Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Study finds global warming from natural cloud changes is more than 3 times greater than from 'greenhouse gases'

A peer-reviewed paper published in The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics finds that natural changes in global cloud cover over the 21 year period 1983-2004 are responsible for at least 3 times as much global warming as has been attributed to greenhouse gases over the 104 year period of 1900-2004. The paper finds the decrease in reflectance from clouds (albedo) over only the past 21 years has accounted for a change in solar energy delivered to the Earth surface of ~ 7W/m2, whereas all greenhouse gases are claimed to only account for (assuming you believe the IPCC) a ~ 2.4 W/m2 change over a much longer 104 year period. The paper also finds that climate models do not account for these cloud changes, that cloud changes are much more variable than previously thought, and that the cloud changes are not man-made or related to greenhouse gases. The author of the paper has provided a pdf presentation of these findings, excerpted below:
Graph shows change in solar energy impacting the Earth's surface due to natural changes in cloud cover, with a peak around 1997-1998 and drop thereafter, directly corresponding to changes in global temperature seen in the Hockey Schtick header.
Note graph in this slide and the attached paper is an inverse representation of the graph in the prior slide

The inconvenient truth is that they're wrong

Today, Coalition ministers are expected to confirm the Government's ambitious framework for addressing climate change when they announce new targets for achieving their goals. Under the Climate Change Act 2008, there is a legal duty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 by 80 per cent from the 1990 base. In addition, a Committee on Climate Change has been established to set out five-yearly targets on the way to 2050 and to comment on progress. Furthermore, a wide range of measures has been introduced, at EU and national levels – the latest is the proposal for a floor price for carbon.
All this is based on a clear view of the science that is consistent with advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has identified man-made emissions of CO₂ as the principal driver of the rise in temperature over the past century (about 0.7C). In one scenario, where we carry on as usual, the central projection for the rise is 1-1.5C by mid-century and 3C by end-century. However, if temperature rises more than 2C, serious impacts such as rising sea levels, drought, storms and damage to food supply will occur. The 80 per cent figure, therefore, is set at the level considered necessary to prevent this threshold being crossed.
On the face of it, this seems like a cohesive package: policy is aligned with scientific advice. But the Really Inconvenient Truth (not the one in Al Gore's film) is that this whole edifice is flawed and built on shaky foundations.
First, the science is nowhere near as conclusive as it is presented. Though there is no disagreement that CO₂ is a greenhouse gas, there is no consensus on the relationship between CO₂ and temperature. Many scientists also challenge the dominant role assigned to man-made CO₂, arguing that other variables such as the sun, cosmic rays, oceans and clouds have been underplayed. Given this, it is unwise of the Government to have placed such heavy bets on just one interpretation of the evidence.
Critics also point out that the correlation between the increase in CO₂ and temperature is far from straightforward. CO₂ concentrations have risen steadily since about 1940, but the rise in temperature started much earlier and has cycled around a gently rising trend. For example, after a rapid rise in temperature between 1970 and the late 1990s, there has been no increase in the past decade.
Second, there have been failings in the governance of science. Senior figures in our scientific establishment, rather than promoting challenge, have sought to close the debate down and tell us the science is settled. The gap between the IPCC's huge responsibilities to advise on one of the biggest issues of the day, and its competence to do so, is now so vast that it should be scrapped and replaced.
Third, the framework provided by the Climate Change Act takes no account of what other nations are doing. For a country like the UK, which produces only 2-3 per cent of global man-made emissions, this makes no sense. If we push too hard on decarbonisation, we will suffer double jeopardy: our energy-using industries will migrate and we may still need to invest heavily in adapting our infrastructure.
Fourth, the way in which the policy responses are being prioritised makes no sense. In a logical world, one would start with those technologies that are most effective in terms of cost per ton of CO₂ abated. But the EU renewables policy denies this logic. One set of technologies – in particular, wind – is guaranteed a market share and an indexed price regardless of how competitive it really is. Taking account of wind's intermittency, its cost per kilowatt hour (kwh) exceeds that of other low carbon sources. Wind capacity should not be confused with output.
Fifth, current policies are hugely unfair. Those with large properties or landholdings on which to install solar panels or wind turbines can earn 30p-40p per kwh, which is retailed at around 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on all households and businesses. If you live in a tower block in Lambeth, you don't have much opportunity to share in this.
Finally, policies are failing to adapt to change, notably the impact of shale gas, which can make a huge contribution to carbon reduction with little extra cost.
We need an approach to the science that welcomes challenge from diverse points of view rather than seeking to suppress them, and which recognises the uncertainties that remain in distinguishing the relative contributions of man and nature.
From our politicians, officials and parliamentarians we require more rationality and curiosity and an end to alarmist propaganda. They should pay more attention to the national interest and less to cutting a dash as global evangelists.
In responding to the advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the next set of targets, the Government has an opportunity for a rethink. Instead, it seems likely that the requirements of keeping the Coalition together will take precedence.
Lord Turnbull was Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Environment 1994-98 and of HM Treasury 1998-2002; and Cabinet Secretary 2002-2005. He is a trustee of The Global Warming Policy Foundation and a fuller version of this article is on its website, www.thegwpf.org

