Daily Archives: August 1, 2011

Geneticist tells the BBC: don’t give climate “denialists” so much air-time

Prof Steve Jones lecturing at the Telegraph Hay Festival Photo: CLARA MOLDEN

Steve Jones tells the BBC: don’t give climate “denialists” so much air-time

In his report for the BBC Trust, Steve Jones actually attacks the BBC for having too little global-warming bias.

Telegraph | Jul 29, 2011

By Christopher Booker

By any measure it has been one of the most momentous stories of our time. For nearly 20 years the belief that the earth was facing catastrophe from human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases seemed to carry all before it.

Nothing gave more credibility to this belief than the reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), relying on computer models programmed to show that, as CO2 levels rose, global temperatures would inevitably follow.

The IPCC used no more conspicuous piece of evidence to support its case than the famous “hockey stick” graph, purporting to show that by 1998 temperatures were soaring to by far their highest level in 1,000 years.

The politicians founds all this so convincing that there were high hopes they would sign a treaty in Copenhagen, in 2009, committing the world to massive cuts in emissions – thus presenting mankind with by far the biggest bill in history.

But from 2007 onwards this whole belief system began to go off the rails. The evidence of what was actually happening to temperatures showed that the IPCC’s computer models had got it seriously wrong.

More and more scientists around the world, many of them distinguished in their fields, challenged the theory, arguing that the factors influencing climate were far more complex, most notably changes in radiation from the sun and shifts in the world’s ocean currents.

By the time the Copenhagen conference collapsed without a treaty, the “hockey stick” graph, which was at the centre of the “Climategate” emails scandal, had been shown to be no more than the result of statistical manipulation based on flawed data. The most alarming predictions of the IPCC’s last major report in 2007 turned out to be based, not on proper science, but on scare stories from environmental activists.

Yet just when this astonishing story called for serious reporting, the scientific establishment’s long-time allies in the media –above all the BBC – leapt to its defence. Indeed, the BBC’s support for the embattled orthodoxy has been so one-sided that it came to be seen as a scandal in its own right.

Finally, in a bid to justify its conduct, the BBC Trust commissioned one of the BBC’s regular contributors, the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, to review its science coverage, notably on climate change.

Many people must have fallen off their chairs last week when they saw the advance publicity for Prof Jones’s report, under such headlines as: “Climate change sceptics get too much air-time, BBC told”. In the section of his report devoted to climate change, Prof Jones makes his chosen line clear.

Astonishingly, rather than merely defending the BBC’s coverage, he also launches an attack on it for giving too much publicity to “deniers” or “denialists” – pejorative terms that he uses no less than nine times in seven pages – whom he lumps in with astrologers, enthusiasts for alternative medicine and even the conspiracy-addicts who believe the Twin Towers were brought down by the CIA.

It seems that Jones knows remarkably little about the BBC’s coverage of this story. He mentions by name only a handful of programmes, all for giving publicity to “deniers” – the Climate Wars series in 2008, for instance, and last January’s Horizon presented by Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society.

He seems unaware that each of these was designed as a hatchet job on the sceptics, by showing them only in brief, carefully edited clips to make them look ridiculous.

Climate Wars in particular was designed as an answer to Channel Four’s The Great Global Warming Swindle, in which a range of eminent scientists had for the first time been shown at length questioning the orthodoxy.

The BBC’s riposte was notorious for its propagandist use of the “hockey stick’”, without any mention of the statistical experts – Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick – who had exposed the computer trickery that created this graph.

Jones also seems to know little about the complexities of climate science, as shown by his reference to “feedbacks” – factors that affect the amount of solar heat retained by the atmosphere. Bizarrely, he lists these as “melting ice, rising seas, dying plants”.

But these are not the “feedbacks” that the debate has been about. It has centred on whether the feedback effect of water vapour – by far the most significant greenhouse gas – is positive, causing temperatures to rise (as the IPCC’s models assume) or negative, causing them to fall. Not the least of the IPCC’s many distortions of the debate over the years has been its attempts to downplay all evidence that clouds and water vapour in fact have a cooling effect.

Jones also falls for the long-discredited statistic that “97 per cent of climate scientists believe in man-made global warming”. This was shown to have originated in a master’s degree thesis and was based on a sample of just 77 climate specialists who volunteered their views in an online survey.

