Arctic Sea Ice since 2007

With those explaining that Climategate means nothing pointing to the Arctic Ice sheet, I thought that I would look up some numbers. According to the World Meteorological Organization, Arctic sea ice has increased by 19 percent since its minimum in 2007, though they don't make it very easy to see this in the way that they report the data. 2009 was indeed still 27.4 percent below the 1979 to 2000 average of 7.03 million square kilometers, but the gap has gotten much smaller than the 39.2 percent in 2007.

Year . . . . Average Minimum Extent (million square kilometers)
2007 . . . . 4.28
2008 . . . . 4.67
2009 . . . . 5.10

Al Gore claimed during the Copenhagen Climate Summit that "These figures are fresh. This is the volume metric measure of the ice and some of the models suggest to Dr Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar icea cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years." Gore apparently didn't have the last two years of data with his "fresh" figures. For the AP version of the story, which doesn't question his claims at all, see here.

The claim was simply obtained by extrapolating the drop from 2006 to 2007 and assuming that the rate of drop would continue. The fact that the amount of ice increased after that would presumably bring some caution to the discussion.

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About a third of the money $700 billion allocated went to banks

I don't agree completely with "Bailouts Gone Astray," what was a bad program to begin with merely got worse in my opinion, but this is still worth reading.

Out of the $700 billion originally allotted, only $245 billion was invested in banks. With B of A now fully repaid and Citi and Wells on its heels, every major bank will likely repay TARP in just over one year. Several smaller banks failed, taking their TARP investments with them, but profits from other banks more than offset their losses. The Treasury now expects it'll reap an aggregate $19 billion profit on its investments in banks.

That's where the good news ends.

What started as a plan to plug the financial panic quickly became a grab-bag-o'-fun for anyone in need. Insurance companies. Auto companies. Auto lending companies. Homeowners. The city of San Jose even tried to get in on the action. If you needed money, TARP had a lot of it. A maddening irony of Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, was that he (rightly) criticized banks for their TARP indulgences while forgetting that General Motors, portrayed in the film as the ignored bastard child of America, received more TARP money than any bank. The $50 billion GM received is more than Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), and American Express (NYSE: AXP) received combined -- and all those banks repaid the amount in full, something GM can only dream about.

The beginning of the end
TARP started with an absurdly high figure, $700 billion, but passed largely on the grounds that much, if not all, of it would be recovered. That way, its long-term fiscal impact wouldn't be cruel. Many said this was hooey, but we now know it's true: Had TARP stuck to its original purpose, it would have achieved both goals of halting the financial panic and quickly repaying taxpayers in full plus interest with flying colors. . . .


William Shatner and Sarah Palin face off

Minor aside: "Gore blasts Sarah Palin"

It was reported tonight that Gores new book, which was released on November 4th, has sold 40,000 copies by Friday. Palin's book has sold about 2 million copies.



More earmarks from Congress

Obama: "And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely. But the fact is that eliminating earmarks alone is not a recipe for how we're going to get the middle class back on track." Now the new spending bill just passed by Congress has this.

Getting into the holiday spirit, the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a spending bill loaded with goodies for the folks back home.

Trails for Monterey Bay. An arts pavilion for Mississippi. Bus shelters for Bellflower.

In all, the bill contains 5,224 earmarks costing about $3.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. . . .

The $447-billion bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled House with no Republican votes and moved to the Senate, combines six spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

The measure brings total earmarks in this year's spending bills to 7,577 at a cost of about $6 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. The Pentagon spending bill, the last of the annual appropriations bills, is expected to contain more earmarks than the omnibus bill, said Steve Ellis of the taxpayer group. . . .

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A graph showing what the Obama administration promised and what we got on unemployment

From the Heritage Foundation.

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Avatar the movie: "environmental platitudes and anti-progress cliches"

A review of Avatar:

THERE'S no argument that, as a showcase for the immersive potential of 3D visual effects technology, James Cameron's long-awaited $300 million sci-fi epic Avatar - his first film since 1997's world-conquering Titanic - is an unqualified triumph.

But as a story designed to engage, enthral and entertain adult audiences for almost three hours, it is a major disappointment strewn with weak characters, environmental platitudes and anti-progress cliches.

Set on the distant, forest-covered moon of Pandora, the story tells of Jake Sully (Australian actor Sam Worthington), a paraplegic former marine recruited by the heavily militarised security division of an interplanetary mining corporation that is having trouble with the natives, an aggressive race known as the Na'vi, who look like giant Smurfs that have spent too long at the gym. . . .

