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World Exclusive: CIA 1974 Document Reveals Emptiness of AGW Scares, Closes Debate On Global Cooling Consensus (And More…)

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(originally published on Dec 3 in my climate blog)

An eye-opening “global cooling consensus” CIA document dated 1974 has just been re-discovered in the British Library by Yours Truly and is extensively mentioned today in the (printed) pages of The Spectator (UK) and Il Foglio (Italy).

(the (suitably degraded) scan of the Spectator article is at the bottom of this blog)

(the PDF of the CIA document is now available online thanks to Guido Guidi and Climate Monitor)

A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” will make quite an embarrassing reading, especially for:

  • the most obdurate catastro-warmists (when they will notice that almost all AGW scares are a search-and-replace job from “cooling” to “warming”), and
  • the history deniers fixated on ‘demonstrating’ that a scientific consensus about Global Cooling in the 1970’s were a ‘myth'(*)

And there is more (much more), from ever-improving climate models promising to become good in a few years’ time to the unsettling apparent ease with which Government agencies then (as now) could get scientists to agree on whatever they needed them to agree on.

Nobody aware of the CIA document’s contents should be able to avoid a good chuckle after reading any of the current AGW reports on famine, starvation, refugee crises, floods, droughts, crop and monsoon failures, and all sorts of extreme weather phenomena; on climate-related major economic problems around the world; on Africans getting in climate troubles first; and so on and so forth.

Why? Because it is all too clear that those scares cannot be real, since they have already been mentioned verbatim in all their dramatic effect, but about Global Cooling.

The whole lot of them, they are just empty threats, instruments of doom-and-gloom policy manipulation with no relation to reality.

It is deeply ironic that it takes a 35-year-old document, available on the web so far only in title, to show the absolute vacuity of the vast majority of pre-COP15 reports and studies. It is time to ditch everything we hear about collapsing ice sheets, disappearing glaciers, species extinctions, and each and every “it’s worse than we thought” report by “scientists”.

It is time to become climate adults.

As I wrote for The Spectator:

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise – much as it pains politicians and scientists – that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

(stay tuned for the full text of the Spectator article, and the PDF of the PDF of the CIA document)

(*) Anybody thinking about Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337)? Well, think again after reading this little gem of theirs:

By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood

As I wrote a little more than a year ago: “Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.. There was a global cooling consensus among scientists, at least up to 1974. And it went on to appear in Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many more media outlets around the world, at least up to 1976.



This is the scanned Spectator article

The CIA's 'global cooling' files (title)

The CIA's 'global cooling' files (text)

Bloggers Of The World Rejoice

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A big thank you to Tory MP Matthew Parris, as he has just provided the best argument against putting any trust in old-fashioned newsmedia whenever there is any hint of a potential future catastrophe…

Written by omnologos

2009/May/13 at 22:24:31

In the Obama Administration, Two Mutually Incompatible Takes On Climate Change

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In the Obama Administration, Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to start “addressing the scientific and technical challenges of climate change“. Meanwhile, Climate Czarine Carol Browner is on the record for stating that global warming is “the greatest challenge ever faced“.

But is that a vision shared by the President himself? Hardly so. Very recently at the Costa Mesa Town Hall Meeting in California (March 18) President Obama singularly failed to mention climate in a list of upcoming challenges including the cost of health care, the dependency on oil imports and education.

It appears that for the current President, “climate” is a useful but merely ancillary issue to “energy”. But how can “the greatest challenge ever faced” be subordinate to energy or anything else? And how long will the likes of Chu and Browner, and everybody else one the side of Al Gore, tolerate such a situation?

It will be interesting to see if the “doom and gloom” camp will be able to get any traction against President Obama’s very own “Yes we can” mantra.

Written by omnologos

2009/Mar/23 at 06:59:30

Speaking Out About (Over-)Population

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There is a sizable number of people concerned about overpopulation. They are being drawn together by a new initiative, the Global Population Speak Out, aiming at undermining “a taboo of sorts against public discussion of overpopulation”:

GPSO was born of a simple idea: What if a large number of qualified voices worldwide, many of whom might not have emphasized the topic previously, were to speak out on overpopulation all at once? The strength of numbers might help weaken the taboo and bring population issues to a more prominent position in the global discussion.