In recycling various familiar propaganda points beloved by upholders of the orthodoxy, Jones seems not to have engaged with the subject in any way. But he is not the first eminent scientist to fall flat on his face when he has stepped out of his own field of expertise to act as a cheerleader for the warmist cause.

His fellow geneticist Sir Paul Nurse fronted an extraordinarily shoddy BBC programme which was not only dishonest in its caricatures of the views of sceptics, such as the distinguished US astrophysicist Dr Fred Singer, but endorsed various scientific howlers, such as a claim that human activity contributes seven times more CO2 to the atmosphere than natural causes (when the true figure is just 3 per cent).

Similarly, the former chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir David King, showed himself way out of his depth when he was stoking up alarm over warming for Tony Blair in 2004.

Sir David, a surface chemist, perpetrated the nonsensical claim that the last mass extinction, “55 million years ago”, was caused by soaring CO2. The extinction of the dinosaurs came at the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, and no one, apart from Sir David, has blamed it on CO2.

His successor, Sir John Beddington, an applied population biologist, is only the latest of those held up as “scientists” to pronounce on climate. Yet, outside their own specialism, these scientists have no more authority than the proverbial man in the pub.

The real scandal of the BBC’s coverage of climate issues is that, journalistically, it has been so unprofessional. The little group of environmental correspondents most obviously responsible for pushing the BBC line inhabit a bubble in which they only report what they are told by other supporters of the orthodoxy.

To anything outside that increasingly claustrophic bubble they remain oblivious, and thus have missed out on one of the most important scientific stories of our time. In this way they reinforce the folly of our politicians, bent on policies so misconceived and so costly that they threaten the country with an unprecedented act of economic self-destruction.

The BBC will doubtless use Prof Jones’s report to justify its betrayal of the core principles both of science and of responsible journalism. On the day it was published, one newspaper carried the headline: “The BBC’s bias has been one of the most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga”.

In fact, the article turned out to be about the coverage of “Murdoch-gate”. That headline would have fitted the Corporation’s approach to several of its pet obsessions, though – such as the euro – but none more so than global warming, which the BBC party line has got so spectacularly wrong.

Climate change far less serious than ‘alarmists’ predict says NASA scientist

Climate change is far less serious than ‘alarmists’ predict, an eminent NASA scientist has said.

Daily Mail | Jul 30, 2011

By Tamara Cohen

Dr Roy Spencer, who works on the space agency’s temperature-monitoring satellites, claimed they showed ‘a huge discrepancy’ between the real levels of heating and forecasts by the United Nations and other groups.

After looking at the levels of radiation in the atmosphere over the past ten years, he believes the Earth releases a lot more heat into space than previously thought.

This means carbon dioxide emissions do not trap as much heat or force temperatures up as much as global warming bodies fear.

Dr Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, said his satellite readings between 2000 and 2011 show far smaller temperature rises than six climate models which are used by international governments and corporations to predict changes to our climate in the future.

He said: ‘The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show.

‘There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.’

However critics say his research is over too short a period to draw conclusions and ignores other factors.

Dr Spencer is the first scientist to examine the data from Nasa satellites in relation to climate change.

He has long believed the build-up of hot air produces more clouds, which have a cooling effect on the Earth, counteracting global warming to some extent.

However his study, published in the journal Remote Sensing, does conclude that the limited heating he has found remains an ‘unsolved problem’.

Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: ‘It’s a simplistic theory and we will need to look very closely at these measurements as he is far from proving conclusively that this is the cause.

‘He has taken these measurements over a very short time during which the Earth has not heated as much as it did in the late 1990s, and scientists expect this heating to resume.

‘Satellites also drift over time, getting further and closer to the Earth, which can affect the readings.’

Climate change sceptics are also cautious about his conclusions. Dr David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation said:  ‘It correctly states that the computer models of climate have many flaws and have been unable to explain how the earth has warmed up in recent decades.

‘It’s a very interesting paper though only time will tell if its analysis – that the earth radiates more heat out into space than we thought – stands up.’

The United Nations climate change body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been dogged by controversy over its impartiality.
Set up to provide science-based advice to politicians, last month it was criticized for using a Greenpeace campaigner to help write an ‘impartial’ report on green energy.

