Friday, February 26, 2010

Hot or Cold?

This is something I've been saying for years...the status quo of science tells us that the earth is warming, but how do we take the planet's temperature to see if it's sick? We have tons of data gathering locations around the world, many of which can be subjected to localized heating from asphalt, skyscrapers, etc. Could the data that we base all our global warming studies on be accidentally skewed because our data-collection points aren't accurately representing the actual global temperature? Possibly. Something to think about.


Joseph Abrams
February 26, 2010

U.S. Climate Data Compromised by Sensors' Proximity to Heat Sources, Critics Say

A critical cog in the machinery that drives the theory of global warming may be compromised, as temperature sensors across the U.S. appear to be exposed to heat sources that some critics say is corrupting their information.

A critical cog in the machinery that drives the theory of global warming is a small white box not too far from where you live. Inside the box sits a thermometer that tracks the local temperature, which in turn becomes part of a data trail for the monitoring of climate change on Earth.

But there's a problem: Nearly every single weather station the U.S. government uses to measure the country's surface temperature may be compromised. Sensors that are supposed to be in empty clearings are instead exposed to crackling electronics and other unlikely sources of heat, from exhaust pipes and trash-burning barrels to chimneys and human graves.

The National Climate Data Center (NCDC) uses this massive network of sensors to determine daily highs and lows at the 1,219 weather stations in its Historical Climatology Network (HCN). The network has existed since 1892, but only in the last decade has it come under intense scrutiny to determine whether the figures it measures can be trusted.

For the past three years, a group of zealous laymen has visited and photographed nearly every one of the weather stations to determine whether they have been placed properly. And what they found is a stunning disregard for the government's own rules: 90 percent of the sensors are too close to potential sources of heat to pass muster, including some very odd sources indeed:

• A sensor in Redding, Calif., is housed in a box that also contains a halogen light bulb, which could emit warmth directly onto the gauge.

• A sensor in Hanksville, Utah, sits directly atop a gravestone, which is not only macabre but also soaks up the sun's heat and radiates it back to the thermometer at night.

• A sensor in Marysville, Calif., sits in a parking lot at a fire station right next to an air conditioner exhaust, a cell phone tower and a barbecue grill.

• A sensor in Tahoe City, Calif., sits near a paved tennis court and is right next to a "burn barrel" that incinerates garbage.

• A sensor in Hopkinsville, Ky., is sheltered from the wind by an adjoining house and sits above an asphalt driveway.

• Dozens of sensors are located at airports and sewage treatment plants, which produce "heat islands" from their sprawling seas of asphalt and heavy emissions.

"So far we've surveyed 1,062 of them," said Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who began the tracking effort in 2007. "We found that 90 percent of them don't meet [the government's] old, simple rule called the '100-foot rule' for keeping thermometers 100 feet or more from biasing influence. Ninety percent of them failed that, and we've got documentation."

Watts, who has posted pictures of the sensors on his Web site,, says he believes that the location of the sensors renders their recorded temperatures inaccurate, which in turn brings some of the data behind global warming theory into question.

"It's asinine to think that this wouldn't have some kind of an effect," Watts told

But climate scientists who analyze the data say that they are able to account and adjust for the faulty locations by comparing warming trends they spot at bad sites to trends they see at good ones.

"If you use only the sites that currently have good siting versus those that have not-so-good siting, when you look at the adjusted data basically you get the same trend," said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NCDC.

Lawrimore admitted that Watts' volunteers had discovered real problems with sensor siting, but he said that even when those sites' heat readings were adjusted down, they still showed a steady overall rise in temperatures.

"The ultimate conclusion, the bottom line is that there really isn't evidence that the trends have a bias based on the current siting," he said.

And surface station data is only a small subset of information confirming the warming of the climate, Lawrimore said.

Changes in air temperature, water temperature, glacier melt, plant flowering, tree growth and species migration, among many others, show the same worldwide trend -- a 0.7 degree Celsius jump (1.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past century.

"There's a certain amount of uncertainty in the calculation of trends, but not to the extent that we don't know the climate is warming," he said.