You can see the efforts of the participants in this page. The main topics are the concern of overpopulation as a major driver in resource depletion (i.e. there are too many people consuming too much too quickly) and especially in ruining the environment.

Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I do not believe in gloomy forecasts, and particularly so in the gloomiest of them. I am also not convinced that there is a present situation of overpopulation right now: some back-of-the-envelope calculation seems to suggest full capacity would be around 15 billion people, even allowing for everybody to become a well-fed American. And who can forget that the current size of human population is the consequence of a struggle that must have lasted for a good part of the last million years?

Still, I also believe GPSO has a good point to make.

Let’s start considering their sensible attitude to past abuses of the overpopulation issue. Simply too many people have married the cause in the past because afraid of having to deal with millions of poor, black or Asian people. And still to this day, it is not difficult to find pea-brained arguments pitting children against the environment.

I do not see any trace of that in the original GPSO letter.

What I can see among the unfortunate repetitive claims about upcoming disasters, is a concern for what perhaps should not be, but still can develop in a big issue. My model for human activity in general is that of the long-distance travelers putting their stuff into the car’s trunk. No matter how much they plan to take with them, still they will more likely than not occupy the full trunk.

In other words, it is not much a matter of the size of the car, or the volume of things they want to bring to their destination: as far as humans are concerned, the whole available space is always to be wholly used. For another example, just check how many 1-h business meetings amazingly last for a full hour; and how easy it is for thousands and thousands of newspaper editors to fill up exactly all their available print areas, day after day, down to the eighth of an inch.

This ability for making full use of all resources within reach is something we should be very proud of; and wary, as there is little indication for when limits are actually reached. It always looks like there is more space in the trunk, and by speaking just a little faster more topics can be crammed in a meeting. But there is a limit, and the wise traveler will make sure loading is stopped early enough as to avoid damaging the car (or the stuff already loaded).

That’s why population should not be a taboo subject. And besides, it is also a topic closely related to personal freedom. For reasons too long to deal with now, women the world over have always seen their worth measured in the number of children they could bear. In theory, there is no actual need for that to continue any longer, and yet it still happens in one form or another pretty much everywhere.

Population sizes, from this point of view, can be seen as a symptom of an underlying bigger social problem. And who would want to make a symptom a taboo subject?

Written by omnologos

2009/Feb/19 at 00:13:50

Posted in catastrophism, Ethics, Overpopulation

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The Financial Sky Is Not Falling (Yet)

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A great post (in English) from mixed English/Italian blog noisefromAmerika with David K. Levine e Michele Boldrin explaining why it does not look like the world financial system is going to collapse tomorrow.

Unless the Bernanke&Paulson couple is not telling the whole truth…

That would also explain the otherwise absurd sight of politicians declaring an upcoming Armageddon with one hand, and squabbling for petty gains on the other.

As usual, the only thing to fear is fear itself (and a rushed-up solution). At this rate, the best thing that can happen is that nothing substantive is agreed until after the Presidential Elections. It’s only a month to go. If President Bush is really worried about it all, he can always impose a one-month bank-holiday period 😉

Most academic economists – the economists who do not work for companies likely to benefit from the bailout, nor for the President – are opposed to this plan […]

the total value of outstanding mortgages is $11 trillion […] while the value of insurance contracts written on them is about five times as large. Clearly, Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs), CDOs and so on, were used as collateral for lots of additional borrowing […] That explains why, as the value of those houses is dropping the whole castle of cards threatens to crumble. […]

The problem in banking is the possibility of cascading failures, that the failure of bad banks may drag down the good banks […]

What is the solution? One is for the government to step in and buy securities, as proposed in the bailout plan before Congress.

[If those securities are not properly valued, the government] will only get securities worth less than that with the taxholder responsible for the difference. Notice that the ones who reap the rewards are the holders of bad securities […] In effect in order to keep the bad banks from driving out the good we rescue the bad banks.

