Apocalypse maybe

Guest post by Matt Ridley

My article in Wired in August called “Apocalypse Not” (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/) attracted a huge number of comments, many of which were constructive and interesting. It also led to critical responses at other sites. Here is my response to some of those responses. Wired asked me to respond, but then concluded that there was not space on their website to carry the response.

Philip Bump wrote an article in Grist attacking what he calls my “conceit” on climate change and calling my argument “bullshit”: http://grist.org/news/apocalypse-or-bust-how-wireds-climate-optimism-doesnt-add-up/. Leaving aside the insults, what was the substance of his criticism?

Mr Bump’s first point is that I am wrong that malaria will continue to decline because “comparing our relative recent success in combating malaria to the haphazard and poorly funded efforts from last century doesn’t provide much insight into how we’ll fare against more widespread malaria using existing tools”. He is entitled to this opinion but it flies in the face of published evidence on three counts. First, the retreat of malaria during the twentieth century was far from haphazard. As a chart published in Nature by Dr Peter Gething of Oxford University (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/images/nature09098-f1.2.jpg) shows, malaria vanished in the twentieth century from large parts of Asia, Europe and North America and became dramatically rarer in South America and South-east Asia. It also declined in Africa.

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Second, the acceleration of this decline of malaria since 2000 (25% reduction in ten years) has indeed been aided by the work and funds of the Gates Foundation and others, but with new funds and new techniques it is not clear why Mr Bump thinks “it’s unlikely, though, that additional investment will continue to get the same rate of return” since he provides no evidence for this statement. Third, the “more widespread malaria” the he forecasts is largely a myth. In most of the world malaria is not limited by climate. In Africa there a few high-altitude areas – less than 3% of the continent – that might become more malaria friendly if global warming accelerates as the IPCC predicts. Surely it will continue to make sense to combat malaria itself rather than trying to fight it by combating climate change? Why should we focus on preventing that 3% increase rather than diminishing the existing 100% of malaria? As Dr Gething has written: “widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent” and “proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures.”[1]

Incidentally, the persistence of the myth that malaria would worsen in a warming world was quite unnecessary, because a world expert on the topic tried in vain to correct the myth at an early stage. Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute, made the case within the IPCC that malaria’s range was shrinking and was limited by factors other than temperature, but was ignored and (in his words) “After much effort and many fruitless discussions I…resigned from the IPCC project [but] found that my name was still listed. I requested its removal, but was told it would remain because ‘I had contributed.’ It was only after strong insistence that I succeeded in having it removed.”[2]

Mr Bump’s second charge is that if I am right that the threat of increased malaria as a result of global warming was greatly exaggerated, this does not prove that other aspects of climate change are exaggerated: “Even if the malaria argument held up, it would still only represent one ancillary concern stemming from global warming!” Given the prominence of the malaria-from-warming threat in the early IPCC reports and in the media, and the long battle Dr Reiter had to get the IPCC to see sense on the issue, the issue was hardly ancillary. None the less, let me take up Mr Bump’s challenge and consider some of the other threats promised in the name of climate change. For reasons of space I chose to focus on malaria but there is a long list of threats that have been downgraded as more knowledge of climate change accumulates. My first draft included two paragraphs of other examples that were left on the cutting room floor when my article was published. I reproduce them here:

“Likewise, the prediction that global warming could turn off the Gulf Stream, an idea that featured in the film The Day After Tomorrow. The fear was taken seriously in the 1990s, with the respected Nature magazine publishing a computer-model calculation that showed “a permanent shutdown” of the Atlantic “thermohaline circulation”, which drives the Gulf Stream, within a century if carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise[3]. This, commented a senior scientist, posed a risk “that no nation bordering the North Atlantic would willingly take.”[4] Such a threat has now been abandoned as highly unlikely, one scientist commenting: “I think the notion of telling the public to prepare for both global warming and an ice age at the same [time] creates a real public relations problem for us.”[5]

“In other words, some of the subplots of climate change have already proved exaggerated.

- The Himalayan glaciers are not melting in a hurry and even if they were, 96% of the water in the Ganges comes from rain, not melting ice[6].

- A gigantic methane belch when the Arctic ocean reaches some warm tipping point turns out to be implausible[7].

- The world’s coral reefs recover quickly and fully from bleaching episodes caused by sudden warming[8].

- Runaway warming is now widely agreed to be impossible[9].

- The United Nations was wrong in 2005 to predict (and map the whereabouts of) 50 million future environmental refugees by 2010[10]. And so on.

Maybe these sideshows were always mistakes. Or just maybe the main event is being exaggerated too.”

I look forward to Mr Bump’s response on each of these points, few of which are ancillary. I also draw his attention to the deceleration of sea level rise, in sharp contrast to predictions, a measure that is about as central to the climate change threat as you can get. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/13/sea-level-acceleration-not-so-fast-recently/

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Another critique of my article appeared under Lloyd Alter’s byline here: http://www.treehugger.com/energy-policy/wired-magazine-tells-us-dont-worry-be-happy-about-climate-population-resources-pandemics.html. Mr Alter accuses me of being pie-in-the sky and head-in-the-sand and objects specifically to my conclusion about the ozone hole that “the predicted recovery of the ozone layer never happened: The hole stopped growing before the ban took effect, then failed to shrink afterward. The ozone hole still grows every Antarctic spring, to roughly the same extent each year. Nobody quite knows why. Some scientists think it is simply taking longer than expected for the chemicals to disintegrate; a few believe that the cause of the hole was misdiagnosed in the first place. Either way, the ozone hole cannot yet be claimed as a looming catastrophe, let alone one averted by political action.”

Mr Alter claims that the long residence time of chloroflurocarbons in the atmosphere explains the failure of the ozone hole to shrink. He may be right, in which case he falls in the category I cited – “Some scientists think it is simply taking longer than expected for the chemicals to disintegrate” – but that hardly disproves my last statement that the ozone hole cannot yet be called a crisis that was definitely averted. Here’s a graph, from NASA (http://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/meteorology/annual_data.html) , showing the stubborn persistence of the ozone hole:

Among the emails received at Wired was one from David Gasper of Dayton, Ohio, arguing “many situations are avoided because we listened to the alarmists and PREVENTED the extremes from happening.” Sure, and I acknowledged this in my piece. However, Mr Gasper gives two poor examples to support his case. The first is the Y2k computer bug. A huge amount of expensive work was indeed done to avert the breakdown of computers on 31 December 2012, but that does not in itself prove that the threats were not exaggerated.

Indeed the absolute lack of any major problems the next day, even in countries whose efforts were threadbare and patchy (such as Italy and South Korea and much of Africa), rather argues that they were exaggerated. Remember my argument is not that there was no threat of problems, but that the threat was overblown. Can anybody really think, in retrospect, that Senator Christopher J. Dodd, (D-CT), speaking at the first hearings of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem on June 12, 1998 was not overegging the scare when he said: “I think we’re no longer at the point of asking whether or not there will be any power disruptions, but we are now forced to ask how severe the disruptions are going to be…. If the critical industries and government agencies don’t start to pick up the pace of dealing with this problem right now, Congress and the Clinton Administration are going to have to…deal with a true national emergency.”[11]

Mr Gasper’s other example is DDT, saying that I downplay the importance of DDT and bird populations and he points out that bald eagles and other predatory birds now thrive in his part of Ohio. He’s right and hawks and falcons now thrive where I live also. In both cases the removal of DDT was, I am convinced, crucial in the recovery of raptor populations, because DDT became concentrated as it moved up the food chain till it reached levels that did harm by thinning eggshells. However, my critique of the Rachel Carson/Paul Ehrlich scare was not about this phenomenon, but about the claim that DDT, together with other chemicals, caused cancer in human beings and would result in a severe shortening of human lifespan.

The website Carbon Commentary carried a piece by Chris Goodall (http://www.carboncommentary.com/2012/08/23/2449) arguing that skin cancer was getting worse because of ozone loss, that food and metal prices were rising and that he had read a similar article in the Economist in 1997.

Mr Goodall’s piece had many errors, starting with the repeated misspelling of “Ehrlich”.

He attempted to combat my assertion that melanoma is not increasing with the following remark: “increasing skin cancer incidence has been linked to rising UV-B radiation for several decades.” He gave no source. (My article has over 75 source links at my website: http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/apocalypse-not.aspx.) Is Mr Goodall unaware that most skin cancer is not melanoma? That the increase in other skin cancers is caused, most medical scientists think, by an increase in holidays in low latitudes, not a reduction in ozone in high latitudes?

There were plenty more in the way of egregious mistakes in the piece that would never have got past the fact-checkers at Wired. His price graphs took no account of inflation! Minerals and cancers were cherry picked. For the true picture on commodities prices and the Simon-Ehrlich bet, see this chart:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_otfwl2zc6Qc/S4AmqnxCqXI/AAAAAAAAM1A/eYRQcCkYlcc/s1600-h/commodities.jpg

and Mark Perry’s conclusion about it:

“If Simon’s position was that natural resources and commodities become generally more abundant over long periods time, reflected in falling real prices, I think he was more right than lucky, as the graph above demonstrates.

Stated differently, if Simon was really betting that inflation-adjusted prices of a basket of commodity prices have a significantly negative slope over long periods of time, and Ehrlich was betting that the slope of that line was significantly positive, I think Simon wins the bet.”

