Thursday, July 29, 2010

Six Months after Copenhagen: Climate Justice Movement is crumbling faster than a summer snowflake

"Time is Running Out” was the catchphrase of environmentalists and international NGOs (INGOs) during the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate meet last December. Do they continue to believe in the frenzy they whipped up six months on?

To have an insight, we visited some of the websites of leading environmental organizations and international NGOs. We selected among others, WWF, Greenpeace, Christian Aid and Oxfam who led some of the most high decibel campaigns using this catchphrase.

Christian Aid and other Christian agencies to the run-up to Copenhagen additionally walked away with the prize for best theatrics by constructing a mock grave stone declaring 'Climate change-a matter of life or death' outside the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, England. Organizers Christian Aid, CAFOD and others later took part in a New Orleans style funeral through the streets of Coventry.

We assumed that if it was thought so dire urgent six months ago, surely there should be sense of even more desperate exigency now. That unfortunately is not what we found. The issue in fact was not in their radar at all. WWF website focused on saving the Bengal Tiger, Greenpeace on stopping another Bhopal, Christian Aid and Oxfam’s on West Africa’s Food Crisis! Search as you like, but you will not find climate change any where as one of their highlighted list of priorities of their website.

So we ask again, do these environmental organizations and international NGOs really believe that “Time is running out” for Planet Earth? We leave you to draw your own conclusions.

When Copenhagen talks failed, NGOs and environmental activists put on a brave front as a blog records their defiant public declaration
“More than 250 partner organisations have come together to form an unprecedented alliance under the TckTckTck banner – including development, human rights, environment, religious and youth groups, trade unions and scout groups... In Copenhagen on December 12, one hundred thousand people marched in a powerful manifestation of this unity...The global climate movement - more diverse than ever before - stands united in the face of tonight's disappointing news.” 
Well we found that this facade has all but collapsed. As long as any social or environmental movement is able to sustain its capacity for collective mobilization, it survives and grows. However, repeated body blows struck on the science of global warming, starting from the Climategate scandal and the overnight collapse of IPCC’s credibility has apparently sucked out all the air of the movement. Fast evaporation of public support including of those by the media for the cause also prompts most to apparently place the issue on the backburner. However, a minority within the movement was found still reflecting a continued priority for climate change.

Placing climate change on the backburner of their websites does not necessarily mean that these organizations have dropped climate change as an activity focus. It only means that they go on stealthily. A glance of the websites of NGO job openings will confirm that vacancies of their climate change department are still being filled on a business as usual pace. So are the workshops and seminars attempting to indoctrinate NGO workers and public. What has visibly dropped in terms of frequencies are NGOs releasing statements at their drop of their hats, linking climate change as the cause for each and every natural disaster though disasters themselves are on the increase being a La Nina year. For the first time, even the recently concluded G20 meeting dropped direct reference to climate change and renewable energy, which gives an insight to how far the issue has been discredited that even politicians like Obama who championed the cause are fighting shy of even acknowledging climate change as a pressing issue confronting the world.

Sydney Tarrow in his bestseller, “The Sociology of Social Movements” remarked that social movements go through 
"cycles of protest” and have to keep radicalizing in order to gain more support; the radicalization in turn could lead to a loss of support."
This observation could turn prophetic to the Climate Change movement. We detect a small emerging trend of increasing radicalization as exampled by Greenpeace activists shutting down 50 gas stations all over London last week to protest ostensibly against BP’s oil spill. However, this act of vandalism also is tightly aligned also with their climate change agenda to eliminate usage of fossil fuels. By inconveniencing commuters, Greenpeace only succeeded in further accentuating the already dwindling public support for their cause as media reports suggests.

We additionally searched for any significant differences between those who overtly kept the issue on the backburner and those who still aggressively forefronted this. What we found was that the backburners mainly tended to be constituted by those who supported carbon trading while the forefronters tended to be those ideologically opposed to it. The rout of their science apparently opened up serious divisions within the formerly closed ranks of the climate campaign. So fundamental is the divide that it appears that an internecine conflict has broken out between the two factions.

Last week, in a protest against carbon trading as a method for acting on climate change, the public website of the European Climate Exchange (ECX), the leading marketplace for trading CO2 emissions in Europe, was hacked allegedly by a coalition that included Earth First and Climate Justice Action.

The ECX website was taken offline. It was replaced with a message (above) in an effort to try to raise awareness about carbon trading as a dangerous false solution to the climate crisis, in support of the grassroots activists, aiming to oppose the power structures and companies profiteering from the dysfunctional Cap & Trade scheme. The hacked page also shows the embedded video of The Story of Cap and Trade, anchored by Annie Leonard.

