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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Ninety per-cent of Facebook and Twitter causes are based on false information, bigotry or both.

From scare stories about preservatives in food, to stories of dogs being hooked alive and used as shark bait, to stories about how people who don’t look like us eat something we don’t like eating and it’s disgusting and they are horrible and it should be stopped, almost every “Please pass this on, this must be stopped” story turns out to be based on false or misleading information, or cultural bigotry so blatant that it verges on racism.

These campaigns have real consequences. A campaign against the use of lean beef trimmings was bulldust from beginning to end. But the facts fell before a tidal wave of disgusting pictures of pink slime, and assertions the slime was loaded with ammonia and other deadly chemicals used as preservatives. None of the slimy pictures had anything to do with lean beef trimmings, and claims about high levels of preservatives were false.

It didn’t matter. The US beef industry responded with factual information, photos of the real product and descriptions of production methods. No one cared. Lean beef trimmings are high in protein, reduce the overall fat content of burgers and other meat products to which they are added, and in blind taste tests, were found by a majority of people to improve the tenderness of processed meats. It didn’t matter. The facts had no weight compared to the emotional fervour and manufactured horror of the pink slime campaign.

The end result was that factories were closed, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, and hundreds of families their incomes.

It may feel like you are doing a good thing when you click ‘Like’ to some circulating campaign against something, or pass it on to your friends. But when ninety per-cent of such campaigns are simply wrong, then clicking ‘Like’ or passing it on is not good, or even morally neutral. It is wrong.

At very least, we should check, every time, that what we are being told is true. Look for opinions opposed to those expressed in the message. Ask yourself “Is this reasonable?” “Is it really likely to be true?” Even if it is true, local governments may have the matter in hand, and demands for action in a Twitter campaign may be counter-productive or insulting.

Don’t pass on alarm stories without checking first, and if you have any doubts about the accuracy or fairness of a story, don’t pass it on at all. The truth matters. Don’t be a party to lies.

There is a point, though, at which the merely lazy, ignorant or bigoted nature of most Facebook campaigns tips over into actual evil. This point is the ongoing campaign against vaccination, and especially vaccination against childhood diseases such as measles and polio.

Over the next week I will write four articles explaining why this opposition is based on false, and in some cases deliberately false or misleading information. I will explain why the campaign is not just misguided but evil. And I will explain what you can do to help the truth be heard.

Green activists are once again turning Japan’s annual dolphin hunt to their financial advantage, deep-sixing facts in favour of fund-raising propaganda. Sure, the slaughter at Taiji Cove is not for the squeamish, but neither is any Australian abattoir …

Lies, damned lies and dolphins


Villagers  in Taiji in Japan are halfway through their annual dolphin harvest,  which runs from September to May. Villagers in Australia are halfway  through their annual feeding frenzy of self-righteous indignation.  Twitter accounts gurgle with rage. Facebook pages quiver with fury. Post  after post proclaims the Japanese to be vile, murderous, and deserving  of the same fate as the dolphins.


There  are clear emotional benefits to participating slacktivists. A scrumptious  sense of moral superiority. The feeling of purpose that flows from with  aligning oneself with a righteous cause. Being part of a community of  like-minded believers.

But  the hunt continues. The Japanese are disinclined to change their  behaviour on the basis of what they see as the petulant posturing of a  group of ignorant, hypocritical, glory seekers.

Read the rest at Quadrant Online.

A slightly updated version of my now five years old general introduction to global warming:

Profits of Doom – the Truth About Global Warming

In March a group of forty-nine NASA scientists wrote to Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, expressing their concern that NASA’s climate alarm advocacy is not based in science and is undermining NASA’s credibility:

The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.  NASA Administrator  NASA Headquarters  Washington, D.C. 20546-0001  

Dear Charlie,

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

Thank you for considering this request.

via WUWT.

A month ago the journal Nature Climate Change published a paper by a group of German scientists demonstrating that the world’s temperature has been declining for the last 2.000 years:

How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.

A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today. German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.

This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells. These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now. They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.

Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.

2,000 Years of Gradual Cooling

Marc Morano and Lord Monckton explain why the whole notion of climate refugees is bunk:

And if you need more, try the NIPCC 2011 interim report which lists dozens of peer reviewed papers published in the last two years questioning the science of man made global warming.

Consensus? Pull the other one.

Anthony Watts’s blog has not been updated for past couple of days. Anthony says he has something big to post in the next day or so.

There are rumours that Richard Muller of the University of California has prepared another article based on the temperature studies about which he wrote last year in the Wall Street Journal.

Basically, Muller said his work proved the world really was warming, so there was no excuse for global warming scepticism.

Sadly for Muller, he had missed the point. He, like most global warming alarmists, seemed to have no idea what the sceptics were actually saying. No one denies the world has warmed over the last one hundred and fifty years. No one denies that human activity can influence climate. The argument is about the extent of human influence, whether current climate change is unusual or dangerous, and if it is, what are the most economical and effective ways to deal with it.

Marc Morano summarised the scientific responses to Muller’s earlier article at Climate Depot.

