Friday, June 27, 2014

The science writer Nigel Calder has died, aged 82, after a short illness.

Nigel Calder was an influential science writer and a former editor of the British science magazine New Scientist. Nigel Calder died of cancer on 25 June 2014 at his home in Crawley, West Sussex, England. He co-wrote with Henrik Svensmark the book The Chilling Stars which explains to the layman Svensmarks' theory of climate change driven by the flux of galactic cosmic rays on Earth which affects Earth's cloud cover. The Chilling Stars also provides an excellent synopsis of the history of climate variation on our planet. CO2 has very little to do with climate change despite the current politically driven hysteria about it. If you have an open mind, read this book!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Spring: the season of renewal

The woods and marshes around Gainesville are full of new life, brought forth thanks to the Sun and CO2 in the atmosphere. Here is a very young Common Gallinule exploring its lush environment:

Offshore windfarms harmful to marine life

Article in Environmental Research Letters shows harmful effects of offshore wind farms on marine life.

American Bird Conservancy Sues Feds Over 30-Year Eagle Kill Rule

On June 19, 2014, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) filed suit in federal court against the Department of the Interior (DOI), charging DOI with multiple violations of federal law in connection with its December 9, 2013, final regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government.

RSPB Scotland intensifies its campaign against Flow Country wind farm proposal

Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which is usually pro-wind power, has criticized plans to build 47 wind turbines in Flow Country in the Scottish Highlands, home to the rare Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), which has only thirty pairs of birds nesting in the whole of the UK.
The wood sandpiper is one of Britain's rarest breeding birds - image: Gordon Biggs

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Global CO2 Paranoia Cult Strikes Again

Lennart Bengtsson, former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, was forced to resign from the Board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (an organization skeptical of the predictions of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) due to political pressure from academic followers of the Global CO2 Paranoia Cult. Here is the reaction from GWPF and the letter of resignation:

Comment from GWPF:

Lennart Bengtsson Resigns: GWPF Voices Shock and Concern at the Extent of Intolerance within the Climate Science Community
    •    Date: 14/05/14 The Global Warming Policy Foundation
It is with great regret, and profound shock, that we have received Professor Lennart Bengtsson’s letter of resignation from his membership of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.
The Foundation, while of course respecting Professor Bengtsson’s decision, notes with deep concern the disgraceful intolerance within the climate science community which has prompted his resignation.
Professor Bengtsson’s letter of resignation from our Academic Advisory Council was sent to its chairman, Professor David Henderson.  His letter and Professor Henderson’s response are attached below.
Dr Benny Peiser, Director, The Global Warming Policy Foundation

Letter of resignation from the GWPF:

Dear Professor Henderson,
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.
I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.
Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.
With my best regards
Lennart Bengtsson

Reply from GWPF's David Henderson:

Dear Professor Bengtsson,
I have just seen your letter to me, resigning from the position which you had accepted just three weeks ago, as a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Academic Advisory Council.
Your letter came as a surprise and a shock. I greatly regret your decision, and I know that my regret will be shared by all my colleagues on the Council.
Your resignation is not only a sad event for us in the Foundation:  it is also a matter of profound and much wider concern. The reactions that you speak of, and which have forced you to reconsider the decision to join us, reveal a degree of intolerance, and a rejection of the principle of open scientific inquiry, which are truly shocking. They are evidence of a situation which the Global Warming Policy Foundation was created to remedy.
In your recent published interview with Marcel Crok, you said that ‘if I cannot stand my own opinions, life will become completely unbearable’. All of us on the Council will feel deep sympathy with you in an ordeal which you should never have had to endure.
With great regret, and all good wishes for the future.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yet another stupid idea motivated by CO2 paranoia: burning biomass to produce electricity

Burning biomass to produce electricity is uneconomical without subsidies and it is highly polluting too as it is not subject to the same emission controls that coal plants are required to comply with. A veritable who-is-who of US ecologists, including the much estimated Edwin O. Wilson, has written a letter to the UK's Secretary of Energy and Climate Change to protest against UK's biomass energy subsidies and (forced) consumption requirements that are decimating forests in the Southeastern USA. The letter points out that:
1) Wood pellets are not a “carbon neutral” process as is usually claimed.
2) It can take new trees up to 55 years to offset the carbon released from burning wood pellets.
3) Logging, by disturbing the soil, may result in a much greater release of carbon to the atmosphere, than previously thought.
4) There is no guarantee that new forests will be planted to replace harvested trees.
5) Planting of new forests is happening anyway, and acts as an important carbon sink. To claim this benefit for biomass would be double counting.
6) Trees that die off naturally return the carbon to the soil, and therefore are another carbon sink. Burning this wood instead diminishes this sink, whether new trees are planted or not.
7) Other serious environmental problems are created by the destruction of these forests.