Another review:

Any lingering suspicions that James Cameron has become the Al Gore of Hollywood will be firmly extinguished by his new, monstrously-hyped creation. For a while, it looked like he was giving us a reasonably sweet-natured blockbuster, suggesting that the natural world has, like, the power to heal us all, or something. Then Cameron sends in the helicopter gunships and starts blowing shit up, big time. Way to undermine your own message. . . .

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Another shooting at a gun free zone

Notice sign in picture from today's the Shreveport Times. The question as always is: who is more likely to obey such bans?

Thanks to Gus Cotey for the link.


Last business group to support Obama's health care reform backing away

It looks like no business groups are going to support the Dems Health Reform.

Without fundamental changes to the current health reform plans, the White House and congressional Democrats risk losing the last major corporate group that is standing by their effort: The Business Roundtable.

In an interview with POLITICO on Friday, Roundtable President John Castellani raised concerns about the effectiveness of cost containment provisions in the proposal, and the timing of various fees and taxes that ultimately could be passed on to employers that provide insurance to workers.

“If these areas aren’t improved the reform effort will not work and we need something that works,” said Castellani.

Castellani wouldn’t say how long the group is giving Democrats to fix the bill, but said, “We are going to be much louder and much more insistent on improving” the legislation.

Castellani’s comments are significant because the White House, including President Barack Obama, has often contrasted the Roundtable’s cooperative role with that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is lobbying hard against the plan.

The Roundtable has 161 CEO members who oversee the largest corporations in America. Combined they have nearly $6 trillion in revenues and more than 12 million employees. They alone provide health care to more than 35 million workers and their families, which makes them one of the biggest stakeholders in the current debate.

By staying at the table, the Roundtable has lent credibility to arguments by congressional Democrats and the White House that the reform measure will not dramatically disrupt the private sector, or bring an end to employer-sponsored insurance programs. . . .


Democrats face ethics probes this coming year

Federal Salaries going up quickly during recession

It has long been know that people rarely leave their Federal jobs, that the turnover rate is much lower than for private sector jobs. It would be interesting to see how that turnover rate has changed over the past couple of years. This article suggests that the turnover rate has gone down, and that it has gone down by more than can be explained by the recession.

For feds, more get 6-figure salaries
Average pay $30,000 over private sector
By Dennis Cauchon
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.

"There's no way to justify this to the American people. It's ridiculous," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a first-term lawmaker who is on the House's federal workforce subcommittee. . . .

Thanks to Lon Dubh for this link.

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United Nations not very serious about investigating Climategate?

Will the UN appoint a serious independent investigator? Will they ask why other data isn't being released?

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, announced last week that the U.N. would conduct an investigation, saying at the time that the controversy over the e-mails was serious and that he didn't want to "brush anything under the carpet."

But the GOP senators wrote in their letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that while such an inquiry is a "positive step," they want an investigation "that is truly independent of the IPCC and the U.N." -- in the style of the independent investigation led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in the wake of the Oil for Food scandal.

"The United Nations must now appoint another independent investigator with an international team to pursue this matter," the senators wrote. They also urged the U.N. to open the books on the matter to the U.S. Congress and general public.

"The investigation must be conducted without political interference and manipulation from individual countries, non-governmental organizations, those within the U.N., those who have contributed to the IPCC, those being investigated, or any closely related associates," the senators wrote. "In the interest of transparency, it is imperative that the U.S. Congress have full access to all documents, as well as transcripts and interviews, from the investigation, and that they be released to the public." . . .


What is left out of this study?: "UK cities should have more 20mph speed zones, as they have cut road injuries by over 40% in London"

Here is the claim:

the number of children killed or seriously injured has been halved over the past 15 years, the British Medical Journal reported.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study estimates 20mph zones have the potential to prevent up to 700 casualties in London alone.

At 20mph, it is estimated only one in 40 pedestrians is killed in a crash.

This compares with a one in five chance for someone hit at 30mph.

The researchers compared data on road collisions, injuries and deaths in London between 1986 and 2006, with speed limits on roads.

After adjusting for a general reduction in road injuries in recent years, they found that the introduction of 20mph zones were associated with a 41.9% drop in casualties. . . .

Note the claim that per 40 people killed, the number dead will fall from eight to one when cars go from traveling at 30 mph to 20 mph. That is an 87.5 percent reduction, compared to the 41.9 percent drop they claim occurred. Taking into account that accidents generally tend to fall over time is helpful, but it seems likely that people are more likely to be careful where the risks are greater. The faster the cars are speeding in an area, the less likely that parents will leave their kids walking around there.