Watts readily agrees that temperatures are on the rise worldwide, but he believes the magnitude of the increase is in question, and he says his research puts the 1.2-degree global figure in doubt.

But a team of three climatologists has completed a study of Watts' data on HCN siting and found the warming trend to be confirmed.

In fact, the three NCDC scientists, Matthew Menne, Claude Williams and Michael Palecki, say they found that instrument updates in the 1980s have created a cooling bias, and that adjusted and cleaned up data from even the bad sites is "extremely well aligned" with measurements from instruments that meet the "highest standards for climate monitoring."

"We find no evidence that the [contiguous U.S.] temperature trends are inflated due to poor station siting," reads the study, which is set to be published in a forthcoming volume of the "Journal of Geophysics Research -- Atmospheres."

"It's all objective analysis based on statistics," said Matthew Menne, the lead author of the study.

But Menne's study was conducted using information on only 43 percent of the weather stations. Watts, who has now compiled information on 80 percent of the stations and cleaned up his old information, contends that a more complete data set would furnish different results, and he plans to conduct a study of his own under the aegis of Roger Pielke Sr., a research scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

A better test of the network's data is on the horizon. In the past eight years, the NOAA has established a hi-tech system that sends information via satellite and abides by all of its own rules for siting. Each sensor is ideally placed in open areas far from other structures, a fact that pleases both government scientists and longstanding critics like Watts.

"I'm convinced that the new system, the Climate Reference Network, will provide a reasonably accurate set of readings," Watts said.

But data has only begun to be collected from CRN, a regional network of just 114 climate sensors that went fully online in 2008. It will take at least a decade, and as many as 30 years, until the information it collects becomes statistically significant.

In the meantime, and for many years past, the challenged data from NCDC has been providing information for a number of top climate research centers, including the U.N.'s International Panel on Climate Change, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the Hadley Climate Research Unit, headed until recently by Phil Jones, who resigned in the wake of the climate-gate scandal.

With mounting pressure on climate research facilities, scientists at the NCDC hope that their data won't be discounted because of the troubling images Watts has compiled.

"These photos show a current snapshot of these stations," said Menne. "We wouldn't want to dismiss 100 years of climate records based on a photograph from the year 2009."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Green Jobs Are A Sham

Here's a great article I read yesterday in U.S. News & World Report explaining how the "green jobs" push doesn't really create jobs, but simply deletes many jobs over here, while only creating a few over here. And lots of only temporary jobs, like replacing the barbed wire along the interstates. Why not lower the corporate tax rate (the 2nd highest in the world, behind Japan), encouraging businesses to add on another wing to the factory or expand into new markets. You know, create LASTING jobs, and at the same time getting rid of the uncertainty for business.

Green Energy Jobs? Not From Obama's Big Government Meddling

Posted February 22, 2010

Kenneth P. Green is an environmental scientist and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Obama administration and its congressional allies have been promising to usher in a green economy that will create millions of new green jobs that "can't be outsourced." Many of those jobs, we're told, will come from wind and solar energy development, but other areas are supposed to benefit as well, including the automobile, construction, and ill-defined "green technology" sectors. These claims are nothing new, though they have grown more Orwellian over time. In the 1990s, California politicians promised to replace a fleeing aerospace sector with a new industry making batteries for the electric cars they tried to mandate into an unwelcoming market (didn't happen), and they're making the same claims for a new greenhouse-gas-control regime.

Click here to find  out more!

There's only one problem with all this feel-good blather: It makes no economic sense whatsoever, and where it has been tried most extensively, evidence shows that it's a job-destroying, econo­my-weakening fiasco.

First, Economics 101. What we know, from the fundamentals of economics, is that governments don't "create" jobs; consumer demand for goods and serv­ices does that. All the government can do is subsidize some industries while jacking up costs for others. In the green case, it will be destroying jobs in the conventional energy sector, and most likely in other industrial sectors, through taxes and subsidies to new green companies that will use taxpayer dollars to undercut the competition. The subsidized jobs that will be "created" are, by definition, less efficient uses of capital than market-created jobs. That means they are less economically productive than the jobs they displace and contribute less to economic growth. Finally, the good produced by government- favored jobs is inherently a noneconomic good that has to be maintained indefinitely, often without an economic revenue model, as in the case of roads, rail systems, mass transit, and probably windmills, solar power installations, etc.

