Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U.S. Nears Milestone: Net Fuel Exporter NOVEMBER 30, 2011


A combination of booming demand from emerging markets and faltering domestic activity means the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports, upending the historical norm.

U.S. exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels are soaring, putting the nation on track to be a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years, Liam Pleven reports on Markets Hub.

According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday, the U.S. sent abroad 753.4 million barrels of everything from gasoline to jet fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 million barrels.

That the U.S. is shipping out more fuel than it brings in is significant because the nation has for decades been a voracious energy consumer. It took in huge quantities of not only crude oil from the Middle East but also refined fuels from Europe, Latin America and elsewhere to help run its factories and cars.

As recently as 2005, the U.S. imported nearly 900 million barrels more of petroleum products than it exported. Since then the deficit has been steadily shrinking until finally disappearing last fall, and analysts say the country will not lose its "net exporter" tag anytime soon.

"It looks like a trend that could stay in place for the rest of the decade," said Dave Ernsberger, global director of oil at Platts, which tracks energy markets. "The conventional wisdom is that U.S. is this giant black hole sucking in energy from around the world. This changes that dynamic."

So long as the U.S. remains the world's biggest net importer of crude oil, currently taking in nine million barrels per day, it isn't likely to become energy independent anytime soon. Yet its growing presence as an overall exporter of fuels made from crude gives it greater influence in the global energy market.

If the trend toward net exports persists, it could also influence the national political debate over U.S. energy policy, which has been driven primarily by concerns about upheaval in the Middle East over the past decade. The independence of the U.S. from foreign oil sources has long been a lightning-rod issue in Washington, one further inflamed by last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters of off-shore drilling have used the desire for independence to push their cause, setting up a battle with environmental groups and others who prefer a shift away from carbon-based fuels.

The growth in exports is part of a "transformation of the energy system," says Ed Morse, global head of commodity research at Citigroup Inc. "It's the beginning signs of a process that will continue for the next decade and will point toward energy independence."

The reversal raises the prospect of the U.S. becoming a major provider of various types of energy to the rest of the world, a status that was once virtually unthinkable. The U.S. already exports vast amounts of coal, and companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are pursuing or exploring plans to liquefy newly abundant natural gas and send it overseas.

The shift is one of the clearest demonstrations of the diverging fates of the U.S. and emerging market economies. While the U.S. labors under stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish growth, emerging-market economies are growing strongly, bolstering demand for fuel.

U.S. customers have been pulling back in part because an anemic economic recovery has left millions still looking for work. In August, U.S. drivers burned 7.7% less gasoline than four years earlier, when gasoline usage peaked. Production of ethanol made from corn has also ramped up dramatically in recent years, cutting into the need for other fuels.

Now, "we're not using as much," said James Beck, an analyst at the EIA. "Prior to 2008, basically anything we produced, we used."

But U.S. drivers aren't seeing much benefit in the form of lower prices because refineries on the Gulf Coast are shipping much of their output to places where demand is strong, keeping prices high.

The U.S. was a net exporter of petroleum products in six of the first nine months this year, and the trend accelerated in the third quarter, with September data released Tuesday showing net exports of 919,000 barrels per day, more than any month this year. That indicates to observers that this year will be the U.S.'s first as a net exporter since 1949, when the U.S. economy was ramping up rapidly after World War II.

Mexico and Brazil were major consumers of U.S. exports, according to the September data, while the Netherlands—home to key European ports —and Singapore also were significant net importers.

Gasoline and low-sulfur diesel continued to be among the biggest lures for foreign customers, as was petroleum coke, which is used to make steel. Those are among the many products that are thrown off in the process of refining crude oil.

The growing exports have made the U.S. a pivotal part of the supply chain. In 2006, the U.S. was a net importer of petroleum products from Brazil, but last year it sent a net 106,000 barrels a day.

Argentina and Peru are now net importers from the U.S. For the next year or two, "the economies in Latin America will be growing faster than in the U.S. and the trend of increasing exports should continue," says Daniel Vizel, U.S. head of oil trading for Macquarie Group Ltd.

Singapore's net imports from the U.S. roughly quadrupled in the past five years, while Mexico's rose by about two-thirds. Mexico, in particular, is having trouble keeping pace with gasoline demand and buys about 60% of gasoline exports from the U.S.

The figures illustrate the impact of the significant increase in domestic production thanks to new sources of oil coming from North Dakota and Texas. North Dakota's oil production of 424,000 barrels per day in July was up 86% over the same period in 2009.

Growing domestic output means refineries in the U.S. are making more fuel than the local market needs. That has given those on the U.S. Gulf Coast added incentive to look for customers abroad.

Also adding to the U.S. exporting firepower: Refineries are more efficient, giving them an edge over older facilities in Europe. New drilling methods are boosting U.S. oil production, helping ensure steady supplies of raw material for refiners to process.

The U.S. could expand its export trade further next year. Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Arabian Oil Co., is expected to finish work next year on a refinery expansion in Port Arthur, Texas, which would double the facility's capacity and make it the largest in the U.S. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and TransMontaigne Partners LP plan to build a $400 million terminal on the Houston ship channel.

For decades through World War II, the U.S. was a net exporter of petroleum products, with sales reaching a high of 126 million barrels in 1944. The country then became a net importer in 1950, and grew increasingly dependent on foreign supply in the 1960s. Net imports peaked just above a billion barrels in 1973, the year domestic oil prices spiked amid the Arab oil embargo. After falling off in the 1980s and 1990s, net imports spiked again in the middle of the last decade before tapering recently.

To be sure, the balance could shift back relatively quickly. If the U.S. economy were to rebound sharply, domestic need for fuels refined from crude oil could also shoot back up, which could increase crude import demand. In addition, U.S. refineries could lose customers if foreign economies falter, sending the U.S back to being a net importer.

Meanwhile, export demand is boosting corporate profits for oil majors, such as Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and major U.S. refining firms, such as Valero Energy Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp.

"Unless there is a recession around the world, we're going to be exporting for quite some time," says Mike Loya, head of Americas for Swiss energy-trading firm Vitol Group, which moves more than five million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products every day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recent solar activity descent is the largest since the Maunder Minimum during the Little Ice Age

According to a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, the recent decline in solar activity is the largest observed since the Maunder Minimum from 1645-1715 during the Little Ice Age.

