Friday, July 18, 2008


Now that Australia's new centre-Left Prime Minister is has pushed climate policy to the top of the national agenda as a convenient mask for his lack of any new ideas, the debate over "Greenhouse" is very lively in Australia. And, thanks to the Murdoch press, skeptical viewpoints are occasionally getting a good airing. Two of the three articles on the subject reproduced below are particularly powerful

Top Australian Greenhouse expert now a skeptic

By David Evans

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector. FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects. The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it. Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever. If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. If we had found the greenhouse signature then I would be an alarmist again.

When the signature was found to be missing in 2007 (after the latest IPCC report), alarmists objected that maybe the readings of the radiosonde thermometers might not be accurate and maybe the hot spot was there but had gone undetected. Yet hundreds of radiosondes have given the same answer, so statistically it is not possible that they missed the hot spot. Recently the alarmists have suggested we ignore the radiosonde thermometers, but instead take the radiosonde wind measurements, apply a theory about wind shear, and run the results through their computers to estimate the temperatures. They then say that the results show that we cannot rule out the presence of a hot spot. If you believe that you'd believe anything.

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.

None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance. The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion.

Until now the global warming debate has merely been an academic matter of little interest. Now that it matters, we should debate the causes of global warming. So far that debate has just consisted of a simple sleight of hand: show evidence of global warming, and while the audience is stunned at the implications, simply assert that it is due to carbon emissions. In the minds of the audience, the evidence that global warming has occurred becomes conflated with the alleged cause, and the audience hasn't noticed that the cause was merely asserted, not proved. If there really was any evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming, don't you think we would have heard all about it ad nauseam by now?

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before wrecking the economy.


Evidence doesn't bear out alarmist claims of global warming

Andrew Bolt tells Kevin Rudd stuff the Ruddy one does not want to hear. No Leftist wants to have their current best toy taken away from them

THESE are the seven graphs that should make the Rudd Government feel sick. These are the seven graphs that should make you ask: What? Has global warming now stopped? Look for yourself. They show that the world hasn't warmed for a decade, and has even cooled for several years.

Sea ice now isn't melting, but spreading. The seas have not just stopped rising, but started to fall. Nor is the weather getting wilder. Cyclones, as well as tornadoes and hurricanes, aren't increasing and the rain in Australia hasn't stopped falling. What's more, the slight warming we saw over the century until 1998 still makes the world no hotter today than it was 1000 years ago. In fact, it's even a bit cooler. So, dude, where's my global warming?

These graphs should in fact be good news for the Government and all the other warming preachers who warned we were doomed by our gases, which were heating the world to hell. Now Prime Minister Kevin Rudd can at last stop sweating about the warming terrors he told us were coming - the horrific droughts, the dengue fever, the malaria, the devastation to our land and economy. And he can announce that, hey, emergency over for now. His emissions trading scheme will go into deep freeze while he checks this good news.

As for his promise this week to make your power bills go up $200 a year to stop global warming? His promise to make even food more expensive? To put gassy companies out of business, and their workers out of a job? Cancel all that. As you were, soldier. Good news has come from the front.

But now you can see why these graphs terrify Rudd, who has never admitted to a single fact they contain. You think he dares admit he panicked you for no good reason? Wasted countless millions of dollars?

Yet the facts are stark: The world simply isn't warming as he and his pet scientists said. That's why 31,000 other scientists, including world figures such as physicist Prof Freeman Dyson, atmospheric physicist Prof Richard Lindzen and climate scientist Prof Fred Singer, issued a joint letter last month warning governments not to jump on board the global warming bandwagon. "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate."

That's why Ivar Glaever, who won a Nobel Prize for Physics, this month declared "I am a sceptic", because "we don't really know what the actual effect on the climate is". And it's why the American Physical Society this month said "there is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."

So let me go through my seven graphs that help to explain why even Nobel Prize winners question what Rudd keeps claiming -- that man is warming the world, and dangerously. The main graph is from the Hadley Centre of Britain's Meteorological Office and one of the four bodies measuring world temperature. As you see, since 1998 -- an unusually warm year thanks to the "El Nino" pool of warmer water in the Pacific -- the world's temperature dropped back to a steady plateau, followed by a few years of cooling.

The second graph confirms both the halt in warming, and then cooling. It's from another of those four bodies, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, which monitors the troposphere -- from the ground to 12km altitude. Only one of the four, in fact, claims temperatures are still rising. That's NASA, whose program is run by Dr James Hanson, Al Gore's global warming adviser and a controversial catastrophist whose team's reworking of data has been heavily criticised for exaggerating any heating.