It would be interesting to see some estimate of the cost of reducing speeds by one third. What is the increase in hours that people will spend in cars? Obviously the increase in the short run is likely to be greater than the increase in the longer run. Apparently there were about 2.7 million cars in London in 1992 (in a fast search, I couldn't find a more recent number). Cutting the speed limit from 30 to 20 mph means that it takes 50 percent longer to make a trip. Take some completely made up numbers, simply to give an idea of the magnitudes involved. If each car on average spends two hours per week on these particular streets, that means 52 additional travel hours per year. Even if cars only have 1 person in the car at a time and their time costs on average are just $20 per hour, that comes to about $2.8 billion in lost time costs. Now assume that there are 700 lives that would be saved and that the average value of a life is $5 million, that comes to a total saving of $3.5 billion. Both of these numbers are quite close. If on average 1.5 people are traveling in a car, the $2.8 billion becomes $4.2 billion. I don't know what the final conclusion is here, but the answer is hardly the "should" claimed by this study, even assuming that the study was done properly and I can't make that judgment (though it is a medical journal and I would guess that they didn't get it right).

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A small referendum on the Democratic Congress?

Can special elections like this pull Democrats back from the bring? Obviously it is much easier to take over a vacant seat than one with an incumbent defending it.

That's the warning from the unlikely quarter of Tuesday's special state senate election in Kentucky that became a referendum on the Democratic agenda in Washington, especially health care. Voters in the 14th District elected Republican Jimmy Higdon over Democrat Jodie Haydon by 12 points. That's significant in a district that leans Democratic by more than 2 to 1, and where Democrats and their allies spent more than $1 million, perhaps twice what the GOP did. While the Democrat campaigned on local issues and jobs, Mr. Higdon focused relentlessly on the national controversy surrounding health care. . . .

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Some editorials from the Washington Times

Howard Zinn working with History Channel?

Marxism for pre-K through high school kids?

Enter Howard Zinn – an author, professor and American historian – who, with the help of Hollywood and the History Channel, intends to change the way our pre-K through high school children learn American history. His current curriculum suggestions, like introducing three-year-olds to the lynching of African-Americans, or quizzing seven-year-olds on which Presidents owned slaves, should be a red flag to parents.

Zinn has spent a lifetime teaching college students about the evils of capitalism, the promise of Marxism, and his version of American history – a history that has, in his view, been kept from students. His controversial 1980-book The People’s History of the United States paints traditional American history as a façade – one that has grotesquely immortalized flawed leaders and is based on principles that victimize the common man. In 2004, Zinn wrote a companion book entitled Voices Of A People’s History Of The United States, which includes speeches and writings from many of the people featured in The People’s History. . . .

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The other side of Climategate

Some comments from those defending climategate scientists or saying that it was unimportant can be seen here, here, here, and here. On how much of a distraction the scandal is posing for global warming advocates, see this here.

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Climategate Scandal: "tip of a giant iceberg of a well organized international climate warming conspiracy"?

Professor William Gray of Colorado State University, sometimes described as "the World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert," warned this week that Climategate is "but the tip of a giant iceberg of a well organized international climate warming conspiracy."

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Al Gore Speaks out on Climate Gate

Gore gave this interview to the liberal Slate online publication:

Q: How damaging to your argument was the disclosure of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University?

A: To paraphrase Shakespeare, it's sound and fury signifying nothing. I haven't read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old. These private exchanges between these scientists do not in any way cause any question about the scientific consensus. But the noise machine built by the climate deniers often seizes on what they can blow out of proportion, so they've thought this is a bigger deal than it is.

Q: There is a sense in these e-mails, though, that data was hidden and hoarded, which is the opposite of the case you make [in your book] about having an open and fair debate.

A: I think it's been taken wildly out of context. The discussion you're referring to was about two papers that two of these scientists felt shouldn't be accepted as part of the IPCC report. Both of them, in fact, were included, referenced, and discussed. So an e-mail exchange more than 10 years ago including somebody's opinion that a particular study isn't any good is one thing, but the fact that the study ended up being included and discussed anyway is a more powerful comment on what the result of the scientific process really is. These people are examining what they can or should do to deal with the P.R. dimensions of this, but where the scientific consensus is concerned, it's completely unchanged. What we're seeing is a set of changes worldwide that just make this discussion over 10-year-old e-mails kind of silly. The entire North Polar ice cap is disappearing before our very eyes. It's been the size of the continental United States for the last 3 million years and now 40 percent is gone and the rest of it is going. The mountain glaciers are going. We've had record storms, droughts, fires, and floods. There is an air of unreality in debating these arcane points when the world is changing in such dramatic ways right in front of our eyes because of global warming.