As for food prices, see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/08/peak-oil-climate-change-and-the-threat-to-food-security/#more-48870

How anybody from the climate-alarm camp can argue that the recent spike in food prices might be evidence of running out of food, when we turned 40% (!!) of US grain into motor fuel last year to satisfy green campaigners, baffles me.

And the similarity of some parts of the Wired article to some parts of the Economist article in 1997 is because I wrote them both.

Finally, there was an anonymous article on a blog called Skeptical Science, which purported to correct my claims about the possibility of a “lukewarm” climate outcome that would be less damaging than some of the measures being taken to combat climate change such as biofuels. The article focused on two points, first that Greenland’s ice loss, while currently less than 1% per century as I claimed, is in fact accelerating. However, recent revisions to the data show that the true rate of ice loss is even lower, less than 0.5% per century (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n9/full/ngeo938.html) and even this comes from far too short a period to be called a trend. (It is interesting how quick some climate alarmists are to dismiss the standstill in global temperatures of the last 15 years as “too short” while accepting nine years of Greenland satellite data as a trend!)

In fact the latest work, by Kurt Kjaer of the University of Copenhagen (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6094/569.abstract?sid=822b555a-638b-4a49-a021-3dab84f17457), using aerial photographs to extend the history of Greenland’s ice cap backwards in time “challenges predictions about the future response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to increasing global temperatures” by concluding that the spurts of ice loss from Greenland in 1985-1993 and in 2005-2010 were short-lived events rather than indicative of a general trend.

Skeptical Science’s other criticism was that the evidence supports a strong positive water-vapour feedback amplification of carbon-dioxide induced warming. I am glad to have confirmation that this feedback is necessary to turn CO2-induced warming into a major danger, as I argued, but I disagree that the current evidence overwhelmingly supports this. There are studies that find evidence for net positive feedbacks and studies that do not. Here’s one very recent one (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2011GL050226.shtml) that makes “relatively low projections of 21st-century warming”. And here is a recent critique of high-sensitivity studies (http://judithcurry.com/2012/06/25/questioning-the-forest-et-al-2006-sensitivity-study/). My point, remember, is not that climate change will definitely be benign, but that the possibility that it will be real but not a catastrophe is far from small and yet is usually ignored. It is surely premature to rule out the possibility of such a lukewarm future and Skeptical Science produces very threadbare evidence to support such a dogmatic conclusion.

For those who are interested in the sources I used for my original article, I have reprinted it with many live links at www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/apocalypse-not.aspx.


[1] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/full/nature09098.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Reiter

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/climate/stories/sci120197.htm

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/climate/stories/sci120197.htm

[5] http://junkscience.com/2011/11/25/climategate-2-0-revkin-told-freezing-and-melting-alarm-not-a-good-pr-combo/

[6] http://www.mtnforum.org/sites/default/files/pub/1294.pdf and http://www.theresilientearth.com/?q=content/himalayan-glaciers-not-melting

[7] http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/more-views-on-global-warmin-and-arctic-methane/?src=tp

[8] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423100817.htm and http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2010/09/13/coral-bleaching/

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_greenhouse_effect#cite_note-10

[10] http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,757713,00.html

[11] http://www.co-intelligence.org/y2k_quotes.html

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117 thoughts on “Apocalypse maybe

  1. Great post. Thanks.

    Reading those replies to you I suddenly got the thought that Kindergarten teachers must not tell the kids the story of “Chicken Little” anymore, or the story of “The Boy who Cried Wolf” either.

    The public seems to believe any darn thing these charlatans say even if they make predictions that are wrong over and over and then cheat by changing the official data. (how can the temps in the 1930s be cooler now than we thought they were in the 70s? Did we send back a time traveling team to check?)

    The one item that bothers me the most has been the Polar Bear fraud. In my lifetime the numbers of bears goes up by a factor of 5 and yet they yell the bloody beasts are at the edge of extinction! Jesus, Joseph, and Mary!

  2. Having a partner who studies malaria, I know how they hate having their work hijacked by catastrophists. Malaria is a disease of the poor. It is prevalent where people live close to their animals. It was widespread in the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Siberia until we industrialised, drained marshes and left the livestock with farmers.

  3. I am a big fan of Mr Watts, so I don’t understand how he could have invited someone like you to comment. Instead of writing all your books, you probably should have spent more time supervising the finances of failed bank Northern Rock, where you were non-executive chairman. Someone who prioritizes small royalty cheques from books over the savings of thousands probably doesn’t have a firm grasp of priorities

  4. Thank you, Matt, for all the wonderful work you do. And your steadfast politeness in the face of crude attacks from the other side.

  5. Excellent Mr Ridley!

    I had personal experience of the Y2K farce. My colleagues and I were supposed to be on our computer site for 7 days after the Millenium hit, to deal with the multitude of emergencies which would no doubt show up. We sat in the centre of an international network of computer centres, and had to phone them all up to check for problems. I asked the guy from Indonesia how much work they had put in to cure Y2K.
    “None” he replied.
    “So what if something goes wrong?”
    “We’ll fix it quickly.”

    The bigger organisation of which we were a part (a large American bank) was rumoured to have spent $100 billion plus, mainly (let’s be honest) to avoid lawsuits by traumatised customers failing to get money dispensed from ATM machines at midnight plus one minute – the customers being accompanied by American lawyers with video cameras. :-)

    As you can guess, nothing happened. The Indonesians went home quickly. After a few hours of boredom, so did we.

    At least we got to watch some of the Millenium celebrations on a TV in the corner of the office. The people who took to the caves to avoid the exploding nukes missed even that.

    Perhaps they’re still there. Or writing for Grist.

  6. Matt,

    Good post. If you don’t mind, can you share the evidence you are using to conclude that DDT: 1. causes egg shell thinning, 2. caused the decline of raptor populations?

    Thanks.

  7. Good article and arguments, well stated!

    Ahh! but herein lies the problem: the warmists have CERTAINTY, while the skeptics have only un-certaint on their side.

    The warmists are in a position to march forward while we suggest there may be potholes in the way. Since they have adopted a position and action plan, in the way of human affairs, i.e. the way forward is now “certain”, others then have to PROVE that the problem exists.

    It’s like what happened about mass attacks on entrenched positions during WWI: the generals were SURE it was a good idea. The doubters said it “probably” wasn’t a good idea, but the ocean was in motion. It took a lot of dead bodies before the doubters’ “probably” became the generals’ “certainly”, and plans were changed.

    Your/our detractors at this point are convinced. Doubt is not important anymore, only proof. They believe they have proof, so if, by looking carefully at the data, you can show +/- in the parameters, the uncertainty does not matter. In whatever situation we face, there is always a different, contrary proposal, but the “benefit of the doubt” goes to the Plan. Skeptics say the benefit of doubt should go to the Anti-Plan; warmists disagree.

    The reverse could easily have been present. If global cooling were being touted, the liberal eco-green would be pushing for increased CO2. Their position is always pro-nature, anti-capitalist (and anti-human). They would mess with the environment in a heartbeat to save the snail-darter minnow, and if Arbibald and others are correct, in 20 years that’s exactly what they will be doing.

    2033: say hello to expansion of coal-burning power plants!

  8. “- The Himalayan glaciers are not melting in a hurry and even if they were, 96% of the water in the Ganges comes from rain, not melting ice[6].”

    Since first encountering the claim that melting Himalayan glaciers would cause a huge reduction in water flow in the Ganges, I have believed that it should be the poster child for AGW/CAGW. To give the claim a moment’s serious consideration, one would have to be totally ignorant of rivers and the watersheds that feed them. For people familiar with the US, is it not obvious that constructing a dam across the Mississippi River at Minneapolis would have no detectable impact on the flow at St. Louis? Isn’t this obvious even to children who have studied geography in grammar school?

  9. Very nice fact filled skeptical position. Well Done!

    One point: I suspect there’s a strong correlation between skin cancer rates and UV light (tanning bed) sales/usage.

  10. The Y2K bug was indeed a bad example. The majority of the work was done to eliminate bugs that were certain to trigger, and the remaining worry was primarily that no one could be sure that all the critical bug instances had been located and fixed. The existence of the problem was beyond doubt, well understood, and the fix simple, but it was still extremely expensive, since – mostly due to the nature of old COBOL programs and the scarcity of good COBOL programmers, a huge amount of code had to be revisited.

  11. “Wired asked me to respond, but then concluded that there was not space on their website to carry the response.”

    If they’re going to lie, they should at least try to make it believable.

  12. Egg shells are still thin decades after DDT was banned. It might be the persistence of DDT in the environment (?) but it might not be, who knows. It is important to understand that a hell of a lot of the DDT studies were extremely biased and were also done by activists who I’m sure meant well, but were very sure of themselves, considered all these pesticides to be evil cancer causing chemicals beforehand, and had axes to grind. They were spraying the stuff everywhere though and I can understand people simply wanting to tone down the amount of spraying that was going on at the time.

    A lot of scientists came out against these studies and were hit with the same arguments that skeptics get today, “in the pay of Big-Agra / Big-Oil” etc.

  13. Hopefully folks who are actually trying to understand the world around them won’t be beguiled by the Julian Simon nonsense. No rational person seriously believes that:

    “If Simon’s position was that natural resources and commodities become generally more abundant over long periods time, reflected in falling real prices, [...] he was more right than lucky, as the graph above demonstrates.”