There are many alternative schemes to the one proposed by Treasury:

  • Require banks to raise more capital. [In that case] the losses are borne by the good banks rather than the taxpayer
  • Forgive debt in exchange for equity. [It is well known that] debt forgiveness schemes have worked for resolving financial crises in the past.
  • Buy foreclosed houses for the value of the mortgage
  • Force an orderly winding down of the housing based derivative market […]

Yes: there can be cascading bank failures and that is a bad thing. But it does not happen instantly, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month […]

The bottom line, in the immediate future, is this. The Federal Reserve Bank and its sister agencies […] already have strong tools against a cascading failure of the banking system. […] We have not seen good banks fail, nor have we seen cascading failures. We have been given no reason to think anything of the sort is imminent. […]

To debunk the obvious: Washington Mutual failed Thursday night. Washington Mutual ATM cards continue to function as usual. […] The fact that banks are reluctant to lend to each other does not have much impact on their ability to make short term loans to customers. […]

If the Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury in fact have information that things are worse than Bernanke reported they should tell us what it is. Otherwise they should stand up and make it clear that doomsday is not around the corner.

Written by omnologos

2008/Sep/29 at 22:37:01

Polar Bears: Has the Daily Mail Just Pulled a Deceiving Article?

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In my “Maurizio Morabito” blog in Italian, I have been following for the last few days the developing story of drowning polar bears, lost at sea after “the ice float they lived on melted”.

The story (“The heartbreaking picture of the polar bears with 400 miles to swim to the nearest ice “) originated in the pages of the Daily Mail, likely on Saturday Aug 30, and was immediately distributed in Italy by daily La Repubblica.

Trouble is, that story is, shall I dare say this, “not true”. And tonight, it looks like it has been pulled off the Daily Mail website altogether.


Actually, the story is based on something that has actually happened, and was reported by the WWF on Aug 22: nine polar bears have been spotted (by chance) swimming near Alaska. One of them was at least 60 miles from land.

But the Daily Mail article, by a Barry Wigmore, “embellished” the original story with so many incorrect details, the end result was abysmally not-true and deceiving.

A couple of days ago the WWF published some clarifying statements. From those it would be easy to spot where Wigmore’s article basically made things up. But as I said, the Daily Mail website has “lost” the page.

Here it is, saved from another website:

So which bits were patently baseless?

  1. 400 miles to swim to the nearest ice” (wrong: the WWF confirms nobody knows where the bears are, and when spotted, none of them was more than 60 miles away from the nearest land or ice)
  2. Struggling against the waves” (wrong: the bear in the picture is simply looking back to the helicopter where the pictures are being taken from, and whose rotors are causing the waves)
  3. polar bear faces almost certain death” (wrong: the WWF makes the point that polar bears are strong animals, and “a polar bear in the water, even one far from land or ice, is not always a polar bear that needs saving”
  4. becoming lost at sea” (made-up: there is no way to know if the bears were or were not just doing what polar bears have done innumerable times in the past)
  5. the creatures’ homing instinct has sent them north” (made-up: the WWF reports nothing on the direction the bears have been heading. Actually, there is no practical way to find any of them)
  6. the World Wide Fund for Nature, said it was considering asking the U.S. government to send a ship” (made-up: the WWF press releases say nothing of the sort)


Last night I did send a comment to the Daily Mail urging the article’s author to check his facts.

Anyway: now that the story is not there any longer, conscious that it will linger on for years on many websites, thinking about how many people are needlessly worried by this story sexied-up to the point of not being true any longer, one can only reflect sadly at the sorry status of English and Italian journalism, trying to pass a fiction piece as a real story and/or gobbling it up without bothering to check the original sources.

Finally, since I criticized them in the past, I want to add that I appreciate the fact that the BBC News web site has not fallen for Wigmore’s drowning polar bear fantasy.

Written by omnologos

2008/Sep/03 at 22:40:43

Parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW

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(originally published in my climate blog “The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE“)

Timely broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” series, about Lysenko and “lysenkoism”, the propaganda-based “science” that Stalin’s agricultural adviser managed to sell as “truth” from 1928 to 1962 at least.

In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan – nature is to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.

Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden.

Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his ideas became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.

The MP3 of the programme can be downloaded here.

What makes it relevant to the climate debate is the list of parallels that can be made between Lysenko’s “Soviet biology and genetics” and contemporaneous thoughts of Anthropogenic Global Warming:

(a) Results, and success are declared before an experiment has completed (at position 12m10s, in the mp3 file above). In AGW, just look at the innumerable papers that take AGW as established truth, even as the debate on “attribution” is still very much open among mainstream scientists.