Monday, May 30, 2011

New paper finds rapid 4°C cooling of Greenland prior to Vikings' disappearance

A new paper examines 5,600 years of climate history from Greenland lake cores and finds that temperatures plunged 4°C (7°F) over a short time-frame of 80 years beginning around 1100 AD, prior to the Little Ice Age, which ultimately drove the Vikings' disappearance from Greenland. Global temperatures have only recovered about 0.6°C since the end of the Little Ice Age, far less than the rapid 4°C plunge indicated by this paper or the IPCC-predicted 3°C increase over this century. This graph from the 1990 IPCC report (with added notations) illustrates the climate change of the Medieval Warming Period when the Vikings colonized Greenland, and their disappearance at the start of the Little Ice Age:
[To deal with this pesky graph, Michael Mann and The Team set out to erase the Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age from subsequent IPCC reports.]

May 30, 2011  |  Contact: Richard Lewis |  401-863-3766
Greenland's early Viking settlers were subjected to rapidly changing climate. Temperatures plunged several degrees in a span of decades, according to research from Brown University. A reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from lakes near the Norse settlement in western Greenland also shows how climate affected the Dorset and Saqqaq cultures. Results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Climate cluesWilliam D'Andrea, right, and Yongsong
 Huang took cores from two lakes in
Greenland to reconstruct 5,600 years of climate 
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The end of the Norse settlements on Greenland likely will remain shrouded in mystery. While there is scant written evidence of the colony’s demise in the 14th and early 15th centuries, archaeological remains can fill some of the blanks, but not all.
What climate scientists have been able to ascertain is that an extended cold snap, called the Little Ice Age, gripped Greenland beginning in the 1400s. This has been cited as a major cause of the Norse’s disappearance. Now researchers led by Brown University show the climate turned colder in an earlier span of several decades, setting in motion the end of the Greenland Norse. Their findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Brown scientists’ finding comes from the first reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from two lakes in Kangerlussuaq, near the Norse “Western Settlement.” Unlike ice cores taken from the Greenland ice sheet hundreds of miles inland, the new lake core measurements reflect air temperatures where the Vikings lived, as well as those experienced by the Saqqaq and the Dorset, Stone Age cultures that preceded them.
“This is the first quantitative temperature record from the area they were living in,” said William D’Andrea, the paper’s first author, who earned his doctorate in geological sciences at Brown and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. “So we can say there is a definite cooling trend in the region right before the Norse disappear.”
“The record shows how quickly temperature changed in the region and by how much,” said co-author Yongsong Huang, professor of geological sciences at Brown, principal investigator of the NSF-funded project, and D’Andrea’s Ph.D. adviser. “It is interesting to consider how rapid climate change may have impacted past societies, particularly in light of the rapid changes taking place today.”
D’Andrea points out that climate is not the only factor in the demise of the Norse Western Settlement. The Vikings’ sedentary lifestyle, reliance on agriculture and livestock for food, dependence on trade with Scandinavia and combative relations with the neighboring Inuit, are believed to be contributing factors.
Still, it appears that climate played a significant role. The Vikings arrived in Greenland in the 980s, establishing a string of small communities along Greenland’s west coast. (Another grouping of communities, called the “Eastern Settlement” also was located on the west coast but farther south on the island.) The arrival coincided with a time of relatively mild weather, similar to that in Greenland today. However, beginning around 1100, the climate began an 80-year period in which temperatures dropped 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit), the Brown scientists concluded from the lake readings. While that may not be considered precipitous, especially in the summer, the change could have ushered in a number of hazards, including shorter crop-growing seasons, less available food for livestock and more sea ice that may have blocked trade.
“You have an interval when the summers are long and balmy and you build up the size of your farm, and then suddenly year after year, you go into this cooling trend, and the summers are getting shorter and colder and you can’t make as much hay. You can imagine how that particular lifestyle may not be able to make it,” D’Andrea said.
Archaeological and written records show the Western Settlement persisted until sometime around the mid-1300s. The Eastern Settlement is believed to have vanished in the first two decades of the 1400s.
The researchers also examined how climate affected the Saqqaq and Dorset peoples. The Saqqaq arrived in Greenland around 2500 B.C. While there were warm and cold swings in temperature for centuries after their arrival, the climate took a turn for the bitter beginning roughly 850 B.C., the scientists found. “There is a major climate shift at this time,” D’Andrea said. “It seems that it’s not as much the speed of the cooling as the amplitude of the cooling. It gets much colder.”
The Saqqaq exit coincides with the arrival of the Dorset people, who were more accustomed to hunting from the sea ice that would have accumulated with the colder climate at the time. Yet by around 50 B.C., the Dorset culture was waning in western Greenland, despite its affinity for cold weather. “It is possible that it got so cold they left, but there has to be more to it than that,” D’Andrea said.
Contributing authors include Sherilyn Fritz from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and N. John Anderson from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. The National Science Foundation funded the work.