Key Points
  • Can we predict the onset of the next grand solar minimum?
  • Grand minima can be predicted using some solar indices
  • The design and operation of systems influenced by space climate can be optimised
Michael Lockwood
Mathew J Owens
Luke Barnard
Christopher John Davis
Friedhelm Steinhilber
The recent low and prolonged minimum of the solar cycle, along with the slow growth in activity of the new cycle, has led to suggestions that the Sun is entering a Grand Solar Minimum (GSMi), potentially as deep as the Maunder Minimum. This raises questions about the persistence and predictability of solar activity. We study the autocorrelation functions and predictability RL2(t) of solar indices, particularly group sunspot number RG and heliospheric modulation potential Φ for which we have data during the descent into the MM. For RG and Φ, RL(t)>0.5 for times into the future of t≈4 and ≈3 solar cycles, respectively: sufficient to allow prediction of a GSMi onset. The lower predictability of sunspot number RZ is discussed. The current declines in peak and mean RG are the largest since the onset of the MM and exceed those around 1800 which failed to initiate a GSMi.

New paper finds significant increase in solar irradiance between 1991-2010

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds a significant increase in solar brightening and UV irradiance during summer and autumn at seven locations in Spain over the period 1991-2010.

Key Points
  • The paper proposes a model, using data and radiative transfer model
  • Evalution UVER from global solar radiation, ozone and aerosols
  • The paper used a very important measured data series
Julia Bilbao et al
This paper proposes a semiempirical method to reconstruct ultraviolet erythemal (UVER) irradiance in the past from total shortwave radiation (SW) and total ozone column (TOC) measurements and has been used to obtain a long-term reconstructed UVER series in central Spain. The method is based on radiative transfer modeling combined with empirical relationships, giving an equation that relates UVER and SW irradiance measurements, solar zenith angle, as well as UVER and SW irradiance values calculated under cloudless conditions. TOC measurements are needed as input for the cloudless modeling. Hourly UVER radiation values have been reconstructed and compared with ground-based measurements for seven Spanish locations. The reconstructed hourly UVER irradiance values are in good agreement with the measurements, showing a determination coefficient between 0.95 and 0.99, and the lowest root mean square errors (rmse) in summer taking values from 5% to 9% in the seven stations. Reconstructed daily UVER doses have been compared for eight stations, showing a better agreement than in the hourly case with rmse values from 3% to 8% in summer and from 4% to 9% when all seasons are taken into account. A reconstructed 10 min UVER irradiance data set from 1991 to 2010 has been calculated using the proposed method for the city of Valladolid. Statistically significant UVER trends appear in summer and autumn when UVER levels increased 3.5% and 4.1% per decade, respectively. Brightening was found for SW measurements in the same period, with a statistically significant trend of 4.4% and 5.8% per decade in summer and autumn.

The Great Global Warming Fizzle NOVEMBER 29, 2011

The Great Global Warming Fizzle

The climate religion fades in spasms of anger and twitches of boredom.


How do religions die? Generally they don't, which probably explains why there's so little literature on the subject. Zoroastrianism, for instance, lost many of its sacred texts when Alexander sacked Persepolis in 330 B.C., and most Zoroastrians converted to Islam over 1,000 years ago. Yet today old Zoroaster still counts as many as 210,000 followers, including 11,000 in the U.S. Christopher Hitchens might say you can't kill what wasn't there to begin with.

Still, Zeus and Apollo are no longer with us, and neither are Odin and Thor. Among the secular gods, Marx is mostly dead and Freud is totally so. Something did away with them, and it's worth asking what.

Consider the case of global warming, another system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen.

As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.

This week, the conclave of global warming's cardinals are meeting in Durban, South Africa, for their 17th conference in as many years. The idea is to come up with a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire next year, and to require rich countries to pony up $100 billion a year to help poor countries cope with the alleged effects of climate change. This is said to be essential because in 2017 global warming becomes "catastrophic and irreversible," according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the climate apocalypse. Namely, the financial apocalypse.

The U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the EU have all but confirmed they won't be signing on to a new Kyoto. The Chinese and Indians won't make a move unless the West does. The notion that rich (or formerly rich) countries are going to ship $100 billion every year to the Micronesias of the world is risible, especially after they've spent it all on Greece.

Cap and trade is a dead letter in the U.S. Even Europe is having second thoughts about carbon-reduction targets that are decimating the continent's heavy industries and cost an estimated $67 billion a year. "Green" technologies have all proved expensive, environmentally hazardous and wildly unpopular duds.

All this has been enough to put the Durban political agenda on hold for the time being. But religions don't die, and often thrive, when put to the political sidelines. A religion, when not physically extinguished, only dies when it loses faith in itself.

That's where the Climategate emails come in. First released on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit two years ago and recently updated by a fresh batch, the "hide the decline" emails were an endless source of fun and lurid fascination for those of us who had never been convinced by the global-warming thesis in the first place.

But the real reason they mattered is that they introduced a note of caution into an enterprise whose motivating appeal resided in its increasingly frantic forecasts of catastrophe. Papers were withdrawn; source material re-examined. The Himalayan glaciers, it turned out, weren't going to melt in 30 years. Nobody can say for sure how high the seas are likely to rise—if much at all. Greenland isn't turning green. Florida isn't going anywhere.

The reply global warming alarmists have made to these dislosures is that they did nothing to change the underlying science, and only improved it in particulars. So what to make of the U.N.'s latest supposedly authoritative report on extreme weather events, which is tinged with admissions of doubt and uncertainty? Oddly, the report has left climate activists stuttering with rage at what they call its "watered down" predictions. If nothing else, they understand that any belief system, particularly ones as young as global warming, cannot easily survive more than a few ounces of self-doubt.

Meanwhile, the world marches on. On Sunday, 2,232 days will have elapsed since a category 3 hurricane made landfall in the U.S., the longest period in more than a century that the U.S. has been spared a devastating storm. Great religions are wise enough to avoid marking down the exact date when the world comes to an end. Not so for the foolish religions. Expect Mayan cosmology to take a hit to its reputation when the world doesn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. Expect likewise when global warming turns out to be neither catastrophic nor irreversible come 2017.