(b) Proponents always declare “victory”, no matter what happens, and are always ready to shift the ground (mp3 position: 14m15s). That’s quite common in AGW circles: nowadays, if the planet warms up or cools down, it’s anyway compatible with AGW theory.

(c) Science is presented as a series of “solutions”, not simply as “knowledge” (mp3 position: 19m45s). AGWers cannot disentangle research from advocacy: for example, the IPCC is politically active, to the point of qualifying for a Nobel Peace Prize.

(d) According to the scientists, central planning is better than free capitalism (mp3 position: 35m45s). From Al Gore to London School of Economics’ Professor Lord Giddens, there is only one thought: free markets are not good enough, and a big State intervention is needed to save the planet from climate doom.

Ironically, the BBC guests laughed only up to a point to the witty remark made by one of them: that Lysenko’s personality and attitude would have made him a “guaranteed success in British science today” (mp3: 24m15s).

Even more ironic is the fact that Lysenko himself did come up with a geoengineering way to change the climate of Siberia (by planting trees in clusters, so that the weakest ones would sacrifice themselves to let the most resistant plants survive).

And in case you wonder: no, it didn’t work…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/08 at 21:55:15

Ride a Bike, Save the Planet (get killed in the process)

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Fancy “Cyclehero” video on YouTube shows people riding towards sunset in a bid to save the planet from Climate Change.

The metaphor may be more apt than originally intended. As (push-)bike riding kills you 3.54 times more than walking, by switching to pedals you’ll be soon riding into the sunset for good…

…towards an untimely death, that is!

Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/06 at 22:46:30

The Plus Side of Anthropocene

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A group of British scientists has proposed to rename the current geological era as the “Anthropocene“, to register the fact that human activities are transforming the world.

The proponents, and many pessim-environmentalists all too happy to jump on the Anthropocene bandwagon imply no doubt that the aforementioned human activities are negatively transforming the world. But that is by no means a given.

If humans are transforming the world it may be the absolutely obvious, and thus ethically neutral if not positive, consequence of the fact that we have evolved brains: and it would look silly to feel cold in winter and hot in summer. Cue the discovery of fire, and the invention of air conditioning. Analogously regarding teeth: who would want to have them pulled without anaesthetic? Cue the history of medicine and dentistry, including metallurgy. And so on and so forth.

Or alternatively: could the Anthropocene be just one of the signs that the Technological Singularity is really going to happen, thereby possibly transporting humanity to a completely new way of living?

Those are only thoughts, of course: perhaps the doomers and gloomers are right. Still, it’s important to remember that seldom a word contains negative connotations per se. Those are more often than not, in the mind of the beholder…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/30 at 23:00:19

Against the Prevailing Gloom

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[…] To the further advancement of science, nothing indeed can operate more prejudicially than an over-estimate of what has been accomplished. We are too apt to believe that “we are the people, and wisdom shall perish with us“. Dazzled with the present, we detect nothing in the gloom beyond. […] that, in short, of time, space and labor, there can be any considerable contractions, beyond those which have been effected within the memories of men now living; are propositions much less frequently entertained than the other, which detects the Ultima Thule of human research in the current epoch […]

From: “What Great Exhibitions Teach“, The New York Times, June 29, 1853

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/12 at 23:51:31

Posted in catastrophism

Practical Consequences of Climate Worries

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(comment to the IHT’s “Welcome to the new nuclear era”)

Let me understand…so far, the only practical consequences of all the climate change brouhaha have been:

(1) The transfer of billions of euros from European taxpayers to Big Oil/Big Energy firms, under the emission trading scheme

(2) The ballooning of agriculture subsidies to farmers to push them into cultivating corn (despite everybody well knowing the environmental impact from corn fuel will be worse)

(3) A substantial increase in food prices especially for very poor people in many parts of the world

(4) The return of a nuclear industry that will prosper on State guarantees and produce large amounts of radioactive garbage nobody has found as yet a good way to dispose of


If that’s what a cleaner, greener world looks like, I’d rather have it brown and dirty, thank you!

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/10 at 23:54:40

Lester R Brown’s Plan B’s Shaky Foundations

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The Earth Policy Institute has published an excerpt from the first chapter of Lester R Brown’s book “Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble“.

