28 Dec 2009, 3:55pm
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The New Climate Litigation

How about if we sue you for breathing?

Opinion, Wall Street Journal, Dec 28, 2009 [here]

Fresh from the fiasco in Copenhagen and with a failure in the U.S. Senate looming this coming year, the climate-change lobby is already shifting to Plan B, or is it already Plan D? Meet the carbon tort.

Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that’s not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws.

A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. “My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions,” Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. “We’re trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.”

Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn’t suing to right a wrong. He admits that he’s suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public’s elected representatives choose.

more »

21 Dec 2009, 4:34pm
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Cold snap wreaks havoc across Europe

BBC News, 21 Dec 2009 [here]

At least 29 people froze to death in Poland as temperatures fell far below freezing, while in southern Germany a figure of -33C (-27F) was recorded.

Moscow said it was deploying 9,000 snow ploughs to clear the city’s streets.

Flights have been cancelled and Eurostar passenger trains are still not running after electrical failures.

More than 55,000 travellers had journeys cancelled after six trains broke down, in what Eurostar said was unprecedented winter weather in France.

The company hopes to announce on Monday evening when services between England, France and Belgium would resume.

Second wave of snowstorms

In Poland, police appealed for people to help if they came across homeless or drunk people lying outside as temperatures dropped towards -20C in some areas. Most of those who froze to death over the weekend were homeless.

Meanwhile, one restaurant owner offered tens of thousands of homeless people a hot meal in Krakow’s main square. … [more]

21 Dec 2009, 4:33pm
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Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri

By Christopher Booker and Richard North, UK Telegraph, Dec 20, 2009 [here]

No one in the world exercised more influence on the events leading up to the Copenhagen conference on global warming than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and mastermind of its latest report in 2007.

Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’. It is remarkable how only very recently has the staggering scale of Dr Pachauri’s links to so many of these concerns come to light, inevitably raising questions as to how the world’s leading ‘climate official’ can also be personally involved in so many organisations which stand to benefit from the IPCC’s recommendations. … [more]

21 Dec 2009, 4:31pm
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Science ad rem, not politics ad hominem

From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

SPPI Blog, Dec 20, 2009 [here]

Recently an enquirer wrote to a Doctor of Science who is a true-believer in the “global warming” theory, and drew his attention to some of my conclusions to the effect that the science is not as settled as we are being told. The Doctor replied with an ad-hominem attack on me, but also included some scientific argument. Here, I respond to that argument, giving an outline of the reasons why the official version of the science may be doubtful.

Dear enquirer, – A Doctor of Science has copied to me his email to you about climate change, in which he makes a number of ad-hominem points about me to which I propose not to respond. He also attaches a graph showing global temperature to have risen at a rate of 0.6 C/century since 1880, and an article drawing conclusions from a computer model and from a gravitational-anomaly satellite. To these I shall respond.

I have tried to keep abreast of – and remain skeptical of – scientific reports in the peer-reviewed literature on all sides of the climate argument. I neither believe nor disbelieve anything scientific unless it has been proven or disproven. The notion that an increase of 1 part in 2000 in the proportion of the atmosphere occupied by carbon dioxide will have a significant impact on the climate is coming close to being disproven.

We must first distinguish between causes and effects. Changes in global temperature, or in the ice-mass balance of Greenland, are effects. CO2, it is suggested, is a cause of those effects. And so, of course, it is: but, as best I can make it out, not a substantial cause. … [much more, good science review]

19 Dec 2009, 12:52pm
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Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure

by John Vidal, Allegra Stratton and Suzanne Goldenberg, guardian.co.uk, 19 December 2009 [here]

The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement in Copenhagen tonight, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come.

After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord “recognises” the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but does not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.

American officials spun the deal as a “meaningful agreement”, but even Obama said: “This progress is not enough.” …

Obama cast his trip as a sign of renewed US global leadership: “The time has come for us to get off the sidelines and shape the future that we seek; that is why I came to Copenhagen.”