And there is this: Religions are sustained in the long run by the consolations of their teachings and the charisma of their leaders. With global warming, we have a religion whose leaders are prone to spasms of anger and whose followers are beginning to twitch with boredom. Perhaps that's another way religions die.

Monday, November 28, 2011

GM's Volt Woes Cast Shadow on Electric Cars 11/28/11


DETROIT—For the past several years, the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting the development of electric cars. Now regulators are investigating whether the big battery packs used by one of them pose a safety risk in the event of an accident.

Last week, U.S. auto-safety officials opened an investigation into General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt after two crash tests of the electric car caused its battery to spark or catch fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted the tests because of an incident this spring in which a Volt battery damaged in a crash test caught fire three weeks later, igniting the car that contained it and three other vehicles in a NHTSA facility.

General Motors said on Monday it will offer loaner vehicles to Chevrolet Volt owners to address safety worries amid a U.S. investigation into post-crash fires involving the vehicles. Sharon Terlep has details on Lunch Break.

Meanwhile, in a change to its previous stance, the agency is no longer saying it is certain that battery-powered cars are as safe as their conventional counterparts. NHTSA said, however, that it has no specific reason to be concerned about vehicles other than the Volt.

Both NHTSA and GM said Volt owners shouldn't worry, as the fires occurred days after a crash and not on impact, and they pointed out that gasoline-powered cars are at risk of catching fire when damaged. More than 250,000 vehicle fires occur each year in the U.S., causing around 500 deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

But the new worries could be a blow to the Obama administration's efforts to get electric vehicles on the road in mass numbers if NHTSA's investigation turns up additional risks. And they could be bad news for GM. The Volt, one of the last vestiges of the old GM, has been at the center of the auto maker's effort to reinvent its image.

"It's difficult to know how consumers will react. People who don't do the math will say, 'Oh no, batteries are dangerous,' " said Tom Saxon, a board members of Plug In America, which promotes electric cars. "Even though a gasoline car is more likely to catch fire, they think an electric car is more dangerous because they aren't used to it."

NHTSA officials are asking all electric-car makers for information on engineering details and steps recommended to ensure safety following an accident. A major goal is making sure vehicles are handled properly by first responders to a crash.

"The agency is concerned that damage to the Volt's batteries as part of three tests that are explicitly designed to replicate real-world crash scenarios have resulted in fire," NHTSA said in a statement Friday.

GM says the Volt has been extensively tested and is safe. The Volt fires occurred at minimum a week after the tests. In a real-world crash, safety procedures call for the battery to be disconnected and the car taken to a repair shop, not to be left sitting, said GM spokesman Greg Martin.

"We need to give consumers credit that most are able to discern what poses a risk," he added.

The questions revolve around the powerful lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars like the Volt and Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf. Next year Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. plan to start selling electric vehicles that use such batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have been the focus of recalls in consumer electronics. Personal-computer makers including Apple Inc. and Dell Inc. were forced to recall millions of laptop batteries over fears they could overheat and catch fire. Earlier this year, NHTSA Chief Counsel Kevin Vincent said the auto industry isn't certain about whether the vehicles are safe after a crash.

President Barack Obama has called for putting a million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. New fuel-economy requirements adopted this summer by his administration essentially require auto makers to broadly adopt electric vehicles over the next decade. NHTSA expects about 70% of battery-powered cars will feature lithium-ion batteries in the next decade.

"The fundamental tendency of lithium-ion batteries is that they are inherently unstable," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of car-research firm

In the latest NHTSA tests, the agency intentionally damaged the battery compartment and ruptured the vehicle's coolant line to replicate the initial incident in May. Though the fire in that incident occurred weeks after a crash, the latest incidents happened within a week of one, the agency said.

In similar tests on Nissan's Leaf, the vehicle's battery survived the crash undamaged, according to two people familiar with the testing. The Leaf battery is encased in steel, which may have helped prevent damage, these people said. Also, the Leaf, unlike most electric vehicles, doesn't require coolant.

"People have this image of laptop batteries overheating, but [lithium-ion batteries in cars] are quite different," said Bob Yakushi, Nissan's senior manager of auto safety engineering. "The perceptions need to be clarified."

Like the Volt, the battery system in Ford's Focus Electric, due out next year, relies on a cooling system to keep its temperature down. Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood declined to say whether the Volt incident will spur additional testing on the Focus. "We are addressing the safety issues our customers care about," he said.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said he isn't sure whether the auto maker will conduct additional tests with the Volt in mind. "We have a lot of confidence in our battery technology," he said.

NHTSA says electric car drivers should take the same precaution as drivers of traditional vehicles in the case of an accident: move a safe distance away from a crashed vehicle and get the car or truck to a repair shop.

New German Study Exposes Climate Science's Greatest Flaws

Hard-hitting new German historical study uncovers fundamental flaws woven into the infant science of climatology. UN man-made global warming researchers misapply radiation laws, contradicting their use by all other branches of science.
German environmentalist and climate analyst, Dr. Matthias Kleespies, researching for a new historical paper on the history of the greenhouse gas theory, stumbled upon shocking evidence that discredits a long-standing assumption among climatologists.
Dr. Kleespies publishes his groundbreaking revelations about the conventional narrative of the history and provenance of so-called ‘greenhouse gas’ science with the independent science think-tank, Principia Scientific International (PSI) after extensive peer-review by a burgeoning raft of maverick PhD science bloggers. In his paper Dr. Kleespies uncovers how an unphysical concept known as "back" or "downwelling" radiation became the cornerstone of  "manmade, or anthropogenic, climate change.’
In his "A Short History Of Radiation Theories – What Do They Reveal About "Anthropogenic Global Warming"?" (Principia Scientific International, Nov. 2011), Dr. Kleespies found that, “This theory is so extraordinary because there is NO OTHER field in science where any such mechanism like "back" or "downwelling" radiation is permitted.”
Applying fresh eyes to how this infant science came into being, Kleespies, an expert in sustainable technology, reviewed the mainstream standard texts and found that they confirm, en masse, a skewed rational of physics.
The physics employed by climatologists “ultimately leads to a perpetual motion machine heating up the atmosphere to a level higher than the temperature originally gained by the external heat source, the sun,” says Kleespies.
Incredulously, anthropogenic global warming (AGW) supposedly cooks our planet by nothing more than the repeated reflection of its own heat bouncing around within the gases of our atmosphere.
Kleespies poses the question: Why do so many government scientists working in climate research make an exception to permit the possibility of this perpetual motion machine of additional surface heating when other scientists wouldn’t?
The answer to the above questions is simply stunning: the real source of their scientific beliefs is a radiation theory set up by a Swiss scientist over 220 years ago named Prevost (1791).
Dr. Kleespies found that:
 “When talking with any scientist believing in "back" or "downwelling" radiation you will almost always here something like this: ‘Quantum physics tells us that statistically there are more photons flowing from the warmer body to the cooler body than the other way around but that does not mean that there are NO photons – statistically – moving from the cooler to the warmer body. Only the NET FLOW is decisive.’”
The flaw, says Kleespies, is that climatologists will then have us believe that “the net flow, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, of course is only from hot to cold.”
But because such proponents “argue that – statistically – there are some photons moving from cold to warm, i. e., from the atmosphere to the earth’s surface” the rate of cooling of the earth is smaller than it would be WITHOUT the somewhatcolder body, i.e., the atmosphere.