Q: What's your view on the medieval warm period and the charge that the East Anglia e-mails suggest data was manipulated to "contain" that anomaly?

A: I haven't read those e-mails in detail, but the larger point is that there are cyclical changes in the climate and they are fairly well-understood, and all of them are included in the scientific consensus. When you look at what has happened over the last few decades the natural fluctuations point in the opposite direction of what has actually occurred. When they run the models and plug in the man-made pollution, the correspondence is exact. Beyond that, the scale of natural fluctuations has now been far exceeded by the impact of man-made global warming. . . . .

The most recent email is "more than 10 years old"? There are a lot of emails from as late as this year. One from this summer (Jul 23, 2009, at 11:54 AM) where the AP writer Seth Borenstein is asking Michael Mann and others for help in criticizing a refereed journal article criticizing man-made global warming.

As to the claim that "The entire North Polar ice cap is disappearing before our very eyes."

Arctic Ice Sheet since 2007
"the extent of arctic sea ice has been increasing for the last two years."
Note also: "Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking." -- Antarctica has 90 percent of the Earth's ice and 80 percent of its fresh water

Andrew Bolt has similar problems with Gore's comments: Climategate: Gore falsifies the record

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC: Earlier this morning I sat down with former Vice President Al Gore to talk about climate change, his new book, "Our Choice," and Sarah Palin. Today, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Palin is escalating her attack on the Copenhagen Summit. Palin calls it junk science, and writes that "The agenda-driven policies being pushed in Copenhagen won't change the weather, but they would change our economy for the worse." I asked Al Gore to respond.

AL GORE: The global warming deniers persist in this era of unreality. After all, the entire North Polar ice cap, which has been there for most of the last 3 million years, is disappearing before our eyes. 40 percent's already gone. The rest is expected to go completely within the next decade. What do they think is causing this? The mountain glaciers in every region of the world are melting, many of them at an accelerated rate, threatening drinking supplies, drinking water supplies, and agricultural water supplies. We have these record storms, droughts, floods, fires, and tree deaths in the American west. Climate refugees beginning now, expected to rise to the hundreds of millions unless we take action. These effects are taking place all over the world exactly as predicted by the scientists who have warned for years that if we continue putting 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every day, the accumulation is going to trap lots more heat, raise temperatures, and cause all of these consequences that are already beginning.

See above for why this is wrong to make it appear as if all the ice is melting.

MITCHELL: Well, one of the things that she has written recently on Facebook is that this is "Doomsday scare tactics, pushed by an environmental priesthood that makes the public feel like owning an SUV is a sin against the planet."

GORE: Well, the scientific community has worked very intensively for 20 years within this international process and they now say the evidence is unequivocal. 150 years ago this year was the discovery that CO2 traps heat. That is a principle in physics. It is not a question of debate. It is like gravity. It exists.

OK, so? This is obviously overly simplistic. Lots of things impact temperatures (energy output from the sun, the earth's orbit, tilt of the axis) and Carbon Dioxide is just one of the greenhouse gases and it isn't even close to being the most important. Man makes only a few percent of greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases only account for a fraction of the variation in temperatures.

MITCHELL: As you know in "Our choice," there is a real partisan divide when it comes to people's attitudes. The Pew poll that you cite says 75 percent of college educated Democrats believe humans are responsible. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans. How do you figure that?

GORE: It may be partly because the tendency for many people to follow their perceived political leaders and the leadership of the modern Republican Party has really gotten into a global warming denier posture that I think has influenced some people. But it should not be a political issue. It really is a moral issue. It speaks to the responsibility of the present generation to take steps to safeguard those generations yet to come. Because this has now reached the level where if we were not to act, the consequences already beginning at a low level are predicted to reach catastrophic levels unless we take steps to prevent it from happening.

MITCHELL: There's been, according to the Pew Research, a 20% drop in the number of people in the last year. Since 2008, 71% believed that humans contributed to global warming and now it is only 51%. Do you attribute to that to the economic hard times and people focusing inward?

GORE: Well, I think that result dove tails with the first one that you cited because when you look inside that study, virtually 100% of those who changed their opinion were conservative Republicans.

But Pew actually wrote:

The decline in the belief in solid evidence of global warming has come across the political spectrum, but has been particularly pronounced among independents. Just 53% of independents now see solid evidence of global warming, compared with 75% who did so in April 2008. Republicans, who already were highly skeptical of the evidence of global warming, have become even more so: just 35% of Republicans now see solid evidence of rising global temperatures, down from 49% in 2008 and 62% in 2007. Fewer Democrats also express this view - 75% today compared with 83% last year. . . .

