin in a revised military doctrine at the end of last year.

National identity, economic priority

An often-cited 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report found that “the Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the undiscovered oil, 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world.”

The United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark all have territory bordering the Arctic, but it is Russia that has been most aggressive in asserting its claims. It graphically underlined its intentions in 2007 when it dispatched a mini-submarine to plant a titanium Russian flag on the Arctic floor in a symbolic assertion of sovereignty.

A titanium capsule bearing a Russian flag is planted by a mini submarine on the Arctic Ocean seabed under the North Pole, during a record dive in 2007. (AP Photo/Association of Russian Polar Explorers)
Early this month, Moscow submitted to a United Nations body a claim for 463,000 square miles of the Arctic, including the North Pole, calling it an extension of its undersea continental shelf. More than a decade ago, the U.N. rejected a similar submission, asking Russia to provide more scientific evidence to back it up.

A new Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) study examining Moscow’s Arctic policy explains the significance to Russia of a region that accounts for around one-fifth of its gross domestic product and 22 percent of its exports.

“For Russia, the Arctic is an important issue of national identity, as well as an enormous economic priority (20 percent of Russia’s GDP is generated in the Arctic) and security necessity where national resources are spent,” it says.

“[E]nvironmental considerations (although noted in its strategic documents) and indigenous communities are largely an afterthought.”

“For the United States, it is the exact opposite,” CSIS Europe program director Heather Conley and research associate Caroline Rohloff write. “The United States does not see itself as an Arctic nation and it prioritizes the environment and scientific research first with economic development and security a distant second due to insufficient national resources and political support.”

Russia’s extensive Arctic claim was submitted to a U.N. body called the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, in line with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Other countries, notably Denmark and Canada, also have claims in the region, although the U.S. has not submitted any, since it is has not ratified UNCLOS.

“For me, it comes as no surprise that the Russians’ claim is so large,” the senior State Department official said. “They have half the coastline of the Arctic Ocean and they have devoted a lot of science to documenting their claim, and they’re going through the proper process within the Law of the Sea Treaty.”

“And my only regret is that the United States is not able to have standing under that treaty because we have not acceded to it yet,” said the official, adding that the administration remains hopeful that Senate will ratify it.

UNCLOS opponents argue among other things that the treaty will subject U.S. sovereignty to an international body and involve burdensome environmental regulations. The military and business interests support ratification



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