Leonard is no stranger to South Asia as she worked as a Greenpeace staffer during the nineties heading their anti-toxic dumping campaign. She in fact testified to the US Congress on the topic of international waste trafficking.  I remember a chance encounter with her in Bangladesh where I was attending a Sustainable Agriculture Policy workshop. She recounted the tale of a US firm passing off toxic wastes as fertilizer aid to innocent, unsuspecting Bangladeshi farmers and the horrendous consequences it created. She completely mesmerized workshop participants through her communications wizardry so much so that it was no surprise that there was a virtual stampede in the end of her presentation to sign up for the cause!
Her knack for explaining environmental issues in a simple and entertaining manner saw her producing a series of short powerful videos - “The Story of Stuff”, “The Story of Cosmetics” and “The Story of Bottled Water”. “The Story of Cap and Trade” is one in this series and perhaps has become the most embarrassing to those within the Climate Justice Movement who support cap and trade. Earlier, in 2009, Friends of the Earth (FoE) UK released a report warning that carbon trading could trigger a second ‘sub-prime’ style financial collapse and fail to protect the world from global warming catastrophe. A copy of the full report, ‘A Dangerous Obsession’, is available at:

People’s struggles are inspired essentially from strong beliefs to oppose what is perceived as unjust or iniquitous in society. Consequently, conviction to a cause arises from a belief that one’s cause is fundamentally a just cause and that the awakening of one’s conscience needs to be channelled to strive for change in order to remedy a perceived societal injustice. This is what Annie Leonard’s video exactly succeeded in undermining. It was a harsh indictment, no matter how cleverly disguised, of those environmental organizations and NGOs supporting carbon trading, who she bared as virtually supporting a big business financial fraud whose bill is finally paid by the poorest in the world! In short, it left the overwhelming majority of the movement with the stigma of being pro-rich and anti-poor by their support to carbon trading.

Over the years, the Climate Change Movement successfully co-opted the more matured Social Justice Movement within its folds. Now with their bus on fire and totally discredited, the likes of Annie Leonard and FoE have fired the first salvo. They implicitly warn that if the Climate Change Movement hopes to survive then the only way the fire can be doused is to get on the social justice bus to heal wounds, because in the end, there could be only one bus to travel.

The Climate Change Movement had never been a monolithic  entity and more accurately described as an umbrella organization which has under it a vast array of institutional forms—individuals, small NGOs, large organizations, corporate groups, etc. representing the entire gamut of social and political opinion. In fact, a majority of those involved are not even active in any movements. A good many within the movement despite their public pretensions, do not even really understand climate science, in fact do not understand any science at all, leave alone physics which is a must to understand climatology.  They joined the movement only because they thought it was the hip thing to do. A small section even consider the whole hullaballoo of global warming  unscientific but continue to offer lip service only because they think it is the most politically correct thing to do. No longer. What hurts most of the so- Climate Change movement are the growing mass desertions within their ranks, which saps the vitality of the movement. 

 You can't control a monster by asking it not to shit as much... or by proposing to buy its shit"

One of the most high profile defections last week was by physicist Dr. Denis Rancourt, a former professor and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa. Rancourt has published over 100 articles in peer reviewed scientific journals. While a recognized expert in a number of scientific fields, he is particularly known for his unconventional and controversial pedagogical approach and activism directed at the hierarchical structure of universities. Heavily influenced by the works of Paulo Freire and Schmidt, Rancourt has strongly argued for critical pedagogy aimed at confronting all sources of oppression. Watch the video and consider some of the quotes transcript by Climate Depot.
"It is as much psychological and social phenomenon as anything else. “Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middle-class. When I tell environmental activists that global warming is not something to be concerned about, they attack me — they shun me, they do not allow me to have my materials published in their magazines” (Nice “peer review” process, huh–walk the party line or no peer review). “They look for comfortable lies that they can settle into and alleviate the guilt they feel about being on privileged end of the planet — a kind of survivors guilt.

We see this sort of guilt a lot in the West, especially in America. We have such incredible affluence compared to the rest of the world, and we have attained it with such incredible ease, that many people without a solid moral and philosophical grounding feel vaguely guilty for having so much. Not being sure they are legitimately entitled to it, they opt for self-flagellating guilt mongering…while remaining generally unwilling to give up all those modern comforts they feel so guilty about. The process of self-flagellating and America-hatred purges enough of the guilt to allow them to continue enjoying these modern conveniences without the burden of guilt.