But before I go on, a caveat: This recent cooling doesn't disprove the theory that man is warming the world. Ten years is too short to be sure of a trend. Natural factors may for now be countering the effect of our gases. Then again, the theory that man has warmed the world is based on a rise in temperature over a period that's not much longer -- from just 1975 to 1998. And the computer climate models that scientists use to predict catastrophic warming a century from now somehow never predicted a cooling that's happening right now. And these are the models Rudd is betting on with our jobs and cash.

The third graph shows another surprise those models never predicted: the seas have stopped rising. The waters have crept up for at least 150 years, since the world started to thaw from the Little Ice Age, and well before any likely man-made warming. But the climate models predicted that a big rise in emissions from all those cars, power plants and factories since World War II would cause an equally big rise in the seas, swelling them as much as 59cm by 2100. This wasn't scary enough for alarmists like Al Gore, though, who claimed whole cities could in fact be drowned under 6m of ocean.

But the satellites that have checked sea levels since 1992 find the seas have instead fallen over the past two years. Again, this could be a blip. But it isn't what the models predicted.

The fourth graph seems to confirm a cooling. Forget media scares about a melting North Pole; sea ice has grown so fast in the southern hemisphere there is now more ice in the world than is usual, says the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Graph five punctures another scare. No, global warming hasn't given us more cyclones - or more tornadoes or hurricanes anywhere. Nor is their proof that cyclones are getting worse, says the American Meteorological Society. And warming hasn't stopped our rain, either, despite media hype about a "one-in-a-100 year drought". See the Bureau of Meteorology records in graph six. It's just bad luck that the fickle rain now tends to fall where it's not needed most.

And, please, can we drop that old fiction that the world was never warmer? It's a false claim made popular by a 2001 report of the IPCC, the United Nations' climate group, which ran a graph, shaped like a hockey stick, claiming there was no warming for millennia until humans last century gassed up their world. In fact, that "hockey stick" is now discredited, and last year Dr Craig Loehle, of the US National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, argued that using tree rings to work out past temperatures was clearly unreliable. He instead produced a graph - No. 7 - of past temperatures using all other accepted proxies.

You see his results (which for statistical reasons stop at 1935): they show humans lived through a medieval period that was warmer than even today. This was a period that historical accounts confirm was so warm that Greenland farmers grew crops on land now under snow, and British ones grew grapes.

But I repeat: the world may yet warm again, and soon, although scientists at Leibnitz Institute and Max Planck Institute last month predicted it won't for at least another decade. If at all, say solar experts worried by a lack of sun spots.

But even if none of my graphs disproves the theory that man is causing dangerous warming, they should at least make you pause. They should at least make you open to other theories of climate change, like that of Dr Henrik Svensmark, head of Denmark's Centre for Sun-Climate Research, who thinks changes in cosmic rays, which affect clouds, may explain much of the recent warming. And now the cooling, too.

But, above all, when that man with the sandwich board comes tugging at your sleeve again, shouting, "Quick, help me save the world - or die", hang on to your wallet, friend. Give that urger my seven graphs instead, and ask him how many more years of no warming will it take before he admits it really is too soon to panic.


Climate policy a blow to Australia's huge natural gas industry

MORE than $60 billion in planned LNG investments are likely to be shelved because the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme is "backwards" and penalises exports of the clean gas, according to Woodside Petroleum chief Don Voelte. Mr Voelte told The Australian the carbon pollution reduction scheme, unveiled by the Government on Wednesday, would make it impossible for two $30billion West Australian offshore LNG projects to go ahead. "This emissions trading scheme will knock planned projects with relatively high CO2 emissions right off the block - you can start with (Chevron's) Gorgon (project) and (Woodside's) Browse (project) and keep on going," he said.

Mr Voelte said the $15 billion LNG export industry was unlikely to qualify for any free permits under the Government's compensation formula for trade-exposed industries, in part because of efforts the industry had already undertaken to reduce its carbon emissions. He said this outcome was "backwards" because LNG was part of the global solution to climate change, and replaced energy sources at least four times dirtier in the countries to which it was sold.

The LNG industry's concerns came as Kevin Rudd indicated he would try to sideline the Greens and would instead court Brendan Nelson for Senate backing for his carbon emissions trading scheme - dismissing Greens' demands for a phase-out of coal-fired power generation as unrealistic. Labor sources confirmed the Government saw little prospect of winning Greens support for its scheme, which includes plans for compensation for coal-fired power generators. As the Greens attacked the plan and demanded more public investment in renewable energy sources, the Prime Minister called on the Opposition to become "responsible partners" in addressing climate change.

