Science

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

A few days have passed since I discussed in this space my dispute with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science over an alarm-sounding global warming report that was leaked to the sympathetic Baltimore Sun but is not available to anyone else. The report is supposed to be released later this month by (or to, not sure which) Gov. Martin O'Malley as part of the findings from the Maryland Commission on Climate Change Dog-and-Pony Show to Kill the Economy and Diminish Freedom. Or something like that.

Since last Tuesday the Washington Examiner has joined in the fray with both an op-ed and an editorial criticizing the report's expected findings (based upon the Sun's story) and demanding the datasets that fed the report. Like me, the Examiner was also denied a copy of the report.

Yesterday Red Maryland blogger Mark Newgent opined for the Examiner:

The report’s editor, Donald Boesch (pictured), runs the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and, not coincidentally, chairs the MCCC Scientific and Technical Working Group.

The MCCC itself is a kangaroo court conceived and controlled by the Center for Climate Strategies, a subsidiary of an avowed alarmist advocacy group posing as a disinterested technical consultant. If you want a sneak peek at what is in store for Maryland, just look at CCS’ other state reports; the recommendations are all nearly identical.

Clearly, this report is nothing more than a push poll designed to produce predetermined conclusions. The conclusions, of course, are outrageous predictions of doom in order to sway support for draconian restrictions on greenhouse gases.

And the Examiner editorialists followed up today:

With these positions of prominence and political influence, it is no surprise that Boesch and UMCES have received more than $65 million in federal grants and contracts since 2000, as well as an unknown amount of state money. Judging by the secrecy surrounding a critically important report Boesch edited for Maryland officials, however, taxpayers should start demanding some answers about what they are getting from Boesch in return for their hard-earned money….

The Baltimore Sun reported last week that Boesch edited a report prepared for the MCCC that will be used to submit 42 policy recommendations to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on the effects of global warming on Maryland. It’s not clear whether O’Malley’s pet daily got a leaked copy of the draft or final version of the report. When Paul Chesser, director of Climate Strategies Watch, requested a copy of the report from a Boesch spokesman, he was refused. A similar request by this newspaper was also denied.

Very curious that the Sun could easily obtain the report while others, including the third-largest newspaper in the nation's capital, could not. Sun reporters Timothy Wheeler and Frank Roylance also appear more-than-willing to bend journalistic principles in order to advance the environmental advocacy football another ten yards. For example, they don't explain how they obtained the report — why? Is this such a sensitive story with horrible implications if the leaker's name is disclosed? And of course, no counter-commentary from global warming skeptics, as per usual.

And why aren't the two environmental groups, who the reporters said contributed to the report's findings, identified? You could be certain that if this was a report on school choice that supports vouchers from former Gov. Ehrlich's administration, co-written by a couple of conservative think tanks, that the Sun would have named the groups and conducted a full rectal exam of who they are and how they are funded.

Correction, 2:55 p.m.: Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott says "We reach about three times as many households as the (Washington) Times. Not sure about the web site traffic, think they may be a little bigger." I stand corrected and my apologies.

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

The Baltimore Sun on Sunday reported that one of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change's leadership troika, Donald Boesch (pictured) of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, has nursed along 19 fellow scientists (apparently none having to do with meteorology or atmospheric science), as well as representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey and two environmental groups (unidentified for some unknown reason), to produce a report that forecasts much hotter temperatures and permanently rising tides:

Look for balmier winters and blistering summers in the decades to come. Enjoy the colorful fall foliage in Western Maryland – while you can. And unless circumstances change, prepare to see a different mix of plants, trees and birds by the end of the century, worsening dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay, and for the state that some call "America in miniature" to get dramatically smaller as rising waters push the shoreline inland.

So says a group of scientists who have compiled the first comprehensive assessment of how Maryland could be altered by global climate change.