    The fact that Ehrlich made a stupid bet has nothing to do with it. Yes, commodity prices can decline for decades as the industrialized world’s economy inflates while miners continue to earn a dollar a day, and yes, the front end of a bathtub curve can be projected to look like a permanent decline. But to believe that more people plus less resources equals cheaper resources over the truly long term, as Simon did and Ridley apparently does, well that is about as good of an example of wildly irrational optimism as I can think of.

  14. FYI: Moderator: Check the addresses linked to articles sources ( [ # ] ), they are resolving back to “Users/Anthony/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.IE5″
    locations and giving visitors 404 errors.

    REPLY: Those were bookmarks from the Word Doc that didn’t translate – fixed thanks – A

  15. jeff says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I am a big fan of Mr Watts, so I don’t understand how he could have invited someone like you to comment. Instead of writing all your books, you probably should have spent more time supervising the finances of failed bank Northern Rock, where you were non-executive chairman. Someone who prioritizes small royalty cheques from books over the savings of thousands probably doesn’t have a firm grasp of priorities

    And all of the rest of the banks that collapsed and got into huge difficulties during the global financial crisis? Are you calling for all of those directors of those banks to leave public life and give up all of their other activities because those bankers didn’t have a “firm grasp of priorities”?

    Jeff, you don’t seem to have grasped the idea of “science”. Either Matt Ridley’s scientific claims are true, or they are not true. Whether Mr. Ridley is a successful banker or a failed banker, in science all that matters is, are his claims true? It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether he is the CEO of Greenpeace, the head of Exxon Mobil, or the janitor of the local high school. The only question worth asking is, are his claims true?

    And what happens when someone like yourself shows up and doesn’t say a word about the scientific questions, but instead proceeds to attack Mr. Ridley for some entirely different and totally unrelated part of his life?

    Well, bro’, I got real bad news for you. It makes you look like a petty, vindictive person who doesn’t have a single scientific clue. Instead of discussing the science like an adult, you are childishly attacking what he did in another time in a different arena … pathetic, but sadly, quite typical for AGW alarmists.

    w.

  16. Cui bono, You weren’t watching the celebration of the new millenium. You were watching hoards of suckers who believed the media that you start counting to ten at the number zero.

  17. georgi says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:12 am
    Having a partner who studies malaria, I know how they hate having their work hijacked by catastrophists. Malaria is a disease of the poor. It is prevalent where people live close to their animals. It was widespread in the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Siberia until we industrialised, drained marshes and left the livestock with farmers.
    =============================================================================
    Malaria in Toledo Ohio? I thought it was a tropical disease?
    Today’s enviro-mentalist would have never let this happen.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Black_Swamp

    (PS This was long before the “hockey stick” took it’s uptick.)

  18. Willis Eschenbach says re Jeff

    “Well, bro’, I got real bad news for you. It makes you look like a petty, vindictive person who doesn’t have a single scientific clue. Instead of discussing the science like an adult, you are childishly attacking what he did in another time in a different arena … pathetic, but sadly, quite typical for AGW alarmists.”

    Perfectly expressed Willis but look at it this way; Jeff, by attacking the man not the message, may look daft to scientists but he now feels much better after his dose of self therapy. Something about warm fuzzy feelings and trouser legs?

  19. Anthony.!
    The research, the time and the effort you put in is both admirably and very well done. The Purlizer prize!
    I would like to elaborate and put it more elegant but English is my second language so I will refrain from trying.that. Keep it up!
    :-)

    REPLY:Thanks but I can’t take any credit. It is always helpful to read the byline “Guest post by Matt Ridley” – Anthony

  20. Maybe I made a mistake here. This was written by Matt Ridley I just discovered. I have read some of Matt Ridleys writing earlier and what I wrote is equally applicable to Matt!

  21. @Theo Goodwin,

    “For people familiar with the US, is it not obvious that constructing a dam across the Mississippi River at Minneapolis would have no detectable impact on the flow at St. Louis?”

    This claim as stated is false. There would be a detectable impact on the flow downstream. It would however be temporary and flow would return to normal after the reservoir behind the dam was filled. If you added the qualifier long term to your statement it would be true.

  22. Gunga Din says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm
    Gunga Din says:
    November 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm
    =============
    At one time that article mentioned malaria as a problem. It doen’t now.
    Try this for one. There are others.

    http://www.newbremenhistory.org/Great_Black_Swamp.htm

    ===========================================================
    Mods, please be patient with me. The Wiki link DOES still mention malaria. My bad.
    The point still stands. Malaria is not a temperature dependant disease.

  23. Correction on the DDT/Egg Shell connection.

    The real cause of the eggshell thinning was the action of Ethylene Di-Bromide. Which was added to tetra-ethyl lead in gasoline to stabalize the tetra ethyl lead.

    Lead in gasoline “banded” in 1970. Let’s set the record straight…because the refineries were producing mixes with a good enough Octane, to prevent detonation…just by the “mix”, and since the automobiles now all had “hardened” valve seats, there was no longer any functional need for the tetra-ethyle lead addition. The “evil” oil companies had been asking for SOME TIME to have the GOVERNMENT REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT to put the T.E.L. in the gasoline, which they did PROMPTLY when said requirement was REMOVED (one of the first actions of the EPA, thank you…credit where credit is due!). Remove T.E.L, removed the E.D.B. stabalizer. Since the E.D.B. was the REAL cause of the Egg shell thinning, the co-incident band on DDT (1975, under Billy Ruckushouse) and run forward about 10 years, AMAZING the endangered species birds start coming back. (However, the “urban myth” remains.)

    Last, let me point out the old saw that DDT “never breaks down” in the environment. In like 1995, some soil samples were found (University of Michigan?) which had been sealed in glass since 1905. Although discovered in 1874, DDT was not synthesized in bulk until the early ’40’s. THUS the sealed soil samples provided a “window” into pre-industrial (major) history of “soil contaminants.”

    AND the verdict: 10 PPM of DDT, just as in modern soils. (Please NOTE the Wiki article on DDT is full of errors, omissions, and untruths about the substance, and aside from a few factual dates, is unreliable. The “banning” date of 1972 is dubious as the report on the FINAL DECISION TO BAN DDT is dated, 1975, I have a copy..)

    Anyone with a modicum of SENSE would have QUESTIONED this ubiquitous distribution claim on the basis that taking 4 to 6 feet of top soil AROUND THE GLOBE and working out the MEGATONS of DDT that 10 PPM would mean, would show..given the record of total HUMAN PRODUCTION, that the 10PPM could NOT have come from human production.

    In conclusion: Bravo to Mr. Ridley for his courage to go against the apocolypse “religion” (because that is what it is, an irrational belief system…not based in reality!) But he has to be careful that he doesn’t fall into any of the “traps” that are still out there for the “chemically unwary”.

    Max, BS Chem E. 1976 (Yeah, I’m an old f-rt, doesn’t mean I can’t think!)

  24. “Wired asked me to respond, but then concluded that there was not space on their website to carry the response.”

    The capacity of their website must be very similar to their combined mental capacity. That is, cripplingly small.

  25. georgi says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:12 am
    . It was widespread in the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Siberia until we industrialised, drained marshes and left the livestock with farmers.
    =====================================================
    And something as simple (and cheap) as screen doors.

  26. Willis Eschenbach says:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm
    jeff says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:22 am
    ====================================
    WOW, you nailed that one.
    Could be a boilerplate response to many eco-trolls!!

  27. As far as I found out, DDT never was directly the cause > It’s a breakdown product of DDT that is suspected.
    It’s been reported that testing with DDT did not show the result expected, and so DDT was “exonerated” for a short time, until it the correlation with the breakdown product came into view.

  28. Matt Ridley,

    Your guest post is appreciated. Good scientific perspectives. Thank you.

    In the future, I wonder if you might consider an article on the alarmist CAGW roots in some of the major philosophic traditions from ancient to modern? It needs coverage in my view.

    John

  29. Jeff, by attacking the man not the message, may look daft to scientists but he now feels much better after his dose of self therapy.

    Yet if that’s what makes Jeff happy, then his world of priorities is upside down and inside out.

    May I suggest that Jeff (and others like him) go back and request a full tuition refund–starting from grade 1.

  30. James Ard says:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Actually, when you are born, you are zero years old, after a year you are one year old so you do start counting at zero.

    On the other hand, you are correct that there is no zero on the calendar denoting bc/ad.

  31. Matt Skaggs says:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm
    “Hopefully folks who are actually trying to understand the world around them won’t be beguiled by the Julian Simon nonsense. No rational person seriously believes that….
    …more people plus less resources equals cheaper resources over the truly long term…”

    Matt, you, and many others including Ehrlich, don’t seem to grasp the economic principles that apply in the real world and which made Simon confident he would win his bet. Man’s ingenuity, the free market (including, yes, that ugly profit motive), and competition will always assure that our wants will be satisfied, assuming governments will allow those forces to work.

    In very simple terms, markets will find alternative ways of providing for human needs, which will in turn bring prices down. History is littered with examples, but whale oil is one that comes to mind. As demand grew and whale populations declined, whale oil indeed started to become expensive. Enough that it made it profitable to look for alternative ways to satisfy the real demand, which was for light, not whale oil. After the kerosene industry developed and pushed out whale oil as the primary source of lantern fuel, whale oil prices did just what Simon would have predicted. It fell so dramatically that whaling as a way of life practically disappeared.

    This is not hard to understand; I think most 5 year olds could grasp this. Why is it that presumably intelligent adults continue to buy into the “Population Bomb” crap?