WSJ: Contrary to what many environmentalists would have us believe, Americans are increasingly less likely to be killed by severe weather

More Weather Deaths? Wanna Bet?

By DONALD J. BOUDREAUX    WSJ.com  5/28/11

Writing recently in the Washington Post, environmental guru Bill McKibben asserted that the number and severity of recent weather events, such as the tornado in Joplin, Mo., are too great not to be the result of fossil-fuel induced climate change. He suggested that government's failure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases will result in more violent weather and weather-related deaths in the future.

And pointing to the tragedy in Joplin, Mr. McKibben summarily dismissed the idea that, if climate change really is occurring, human beings can successfully adapt to it.

There's one problem with this global-warming chicken little-ism. It has little to do with reality. National Weather Service data on weather-related fatalities since 1940 show that the risks of Americans being killed by violent weather have fallen significantly over the past 70 years.

The annual number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, of course, varies. For example, the number of persons killed by these weather events in 1972 was 703 while the number killed in 1988 was 72. But amid this variance is a clear trend: The number of weather-related fatalities, especially since 1980, has dropped dramatically.

For the 30-year span of 1980-2009, the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes was 194—fully one-third fewer deaths each year than during the 1940-1979 period. The average annual number of deaths for the years 1980-2009 falls even further, to 160 from 194, if we exclude the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, most of which were caused by a levee that breached on the day after the storm struck land.

This decline in the absolute number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes is even more impressive considering that the population of the United States more than doubled over these years—to 308 million in 2010 from 132 million in 1940.

Contrary to what many environmentalists would have us believe, Americans are increasingly less likely to be killed by severe weather. Moreover, because of modern industrial and technological advances—radar, stronger yet lighter building materials, more reliable electronic warning devices, and longer-lasting packaged foods—we are better protected from nature's fury today than at any other time in human history. We do adapt.

Of course, this happy trend might not continue. Maybe the allegedly devastating consequences of our "addiction" to fossil fuels, and the rapid economic growth these fuels make possible, will soon catch up with us. Maybe the future will be more deadly.

I reject this pessimism. I do so because economics and history teach that human beings in market economies have proven remarkably creative and resourceful in overcoming challenges. And there's no reason to think that this creativity and resourcefulness will fail us in the face of climate change.

Since 1950 there have been 57 confirmed F5 tornadoes, with winds between 261–318 miles per hour, in the U.S. Of those, five struck in 1953; six in 1974. So far this year there have been four F5 tornadoes in the U.S., including the devastating storm that killed more than 130 people in Joplin on May 22. F5 tornadoes are massive, terrifying and deadly. But they generally touch down in unpopulated areas, thus going unnoticed. The tragedy of Joplin and other tornadoes this year is that they touched down in populated areas, causing great loss of life. Yet if these storms had struck even 20 years ago there would have been far more deaths.

