Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Wisdom of Julia Gillard

Prime Ministerial Economics

The PM tells us
that money won’t grow on trees!
No!  We never knew.

She also opines
cash can’t come from thin air—yet
she’ll tax CO2.*

Prime Ministerial Promises

Julia Gillard
swore there’d be no ‘carbon’ tax.
Her word is not true;

clearly, she utters
foolishness, false oaths, and lies—
and more than a few.

Prime Ministerial Nannying

“You must eat your greens,”
says Gillard, “for only I
know what’s best for you

“and, since my ‘Nay’ means
‘Yea’ sometimes, do as I say 
and not as I do.”

Prime Ministerial Semantics

Voters distrust her
and more and more people have
a sceptical view.

Gillard blames Abbott.
“I have a cunning scheme which
he dares misconstrue:

“he attacks my tax
as a ‘carbon’ tax;  but it’s
a price I pursue!”

(Earlier, Gillard
was “happy” to use the word
that now she’d eschew.)

Prime Ministerial Divagations

She has seen the pit
below, and Lucifer and
all his retinue;

she’s “literally
been to hell and back”, she claims.
She hasn’t a clue.§

*  see ABC/AAP; and see “375 Days until Labor’s Thin Air Tax”, by Tim Blair.  See also “The Prime Minister’s Respect for Science”, at Impact of Climate Change.
†  a ‘carbon’ tax is the right thing for the planet:  “It’s the equivalent of saying ‘eat your vegetables’, I suppose,” our widdiful Prime Nanny admitted on Sydney radio.  (Updated Tuesday, 28, June.)
‡  according to ABC News, the Prime Minister said, “I’ve always been determined to create an emissions trading scheme and I’ve always been determined that the fixed-price period would be as short as possible and we would get to that emissions trading scheme, [...] What Tony Abbott likes to refer to as a ‘carbon’ tax, a fixed-price period, before an emissions trading scheme should be as short as possible.”  Back in February, the Prime Minister said this:  “Well, can I say this is a market-based mechanism to price carbon.  It has a fixed price period at the start, a price that will be fixed.  That is effectively a tax and I’m happy to say the word tax.”  (Updated Friday, 1, July.)
§  see “Our Heroic Leader or εἰς κόρακας”.   (Added Tuesday, 5, July.)

UPDATE I (3 August):  Prime Ministerial Similarities with President Obama
They’re equally wise.
Another manufactured
crisis?  Join the queue.

Let’s have ponzi schemes
as vital as “climate-change
Déjà vu.
UPDATE II (18 September):  Prime Ministerial Similarities with Pinocchio
“I’m not telling lies,”
the prime minister shouts, but
her long nose just grew.
See also “The Elocution of Julia Gillard”.


Win these light globes!

Over the next weeks, the best comment or suggestion added below will win this carton of six “Home Brand” (made in China for Woolworths), unused, clear, 60W incandescent light globes.  They’re screw-cap (alas), but we shall post them (at no cost to the winner) to any address within Australia.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

“Why Carbon Is Innocent”