This report is probably littered with many "could be"-like phrases, based not on observational data but instead on fanciful computer modeling devoid of any proof of anthropogenic cause, but that would be only imagining things. Why just imagining? Because I am not hopeful after speaking with Dave Nemazie of the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science, who hemmed and hawed when I asked for a copy of the report that (again, I'm guessing) one of the envirogroups involved leaked to the Sun to develop some nice advanced press from sympathetic media. Here's a rough paraphrase of how our phone conversation went:

Me: Can I get a copy of the report?

Nemazie: It hasn't been released yet.

Me: Can I get a copy of the report?

Nemazie: It's going to be released as part of a larger report by the governor later this month.

Me: What if I officially submit a request for the report under Maryland's Public Information Act?

Nemazie: Well, chances are that by the time the 30 days are up that we have to comply with the records request, the governor will have already released the report.

Me: So, you're telling me that you are going to run out the clock on the records request so that the rest of the public cannot see it until the governor officially releases it?

Nemazie: Something along the lines of "I'll have to check into it…"

I subsequently submitted a formal request for a copy of the report:

Please provide for me the most up-to-date version of the report that you, or an appropriate person at UMCES, can access. I prefer an electronic version of the report, emailed if possible, which should enable a rapid fulfillment of my request. If that is not the case please notify me as soon as possible and please include an explanation as to why the report cannot be provided quickly.

As I was writing this post I received this response from Nemazie:

Paul, this e-mail is to confirm that UMCES has received your request.  We will follow Maryland State Law in providing you a response.

In other words, look for the state to exhaust the full, legally-allowed 30 days before providing a copy of the report that undoubtedly is easily accessible in PDF or Word form and is a public document. You need not look very far to figure out that Maryland state government workers believe they exist not to serve the public, but instead to unnecessarily delay, obfuscate and release information on their own terms.

As for Boesch, this new report is totally in his alarmism character as explained by Red Maryland blogger friend Mark Newgent last October:

Boesch says further, “It is time to take swift and direct action to solve our climate crisis. We have lost much time debating its existence while the scientific evidence and consensus has grown ever stronger.” Boesch has created a gimpy straw man here. No serious global warming skeptic has denied that the earth is in a warming period. In reality, skeptics contest the nature and causes of global warming and the efficacy of the policy prescriptions of alarmists like Al Gore.

What is really at stake here is money, as in federal grant money. Thus the impetus for Boesch doing the Al Gore impersonation, labeling the situation a “crisis” and calling for swift action.

Since 2000, UMCES has received $65,849,037 in federal grant money.
Here are the numbers per year:
2000- $8,831,655
2001- $8,317,034
2002- $10,215,781
2003- $11,873,279
2004- $10,627,340
2005- $12,055,985
2006 -$3,927,963 (data available for 2006 3Q only)

UMCES funding increased 37% between 2000 and 2005 (last year for full data), which neatly corresponds with the advent of global warming alarmism. Adding global warming to the list of the Chesapeake Bay’s woes allows Boesch to expand his budget and operations.

 

 

I seem to remember from statistics class that anything less than 95 percent probability is junk science. This is an editorial from the most recent issue of GEO, a Norwegian magazine about earth sciences.

"it is useful to remember that the IPCC concludes that there is only a 90% chance of a connection between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels. In other words, there is a 10% chance – which I consider significant – that there is no connection between the two."

In honor of the 33rd International Geological Congress being held in Oslo this summer, GEO's 04/08 issue is published in English, so the editorial is legible for people other than the maybe 5 million that speak Norwegian.

A Prize for McCain

by William Yeatman on June 24, 2008

in Science

Speaking Monday at Fresno State University in California, Sen. John McCain put forward what may be the most promising and important energy-policy proposal of the campaign: a $300 million prize for the development of advanced battery technology. “In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure,” he noted. Yet rather than have Washington pick winners and losers from within the energy industry, McCain suggested that the government should reward innovation and actual achievement. “From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.”

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Nice to see Ryan Radia's piece in the Des Moines Register today after yesterday's abominable piece reporting on what global climate change "means to Iowa." As usual the article ignores real global trends (no temp increase in last 10 years; oceans not warming; Antarctic sea ice increase; record cold winter; etc.) and instead regurgitates the IPCC Summary schtick and alarm-sounding from the Center for Climate Strategies, U. of Iowa prof Jerald Schnoor, and Iowa State U. global warming studier Eugene Takle.

