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Temp Taking



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A hard-science professor e-mails: 

I understand your scepticism regarding the temperature record. Temperature fluctuates by a few degrees every day and you may have a hard time understanding how the average temperature can be reported with the accuracy of one-tenth of a degree.

It nonetheless can be done.  When temperature is monitored continuously throughout the day, week after week, the hourly and daily fluctuations average out.

There are also spatial fluctuations: weather varies from place to place. However, averaging over the globe helps get rid of this source of noise, too.

If you are interested in further details, more information is available at the National Climatic Data Center .

A Decade Here, a Decade There...



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Well, this is about what one has come to expect from reporting on “global warming”:

Hundreds of political delegates become “hundreds of scientists”; yes we’re used to this, at least it beats the usual “thousands”. But, c’mon, “China, which is set to overtake the United States within the next decade or so as the world’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving global warming,…” Also ignore for the moment the subtly clever characterization of CO2′s role in climate; the real offense is that the author just made this part about China up.

In reality, the International Energy Agency’s projection — that China would overtake the U.S. in 2008 — was recently revised forward by the US Energy Information Administration to China’s emissions likely overtaking ours…this year. An error of a decade in the article, without the remotest possibility that the rreporter sourced is somewhere. I assure you that you will not find this error working the other way, to wit, “China, which passed the United States a decade ago as the world’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide…”, for the obvious reason that that would do nothing to paint the U.S. as bad guy.

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Another Temp Question



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From a nanoengineering reader:

Subject: WRONG Temperature in USA Report

Dear Ms. Lopez:


As can be seen in this chart and many others like it found on the web.

global mean temperature has been between -0.4 C and +0.4 C or approximately 32 F over the years 1860 to the present.

I have no idea what the USA Today chart is depicting that reports temperatures in the range 56.4 F and 57.7 F, and it is certainly not clarified in the article.

UPDATE:

Another e-mail:

In reference to your email from a “nanoengineering reader,” please note that the referenced graph refers to deviation from the mean, not the mean. The globe’s mean temperature does not range -0.4 to +0.4 C. I hope this engineer never designs anything that I’ll come into contact with, because he (and you) seem to be able to read the simplest displays of data.

And another:

Aside from your skepticism (which I share) over the accuracy of global temperature measurements in 1860, there is another huge problem with the graph which you reproduced from USA Today.  It is enormously distorted to show a steep incline in temperature when, in fact, the incline is, in absolute terms, really quite modest. 

You can make any increase or decrease look either large or small by the parameters that you use for the measurements on the vertical axis of the graph.  In the graph used in USA Today, someone has arbitrarily chosen to only graph temperatures between 56 Degrees and 58 Degrees.  They did that, I’m sure, for the sole reason of making it look like a dramatic spike.  If they had chosen 0 to 100 (or even 0 to 58), the graph would have looked virtually flat.

Anyone who works in a large bureaucracy knows this game.  It’s the game people play at budget time, to show spikes in their Department’s activity or similar phenomena to try to justify the budgetary increase for which they are asking.  Where I work, we’ve started requiring all graphs to start with a baseline of zero in order to stop this kind of thing, because it is just plain dishonest.

Heated Distortions?



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P.S. A friend points out:

Check out the USA Today graph accompanying the AP story on the international global- warming report. It makes it appear that the earth’s temperatures have been shooting upward. But upon closer examination, it only shows an increase of 1.2 degrees—over the last 150 years. 1860, according to the chart, is when “accurate measurements began.” Really? They could accurately measure the temperature, around the globe, to the tenth of a degree, in 1860? And as accurately as we can today with satellites?

When you have to stretch something that far, it’s usually best to start over.

Rancor on the Planet



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BRUSSELS (AP) — An international global warming conference approved a report on climate change Friday, chairman Rajendra Pachauri said, after a contentious marathon session that saw angry exchanges between diplomats and scientists who drafted the report.

“We have an approved accord. It has been a complex exercise,” Pachauri told reporters after an all-night meeting.

Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However, some scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change vowed never to take part in the process again.