The study claimed that the world could meet nearly 80 per cent of its energy by 2050 from renewable sources such as wind farms and solar panels.

Greenpeace fiercely opposes nuclear power and has campaigned on the perils of global warming for decades.

Last year, the IPCC was at the centre of a major row when it was forced to admit that it had exaggerated the threat of global warming to glaciers.

Snow, ice hits Wairarapa NZ as residents struggle through coldest weather in a decade

times-age.co.nz | Jul 2011  

by Amie Hickland

Shivers: Snow falling in Masterton, looking north along Chapel St. Photo / Lynda Feringa

Snow blanketed houses and cars in Wairarapa yesterday morning, as residents struggled through the coldest weather in a decade.

Road closures and safety warnings were issued as snow had fallen overnight Sunday and continued during the day with one snowstorm lasting about 45 minutes.

The MetService website said sleety showers and very cold southwesterlies had been expected yesterday, along with a high of 6C.

Meteorologist Daniel Corbett said this was the coldest weather Wairarapa had seen for at least 10 years.

He said the temperature had been hovering close to freezing and was sitting around 1C at Masterton Airport yesterday at 11am.

Mr Corbett said a cold southerly blast straight from Antarctica was to blame and MetService had received reports of snow throughout the country.

“I think the strangest thing about it is how widespread it is,” he said. Mr Corbett said it should be cold until tomorrow, when it will eventually clear away.

He said there was about 15cm-20cm of snow on the Rimutaka Hill. Police closed the road early yesterday morning.

New Zealand Transport Authority Wellington operations manager Mark Owen said the hill was unlikely to open because of the heavy snow.

“We have our contractors onsite at the Rimutaka Hill Rd, braving the cold to clear the snow, but snow is forecast to continue throughout the afternoon so the road is unlikely to reopen today,” he said.

Greytown resident France Skeet said this was the first time he had seen snow in the town for some time.
The 86-year-old said the last time he had seen heavy snow in the town was around 1935.

He said there had been a light dusting of snow yesterday morning but most of it was gone by the afternoon. Police also issued a severe weather warning for the Wellington region, as there was snow and sleet falling.

They said the weather was the likely cause of two accidents – both on state highways, near Tawa and Horikiwi, and advised motorists to drive with extreme care and to stay well below the speed limit.

During the past week, the temperature has dropped as low as -1.9C in Masterton and on four nights dropped below freezing.

Today the temperature was expected to reach a high of 11C but will drop as low -3C at night.

It is expected to be fine tomorrow, although showers are forecast for Saturday.

Rocky’s coldest winter in decades

themorningbulletin.com.au | Jul 29, 2011

AS THE nation debates climate change and the need for a carbon tax, Rockhampton is shivering through what could be its coldest winter in decades.

In June, the Weather Channel reported an average minimum temperature of 9.8 degrees in the city, just over one degree lower than the average and the coldest in June since 1994.

July so far is below the average as well, at 8.7 degrees.

These conditions have been mirrored around the State as Queensland battles low temperatures as the La Niña of 2010 has now been replaced with neutral conditions.

This has resulted in less tropical influence and clearer skies and light winds.

“As a result, minimum temperatures have been lower than those recorded last winter with more frosts the direct result,” says Dick Whitaker, chief meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

This weekend is expected to bring some higher maximums of 24 and 25 degrees in Rockhampton, with a few showers predicted for tomorrow and Sunday.

Norway attacks intensify political resolve of many youths

Children stand at a makeshift memorial on the shore across from Utoya Island, where at least 68 people were shot to death in one of Friday’s twin terrorist attacks. (Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters / July 27, 2011)

The Norway massacre may shape the views of an entire generation. Already, youth parties, both liberal and conservative, are reporting membership surges.

Los Angeles Times | Jul 28, 2011

By Edmund Sanders

Reporting from Oslo — The sandy-haired young man runs his finger over an orange wristband with the word “Utoya,” a leftover ID bracelet from the Labor Party youth camp where 68 people, mostly teenage activists, were gunned down last week.

“I can’t take it off,” Vegard Groslie Wennesland says softly, seated at a cafe in central Oslo where broken glass was still being cleared from the separate car bombing that terrorism suspect Anders Behring Breivik also admits to committing.

