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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

It certainly isn’t getting any warmer here, with the coolest start to Summer in Australia for the last fifty years. But according to the alarmists, that’s just weather.

Ed Caryl suggests that most of the land based warming recorded in the USA over the last 60 years can be traced to the influence of nearby heated buildings, with measuring stations more than 100 metres away from a heated building showing cooling rather than warming over the same period.

As can be seen on the plot, town population made almost no difference to the trend. The dots are nearly completely random with respect to population. On the other hand, the distance from a heated dwelling made a much larger difference. The two coolest sites were more than 100 meters from the nearest building. Within the population limits of this study, the Urban Warming Influence is simply the distance to the nearest heated building, not the size of the city.

This phenomenon is the reason for much of the Arctic warming. Urban Warming in the Arctic, and indeed in the Antarctic, is an occupied-building-to-temperature-sensor distance problem. In the polar regions, the temperature differential between occupied buildings and the outdoor temperature sensors is much greater than in the temperate mid-west U. S., so the distance must be greater to avoid the UWI problem. But man doesn’t like digging long cable trenches in ice or permafrost (it’s like concrete!), or walking long distances in –40° weather, so the measurements are not done properly.

It is clear to this author that measured “Global Warming” is simply due to increasing nearby energy use and the temperature sensor proximity to the resulting heat.

In other words, as Ed himself points out, if you heat up your thermometers, you will find warming.

It seem unlikely Australian political leaders (those allied with the Greens, anyway) will take any notice of this story, which is yet another reason to dump them at the next Federal election.

From Canada’s National Post:

We have long argued that the Ontario government’s headlong rush to convert Canada’s industrial heartland to “green” energy would turn out to be nothing but a colossal waste of money. Since most alternative energies remain commercially impractical (that’s why they’re still alternative and not mainstream), the blind rush by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to substitute wind, solar and bio energy for coal and oil was never likely to produce much new energy, just higher power rates for residential and industrial consumers. But even we underestimated the extent to which the Ontario Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act had failed in just over two-year’s time.

In one of the most scathing indictments of government mismanagement we have ever witnessed, Ontario Auditor-General Jim McCarter reported Monday that Mr. McGuinty’s green dream has rapidly become an $8-billion nightmare for Ontario taxpayers and electricity users. Almost no new net power will be generated by all the green-energy projects hastily funded since the bill was passed, but the average residential consumer will see more than $400 a year added to his power bill for a decade to pay for all the bad contracts with and subsidies to eco-friendly power suppliers.

Update:

I was amused to see in this weekend’s Adelaide papers (which I never buy – the supermarket was giving them away), advertisements for rooftop solar panels, telling readers that with recent dramatic increases in domestic electricity costs, there had never been a better time to buy solar. Not a hint, not a sausage nor a whisper to indicate that the primary cause of the last two years of huge price rises has been government subsidies for the capital cost of rooftop solar installations, and the government’s forcing power companies to pay owners of rooftop installations a feed in tariff as much three times the retail price of electricity.

These schemes have been so ridiculously generous that I was briefly tempted to have solar panels installed. But I don’t approve of ripping off ordinary taxpayers despite the possibility of a temporary benefit. Welfare agencies (generally in favour of meaningless green schemes) have pointed out that the tax breaks and feed in tariffs are actually subsidising richer households who can afford solar panels, at the expense of poorer families who cannot.

Let’s see. Ugly, expensive, disadvantage the poor. Sounds like a perfect Labor Party programme.

Currently CO2 makes up about 390 parts per million of the atmosphere.

The assumption of the global warming alarmists has been that a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels, from about 290 ppm to about 580 ppm, would drive the world over a ‘tipping point.’ So much heat would be captured, they claim, that the atmosphere would warm by as much as ten degrees, mass extinctions would occur, polar ice caps would melt, sea level would rise catastrophically, etc, etc.

These claims are made despite the fact that it is well established that the world has been through periods of very much higher CO2 than at present (over 1000 ppm) with no ill effects.

Now researchers Mark Pagani, Matthew Huber et al have shown that when the deep antarctic ice was formed some 34 milion years ago, atmospheric CO2 was about 600 ppm – well beyond the alarmists’ supposed polar ice melting tipping point:

By analysing ancient algae found in deep-sea core samples, Professor Matthew Huber and his colleagues determined that the mile-thick ice which now covers the south polar continent formed around 34 million years ago. At that stage the atmosphere held much more CO2 than it does now, some 600 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to today’s level of 390 ppm.