“The authors lost,” said one participant. “A lot of authors are not going to engage in the IPCC process anymore. I have had it with them,” he said on condition of anonymity because the proceedings were supposed to remain confidential. An Associated Press reporter, however, witnessed part of the final meeting.

The climax of five days of negotiations was reached when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a tussle over the level of confidence attached to key statements.

The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised the most objections to the phrasing, most often seeking to tone down the certainty of some of the more dire projections.

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Is global warming driving auto sales?



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Like hurricane-season predictions, the MSM now shades monthly car sales stories with an eye towards global warming. As Toyota and Honda continue to carve into Detroit’s market share, the knee-jerk Green line is that Big Three sales are down because Americans are abandoning Detroit’s gas-guzzling trucks and opting for Japanese hybrids.

Well, not exactly.

 


Consider Toyota. Its U.S. numbers surged last month in part because sales of its unique Toyota Prius hybrid more than double from a year ago. But the company’s other hybrids – the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX-400 – saw sales slide by 16 and 40 percent respectively.

 

Ditto Honda’s hybrid sales. Its compact Insight (introduced in 1999, a year before the Prius) has been discontinued due to lack of demand, while sales of the hybrid version of its popular Accord are off a whopping 33 percent.

 


The Prius is an undeniable hit (selling over 100,000 units in 2006), but industry analysts say there is another factor in its March sales spike: The federal tax break on the Prius of $1,575 dropped 50 percent to $787.50 on April 1 under federal rules. Furthermore, the tax break only applies to the first 60,000 of any one hybrid model’s sales. That, combined with generous sales incentives, may mean Prius hybrid sales will fall to earth with other hybrids as the year winds down.

 


Meanwhile, Toyota truck sales of its huge new Tundra and Tacoma trucks are up by double digits, while GM’s biggest truck – the mammoth, 14-mpg Suburban – saw sales race ahead 31 percent last month!

 


Look across all vehicles and the trend in today’s auto market is not Al Gore-induced eco-awareness as many MSM pundits would have you believe. What continues to drive the American consumer is quality. And Toyota does that consistently better – big or small, model for model – than anyone out there.

Newt vs. Kerry



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This I want to be at.

“Ordering the E.P.A. to address global warming may be a legal victory for environment groups, but it will probably just slow progress against global warming. “



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More from John Tierney here.

Is global warming driving auto sales?



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Like hurricane season predictions, the MSM now interprets monthly car sales figures with an eye towards global warming. As Toyota and Honda continue to carve into Detroit’s market share, the knee-jerk Green line is that Big Three sales are down because Americans are abandoning Detroit’s gas-guzzling trucks and opting for Japanese hybrids.

 

Well, not exactly.

 

Consider Toyota. Its U.S. numbers surged last month in part because sales of its unique Toyota Prius hybrid more than double from a year ago. But the company’s other hybrids – the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX-400 – saw sales slide by 16 and 40 percent respectively.

 

Ditto Honda’s hybrid sales. Its compact Insight (introduced in 1999, a year before the Prius) has been discontinued due to lack of demand, while sales of the hybrid version of its popular Accord are off a whopping 33 percent.

 

The Prius is an undeniable hit (selling over 100,000 units in 2006), but industry analysts say there is another factor in its March sales spike: The federal tax break on the Prius of $1,575 dropped 50 percent to $787.50 on April 1 under federal rules. Furthermore, the tax break only applies to the first 60,000 of any one hybrid model’s sales. That, combined with generous sales incentives, may mean Prius hybrid sales will fall to earth with other hybrids as the year winds down.

 

Meanwhile, Toyota truck sales of its huge new Tundra and Tacoma trucks are up by double digits, while GM’s biggest truck – the mammoth, 14-mpg Suburban – saw sales race ahead 31 percent last month!

 

Look across all vehicles and the trend in today’s auto market is not Al Gore-induced eco-awareness as many MSM pundits would have you believe. What continues to drive the American consumer is quality. And Toyota does that consistently better – big or small, model for model – than anyone out there.