Climategate 2.0


A new batch of leaked emails again shows some leading scientists trying to smear opponents.


Last week, 5,000 files of private email correspondence among several of the world's top climate scientists were anonymously leaked onto the Internet. Like the first "climategate" leak of 2009, the latest release shows top scientists in the field fudging data, conspiring to bully and silence opponents, and displaying far less certainty about the reliability of anthropogenic global warming theory in private than they ever admit in public.

The scientists include men like Michael Mann of Penn State University and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, both of whose reports inform what President Obama has called "the gold standard" of international climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The new release of emails was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the original climategate leak and with the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa. And it has already stirred strong emotions. To Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), for example, the leaker or leakers responsible are attempting to "sabotage the international climate talks" and should be identified and brought "to justice."

One might sympathize with Mr. Markey's outrage if, say, the emails were maliciously rewritten or invented. But at least one scientist involved—Mr. Mann—has confirmed that the emails are genuine, as were the first batch released two years ago. So any malfeasance revealed therein ought to be blamed on the scientists who wrote them, rather than on the whistleblower who exposed them.

Getty Images
Consider an email written by Mr. Mann in August 2007. "I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose McIntyre, and his thus far unexplored connections with fossil fuel interests. Perhaps the same needs to be done w/ this Keenan guy." Doug Keenan is a skeptic and gadfly of the climate-change establishment. Steve McIntyre is the tenacious Canadian ex-mining engineer whose dogged research helped expose flaws in Mr. Mann's "hockey stick" graph of global temperatures.

One can understand Mr. Mann's irritation. His hockey stick, which purported to demonstrate the link between man-made carbon emissions and catastrophic global warming, was the central pillar of the IPCC's 2001 Third Assessment Report, and it brought him near-legendary status in his community. Naturally he wanted to put Mr. McIntyre in his place.

The sensible way to do so is to prove Mr. McIntyre wrong using facts and evidence and improved data. Instead the email reveals Mr. Mann casting about for a way to smear him. If the case for man-made global warming is really as strong as the so-called consensus claims it is, why do the climategate emails show scientists attempting to stamp out dissenting points of view? Why must they manipulate data, such as Mr. Jones's infamous effort (revealed in the first batch of climategate emails) to "hide the decline," deliberately concealing an inconvenient divergence, post-1960, between real-world, observed temperature data and scientists' preferred proxies derived from analyzing tree rings?

This is the real significance of the climategate emails. They show that major scientists who inform the IPCC can't be trusted to stick to the science and avoid political activism. This, in turn, has very worrying implications for the major international policy decisions adopted on the basis of their research.

That brings us to the motives of the person calling himself "FOIA" who leaked the emails onto the Internet last week.

In his introductory notes, he writes: "Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger and related causes. One dollar can save a life. . . . Poverty is a death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels. Today's decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline."

For the service he has performed in pursuit of this larger end, FOIA deserves not opprobrium but gratitude.

Mr. Delingpole is a contributing editor of the Spectator and author of "Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colors" (Publius Books, 2011).

The Non-Green Jobs Boom


Forget 'clean energy.' Oil and gas are boosting U.S. employment.

So President Obama was right all along. Domestic energy production really is a path to prosperity and new job creation. His mistake was predicting that those new jobs would be "green," when the real employment boom is taking place in oil and gas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.

The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota's Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.

The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation's lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.

Or take production in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale formation, which the state Department of Labor and Industry says created 18,000 new jobs in the first half of 2011. Some 214,000 jobs are now tied to a natural gas industry that barely existed in the Keystone State a decade ago. Energy firms are also rushing to develop the Utica shale in eastern Ohio, and they are expanding operations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, among other places.

Bloomberg News
Good news? You'd think so, but liberals can't seem to handle this truth so they are now trying to discredit the jobs that accompany it. The American Petroleum Institute recently commissioned a study by the Wood Mackenzie consulting firm, which estimated that better federal energy policy would create an additional 1.4 million jobs by 2030.

This has caused a fury on the political left, which complains that the study included estimates of direct and indirect jobs (such as equipment suppliers) but also "induced" jobs, or jobs created when oil workers spend their salaries at, say, hotels, restaurants or bowling alleys. It seems these claims rely on—drum roll, please—"multipliers" to produce estimates of knock-on jobs.

Liberals know all about multipliers, which are the central operating conceit of modern Keynesian economics. The entire public justification for the $820 billion Obama stimulus was the claim that every $1 of spending would have a multiplier effect of 1.5 or more and thus create millions of new jobs.

That looks like a joke now. But Democrats and liberals continue to cite the black-box multiplier claims of Moody's Mark Zandi, who says the latest Obama jobs bill will create 1.9 million jobs. Some 750,000 of those jobs are supposed to appear merely from extending the payroll tax holiday for workers, giving them more money to spend on, say, hotels or restaurants or bowling alleys. All such multipliers are suspect, but the liberals can't have it both ways and invoke them to justify government spending but then repudiate them for private business.

In any case the beauty of the oil and gas boom is that multipliers aren't needed to predict job growth. It's happening right before our eyes. And it stands to reason that if the Obama Administration dropped its hostility to oil and gas energy, even more jobs would be created as the industry invested to exploit other areas with new technology and production methods.