So confident am I that the number of deaths from violent storms will continue to decline that I challenge Mr. McKibben—or Al Gore, Paul Krugman, or any other climate-change doomsayer—to put his wealth where his words are. I'll bet $10,000 that the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes will fall over the next 20 years. Specifically, I'll bet that the average annual number of Americans killed by these violent weather events from 2011 through 2030 will be lower than it was from 1991 through 2010.

If environmentalists really are convinced that climate change inevitably makes life on Earth more lethal, this bet for them is a no-brainer. They can position themselves to earn a cool 10 grand while demonstrating to a still-skeptical American public the seriousness of their convictions.

But if no one accepts my bet, what would that fact say about how seriously Americans should treat climate-change doomsaying?

Do I have any takers?

Mr. Boudreaux is professor of economics at George Mason University and a senior fellow at the Mercatus Center.

NYT notes global warming cited far less as a policy concern; even the political left opposing cap & trade


An Unclear Course on Emissions Policy

SAN FRANCISCO — Opposition to cap and trade, a regulatory tool for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, normally comes from the right end of the political spectrum, where it is derided as “cap and tax.”
Ben Margot/Associated Press
The Shell refinery in Martinez, Calif., is among plants that would be affected by an emissions law set to take effect Jan. 1.
But in California it is the political left that has been most successful in challenging the effort, creating a legal speed bump of sorts that might even delay the nation’s first statewide cap-and-trade system, set to start on Jan. 1.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled this month that an analysis undertaken under California’s groundbreaking law to combat climate change gave short shrift to alternative ways of putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The judge, Ernest Goldsmith, ordered California air regulators to provide a more detailed examination of all options for controlling emissions, including a direct tax on them.
Environmental justice groups had sued to block the cap-and-trade program. The crux of their argument was that in focusing strictly on climate-warming gases that are dispersed high in the atmosphere, California’s plan could overlook or indirectly abet the release of conventional pollutants that mainly harm low-income communities, like carbon monoxide or deadly fine particles from oil refineries.

Dumbest climate change propaganda of the week

Observe how journalist shills for the AGW industry turn a story about a fish kill believed to be due to a sudden, weather-related drop in temperature into propaganda about "sudden climate change killing millions of fish" that is "baffling environmentalists and raising concerns over climate change issues."

Note to brain-dead media: 'Climate change' takes place over long time scales of decades up to thousands of years; weather is not 'climate change.'

A 'sudden' climate change kills millions of fish in Philippines

By IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 30, 2011 05:52 AM EDT
Hundreds of thousands of milk fish washed up dead at Taal Lake in Talisay, Batangas, south of Manila on Sunday, baffling environmentalists and raising concerns over climate change issues.
"About 500 metric tons (500,000 kilos) of fish, worth more than 50 million pesos (U.S. $ 1.159 million) were seen floating in the water in the six towns of Batangas province the past two days", a local mayor told Reuters.
According to a local town agriculturist, the cause of the fish kill was a "sudden" climate change in the area.
The common perception of fish death is linked to depletion of oxygen in water, which is caused due to a number of factors. Gases released from volcanic activities often lead to poor oxygen levels in nearby lakes, but scientists believe that the deaths are not related to activitities inside Taal volano, which is surrounded by the Taal Lake.
However, they didn't rule out the possibility of a sudden drop in temperature for the cause of the deaths of millions of fish.
Important seafood in Southeast Asia, the milk fish aquaculture is one of the major revenue sources of Philippines economy. Such a huge mass kill of fish has not occurred before in Manila, an official said, adding that it's a great loss to the country.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Et tu, Bacteria? causing climate change

Aerial microbes can trigger precipitation
Web edition : Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
  Text Size
BUGS IN ICEThree adjacent ice crystals (borders resemble forked road) contain green-stained Pseudomonas syringae bacteria isolated from precipitation. This plant pathogen, one of the most efficient bacteria at nucleating ice, is commonly found in clouds.B. Christner/LSU
Bacteria often leave their hosts feeling under the weather. And even when the hosts are high-altitude parcels of air, microbes can be a source of inclement conditions, a Montana research team finds. Cloudborne bacteria might even pose climate threats by boosting the production of a greenhouse gas, another team proposes.

Both groups reported their findings May 24 at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in New Orleans.