"People are more worried," Takle was quoted without reporter curiousity or devil's advocacy.

Anyway, according to the Register, what does this all "mean to Iowa?" Let us count the "coulds," "ifs," "likely's," and "mights:"

"If we do this smart, we will create green jobs, improving the economy and cutting greenhouse gases," Schnoor said…

Scientists have noted for years that more carbon dioxide, which feeds plants, will likely mean booming crop yields. Takle said the longer period between the spring thaw and the return of frost in winter could mean longer growing seasons. The changes could open the door for farmers to grow two, maybe even three, crops a season, Takle said…But weather and climate changes could dampen the gains…For example, crop yields could drop 40 percent by 2100 because of higher levels of ground-level ozone…

Moisture in the air will likely increase because water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Over time, this results in higher temperatures day and night….

Warming might make water shortages a bigger issue in Iowa, where a boom in ethanol plants and hog confinements have already strained supplies….

Milder temperatures could mean savings on home-heating bills, Takle said. It also could provide more groundwater recharge in periods of fast snowmelts. On the down side, look for more freeze-thaw cycles, damaging roads and bridges and altering growing seasons…

Deer, skunks and raccoons could benefit from a smorgasbord of new plant growth in places, but they might spread rabies and other diseases farther….

Of course, sprinkled about are claims made with more certainty, all based upon computer models fed by who-knows-what kind of data. Meanwhile the Register clings to only their kind of experts and ignores the respected Joe D'Aleo– and William Gray-types within meteorology and atmospheric science.

 

I have lost the count on the number of stories I have seen about coral reefs dying out because of global warming. A recent report in Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences details the corals warming adaptation strategy.

As the so-called climate change deniers emphasize continually: Climate changes, the only thing stable about the climate is that it changes. They are a modern day version of Heraclitus and his proclamation Panta Rei! for those of you who remember your western civilization classes. If climate change is permanent, it follows that the species alive today have a strategy for coping with the change.

We have seen this in papers published last year as well; one I remember quite vividly was about the migration of plants in the Arctic.

Now we have documentation about how the rich ecosystems around coral reefs adapt, so maybe its time to stop crying wolf and dedicate ourselves to an honest and meticulous examination of the actual effects of the changing climate?

The Interior Department's Inspector General has started preliminary investigations into why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delaying their decision on whether polar bears ought to be listed as a threatened species due to global warming.
Bloomberg even brings breaking news today that the greens are going to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the two months delay as compared to the initial projected processing time.

I can come up with two very good reasons for the delay:

1. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do not consider the polar bear as threatened, but do not have the political cahones to just say so outright. The ostrich tactic of sticking their heads in the sand is not working, so they might want to consider just fess up to the lack of scientific evidence to support the claim that the bear is threatened.

2. The evidence for the polar bear status as threatened is shaky at best. It is based on selective use of statistics and models that assume that the current trends in climate change will continue perpetually, which is highly unlikely.

Morten Jødal, the chair of the Biology Society in Norway has criticized the World Wildlife Foundation's selective use of population statistics in this debate in a recent commentary in the largest newspaper in Norway. It is in Norwegian, but here is a translation:

" Polar bear populations has increased dramatically from the 1960's to our time from about 5,000 individuals to about 25,000 individuals. It appears to be stable."

"It is correct as they point out that the population is down from 1,200 individuals in 1987 to about 950 individuals in 2004. What they omit si that the same population increased from 500 individuals in 1981. That gives a different picture, which does not indicate a species on the brink of extinction."

"Another piece of information that changes the statistic is that 49 polar bears are shot annually in the Western part of Hudson Bay. 833 polar bears have been shot over 17 years from 1987 to 2004. That is far more than the ones assumed to have lost their lives due to global warming."