Yet earlier this month the Interior Department released a new five-year plan that puts most of the Outer Continental Shelf off-limits for oil drilling. And the Administration has delayed for at least another year the Keystone XL pipeline that is shovel-ready to create 20,000 new direct, pipeline-related jobs.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue recently noted that federal revenue from offshore bonus bids (from lease sales) in fiscal 2011 was merely $36 million—down from $9.5 billion in fiscal 2008. The Obama Administration has managed the nearly impossible feat of turning energy policy into a money loser, pouring taxpayer dollars into green-energy busts like Solyndra. The Washington Post reported in September that Mr. Obama's $38.6 billion green loan program had created a mere 3,500 jobs over two years. He had predicted it would "save or create" 65,000.

Mr. Obama nonetheless keeps talking about "green jobs" as if repetition will conjure them. He'd do more for the economy if he dropped the ideological illusions and embraced the job-creating, wealth-producing reality of domestic fossil fuels.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Climategate 2.0 email: 'No one can really forecast weather, much less climate, at this point'

From the Climategate 2.0 archive (1759.txt), an email from California State University Monterey Bay faculty member Gary Sharp argues "warm has always been better than cold for humanity," controlling 'greenhouse' gases is not an appropriate focus of science, and hurricanes are less frequent with warming. Professor Sharp states, "no one can really forecast weather, much less climate, at this point."

date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 11:31:19 -0700
from: "Gary D. Sharp"
subject: Re: Hockey Sticks again
to: Mike MacCracken


To the 'joy' of folks who just don't understand one another's perspectives, I
would suggest that you reread both Doug and Onar's posts, with an added
dimmension to your thinking. What is obvious to those of us who have taken the
time to develope broader historical perspectives, from whatever vantage points,
is the Fact that the recent ten century's records don't hold any major warming
trends until the recent 150-180 years, depending, of course, upon where you

The general idea we historically savvy folk hold is that the recent Warming
trend is ongoing is "Good News". Warm has always been better than Cold for
humanity. Think about it. 

The recent millenium held devastaing periods, following the growth supported by
the 5000-3000BC Thermal Max warming period, that led to civilization as we
define it, with agricultural production capable of exceeding subsistence levels.
At the end of that period the entire human population numbered about 100 Million.

The next two millennia were a hodge-podege of Cooling-Warming oscillations,
(glaciers grew and shrank, on a very regular basis) with direct if more often
than not opposite influences on smaller regions, and the societies that they
supported... or not. Note how 'plagues' punctuated each Cooling era, helping to
suppress human expansion...

You can work your way through the next few millennia from that page, and see
what a few Cooling Events bring. It ain't pretty.

The 'outbreak' of European and other civilizations during the Post Medieval Warm
period was not necessarily the best thing thatever happened, for the already
extant cultures, or our support ecosystems. However, it was the result of
declining self-sufficiencies in local food and fish production. The Feudal
System depends upon self-sufficiency, and serfs, both of which became limiting
factors, due to the erratic, but general; cooling/drying trend that began in the
late 12th Century CE, in Europe, but appears to have been in full swing in both
China and the SW NorthAmerican deserts. The longest wet period in Chinese
records ran from 811-1050, follwed by the longest recorded dry spell that lasted
from 1051-1270. Guess who had the plague first, and 'shipped' it west to Europe,
where it leveled the field, starting with those living in closest quarters, port
cities, and country folk. This 'population control' scenario is pretty bleak,
but is more frightening by a long stretch than a few more storms, floods, etc.

About 7 BC, there were only about 250 Million people; in 1700 about 600 million;
and by 1800 only 900 million. Then along comes the slow reversal of a long-term
bad climate trend, and second half of the 19th Century was a classic warming
scenarion - by 1900 we were 1.6 billion.

Only 100 years later we're at 6 Billion. We are soon to have to 'think' for as
many as 10 Billion people.

And you and a few others think sequestering CO2. etc., is a useful focus?

What is wrong with that picture? Somehow, I don't really think that controlling
Greenhouse (bad analogy) Gas emmissions is appropriate focus of modern science

I do think that learning to cope is going to be more difficult, unless someone
can figure out how to 'fuel' the next technological revolution.
That will certainly not come from another GCM effort.

The historically documented alternatives to the somewhat fanciful IPCC Global
Warming scenarios are much worse than increased atmospheric moisture,
intensified increased CO2 for support of plant metabolism, stronger hydrologic
cycles, and El Niño frequency enhancements. 
(Remember, what Bill Gray taught us... Those devastating Atlantic and Gulf
hurricanes actually are fewer during ENSO Warm Events.)
Yeah, I know, more energy, more storms, and so on... Right, but no one can
really forecast weather, much less climate, at this point. 

The pretense is also misleading the public - taking their attention away from
the real issues. PEOPLE biomass control, and water resource management.

Lets get our minds off the wrong end of the 'Stick' and focus on the puck, and
the real scoreboard!
Gary D. Sharp
Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study
PO Box 2223, Monterey, CA 93940


"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses
to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism
is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin."
Thomas H. Huxley

Climategate team 'spring cleans' emails not specified in FOIA requests, advises against use of email

date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 19:49:18 -0000 (GMT)
from: "Tim Osborn"
subject: RE: FW: FOI_08-50 ; EIR_08-01
to: "Jones Philip Prof"
Hi Phil!

re. your email to Dave Palmer [which he copied in his response to you and
cc'd to me, Keith & Michael McGarvie, and which has hence already been
multiply copied within the UEA system, and therefore will probably exist
for a number of months and possibly years, and could be released under FOI
if a request is made for it during that time!]... I assume that you didn't
delete any emails that David Holland has requested (because that would be
illegal) but that instead his request merely prompted you to do a spring
clean of various other emails that hadn't been requested, as part of your
regular routine of deleting old emails.  If that is what you meant, then
it might be a good idea to clarify your previous email to Dave Palmer, to
avoid it being misunderstood. :-)

The way things seem to be going, I think it best if we discuss all FOI,
EIR, Data Protection requests in person wherever possible, rather than via
email.  It's such a shame that the skeptics' vexatious use of this
legislation may prevent us from using such an efficient modern technology
as email, but it seems that if we want to have confidential discussions
then we may need to avoid it.

I shall delete this email and those related to it as part of my regular
routine of deleting old emails!