Selected, Not Enacted



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Now that the Supremes have decided that the deliberative processes of the two elected branches of government had failed to date to produce the desired outcome when it comes to making expensive, futile gestures in the name of climate control, it is certainly only a matter of hours before we hear former Vice President Gore tossing in a line about how even a majority of the Supreme Court now agrees that global warming is a terrific threat. His acolytes will spread the claim far and wide.

I for one shall take no small pleasure in in the spectacle of this mantra, from this crowd, which for (what seemed like) the longest time screeched about the cravenness of a 5-4 majority hijacking the political process upon which we count for the truest reflection of public will.

Greens win on another court front



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In addition to the Supremes, Greens won on another court front last week as they press their bid to shut down carbon-related industries. In West Virginia, reports AP, enviro groups “hailed a federal court victory as the possible death knell of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.”

 

The mining industry vowed to appeal a judge’s ruling that demands costly, endless environmental reviews for site permitting. The ruling puts 30 pending projects on hold and raised fears of broader job losses. A similar ruling (ultimately overturned) by a Clinton appointee in the late 1990s turned the traditionally Democratic state against Clinton/Gore enviro policies and was a key factor in Bush’s 2000 upset win there.

 

The war on mountaintop mining puts a lie to Gore’s oft-stated claim that Green is good for jobs – and has opened a rift between the Democratic bases of enviro and union activists.

 

West Virginia surface mines employ an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people.

 

“We’ve seen what a dramatic effect this has on people’s jobs and lives when they have these kinds of decisions,” said the president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “What does it do to our people who are out there working?”

RFK Jr. vs. Washington



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He says the environ posts are filled by polluters in his latest Vanity Fair piece.

Vote Now



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A fellow Planet Gore-ite asked the following question, and suggested I post the response as food for thought. So here goes the question and answer, (I’m somewhat busy at the moment, so please excuse the lack of hyperlinks). I also do not indulge the purists horrified at the prospect of doing anything in the face of protocol; it’s protocol, and I’m told that the issue at hand addresses “the greatest threat facing mankind”. As such, I believe that offending protocol has the political upper hand here.

 

Possibly more later as the politics of SCOTUS’s CO2 opinion yesterday percolate.

 

Question: Is the Senate free to ratify Kyoto at any time? Or do they have to wait for the President to submit it to them. If the former, has anyone written anything on this glaring failure of the Democrat-controlled Congress to ratify Kyoto?

 

Answer: The former: there is nothing in the Constitution impeding or prohibiting the Senate from voting on a duly signed treaty. Protocol, as manifested in Senate rules, is the sole structural impediment (a lack of political will and related considerations also come into play).

That is, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee rules read as though they only contemplate voting on treaties transmitted to them by the president; Senate Standing Rule XXX contemplates only voting on treaties reported out by the FRC.

 

Now, who writes those rules, and regularly waives them (including for the purpose of Barbara Boxer’s unique, opening hearing on climate change? Right. And only the Senate, per the Constitution, so no court would impede them.

 

[In truth of course, because the "political question" doctrine dictates that this is between them and the Executive, the Senate also could vote on a treaty that Bush “unsigned”, the “Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”. I suggest that the subsequent political dynamic would be quite different, however.]

 

The problem potentially would be that in truth a treaty isn’t really ratified until a president submits the instrument of ratification, in this case with the UNFCCC, but now we get into the weeds, though it is a useful discussion.

 

If the Senate ratifies Kyoto thereby challenging Bush to follow through on that act, clearly there is some measure of political pressure on Bush to submit the ratification – as well as an opportunity to educate the public, eschewed to date so an unlikely prospect. This pressure is, however, much less on him as a lame duck, but even more so for one who the world claims has already “rejected” and/or “withdrawn from” Kyoto. It seems to go without saying that the political cost is mitigated when one is only doing that which the world already thinks you’ve done. You just re-antagonize them. (Trust me, with this crowd, you won’t know the difference.) Heck, pass the buck to the next guy, just like Clinton did with this – it was 801 days after agreeing to Kyoto before he left office, without lifting a finger; he did the same with the ICC, even claiming during the signing ceremony that he didn’t agree with the document!