There is often concern that the Antarctic ice sheet might melt due to global warming (though in fact, despite much publicity over losses of ice from the Western peninsula, Antarctic ice has been steadily increasing in extent for the last 40 years). It would seem that this is highly unlikely given current and near-future levels of atmospheric CO2: at current rates of increase it will take a century at least to reach 600 ppm, the level at which the ice sheet formed itself, and higher levels would be needed to actually start it melting.

via The register.

Scientists think they have found intact DNA which will enable them to create cloned mammoths within a few years.

Woolly mammoths were about the same size as modern African elephants, but hairier (obviously), perhaps more heavy set, and with smaller ears.

From the UK’s Daily Mail:

Scientists believe it may be possible to clone a woolly mammoth within five years after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia.

Teams from Russia’s Sakha Republic’s mammoth museum and Japan’s Kinki University will launch fully-fledged joint research next year aiming to recreate the giant mammal, Japan’s Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia.

By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth’s marrow cells, embryos with mammoth DNA can be produced, Kyodo said, citing the researchers.

With apologies to Chicago.

But no surprises here:

The New South Wales government censored studies which show that the rate of sea level rise has not increased, and is nothing to worry about at all, really.

And then there’s this: $100 million worth of hot air.

The Federal government has spent so much money on illegal immigrants and pink batts and the internet that it has to cut back on education and support for families. But Julia manages to find $100 million to tell us what a wonderful thing the carbon tax is.

Idiots.

I have said right from the beginning, starting fifteen years ago, that I was unconvinced by arguments for anthropogenic global warming for the simple reason that there is no correlation between human activity and global changes in climate.

People who think as I do have been compared to holocaust deniers, heretics, creationists, crop circle enthusiasts, and religious fanatics. The difference of course, is that the climate alarm sceptics are the ones who are focussing on the evidence – what is really happening in the real world.

The world has certainly warmed slightly – just over half of one degree Celsius – over the last 150 years. And a darn good thing it is. It is possible that there may have been some human influence on this, although so far as I can see, there is no evidence outside of computer modelling that supports this hypothesis.

Yet we are constantly told that we must ‘take action now’ to prevent a huge catastrophe. Even though there no reason at all to believe that such a catastrophe is really on the way, I would not object to people ‘taking action’ if it made them feel better, if it were not for the enormous cost to everyone else of these utterly pointless projects.

From Matt Ridley:

Well here’s why it matters:

The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not. Remember Britain’s unilateral Climate Change Act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels. At least sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as the griffon vulture.
At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.
At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.
At least homoeopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.
At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel.

That’s why it matters.

That was from Ridley’s Angus Millar Lecture to the Royal Society of the Arts, Edinburgh, 31 October 2011.

Decriminalisation is legalisation. If something is not treated as a crime, and no sanctions are imposed, then it is legal.

I enjoy Reason Magazine – I am a Kindle subscriber. But I do find Reason’s constant nagging about the pointlessness of the ‘War on Drugs’ frustrating.

A free society always has to tolerate some behaviours which are harmful to the individual and to others. Drunkenness, excessive gambling, the use of pornography, for example.

Legislators attempt to balance the general good of freedom against the harm occasioned by particular behaviours. Sometimes they get the balance wrong.

My belief is that there should be a bias in favour of allowing people to act as they choose, and that behaviour should not be legally sanctioned unless there are compelling reasons to do so. But I am not at all convinced by Reason’s nagging, or by other discussions I have seen, that the balance, the overall good of society, will best be served by legalising all forms of drug use.

Writing in the UK’s Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips looks at actual facts. The ‘actual’ in that sentence is a weasel word, I know, but I don’t care. Forget about the theory, what really happens when drugs are legalised?

She concludes:

The bottom line is that legalisation would mean more people on drugs, more addiction, more disease and death and more violence, antisocial behaviour and harm to the rest of society. The campaign to undermine the UN drug laws is being promoted by some very bad people indeed and a large number of useful idiots. We need drug legalisation like… well, like a hole in the head.

In 1989 the UN was telling us that entire nations would be wiped off the earth if global warming were not reversed by the year 2000.

As Donna Laframboise points out, since this hasn’t happened, aren’t we at least entitled to an explanation from the same people issuing the same warnings twenty years later?