Tragedy is transforming the lives of young Norwegians — and in many cases, such as that of the 27-year-old Workers’ Youth League member, strengthening their resolve.

A week ago, Wennesland’s biggest worry was completing a University of Oslo master’s thesis on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and then, perhaps, taking a jaunt around the Middle East to practice his Arabic.

Now, after seeing friends shot point-blank in the head and hiding under a cabin bunk until the massacre was over, Wennesland has put his graduation plans on hold and spends his days consoling traumatized members of the youth league. He’s vice chairman of the Oslo chapter; the chairman is among the presumed dead.

Norway’s deadliest peace-time attack has traumatized the nation, but is taking a particular toll on the young, the primary targets and disproportionate victims of the attacks. Photo spreads of the dead being published in newspapers unintentionally evoke the look of high-school yearbooks — bright smiles, often accompanied by pimpled faces or spiked hairdos.

In the short-term, the violence appears to have motivated many young Norwegians. Youth parties, both liberal and conservative, are reporting membership surges. Even the Progress Party, which Breivik joined as a youth and later quit in frustration, reported that 30 new members have signed up since Friday.

The interest marks an abrupt shift — in recent years political participation and voter turnout had waned among the young. Now many are expecting record voter turnout during the next nationwide youth election in September.

In Norway, student elections occur on high school and college campuses as they do in the U.S. But here, they are partisan contests in which the nation’s leading political parties compete for the youth vote. The polls are seen as an important breeding ground — as are political summer camps such as the one on Utoya — for the nation’s future political leaders.

Beyond the firsthand horror experienced by the nearly 700 youths at the camp — unprecedented political violence in a nation where crime-related gun deaths are rare — the massacre may shape the views of an entire generation, influencing politics, priorities and fears for decades to come.

“It’s something that will impact their world assumptions, their view of life, their feeling that the world is basically safe and that human beings are good,” said Tine Jensen, a child psychologist at the Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies. “They will never forget.”

Jensen points to the massive vigils, memorials and stories of ordinary heroes risking their lives to save others as positive lessons, strengthening the national unity of young Norwegians, who have responded with solidarity and defiance.

“You can’t change the event, but you can try to counteract it in the aftermath,” Jensen said. “When we see how Norway has responded, with flowers and people helping each other, it may actually end up enhancing the sense of cohesiveness and humanity.”

Jensen, whose center is drawing upon the experiences of the Sept. 11 attacks and on decades of gun violence in Los Angeles, said the trauma for Norway is particularly intense. That’s because young people here have so little direct experience with violence and because Breivik reportedly told police he intentionally targeted the left-leaning youth retreat, believing he could decimate the future leadership of the liberal Labor Party he despised.

Breivik, who police say has admitted to committing both attacks but has pleaded not guilty, made clear in his pre-rampage writings that he had Norway’s youth in his sights. His 1,500-page manifesto claimed the first phase of an anti-Islamic revolution would be the formation of “cultural conservative patriotic youth movements,” which would serve as the “backbone” of a right-wing resistance movement.

Wennesland said he’s committed to ensuring that Breivik’s intentions to crush the Labor Party are not fulfilled.

“Then he wins, and no one in Norway wants him to win,” he said. “Those of us left are going to be stronger. We will be tighter. The shared experience will tone down the differences that we’ve had inside the Labor Party for a considerable amount of time. So yes, this will affect us to a great extent, and I think it will mostly be positive.”

In an ultimate act of defiance, Wennesland vowed the youth group will return to Utoya next year for its annual retreat.

“The values and ideals that were attacked Friday will prevail,” he said.

Havard Narum, a political columnist for Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper, said he expects the Labor Party to enjoy a short-term boost as a gesture of sympathy. In recent years, the Labor Party — historically the dominant party among Norway’s young — has been losing support to right-leaning rivals, such as the Conservative Party and the Progress Party.

Breivik may have succeeded in drawing attention to his anti-immigration views, Narum said, but his tactics may have made the climate too sensitive for right-wing parties to even raise the issue in the foreseeable future.

The long-term political impact of the attacks remains unclear. “But one way or another, I believe this will have consequences for the whole political climate for quite a long time,” Narum said.