  32. …the prediction that global warming could turn off the Gulf Stream, an idea that featured in the film The Day After Tomorrow… was taken seriously in the 1990s, with the respected Nature magazine publishing a computer-model calculation that showed “a permanent shutdown” of the Atlantic “thermohaline circulation”

    The Journal ‘Nature’ lost all respect years ago, when they began publishing pal-reviewed climastrology papers. The 2009 issue with Eric Steig & Mike Mann’s article on Antarctic Warming was the low point of their existance (to date). Science, Scientifc American, National Geographic, and Discovery have all followed suit. These ‘Journals’ more closely resemble the National Enquirer than the scientific journals they were a decade and a half ago. Today they are all a tenuous mix of fact, fiction, and pop culture. If they can’t publish good science, they should perish; good riddance to them all. I predict the future of science publication will be web sites like this one.

  33. Ah yes Y2K. I fell for it. However, the generator I purchased for my rural retreat has provided years of enjoyment during power interruptions due to storms here.

  34. Correction: ” A huge amount of expensive work was indeed done to avert the breakdown of computers on 31 December 2012″ — should be 31 December 1999 (or really 1 Jan 2000).

  35. Mods, Feel free to drop my last two comments. They added nothing beyonding pointingout my humanity. (Something we are all afflicted with. 8-)

  36. Matt Skaggs on November 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Hopefully folks who are actually trying to understand the world around them won’t be beguiled by the Julian Simon nonsense. No rational person seriously believes that:

    [ . . . ]

    The fact that Ehrlich made a stupid bet has nothing to do with it. Yes, commodity prices can decline for decades as the industrialized world’s economy inflates while miners continue to earn a dollar a day, and yes, the front end of a bathtub curve can be projected to look like a permanent decline. But to believe that more people plus less resources equals cheaper resources over the truly long term, as Simon did and Ridley apparently does, well that is about as good of an example of wildly irrational optimism as I can think of.

    – – – – – – –

    Matt Skaggs,

    I do not recall any of Ehrlich’s ‘concerntist’ / doomist statements that actually came true or have any broad based observational / empirical evidence that any are coming true.

    Whereas generally Simon’s ‘lack of concern’ / optimistic statements have been seen as supported by history / experience with a scarcity of actual events to the contrary.

    The nature of human nature contains a self-fulfilling rational ability to achieve prosperity and a cleaner world at significantly increasing population levels if mankind is intellectually free to think independently. I think some challenging Bumps in that road of course but nothing deterministically bad.

    It is a great time to be human.

    John

  37. Thanks, Willis. For the record, Jeff, I wrote one book during my 3.5 years as part-time chairman of Northern Rock: my very short biography of Francis Crick. I made mistakes in that job but inattention to the advice of regulators and experts (let alone modelers) was not one of them. Rather, I should have been more contrarian.

    Re eggshells, wte9, I re-looked into this carefully some years ago and was persuaded that DDT’s effect on top-of-food-chain predators like hawks and otters had indeed been significant because of progressive concentration of organochlorines as they went up the food chain. i don’t have to hand the references that persuaded me, but can revisit them in due course.

    Re the Millennium bug, a weird typo crept in (my fault): for 31 December 2012, read 31 December 1999.

    Re Wired not finding space, I don’t think there is anything sinister about this and maybe I phrased it badly. They did not see a place to put it on their website. I have no complaints about the way Wired handled the piece: they were professional throughout.

  38. Re eggshells, wte9, I re-looked into this carefully some years ago and was persuaded that DDT’s effect on top-of-food-chain predators like hawks and otters had indeed been significant because of progressive concentration of organochlorines as they went up the food chain. i don’t have to hand the references that persuaded me, but can revisit them in due course

    —- I really HATE to get into an intellectual “urinating match”, but, alas, I’m dragged into it.

    BIRDS ARE BIRDS!

    Chickens eat FIELD PRODUCTS and have EQUAL OR STRONGER exposure to DDT.

    There was never any problem with domestic egg production, including HATCHING NEW CHICKENS.

    When it comes to the “egg shell thining/DDT connection”, I’m completely dubious and suspicous that there were OTHER causes, perhaps INCLUDING “selective observations”. (Please note also the “restoration of wetlands” and expansion of game preserves AND the banning of HUNTING on certain birds, which ALSO were completely lined up with the time frames involved.) Cause and effect (as in the AWG matter) can be a really difficult problem.

    However, the psychological gratification of creating “problems” and “solving them” (whether real or contrived) should not be underestimated. After all, who doesn’t need a little extra room to live in every once and a while?

  39. For the DDT controversy see here for a start:

    http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF/C06/C06Links/www.altgreen.com.au/Chemicals/ddt.html

    In 1968 two researchers, Drs. Joseph J. Hickey and Daniel W. Anderson, reported that high concentrations of DDT were found in the eggs of wild raptor populations. The two concluded that increased eggshell fragility in peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and ospreys was due to DDT exposure.9 Dr. Joel Bitman and associates at the U.S. Department of Agriculture likewise determined that Japanese quail fed DDT produced eggs with thinner shells and lower calcium content.10

    and
    Other observers also documented that the great peregrine decline in the eastern United States occurred long before any DDT was present in the environment.16,17 In Canada peregrines were observed to be “reproducing normally” in the 1960s even though their tissues contained 30 times more DDT than did the tissues of the midwestern peregrines allegedly being extirpated by the chemical.18 And in Great Britain, in 1969, a three-year government study noted that the decline of peregrine falcons in Britain had ended in 1966 even though DDT levels were as abundant as ever. The British study concluded that “There is no close correlation between the decline in population of predatory birds, particularly the peregrine falcon and the sparrow hawk, and the use of DDT.”19

    In addition, later research refuted the original studies that had pointed to DDT as a cause for eggshell thinning. After reassessing their findings using more modern methodology, Drs. Hickey and Anderson admitted that the egg extracts they had studied contained little or no DDT and said they were now pursuing PCBs, chemicals used as capacitor insulators, as the culprit.20

    Note this is probably the researcher that got the whole controversy rolling on the scientific front…

    Enough papers are referenced that anyone wanting to examine the issue should be able to find some material to ponder.

    hth

  40. @Matt

    “- The Himalayan glaciers are not melting in a hurry and even if they were, 96% of the water in the Ganges comes from rain, not melting ice[6].”

    The problem I have with the usual interpretations of this annual glacial melt is implication that the ‘4%’ is somehow not going to be there any more because there might be no glacier involved. This is silly. The 4% comes from rainfall. It is stopped raining over the icefield, then there would be no ice. If it stopped raining over the not-an-icefield-anymore it would be a drought. If it continues to rain over the not-an-icefield-anymore it becomes river water immediately. = 100%. Duh.

    The popularisation of this no-glaciers-means-the-Mekong-River-will-dry-up craziness is that bastion of climate science and all things moonbattish at the Guardian.

    The difference between the Y2K bug and global warming is that the Y2K problem was man-made and had a man-made solution whereas climate change is naturally caused and does not need a solution. It needs man-made coping skills of which we have plenty. In a similar vein, other man-made problems like tetra-ethyl lead also have man-made solutions. Fortunately some natural problems like malaria also have man-made solutions. Score one for the good guys!

  41. Y2K overhype: I had a supplyer send me a letter appolagizing that they could not certify that their RF attenuator was Y2K compliant. An RF attenuator is esentialy a chunk of carbon (carfully calibrated carbon). Hello!
    I enjoyed newyears 2000 in Time Square. I was not worried in the least about Y2K bugs. I was however worried about the very limited bathroom facilites. 16h is a long time to hold it….

    Cost of stuff: Humans always manage to find a way. The UN predicts that the human population will platue at 10 billion. That is only about 40% growth. If we would stop using our food as fuel, and stop the low per acre productivity practice of organic growing, 40% increase in food production should be easy. Just with the developing world using modern farming, and GM crops, It would likley be done already. As for non-renewable resourses, as they become more scarce, alternatives are found.

    Other Doomsday prediciton flops: The Amazon rainforest. When I was in grade school, we were told that we were going to run out of O2 because those evil farmers in Brazil kept burning the rainforest. Well they were just trying to feed their families. Same as early North American setlers. In the end, we still have losts of O2. False alarm…

  42. Y2K Castaways By Tom Ervin

    To the tune of Gilligan’s Island

    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
    Of the doom that is our fate.
    That started when programmers used
    Two digits for a date.
    Two digits for a date.

    Main memory was smaller then;
    Hard disks were smaller, too.
    “Four digits are extravagant,
    “So let’s get by with two.
    “So let’s get by with two.”

    “This works through 1999,”
    The programmers did say.
    “Unless we rewrite before that
    “It all will go away.
    “It all will go away.”

    But Management had not a clue:
    “It works fine now, you bet!
    “A rewrite is a straight expense;
    “We won’t do it just yet.
    “We won’t do it just yet.”

    Now when 2000 rolls around
    It all goes straight to hell,
    For zero’s less than ninety-nine,
    As anyone can tell.
    As anyone can tell.

    The mail won’t bring your pension check
    It won’t be sent to you
    When you’re no longer sixty-eight,
    But minus thirty-two.
    But minus thirty-two.

    The problems we’re about to face
    Are frightening, for sure.
    And reading every line of code’s
    The only certain cure.
    The only certain cure.

    (key change, big finish)

    There’s not much time,
    There’s too much code.
    (And Cobol-coders, few)
    When-the century is finished with,
    We may be finished, too.
    We may be finished, too.

    Eight thousand years from now I hope
    That things weren’t left too late,
    And people aren’t lamenting then
    Four digits for a date.
    Four digits for a date.