These data add to a growing body of evidence that biological organisms are affecting clouds, notes Anthony Prenni of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, an atmospheric scientist who did not participate in the new studies. Right now, he cautions, “We still don’t know on a global scale how important these processes are.” But research into microbial impacts on weather and climate is really heating up, he adds, so “within a few years, I think we’re going to have a much better handle on it.”

Alexander Michaud’s new research was triggered by a June storm that pummeled Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman last year with golf ball–sized and larger hailstones. The microbial ecologist normally studies subglacial aquatic environments in Antarctica. But after saving 27 of the hailstones, he says, “I suddenly realized, no one had really ever thought about studying hailstones — in a layered sense — for biology.”

So his team dissected the icy balls, along with hundreds of smaller ones collected during a July hail storm south of campus. Michaud now reports finding germs throughout, with the highest concentrations by far — some 1,000 cells per milliliter of meltwater — in the hailstones’ cores.
Since at least the 1980s, scientists have argued that some share of clouds, and their precipitation, likely traces to microbes. Their reasoning: Strong winds can loft germs many kilometers into the sky. And since the 1970s, agricultural scientists have recognized that certain compounds made by microbes serve as efficient water magnets around which ice crystals can form at relatively high temperatures (occasionally leading to frost devastation of crops).

In 2008, Brent Christner of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his colleagues reported isolating ice-nucleating bacteria from rain and snow. A year later, Prenni’s group found microbes associated with at least a third of the cloud ice crystals they sampled at an altitude of 8 kilometers.
“But finding ice-nucleating bacteria in snow or hail is very different from saying they were responsible for the ice,” says Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I say that,” he admits, “even though as a microbiologist, I’d love to believe that bacteria control weather.”
Pure water molecules won’t freeze in air at temperatures above about –40° Celsius, Christner notes. Add tiny motes of mineral dust or clay, and water droplets may coalesce around them — or nucleate — at perhaps –15°. But certain bacteria can catalyze ice nucleation at even –2°, he reported at the meeting in New Orleans.

Through chemical techniques, Michaud’s group determined that the ice nucleation in their hail occurred around –11.5° for the June hailstones and at roughly –8.5° for the July stones.
Michaud’s data on the role of microbes in precipitation “is pretty strong evidence,” Prenni says.
Also at the meeting, Pierre Amato of Clermont University in Clermont-Ferrand, France, reported biological activity in materials sampled from a cloud at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The air hosted many organic pollutants, including formaldehyde, acetate and oxalate. Sunlight can break these down to carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, something Amato’s group confirmed in the lab. But sunlight didn’t fully degrade some organics unless microbes were also present.

Moreover, certain cloudborne bacteria — the French team identified at least 17 types — degraded organic pollutants to carbon dioxide at least as efficiently as the sun did. Amato’s team reported these findings online February 9 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

This microbial transformation of pollutants to carbon dioxide occurs even in darkness. Amato has calculated the total nighttime microbial production of carbon dioxide in clouds and pegs it “on the order of 1 million tons per year.” Though not a huge sum (equal to the carbon dioxide from perhaps 180,000 cars per year), he cautions that this amount could increase based on airborne pollutant levels, temperatures and microbial populations.

Do 90 Percent of Scientists Really Buy Into Global Warming Alarmism?

By TOM GANTERT | May 21, 2011 The Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Former Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman made national news this week when he told Time Magazine that he was inclined to believe that public policy decisions over what to do about global warming should be left to the 90 percent of climate change scientists that he believes are concerned about serious damage resulting from global warming. Huntsman is often mentioned as a possible GOP Presidential candidate in 2012.

TIME: You also believe in climate change, right?
HUNTSMAN: This is an issue that ought to be answered by the scientific community; I’m not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological (study of tumors) community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them. I respect science and the professionals behind the science so I tend to think it’s better left to the science community – though we can debate what that means for the energy and transportation sectors.

The comments were picked up by many blogs and news sites and were shocking to some in a conservative movement still trying to sort out the possible presidential candidates.

But is the “90 percent” figure really representative of the climate science community, and who are those scientists supposedly in the 90 percent camp? And what about the remaining 10 percent?

“It is fashionable to believe in harmful global warming due to evil mankind," said William Happer, physicist and Cyrus Fogg Brackett professor of physics at Princeton, in an e-mail. “What could be a more worthy cause than saving the planet? But many very well qualified scientists take strong exception to the extreme claims made by the alarmists, and if an honest poll of qualified scientists were taken, I would be surprised if even half believed in the message of catastrophic global warming. When Mr. Huntsman talks about 90 percent, he is talking about a very select group of scientists who are dependent on continued alarmism for their funding. “

John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center and a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said it’s hard to get a handle on how many scientists sincerely believe that climate change is having a dangerous impact on the planet.