Mann admits deleting all criticisms from 'McIntyre and his minions' on RealClimate

date: Mon, 28 Sep 2009 22:33:06 -0400
from: Michael Mann
subject: attacks against Keith
to: Phil Jones , Tim Osborn
   Phil, Tim,

   I only learned of Keith's recent health issues when I was talking w/ Malcolm today. Please
   pass along to him my wishes for a speedy recovery. We need him!

   Meanwhile, I suspect you've both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre.
    Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and
   what sort of response---if any---is necessary and appropriate. So far, we've simply deleted
   all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.

   any insights and/or advice you can provide would be extremely helpful. If you're
   uncomfortable doing this by email, I can be reached most of the day at my cell phone
   814-777-3136.  Will be in a meeting most of the day, but can run out of the room as

   I would think it is probably best not to bother Keith with any of this. He just needs to
   get well, and I suspect it would be better for his wellness not to even know about this,

   we expect lots more attacks like this over the next several weeks as the U.S. senate
   debates cap & trade legislation.

   thanks for any help w/ this.


   Michael E. Mann
   Director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC)
   Department of Meteorology                 Phone: (814) 863-4075
   503 Walker Building                              FAX:   (814) 865-3663
   The Pennsylvania State University     email:  [1]
   University Park, PA 16802-5013
   website: [2]
   "Dire Predictions" book site:

Jones to Mann: Delete my email after reading about demands to make your hockey stick methods available

Climategate 2.0: 2333.txt

date: Fri Jan 16 13:25:59 2004
from: Phil Jones subject: CLIMATIC CHANGE needs your advice  - YOUR EYES ONLY !!!!!

       This is for YOURS EYES ONLY. Delete after reading - please !  I'm trying to redress the
    balance. One reply from Pfister said you should make all available !!  Pot calling the
    black - Christian doesn't make his methods available.  I replied to the wrong Christian
    so you don't get to see what he said. Probably best.  Told Steve separately and to get
    advice from a few others as well as Kluwer and legal.
       PLEASE DELETE - just for you, not even Ray [Bradley] and Malcolm


     Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 12:37:29 +0000
     To: Christian Azar ,
     From: Phil Jones      Subject: Re: AW: CLIMATIC CHANGE needs your advice
     Cc: "'David G. VICTOR'" , 'Katarina Kivel' ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
      Dear Steve et al,
          I've been away this week until today. Although the responses so far all make valid
     points, I
      will add my thoughts. I should say I have been more involved in all the exchanges
      Mike and MM so I'm probably biased in Mike's favour. I will try and be impartial,
     though, but
      I did write a paper with Mike (which came out in GRL in Aug 2003) and we currently have
      a long paper tentatively accepted by Reviews of Geophysics. With the latter all 4
      think the paper is fine, but the sections referring to MM and papers by Soon and
      are not and our language is strong. We need to work on this.
          Back to the question in hand:
      1.  The papers that MM refer came out in Nature in 1998 and to a lesser extent in GRL
      1999. These reviewers did not request the data (all the proxy series) and the code. So,
      acceding to the request for this to do the review is setting a VERY dangerous
      Mike has made all the data series and this is all anyone should need. Making model
      code available is something else.
      2. The code is basically irrelevant in this whole issue. In the GRL paper (in 2003 Mann
      and Jones), we simply average all the series we use together. The result is pretty much
      the same as MBH in 1998, Nature and MBH in 1999 in GRL.
      3. As many of you know I calculate gridded and global/hemispheric temperature time
      each month. Groups at NCDC and NASA/GISS do this as well. We don't exchange codes
       - we do occasionally though for the data. The code here is trivial as it is in the
     paleo work.
      MBH get spatial patterns but the bottom line (the 1000 year series of global temps) is
      almost the same if you simply average. The patterns give more, though, when it comes to
      trying to understand what has caused the changes - eg by comparison with models. MM
      are only interested in the NH/Global 1000-year time series - in fact only in the MBH
      from 1400.
      4. What has always intrigued me in this whole debate, is why the skeptics (for want of
      a better term) always pick on Mike. There are several other series that I've produced,
      Keith Briffa has and Tom Crowley. Jan Esper's work has produced a slightly different
      but we don't get bombarded by MM.  Mike's paper wasn't the first. It was in Nature and
      is well-used by IPCC. I suspect the skeptics wish to concentrate their effort onto one
      person as they did with Ben Santer after the second IPCC report.
      5. Mike may respond too strongly to MM, but don't we all decide not to work with or
      co-operate with people we do not get on with or do not like their views. Mike will say
      that MM are disingenuous, but I'm not sure how many of you realise how vicious the
      attack on him has been. I will give you an example.
       When MM came out, we had several press calls (I don't normally get press calls about
      my papers unless I really work at it - I very rarely do). This was about a paper in
      E&E, which when we eventually got it several days later was appalling. I found out
      later that the authors were in contact with the reviewers up to a week before the
      appeared. So there is peer review and peer review !! Here the peer review was done by
      like-minded colleagues. Anyway, I'm straying from the point. Tim Osborn, Keith Briffa
      and I felt we should put something on our web site about the paper and directs people
      to Mike's site and also to E&E and the MM's site. MM have hounded us about this for
      the last four months. In the MM article, they have a diagram which says 'corrected
      version' when comparing with MBH. We have seen people refer to this paper (MM)
      as an alternative reconstruction - yet when we said this is our paragraph MM claim they
      are not putting forward a new reconstruction but criticizing MBH 1998 !!  We have
      decided to remove the sentence on our web page just to stop these emails. But if a
      corrected version isn't a new or alternative reconstruction I don't know what is.
        So, in conclusion, I would side with Mike in this regard.  In trying to be
      fair, Steve, you've opened up a whole can of worms. If you do decide to put the Mann
      response into CC then I suspect you will need an editorial. MM will want to respond
      I know you've had open and frank exchanges in CC before, but your email clearly shows
      that you think this is in a different league.  MM and E&E didn't give Mann the chance
      respond when they put their paper in, but this is a too simplistic. It needs to be
      out in an editorial though - I'm not offering by the way.
         I could go on and on ....
     At 10:36 15/01/2004 +0100, Christian Azar wrote:

