Thursday, February 9, 2012

Emily Litella on Global Warmening

Emily in The Guardian: "Never mind!"

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps – Greenland and Antarctica – is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."

Emily in Der Spiegel: "Never mind!"
Vahrenholt: In my experience as an energy expert, I learned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is more of a political than a scientific body. As a rapporteur on renewable energy, I witnessed how thin the factual basis is for predictions that are made at the IPCC. In one case, a Greenpeace activist's absurd claim that 80 percent of the world's energy supply could soon be coming from renewable sources was assumed without scrutiny. This prompted me to examine the IPCC report more carefully.

SPIEGEL: And what was your conclusion?

Vahrenholt: The long version of the IPCC report does mention natural causes of climate change, like the sun and oscillating ocean currents. But they no longer appear in the summary for politicians. They were simply edited out. To this day, many decision-makers don't know that new studies have seriously questioned the dominance of CO2. CO2 alone will never cause a warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Only with the help of supposed amplification effects, especially water vapor, do the computers arrive at a drastic temperature increase. I say that global warming will remain below two degrees by the end of the century. This is an eminently political message, but it's also good news.

It's a shame that neither politicians nor "journalists" understand that "climate models" are just software, and by the very nature of trying to simulate a massive, chaotic system with vast numbers of unknown variables, software that has to include massive simplifying assumptions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Attention, All Planets Of The Solar Federation...

Today is 2-1-12.

Lamb For Moderator

Newt Gingrich's comments this week about refusing to participate in a presidential debate if it were moderated by a standard-issue MSM "journalist" got me to thinking. While I tend to agree with Mitt Romney's sharp comeback that Newt isn't likely to have to worry about the panel makeups this fall (disclaimer: I don't particularly like anybody who's still running for president this year, and that includes both candidates named above), Newt had a point.

It's a foregone conclusion that anybody pulled out of the old three networks plus PBS would be at the very least sympathetic towards Obama, so why would the GOP nominee agree to a one-sided questioner in such an important event? And let's be honest, the Chicago crowd would not be terribly happy if, say, Brit Hume were one of the panelists, either.

So who do you choose? Nary a name in the major media leaps to mind; virtually every television talking head or major newspaper figure with television experience (and that would be a requirement for this job) would be viewed as a potential partisan by one side or the other--and in most cases, for good reason. For a couple of elections there Jim Lehrer of PBS was the default moderator, but he's long-since worn out his welcome, particularly with Republicans and/or conservatives.

What you really want for a presidential debate moderator is somebody who is trusted (or at the very least, not distrusted) by both sides , who has vast knowledge of American politics and policy, who will do their homework in extraordinary depth beforehand, and who's got solid experience as an on-camera interviewer.

In other words, you want Brian Lamb of C-SPAN. Lamb has a bipartisan past (he worked in both the Johnson and Nixon White Houses before going into broadcasting), and has assiduously pursued an utterly non-partisan stance for decades as the CEO and senior interviewer for C-SPAN. He's interviewed thousands of political figures over the years, including every president since LBJ, and I defy anybody to tell me what his personal politics are.

All you have to do it watch a couple of Lamb's in-depth interviews to know that he is meticulous in preparation and adept at getting illuminating answers out of his subjects. I would also add that unlike most of the network talking heads, Lamb is highly unlikely to pop off with "look at me" gotchas designed to show off how witty the moderator is, at the expense of an actually meaningful question and/or answer.

Lamb is currently 70 years old, and as a matter of course avoids the limelight, so he might well refuse this particular job, but I think it's well worth the effort to put his name out there now as the single most logical (and reasonable) choice to moderate the 2012 presidential debates.