  43. O/T but following up on the Y2K thing (Cui Bono & UlfT) there are certainly some interesting parallels to the present AGW clamour.
    Y2K “detection” software, some endorsed by governments, where the test was looking at the BIOS date, not testing the real-time clock.
    I was contacted to ask if I had used 2 digit or 4 digit date format in some functions I wrote:
    “you still using that stuff? It was only supposed to be up for about 6 months … … can’t remember … probably 2 digit … no point trying hypnosis, not ‘cos I strong-willed, just doesn’t work. Sorry. … you might find that a year = 365.25 days, but none of those Gregorian Calendar adjustments, couldn’t understand that stuff … it’s not exactly mission-critical, just let it fall over …
    Around here I believe we may still have one or two sewage pump stations that send a message reporting daily volumes pumped on 1/1/1980 +
    No aircraft falling out of the sky because their engines had not been serviced for 20 to 99 years.
    The Soviet missile scare was a good one :-)
    At the time the systems were built, the west was not allowing state of art stuff to be supplied. But the “cutting edge” was video games. So the Russians got loads of video game machines, powerful Motorola processors etc, rejigged them for their missile systems. No RTC to fall over …

    As has been observed, fixing stupid is difficult …

  44. Resourceguy says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:51 am
    Not room on Wired’s website eh. That tells me all I want to know about them. Never again!
    ======

    Code Monkey Wrench says:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm
    “Wired asked me to respond, but then concluded that there was not space on their website to carry the response.”

    If they’re going to lie, they should at least try to make it believable.

    I was a subscriber from Day One, but let my sub lapse a year or two ago in the wake of their alarmist sneering. (Though I suspect it was imposed on them by their owner, Condé-Nast.)

  45. 21 Nov: Yale: UN Climate Chief: Talks Are Making Slow, Steady Progress
    With a new round of climate negotiations about to get underway, Christiana Figueres, head of the United Nations climate organization, explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview why, despite the obstacles, she thinks the world community is slowly inching its way toward an agreement.
    (Elizabeth Kolbert, who conducted this interview for Yale Environment 360, has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1999. Her 2005 New Yorker series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won a National Magazine Award and was extended into a book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, which was published in 2006. In previous articles for Yale Environment 360, she has written about a study that found the pace of global warming is outstripping projections and about a study tracking the effects of climate change in the Peruvian Andes.)
    (Christiana Figueres) It is the most inspiring job in the world because what we are doing here is we are inspiring government, private sector, and civil society to [make] the biggest transformation that they have ever undertaken. The Industrial Revolution was also a transformation, but it wasn’t a guided transformation from a centralized policy perspective. This is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science. So it’s a very, very different transformation and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/un_climate_chief_christiana_figueres_talks_making_progress_on_eve_of_doha/2593/#.UK05kQ6CU1g.twitter

  46. So I have a question about DDT. If we assume for a moment that it has the harmful effects it is accused of (I’m not saying it does, just assuming for purposes of this discussion) does that not leave plenty of room for using it anyway? I mean, it was in use for years, and the raptors survived. So….

    Malaria still kills a lot of people every year. Wouldn’t it make sense to go nuts with DDT for a couple of years? Then after that any incidence of malaria, hit that spot and a big radius around it with DDT until we eradicate it? With the use being intermittent, I’d think any deleterious effects would be minimized if they exist at all?

  47. Doug Proctor says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Good article and arguments, well stated!

    Ahh! but herein lies the problem: the warmists have CERTAINTY, while the skeptics have only un-certainty on their side.

    ************************
    You remind me of a great quotation:

    “The problem with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

    – Bertrand Russell

  48. Somehow this got to Y2K. My advice at the time was…

    Leave your PC on overnight so the century would roll over.

    DaveE.

  49. Great post by Matt. Standing back and looking again at the argument, one sees again the persistant pattern used by the alarmists:
    1. Take a known and agreed-upon phenomenon (greenhouse gases tend to warm the earth), and…
    2. Leverage it into a suite of unsupportable imagined catastrophes (Gulf Stream will break down) designed to generate as much fear as possible.
    3. When confronted with the absence of evidence or counter evidence, attack the messenger.

    Not a bad formula, for as Matt well knows, fear of things that never happen has a long and dreary history. And the purveyors of fear are never brought to account for their failures.

  50. I am constantly gobsmacked that the AGW crowd continue to believe that no ‘credible’ scientist would dare to have an opinion that ran counter to the AGW theory. It’s really disappointing that science is being subverted to the point where skepticism is no longer the default position. Faith seems to be the default for far too many people. Scientists should be encouraged to speak their mind if they have a different hypothesis, not denigrated for daring to oppose the status quo.

  51. Skeptics see a glass half full of water.
    Warmist see a glass half empty.
    Alarmists see ice melting in the glass, water rising ,spilling over, and everyone slipping on it and the drowning.

  52. It doesn’t matter whether the sky is falling. If you don’t believe Chicken Little, you are a mean person. You don’t want to be a mean person, do you?

    Also, if the Gulfstream breaks down, you’ll have to fly in a Cessna. How declasse.

  53. Mr Alter claims that the long residence time of chloroflurocarbons in the atmosphere explains the failure of the ozone hole to shrink.”

    ======================================
    The correct concept, wrong gasses, possibility cannot be discounted. Whatever caused the ozone holes, an 8% increase in UV over the subtropical oceans and a 20% increase over the Southern ocean is no small matter.

    http://geosciencebigpicture.com/2012/11/08/global-uv-increase-from-1979-2008-correlated-witn-global-warming/

    Most data these days comes in the form of a derivative anomaly. This can be useful, but there is this really great atmospheric map on this site I’m feeling too lazy to dig up that shows actual surface temperatures. What a concept. If you look at it you will find that for any given latitude the ocean temperature is higher than the land temperature.No small matter, and the derivative obscures this.

    There are many ironies in nature, but that snow is an excellent “blackbody” and water is not surely rates near the top. While land (and snow and ice cover) are efficient at ridding their enthalpy, the oceans (and lakes) are not. The oceans are a passive/agressive monsters constantly absorbing frustration in the form UV and having no outlet except evaporation and radiation from a micron thick surface film.

  54. Dan in Nevada says:
    November 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    This is not hard to understand; I think most 5 year olds could grasp this. Why is it that presumably intelligent adults continue to buy into the “Population Bomb” crap?
    ———————————————————————————————-
    Simple. They equate people with bacteria, i.e. stupid life that invariably grows to consume all available resource and then crashes. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, people have this odd ability to innovate and unlock new resources.

  55. “My point, remember, is not that climate change will definitely be benign, but that the possibility that it will be real but not a catastrophe is far from small and yet is usually ignored. It is surely premature to rule out the possibility of such a lukewarm future and Skeptical Science produces very threadbare evidence to support such a dogmatic conclusion.”

    I hate to say this, but after all they do call themselves “skeptical scientists.” How much harm is inflicted on the cause of skepticism by those who proclaim themselves to be the holders of the flame but have no true understanding of what “skepticism” even really consists?

  56. MattS says:
    November 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    You miss my point. I was making the point that the flow in the headwaters of a river often is a very small part of the river’s total volume at points downstream. The Mississippi is a good example of a river that flows through continuous rich watersheds. Given the volume of water from these watersheds, ending permanently the flow from Minneapolis would not have a great effect on the Mississippi at St. Louis.

    My overall point is that people who claim that we should worry about Himalayan glacier melt because it might greatly reduce the flow downstream in the Ganges are overlooking the powerful contributions from the watersheds that the Ganges travels through.

  57. In regards to the comment about food price hikes due to corn being used to fuel cars.
    Oxfam, at least in some European countries, is currently holding a campaign to educate people that food for fuel is the “dumbest thing on earth”.
    Since a certain politician voted for this because is was good for his votes in Iowa, as explained to a foreign delegation some years later, what does that say about Al Gore Warming?

  58. Tsk Tsk says:
    November 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    “Simple. They equate people with bacteria, i.e. stupid life that invariably grows to consume all available resource and then crashes.”

    I think your characterization is appropriate. Of course, somebody has to keep an eye on the petri dishes and who better than themselves to keep the bugs in line?

  59. Theo Goodwin says:
    November 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    If I missed your point it was because you didn’t make it very well. The amount of water flowing through the Mississippi at Minneapolis is larger than you think and Saint Louis is less than half way to the Gulf of Mexico along the path of the Mississippi.

    Your original claim was that interrupting the flow at Minneapolis would not be detectable at Saint Louis. A partial interruption would be measurable and a complete cut off even if temporary would be noticeable without instruments to anyone familiar with the river at that point. The river level would likely change by a couple of feet.

  60. - Runaway warming is now widely agreed to be impossible[9].

    Here is another reference

    IPCC
    “Some thresholds that all would consider dangerous have no support in the literature as having a non-negligible chance of occurring. For instance, a “runaway greenhouse effect” —analogous to Venus–appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities…..”

    http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session31/inf3.pdf

    Yet Warmists used runaway warming for years to scare the children and naive adults. I wonder what Dr. James Hansen has to say about this given his love of Venus.