In “Why carbon is innocent”, Peter Ravenscroft summarises the case for exculpating carbon dioxide from the base accusations of defamatory misanthracists:
Consensus in the natural sciences is unavoidably a set of fashion statements, but anthropogenic greenhouse warming (AGW), one of the newer sets, is inspired nonsense.  Its foundation mythology is based, I contend, on a very poor grasp of basic chemistry, geology, geophysics, oceanography and logic.  Few of the current crop of climate scientists have any real familiarity with those vastly complex fields—not their fault, just reality—the field is too big for the human mind.  I do not claim to understand climate change either, just to have seen some of the problems and some possible alternatives.  [...]
Sure, the climate is changing, it always does, see the geological record.  This is the peak of an interglacial, merely one of the most unstable times in geological history, barring incoming large meteorites, gamma ray bursts and magnetic field reversals.  The geomagnetic field of this planet has declined by a third in the last 400 years, we have lowered water tables in many regions and we have cut down a large proportion of the Earth’s trees, one of the main continental air-conditioning systems.  Why would the climate not change?  It is likely that the continental surface and the lower atmosphere are warming and that we are in part responsible.  But there is no evidence whatever that anthropogenic greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are the cause of that climate change.  A vast amount of generally ignored satellite and other hard data now shows, very clearly, that our industrial and other carbon dioxide outputs are of minute importance in that change, if any and also that the far larger natural production of carbon dioxide (CO2) is not occurring anywhere near where the planet is actually warming.  Other things, as yet unknown or little understood, are driving the change.  So apart from the important gain of getting people to conserve scarce resources, the war on carbon is a total waste of effort.
We do not yet remotely understand what caused the ice ages, the main climatic shifts in the last 2 million years, though geologists and others have been trying to do so seriously for over 200 years.  The more strident carbonists are incensed that geologists have the audacity to participate in this debate and to look skeptical about their views, but it is they who are the newcomers here.  The climate change debate started as an attempt to explain the ice ages and still requires them to be explained.  All carbonists are very welcome of course and maybe they will solve the puzzle, but they do seem a little time-shallow as yet.  Until we understand what drives the ice ages, we will not understand climate change.
The main problem for the AGW model is that where real surface warming happening geographically does not remotely match where humans are generating CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  Or for that matter, where nature is generating far vaster anomalous amounts of CO2 either.  Since trace gases disperse in the atmosphere, an inescapable consequence of the laws of thermodynamics, AGW requires the atmospheric heating it postulates to happen above and just downwind of the sources of the gas.  The real pattern is complex and it shifts by the week, but the most intense surface warming on average is in eastern Siberia, in and around the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Congo-Angola region, three places with about the lowest concentrations of both human-generated and naturally- generated CO2 on the planet.
Download “Why carbon is innocent” (a PDF of 1.2 MB).  (Thanks to Climate Realists.)

“Carbon Dioxide Is Necessary and Ubiquitous”

Lawrence Solomon, in the Financial Post, writes:
The justices of the United States Supreme Court this week became the world’s most august global warming sceptics.  Not by virtue of their legal reasoning—the global warming case they decided turned on a technical legal issue—but in their surprising commentary.  Global warming is by no means a settled issue, they made clear, suggesting it would be foolhardy to assume it was.
“The court, we caution, endorses no particular view of the complicated issues related to carbon-dioxide emissions and climate change,” reads the 8-0 decision, delivered by the court’s acclaimed liberal, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The court decision noted that the Environmental Protection Agency itself had “Acknowledg[ed] that not all scientists agreed on the causes and consequences of the rise in global temperatures,” before suggesting readers consult “views opposing” the conventional wisdom.  Specifically, the justices’ recommended reading was a superb profile of Princeton’s Freeman Dyson, perhaps America’s most respected scientist, written in the New York Times Magazine, March 29, 2009.
Freeman, an unabashed skeptic, believes that carbon dioxide, rather than being harmful, is both necessary and desirable, arguing that “increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
Somewhat in the same vein, Justice Ginsburg notes carbon dioxide is necessary and ubiquitous, and thus shouldn’t be the target of indiscriminate attacks.  “After all, we each emit carbon dioxide merely by breathing,” she notes, repeating a point that Dyson couldn’t have said better himself.
See “The Civil Heretic”, by Nicholas Dawidoff, in the New York Times Magazine:
Dyson is well aware that “most consider me wrong about global warming.”  That educated Americans tend to agree with the conclusion about global warming reached earlier this month at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen (“inaction is inexcusable”) only increases Dyson’s resistance.  Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology and has a withering aversion to scientific consensus.  The Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg admires Dyson’s physics—he says he thinks the Nobel committee fleeced him by not awarding his work on quantum electrodynamics with the prize—but Weinberg parts ways with his sensibility: “I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.”
Dyson says he doesn’t want his legacy to be defined by climate change, but his dissension from the orthodoxy of global warming is significant because of his stature and his devotion to the integrity of science.  Dyson has said he believes that the truths of science are so profoundly concealed that the only thing we can really be sure of is that much of what we expect to happen won’t come to pass.  In Infinite in All Directions, he writes that nature’s laws “make the universe as interesting as possible.”  This also happens to be a fine description of Dyson’s own relationship to science.  In the words of Avishai Margalit, a philosopher at the Institute for Advanced Study, “He’s a consistent reminder of another possibility.”  When Dyson joins the public conversation about climate change by expressing concern about the “enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories,” these reservations come from a place of experience.  Whatever else he is, Dyson is the good scientist; he asks the hard questions.  He could also be a lonely prophet. Or, as he acknowledges, he could be dead wrong. 
It was four years ago that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change.  Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.”  Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession”—the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism.  Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”  Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”  [...]
For Hansen, the dark agent of the looming environmental apocalypse is carbon dioxide contained in coal smoke.  Coal, he has written, “is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.”  Hansen has referred to railroad cars transporting coal as “death trains.”  Dyson, on the other hand, told me in conversations and e-mail messages that “Jim Hansen’s crusade against coal overstates the harm carbon dioxide can do.”  Dyson well remembers the lethal black London coal fog of his youth when, after a day of visiting the city, he would return to his hometown of Winchester with his white shirt collar turned black.  Coal, Dyson says, contains “real pollutants” like soot, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, “really nasty stuff that makes people sick and looks ugly.”  These are “rightly considered a moral evil,” he says, but they “can be reduced to low levels by scrubbers at an affordable cost.”  He says Hansen “exploits” the toxic elements of burning coal as a way of condemning the carbon dioxide it releases, “which cannot be reduced at an affordable cost, but does not do any substantial harm.”  [...]
Dyson says it’s only principle that leads him to question global warming: “According to the global-warming people, I say what I say because I’m paid by the oil industry.  Of course I’m not, but that’s part of their rhetoric.  If you doubt it, you’re a bad person, a tool of the oil or coal industry.”  Global warming, he added, “has become a party line.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Without Carbon Dioxide We’d All Be Dead