It's not about opinion politics. It's about not being scammed. It's not about education. It's about independent thinking. It's not about peer-review. It's about the class politics of science. It's not about being oppressed fairly. It's about liberation.”
Given the plurality and diversity within, the Climate Change Movement is not a monolithic animal as commonly portrayed. This inevitably leads to widespread ignorance and reductionism within the movement. World Vision’s boss Tim Costello best illustrates such ignorance when last year he claimed that Tsunamis are a result of climate change though all scientific knowledge points that it is triggered by a geological phenomenon – earthquakes. Some of the ardent climate activists I have met were shocked to learn that apart from Tsunamis even volcanic eruptions have no links to global warming.

Reductionism on the other hand is an approach to building descriptions of systems out of the descriptions of the subsystems that a system is composed of, and ignoring the relationships between them. A draft circulated of the India Disasters Report 2010, a NGO publication, observed the following: 
“The floods in Mumbai and Rajasthan in 2005 and 2006 respectively are indications of things to come. In Mumbai, the rains were so intense that they paralyzed the city. Santa Cruz area received about 944 mm rain on a single day. This is a little less than half of the annual rainfall that Mumbai gets on an average. The following year, some desert villages of Barmer in Rajasthan recorded 577 mm rain in three days— more than double the annual average. It rained so heavily here that it changed village landscapes”
This serves an excellent example of reductionist thinking - linking of rains with floods in a rather simplistic analysis. In the case of Mumbai what the analysis did not capture were the freak nature of rains, being a cloudburst, which combined with unusually high tides that led to unprecedented flooding in Mumbai. In the case of Barmer, a town in Thar Desert, in Western Rajasthan, what the analysis did not factor in was that rainfall pattern increasing in the area due to natural variability of the Indian monsoons and further due to bentonite and gypsite deposits in the area that makes the soil impervious, increasing vulnerability for waterlogging conditions. Barmer was flooded again this Monsoons.

Let us take another example from the draft report: 
“Internationally, March 2009 became the hottest month recorded. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 13.5°C (56.3°F), which is 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F).”
The Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), India’s premier environmental body who position themselves as promoting knowledge based environmental activism had made a similar claim a few months ago linking the heat wave in India as an outcome of climate change. What both had suppressed was heat waves are common in India in an El Nino year. The duplicity of climate activists stands exposed when they make loud noises when temperatures go up and remain mum when there is a severe cold wave as it occurred in Northern India last winter. This reflects on their character, integrity and accordingly their public credibility. According to Transparency International, such duplicity amounts to corruption according to their definition of the term!

Exposure of this corruption will come to a head soon. With the La Nina formation anytime in August, global temperature could be expected to plunge below its long-term average around the time the world meets at Cancun for the next Climate Treaty meet. If this is not embarrassing enough, consider the possibility of a super La Nina that could see the whole of Northern Hemisphere without a summer in 2011 as well as one of the worst winters. This could well be a big if, though all meteorological bodies in the world are predicting a big sized La Nina this year. Whatever its size, one thing is clear. For the near future, global temperatures are destined to be cool. This means humiliation for climate change activism and NGOs and environmentalist organizations should be prepared to display humility to make a public apology that they were misled on this issue. It will take a public apology to stem the decline in their advocacy programmes.

So the question is, do they have this humility?

Friday, July 23, 2010

South America in Deep Freeze, Europe gets Barbecued: Classical Insignia of La Nina

A cold snap in South America caused more than 100 deaths and still counting. According to various media reports: 

- In Chile, the Aysen region suffered from the worst snowstorm in 30 years. The snow accumulation reached 5 feet in Balmaceda and the Army was called to rescue people trapped by the snow.
- In Argentina, the snow in the region of Mendoza, famous for its winery, described as the heaviest in a decade. The temperature in the morning of July 16th was the lowest in the city of Buenos Aires since 1991: -1.5C. The cold snap caused a record demand for energy and Argentina had to import electricity from Brazil. Many industries in Argentina were shut down due to gas shortage. It snowed in nearly all the provinces of Argentina, an extremely rare event. It snowed even in the western part of the province of Buenos Aires and Southern Santa Fe, in cities at sea level. 
- In Bolivia, dozens of people died in consequence of the very low temperatures. In some areas of the nation, the cold period was described as the worst in 15 years. It even snowed in the Chaco of Bolivia, one of warmest areas of South America, where the local population never saw snow before

- The worst of the cold has been in southern Peru, where the Andes Mountains had temperatures drop down to - 23 degrees Celsius.

