About That “Catastrophic” Gusher in the Gulf… Meh.

There’s a BP station on the route between my home and my work, and that’s where I always get my gas.  I’m not a fan of boycotts, especially ones that primarily victimize local business owners with no say in corporate affairs.  Besides, the station charges the same price for cash or credit.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been only five months since BP’s gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was capped. It’s just six months since the sad spectacle of President Obama declaring he wanted to know “whose ass to kick,” while his press secretary asserted “I’ve seen rage” from the President.  The so-called “worst oil spill in history” has disappeared.

In “Oil Spill Hysteria,” Professor Robert Nelson explains in the Weekly Standard why the Gulf incident, despite spewing more than 20 times the volume of oil as the Exxon Valdez, caused so much less damage.

Start with the fact that the Gulf spill occurred in 5,000 feet of water, while most spills come from tankers at the surface. It took time for the oil to get to the surface, giving the oil-eating “bugs” of the Gulf opportunity to do their work.A second important factor was that the spill occurred 50 miles from the coast. This left more time for responders to apply chemical dispersants and for wave action and other natural forces to decompose large amounts of oil. What oil did reach the beaches often took the form of tar balls that were less environmentally harmful than actual slicks. Cleanup workers could simply pick them up.

By contrast, the Exxon Valdez spill immediately spread over the surface of the ocean, where many birds and other creatures came into contact with it. Prince William Sound, where the spill began, is an enclosed body of water, and the spilled oil—some of it in the most toxic forms—quickly reached the shore. In addition, the sound has no significant natural oil seepage and so lacks the associated oil-eating organisms. The water is much colder and less conducive to such natural activity. The mammal populations in Prince William Sound and the other affected areas were larger, too.

And yet, the hysteria continues to drive policy.  The Obama Administration this month announced a seven-year moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf, thereby making it likely that the response to the oil spill will cause more economic damage to the region than the oil spill itself.  Between the Gulf overreaction and Climategate, it’s been a tough year for environmental alarmism.

“Hide the Decline”: The Remake

I started noodling with a blog post about the viral video “Hide the Decline” when it first came out late last year in the wake of the Climategate disclosures.  The video, produced in a low-rent imitation of the style of the famous Jib Jab masterpiece, is a parody based on the song “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James and the Shondells.  I had not previously been familiar with the Shondells, but I liked the tune, and thought the video did a good job of lampooning the junk science exposed in Climategate.

But as I watched the video again, I suddenly lost interest.  There’s a scene, repeated a couple of times, where Al Gore (unmentioned in the lyrics) is shown behind bars being leered at by two sexually menacing, tattooed  skin-heads.  No sale — prison rape isn’t funny.

So I was happy today to stumble across a remake of the video, embedded above.  The production values in the new version are even more low-rent, but the gratuitous prison scene is gone, and the lyrics have been updated with even more pointed references to the scandal.

The video briefly flashes on these graphs from a very helpful white paper titled “Michael Mann: Defamed or defined by Hide the decline?“  Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog describes Mann’s attempts to suppress the initial parody.

Watch the video, then try to get the “Hide the Decline” refrain out of your head.  In honor of the remake, I also just bought “Draggin’ the Line” on iTunes.

Michael Mann: Defamed or defined by “Hide the decline

It’s Getting Harder to Hide the Decline

When I was a newspaper reporter — back in the last ice age, har har har — I was assigned to cover a press conference staged by an agency of the New Jersey state government.  The state was suffering from a severe drought, and the agency (the Department of Environmental Protection, I think, but don’t hold me to that) wanted to underscore the importance of the temporary water-use restrictions it had imposed.

So what happened on the morning of the press conference?  You guessed it… the skies opened.  There was localized flooding. The DEP spokesman scrambled to explain how one big rainstorm wasn’t nearly enough to solve the state’s water woes, but he ruefully admitted, “it’s hard to sell a drought in a rainstorm.”

Yes, yes, climate is not the same as weather, ocean temperatures are a serious concern, blah blah blah.  But as I nursemaid finicky furnaces in my home and church, I can’t help thinking — where’s global warming when you really need it?

Via Gay Patriot, here are some of the latest anthropogenic dispatches from the frigid front lines:

– US in Grips of Long-Lasting Cold Spell
– Temps Plunge to Record as Cold Snap Freezes North, East States…
– Vermont sets ‘all-time record for one snowstorm’…
– Iowa temps ‘a solid 30 degrees below normal’…
– Peru’s mountain people ‘face extinction because of cold conditions’…
– Beijing — coldest in 40 years…
– World copes with Arctic weather…

I’m all in favor of finding ways to reduce our dependence on the carbon-based fuels that create greenhouse gases.  But it’s hard to believe we need to cripple the global economy for the sake of the planet.