Now to the empirical evidence. When talking about our bold green energy future, President Obama held up Spain as an example. Spain invested heavily in wind power and other renewable energy. Alas, after studying the Spanish experience, Prof. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez and colleagues at Spain's Universidad Rey Juan Carlos found that if America followed Spain's example, for every renewable energy job that the United States managed to create, it should expect a loss, on average, of at least 2.2 traditional jobs.

Each job created in Spain's effort cost about $750,000, and only 1 in 10 was permanent. Thus, creating even 3 million new green jobs would cost $2.25 trillion. Even in a time where a trillion is the new billion, that's a lot of money.

And the goods produced (wind and solar power plants in this case) jack up energy prices dramatically and cause more job losses throughout the econo­my. Electricity rates in Spain would have to rise 31 percent just to repay subsidies given to renewable developers.

Finally, the Spanish team found that "the high cost of electricity due to the green job policy tends to drive the relatively most [sic] energy-intensive companies and industries away, seeking areas where costs are lower."

As for the nonexportability of green jobs, New York Sen. Charles Schumer recently asked the administration to keep stimu­lus money from going to a proposed West Texas wind farm because it would have generated as many as 3,000 permanent jobs in Shenyang, China (proposed site of the wind turbine construction), but would have created only 300 temporary jobs in the United States and a laughably trivial 30 permanent jobs here. Anyone who thinks the United States is going to compete with China for windmill and solar cell manufacturing, given that nation's lower labor rates and greater access to vital rare-earth elements, is living in a fantasy world.

The bottom line: Government job creation, green or otherwise, is private-sector job destruction. In the end, there are fewer net jobs and less net economic productivity than if the government had not interfered with the market.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fact or Fiction?

Here's a Superbowl ad for Audi (Facebook people click here):

It's really kind of funny/unnerving, because I've seen elements of this kind of thing around the world, let's just hope it doesn't become this extreme.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If It Can Happen In England, It Can Happen Here

This seems like a scene right out of V for Vendetta. Apparently, they're talking about putting cameras in homes where the parents are arbitrarily deemed unfit in the United Kingdom. In fact, parents are encouraged to report other parents whose children act up in class to possibly put additional families on this "sin bin" list (see the bold sentence).

Home surveillance by the government? A little creepy. Yes, I know there are terrible parents out there, and child services are very important to help kids in terrible situations. But cameras in the home? Based on something as fickle as other parents complaining about disruptive kids? Preemptively, simply because of kids' behavior? Sheer madness.

If government is allowed to do this, what comes next? If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk...

Kind of a good reminder to make sure government stays small and limited, eh?

I found this story many places, simply because I found it so hard to believe, but this is the article I used. From the UK Express:

Thousands of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.

The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.

But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years, with each costing between £5,000 and £20,000 – a potential total bill of £400million.

Ministers hope the move will reduce the number of youngsters who get drawn into crime because of their chaotic family lives, as portrayed in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.

Sin bin projects operate in half of council areas already but Mr Balls wants every local authority to fund them.

He said: “This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.”

But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is all much too little, much too late.

“This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse.”

Mr Balls also said responsible parents who make sure their children behave in school will get new rights to complain about those who allow their children to disrupt lessons.

Pupils and their families will have to sign behaviour contracts known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, which will set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.

The updated Youth Crime Action Plan also called for a crackdown on violent girl gangs as well as drug and alcohol abuse among young women.

But a decision to give ministers new powers to intervene with failing local authority Youth Offending Teams was criticised by council leaders.

Les Lawrence, of the Local Government Association, said they did “crucial” work and such intervention was “completely unnecessary”.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Perhaps Isurance Is Part of the Problem?

John Stossel opines on one aspect of the health care debate in this video.

Getting the third party, insurance companies, involved with low deductibles that will cover every health care whim creates a system where the free market is not allowed to work, because nobody knows what the prices are, nor are there any incentives to lower costs.