This is a capture from Steven Goddard’s blog Real Science:

Nope, that 0.7 degree change has never happened before!

Update:

Anthony’s major post has nothing to do with any new work by Muller, but is a ‘pre-release’ of an important paper by Watts, Jones, McIntyre and Christy on NOAA station siting problems and post measurement adjustments.

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward.

They conclude:

These factors, combined with station siting issues, have led to a spurious doubling of U.S. mean temperature trends in the 30 year data period covered by the study from 1979 – 2008.

Lying:

Two reports came out recently making wildly inaccurate claims about sea level.

The first claimed that sea level was going to rise 12 inches in California over the next twenty years. Yet satellites show that sea level has been falling in California for the past twenty years.

US Sea Level Records 1992 -2012

Stupid:

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that current global climate models make “very large” errors in determining solar radiation at the surface of the Earth “due to ignoring the effects of clouds.” According to the authors, these very large errors can exceed 800 Watts per meter squared, which by comparison is about 216 times more than the alleged effect of doubling CO2 concentrations (3.7 Watts per square metre).

In other words, those wild scary claims by IPCC scientists about runaway positive feedback causing catastrophic climate change were based entirely on not having a clue what they were talking about.

A pill to reduce the risk of HIV infection in members of at risk groups sounds good, but I would put money on HIV infection rates increasing, rather than decreasing, where this drug is made available. Labor and the Greens will press for its early introduction.

But a genetically modified bacterium designed to destroy malarial parasites before they can infect anyone bitten by a parasite-carrying mosquito could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Wait for the Greens to start protesting about the use of GM organisms.

By Andrew Bostom in American Thinker, and worth quoting in full:

Notwithstanding the latest hysterical claims from the sadly politicized climate scientologists of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), insisting 2011 was somehow “a year of extreme weather,” serious investigators at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have just published a sobering analysis in Nature Climate Change  which reconstructs 2000 years of climate within northern Europe.   Utilizing tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees in northern Scandinavia, the investigators created a sequence dating back to 138 BC. The density measurements are closely correlated with the summer temperatures in a targeted region on the edge of the Nordic taiga, enabling them to create a temperature reconstruction of unprecedented quality. Their high-resolution representation confirmed temperature patterns in the Roman and Medieval Warm periods, but also demonstrated the cold phases that occurred during the Migration Period and the later Little Ice Age. (See image, below)

2,000 Years of Not Much Really

In addition to depicting these cold and warm phases which were not influenced at all by anthropogenic warming, but rather “by solar output and (grouped) volcanic activity changes” – the new climate reconstruction curve also reveals a striking if unexpected phenomenon. Professor Dr. Jan Esper of the investigative team provided this apt summary assessment of the main findings:

We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low. Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today’s climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods.

What we really need to be concerned about is the possibility that we are drawing near to the end of the current interglacial. Deliberately increasing the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere may help delay this, even if only a little. More importantly, it will result in higher crop outputs. Carbon taxes and emission targets are the opposite of what the world needs.

This time from Roger Helmer on the global warming scam, and the consequences of government policies which increase the price of energy:

Sensible and well-spoken as always:

Traffic light tendency: greens who are too yellow to admit they are red. Wonderful!

Reality wins.

From The Register:

Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time – and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all.

“Previous ocean models … have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place,” says Tore Hattermann of the Norwegian Polar Institute, member of a team which has obtained two years’ worth of direct measurements below the massive Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica – the first ever to be taken.

According to a statement from the American Geophysical Union, announcing the new research:
It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.

The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted …

Twenty year old computer models compared with reality for the first time? Scientists looking at the world rather than their computers? Whatever next?

If you haven’t visited it lately, Dr John Brignell’s numberwatch site has a great list of everything so far blamed on global warming. Over six hundred links listing everything from AIDS to haggis to lampreys to feminised turtles to women cheating on vacation.

Of course, global warming hasn’t caused any of these things, because the world hasn’t warmed at all for the last fourteen years, and the total global increase in temperature over the last one hundred and fifty years (including ‘adjustments’) has been 0.8 degrees; nothing at all out of the ordinary, and a difference a normal person cannot even feel.

For more see Daren Jonescu in the American Thinker.

From the frequently amusing People’s Cube:

Man-Made Warming Blamed for Disappearing Bird Populations

A research team working on a two-million-dollar government grant just made a shocking discovery: intense man-made heat waves are decimating bird populations throughout the globe, including birds that were recently thriving in local neighborhoods.

According to the researchers, anthropogenic warming-related activities are directly responsible. Steady temperature increases, especially when confined to small areas, target inactive birds that can no longer fly away to avoid the consequences. As technologically induced heat waves are being absorbed across the skin, the affected birds begin to turn brown.

“These incidents illustrate a need for an increase in government spending on further research in order to predict with accuracy the impact of more government spending on raising public awareness about an increase in government spending to study the effect of man-made warming events and activities on biodiversity and lifestyle,” stated the report released last Tuesday by Moon Batts, a professor of biology and Paul Choom, a professor of natural studies.