Also via GayPatriot, this assessment from a meteorologist who formerly headed the National Hurricane Center:

The revelation of Climate-gate occurs at a time when the accuracy of the climate models is being seriously questioned. Over the last decade Earth’s temperature has not warmed, yet every model (there are many) predicted a significant increase in global temperatures for that time period. If the climate models cannot get it right for the past 10 years, why should we trust them for the next century?

“Hide the Decline”: Birth of a Blog Post, and Credit Where Credit is Due

Iain Murray

Iain Murray

Short version: My BFF Iain Murray wrote the best analysis I’ve seen about exactly why last week’s revelation of suspicious global warming documents is so incriminating to the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

Iain (I call him Iain because last year he linked to me — twice!) relentlessly uses the scientists’ own words to incriminate them, with each passage carefully linked to a specific damning document in the treasure trove.

If you think global warming is probably “settled science,” but you’re willing to read one article to give skeptics a chance to change your mind,  read this remarkable indictment, published all the way last Tuesday, while the pixels of the original leak were still quivering.

Long version (back-story): Yesterday, before I posted “Hide the Decline”: Global Warmists Got Some ‘Splainin’ to Do, I spent a great deal of time trying to find the seminal articles that first piqued my interest in the topic that is becoming known as Climategate — incriminating emails and programmers’ notes revealing the apparent falsification of global warming data.

This happens to me a lot, I need to find a better system for doing research.  I see something that interests me slightly, then I move on and forget about it — I don’t think I know enough about the subject to even consider blogging about it.  Then I stumble upon links showing that the blogosphere is ramping up to focus on the topic, and I start to get more interested.  Then I do more research, and start to think maybe I do have something to say on the matter.  This plays out over a period of a few days, while I go on about my complicated life.

By the time I’m interested enough to blog, I can’t find the documents that first got me interested.  Then I find something, but I’m not sure it’s the right post.  This time, however, I found something that clarified the matter for me.

I must have skimmed Iain’s article without noticing his byline, because his name would have jumped out at me.  Near the bottom of his second page is this passage:

So what does this all mean? It does not mean that there is no warming trend or that mankind has not been responsible for at least some of the warming. To claim that as result of these documents is clearly a step too far.

The boldface is the clinching factor.  I used that Briticism in my previous post without knowing why I chose the words.  Iain Murray, unlike your humble scribe, is actually a Brit by birth.

“Hide the Decline”: Global Warmists Got Some ‘Splainin’ to Do

These two may be endangered, but is the species?

These two may be endangered, but is the species?

Long-time readers (hi, Sweetie!) know that I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh.  Even though my credentials as a critic of President Obama can be easily verified by skimming the Obama tag on my website,  I thought it was disgraceful, bordering on unpatriotic, when Limbaugh said of the Commander-in-Chief-elect, “I hope he fails.”

But I am a fan of a lot of conservative bloggers and pundits, which makes it impossible to avoid some exposure to Limbaugh’s oeuvre.  So I know that for years, Limbaugh has relentlessly referred to climate-change concerns as “the global warming hoax“.  I dismissed this as one more instance of Limbaugh preaching to the dittoheads.

I’ve long been skeptical about the sense of urgency that (some) climate activists display, but I’m not ready to back Limbaugh’s play and call global warming itself a hoax.  I think there is enough evidence to warrant concern about global warming, and I certainly think it’s a good idea to explore ways of reducing our dependence on carbon-based fuels such as oil — if for no other reason, because much of the world’s oil supply is under the control of regimes hostile to the United States.

But while referring to “the global warming hoax” may be a step too far, I think it’s clear now that there have been multiple global warming “hoaxes“.  If you have no idea what I’m leading up to, you might want to consider broadening your information sources.

I’m talking about a trove of data, code and emails acquired (“stolen,” if you prefer) last week from the influential Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England — which for years has collated much of the data used to substantiate the danger of global warming.  You won’t find much about it in the mainstream news media, but here’s the email that is quickly becoming iconic in the world of global warming skepticism:

From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,mann@xxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxx.xxx
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Cc: k.briffa@xxx.xx.xx,t.osborn@xxxx.xxx

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or
first thing tomorrow.
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual
land and marine values while the other two…

The “decline” in question appears to be a prediction of recent global cooling that would result from a computer model used to “calculate” long-ago global temperatures — if that model were carried  through to  the current day.  In other words, the model has been used to establish low baselines for long-ago temperatures, to set up the case for recent global warming.  But if the assumptions of the model are carried through to the last few decades, for which we have actual data on global temperatures, the model says temperatures should be declining — which is inconvenient if you are trying to make the case that global warming is a serious threat.  So in generating data based on their model, they use the (suspicious) model data for the early years, and substitute “real temps” for recent years.

In other, other words: They cooked the books.