Gore's interview on CNN is here.

CNN this morning where he again mentioned “private emails more than 10 years old” and a second time called the messages, “emails from long ago.”
Host John Roberts, to his credit, was quick to correct Gore saying that, “many are far more recent than that.” Gore did not respond.

Natural disasters are one of Gore’s favorite topics as he tries to equate their occurrence with global warming. He again brought up the topic this morning saying, “we've had these record storms, record droughts, floods, giant fires, unprecedented.” Many wonder why he continues to belabor this point when he has had to pull an incorrect slide from his presentation that tried to state this and recent data shows that in fact there has been no greater occurrence of weather related disasters.

Meanwhile Gore and Democrats have all sorts of nice things to say about Palin:

“Before Sarah Palin writes a book, she should try reading a few,” said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who followed up with a series of peer-reviewed reports on rising sea levels, air temperatures and ocean acidity.

Palin’s position is “worse than one of denial – it’s one of defeatism,” added Inslee, echoing earlier comments by former Vice-President Al Gore.

“Ex-Governor Palin is at it again, [she] somehow has discovered some kind of smoking gun,” added Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who compared Palin’s statements to her support of the discredited “death panel” charges over the summer.

“There is no there,” he added. “And the ex-governor’s state has [suffered] the greatest impact in terms of global warming of any state in the nation…It’s absolutely critical that we not allow the same sort of death panel, swift-boating to occur.” . . .

Palin's piece in the Washington Post is available here.

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"Pure waste" in Stimulus Package?

Stimulus funds are being used to pay for university retirements.

More than $43 million of federal stimulus money meant to save or create jobs is being spent on salaries and benefits for outgoing employees by Iowa’s three state universities.

The University of Iowa has directed $33.4 million in stimulus money to the salaries of employees taking early retirement or otherwise leaving the university by June 30. Iowa State University will use $5.9 million and the University of Northern Iowa $3.6 million on the salaries and benefits of employees who took early retirements.

University officials defended their use of the money, saying the one-time cash infusion is wisely spent on temporary costs, as opposed to ongoing expenses that would have to be somehow funded or cut in the future.

“The money truly is saving jobs,” University of Iowa vice president and treasurer Doug True said. “I know that. I believe it to the bottom of my feet.” . . .

The Hill Newspaper lists some questionable projects:

-- $1.57 million to search for fossils in Argentina
-- liberal-leaning theater in Minnesota, In the Heart of the Beast, named after a famous quote by leftist leader Che Guevara, received $100,000 for socially conscious puppet shows
-- Two million dollars in stimulus money went to build a replica railroad as a tourist attraction in Carson City, Nev.
-- A dinner cruise company based in Chicago received nearly $1 million in funds to combat terrorism.
-- Half a million dollars went to Arizona State University to study the genetic makeup of ants to determine distinctive roles in ant colonies
-- $450,000 went to the University of Arizona to study the division of labor in ant colonies.
-- The State University of New York at Buffalo won $390,000 to study young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke marijuana.
-- The National Institutes of Health got $219,000 in funds to study whether female college students are more likely to “hook up” after drinking alcohol.
-- The University of Hawaii collected $210,000 to study the learning patterns of honeybees
-- $700,000 went to help crab fishermen in Oregon recover lost crab pots.
-- $5 million grant from the Department of Energy to create a geothermal energy system for the Oak Ridge City Center shopping mall in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The main problem with the project, say Republicans, is the mall has been losing tenants for years and is mostly empty.

From Fox News:

Mark Penn, who worked as Clinton's pollster during her 2008 presidential run, reportedly received $5.97 million from the $787 billion stimulus package so he could preserve three jobs at his public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller. . . .

Was this done to pay off Hillary Clinton's campaign debt?



More on Climategate, New Fox News piece: Surprise, Surprise, Many Scientists Disagree On Global Warming

My new piece at Fox News starts this way:

As the Climate-gate controversy continues to grow, amid charges of hiding and manipulating data, and suppressing research by academics who challenge global warming, there is one oft-repeated defense: other independent data-sets all reach the same conclusions. "I think everybody is clear on the science. I think scientists are clear on the science ... I think that this notion that there's some debate . . . on the science is kind of silly," said President Obama's Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, when asked about the president's response to the controversy on Monday. Despite the scandal, Britain's Met, the UK’s National Weather Service, claims: "we remain completely confident in the data. The three independent data sets show a strong correlation is highlighting an increase in global temperatures."