There is no doubt that the listing of polar bears as an endangered species will have an enormous symbolic effect for the alarmists, but I was not aware that the endangered species list was a political propaganda tool, I thought it was a conservation tool, but then again I am naïve when it comes to politics and the things people are willing to do in the name of a cause.

Finally some science applied to the scientific consensus on global warming, and guess what, it does not exist! Consensus studies are not uncommon in the world of economics, and the people that claim constituency in the discourse over climate policy ranges from every academic discipline in Hayek's grand tradition of being an expert in all areas once you established your "expertdom" in one.

However, the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta, did canvas their members with a consensus survey and here is some highlight from the results. 99 percent thinks the climite is changing, 45 percent blame both human and natural causes, and 68 percent disagree with the statement "the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled." 26 per cent attributing global warming to human activity like burning fossil fuels and 27 per cent blaming other causes such as volcanoes, sunspots, earth crust movements and natural evolution of the planet.

For those of us that talk to scientists that have gag-orders, that fear retribution from colleagues that thinks skepticism jeopardize department funding, and that feel mistreated and ridiculed by the media; this does not come as a surprise. These results was not a surprise to APEGGA executive director Neil Windsor, but then again, the man is a scientist, not a media spin doctor with political credentials.

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Amazing — a new study released in the journal Science claims that everything we always understood about the age of the Grand Canyon was wrong. Turns out that rather than being 5 or 6 million years old, the new report says it is more like 17 million years old:

Not so fast, said Joel Pederson, a geomorphologist at Utah State University who has spent his career studying the Grand Canyon. He said the estimated age of 5 million to 6 million years is based on abundant evidence amassed by scientists over many decades. Seventeen million is impossible, he said, because there is no evidence of a large quantity of sediment flowing out of a canyon before 6 million years ago.

 

"They clearly have not taken the time to be rigorous and actually understand the regional geography," Pederson said.

Sound familiar? Won't be long before the paradigm-changing geologists are called deniers and banished from any further publication in established science journals. Let the mock and ridicule begin!

I adore Matthew Nisbeth's research but he is off his rocker in this comment he posted on his blog and that he presented in an interview on The World. I did not see him at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, and this is not the first time I catch researchers I respect in their lack of actual grounding in facts before they present research on an issue.

The first ever research conference I attended as a graduate student, I attended a panel on the ethical issues on plant biotechnology. I won't mention names, but some old geezer that had not left his ivory tower for quite a few years was talking about the problem of having one genetically modified plant growing all around the world. He was a bit shocked to find out that the GMO trait was bred into more than 70,000 local varieties, because the corn that will grow in the Midwest will not grow in India quite as well. But that is the reporter in me, I call people, and I ask what they actually do.

A communication professor that I adore got into my car when I gave her a ride to a conference, and she saw a name tag from the Heritage Foundation with my name on it hanging from my rear view mirror (yeah, it's a quirky habit, but good for conversations). She said, "but Lene, aren't those conservatives?" Hell yeah they are, and I don't like them much for it, but every year they put on a conference where you meet everything from the pro-life think tanks from St. Louis (Phyllis Schlafly & Co.) to the hippie libertarian lawyers from San Francisco. At one of these conferences I got to have lunch with the guy that organize some of the bioconservative groups that Nisbeth is comparing the Heartland Institute with. I need to know those groups, it is my job and my research passion. An trust me, Nigel S. Cameron, David Prentice, or their left wing ally Wesley Smith would never publish any of my work, but Joe Bast would.

Nisbeth is off his rocker, cause he is applying theory as a map without checking the terrain. I am a reporter first, communications researcher second. I call the people that I don't think will ever talk to me again, and ask them to show me their way, I might have my facts wrong after all. So maybe, just maybe, I should challenge the guy to put on a climate change panel for AJMC in August, cause I know that I have access to enough data to prove that his point in the World segment is doggone wrong, and I think the coverage from the conference prove it. There is no way Heartland's view of climate change is the predominant frame on this issue, no matter how right those scientists and policy wonks are in their assessment of the consequences and lack of scientific justification for current public policy on the issue.