  61. On Greenland warming, Skeptical Science probably missed this.

    Greenland warming of 1920–1930 and 1995–2005
    An important question is to what extent can the current (1995–2005) temperature increase in Greenland coastal regions be interpreted as evidence of man-induced global warming? Although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995 to 2005) a similar increase and at a faster rate occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920 to 1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause. The Greenland warming of 1920 to 1930 demonstrates that a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a necessary condition for period of warming to arise.
    Petr Chylek, et. al.
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L11707, doi:10.1029/2006GL026510, 2006

    http://88.167.97.19/albums/files/TMTisFree/Documents/Climate/Greenland_warming_of_1920%E2%80%931930_and_1995%E2%80%932005_Chylek.pdf

    [my bold]

  62. statgoblin says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I am constantly gobsmacked that the AGW crowd continue to believe that no ‘credible’ scientist would dare to have an opinion that ran counter to the AGW theory.

    Here’s a list of 35 notable skeptical scientist, from Wikipedia , no less–which means the actual list is two or three times longer. Just send those people the link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveys_of_scientists'_views_on_climate_change

  63. davidmhoffer says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    So I have a question about DDT. If we assume for a moment that it has the harmful effects it is accused of (I’m not saying it does, just assuming for purposes of this discussion) does that not leave plenty of room for using it anyway? I mean, it was in use for years, and the raptors survived. So….

    Malaria still kills a lot of people every year. Wouldn’t it make sense to go nuts with DDT for a couple of years? Then after that any incidence of malaria, hit that spot and a big radius around it with DDT until we eradicate it? With the use being intermittent, I’d think any deleterious effects would be minimized if they exist at all?

    david,

    The folks making the decisions were not choosing between their children and the raptors. They were choosing between the raptors and Other people’s children; and those Other people were the wrong color and poor besides.

    So why didn’t we decide to cut off DDT in industrialized countries and leave the others alone? I don’t know. Or, why didn’t we decide to limit the use of DDT to inside homes, where there are not a lot of raptors? The consumption of DDT could have been cut by 90% or more. Would have been more effective to boot.

    BTW, the notion DDT thinned eggshells was based on poor fieldwork.

    When DDT was in use, bird counts went up. This was based on surveys conducted by Audubon society types. DDT killed bird lice, carriers of bird disease, leading to healthier birds.

    Claims of DDT leading to breast cancer were thoroughly debunked. Not really emphasized as Rachel Carson believed it did and Rachel had been canonized as the chief saint of the environmental movement.

  64. davidmhoffer says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I agree. However if we had continued using DDT the fleas would be as thick as.. well, fleas on a dog by now. Prince Philip, David Attenborough and Paul Erlich would be mostmore displeased because mankind is a virus and they must be allowed to cull the numbers of fleas so that the(ir) dogs may prosper.

  65. Given that the world’s largest malaria outbreak was in Siberia, not known for its tropical heat, puts the dampers on the claim that malaria is temperature driven. Malaria is easily reduced by removing areas of stagnant water near houses which removes breeding places of the mosquito. This simple action in the southern states of the US reduced the malaria problem. DDT did the rest.
    DDT is not in itself a problem only its over use. Due to its low price it was literally sprayed everywhere but it did drastically reduce mosquito populations. Africa has seen an increase since the use of DDT was banned and the replacements too costly to use.
    The claims about rising temperatures with rising atmospheric CO2 volumes has been shown to be false given today’s 15 years of zero temperature rise with an 8% rise in CO2. Ice core data also demonstrates the failure of CO2 to drive temperature but rather the reverse. These claims persist because of total belief in the GHE which does not in fact exist. Doubters please see the web site http://www.climatecfsophistry.com which is written by an astrophysicist Joseph E Postma MSc.. This site explains the errors of the GHE model, like 24 hour sunshine, why the model is wrong and proposes a new realistic model which demonstrates the lack of the need of any GHE to give the atmospheric heat we enjoy. It also explains the GHE violations of the laws of thermodynamics.
    I commend this site to Matt Ridley.

  66. Dr Burns says:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I wouldn’t be bothered about Grist. Who in their right minds would believe this “bullshit” :

    http://grist.org/series/skeptics/

    ____________________________________
    At least GRIST did not practice censorship. From the comments I skimmed only those who can not reason were still Warmists.

    When you read skeptic comments and understand that Green ‘Activists’ are often PAID activists you can understand why Peter Gleick et al leap to the conclusion that skeptics have to be well orchestrated and PAID. The Seabrook nuclear power plant activist got $10/hr according to the WantAds in the Boston Globe in the 1980’s and not much has changed since then link.

    One would venture to hypothesize from this that Warmists are either paid or naive followers and this is why Peter Gleick went looking for “evidence” of Big Oil involvement and a well paid army of ‘Deniers’ at Heartland. After all his company has a Shell Oil VP listed and BP, Shell and other energy sector companies have been shoveling cash at CAGW since the CRU was founded. The Bishop Hill blog has an interesting article A study in groupthink dealing with the Peter Gleick Fakegate.

    The Warmists just can not credit an actual grassroots group of concerned independent, unpaid intelligent and articulate citizens. This says much about their Ivory Tower contempt for the ‘uneducated’ masses. I guess as professors and politicians they spend so much time with rump-kissers they can not conceive of a different class of people. People who are honest and independent thinkers.

    This take off on the old joke: There’s A Pony In Here Somewhere: Cartoon Fun Edition seems quite appropriate.

  67. Matt Skaggs says: @ November 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm
    “Hopefully folks who are actually trying to understand the world around them won’t be beguiled by the Julian Simon nonsense. No rational person seriously believes that….
    …more people plus less resources equals cheaper resources over the truly long term…”
    __________________________________________
    Dan in Nevada says: @ November 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm
    Matt, you, and many others including Ehrlich, don’t seem to grasp the economic principles that apply in the real world…

    This is not hard to understand; I think most 5 year olds could grasp this. Why is it that presumably intelligent adults continue to buy into the “Population Bomb” crap?
    ________________________________________
    Well said Dan, I always liked the The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894 as an example. Some how it just seems so appropriate.

    If we follow Matt’s thinking we should be fretting about ‘The Great Chert Nodule Crisis”

  68. Outtheback says: @ November 21, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    In regards to the comment about food price hikes due to corn being used to fuel cars….
    _______________________________
    There is more to the 2008 Food Crisis than biofuel. The real culprit was the 2000 Commodity Futures Act that deregulated derivatives trading.
    WIKI

    The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) is United States federal legislation that officially ensured the deregulation of financial products known as over-the-counter derivatives. It was signed into law on December 21, 2000 by President Bill Clinton. It clarified the law so that most over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives transactions between “sophisticated parties” would not be regulated as “futures” under the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 (CEA) or as “securities” under the federal securities laws.

    Actual law

    (b) SECURITY-BASED SWAP AGREEMENTS.–
    ….

    (2) The Commission is prohibited from registering, or requiring, recommending, or suggesting, the registration under this title of any security-based swap agreement. If the Commission becomes aware that a registrant has filed a registration application with respect to such a swap agreement, the Commission shall promptly so notify the registrant. Any such registration with respect to such a swap agreement shall be void and of no force or effect.

    This law signed by Clinton had far reaching effects on the US and world economy.

    Important Banking Legislation from Library of the FDIC: is a list of bank laws and a short blurb so you can SEE how Congress/Clinton set the USA up for a depression by repealing the Great Depression era banking laws passed to PREVENT another Great Depression.

    How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis

    How the AIG Bailout Could be Driving More Foreclosures:

    The Financial Meltdown

    Road to Ruin

    Just like with everything else the MSM simplifies and diverts attention from the actual causes or only tells part of the story. Thank goodness we now have the internet and can research ‘the rest of the story’

  69. Mr Alter claims that the long residence time of chloroflurocarbons in the atmosphere explains the failure of the ozone hole to shrink.”
    ==============
    The ozone hole is a result of the “polar vortex”. It is caused by cold air sinking, coupled with the rotation of the earth, sweeping the ozone from the poles towards the equator. It is larger over the south pole because the south pole is colder.

    We see this effect on other planets and moons with atmosphere’s. This is largely ignored because human nature is to take credit / place blame for the works of nature. As far back as we can look in human activity, people have always blamed their neighbors for bad weather. CO2 is simply the modern equivalent of the “evil eye”. Al Gore is the latest incarnation of the ‘Witchfinder General’.

  70. For those of you who have never read Matt’s great book The Rational Optimist it really is a fantastic read.

    I am less optimistic than Matt as I think the research makes it quite clear that AGW is primarily an excuse for government officials and their cronies globally to take control of the economy. In somewhat of the same manner as the 15th century China Matt describes and for similar reasons.

    Likewise I think the UN’s Education for All limited to basic skills and new collectivist values being pushed all over the world is at it core an attempt to break the Division of Labor and control unauthorized disruptive technology that might threaten favorite Business Cronies.

    Matt-Everytime I read the OECD’s push of Competency for All and no more with Equity in Credential Attainment. I want to shout “But remember Tasmania!”

    Keep up the good work in this global attack on unapproved knowledge and the subjugation of reality to totalizing theories.

  71. Matt Skaggs says: @ November 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm
    “Hopefully folks who are actually trying to understand the world around them won’t be beguiled by the Julian Simon nonsense. No rational person seriously believes that….
    …more people plus less resources equals cheaper resources over the truly long term…”
    ========
    About the only thing that doesn’t get cheaper over time is land, because you can’t make more of it. Pretty much everything else gets cheaper because of human ingenuity. Working against this price decrease is politics, which seeks to monopolize control of resources and thus increase profits for those in control.