The scientists indicated that the next step would be to calculate the exact avian mortality rates caused by man-made warming events and the role played in it by the condiment industrial complex as enablers and facilitators of such activities.

Photographic Evidence of the Impact of Human Induced Warming on Bird Populations

From statistics guru Ross McKitrick:

A few years ago a biologist I know looked at how climate change might affect the spread of a particular invasive insect species. He obtained climate-model projections for North America under standard greenhouse-gas scenarios from two modelling labs, and then tried to characterize how the insect habitat might change. To his surprise, he found very different results depending on which model was used. Even though both models were using the same input data, they made opposite predictions about regional climate patterns in North America.

 This reminded me of a presentation I’d seen years earlier about predicted changes in U.S. rainfall patterns under global warming. The two models being used for a government report again made diametrically opposite predictions. In region after region, if one model predicted a tendency toward more flooding, the other tended to predict drying.

 Just how good are climate models at predicting regional patterns of climate change? I had occasion to survey this literature as part of a recently completed research project on the subject. The simple summary is that, with few exceptions, climate models not only fail to do better than random numbers, in some cases they are actually worse.

That is just the summary. Read the whole thing.

The point is that the models simply do not work when it comes to predicting changes in global (or even regional) climate. But it is predictions based on these same models which have been used to justify crippling legislation like the carbon dioxide tax, and spending billions of dollars to solve a problem which doesn’t exist.

OK, on one hand I am not surprised. The Sunday Mail is a paper I only ever read when it is being given away free.

The conversation in the shop this morning was

“Would you like a free paper, Peter?”

“What, the Sunday Mail?”

“Yes.”

“No thanks.”

“But it’s free.”

“Hmm…” (remembering I can use it as padding in parcels I send, and to start my fire in Winter) “OK then.”

Once I had it I could not resist leafing through it. Mostly just the usual empty-headed waffle that passes for journalism amongst the educated. A photo of Ian Thorpe emerging from a pool with a bit of mucous hanging from his nose, with the headline “Snot a good look.” That sort of thing.

On page 26 is an article by Lainie Anderson. It is available online.

Lainie seems a nice enough young lady. She has all the currently popular opinions. But she suffers from that curious left-wing journalist’s affliction of being unable to think.

This is the (very small) headline: Doesn’t it make sense to invest now in renewable technology – like the windfarms Denmark has established – and have something else to offer the world when the coal runs out?

Surely before writing that, or after for that matter, a journalist would stop to ask two key questions:

1. Are fossil energy sources running out?

2. Do wind-farms and other renewable energy technologies actually save any fossil fuel over their lifetimes?

The answer to both questions is no. Neither question seems to occur to Lainie.

A really good journalist might go on to consider the relationship between the price of energy and employment rates, and between the price of energy and poverty levels, and write about the possible development of a long term energy policy which would encourage economic growth, noting that this will be better for the planet, because wealthier societies have more liberty to be concerned about conservation.

But this is the Sunday Mail. So we have to read about Ian Thorpe and snot instead.

Lainie says that climate sceptics are just confusing people. They should stop it, because “we’ve got around 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists telling us that human behaviour is warming the planet.”

Really?

Actually, no.

That figure is passed around like a hanky in a party game. It is based on a single study, Doran, P. T., and M. Kendall Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3).

Doran and Zimmerman sent two questions to some 10,000 scientists. About 30% responded. According to Doran and Zimmerman, only 5% of respondents were climate scientists. Climate scientists are people who were authors for the IPCC, or other climate alarmist bodies. The answers given by this carefully selected group were used to arrive at the 97% figure quoted by Ms Anderson. According to the study, 76 of 79 answered ‘Yes’ to question 1, and 75 of 77 answered ‘Yes’ to question 2. That’s about 97%.

Already this is so dubious it smells like five day old road-kill. But what were the questions?

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

Virtually every ‘sceptic’ I know would answer ‘Yes’ to question one. The world has been warming at a pretty constant rate since about 1850. If CO2 is a factor in this increase, it can only have been a factor since about 1940. But there has been no change in the average rate of temperature increase since then.

Question 2 is simply badly written. What counts as significant? If there is a human influence on global climate change, it is so small compared with natural change that it is barely discernible. But that small amount may still be significant in some contexts.

So out of a group of 3,000 scientists, 97% of a very small and carefully selected sub group answered ‘Yes’ to two ambiguous questions, at least one of which would get a yes from almost every sceptical scientist. This is not proof of anything except a depressingly poor level of study design.

Lainie’s other ‘gotcha’ claims are that the world has been getting warmer for a while now, and that sea levels are rising. Both of these claims are true. No one disagrees. We have been coming out of a little Ice Age. Thank God it is getting warmer. Sea levels have been rising for the past 10,000 years, and if anything, the rate of rise is slowing.

No one denies that global climate is changing. It always has and always will.

The real question is, is there any evidence of damaging human influence on global climate? To answer that with a yes, there would have to be a clear correlation between human activity and global climate change. There is no correlation.

Climate alarmism may still sell a few papers. But it is damaging and dishonest. Just stop it.