Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Angels and Hockey Sticks

The climate controversy continues. More emerging disputations of data and research on the methodologies used in determining the impact, if any, on human habitation on the environment. These are coming out all over the press and the media.

From Marc Sheppard:

For years, claims that UN climate reports represent the consensus of the majority of international scientists have been mindlessly accepted and regurgitated by left-leaning policy makers and the media at large. But in the past week or so, it’s become more apparent than ever that those who’ve accused the international organization of politicizing science and manipulating data have been right all along. This latest disclosure again concerns what has become the favorite propaganda propagation tool of climate activists -- the infamous “Hockey Stick Graph.” The familiar reconstruction, which deceitfully depicts last millennium’s global temperatures as flat prior to a dramatic upturn last century, has been displayed and touted ad nauseum as irrefutable proof of unprecedented and, therefore, anthropogenic, global warming (AGW).

From Ross McKitrick, Financial Post. Ross McKitrick is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, and coauthor of Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming:

Beginning in 2003, I worked with Stephen McIntyre to replicate a famous result in paleoclimatology known as the Hockey Stick graph. Developed by a U.S. climatologist named Michael Mann, it was a statistical compilation of tree ring data supposedly proving that air temperatures had been stable for 900 years, then soared off the charts in the 20th century.

In this article, he goes on to add:

The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.

The controversy centers on the profits that a cap-and-trade system would bring to entities running this kind of a brokerage. Not to mention the protectionism, gambling and profiteering that would skew the benefits of carbon reduction, which has already happened in the early forms of cap-and-trade. And the benchmarks themselves, being tied to one dimension of an ecosystem - temperature variability recorded in the fossil records - are arguably manipulated through data wars.

There's an entire confluence of ecological impacts that are created by human habitation, all of which result in the depletion of natural resources and systems. Drying watersheds, melting ice caps, disintegrating ecosystems, acidic oceans, terminally polluted water sources, accumulations of toxins, plastics and endocrine disruptors throughout the food chain, changes in atmospheric structures (Hadley Cells) that create and enlarge deserts, and on and on. The cumulative effects are clear, even as the arguments mount over how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Industry itself is pushing for change.

So, clearly, our human society needs to work within natural cycles and their variability by reducing our footprint and allowing the diversity of nature to flourish, rather than clogging the works with waste material and waste heat. If we could only figure out how to profit from the other half of the industrial cycle which returns elements to their natural state and pulls our habitats and industrial interventions back into a balanced existence with wild creatures and terrain. A carbon tax, applied to all production and used to pay for better, more effective technologies, would accelerate the change needed to accomplish the neutralization of our human impact as we learn how to complete the circle.

An example of a regulatory mechanism that relies on a factual basis for making judgements is San Francisco's Precautionary Principle, used to evaluate environmental impacts by assessing possible harm, not direct causation. The Hippocratic Oath...