- The most famous beach of Argentina, Mar del Plata, was whitened by the snow in the morning of July 15th, an event only seen in recent memory in 1991, 2004 and 2007.

What is common in all these years is that these were all either La Nina years or a period global climate was transitioning from an El Nino conditions to a La Nina episode.

The Australian Met Department confirmed that the sub-surface of the ocean is now more than 4°C cooler than normal for this time of year in the central Pacific due to La Nina developments. However, this by itself cannot explain the cold snap. The main ice covered landmass in the Southern Hemisphere is Antarctica at the South Pole, accounting for 90-95% of the world's ice (and 70 percent of its fresh water). Antarctica is covered with ice, average 7,000 feet thick, and if completely melted would lead to sea levels to rise about 200 feet. Nevertheless, the average temperature in Antarctica is - 37°C, so the ice there is in no of danger of melting. In fact, in most parts of the continent it never gets above freezing.

The Antarctic Sea Ice by end of June in fact grew to record levels (marked in purple in the graphic). The Southern Hemisphere sea ice area narrowly surpassed the previous historic maximum of 16.03 million sq. km to 16.17 million sq. Read here. It means temperature has gone much lower than -37°C, possibly now around -60C and that net incremental ice area almost completely offset any loss ice from its northern counterpart the Arctic – keeping in check rise of sea levels globally. 

The Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) is a low-frequency mode of atmospheric variability of the southern hemisphere mid- and high latitudes consisting of a seesaw in atmospheric pressure between the Antarctic region and the southern midlatitudes and is associated with lower SST and sea ice anomalies. A peer reviewed study by Pohl et al found the following interlinks between AAO and La Nina: 
“At the inter-annual time scale, a strong tele-connection with ENSO is found during the peak of the austral summer season, corroborating previous studies. El Nino (La Nina) tends to correspond to a negative (positive) AAO phase.”
June saw the second highest positive AAO anomaly in the historical record, second only to July 1979 – another La Nina year. Climatologists and weathermen attribute this extreme event of snow in South America to a pocket of low-pressure Antarctic air that found its way over South America. The outbreak began more than one week ago with biting winds out of Antarctica chilling southernmost Chile and Argentina, a land known as Patagonia.
As a result areas within the middle and high latitudes in the southern hemisphere are experiencing lower than average temperatures, if not record lows, be it much of  Latin America, Australia, New Zealand,  South Africa or Nambia. Since at the intraseasonal time scale, AAO shows most energetic fluctuations in the 30-60-day range, these conditions could well extend into beginning of September. 

Europe Barbecued

In April 2009, the UK Met Office predicted a barbeque summer in 2009. After the disappointments of 2007 and 2008, the British public were promised a scorcher of summer. The Met Dept ended up with mud on the faces as it turned out another disappointing summer. Faced with widespread public ridicule, this year they gave up seasonal forecasting only to find their barbequed summer materializing this year. According to various media reports:
• Russia's worst droughts in a century have destroyed almost 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of crops in central and European areas, authorities said. A state of emergency has been declared in 18 Russian provinces, where fire has engulfed more than 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) of forest. Germany's Potato Industry Union, meanwhile, says it expects losses of 30 percent in this year's harvest. "The situation is worse in many places this year than in the drought years of 2003 and 2006," said Martin Umhau, the head of Germany's Union of Potato Industry. The Chamber of Agriculture of the Czech Republic estimates the grain harvest could by down by 10 percent compared with 2009. 
• Meanwhile, drowning deaths were up in Eastern Europe as people flocked to seas, lakes and rivers in search of a break from the blistering heat. More than 230 people died in the last week alone across Russia, with 21 perishing over two weeks in Latvia, according to officials, who lamented the tendency of heavy drinking while sunbathing.

• The heat also took its toll on transport, with roads damaged and railway operators suffering. A major highway from Prague to Germany had to be closed for several days of repairs, and the Vodochody international airport north of Prague stopped accepting passenger flights after heat damage to the runway. In the Baltic state of Estonia, several churches were being used as heat shelters, particularly for the elderly.

• In Finland, which reported a 75-year record of 34.2 C (93.5 F), stores were quickly running out of fans and air conditioners. The same happened in Germany and Hungary, where the mercury hit 37 C (99 F).