But the US president also said he would not be staying for the final vote “because of weather constraints in Washington”. … [more]

17 Dec 2009, 7:13pm
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Clinton Offers Surprise Deal at Climate Conference

by James Graff, World Editor, Sphere, Dec 17, 2009 [here]

With the clock winding down and the hosts of the Copenhagen climate conference reportedly abandoning hope of a deal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a possibly game-changing U.S. push to facilitate a $100 billion per year fund to help developing countries pay for measures to mitigate and adapt to global warning. Her remarks threw the spotlight on China and set exhausted negotiators back to work on salvaging a conference still teetering on the edge of failure. …

The proposal gave a fillip of hope to negotiators who have been unable to bridge yawning gaps between poor countries and the richest ones over how to pay the trillions of dollars in estimated costs to reach the conference’s stated goal of keeping average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. The next 24 hours will reveal whether it is enough to reshuffle the cards and allow government leaders to sign a substantive agreement Friday.

Even if her conditions are fulfilled, Clinton remained intentionally vague on how much U.S. taxpayers would be contributing to any such fund. “We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” she said.

Nevertheless, the prospect of any U.S. public funds going into such a fund is sure to further stiffen the spines of Republicans in Congress who don’t even believe there’s any global warming to mitigate. Sen James Inhofe, R-Okla. — already in Copenhagen at the vanguard of what Fox News reports will be 40 members of Congress arriving today and Friday — poured cold water on any chance of an agreement. “Nothing binding will come out of here in my opinion, and if it does, it will be rejected by the American people,” he said.

In a bid to head off the first of those predictions, President Barack Obama will arrive in Copenhagen Friday morning for what he hopes will be a signing ceremony with about 110 other government leaders. … [more]

16 Dec 2009, 10:18pm
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Climategate: Something’s Rotten in Denmark

Note: Below is the introduction and a link to an excellent essay by Joseph D’Aleo BS, MS (Meteorology, University of Wisconsin), Doctoral Studies (NYU), Executive Director - ICECAP [here] (International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project), Fellow of the AMS, College Professor Climatology/Meteorology, First Director of Meteorology The Weather Channel, Hudson, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

From Climate Science: Roger A. Pielke Sr. [here]

It [D'Aleo's essay] very effectively summarizes a number of major issues with the quality of the land portion of the long-term surface temperature trend record that was used in the 2007 IPCC report, and is being assumed as robust at the current Copenhagen meeting.

I recommend this article for anyone who wants to see how really bad this temperature data is with respect to its application to the quantitative assessment of long-term surface temperature trends.

Climategate: Something’s Rotten in Denmark

…and East Anglia, Asheville, and New York City (Pajamas Media Exclusive)

Posted By Joseph D’Aleo On December 15, 2009 [here]

The familiar phrase was spoken by Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet — first performed around 1600, at the start of the Little Ice Age. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” is the exact quote. It recognizes that fish rots from the head down, and it means that all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy. Shakespeare proved to be Nostradamus. Four centuries later — at the start of what could be a new Little Ice Age — the rotting fish is Copenhagen.

The smell in the air may be from the leftover caviar at the banquet tables, or perhaps from the exhaust of 140 private jets and 1200 limousines commissioned by the attendees when they discovered there was to be no global warming evident in Copenhagen. (In fact, the cold will deepen and give way to snow before they leave, an extension of the Gore Effect.)

But the metaphorical stench comes from the well-financed bad science and bad policy, promulgated by the UN, and the complicity of the so-called world leaders, thinking of themselves as modern-day King Canutes (the Viking king of Denmark, England, and Norway — who ironically ruled during the Medieval Warm Period this very group has tried to deny). His flatterers thought his powers “so great, he could command the tides of the sea to go back.”

Unlike the warmists and the compliant media, Canute knew otherwise, and indeed the tide kept rising. Nature will do what nature always did — change.