Why did they do that, one wonders? It is truly quite amazing to see how the egregiously flawed the whole thing is.

Among the citations that should be reconsidered: Paul MacCready’s computations need be replicated and carefully contextualized. The St. Matthew Island’s reindeer population collapse-by-overgrazing story has been seriously questioned by scientists and may be more relevant to indicate the dangers of a cooling climate instead (and the peculiarities of ungulate wild population sizes).

The same can be said for Easter Island, where population is unlikely to have reached 15,000 (let alone 20,000 as quoted by Brown), and the decimation was more likely caused by European germs and slave traders than anything else.

Finally, Brown advocates a yearly expenditure of $190 billion dollars just for global warming. I am sure you and me and everyone elase could do a lot more good with a lot less than that money.


Is the planet under stress? Is civilization in trouble? Do we need a Plan B 2.0 to rescue either or both? Perhaps. Or perhaps not, based on how weak the foundations of Brown’s reasoning are.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/09 at 23:26:18

Climate Change, or The Medicalization of Our Society

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Yesterday’s absurdist post linking anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to supernovae in the cosmos was in fact more than the usual criticism about correlation not showing evidence of causation.

The other, even more important point underlying my text concerned the all-too-apparent link between AGW/Climate Change and the ever-increasing efforts by all sorts of “experts” to convince our worrying global society that its future can be divined in this or that indicator.

There is a name for this: we are being “medicalized”.

Just like with the hapless villagers in Jules Romains’ 1923 play “Knock” (aka “Dr. Knock or The Triumph of Medicine“), all the “experts” have to do is stock up our fears, and abuse our credulity.

Just keep on measuring, and keep on suggesting, and an illness will be found. Next!

In the case of AGW, the indicator is the amount of human-induced greenhouse-gases emissions. But as the supernovae blog shows, it is all too easy to find an indicator for everything, linking whatever to anything else. Divination does not depend on the particular item used to predict the future: it is much more solid than that.

Knock’s story has in fact a distinctly sinister undertone. In the words of Iain Bamforth writing in the BMJ’s “Medical Humanities” (“Knock: a study in medical cynicism“, MH 2002;28:14-18):

Isn’t it that people ask to be deceived? All right, [Knock] will deceive them. Order requires domination, and domination requires a lie or two. So he gives their lives a medical meaning. That is: he extends the bounds of the biological, of whose oracles he is the interpreter, so as to make illness not just a bodily phenomenon but an organising principle for the effective administration of society itself. His argument is life, for that is what a doctor defends. His tools are ideals, seduction, fright, and, if necessary, the threat of violence. His power is his command of language […] Knock is […] a storyteller, raconteur, bluffer, salesman […] Knock gives everyone the fever. He inoculates his patients with the one idea: self preservation, at all costs.

In other words: from 85 years ago, echoes of what is being sold to us as “a universal threat, a generational challenge“. And preservation of the world’s climate, at all cost.

And so it was Jules Romains the one really capable to describe what the future would look like. As noted by French actor Louis Jouvet in 1949, but still we could be written today:

a penetrating act of inspiration, Knock revealed the direction a new mentality was going to take… . This mentality was Information and its strategies, astounding advances and violent dramatisings; abrupt and terrifying revelations; the invention of new needs, new ways of breakdown; the exalting of fresh anxieties that humankind would feed upon. Jules Romains announced, though we didn’t yet know it, the mad-cap mechanisms that were going to rule the world, suggestion and self-suggestion. In Knock, like a prophet at the gates, Jules Romains suddenly shone a light on power, the upsurge of parodigms (idées-forces) and collective theories. Humankind is a machine to make gods and every leader of men a creator of myths. Jules Romains, philosopher, moralist and dramatist, provided an admirable advance warning of the modern and all-encompassing mechanism of cohesion and conviction […]

Is this what “progress” and “modernity” were meant to be, in the case of Medicine, Climatology or anything else?

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/07 at 23:57:02

Is your SUV Destroying the Universe?

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Is your SUV destroying the Universe?

Supernovae data from the 1950’s to 2007 show trends very worrying for the fate of the whole cosmos.

The Magnitude (brightness) of observed explosions, after hovering for several decades around the 20 mark, has recently dropped to 15 (i.e. towards brighter supernovae).

