Format and location change

By popular request JunkScience Sidebar is returning to the main site in a once-daily posting format.

Readers wishing to subscribe to JSS can elect to subscribe to the “Daily News & Views” category on, which will become available on October 12, 2011

Roger Pielke Jr.: Cornucopians vs. Malthusians

Cornucopians vs. Malthusians

Back in 1980, Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon made their famous bet, recounted by John Tierney at its culmination 10 years later:

In 1980 an ecologist and an economist chose a refreshingly unacademic way to resolve their differences. They bet $1,000. Specifically, the bet was over the future price of five metals, but at stake was much more — a view of the planet’s ultimate limits, a vision of humanity’s destiny. It was a bet between the Cassandra and the Dr. Pangloss of our era.

They lead two intellectual schools — sometimes called the Malthusians and the Cornucopians, sometimes simply the doomsters and the boomsters — that use the latest in computer-generated graphs and foundation-generated funds to debate whether the world is getting better or going to the dogs. The argument has generally been as fruitless as it is old, since the two sides never seem to be looking at the same part of the world at the same time. Dr. Pangloss sees farm silos brimming with record harvests; Cassandra sees topsoil eroding and pesticide seeping into ground water. Dr. Pangloss sees people living longer; Cassandra sees rain forests being decimated. But in 1980 these opponents managed to agree on one way to chart and test the global future. They promised to abide by the results exactly 10 years later — in October 1990 — and to pay up out of their own pockets.

What was the result?  Simon won handily.

But recent goings on with commodity prices have some people asking whether Simon’s timing was just lucky and perhaps Ehrlich views will ultimately triumph. In August, The Economist reported that had the famous bet extended to 2011, Ehrich would have won, as shown in the graph below. (Roger Pielke Jr.)

The Supreme Court’s Environmental Docket

The Supreme Court’s Environmental Docket

The Supreme Court will hear two low-profile, high-impact environmental cases in this new session. Richard Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard University, tells host Bruce Gellerman that he thinks the signs so far do not bode well for the Environmental Protection Agency. (LOE)

AD 1764-1791: The First Climate Change and Geoengineering Acts

AD 1764-1791: The First Climate Change and Geoengineering Acts
Maurizio Morabito

Have environmentalism and climate change fear always been based on an unproven ideology full of hate against humanity and its material progress?

Yes. (Omniclimate)

Shocking Costs Of Environmentalism

Shocking Costs Of Environmentalism

Energy: Those who fancy themselves to be green progressives are about to get some unwelcome “progress.” Thanks in part to environmental rules, electricity bills are headed for double-digit increases.

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Solar dimming can trigger freezing winters: study

Solar dimming can trigger freezing winters: study
David Fogarty

A cyclical drop in the sun’s radiation can trigger unusually cold winters in parts of North America and Europe, scientists say, a finding that could improve long-range forecasts and help countries prepare for blizzards.

Scientists have known for a long time that the sun has an 11-year cycle during which radiation measured by sunspots on the surface reaches a peak then falls. But pinning down a clear link to weather has proved harder.

“Our research confirms the observed link between solar variability and regional winter climate,” lead author Sarah Ineson of the UK Met Office told Reuters in an email. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday. (Reuters)

The Sun And The Winter Of 2011

The Sun And The Winter Of 2011
Monday, 10 October 2011 00:01 Dr. David Whitehouse

I’ve said it before. If you are not confused about the Sun’s role in global and regional climate variations, you haven’t been paying attention.

The latest manifestation of the Sun-climate debate takes place in the pages of Nature Geoscience (paywall), here and here. The UK Met Office also issued a press release on the subject a few days ago.

The conclusion is that the Sun’s low activity, in particular its low ultraviolet (UV) output, is influencing the stratosphere in such a way as to produce unusually cold winters in parts of Europe, including the UK.

“Our research confirms the observed link between solar variability and regional winter climate,” lead author Sarah Ineson of the UK Met Office told Reuters. (GWPF)

Roy Spencer with more on cloud forcing and feedback

I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now -and Before
Roy W. Spencer

…sometimes, the most powerful evidence is right in front of your face…..

I never dreamed that anyone would dispute the claim that cloud changes can cause “cloud radiative forcing” of the climate system, in addition to their role as responding to surface temperature changes (“cloud radiative feedback”). (NOTE: “Cloud radiative forcing” traditionally has multiple meanings. Caveat emptor.)