In at least two of a series of interviews he conducted to explain the green paper released on Wednesday, Mr Rudd ignored direct questions about whether he could negotiate for Greens support in the Senate. Instead, he said he wanted Liberal Party backing, without which he would have to rely on the Greens, Family First and independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon.

The Government has said it will allocate up to 30 per cent of emissions permits to industries with international competitors not exposed to a carbon price, identifying eligible industries through a formula that calculates tonnes of emissions per million dollars in revenue.

Analysis by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and by Deutsche Bank experts confirmed Mr Voelte's calculation that LNG would not qualify for permits under the Government's proposed formula. "We do not believe we will be included as an emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industry - that we will fall just below the cut-off, which will mean all the worst emitters will be given a free ride, and clean fuels like LNG will have to bear the whole burden," Mr Voelte said. "We spent hundreds of millions over recent years to clean up our plants, we won all these greenhouse challenge awards. and now we are thinking we should have just left ourselves dirty, because we're going to come in just under the curve. "This emissions trading scheme is going to get the wrong answer - it's going to hit our returns and stop our new projects going forward, when we are part of the global answer." Asked what he intended to do about the problem, Mr Voelte said: "We have booked a lot of plane tickets to Canberra."

APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson echoed the warning, saying: "Unless LNG receives the treatment it must have, not only is the ability of the industry to grow and invest here ... affected, it will also affect our ability to assist the Asia-Pacific region reduce its greenhouse gas emissions for the longer term."

The Government is also at loggerheads with the Greens over the future of the coal industry in the nation's energy generation. It believes successful deployment of "clean coal" technology - which would ensure the coal industry's future - is vital, and has created a $500million clean coal research fund to commercialise the technology, which eliminates carbon emissions from burning coal by capturing the carbon and storing it underground. But Greens environment spokeswoman Christine Milne told The Australian yesterday her party opposed any public money being spent on clean coal research, and instead wanted investment in renewable energy sources such as solar power.

Senator Milne said average Australians backed her party's position ahead of that of "the greenhouse mafia, the Opposition and (Resources Minister) Martin Ferguson". "The coal industry is largely owned overseas and has made mega-profits from polluting the atmosphere through the commodities boom," Senator Milne said.

As Mr Rudd hit the airwaves yesterday, he made clear he saw little value in attempting to meet the Greens' demands. Asked whether he was prepared to talk to the Greens, he did not even refer to the party. "My appeal is directly to the Liberal Party to ... be responsible partners in the future economic direction of Australia," he told Sydney radio 2UE. "The Liberals have got some serious soul-searching to do on this question in terms of acting responsibly."

In an interview with Sky Television, the Prime Minister was asked about the Greens' criticism, and whether he would stick to his guns in the Senate. He again ignored the Greens, saying: "On the Senate, I think there's going to be a huge national spotlight trained on the Liberals. "Are you going to be responsible partners in this country's long-term economic future or are you just going to walk away and play opportunistic, short-term politics?"

Wayne Swan said government support for clean coal technologies was critical. "As an exporter of coal, we've got a huge interest in developing the technology that captures the carbon," the Treasurer said. The Coalition appeared to be open to negotiations, with Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull stressing that the Opposition was not opposed to emissions trading, although it had differences with the Government on timing. "We have got to see what the measures are," he said. "There is a big issue here about getting it right. This is not an issue, a question, of who is more committed to the environment than anybody else."

However, Mr Turnbull described as absurd the Government's decision to delay the release of Treasury modelling on the ETS until after the date at which submissions closed for comment on the green paper. "You cannot seriously ask people to make submissions about options for an emissions trading scheme when they haven't got any of the financial modelling," he said.


Huge public medicine failure: Children wait years for ear, nose and throat procedures

HUNDREDS of Queensland children are waiting up to four years for ear, nose and throat surgery, surgeons say. ENT specialists say the long wait puts them at serious risk of behavioural and learning problems. Specialists say the wait for an outpatient's appointment at Mater Children's and Royal Children's hospitals in Brisbane is about two years. Queensland Health's own figures show that as of April 1 this year, 400 children were waiting for category 3 ENT surgery at the two hospitals.

Research has found children who have untreated ear infections in their early years are at risk of becoming truants and doing badly at school. Yet they can be easily treated by inserting grommets - tiny tubes that give the middle ear a chance to recover from recurrent infection. Other children require operations to remove tonsils or adenoids to improve sleeping and concentration at school.

ENT surgeon Chris Perry conceded the State Government had started to make inroads into elective surgery waiting lists for children through its Surgery Connect program public operations performed in private hospitals. Queensland Health figures reveal Surgery Connect has cut the waiting list by about 10 per cent. The Government expects the program to be able to treat about 45 children with ENT problems each month.