Furthermore, the number of observed supernovae has been increasing at an exponential rate, again after many decades below 50 per year, to 95 in 1996 and a little less than 600 in 2007.

The fact that this is happening exactly as anthropogenic greenhouse-gases emissions are on the increase, cannot be just a coincidence. If this will not convince Governments about the importance of stopping CO2 emissions, nothing will!

Written by omnologos

2008/Jan/06 at 23:17:14

Global Warming May Be Just European

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Readers of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report – Working Group 2 (AR4-WG2) may be forgiven to think a colossal misreading of available data may be at the foundation of contemporary Climate Change/Global Warming scares.

That report contains a map of “significant changes” (SC) already observed around the world. It is repeated throughout, and you can see it in the Summary for Policymakers, page 10, Figure SPM.1.

A total of 29,459 SCs are reported. An impressive number, at first glance.

Only, 96% of those changes regard just Europe.

The IPCC itself could not list more than 1,225 SCs not related to Europe.


This enormous geographical bias does not get better when we count how many of those SCs are actually “consistent with a warming world”.

Planet-wise, there are 26,285. Of those, 96% are in Europe. Actually, 25,022 are European SCs related to “biological systems”.

That’s 95% of the total.

That means that outside of Europe, the IPCC could not find more than 1,150 SCs “consistent with warming”.

Compare that to the number of European SCs NOT-“consistent with warming”: 3,100

We have twice as many changes that are INCONSISTENT with warming in Europe, than CONSISTENT with warming in the rest of the world.


Note also the distribution of the other “observed changes”. Only 7 for the whole of Africa, 114 for Asia, and 144 for the Polar Regions.

But what is most notable is that in the whole of North America (where, one would expect, a lot of researchers reside), only 810 SCs have been reported. Of those, 752 are consistent with warming.

That’s 3% of the total.

So for a summary: 96% from Europe. 3% with North America. Almost nothing for everywhere else.

How global can that be?

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/11 at 13:34:27

Preventative Nobel Peace Prize a Sign of the Times

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After a (disastrous) preventative war in Iraq in 2003, we are going to see a (potentially disastrous) preventative Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC on December 10 at a ceremony in Oslo.

Why can’t we deal with real-and-present problems, and have to make up fantasies of new ones, I wonder?


What will people make of our climate change circus in 50 years’ time is anybody’s guess.

Surely though, they will still question what Al Gore and the IPCC had actually done, by the middle of 2007, to deserve a prize. No Kyoto-II agreement has been reached yet, no CO2 emission cutting program has been implemented by any Government yet, and no “smoking gun” for greenhouse-gas-induced climatic change has been found yet.

Things are actually a-moving, and the still-ongoing Bali conference may come out with a document asking developing countries to develop rather less. Who would have thought that “global warming” rhymes with “neocolonialism”?

And yet, there is some hope. The bandwagon has become so huge, it will be next-to-impossible to steer. Expect ridiculous targets nobody will ever try to reach, set for times unbelievably far in the future.

Until one day, the Sun will cool us down, and so will die the mad dream of anthropogenic climate change.

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/09 at 22:58:00

Ban Ki-Moon’s Remarks on Chilean Children

In “Alarming UN report on climate change too rosy, many say” (IHT, Nov 18) Elisabeth Rosenthal and James Kanter report that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has “described […] children in Chile having to wear protective clothing because an ozone hole was letting in so much ultraviolet radiation.

Is that actually happening in Chile?

I have not been able to find any evidence supporting such a strong statement.

(1) Pubmed through keywords “chile”, “ultraviolet” and “children” shows an article by Aranibar et al [Association between sunburn in children and ultraviolet radiation and ozone layer, during six summers (1996-2001) in Santiago, Chile (33,5 degrees S)] Rev Med Chil. 2003 Sep;131(9):1011-22.

I cannot find the original article, but the abstract seems to report that the behaviour of children 6-10 is at risk of sunburn (hardly world-shattering).

(2) From that article I was able to find more relevant stuff. There is one by Abarca JF, Casiccia CC., “Skin cancer and ultraviolet-B radiation under the Antarctic ozone hole: southern Chile, 1987-2000. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2002 Dec;18(6):294-302.

It reports that people of whiter skin may suffer in Punta Arenas due to repeated exposure, and increased rates of skin cancer may be occurring, and recommends further research.