It’s the data, stupid

If we torture the data long enough, it will confess. (Ronald Coase [1], Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, 1991) … [more]

16 Dec 2009, 7:58pm
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Chaos at climate conference

By GLENN THRUSH, Politico.com, 12/16/09 [here]

COPENHAGEN — The Copenhagen climate change conference appeared to be imploding from within and exploding from without on Wednesday.

Police fired tear gas, brandished batons and detained more than 200 protesters who tried to push through the security cordon around the Bella Center, as negotiations inside bogged down, for the second time this week, over differences between China and the West over emissions, funding issues and transparency.

“People around the world [are] actually expecting something to be done from us,” red-faced Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen lectured delegates from nearly 200 nations.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the highest-ranking American yet to appear at the talks, urged attendees to put aside their differences and “make Friday our day of success.”

Minutes earlier — in a surprise move that captured growing uncertainty over conference — Denmark’s climate minister, Connie Hedegaard, stepped aside as president of the conference, handing the gavel to Rasmussen, as head of the host country.

Outside, Danish police — who have been accused of heavy-handedness by human rights groups — clashed with thousands of environmental activists who descended on the complex from a nearby train station and demanded entry to the Bella Center.

BBC video showed truncheon-bearing Danish police shoving the crowd backward as protesters gasped and covered their faces to avoid breathing tear gas. … [more]

16 Dec 2009, 12:19am
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Delegates freeze as snow falls on global warming debates

by CATHY ALEXANDER, Sydney Morning Herald, December 14, 2009 [here]

COPENHAGEN: World leaders will meet to tackle global warming - in the snow.

The temperature in Copenhagen, where a landmark UN summit on climate change is taking place, is tipped to hit minus ten degrees Celsius this week.

Snow is expected to start falling on Sunday and continue through to the last day of the summit on Friday.

A white Christmas may please Denmark’s children but Copenhagen in the depths of winter is an odd setting to highlight the dangers of a warming world.

Delegates from Africa, Asia and the Pacific are struggling with the freezing conditions. Some do not have the right clothes and are trying to minimise their time spent outside this week.

Why UN organisers selected Copenhagen for the December summit remains a mystery. They might have had more success in drawing attention to the perils of hot weather if they had chosen Perth, where the temperature is forecast to reach 37 degrees this week, or Canberra where it will be 36.

A central issue at the summit is whether global warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees. But some delegates are saying that Copenhagen in December might be more pleasant if it was about 15 degrees warmer.

Copenhagen is also being criticised as the summit venue by delegates because it is very expensive.

A cappuccino costs $A5, a beer at least $7, a small hot dog from a street stand $8, and a “cheap”, simple lunch dish can easily cost $30.

Clothes are also expensive, making it difficult for delegates from the developing world to buy gear for the cold snap.

Ed Note: Copenhagen temps from Weather City [here]

Today Dec 16th (high/low) 2°C 0°C
Dec 17th Thursday 2°C -4°C
Dec 18th Friday 1°C -4°C
Dec 19th Saturday 1°C -4°C
Dec 20th Sunday 1°C -5°C

14 Dec 2009, 11:48pm
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Markey: Climate-Gate Has Become ‘Tree Ring Circus’

FOXNews.com, December 13, 2009 [here]

The release of e-mails that suggest climate change data were manipulated is causing a “tree ring circus” that is trying to inflate a scandal to prevent international efforts to reduce global warming, a leading House proponent of climate change legislation said Sunday.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who co-authored legislation to reduce U.S. manmade greenhouse gas production by 17 percent over the next 10 years, told “Fox News Sunday” that the thousands of e-mails now known as “Climate-gate” are actually a minute aspect of the overall study on global warming produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Markey’s legislation with Rep. Henry Waxman passed the House of Representatives earlier this year but stalled after passing the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. He said efforts to try to minimize studies that prove global warming — like one that looked at the size of rings in trees in Siberia — will make it harder to pass legislation that could help save both U.S. industries and the earth.