But things are not so clear. It is not just the University of East Anglia data that is at question. There are about 450 academic peer-reviewed journal articles questioning the importance of man-made global warming. The sheer number of scientists rallying against a major intervention to stop carbon dioxide is remarkable. In a petition, more than 30,000 American scientists are urging the U.S. government to reject the Kyoto treaty. Thus, there is hardly the unanimity among scientists about global warming or mankind's role in producing it. But even for the sake of argument, assuming that there is significant man-made global warming, many academics argue that higher temperatures are actually good. Higher temperatures increase the amount of land to grow food, increase biological diversity, and improve people's health. Increased carbon dioxide also promotes plant growth.

Let's take the issue of data. . . .

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Health care bill in Senate

Democrats may be breathing a sigh of relief with Senator Ben Nelson's comments after the defeat of his abortion amendment. Previously, Senator Nelson seemed unmovable: “I don’t ordinarily draw a line in the sand, but I have drawn a line in the sand." Now he just says that it will make "it harder" for him.

The amendment’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, threatened to filibuster the legislation if his amendment failed. The question now is whether Nelson continues working with Democratic leadership both on his abortion concerns and as a member of a coalition of liberal and moderate senators trying to bridge their differences on the public option.

"What happened tonight makes it harder to be supportive. We'll see what happens," Nelson said after the vote.

Nelson said he isn't going to work with Reid on a compromise, "I had no Plan B. I'm not looking for a Plan B, but others may be," he said, adding, "I always listen to the leader if the leader had something to say." . . .

On the other side, Senator Snow appears less interested in the proposals regarding the public option. Senator Rockefeller seems pretty confident: “All in all, I have to say we are in a pretty good place right now. You can see a kind of overarching sense of ‘Well, yes, let’s do this,’ but we have to see what the (Congressional Budget Office cost estimate) is.” The amazing thing is the huge unfunded obligations that already exist for Medicare and Medicaid and these proposed changes would just make that worse.

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Obama administration and Gallup trade jabs

Put this in the blame the messenger column.

President Obama's job approval rating has fallen to 47 percent in the latest Gallup poll, the lowest ever recorded for any president at this point in his term.

Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and even Richard Nixon all had higher approval ratings 10-and-a-half months into their presidencies. Obama's immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush, had an approval rating of 86 percent, or 39 points higher than Obama at this stage. Bush's support came shortly after he launched the war in Afghanistan in response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he doesn't "put a lot of stock" in the survey by Gallup, which has conducted presidential approval polls since 1938, longer than any other organization.

"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor," Gibbs said in response to questions from Fox. "I'm sure a six-year-old with a Crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is daily Gallup trend. I don't pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it."

Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport responded: "Gibbs said that if Gallup were his EKG, he would visit his doctor. Well, I think the doctor might ask him what's going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much. There is, in fact, a lot going on at the moment -- the health care bill, the jobs summit, the Copenhagen climate conference and Afghanistan." . . .

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The Unwillingness of the British Met to Release data

The UK Met Office will not disclosure weather station temperature data. Among the more interesting exchanges that I have come across is this:

Some of the information was provided to Professor Jones on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released and it cannot be determined which countries or stations data were given in confidence as records were not kept.

I called up John Hammond, a press official at the Met today, and he confirmed this statement. I then asked: "Given the confidentiality agreements, could you explain why the University of East Anglia was allowed to release the data to the Met but not to other academics?"

His response: "This is a question for the UEA."

So I again tried contacting the press office at the University of East Anglia, and I was told that they are unwilling to answer any questions.

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China's carbon emissions will not be enforceable

China is promising a reduction in carbon emissions, but the reduction just will not be enforced.

China's pledge to reduce its carbon emissions relative to the growth of its economy will not be binding or subject to international verification, Chinese officials say, casting doubts on the effectiveness of any agreements reached this week in Copenhagen.

Specialists on climate change agree that a key to success at the upcoming summit in the Danish capital will be whether China, the United States, India and the European Union can reach a deal reducing their combined emissions. Analysts are expecting the negotiations to result in a list of individual pledges and an agreement to continue talking in 2010. . . .

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Climate Gate Scandal Dismissed by EPA Chief

Climategate problems can be seen here. Yet, Lisa Jackson says that "there is nothing" here.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson dismissed GOP calls to delay a critical finding on greenhouse emissions in light of hacked e-mails from climate scientists. . . .

“There is nothing in the hacked e-mails that undermines the science upon which this decision is based,” Jackson said in announcing the finding this afternoon. She said the controversial messages dealt only with a tiny fraction of the strong evidence of global warming.

Robert Gibbs, President Obama's press secretary, talking today about Climategate: "I think everybody is clear on the science. I think scientists are clear on the science ... I think that this notion that there's some debate, minus Lester, on the science is kind of silly."