(3) Another related article is by Abarca JF, Casiccia CC, Zamorano FD., “Increase in sunburns and photosensitivity disorders at the edge of the Antarctic ozone hole, southern Chile, 1986-2000”, J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Feb;46(2):193-9.

It indicates the worries but lists no actual skin cancer data.

(4) Then of course there is Molgó M et al, [Sun exposure behaviors and knowledge among Chileans] Rev Med Chil. 2005 Jun;133(6):662-6. Epub 2005 Jul 22. In Spanish.

It’s a survey and reports risky behaviours. Once again, no data on Skin Cancer.

(5) I then visited the website for CONAC, the Chilean ONG about Cancers. The pages of the National Network of Ultraviolet Medicine mention a prevalence of 10/100,000 among Chileans for skin cancer

(6) As a comparison, in England the prevalence among Europeans is 13/100,000

(7) “Environmental Journalist” Stephen Lehay writes a year ago that “Ailments Surge as Ozone Hole Widens” indicating that “Diagnoses of malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, have doubled in recent years, leading Chilean health authorities to recommend avoiding direct exposure to the sun between 11:00am and 5:00pm, and especially to protect children”.

No sources and no absolute values are reported for this information.

(8) The same Lehay writes a couple of months ago “Skin Cancer Rising Despite New Ozone Deal to Cut CO2 Emissions” making a controversial connection betweeen skin cancer rates in the USA and a “crippled” ozone layer.

Being an environmental article (here in full) it can’t help predicting soaring numbers of cancer victims by 2060


In conclusion:

(a) Peer-reviewed work has not find much interest in Chilean children, or better yet in any Chilean skin cancer.

(b) At best, CONAC (the Chilean ONG on Cancer) is recommending protection in the middle of the day, but that is good advice the world over especially in summer, and nothing special about Chile.

Either children in South America are risking their lives as we speak among a global indifference, or the UN Secretary General has “sexed up” the truth.

One wonders.

Written by omnologos

2007/Nov/20 at 22:14:46

Solution to Fossil Fuel Worries

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With crude oil likely going to pass $100 any time now, some people have started arguing that we may be near peak production with a gloomy future awaiting us.

But there is a solution and it has been waiting for us for almost 5 billion years…

It consists of around 36 thousand billion metric tons of methane, good for another couple of thousand years.

Since the known natural gas reserves are 52 million billion cubic feet (corresponding to 1.2 million billion kilograms), it all comes down to an untapped reserve 31 times as much as what is currently available. With around 80 years between now and exhaustion of Earth’s natural gas deposits, we can burn our way through perhaps another 2,400 years of cooking

The upshot is that by the time we’ll be able to source such a giant methane deposit, the technological advances needed for the endeavour will likely have made all fossil fuels a thing of the past.

The downside is that this newly-found source is a bit far.

Written by omnologos

2007/Nov/19 at 16:58:34

How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!

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Vincenzo Ferrara, the scientist advising the Italian Environment Minister on Climate Changes, explains how to become a famous Climatologist in a 1982 article (“(”Rivista di Meteorologia Aeronautica”, Vol XLII n. 1, Jan-Mar 1982).

The following is an abridged translation:

If you are a climatologist and you want to survive as a climatologist, perhaps even increasing your reputation, all you have to do is provide the exact diagnosis and prognosis that people expect.

To the question “Is the climate changing?“, by all means, never, ever reply “No, everything’s normal“, or “It’s just fakery pumped up by newspapers and on television“: because people would unanimously conclude that you understand nothing about metereology, and nothing about climate.

It would be the end of your career.

The only sensible answer is: “Of course it is changing! It’s a well-known fact, scientifically confirmed and one that none cannot argue against“. You can then launch yourself in forecasting for the next hundred years a climate identical to the current one, amplifying the latest phenomena to extreme consequences.

If it is cold you’ll therefore predict “ice ages“, if it’s warm a “torrid period“, and if there are signs of strong variability “short-term climatic extremes” and more-or-less the same climate in the long term.

You may be wondering, how can a serious climatologist provide impossible, mutually-excluding forecasts without looking silly? Fear not: science will provide all the support needed.

Because climatology has already thought of everything and will supply the right solution in every circumstance, even in the most hopeless cases.