As the identities of more victims are released and funerals take place nationwide, parents are also grappling with how to answer their younger children’s questions and ease their fears.

“My son keeps asking me, ‘Why?'” said Anita Kleemp, 48, an unemployed mother, standing next to her 5-year-old boy in downtown Oslo. “But I really don’t know what to tell him.”

She said she thinks it’s nonetheless crucial to discuss the tragedy with her youngster. On Monday, she brought him to the downtown Oslo bombing site to observe a national moment of silence. Later, they stood in front of the courthouse and waited for a chance to see Breivik being driven to his initial closed-door judicial hearing.

“I wanted my son to see that [Breivik’s] in jail so he won’t be afraid,” Kleemp said. “But also I just thought we should be here. It’s part of the Norway experience. I want him to remember.”

Norway killings: Mysterious group called the Knights Templar

An image from a right-wing extremist video posted on the internet by Anders Behring Breivik Photo: ENTERPRISE NEWS

Scotland Yard’s domestic extremism unit is attempting to track down the anonymous members of the “European Military Order and Criminal Tribunal” of the Knights Templar.

Telegraph | Jul 26, 2011

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent

Oslo killer Anders Behring Breivik wrote that the group’s aim was to attempt to “seize political and military control of Western European multiculturalist regimes” and to “try, judge and punish Western European cultural Marxist or multiculturalist perpetrators for crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of Europe.”

Using the Latin phrase “pauperes commilitones christi templique solomonici” meaning the “poor fellow-soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon” the Knights Templar declared themselves “re-founded” in London in April 2002 by representatives from eight European countries, according to Breivik.

They declared they were a “pan-European nationalist military order” and a “military or criminal tribunal” which aimed to establish an “armed Indigenous Rights Organisation” and a “Crusader Movement” to fight Islamist jihadists.

At two separate meetings in London “as a security precaution”, the founding members met and established their 100 year plan to seize political power in Western European countries currently controlled by “anti-nationalists” and said their mantra “Martyrdom before Dhimmitude” [surrender to Islam]

Among those listed as attending by Breivik were an “English Protestant” described as the host, an “English Christian atheist” and others from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Russia.

Later in his “compendium” Breivik wrote that in April and May 2002, he was “one of two who are asked to create a compendium based on the information I have acquired from the other

founders during our sessions.”

“Everyone is using code names,” he added. “Mine is Sigurd (the Crusader) while my assigned mentor is referred to as Richard (the Lionhearted). I believe I’m the youngest one here.”

Breivik, who was 23 at the time, said he scribbled down more than 50 full pages of notes at the London meeting, much of them incorporated into his book.

“It was basically a detailed long term plan on how to seize power in Western Europe,” he said. “I did not fully comprehend at the time how privileged I was to be in the company of some of the most brilliant political and military tacticians of Europe.”

A second meeting also attended by British extremists was “like a training course for pioneer cell commanders,” he added.

Most of them were successful entrepreneurs, business or political leaders, some with families, most of them Christian conservatives but also some agnostics and even atheists, he added.

“We were not instructed to attack specific targets, quite the opposite. We were encouraged to rather use the information distributed to contribute to build and expand the so called ‘cultural conservative anti-Jihad movement,’

“Everyone was encouraged but at the end, it was their own decision how they decided to manifest their resistance… A large successful attack every 5-12 years was optimal depending on available forces,” he added.

Breivik said he had a “relatively close relationship” with an Englishman, who became his mentor.

“He was the one who first described the ‘perfect knight’ and had written the initial fundament for this compendium,” Breivik wrote.

“I was asked, not only once but twice, by my mentor- let’s call him Richard – to write a second edition of his compendium about the new European Knighthood.

“As such, I spent several years to create an economic platform which would allow me to study and write a second edition and as of now, I have spent more than three years completing this second edition.”

The original Knights Templar were founded during the Crusades of the 12th century and some of their lands in London were later rented to lawyers where two of the four Inns of Court for barristers are known as the Inner Temple and Middle Temple and where the Temple Church, formerly the location for Templar initiation ceremonies, still stands.

The Templars are also associated with the Freemasons, founded in London in the 18th century, and Breivik was himself a mason, he revealed in his diaries.