“The problem is the degree of warming,” Christy wrote in an e-mail. “Ninety percent would agree that mankind has some impact on the climate, but a lower percentage would say it was a dangerous impact.” 

Christy also finds the comparison to cancer research to be dubious.

“I suspect that was pulled out of the air. The statements are not apples to apples at all. One deals with repeatable laboratory experiments (cancer) the other with a murky science (climate) which does not have laboratory methods to settle arguments.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New paper finds no evidence of climate change causing increase of tropical storms

A paper published online today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that there is no evidence to suggest that 'climate change' is responsible for a reported increase in the frequency of short-duration tropical storms of the North Atlantic during the 20th century. The paper finds that an increase in reported storms is simply due to improved methods of detection (the "observing system") over the 20th century rather than any evidence of 'climate change.'


Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious?

Gabriele Villarini, et al

The number of North Atlantic tropical storms lasting 2 days or less exhibits a large increase starting from the middle of the 20th century, driving the increase in recorded number of tropical storms over the past century. Here we present a set of quantitative analyses to assess whether this behavior is more likely associated with climate variability/change or with changes in observing systems. By using statistical methods combined with the current understanding of the physical processes, we are unable to find support for the hypothesis that the century-scale record of short-lived tropical cyclones in the Atlantic contains a detectable real climate signal. Therefore, we interpret the long-term secular increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms as likely to be substantially inflated by observing system changes over time. These results strongly suggest that studies examining the frequency of North Atlantic tropical storms over the historical era (between the 19th century and present) should focus on storms of duration greater than about 2 days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Professors to Koch Brothers: Take Your Green Back

No one ever questions George Soros money, but apparently this $1.5 million gift violates academic freedom

By DONALD LUSKIN  WSJ.com 5/24/11

Times are tough for state-funded colleges like Florida State University. After four years of budget trimming, FSU now faces an additional $19 million in cuts and a $40 million deficit. So it's an inopportune moment to raise a stink over private donations of $1.5 million made three years ago.
But that's just what two FSU professors—Ray Bellamy of the College of Medicine and Kent Miller, professor emeritus of psychology—did earlier this month in an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat, arguing that the donations are "seriously damaging to academic freedom." The piece set off a firestorm of warring newspaper editorials, blog posts and online petitions.
What's the beef? Like many large private gifts, the $1.5 million to FSU was given to endow programs in a designated subject specified by the donors. The professors' problem in this case is the subject, the strings attached, and, most important, who the donors are.
The subject being endowed, as described by the two protesting professors, is the "political ideology of free markets and diminished government regulation." That's an inflammatory way to describe a program which, according to its founding documents, is to study "the foundations of prosperity, social progress, and human well-being." Such a program would seem to fit right into its home at FSU's Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education, which was founded in 1988.

Then there's the donors. One of the donors, according to the two professors, is known for his "efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc."
Whom might they be referring to? Certainly not George Soros—there's never an objection to that billionaire's donations, which always tend toward the political left. [and in support of the CAGW hoax from which Soros and pal Al Gore stand to benefit financially]  No, it's Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries. With revenue estimated at about $100 billion, the energy and chemicals conglomerate is America's second-largest privately held company. The Koch brothers tend to give to right-leaning and libertarian causes. Koch money was instrumental, for example, in founding the Cato Institute and the Libertarian Party.

New alarmist UN report claims disaster-related deaths will triple by 2030

Report claims US will be one of most severely affected countries

Reality check: Worldwide deaths from natural disasters have been on a long-term downtrend, with up to 10 times more fatalities in the 1930's than the present:
Total worldwide deaths from natural disasters shows a long-term downtrend with up to 10 times more fatalities in the 1930's than in 2010. Source: The International Disaster Database
2020: 5 Million People Die From Climate Change
A total of five million people, mostly children, may die by 2020 because of climate change unless the authorities take action against it, said today the humanitarian research organization DARA Spanish in a report.