     Dear all,
     I agree with most of what has been said so far. Reproducibility is the key word. If the
     Mann el al material (to be) posted on the website is sufficient to ensure
     reproducibility, then there is no compelling need to force them to hand it out. If not,
     then the source code is warranted. Also, even if there is no compelling need to make the
     source code public, doing it anyway would clearly be beneficial for the entire debate.
     Christian Azar
     Department of physical resource theory
     Chalmers University of Technology
     Göteborg University
     412 96 Göteborg
     ph: ++46 31 772 31 32

     Prof. Phil Jones
     Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
     School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
     University of East Anglia
     Norwich                          Email
     NR4 7TJ

   Prof. Phil Jones
   Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
   School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
   University of East Anglia
   Norwich                          Email
   NR4 7TJ

Briffa advises colleague not to let Michael Mann 'push you (us) beyond what we know is right'

Climategate 2.0: 1922.txt

cc: Eystein Jansen
date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 11:57:07 -0700
from: Jonathan Overpeck
subject: Bullet debate number 2
to: Keith Briffa

   Hi again - as for bullet issue number 2, I agree that we don't need to go with the suggest
   stuff on solar/forcing, BUT, I agree w/ Susan that we should try to put more in the bullet
   about "Subsequent evidence" Would you pls send a new bullet that has your suggested changes
   below, and that includes something like:

   "Subsequent evidence, including x, y and z, reinforces this conclusion." Need to convince
   readers that there really has been an increase in knowledge - more evidence. What is it?
   The bullet can be longer if needed.

   Thanks, Peck

     Simply make "1000"   "1300 years. "  and delete "and unusually warm compared with the
     last 2000 years."
     It is certainly NOT our job to be discussing attribution in the 20th century - this is
     Chapter 9 - and we had no room (or any published material) to allow a discussion of
     relative forcing contributions in earlier time. Therefore a vague statement about
     "perhaps due to solar forcing" seems unjustified.
     I suggest this should be
     Taken together , the sparse evidence of Southern Hemisphere temperatures prior to the
     period of instrumental records indicates that overall warming has occurred during the
     last 350 years, but the even fewer longer regional records indicate earlier periods that
     are as warm, or warmer than, 20th century means.
     fine , though perhaps "warmth" instead of "warming"?
     and need to see EMIC text
     suggest delete
     suggest delete
     Peck, you have to consider that since the TAR , there has been a lot of argument re
     "hockey stick" and the real independence of the inputs to most subsequent analyses is
     minimal. True, there have been many different techniques used to aggregate and scale
     data - but the efficacy of these is still far from established. We should be careful not
     to push the conclusions beyond what we can securely justify - and this is not much other
     than a confirmation of the general conclusions of the TAR . We must resist being pushed
     to present the results such that we will be accused of bias - hence no need to attack
     Moberg . Just need to show the "most likely"course of temperatures over the last 1300
     years - which we do well I think. Strong confirmation of TAR is a good result, given
     that we discuss uncertainty and base it on more data.  Let us not try to over egg the
     For what it worth , the above comments are my (honestly long considered) views - and I
     would not be happy to go further . Of course this discussion now needs to go to the
     wider Chapter authorship, but do not let Susan (or Mike [Mann]) push you (us) beyond where we
     know is right.
     Professor Keith Briffa,
     Climatic Research Unit
     University of East Anglia
     Norwich, NR4 7TJ, U.K.
     Phone: +44-1603-593909
     Fax: +44-1603-507784


   Jonathan T. Overpeck
   Director, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
   Professor, Department of Geosciences
   Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
   Mail and Fedex Address:
   Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
   715 N. Park Ave. 2nd Floor
   University of Arizona
   Tucson, AZ 85721
   direct tel: +1 520 622-9065
   fax: +1 520 792-8795

Climategate 2.0: Phil Jones finds a way around FOIA requests, says his email will self-destruct in 10 seconds


date: Fri May  9 17:04:16 2008
from: Phil Jones subject: Re: A couple of things
to: "raymond s. bradley"

    Hi Ray,
      Press release has been being written!
    I can't seem to find a meeting to go to when the paper comes out!
    Moorea was good - hope you'll be able to get to Athens!
   At 16:56 09/05/2008, you wrote:

     Hi Phil:
     I think you should issue your own carefully-worded press release, stating explicity what
     your results DO NOT mean, as well as what they do...otherwise you will spend the next
     few weeks trying to undo a lot of unwanted press coverage.
     Hope all is well with you....we need to get together at some place...sorry I missed
     At 04:53 AM 5/9/2008, you wrote:

      Mike, Ray, Caspar,

            A couple of things - don't pass on either.
      1. Have seen you're RC bet. Not entirely sure this is the right way to go,
      but it will drum up some discussion.
       Anyway Mike and Caspar have seen me present possible problems with the
      SST data (in the 1940s/50s and since about 2000). The first of these will appear
      in Nature on May 29. There should be a News and Views item with this article
      by Dick Reynolds. The paper concludes by pointing out that SSTs now (or since
      about 2000, when the effect gets larger) are likely too low. This likely won't
      get corrected quickly as it really needs more overlap to increase confidence.
      Bottom line for me is that it appears SSTs now are about 0.1 deg C too cool
      globally. Issue is that the preponderance of drifters now (which measure SST
      better but between 0.1 and 0.2 lower than ships) mean anomalies are low
      relative to the ship-based 1961-90 base.
      This also means that the SST base the German modellers used in their runs
      was likely too warm by a similar amount. This applies to all modellers, reanalyses etc.
      There will be a lot of discussion of the global T series with people saying we can't
      even measure it properly now.
      The 1940s/50s problem with SSTs (the May 29 paper) also means there will be
      warmer SSTs for about 10 years. This will move the post-40s cooling to a little
      later - more in line with higher sulphate aerosol loading in the late 50s and 1960s70s.
      The paper doesn't provide a correction. This will come, but will include the addition
      of loads more British SSTs for WW2, which may very slightly cool the WW2 years.
      More British SST data have also been digitized for the late 1940s. Budget
      constraints mean that only about half the RN log books have been digitized. Emphasis
      has been given to the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean log books.
      As an aside, it is unfortunate that there are few in the Pacific. They have digitized
      all the logbooks of the ships journeys from the Indian Ocean south of Australia and NZ
      to Seattle for refits. Nice bit of history here - it turns out that most of the ships
      US ones the UK got under the Churchill/Roosevelt deal in early 1940. All the RN bases
      in South Africa, India and Australia didn't have parts for these ships for a few years.
      So the German group would be stupid to take your bet.  There is a likely
      ongoing negative volcanic event in the offing!
      2. You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but
      this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim
      have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we've found a way
      around this.
      I can't wait for the Wengen review to come out with the Appendix showing what
      that 1990 IPCC Figure was really based on.
      The Garnaut review appears to be an Australian version of the Stern Report.
      This message will self destruct in 10 seconds!
     Prof. Phil Jones
     Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
     School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
     University of East Anglia
     Norwich                          Email
     NR4 7TJ