    If you are selling goods at the market you have an interest in making sure your license is exclusive, that no one else is allowed to sell the same products as you are selling. Thus, you are eager to contribute to the politician that grants the licenses. This corruption is the inherent problem as it creates inefficiencies that are paid for by the poor to benefit the rich.

  72. IN 1898, DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference…

    The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed.

    …Stumped by the crisis, the urban planning conference declared its work fruitless and broke up in three days instead of the scheduled ten.
    ========
    Apparently common sense was more common in the past

    http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

  73. And they’re still on about the Gulf Stream today.

    How to survive climate change ad rising sea levels:

    “However, enough ice water in the sea could possibly reverse the Gulf Stream and Britain, being relatively far north, could enter a new ice age……Therefore, moving to Lake Titicaca, which straddles the mountainous border between Peru and Bolivia, might be a good bet.”

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/mayan-apocalypse-2012-how-to-survive-the-end-of-the-world-142657517.html

    PS: They also have how to survive a zombie plague, courtesy of Bristol City Council, UK, and the CDC:

    “The English local authority suggests arming yourself with a stun gun, handcuffs and a protection suits to both defeat and avoid the plague of the living dead.”

    “According to CDC plans, they “would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak” if ‘zombies did start roaming the streets’…..CDC director Dr Ali Khan notes: “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

  74. Ah, the good old Y2K. Let me lay out the basic points made to my by a long time electrical engineer friend who designed telcomm systems for Nortel.
    – A computer does not quit working when a number goes from 99 to 00. The computer will work just as reliably using 00 as it did using 99. 00 is just as real a number as 99 to the computer and it will work just as flawlessly.
    – A computer doesn’t care if it is January 1st, 2000 or January 1st, 1900. Both are perfectly acceptable dates to computers and they will continue to work.
    – Further more, since the computers were only using a year code of 2 numbers, they see no difference between 1900 and 2000. Nothing crashes.
    – you could test this yourself, set your old computers clock to a minute before midnight 1999 and let it run through Y2K…….I did it and it worked just fine, even did it on an old 8088 to prove the point.
    – almost every new system installed was given the software/firmware ability to communicate with older systems without issues.

    The first thing companies did was test their equipment and it worked. But they didn’t tell anyone so people would spend money on upgrades. Nothing that wasn’t upgraded crashed and that includes whole countries. To claim it was a near miss, saved by the alarmists requires monumental ignorance of what really happened.

  75. ferd berple says:
    November 22, 2012 at 7:41 am

    ….If you are selling goods at the market you have an interest in making sure your license is exclusive, that no one else is allowed to sell the same products as you are selling. Thus, you are eager to contribute to the politician that grants the licenses. This corruption is the inherent problem as it creates inefficiencies that are paid for by the poor to benefit the rich.
    ______________________________
    Very nice summing up of the problem in todays politics. With permission I am going to steal it.

  76. ferd berple says:
    November 22, 2012 at 7:41 am
    “…Pretty much everything else gets cheaper because of human ingenuity. Working against this price decrease is politics, which seeks to monopolize control of resources and thus increase profits for those in control…”

    Spot on, Ferd. I would only add that in addition to the collusion between government and favored business associates (in less PC times, this was called by its proper name, “fascism”; the polite term today is “crony capitalism”), there are also those apparently sincere efforts by government to reduce the costs of things perceived to be important to their constituents. Things like medical care, housing, college tuition…

  77. Gail Combs says:
    November 22, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Do you really believe that paper trading caused the food prices to rise?
    Had the requirement not been created through government decree, land that was used for growing other crops was now converted to corn production, a ready market with better returns then the original crop.
    The increased demand for corn could not have been satisfied with the production at the time. Had there been no conversion to corn the production of those staple crops would have remained as they were and in theory these prices would have remained stable. However then virtually all corn produced would have gone to the highest bidder and with the government stipulation and related subsidies of so much corn ethanol in fuel guess who would have won that bidding war. This would then have resulted in these other staple crops becoming a viable alternative for corn in food production which would have resulted in price increases for these also with the increase in demand for these. Normal market forces at play.

    As it happened these other staples went up in price as the production declined in favor of corn production. Basically the same mechanism as above.

    Sure, speculation can add to the future price of a commodity but no one will try to drive up the price of a commodity if the outlook is going to be one of oversupply. Goldman and cronies are in it to make money and they don’t bet on losers. (or rather they try and avoid betting on losers). Where do you think that money they invest is coming from? It will dry up in a flash if they report losses.

    Futures are not securities and what the government was doing was making sure that banks could not list them as such in order to keep their security to liability ratio in line with central bank policies.
    Did that cause discomfort for some, absolutely, but they should not have used them as such in the first place.

  78. The distinction is market entrepreneurs who prosper by providing something people want so they voluntarily part with their money vs political entrepreneurs who put that time, money, and energy into rent seeking from government politicians and bureaucrats. Grant me this stream of revenue or erect this barrier to competitors or keep anyone from coming up with a superior product.

    AGW is designed to create a return to a Mercantile, Dirigiste economy where it’s hard to prosper unless you are a political entrepreneur. This also ties in all over the world with the Regionalism push also coming out of the UN and Agenda 21. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/protected-producers-vs-paying-consumerstaxpayerswho-will-prevail-on-education-and-the-economy/ is a story I wrote on this Global Education/Neo-Mercantile based on Green Energy/ Regionalism integrated worldwide push after listening to a speech last month by Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute.

    By the way Regionalism is also going by the name Metropolitanism now to highlight the desired push to stop urban sprawl and corral us back to wards cities and away from private vehicles. Because that’s working so well in Portland, Oregon we are now supposed to globalize it. Talk about not learning our lessons.

  79. Tsk Tsk says:
    November 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    “Simple. They equate people with bacteria, i.e. stupid life that invariably grows to consume all available resource and then crashes.”

    LOL – google David Suzuki and test tube bacteria (what else would you expect from a fruit fly)

  80. Robin said @ November 22, 2012 at 7:32 am

    For those of you who have never read Matt’s great book The Rational Optimist it really is a fantastic read.

    I am less optimistic than Matt as I think the research makes it quite clear that AGW is primarily an excuse for government officials and their cronies globally to take control of the economy. In somewhat of the same manner as the 15th century China Matt describes and for similar reasons.

    Likewise I think the UN’s Education for All limited to basic skills and new collectivist values being pushed all over the world is at it core an attempt to break the Division of Labor and control unauthorized disruptive technology that might threaten favorite Business Cronies.

    Matt-Everytime I read the OECD’s push of Competency for All and no more with Equity in Credential Attainment. I want to shout “But remember Tasmania!”

    I’m with you on the excellence of Matt’s The rational Optimist, but then I have been a Matt Ridley fan ever since I read The Red Queen in 1993.

    Not only do I “remember Tasmania”, I live there. I have no idea what remembering Tasmania has to do with the rest of your comment. Searching your blog on “tasmania” generates a “not found” response.

  81. outtheback says:
    November 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Gail Combs says:
    November 22, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Do you really believe that paper trading caused the food prices to rise?…
    ________________________________
    It was one of several different policies that caused the problem.
    1) 1995 Clinton signed the WTO treaty. Dan Amstutz VP of Cargill, the grain traders, wrote the Agreememt on Ag. (He also worked for Goldman Sachs)

    2) 1996 Amstutz wrote the Freedom to Farm Act later known as the Freedom to Fail act bankrupting the independent US farmer. link 1 and link 2 and link 3

    3) The US farm policy (and subsidies) combined with WTO drives third world farmers bankrupt. link also Food Supremacy: America’s Other War and How to manufacture a global food crisis : lessons from the World Bank, IMF, and WTO

    4) Clinton even apologizes 2008: Bill Clinton said at the UN that, “we all blew it, including me as president” by treating food crops as commodity rather than a right of the poor.” and 2010: “We Made a Devil’s Bargain”: Fmr. President Clinton Apologizes for Trade Policies that Destroyed Haitian Rice Farming

    5) and finally on to the grain and commodity traders:

    Food shortfalls predicted: 2008

    In summary, we have record low grain inventories globally as we move into a new crop year. We have demand growing strongly. Which means that going forward even small crop failures are going to drive grain prices to record levels. As an investor, we continue to find these long term trends…very attractive.

    July 22, 2008 letter to President Bush

    Recently there have been increased calls for the development of a U.S. or international grain reserve to provide priority access to food supplies for Humanitarian needs. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) strongly advise against this concept…. Stock reserves have a documented depressing effect on prices… and resulted in less aggressive market bidding for the grains…
    …As suggested by others, a far more efficient and effective method for relief of those in need during difficult times would be a monetary trust held in reserve to purchase commodities when needed…

    5/2/2008 …says USDA Undersecretary Mark Keenum, “Our cupboard is bare.” U.S. government food surpluses have evaporated…

    September 21 2012: How to fight a food crisis

    …the United States does not possess a national grain reserve.

    Such was not always the case.

    The modern concept of a strategic grain reserve was first proposed in the 1930s by Wall Street legend Benjamin Graham. Graham’s idea hinged on the clever management of buffer stocks of grain to tame our daily bread’s tendencies toward boom and bust. When grain prices rose above a threshold, supplies could be increased by bringing reserves to the market — which, in turn, would dampen prices. And when the price of grain went into free-fall and farmers edged toward bankruptcy, the need to fill the depleted reserve would increase the demand for corn and wheat, which would prop up the price of grain.