But that’s exactly what has happened. Andy Dessler’s 2010 and 2011 papers have claimed, both implicitly and explicitly, that in the context of climate, with very few exceptions, cloud changes must be the result of temperature change only. (Roy W. Spencer)

There is a Greenhouse Effect on Venus

There is a Greenhouse Effect on Venus

I‘m peppered with emails asking me if articles like this one (which claims there is no Greenhouse Effect at all on Venus) could be right.

Michael Hammer has some 20 patents in spectroscopy, and he explains why the Greenhouse Effect — where CO2 and other gases absorb and emit infra red — is very real, and backed by empirical evidence. The calculations using the Stefan-Boltzmann Law on the atmosphere of Earth and Venus, argue that the Greenhouse Effect is not-detectable. But not-detectable (by that method) does not “prove” the effect is zero. Other methods — like satellite observations of Earth’s atmosphere, and countless lab experiments, tell us that the Greenhouse Effect is real. (The Stefan-Boltzmann Law is used to create the first graph below). Huffman’s calculations suggest other factors are more important than greenhouse gases (with which we heartily agree) and that Hansen et al were barking up the wrong tree by pretending that Venus “shows” us anything much about the Greenhouse Effect. (Indeed, the IPCC mention “Venus” in their first Assessment Report back in 1990 as one of the three key reasons.)

So here in middle-of-the-road centrist land, the people who claim Earth could become more like Venus are wildly exaggerating, but the people who claim that Venus “proves” that the Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist are just as wrong.

For your average reader, sorry it is esoteric, but there will be avid interest by some science-aficionados in this topic.

– Jo Nova

La Niña Throws Cold Water on Global Warming

La Nina Throws Cold Water on Global Warming
By Art Horn

El Nino could become a permanent feature of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. The warm waters of this never ending hot bath in the world’s largest water body would not only warm the entire earth dramatically, it would pump vast amounts of moisture into the air. This additional humidity would act as a positive feedback mechanism that would enhance the warming already being triggered by human burning of fossil fuels and in turn cause global warming to spin out of control. The melting of glaciers would accelerate and sea levels would rise much faster than predicted. The challenges of runaway warming would not be decades away but would be here now.

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Bolt Report: Special climate panel discussion with Professor Garth Paltridge, Professor Peter Ridd and Professor Bob Carter

Gosh, people use more energy when it’s colder… who knew?

EU emissions forecast to show sharp rise
Pilita Clark

The European Union, home to some of the world’s greenest governments, is about to record the biggest yearly jump in carbon emissions in 20 years, data show.

Economic recovery and an unusually cold winter that saw consumers use their heating for longer and at higher levels helped push 2010 emissions in the bloc up 2.4 per cent from the previous year, according to preliminary estimates by the European Environment Agency.

That is the biggest annual increase since 1990, agency officials said. The previous biggest increase was in 1996, when the 27-member bloc’s emissions rose 2 per cent compared to 1995. (Financial Times)

The very absolutely last chance (except for the next year & the one after that &…)

Ambitions in check on global climate deal
Shaun Tandon

PANAMA CITY — With just weeks to go before UN talks on climate change open in South Africa, negotiators have shifted their goal from striking a historic deal to ensuring that the global system survives.

Participants have long billed the conference opening on November 28 in Durban as a last chance to find a way forward on fighting climate change, with the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments to cut carbon emissions expiring after 2012. (AFP)

Climate change: India ready to play hard ball
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Psst! Al! Even The Guardian is on to you!

Al Gore is doing a disservice to science by overplaying the link between climate change and weather
To claim that we are causing meteorological events that would not have occurred without human influence is just plain wrong
Myles Allen

When Al Gore said last week that scientists now have “clear proof that climate change is directly responsible for the extreme and devastating floods, storms and droughts that displaced millions of people this year,” my heart sank. Having suggested the idea of “event attribution” back in 2003, and co-authored a study published earlier this year on the origins of the UK floods in autumn 2000, I suspect I may be one of the scientists being talked about. (The Guardian)

Chinese sceptics see global warming as US conspiracy

Hey! No fair! The EU pushes this nonsense most and they should own it!

Chinese sceptics see global warming as US conspiracy
John Garnaut
October 8, 2011

BEIJING: It’s not only Western leaders like Julia Gillard and Barack Obama who face fierce resistance from climate sceptics as they try to lay out policies to tackle global warming.

In China, where carbon emissions have surged despite tough government constraints and targets, President Hu Jintao is having to stare down claims that human-induced climate change is an elaborate American conspiracy. (Sydney Morning Herald)