If the UN and the IPCC were religious organisations, the media would have stomped all over them and fallen about laughing.

Five minutes after I posted the previous article about global warming alarmists losing debates and resorting to insults, an article by professor of psychology Stephan Lewandowksy appeared on the ABC’s Drum website.

It starts off well enough:

Science is self-correcting.

In the long run, occasional errors that slip into the peer-reviewed literature are ironed out.

Errors and mistaken assumptions cannot persist because publication of a peer-reviewed paper is only a first stage of peer review: The subsequent, even more rigorous stage of peer-review occurs after a paper’s publication and involves the scrutiny of scientific work by the entire field.

All good. Scientific papers are subject to peer review before they are published, and their publication leads to further research, discussion, and possibly refutation. This is how knowledge grows, through a kind of Hegelian dialectic. Which is just a fancy way of saying a discussion in which various points of view come to the fore, are discussed, modified, and then replaced with ideas that build on those that came before.

Sadly, Lewandowksky’s article then immediately lapses into the kind of name calling that characterises alarmist debate.

The pretext for his article is the resignation of Wolfgang Wagner as editor of the journal Remote Sensing. Wagner’s  resignation followed the publication, after peer review, of a paper by Roy Spencer and Danny Braswell.

Wagner describs his reasons for leaving:

…In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.

OK. But if the concern is that the arguments are poorly made, or have already been rebutted, or are just plain wrong, why not simply call for responses? In other words, why not address the preceived errors?

Roy Spencer responds:

But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.

If some scientists would like do demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where *anything* we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication. Instead, it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation.

But that is not good enough for Professor Lewandowsky. The scientists who wrote this heresy, and anyone who thinks like them, must be discredited. Instead of addressing any issues of fact or methodology in the Spencer/Braswell article, he simply resorts to the customary alarmist insults:

Although most so-called climate “sceptics” prudently avoid peer review – preferring the internet as an outlet for their pseudo-science – very occasionally a “sceptic” paper does appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

In a dramatic turn away from what has been the normal method of scientific advance, those who question the currently popular view are not to be considered scientists. They are not even sceptics. They are pseudo-scientists, who are cunning enough to avoid exposing their views to review by other scientists.

Wrong. For example, the CO2 Science website has a report in which the most common alarmist claims are countered with references to over 600 peer reviewed articles, all of which question some aspect of the anthropogenic global warming schema. The 2009 NIPCC Report is even more comprehensive, quoting thousands of peer reviewed articles and concluding that there is no credible evidence of dangerous human influence on global climate.

This is despite the best efforts of people like Phil Jones to ensure strict controls are put in place to stop sceptical papers appearing:

From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004
“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

The next step in Lewandowsky’s oh so prediuctable diatribe is to imply that sceptical scientists are corrupt, making the claims they do because they have been lured into pseudo-science by bribes from oil companies. Some scientists’ research has been funded in part by oil companies. Most acknowledge this openly. So what?

As Jo Nova has pointed out, government funding for climate alarmist research is approximately 1000 times oil company and other private funding. On that basis, there should be 1,000 times more questioning about possible alarmist bias for financial gain or job security than for sceptical science.

Lewandowsky finishes with this extraordinarily insulting dismissal of climate researchers who do not share his views:

Ideology, subterfuge, and propaganda. That is all there is to climate denial.

Tell that to leading and internationally recognised scientists like Roy Spencer, Timothy Ball, John Christy, Freeman Dyson, our own Ian Plimer and Bob Carter, and thousands of others.

In the end, what matters is evidence. The key question is ‘Is there any evidence of correlation between human activity and changes in global climate.’

The answer is ‘No.’

Perhaps a more interesting question for a professor of psychology would be why the ‘experts’ (ordinary people seem a bit more resilient despite the best efforts of the legacy media), fall so readily for each successive costly and eventually falsified scare campaign (Y2K, SARS, DDT, the population bomb, etc, etc), and why those same experts so quickly demonise any dissent.

PS. The reason the alarmists are desperate to discredit Roy Spencer is that he is so widely recognised as a leading climate scientist:

Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.

Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.

That is the bio from Dr Spencer’s website. His blog has a useful summary of the issues addressed in the Remore Sensing paper.

Any doctor or family members considering turning off a ventilator or withholding food and water from someone who is ‘brain dead,’ or to use the currently preferred term, in a persistent vegetative state, should read the article Reborn by Steve Boggan in the UK Guardian first.