“The deniers want to create a Siberian tree ring circus,” Markey said. …

But Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the top skeptic in the Senate of manmade climate change, said the data are flawed, something he warned about in a 2005 speech in which he described complaints from some scientists who claimed they were being sidelined for their dissenting views that the science is “cooked.” …

Inhofe, who appeared with Markey, called the EPA finding an effort to try to “intimidate Congress into passing” legislation that he says will send jobs oversees. He added that the Senate version of the Markey-Waxman bill is dead and the lack of legislation limits the president’s ability to make pledges on behalf of the United States.

“The initial reductions he’s talking about are what you find in Markey’s bill, and that isn’t going to happen. And of course, that bill’s dead. It will never even be brought up again. … So it has to come down to what can the president do without legislation. And I think that is highly limited,” Inhofe said. … [more]

14 Dec 2009, 10:08am
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Beyond debate?

by Martin Cohen, Times Higher Education, 10 December 2009 [here]

The Copenhagen summit is in full force, and so too is the idea that man-made global warming is incontrovertible. But Martin Cohen argues that the consensus is less a triumph of science and rationality than of PR and fear-mongering

Is belief in global-warming science another example of the “madness of crowds”? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible “authority”. Could it indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality? After all, how rational is it to pass laws banning one kind of light bulb (and insisting on their replacement by ones filled with poisonous mercury vapour) in order to “save electricity”, while ploughing money into schemes to run cars on … electricity? How rational is it to pay the Russians once for fossil fuels, and a second time for permission (via carbon credits) to burn them (see box page 36)? And how rational is it to suppose that the effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere take between 200 and 1,000 years to be felt, but that solutions can take effect almost instantaneously?

Whether rational or not, global warming theory has become a political orthodoxy. So entrenched is it that those showing any resistance to it are described as “heretics” or even likened to “Holocaust deniers”.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University and columnist for The New York Times, has said: “Is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual? Yes, it is - and that’s why it’s unforgivable … the deniers are choosing, wilfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.”

Another columnist, this time for The Boston Globe, has written: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, although one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

Such pronouncements from these commentators and from other people highly placed in government, international organisations, the press, academia and science make the debate seem closed and the conclusion beyond dispute. Yet the plain fact is that there is something deeply unscientific about the theory of global warming. Despite this, it has gained such widespread, uncritical acceptance that any scientist expressing a doubt often finds his or her actions tarred with accusations of the rankest political and personal motivations. … [more]

Forest Deal at Copenhagen Must Avoid Creating ‘Carbon Refugees,’ Scientists Urge

ScienceDaily (Dec. 12, 2009) [here]

Forest dwellers must be included in the design of the upcoming forest deal at Copenhagen in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis, according to a scientist at the University of Leeds.

Writing in the journal Nature, Dr Simon Lewis argues that at least 50% of the carbon credit payments to be agreed at Copenhagen, known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation), should be made to forest dwellers directly, and their property rights assured.

“There is the potential here for humanitarian crisis if REDD is not done properly,” said Dr Simon Lewis from the Earth & Biosphere Institute at the University of Leeds.

“Without careful planning REDD stands to create large numbers of ‘carbon refugees’ as governments curb financially unrewarding deforesting activities such as those of small-scale agriculturalist and fuel-wood harvesters who mostly pay no taxes on the products they produce. Forest dwellers could be excluded from their means of subsistence to preserve carbon.”

New research also just published supports the view that people living in forest-dependent communities are a part of the solution to preserving forests, not a part of the problem. … [more]

Australia accused of cooking carbon books

By Gregg Borschmann for Radio National, ABC News, Dec 13, 2009 [here]

By ignoring a massive rise in polluting gases from the agricultural and forestry industries, Australia has managed to make its overall emissions seem much lower than they actually are.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is allowed to increase carbon emissions by 8 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

But figures supplied to the United Nations earlier this year show that between 1990 and 2007, Australia’s real carbon emissions actually rose by 82 per cent.

The dramatic increase has mainly been caused by rising emissions from Australia’s rural lands, caused by bushfires and drought.