So if it is cold, here’s what you will have to say: “The climate is changing and we are approaching an Ice Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1940, the average temperature of the northern hemisphere has diminished by approximately 0,4°C, probably because of a decrease in atmospheric transparency due to air pollution.

The cooling of the air causes an increase in the extension of glaciers and of snow fields, furthering lowering temperatures with their highly reflecting (high albedo) surfaces. Glaciers therefore increase even more, in a positive feedback that will bring us to a new Ice Age in a hundred years or even less“.

What if it is warm? Then the discourse becomes: “The climate is changing and we are approaching a Torrid Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1850 the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere has progressively increased and just in the last twenty years has gone from 315 to 334 parts for million. That means that in 2020 the accumulation of carbon dioxide will have more than doubled, taking into account the continuously increasing energy demands and consumption of fossil fuels.

The increase of carbon dioxide reduces the Earth’s long-wave emissions to space (greenhouse effect) so within half a century the average air temperature will increase by approximately 2 or 3°C; the polar ice will dissolve and a sizeable sea level increase will submerge several coastal cities“.

This can inspire a new version of an old joke:

An atmospheric physicist, a metereologist and a famous climatologist are interviewed for a position as climatologist. The atmospheric physicist is asked: “What do you predict for the climate next year?” and proceeds to answer: “I am not sure, but give me a supercomputer and I will set up the calculations for a rough forecast“. It’s now the metereologist’s turn, and the answer is: “I am not sure, but provide me with the seasonal charts and the observations from previous years, I will set up the calculations in order for a rough forecast“.

The famous climatologist is finally asked “What do you predict for the climate next year?“. To that, the answer is “Whatever you want me to predict…“.

Written by omnologos

2007/Nov/17 at 22:05:12

Affluence’s Curse

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When everything is due, anything that goes missing causes a tragedy

Why is it that the most affluent societies are the ones where the fear of the future becomes some kind of collective Phobia of the Novelty, mixed up with a morbid fascination for dreaming up their own, however improbable, catastrophes?

Conversely, what makes quite poor people keep their hopes high for the future? If we could restrict ourselves purely to risk analysis, the opposite would be true.

Being rich means having a multitude of metaphorical cushions protecting one’s fall, for example being able to buy actual insurances.

For many instead, being poor means finding oneself wondering if there will be anything to eat for dinner.

And yet it’s in the Affluent West, plus Japan that blatant absurdities like the Principle of Precaution are fashionable.

I won’t even mention how many people are hooked into believing in toto the interminable series of catastrophical environmental reports that nowadays grace newspapers almost as commonly as gossip columns.


One way to understand such a paradox is via what can be called “the Curse of Affluence“.

Humans naturally being hoarding animals, they have no qualms in pretending that everything they can get their hands onto is actually due to them.

Therefore, the more they have, the higher their fear some, any of it may disappear.


Imagine one earns $25,000/year. Having been particularly good at their job, he/she gets a promotion and a salary of $40,000.

The happiness that brings disappears quickly though, and the following year the new level will be considered a given, not an achievement.

One will soon start to yearn for a higher salary still. Not only that: the new income will have surely brought a few more luxuries in one’s life. Losing those would feel like an abysmal failure: anxiety for the future will therefore kick in.

If left unchecked, that anxiety will increase more and more with increasingly higher salaries.


If we apply the same line of thought to a society of people, then we can understand why they would all live in fear of losing their affluence rather than trying to enjoy it while they have it.

If everything is due, then anything that goes missing is in itself a tragedy (it works the other way around: if nothing is due, than anything that is obtained is a cause for celebration).

At the end then, a whole nation of rich people may as well stop functioning, with each one of them paralyzed by the fear of losing any of their innumerable luxuries, life included.

With the trap of a pessimistic Decadence bubble growing larger and larger, progress is then passed on to those that are not yet rich enough. And so on.


To free affluent societies from their fears, first of all risk management should be made part of the school curriculum, like literature or maths. Also, people must be reminded for example via museums of the terrible aspects of non-affluent life.

In general, anything that would expose them to the practicalities of being dirt poor will definitely help. Just as (of course!) the spreading of a simple concept: that the neverending accumulation of stuff can only kill all hopes.

Written by omnologos

2007/Nov/06 at 21:39:01