Juan Williams on Fox News: "No evidence that they have tricked up the numbers."

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NPR tried to get Mara Liasson to quit appearing on Fox News at same time Obama administration was trying to get other media to cut ties

So why did NPR try to get Ms. Liasson to quit her appearances at Fox News at this time? Liasson is NPR's top political news reporter. If I had been NPR I would have been concerned about her appearances, but for a quite different reason: she consistently reminds Fox viewers that NPR is very liberal.

Executives at National Public Radio recently asked the network’s top political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her regular appearances on Fox News because of what they perceived as the network’s political bias, two sources familiar with the effort said.

According to a source, Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the network’s supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.

At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.

NPR’s focus on Liasson’s work as a commentator on Fox’s “Special Report” and “Fox News Sunday” came at about the same time as a White House campaign launched in September to delegitimize the network by painting it as an extension of the Republican Party.

One source said the White House’s criticism of Fox was raised during the discussions with Liasson. However, an NPR spokeswoman told POLITICO that the Obama administration’s attempts to discourage other news outlets from treating Fox as a peer had no impact on any internal discussions at NPR.

Liasson defended her work for Fox by saying that she appears on two of the network’s news programs, not on commentary programs with conservative hosts, the source said. She has also told colleagues that she’s under contract to Fox, so it would be difficult for her to sever her ties with the network, which she has appeared on for more than a decade.

Liasson did not return phone calls seeking comment on the meetings. In an e-mail message, she declined to be interviewed for this article.

NPR spokeswoman Dana Rehm declined to discuss Liasson and her work on Fox.

“It isn’t our practice to comment about internal conversations or about personnel matters, and we’re not going to be changing that policy,” she said. “As part of our ongoing work we have internal conversations about talent appearances all the time that are part of our regular editorial evaluation.” . . . .


Calls for an independent investigation on Climate gate

The call for an independent investigation seem noncontroversial enough, but I am sure that it will be dismissed since Saudi Arabia is calling for it. Given that the UN was using many academics involved in Climategate in their assessment reports, there appears to be little choice but to have them do an independent investigation.

Saudi Arabia called for an independent investigation into “climategate” Monday, warning that the scandal over stolen e-mails threatened to undermine the global-warming negotiations beginning here. . . .

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Did President Obama promise to make his administration the most transparent ever?

On health care the president promised that all negotiations would be open to the public: "I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process." As the President meets in a closed door session with Senate Democrats, it might be worth remembering that.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

AP also has this about another different meeting tomorrow:

It's hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public.
The event Monday for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama's uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama's first year in office ends, the government's actions when the public and press seek information are not yet matching up with the president's words.
"The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails," Obama told government offices on his first full day as president. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears." . . .

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Climate Gate Scandal Debated

I really wish that they had a scientist debating the scientist from the University of East Anglia. My answers to the questions poised on this show are shown below.

Here are my answers to the questions raised in this series:

Was any data manipulated or suppressed?

On the issue of suppression
Think 'Climate-Gate' Is Nonevent? Think Again
Climate Change E-Mails Cry Out for a National Conversation
On the issue of manipulation, see the links below.

Why has the UEA refused to open up all data to scrutiny?
What about the two other datasets that reach the same conclusions with independent observations?

Why won't global warming advocates release their data?
What Are Global Warming Supporters Trying to Hide?
Other questions -- The British MET, the third most relied on data in the IPCC report
Climate Gate Scandal spreads to New Zealand

What about the physical evidence of global warming?

This list is too long, but the first one here is the most important.
"Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking." -- Antarctica has 90 percent of the Earth's ice and 80 percent of its fresh water
"the extent of arctic sea ice has been increasing for the last two years."
See also the New Zealand discussion above.

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Climate Gate Scandal spreads to New Zealand

"Watts Up With That" has this amazing and disappointing discussion of some problems in New Zealand. Here is a discussion from James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph.
The alleged villains this time are the climate scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NiWA) – New Zealand’s answer to Britain’s Climate Research Unit. And to judge by this news alert by the Climate Science Coalition of NZ, both institutions share a similarly laissez-faire attitude to scientific accuracy.
Compare and contrast these two graphs and you’ll see.

This is the graph from NiWA’s website, showing mean annual temperature over New Zealand from 1853. Note the dotted straight line showing the upward trend. Worrying, isn’t it? Almost enough to make you fall in love your flickery, yellowy new eco-light bulbs, recycle your kids and commit yourself to a binding agreement at Copenhagen.
Now have a look at this analysis of the raw data taken from exactly the same temperature stations. . . .