About 350,000 people are killed by current issues related to climate change, but the world may well suffer a million deaths per year from 2030 if no corrective actions put in place, says the study “climate vulnerability Monitor 2010."
The document was released today at the XVI Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Change (COP16) held in the Mexican city of Cancun.

The research, developed by DARA with the support of the Climate Vulnerability Forum, an organization that brings together leaders from countries likely to suffer the worst impacts of global warming, reveals the particular vulnerability of a total of 184 countries and the impacts that might have in the short term.

The report brings together the nations according to their “low”, “moderate”, “high”, “severe” or “severe” vulnerability, which is determined based on the estimated impacts that these countries may experience health, climate, disasters, human habitat loss and “stress” economic.

In the group of 54 countries that have a vulnerability “acute” are Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, India, Morocco, Nicaragua, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea, Nigeria and Vietnam, among others, and island countries like Maldives, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The 28 “severe” are represented by countries like the Bahamas, Bolivia, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Nepal, South Africa and Tunisia, and 50 with vulnerability “high” for Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Republic Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Spain, Venezuela, United States and Russia.

A “moderate” level instead has 33 countries as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Poland, Paraguay, Turkey, Uruguay, Paraguay, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

However only 19 have low levels of vulnerability, such as Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Holland, Portugal and the UK, like other countries like Japan and New Zealand.

“Within 20 years almost every country in the world will have a vulnerability ‘high’ in at least one sector, as the planet warms,” ​​says the report.

Currently, however, most of the impacts are concentrated in some 50 low-income countries that need “urgent assistance” he insists.

In fact, according to data from the report, 80% of all deaths attributed to climate change are of children in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, “who succumb to malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

WSJ: Doomsday cultist Harold Camping is merely the Christian Al Gore

"With no sign of Judgment Day arriving as he had forecast, the 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil engineer behind the pronouncement seemed to have gone silent on Saturday," Reuters reports.
Talk about liberal media bias! Were they expecting him to keep broadcasting from heaven?
OK, that's a joke. We don't really expect doomsday cultists to be taken seriously. One could, indeed, fault the liberal media for taking Harold Camping too seriously, "as a prime piece of proof that American evangelicals are nuts," in the words of historian Tim Stanley, blogging for London's Daily Telegraph.
In fact, the Reuters piece respectfully quotes one Stuart Bechman, "national affiliate director of a group called American Atheists," who says: "There are a lot of silly and even unfounded beliefs that go on in the religious community that cause harm." That's such a broad-brush statement that one can't exactly claim it is false, and it's not hard to think of examples of harmful acts that result from religious beliefs: terrorism, widow-burning, refusing or withholding medical treatment. But these are practices of different faiths and are far from universal within them. The obvious flaw in Bechman's conception is his notion that there is a single "religious community" consisting of everyone outside the world of organized irreligion. In fact, that world is as tiny and eccentric as any religious sect or cult.
[botwt0523]Associated Press
Harold Camping was left behind, along with everyone else.
Something else bothers us about the media mockery of Harold Camping, as justifiable as it may be. Why are only religious doomsday cultists subjected to such ridicule? Reuters notes that "Camping previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994." Ha ha, you can't believe anything this guy says! But who jeered at the U.N.'s false prediction that there would be 50 million "climate refugees" by 2010? We did, but not Reuters.
Doomsday superstitions seem to fulfill a basic psychological need. On the surface, the thought that God or global warming will destroy the world within our lifetimes is horrifying. But all of us are doomed; within a matter of decades, every person alive will experience the end of his own world. A belief in the hereafter makes the thought of death less terrifying. But so does a disbelief in the here, after. If the world is to end with us--if there is no life for anyone after our death--we are not so insignificant after all.
To reject traditional religion is not, as the American Atheists might have it, to transform oneself into a perfectly rational being. Nonbelievers are no less susceptible to doomsday cults than believers are; Harold Camping is merely the Christian Al Gore. But because secular doomsday cultism has a scientific gloss, journalists like our friends at Reuters treat it as if it were real science. So, too, do some scientists. It may be that the decline of religion made this corruption of science inevitable.
We Blame Global Wa--Oh, Look! A Squirrel!
  • "Decline in Snowpack Blamed on Warming"--headline, Washington Post, Feb. 1, 2008
  • "Record Snowpacks Could Threaten Western States"--headline, New York Times, May 22, 2011
  • "Give Squirrel a Whirl"--headline, CNN.com, May 20, 2011