     Raymond S. Bradley
     Director, Climate System Research Center*
     Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
     Morrill Science Center
     611 North Pleasant Street
     AMHERST, MA 01003-9297
     Tel: 413-545-2120
     Fax: 413-545-1200
     *Climate System Research Center: 413-545-0659
             < [1]>
     Paleoclimatology Book Web Site: [2]
     Publications (download .pdf files):

   Prof. Phil Jones
   Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
   School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
   University of East Anglia
   Norwich                          Email
   NR4 7TJ

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sea level rise in Southwest Pacific dropped by factor of 6 during latter half of 20th century

According to a paper published last week in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the rate of sea level rise in the Southwest Pacific region (Tasmania & New Zealand) dropped by a factor of 6 from 4.2 mm/yr between 1900-1950 to only 0.7 mm/yr between 1951-2000.

W. Roland GehrelsaCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Author, S. Louise Callardb, Patrick T. Mossc, William A. Marshalla, Maarten Blaauwd, John Huntere, J. Andrew Miltonf, Mark H. Garnettg


Positive deviations from linear sea-level trends represent important climate signals if they are persistent and geographically widespread. This paper documents rapid sea-level rise reconstructed from sedimentary records obtained from salt marshes in the Southwest Pacific region (Tasmania and New Zealand). A new late Holocene relative sea-level record from eastern Tasmania was dated by AMS14C (conventional, high precision and bomb-spike), 137Cs, 210Pb, stable Pb isotopic ratios, trace metals, pollen and charcoal analyses. Palaeosea-level positions were determined by foraminiferal analyses. Relative sea level in Tasmania was within half a metre of present sea level for much of the last 6000 yr. Between 1900 and 1950 relative sea level rose at an average rate of 4.2 ± 0.1 mm/yr. During the latter half of the 20th century the reconstructed rate of relative sea-level rise was 0.7 ± 0.6 mm/yr. Our study is consistent with a similar pattern of relative sea-level change recently reconstructed for southern New Zealand. The change in the rate of sea-level rise in the SW Pacific during the early 20th century was larger than in the North Atlantic and could suggest that northern hemisphere land-based ice was the most significant melt source for global sea-level rise.


► Salt marshes in Tasmania and New Zealand record rapid recent sea-level rise. ► Throughout the last 6000 yr sea levels were relatively stable. ► Sea level started rising substantially between 1880 and 1900. ► The rate of sea-level rise in Tasmania between 1900 and 1950 was 4.2 ± 0.1 mm/yr. ► Early 20th century sea-level rise may be attributed to Northern Hemisphere ice melt.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is That Scientific Heretic a Genius—or a Loon?


Is That Scientific Heretic a Genius—or a Loon?

'For a profession whose product is new knowledge, science seems strangely resistant to novelty.' -John S. Dykes

The list of scientific heretics who were persecuted for their radical ideas but eventually proved right keeps getting longer. Last month, Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of quasicrystals, having spent much of his career being told he was wrong.

"I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying," he recalled, adding that the doyen of chemistry, the late Linus Pauling, had denounced the theory with the words: "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."

The Australian medical scientist Barry Marshall, who hypothesized that a bacterial infection causes stomach ulcers, received similar treatment and was taken seriously only when he deliberately infected himself, then cured himself with antibiotics in 1984. Eventually, he too won the Nobel Prize.

Drs. Shechtman and Marshall are on a distinguished list. Galileo, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein all had to run the gauntlet of conventional wisdom in the scientific establishment. For a profession whose very product is new knowledge, science seems strangely resistant to novelty.

In the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweiss's lonely battle to get the medical establishment to accept that doctors were spreading childbed fever from mother to mother cost him his job and his sanity (though his prickly personality didn't help). Alec Gordon, a doctor in Aberdeen, Scotland, had failed in the same quest five decades before.

Next year will be the centenary of Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift. By the time he died in 1930, few scientists had accepted the bizarre idea that continents could move like rafts. An especially vehement attack by the eminent evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson in 1943 seemed to consign continental drift to history's waste heap. Only in the 1960s, with the discovery of plate tectonics, was Wegener rehabilitated.

I would hazard a guess that 90% of great scientists start out as heretics. The problem is that 90% of scientific heretics are talking nonsense.

For an instructive analogy, consider Meadow's Law, named after the pediatrician Roy Meadow's theory that one sudden infant death in a family is tragic, but two are suspicious and three means murder. The logical flaw here is that though it's true that the probability of more than one such death in a family is low, so is the probability of multiple murders. Likewise, it's irrational to argue from the high probability that a scientific genius was once a heretic to the conclusion that a heretic is probably a scientific genius.

After giving a lecture on scientific heresy last week, I was asked how you can tell when a scientific heretic is right rather than mad. I confessed that, as I've grown older, I've becoming more confused on this point. The problem is not just that vindicated heretics are rare, but also that the heretic who's right will be just as partisan—avidly collecting evidence to confirm his idea—as the heretic who's wrong.

Perhaps it's at least worth guessing which of today's heretics will eventually win a Nobel Prize. How about the Dane Henrik Svensmark? In 1997, he suggested that the sun's magnetic field affects the earth's climate—by shielding the atmosphere against cosmic rays, which would otherwise create or thicken clouds and thereby cool the surface. So, he reasoned, a large part of the natural fluctuations in the climate over recent millennia might reflect variation in solar activity.

Dr. Svensmark is treated as a heretic mainly because his theory is thought to hinder the effort to convince people that recent climatic variation is largely manmade, not natural, so there is a bias toward resisting his idea. That does not make it right, but some promising recent experiments at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) raise the probability that Dr. Svensmark might yet prove to be a Shechtman.