However Associate Professor Perry said Surgery Connect was only a BandAid solution. "I don't want to embarrass the Government," he said. "I think they're trying to do something about it. "But we think Surgery Connect is counter-productive to the development of public hospitals. "They should be spending the money to fix up public hospitals."

Professor Perry said he had a "duty to help these kids" by operating on them via Surgery Connect but he hoped Queensland Health did not intend to make the program permanent. "It's work that needs to be done at night time, when everybody's tired, including surgeons, or on weekends, and that cuts into family time," he said. Surgeons would prefer to see the Government set up elective surgery theatres in public hospitals to "quarantine" non-urgent cases from emergencies. Because of the huge increase in demand on public hospital emergency departments, elective surgery lists are sometimes cancelled because of the more urgent cases.

Specialists raised the issue with Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' annual state meeting at Coolum, on the Sunshine Coast, at the weekend. Mr Robertson acknowledged the Government needed to do better by treating children in a more timely manner. "I want to see an improvement in wait times for children," he said. He said he would consider creating elective surgery only theatres for children but he said Surgery Connect was probably here to stay. "My personal view is that it would be irresponsible ... where we can identify capacity in the private sector, not to use that capacity if it means that we increase our throughput," Mr Robertson said.


But there's plenty of money for the health bureaucracy

QUEENSLAND Health bureaucrats have spent more than $800,000 travelling the world over the past two years, a budget estimates committee heard. The hearing was today told non-clinical staff made 69 overseas trips in 2006-07 at a cost of $364,546, and 67 trips between July 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008, at a cost of $464,809. The trips included five senior bureaucrats taking an $80,000 two-week visit to US and UK hospitals in November 2006, and a $50,000 trip for two senior bureaucrats to join Health Minister Stephen Robertson on a tour of facilities in the US and Canada in August 2007.

Opposition health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said Queenslanders on hospital waiting lists were entitled to ask why they didn't come first. "With such an urgent need for new hospital beds to be delivered and for waiting lists to be tackled, Queenslanders will be wondering why senior health bureaucrats are spending so much time touring hospitals in other countries," Mr Langbroek said in a statement.

Mr Robertson said overseas travel arrangements were under review to ensure taxpayers got value for money from health staff attending conferences and recruitment fairs. "I think it's appropriate every now and then to review that travel budget to ensure it is being used appropriately," he told reporters in Brisbane today. "I'm always worried when I see expenditure going into areas that don't have a direct effect on good patient outcomes. "Just as I look at travel every now and then, I look at other areas of administration to see if there are ways that we can save money and redirect those funds into front-end services."


Extreme leniency towards extreme traffic offences

Why should anyone have any respect for the law if this is what the law is?

A magistrate has opted against recording a conviction against an unlicensed teenage hoon who led police on a high-speed chase in a defective car. Beenleigh magistrate Joan White yesterday fined Nikol Maksuti, 17, $1000 after he pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle, unlicensed driving as a repeat offender and driving a defective, unregistered and uninsured car.

The magistrate's decision comes less than three weeks after her son, who has an appalling traffic history, received a $750 fine in the same court for a swag of traffic offences. On July 1, Jeffery White, 23, was fined $750 by Beenleigh magistrate Peter Webber for driving without due care while unlicensed, failing to wear a seatbelt or obey a stop sign and obstructing police. He also was disqualified from driving for six months.

And on Monday, acting Holland Park magistrate Chris Callaghan decided against disqualifying the licences of two hoons with appalling traffic histories after they took part in a slow "rolling blockade" before an alleged race on Brisbane's Pacific Highway.

The decisions come despite a crackdown by the State Government and police and the issue of hooning on Queensland's roads prompted calls by a senior surgeon for law-breaking motorists to be shocked into driving responsibly. Princess Alexandra Hospital surgical director Daryl Wall said hoons should be forced to watch their cars crushed in front of their eyes. "That would be a very powerful force," he told The Courier Mail.

Prosecutor Joanne Mills told the Beenleigh Magistrate's Court that Maksuti was caught driving at 110km/h in a 50km/h zone at Waterford West about 10.40pm on May 17. Senior-Constable Mills said Maksuti, who was driving a defective and unregistered car, had never held a driver's licence and twice tried to avoid arrest by speeding away from police. She said at one point Maksuti turned off the car's headlights and came to a skidding halt before fleeing.

Ms White told Maksuti he needed to understand it was a privilege to hold a driver's licence and to think himself lucky she did not record a conviction against him. She also disqualified him from driving for six months. [Since he hasn't got a licence anyway, what does that mean?]


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