We have always been told there is no recovery from persistent vegetative state – doctors can only make a sufferer’s last days as painless as possible. But is that really the truth? Across three continents, severely brain-damaged patients are awake and talking after taking … a sleeping pill. And no one is more baffled than the GP who made the breakthrough.

For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, “Hello.” Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.
Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as “a cabbage”, greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.

Across the Atlantic in the United States, George Melendez, who is also brain-damaged, has lain twitching and moaning as if in agony for years, causing his parents unbearable grief. He, too, is given this little tablet and again, it’s as if a light comes on. His father asks him if he is, indeed, in pain. “No,” George smiles, and his family burst into tears …

Although these awakenings are the most dramatic aspect of the zolpidem phenomenon, Percy Lomax, the chief executive of ReGen Therapeutics, the British company funding the South African trials, believes Nel’s work with less brain-damaged patients could be the most significant. Many stroke victims, patients with head injuries and those whose brains have been deprived of oxygen, such as near-drowning cases, have reported significant improvement in speech, motor functions and concentration after taking the drug.

No one should ever be written off. No one’s life should be ended because he or she is too much trouble, an inconvenience, or has no ‘quality of life’ which is what people say when ‘too much trouble’ is what they mean but they don’t want to sound selfish.

In a natural follow up to the story below, where a bunch of toddlers attempt to pretend something does not exist, the UK government and the BBC pretend something does exist – cheap renewable energy.

Christopher Booker writes in The Telegraph:

What is the maddest thing going on in Britain today? There may be many competitors for that title, but a front-runner must be what the Government has made the centrepiece of its energy policy, to ensure that our lights stay on and that our now largely computer-dependent economy remains functioning. Last week, the BBC ran a series of reports by its science correspondent, David Shukman, on the Government’s plan to ring our coasts with vast offshore wind farms.

The nearest thing allowed to criticism of this policy came in an interview with the Oxford academic Dieter Helm, who we were told had “done the sums”. What, Shukman asked, had he come up with? The only figures Helm gave were that the Government’s offshore wind farm plans would, by 2020, cost £100 billion – scarcely a state secret, since the Government itself announced this three years ago – plus £40 billion more to connect these windmills to the grid, a figure given us by the National Grid last year.

Helm did not tell us that this £140 billion equates to £5,600 for every household in the country. But he did admit that the plan was “staggeringly expensive”, and that, given the current extent of “fuel poverty” and the state of our economy, he doubted “if it can in fact be afforded”.

Even shorter on hard facts, however, was Shukman’s report on a monster new wind farm off the coast of Cumbria, where a Swedish firm, Vattenfall, has spent £500 million on building 30 five‑megawatt turbines with a total “capacity” of 150MW. What Shukman did not tell us, because the BBC never does, is that, thanks to the vagaries of the wind, these machines will only produce a fraction of their capacity (30 per cent was the offshore average in the past two years). So their actual output is only likely to average 45MW, or £11 million per MW.

Compare this with the figures for Britain’s newest gas-fired power station, recently opened in Plymouth. This is capable of generating 882MW at a capital cost of £400 million – just £500,000 for each megawatt. Thus the wind farm is 22 times more expensive, and could only be built because its owners will receive a 200 per cent subsidy: £40 million a year, on top of the £20 million they will get for the electricity itself. This we will all have to pay for through our electricity bills, whereas the unsubsidised cost of power from the gas plant, even including the price of the gas, will be a third as much.

It is on the basis of such utterly crazy sums – which neither the Government nor the BBC ever mention – that our politicians intend us to pay for dozens of huge offshore wind farms. In a sane world, no one would dream of building power sources whose cost is 22 times greater than that of vastly more efficient competitors. But the Government feels compelled to do just this because it sees it as the only way to meet our commitment to the EU that within nine years Britain must generate nearly a third of its electricity from “renewable” sources, six times more than we do at present.

The insanity does not end here. The Government talks of building 10,000 windmills capable of generating up to 25,000MW of the electricity we need. But when it does so, it – like the BBC – invariably uses that same trick of referring to “capacity”, without explaining that their actual output would be well below 30 per cent. (Last year, onshore turbines generated just 21 per cent of their capacity.) In other words, for all that colossal expenditure – and even if there was the remotest chance that two new giant turbines could be built every day between now and 2020 – we could only hope to generate some 6,000MW. This is not only way below our EU target, it is only a tenth of our peak demand during those cold, windless weeks last winter, when wind power was often providing barely 1 per cent of the power we needed.