 

At this point the establishment mavens need smelling salts. The rest of you, bear with me.

The ultimate point toward which this argues is that the prevailing notion that George W. Bush is responsible for the US refusal to play Kyoto ball is absurd, if very, very politically useful for the Europeans–and our domestic version, the Democrats. He ought to simply transmit the treaty now – on the heels of the SCOTUS opinion and Democrat crowing about how the wind is now at their back to overcome that awful Bush – to make this point, demanding a vote if without recommendation.

 

The Senate after all is preparing to vote on the annual “embarrass-Bush-on-his-way-to-the-G-8” resolution, this year styled as “Biden-Lugar”, demanding that he negotiate a treaty that the Senate can approve of. To which the clever, I’ve-had-it-with-this Bush says, “you mean, do a better job of negotiating than Gore did. Well, there’s an offer on the table. Have at it.”

Republican Senate offices I’ve talked to are inexplicably terrified of this scenario. They think the Ds would get a majority but not 2/3 and make political hay blaming those mean Republicans. I say a) no they wouldn’t, but b) sounds like a nice fight to have, and besides, c) Article II Sec. 2 says treaties require approval by 2/3 of those voting.

 

So, Republicans, don’t vote. Leave it to those who profess global salvation. (At this point in the discussion, industry’s knees start knocking; apparently there are more Senators than Bernie Sanders who really want the US to be party to Kyoto). And watch the fun when they realize what you’re up to. Rushing down to change votes, deploring your conduct as a dirty trick, and other outbursts.

 

Alternately, the Republicans announce their plan to watch, in advance, and watch their antagonists, who have had a free ride on this issue at their expense, and fully count on two more years of it to really take over, rush to block what they earlier called salvation on procedural grounds (no presidential transmittal, etc).

 

Again, food for thought.

Hurricane Predictions



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Shorter USA Today .

Meteorologists: “We predicted death and destruction last year, and we were wrong–but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to us this year!”

Update: Yes, I’m aware that Gray is a prominent global warming skeptic, but what’s important here is that forecasts of an intense hurricane season will inevitably be linked to global warming, a notion that’s sadly mistaken. 

“It’s about time we started billing America’s fighting forces for their irresponsible greenhouse-gas emissions and putting the money into developing a wind-powered aircraft carrier.”



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Stephen Spruiell reports on Congressman Peter Welch’s inconvenient idea.

John Kerry Is All About Diapers and Lightbulbs



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From Climate Change to Theory of Everything



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Just in case you had forgotten the metaphysical pretensions of the climate alarmism crowd, consider David Robert’s mini-manifesto in today’s Huffington Post:

What we really need is to remake the way humanity lives on the world. We need a Second Industrial Revolution that produces more equitable distribution of resources, greater local and regional self-sufficiency, reduced terrorism, war, and conflict, and above all an immensely reduced ecological footprint.

That’s the kind of charge that can inspire a generation. That’s the kind of charge that lends itself to narrative and myth. That’s a story a generation can tell about itself. “Fight climate change” is clinical, narrow, and negative. “Remake the world” is inspiring, encompassing, and positive.

Hmm, “remake the world”? That reminds me of another “encompassing” saying, this one from Marx: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.” If I recall correctly, the outcome of those inspiring words wasn’t especially positive.

Regulate the Chemicals...



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As everyone who’s taken a look at the front pages of the major papers knows by now, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that he EPA has the power to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. Jonathan Adler has a summary and response to the case in NRO today:

Congress has discussed and debated the issue of global warming for years, consistently refusing to adopt regulatory controls on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Despite this fact, a divided Supreme Court decided Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency has untapped authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from new motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. The Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA makes federal regulation of carbon emissions a near-absolute certainty, and not just from cars and trucks. It also ensures that federal courts will retain a hand in climate-change policy for many years to come.