Paul Homewood points out that biomass plants set up between now and 2019 in the UK will receive a guaranteed Strike Price of £105/MWh, at 2012 prices, and indexed linked, for 15 years. The current wholesale price of electricity is about £50/MWh, so clearly the subsidy is the only thing that makes biomass operation economically viable.

(H/t to  Paul Homewood )

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Facts versus Fiction in White House Climate Report

Steven Goddard has an excellent compilation of climate facts that thoroughly debunk the claims by the White House climate report that the USA is suffering through extreme weather caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions:
  1. Global sea ice area is near a record high for the date
  2. Antarctic sea ice area is at a record high for the date
  3. No global warming for almost two decades
  4. Last two years were the quietest on record for US tornadoes
  5. Last year was a near record low season for Atlantic hurricanes
  6. Nine years without a major US hurricane (category 3-5) strike – longest on record.
  7. Obama’s presidency has had the fewest hurricanes of any presidency
  8. US cooling since 1940
  9. Coldest year on record so far in the US
  10. Record springtime ice on the Great Lakes
  11. Northern Hemisphere winter snow cover since 2004, was the highest decade on record
  12. US winter temperatures have been plummeting since 2000

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The fictional National Climate Assessment report

Another work of science fiction has been produced by global warming alarmist "scientists" and is being bandied about by President Obama in bid to convince us to commit economic suicide. It is the newly released National Climate Assessment which manages not only to contradict decades of climatic data collected by NOAA and its predecessors but also contradicts the report on climate extremes released last year by the alarmist UN-IPCC. One of its statements is that droughts in the USA are getting worse. So visiting NOAA's historical database on droughts one scan see how much worse it has gotten (sarcasm alert!). In July of 1934 most of the country was in a drought state varying from severe to mild:

In July of last year (2013) the situation was much different:
The evidence for worsening droughts is missing, probably lost in the deep ocean, together with the missing heat.

Friday, March 28, 2014

On APS's Review of its Climate Change Stement

Recently several climate skeptic blogs reported on the American Physical Society decision to review its climate statement. Some excitement was caused by the fact that the panel of witnesses was fairly divided among alarmists, skeptics (John Christy, Richard Lindzen) and a lukewarmer (Judith Curry).
Only the workshop presenters could be said to be balanced between proponent and skeptics of AGW alarmism. Given how deeply entrenched in the USA science bureaucracy the members of the committee in charge of revising the climate statement are I don't think that there will be any substantial change to the current statement, perhaps some mealy mouthed phrase involving uncertainties will be added.
 Here is a very brief CV for the members of the actual committee (or better, the POPA's subcommittee):
Steven Koonin - former Undersecretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy in the first Obama administration, currently NYU
Phillip Coyle - former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs (NSIA) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the first Obama administration, currently Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation
R. Scott Kemp - assist. prof. Nuclear Sc. and Eng. MIT. BS in physics and PhD from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University
Tim Meyer - program officer, board on physics and astronomy, National Research Council, part of the national academies in Washington, DC
Robert Rosner - astrophysical plasma physics prof., U. of Chicago, former director of Argonne National Lab (2002-2009)
Susan Seestrom - exp. nuclear physics, Associate Laboratory Director for Experimental Physical Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2006.

Thus I think that as far as skeptics are concerned this is a double-edged sword: while it is good that skeptic witnesses were heard on an equal footing with alarmists after the committee reaches its inevitable decision to essentially keep the same statement with some minor and meaningless changes, APS will be able to say that they heard the skeptics and incorporated their views to the extent that the committee thought it was justified.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Digital Age and Birding

The introduction of digital photographic cameras has unleashed a revolution in the documentation of wildlife, both fauna and flora. With the expansion of the Internet it is now possible to take a photo and in a matter of minutes post it online and, if one doesn't know what the subject is, ask for ID online and very often the answer will also come within minutes. Brazilians have taken to photographing the rich wildlife of their country in large numbers. The web site Wiki Aves ( ) now has thousands of contributors and photos of 1816 of the 1901 species of birds so far registered in Brazil. Also interesting was the creation of two Facebook groups "IdentificaĆ§Ć£o de aves" (Bird ID group, ) and the Para-Wikiaves group ( ), which is a fascinating group, dedicated to the online identification of animals and plants of all kinds except birds! The name is a homage to the very successful Wiki Aves. Photos for ID have ranged from plants to insects in spider webs to footprints. For an example check this photo, taken by Oscar Brizzio, of a Jararacussu, a spectacular and very poisonous fer-de-lance (pit vipers in the genus Bothrops) from South America ( , this one photographed in the Atlantic forest of Sao Paulo state in SE Brazil).