The first graph shows a strong warming trend from around 1910 on. While there are some significant ups and downs, no such trend exists in the second graph. Jim Salinger, climate scientist at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and a former researcher at University of East Anglia, is apparently responsible for the first graph. So what is his explanation?

Watts Up has this:
Requests for this information from Dr Salinger himself over the years, by different scientists, have long gone unanswered, but now we might discover the truth.
Proof of man-made warming
What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections. But we were astonished to find that strong adjustments have indeed been made.
About half the adjustments actually created a warming trend where none existed; the other half greatly exaggerated existing warming. All the adjustments increased or even created a warming trend, with only one (Dunedin) going the other way and slightly reducing the original trend.
The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments and to date Dr Salinger and NIWA have not revealed why they did this. . . .

NIWA has this:

Warming over New Zealand through the past century is unequivocal.

NIWA’s analysis of measured temperatures uses internationally accepted techniques, including making adjustments for changes such as movement of measurement sites. For example, in Wellington, early temperature measurements were made near sea level, but in 1928 the measurement site was moved from Thorndon (3 metres above sea level) to Kelburn (125 m above sea level). The Kelburn site is on average 0.8°C cooler than Thorndon, because of the extra height above sea level. . . .

For a discussion of NIWA's response see here.

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Sarah Palin attempts some humor with the media

This discussion is from the WSJ:

Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, never a big fan of the mainstream media, stepped into the lion’s den Saturday night and attempted to call a truce, of sorts.

Ms. Palin spoke at the winter dinner of the Gridiron Club, an organization of Washington journalists where parody and satire are the required entertainment form, and made light of her jousting with the Fourth Estate.

“Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts,” she told the assemblage of senior Washington journalists. “And when you don’t, you end up in a place like this.”

Ms. Palin also made light of the intramural warfare that broke out within the John McCain presidential campaign after she became his running mate–a warfare that made great copy for many of the journalists who were in the room at a Washington hotel. Ms. Palin implied she was happy to be beyond the campaign experience, and to have survived the not-for-attribution attacks from McCain campaign aides that followed. She said she is enjoying, by contrast, her current tour around the country to promote her new book. “The view is so much better from inside the bus than under it,” she cracked.

One of her jokes referred to the famous strains between her and Steve Schmidt, the McCain campaign manager famed for his shaved head. “If I ever need a bald campaign manager, all I’m left with is James Carville,” she joked. . . .


A question of causation: Does more CO2 lead to global warming or is the reverse true?

This might be something to keep in mind when the Obama administration declares CO2 a public danger this week.

Leighton Steward is a leading geologist.

But Steward, who once believed CO2 caused global warming, is trying to fight that with a mountain of studies and scientific evidence that suggest CO2 is not the cause for warming. What's more, he says CO2 levels are so low that more, not less, is needed to sustain and expand plant growth.

Trying to debunk theories that higher CO2 levels cause warming, he cites studies that show CO2 levels following temperature spikes, prompting him to back other scientists who say that global warming is caused by solar activity.

In taking on lawmakers pushing for a cap-and-trade plan to deal with emissions, Steward tells Whispers that he's worried that the legislation will result in huge and unneeded taxes. Worse, if CO2 levels are cut, he warns, food production will slow because plants grown at higher CO2 levels make larger fruit and vegetables and also use less water. He also said that higher CO2 levels are not harmful to humans. As an example, he said that Earth's atmosphere currently has about 338 parts per million of CO2 and that in Navy subs, the danger level for carbon dioxide isn't reached until the air has 8,000 parts per million of CO2. . . .

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Unbelievable: Obama and Congress wants to tell College Football how to run playoffs

This is too bizarre. Are they next going to start running other sports?

House lawmakers are gearing up for a vote as soon as next week on a bill aimed at forcing a national college-football playoff.

Approval of the legislation by an Energy and Commerce subcommittee would represent the most significant action yet by Congress in its oversight of college football. The plans for a markup next week – still tentative as of late Friday – appeared to signal growing congressional support for the idea, which President Barack Obama also backed during the 2008 campaign.

For the last decade or so, the process of picking a national champion has been run by the Bowl Championship Series, a group that began with six major college conferences and has since expanded somewhat. The BCS runs a complex ranking system that picks the two teams that play for the national championship each year.

Prior to the BCS, the national champion was effectively chosen by polls following year-end bowl games. The BCS was designed to eliminate some of the controversy that inevitably swirled around that process.

But the BCS system's congressional critics charge that the system frequently is unfair to college teams that aren't traditional powerhouses. . . .

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