That ‘renewable’ energy (in fact it is no such thing) needs such enormous subsidies is a sure sign that it is a rampant waste of taxpayer money.

If you can’t produce something without subsidies, this means you cannot produce it it at a price people are willing to pay. If you can’t produce something at a price people are willing to pay, you shouldn’t be producing it.

Subsidies hide the real price of a product. They discourage investment and inventiveness.

For example, the cost of the NBN to each household in Australia is about $6,000, whether they connect to it or not.

There is no business case for the NBN. If there were, business would be doing it. The NBN can only survive at huge cost to the taxpayer, and by sabotaging competition from existing copper wire networks and developing high speed wireless technologies.

The NBN will discourage research and investment into alternative internet technologies – just as massive subsidies for currently popular green energy schemes will discourage investment in other energy research. Who can compete when the government is throwing billions of dollars at your less efficient competitors?

That the government choice of technologies is less efficient and more costly, whether in power generation or internet transmission, means our costs are higher and consequently our industries are less efficient. So inevitably we are less competitive, we make less profit, and wages, employment and tax income all suffer.

Which means more people are unemployed, and there is less company profit going into superannuation funds, which means even greater burdens on social services, and less money available to support them.

Which means lots of misery.

But that’s what you get when ideology trumps reality.

I was on my way to work yesterday when I saw this dead polar bear on the side of the road.

Dead Polar Bear on Kangaroo Island

It is tragic that melting ice forced this magnificent creature to leave its home and swim all the way across the Pacific and around the coast of Australia, only to be killed by a careless motorist.

At least, it looked like a polar bear. And I was a lot closer than this guy:

According to a recent report by Human Events, special investigators from the US government’s Interior Department (ID) have found that a scientific paper published in a 2006 issue of the journal Polar Biology is filled with baseless assumptions about four specific polar bear deaths — and this eventually became the foundational argument for the fight against global warming. But in reality, the deaths may have had nothing to do with melting ice caps, and everything to do with a simple windstorm.

It all stems from an unusual air observation of what appeared to be four dead polar bears floating in the sea. From 1,500 feet (457 meters) in the air, observers reported to study author and biologist Charles Monnett, as well as contributor Jeffrey Gleason, that dead polar bears had been observed, which the duo later used to make various statements, including that “drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues.”

Facts have defeated the climate alarmist juggernaut. It still lumbers on like a gigantic zombie looking for brains to devour. Poor thing. It does most of its lumbering in universities and Labor Party gatherings, where brains are in short supply.

This is part of a speech to be given by Perth geologist David Archibald at the no carbon tax  rally in Canberra today:

My first duty to you today is tell you what is happening to the climate.  What is happening is cooling.  The oceans started cooling in 2003, and the atmosphere is following.  There has been no warming since 1998.

In fact, the temperature of planet today is almost the same as it was when satellites first started measuring it in 1979.  No one under the age of 32 has experienced global warming.  Some of us predate that and remember the heavy frosts of the nineteen seventies.  Those frosts are returning, and worse.  Solar activity is weakening, and will remain weak for another 22 years.

We in this blessed country will be spared the worst of it, but a large portion of the grain belt in the northern hemisphere will have crop failures due to longer winters and early frosts.  Canada will go from being a large exporter of grain to becoming a frequent importer.  As long as Australia remains a net food exporter, we will benefit from the shorter Northern Hemisphere growing season.

For us, climate is a non-problem.  Carbon dioxide’s heating effect is real, but minuscule.  The one hundred parts per million that we have added to the atmosphere in the last one hundred years has heated the planet by one tenth of a degree.  We will add another hundred parts per million over the next fifty years.  The total of two tenths of a degree will be very welcome by mid-century.

In fact, the more carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere, the better.  During the ice ages of the last three million years, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere got as low as one hundred and seventy-two parts per million.  Plant growth shuts down at one hundred and fifty parts per million.  Life above sea level was almost snuffed out due to a lack of carbon dioxide.  We were only twenty-two parts per million from extinction …

Click here to download David Archibald’s Speech in MS Word format.

Given the demonisation of the Catholic Church’s position on the use of condoms, you might be excused for thinking that the science was settled: promotion of condom use is the most effective method of reducing HIV infection.

In fact, as the UN’s own study showed, condom promotion has never been effective in preventing AIDS. See Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment has Betrayed the Developing World.