The legal controversy began in 1999 when a handful of environmentalist groups petitioned the EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles. The Clinton administration accepted the argument that the EPA had such authority, but declined to act on it. At the time, I speculated that the EPA was hoping a federal court would force its hand, thereby reducing and political costs to initiating new emissions regulations unilaterally. Ever since a Democratic Congress had rejected the Clinton-Gore energy-tax proposal, the administration was reluctant to address global warming head on.

After the Bush administration took over, the environmentalist groups repeated their call for action. Joined by several state attorneys general, they prepared to sue. In response, the Bush EPA formally rejected the initial petitions on the grounds that the EPA lacked the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases without express approval from Congress. Although there is language in the Clean Air Act that could be applied to greenhouse gases, these provisions were designed to address conventional air-pollution problems, such as soot and smog, rather than control global atmospheric pollutants. Even if it the EPA such authority, the Bush EPA argued, it would be unwise to do so given scientific uncertainty and the need for coordinated international action on climate change.

Read the whole thing.

Also, it should be noted that the name of the writer who wrote the front page story on the case for the New York Times today is Linda Greenhouse

Taxing BBQ



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I’d normally be hesitant to depend upon one single report from Novosti about goings on in the world but this (via Reason’s Hit and Run ) is simply too good to ignore.

Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros for a grilling session.

The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.

As Reason points out, they’re going to use helicopters (1 tonne of CO2 emitted per 900 miles flown) to look for BBQs that emit 50 grammes of CO2? That is, that for every 900 miles flown, they’ve got to uncover (or deter) 20,000 illegal BBQs?

Surely this is simply a late April Fool’s entry?

If it isn’t, well, I guess that Iain Murray is right that Pigou taxes aren’t quite what I like to think they are. If we take the numbers from the Stern Review (yes, yes, disagree if you wish but let’s at least follow the green logic to see where it leads shall we?) then the correct tax on one tonne of CO2 is $85. This is some 0.62 euro cents per 100 grammes CO2. The point of Pigou taxes is, remember, to only tax the actual cost of the externality so this is in fact over taxation by the order of 3,000 % or so (if my math is correct, not a certainty).

If over taxation at that sort of level is what our Lords and Masters have in mind to stop the oceans from flooding the rice paddies well, paraphrasing the last words of King George V, bugger Bangladesh.

I would much rather believe that the translation unit at Novosti is simply a couple of days slow on this.

The Green Supremes



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The Supreme Court has given us another rude reminder of the importance of judicial appointments – a legacy that long outlasts a president’s own tenure. Three Republican nominees joined two Clinton appointees Monday to render a breathtaking act of judicial fiat (decision is here). The court’s Green majority declared carbon dioxide a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). That’s right, the very stuff that you are exhaling right now is a “waste product that renders the air harmful or generally unusable,” as Webster’s defines pollutant. So if CO2 is now the functional equivalent of lead, must the EPA remove it entirely? What level constitutes harmful CO2?

 

As CEI’s Marlo Lewis pointed out in a comprehensive preview of this case in 2005, the idea that the Clean Air Act applies to CO2 is an “affront to common sense.”

 

“Indeed, the terms ‘greenhouse gas’ and ‘greenhouse effect’ do not appear anywhere in the Act,” continues Lewis in his NRO piece. “Nowhere does it even hint at establishing a climate-change-prevention program. There is no subchapter, section, or even subsection on global climate change.”

 

But the Green Supremes, parroting claims brought by America’s bluest states and their activist allies, have simply rewritten federal law in order to satisfy their personal fears of climate change.

 

“Rising seas have already begun to swallow Massachusetts coastal land,” writes Justice John Paul Stevens, a view at the left fringe of global warming science.

 

In effect, the Green Supremes just signed the 1997 Kyoto Treaty regulating CO2 emissions, a treaty the elected U.S. Senate never ratified. In fact, though the Clinton Administration signed the pact in 1997, it didn’t bother to submit it for ratification after a preliminary, 95-0 Senate vote declared the treaty unacceptable.

 

No matter, the justices have substituted their opinions for our elected bodies.

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