But it is those very same agricultural, grazing and grasslands that both major political parties in Australia hope will help offset the country’s rising industrial emissions.

Australia has led the charge on proposed land use rule changes to the new global climate deal. The changes will open the door to the bonanza of green carbon that can be stored away in the world’s rural lands.

But the move is deeply dividing the Copenhagen conference. Australia - and other big players - have been accused of a trying to pull off a rort [here]. … [more]

13 Dec 2009, 4:39pm
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Centre of the storm

Colby Cosh profiles the gentle Canadian who has changed the climate science world

by Colby Cosh, Macleans.ca, December 13, 2009 [here]

The private emails and logs leaked last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia can’t tell us whether industrial activity is really heating the earth’s atmosphere and endangering civilization. But they have settled the identity of the Great Satan of climate science. Torontonian Stephen McIntyre, a gentle, persistent amateur who had no credentials in applied science before stepping into the global warming debate in 2003, is mentioned more than 100 times.

In the emails, leading climate researchers dismiss him as a capitalist hireling or a hapless “bozo,” and argue about the relative merits of ignoring him versus counterattacking him, even as others acknowledge that his criticisms have merit and imitate his use of the Web as a venue for hyper-detailed scientific discussion. At one point in 2005, CRU director Phil Jones, now under suspension, ponders the possibility that McIntyre might use U.K. freedom-of-information laws to obtain raw weather-station data compiled by the CRU. He grumbles: “I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.” The overall impression is that of 100 elephants stampeding in confusion and panic around a mouse.

The political stakes are now so high when it comes to the “Climategate” scandal, and motives are being questioned so loudly on both sides, that few are noticing the remarkable story at the heart of it all: a 62-year-old mining executive and squash enthusiast has, for better or worse, found his way into the centre of a major scientific melée—almost by accident—and been able to make legitimate contributions.

McIntyre first became notorious in 2003 for his statistical critique, co-authored with economist Ross McKitrick, of the “hockey stick graph” that showed global temperatures rocketing upward in the 20th century. The hockey stick, featured in the 2001 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had a profound influence on policy worldwide, and played a starring role in presentations like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The McIntyre-McKitrick critique called attention to uncertainties in its temperature reconstructions dating back before 1600, to certain problems with dendrochronology (the use of tree rings to estimate past temperatures), and to issues with the statistical calculations underlying the hockey stick. Some climatologists insist that the graph tells the same story when you correct for all this, but much of the critique is now accepted, and the hockey stick, whose weaknesses are better understood, has itself become a somewhat inconvenient distraction for climatologists and environmentalists.

Meanwhile, McIntyre, working alone, has gone on to score further critical points. In 2007, he caught a mistake in the reporting of U.S. surface temperatures by NASA’s Goddard Institute that was quickly acknowledged, with thanks, and corrected. (NASA’s gracious manner contrasts sharply with the attitudes displayed behind the scenes at the CRU.)

The truth is that McIntyre, 62, little resembles the caricature of a wild-eyed climate-change “denier.” He is scrupulous about focusing his criticism on statistical procedures and disclosure practices. He is polite to, and about, climate scientists. He refuses to make grand categorical statements of the “Global warming is just commie horse puckey” type, preferring to remain agnostic, and he discourages such talk on his website, Climate Audit. … [more]

12 Dec 2009, 7:28pm
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Hundreds Held During Climate Change Protest

by Andy Jack, Sky News Online, December 12, 2009 [here, with video]

Police say 968 people have been arrested during a climate change protest in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Hundreds of youths dressed in black threw bricks and smashed windows as at least 30,000 people demonstrated in the centre of the city as world leaders debate global warming.

The rioters, whose faces were covered, went on the rampage in the heart of the city, prompting swift arrests as some 50 policemen in riot gear intervened.

Demonstrators were forced to the ground and then bundled into vans.

Police said those arrested were members of militant groups from northern Europe known as Black Blocs, who were accused of provoking street violence during a NATO summit in the French city of Strasbourg last April. … [more]

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