Yet infection rates in Zimbabwe halved from 1997 to 2007.

You would think that this remarkable success would have been shouted from the rooftops, and proven ineffective condom promotion dropped in favour of something that really works.

But remember we live in a world where ideology is more important than fact, and seeming to do good is more important than actually doing it.

So what is Zimbabwe’s secret? Well, no secret at all, really. Just what the Church has said from the beginning. Change your behaviour. Abstain from sex or be faithful to one partner.

Just don’t look for this to become UN policy in a hurry. A UN report published at the beginning of June called for comprehensive state sponsored sex education, including use of condoms, for children from age ten, as a method of reducing AIDS infection rates.

If adopted, that policy will achieve just the opposite.

The opinions of politicians, singers and film stars on the state of the climate and what should be done about it, are eagerly sought by the populist press. As a partial consequence of this, the populist press is becoming less and less popular.

On the other hand, the ABC and other leftist media organisations are quick to dismiss climate realists who do not have science qualifications. According to them, if you are a climate alarmism sceptic, you only have the right to express your views if you have an advanced degree in a relevant field of science. And even then you don’t because your scepticism marks you out as ‘not a real scientist’ or ‘in the pay of the oil companies.’

Point out that science is not decided by consensus but by evidence, that every citizen has the right to discuss matters of public policy, and that in any case, there is no consensus amongst climate scientists that the world is warming in an unusual or alarming way, and you will be greeted by the equivalent of fingers poked in ears, looking away and shouting ‘I can’t hear you.’

If that doesn’t work, they will try to stop you speaking at all, suggest you be imprisoned or tattooed so everyone can see you coming and avoid you, or even suggest you should be gassed or your children blown up if you persist in your dangerous derangement.

This is derangement in the same sense that anyone in Germany who disagreed with Nazism, or in Soviet Russia with Stalin, was thought by the state to be deranged, and dealt with accordingly.

Just don’t say you think their proposals sound like fascism, because then you really will be in trouble. Greenies apparently believe it is OK to act like a fascist. But that it is not OK, in fact grossly unfair and horrible and like, really mean, man, for anyone to point out that they are doing so.

But facts are stubborn things. And scientists with integrity can be stubborn as well.

One such scientist is Dr William Happer, Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

He has written a longish article called The Truth About Greenhouse Gasses, in the current edition of First Things magazine.

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

I want to discuss a contemporary moral epidemic: the notion that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, will have disastrous consequences for mankind and for the planet. The “climate crusade” is one characterized by true believers, opportunists, cynics, money-hungry governments, manipulators of various types—even children’s crusades—all based on contested science and dubious claims.

I am a strong supporter of a clean environment. We need to be vigilant to keep our land, air, and waters free of real pollution, particulates, heavy metals, and pathogens, but carbon dioxide (CO2 ) is not one of these pollutants. Carbon is the stuff of life. Our bodies are made of carbon. A normal human exhales around 1 kg of CO2 (the simplest chemically stable molecule of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere) per day. Before the industrial period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 270 ppm. At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039 percent of all atmospheric molecules and less than 1 percent of that in our breath. About fifty million years ago, a brief moment in the long history of life on earth, geological evidence indicates, CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished abundantly. …

We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above 150 ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid harming people. That is a very wide range, and our atmosphere is much closer to the lower end than to the upper end. The current rate of burning fossil fuels adds about 2 ppm per year to the atmosphere, so that getting from the current level to 1000 ppm would take about 300 years—and 1000 ppm is still less than what most plants would prefer, and much less than either the nasa or the Navy limit for human beings.

Yet there are strident calls for immediately stopping further increases in CO2 levels and reducing the current level. As we have discussed, animals would not even notice a doubling of CO2 and plants would love it. The supposed reason for limiting it is to stop global warming—or, since the predicted warming has failed to be nearly as large as computer models forecast, to stop climate change. Climate change itself has been embarrassingly uneventful, so another rationale for reducing CO2 is now promoted: to stop the hypothetical increase of extreme climate events like hurricanes or tornados. But this does not necessarily follow. The frequency of extreme events has either not changed or has decreased in the 150 years that CO2 levels have increased from 270 to 390 ppm. …

Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and other things being equal, adding the gas to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about 1 degree Celsius in warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere—about 2 ppm per year—it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increase will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, and so on are greatly exaggerated.

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