“Photosynthesis” by Cliff Ollier*
CO2 and H2O and sunlight

Are the reason we can eat our daily bread
CO2 and H2O and sunlight
Without the CO2 we’d all be dead

For plants store energy by making sugars

And other foods that bring us great delight.
It’s the basis of all life upon the planet
CO2 and H2O and light.

Photosynthesis is what they call it,

Photo puts the emphasis on light,
Synthesis means putting it together:
CO2 and H2O and light.

The lion has an antelope for breakfast,

And the antelope, before his final fright,

Ate grass, which like all other vegetation,

Fixed CO2 and H2O and light.

The mighty whale eats krill to keep its weight up,

And the krill eat tiny plants, near out of sight,
And the tiny plants create the basic food store
From CO2 and H2O and light.

The food chain can be very complicated
With formulae to give a student fright,

But the basis of the chain is very simple –

It’s CO2 and H2O and light.

Now some say CO2 is a pollutant,

A poison we must always try to fight
But remember if you want to go on living –

You need CO2 and H2O and light!

CO2 and H2O and sunlight

Are the reason we can eat our daily bread
CO2 and H2O and sunlight
Without the CO2 we’d all be dead.
*  From Quadrant Online, March 29, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Foundation of the Friends of Carbon Dioxide

From the valedictory speech of Senator the Hon. Nick Minchin:
I must say that when I first learned of the existence of the Australian Greenhouse Office, I assumed it was responsible for supplying tomatoes to the Parliament House kitchen. But, no, as I soon learned as industry minister, it was in fact a government funded redoubt of veritable soldiers in a war against carbon dioxide. The zealotry and obsessive passion of these warriors in the battle against the apparent evils of carbon dioxide remains a curiosity to me.  After fighting these people for three years as industry minister, I really did wish they would just go away and grow tomatoes.  I am quite surprised and rather disappointed by the loneliness, isolation and indeed demonisation the sadly misunderstood CO2 is experiencing.  Thus, upon leaving the parliament [wherein Sen. Minchin served since 1993], I am contemplating the foundation of an organisation called ‘The Friends of Carbon Dioxide’. Membership will of course be open to all, including the plants whose very existence depends on CO2. I think this organisation’s slogan, ‘CO2 is not pollution’, self-selects.  It has both accuracy and melody to commend it.  I do acknowledge the remarkable power of CO2.  After all, it led me to have to do something I had thought unthinkable, and that was to resign from the coalition frontbench at the end of 2009—albeit for only a very short time.  CO2 played a significant part in the demise of Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull.  It may well result in the demise of our current Prime Minister, so that really is some gas!
I do remain optimistic that one day the world will realise that carbon dioxide is more of a friend than an enemy to the earth’s flora and fauna, and I do seriously believe that, given the extraordinary complexity of the natural forces controlling our climate, which have done so for millions of years, the only sensible policy response to the natural process of climate change is prudent and cost-effective adaptation.