The current heat wave in Europe is not unprecedented and it finds high correlation with La Nina years. While 2003 was the worst in recent history, 2008, was also a year with above-average temperatures all over Europe. A large geographical domain, including northwestern Siberia and part of the Scandinavian region, recorded a remarkably mild winter. January and February were very mild over nearly all of Europe. Monthly mean temperature anomalies for these months exceeded +7°C in some places in Scandinavia. In most parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden, winter 2007-08 was the warmest recorded since the beginning of measurements. In contrast, the boreal winter was remarkably cold for a large part of Eurasia extending eastward from Turkey to China. Some places in Turkey had their coldest January nights in nearly 50 years. This extreme cold weather caused hundreds of casualties in Afghanistan and China.

As in the past, the current heat wave sweeping across Europe has caused a significant reduction in Arctic ice. According to the newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" in the zone of the Yenisei Siberia, the permafrost is, on average, ten meters thick; this year has already been melted to a depth of 3.5 meters, compared to a usual maximum of three meters at the end of summer. As the newspaper observed, there is a danger of Arctic falling to in 2007 (la Nina year) levels where in late summer it fell to 4.4 million square kilometres, compared to the norm of 8 million and 11 million in summer and winter.

The link of heat waves to La Nina was established by Chase et al in a peer reviewed study, published in Geophysics Research Letters, titled Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context? Read here. They found natural variability in the form of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and volcanism appearing much of greater importance than any general warming trend in causing extreme regional temperature anomalies. However, this by itself does not sufficiently explain the current extreme event.

The higher temperatures are caused partly by an interaction between a zone of low pressure in Western Europe and high pressure around the Mediterranean. What that does is to bring hot African air up over Europe. Partly it is caused by the Arctic Oscillation (AO), which is the Northern Hemisphere’s counterpart to AAO of the South Hemisphere. The AO is the pattern in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between negative and positive phases. Diagrammatically as illustrated by NOAA, the positive and negative phases are depicted below:  

US based Weather Services International, who correctly predicted last October that Europe would suffer a very cold start to 2010, had this to predict for the coming months:
“We expect the recent warm, dry weather across the eastern and southern mainland to continue into August, while the UK and Scandinavian temperatures run slightly above to slightly below normal. By September, the mainland heat will abate a bit, while Scandinavia experiences increasingly warmer temperatures, relative to normal. By October, the combination of a very warm Atlantic Ocean and an emerging La Nina event in the tropical Pacific will result in very mild conditions across Scandinavia and the eastern mainland, with below-normal temperatures confined to Iberia.” 
As in other La Nina years, much of Europe will experience above normal temperatures in the coming months and possibly a milder winter too.

As Climate Flips, Climate Alarmism Face End-Game

 Global warmists had predicted the year 2010 as being the warmest in recorded history. The first half of the year put smiles on their faces, each month they derived sadistic pleasure on announcing to the world that new temperature highs were being recorded. The spread of red in NOAA’s temperature anomaly graph should make this evident.

The same NOAA temperature anomaly graph for July first week should quickly wipe the smug of their faces. Notice the sea of blue swamping the red that makes July obvious that global climate was flipping towards a much cooler world. Even in June, warmists claimed based on unreliable surface temperature data that how that global land and ocean surface temperatures were the highest since record keeping began in 1880.

The irony was that UAH (Satellite) temperature graph for January to June was clearly suggesting that global temperatures were in a declining trend, even when global warmists were in their full elements scaring the world that global warming was accelerating. From a near record high of +0.72C anomaly in January, it hit +0.44C in June. And if the trend continues, we should see a more pronounced fall this month with global temperature anomaly plunging within the region +0.3-0.2C. For the latest global (satellite), temperatures visit here.

By October, the reds in the Northern Hemisphere – mainly SE of US, Europe and Arctic - can be expected to change to a cooler colour as  the heat wave is expected to  abate by then. This together with a drastic fall in Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) should see global temperature anomalies near zero. It is now evident that 2010 will not be the warmest in recorded history. Hopefully, by the time of the Climate meet in Cancun, we should see global temperature anomalies below their long-term mean as it regularly happens during a La Nina year. It will be then obvious to all that the theory global warming lies in shambles and run its course (scam).
According to IPCC, the theory is automatically falsified if there is an absence of warming trend for 15 years. Since 1998, there is no significant warming trend seen, this makes it 12 years where there is an absence of significant warming trend. There is little chance during the remaining three years that this trend will change. Temperatures usually spike during a moderately strong El Nino as just completed in April. The probability for a similar one is 12 years from now. More important, with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) negative, there is little chance of runaway warming.