There’s much more than a single damning email from 10 years ago.  Watt’s Up With That has a relentless compilation of CRU programmer and database notes that indicate CRU personnel repeatedly falsified data when necessary to avoid inconvenient results.  Pajamas Media has been all over the story (unfortunately  the functionality of their compilation page sucks), as have Taranto, Instapundit and National Review.

Soon even the MSM will be forced to take notice — the evidence is just too damning, senior Republicans are talking about congressional hearings, and the start of the UN’s long-anticipated Copenhagen climate conference is little more than a week away.

These revelations do not “settle”  the global warming issue — but they certainly should unsettle the so-called “consensus”.  Can we at least have an end to Ellen Goodman’s morally tone-deaf meme that “global-warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers”?

(Hat tip: “Global Warmists” in my title is an homage to Taranto, who told me in a private email that he came up with the term, but is not certain he was the first to do so.)

Better Pass It Quickly — Someone Might Read It!

slow_d16Once again the Democrats in Congress are trying to push through a hugely expensive and controversial bill that nobody — literally nobody — has read.

In February, as Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration were twisting arms to gather the votes they needed for the $800 zillion porkulus bill, I wrote this:

When listening to President Obama’s dire predictions of “catastrophe” if a stimulus bill is not passed now now now now now, is anyone else reminded of the global warming debate?

Now that comparison has come full circle, as the House yesterday passed a bill that not only had not been read by anybody — it hadn’t even been collated after 300 pages of amendments were added at 3:09 a.m.

In both episodes, House Minority Leader John Boehner stood in the well of the House and denounced the rush and the process.  Take 36 seconds to watch the clip from the porkulus fight:

And here’s 1:26 of Boehner v. Waxman yesterday on the climate-change bill:

And for old time’s sake, here’s candidate Obama promising greater transparency in government:

Here’s hoping the Senate takes a closer look at cap-and-trade.

Global Warming and the Anthropogenic Financial Crisis

When listening to President Obama’s dire predictions of “catastrophe” if a stimulus bill is not passed now now now now now, is anyone else reminded of the global warming debate?

Even most skeptics about what Taranto calls “global warmism” would concede that there are valid reasons to want to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resultant greenhouse gases. The debate arises over what measures should be taken, and how urgently. (Now now now now now!)

Similarly, there seems to be widespread consensus that the economy is in terrible shape, and that an increase in economic activity would help. The debate arises over how best to stimulate the economy, and how urgently.

In both cases, proponents of “doing something” now now now now now maintain that there is no time to worry about the possible side effects. But I firmly believe that when everyone around you is clamoring for immediate dramatic action, that’s exactly the right time to take a deep breath and think hard about the consequences. A few years from now the specifics of the stimulus package will be a lot more important than whether the bill was passed in February or March.

The one thing that seems clear to me is that if we are going to make a multi-hundred-billion-dollar effort to stimulate the economy, it should be done through a combination of a) tax cuts for lower-income people (pushing stimulus activity down to the individual level, among people who are likely to spend) and b) accelerating government spending that is destined to occur anyway.

That, of course, is not what the Democrats are planning. Here’s Krauthammer, on the “fierce urgency of pork” behind the “legislative abomination” that is the stimulus bill (emphasis added):

It’s not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It’s not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

It’s the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus — and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress’s own budget office says won’t be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

Krauthammer was writing about the House version of the bill, but I’ve seen little reason to believe that the Senate compromise reached last night is any better.

Meanwhile, Harvard economist and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Greg Mankiw describes “My Preferred Fiscal Stimulus“:

I would institute an immediate and permanent reduction in the payroll tax, financed by a gradual, permanent, and substantial increase in the gasoline tax. I would make the two tax changes equal in present value, so while the package results in a short-run budget deficit, there is no long-term budget impact. Call it the create-jobs, save-the-environment, reduce-traffic-congestion, budget-neutral tax shift.

I recognize that some state governments are now struggling in light of the macroeconomic crisis. For the next two years, I would let each state governor have the authority to divert a portion of the payroll tax cut in his or her state and take the funds instead as state aid. This provision would essentially be giving governors the temporary authority to impose a payroll tax on his or her citizens, collected via the federal tax system. Those governors who think they have valuable infrastructure projects ready to go would take the money. When designing a fiscal stimulus, there is no compelling reason for one size fits all. Let each governor make a choice and answer to his or her state voters. It is called federalism.

Note that by allowing governors (and I think you’d have to include state legislators) to determine whether to substitute spending for tax cuts, Mankiw’s proposal would mean that any decision about whether to build schools in Milwaukee would be made in Milwaukee, or at least in Wisconsin. And by gradually increasing the gasoline tax to offset the immediate payroll tax cut, the proposal would even… wait for it… help counteract global warming.