    Following Graham’s theory, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a grain reserve …. In the inflationary 1970s, the USDA revamped FDR’s program into the Farmer-Owned Grain Reserve, which encouraged farmers to store grain in government facilities by offering low-cost and even no-interest loans and reimbursement to cover the storage costs. But over the next quarter of a century the dogma of deregulated global markets came to dominate American politics, and the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act abolished our national system of holding grain in reserve.

    As for all that wheat held in storage, it became part of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, a food bank and global charity under the authority of the secretary of Agriculture. The stores were gradually depleted until 2008, when the USDA decided to convert all of what was left into its dollar equivalent. And so the grain that once stabilized prices for farmers, bakers and American consumers ended up as a number on a spreadsheet in the Department of Agriculture….

    So the US Federal Government followed the advice of the Grain Traders as seen in the letter above.

    The Grain Traders say this about Amstutz: “Throughout his very successful career Dan Amstutz represented and championed the ideas and goals of NAEGA membership “ (North American Export Grain Association) Dan Amstutz did not represent the interests of farmers or consumers when he wrote that draft, he represented the interests of the Transnational Grain Traders. Keep in mind that four privately owned grain traders control 90% of the grain. They are Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Andre, and Bunge. link

    Africa Focus: Seed Sharing or Biopiracy

    Chapter 3 on the patenting of biodiversity begins by addressing how the World Trade Organization (WTO) incorporated the first international law to require intellectual property protection for living forms (microorganisms). The goal within the WTO, dating from 2000, is to extend patent laws over all plants and animals (Article 27.3b). Countries that are the source of global biodiversity, however, are resisting this approach … extending intellectual property rights (IPRs) over seeds and plants challenges scientific logic and threatens biodiversity. … [These] plans to extend IPRs from microorganisms to plants and animals have not succeeded, even though they have been vigorously pursued by the most powerful countries and global corporations. ..

    Chapter 9, “Choice Seed – Seed Choices,” compares and contrasts international protocols for seed exchange from agencies trying to reconcile the demand for patenting, the respect for indigenous knowledge, and the need to preserve biodiversity as a policy for food security. The Africa Union Model Legislation fulfills the intent of the WTO (TRIPs) without accepting patenting. … African agronomists are not simply stating that individual ownership of seed eradicates its roots, removes its heritage – but are demonstrating how to propagate diversity while sharing. ,,,

    Animal Patents: http://www.icar.org/%5Cpages%5Cpsas.htm

    As I said it is not just biofuel but a number of factors designed to move wealth from the poor into the rich man’s pocket. The food crisis of 2008 happened by DESIGN as shown above.

    ADM (and Monsanto) were the ones who really made out on the biofuel scam as I wrote in an earlier comment this year.

  82. Gail Combs says:
    November 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Is that the same Cargill that is one of the largest biofuel producers in Europe and pretty much joined at the hip to Koch Industries?

    DaveE.

  83. David A. Evans says: A November 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Is that the same Cargill that is one of the largest biofuel producers in Europe…
    _______________________________________
    It is these guys link And yes they are into ethanol Biofuel in the EU link.

    The European Market for Biofuel Plants

    The German company Cargill GmbH operates the second largest biodiesel plant with a production capacity of 11.1 PJ in Frankfurt am Main. Besides producing biodiesel, Cargill operates three vegetable oil presses in Germany and works in the segments of food, agriculture, finances and in the technical industry.

    Louis Dreyfus Holding BV also holds a large share of the total German biodiesel capacity; the company has two plants with a total capacity of 14.8 PJ. The American corporate originally specialised in trading grains; today, it works in both the agriculture and energy markets. German SARIA Bio-Industries GmbH & Co. KG operates three biodiesel refineries with a total production capacity of 11.9 PJ via its subsidiary ecomotion GmbH.

    That is a bit misleading since it is a German branch of an American company.

    Source Watch

    Cargill, Inc. is based in Wayzata, MN and is the second largest private corporation in the United States…

    And yes they are the same company link leads to link

    The Koch Industries, Inc connection

    Rupert, ID. Cargill Animal Nutrition Division has purchased the newly constructed feed mill here from Koch Industries, Inc., and plans to have it in operation in early October….

    http://www.biofuelsjournal.com/articles/cargill_buys_rupert_id_feed_mill_from_koch_industries-8078.html

    There may be a lot more connections since they are both privately held and can pretty much do what they darn well please without much public knowledge.

  84. Gail, I was with you until your last sentence. Cargill bought a feed mill from Koch, and now they have secret connections between them? It makes as much sense as me saying

    “There may be a lot more connections between Koch Industries and Gail Combs since they are both private and can pretty much do what they darn well please without much public knowledge”

    You see the problem? You are casting aspersions on people without a scrap of evidence. That makes you look bad, not Koch or Cargill … it is a low-down technique. It’s like me saying:

    “I don’t know that Gail Combs is a serial child molester, but she may be since there are a lot of connections between her and children, and she has been alone with children without much public knowledge” …

    I hope you are getting the picture. What you are doing is a scurvy, slimy kind of attack, all nudge-nudge-wink-wink, full of nasty innuendo and indirection, a whispering campaign.

    w.

    PS—By the way, Gail, I read somewhere that you might be a serial child molester, and not only that, I read that you have never denied it …

    You see the problem now?

    REPLY:
    Careful, Willis – Anthony

  85. Matt Ridley says:
    November 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm
    “Thanks, Willis. For the record, Jeff, I wrote one book during my 3.5 years as part-time chairman of Northern Rock: my very short biography of Francis Crick. I made mistakes in that job but inattention to the advice of regulators and experts (let alone modelers) was not one of them. Rather, I should have been more contrarian.”

    If only you had previously written a book on financial bubbles, eh?

  86. Willis Eschenbach says:
    November 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Gail, I was with you until your last sentence. Cargill bought a feed mill from Koch, and now they have secret connections between them? It makes as much sense as me saying…
    _________________________________

    No I am say they are both private companies and therefore if there are other connections it would be very hard to find.

    As far as Cargill goes, a guy who worked for a start up company as a middleman in the international grain selling business said they pulled a really nasty trick, bankrupting the company and then had him told just what they did as a first warning to get the heck out of THEIR business turf and stay out.

    That is the only type of glimpse you will get and it is unsubstantiated since he was not wearing a tape recorder at the time of the warn-off. However it is also standard business practice for large businesses to intentionally bankrupt small companies in price wars.

  87. Gail Combs says:
    November 23, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    November 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Gail, I was with you until your last sentence. Cargill bought a feed mill from Koch, and now they have secret connections between them? It makes as much sense as me saying…

    _________________________________

    No I am say they are both private companies and therefore if there are other connections it would be very hard to find.

    As far as Cargill goes, a guy who worked for a start up company as a middleman in the international grain selling business said they pulled a really nasty trick, bankrupting the company and then had him told just what they did as a first warning to get the heck out of THEIR business turf and stay out.

    That is the only type of glimpse you will get and it is unsubstantiated since he was not wearing a tape recorder at the time of the warn-off.

    Yes, and I am saying that Gail Combs is a private individual and therefore if she is a child molester, it would be very hard to find out.

    As far as molesting children goes, a guy who worked for a cousin of my wife’s hairdresser said Gail Combs was seen with a bunch of children, and more than once.

    That is the only type of glimpse you will get of a possible child molester and it is unsubstantiated since he was not wearing a tape recorder at the time.

    Gail, do you see the problem yet? You are accusing without accusing, just as I have done in the paragraphs above. Note that nowhere have I made an actual accusation, I have just repeated hearsay and unverified rumors, and planted the seed by repeating the words “child molestation” over and over.

    Making unsubstantiated accusations such as those is totally unethical. You have no more knowledge of secret connections between Koch and Cargill than I have knowledge of your relationship with children.

    But to say that for all I know you could be a child molester is not, as you claim, some kind of neutral statement. It is not simple speculation. It is no more a neutral statement than is your statement about Koch and Cargill, despite your disavowals that it was merely comments.

    Because after all … why should we believe disavowals from someone who might be a child molester?

    w.

  88. Willis Eschenbach says:
    November 23, 2012 at 10:03 am
    ……Making unsubstantiated accusations such as those is totally unethical. You have no more knowledge of secret connections between Koch and Cargill than I have knowledge of your relationship with children…..
    _________________________________
    Willis I am ANSWERING a direct question from David Evan who is the one who brought up the Koch – Cargill connection not me (first I ever heard of it) and I am replying I DO NO KNOW and it is near impossible to find out because they are PRIVATE companies PERIOD.

    There is nothing unethical about saying.
    1. They are private.
    2. Most information is off the radar.
    3. Someone told me about their interaction with Cargill which I was careful to point out is UNSUBSTANTIATED. I would not have even brought it up except in a reply to your accusations.

    Do I dislike Cargill? Yes,
    Why? Because in 2008 with food riots in more than thirty countries, Cargill had record breaking profits as did Monsanto and others. http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/cargill-europe.pdf

    Cargill’s VP Dan Amstutz is also responsible for the WTO Agreement on Ag. I checked the Center of Disease Control figure for the three years before WTO was ratified and giving 2 years for ramp up, for three years after. The food borne disease rate in the USA DOUBLED!

    Cargill is not a lily white company and they have a major hold on our food supply and also on world politics. It would take a book to explore all the ins and outs of the Cargill/WTO/USDA connections and the international food system. You can also search [Cargill Fines.]

    Am I a whack job because of my dislike for Cargill? Why don’t you go read what Purdue University has to say about price fixing in the Ag market: http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/staff/connor/papers/index.asp

    There is even a link to a Special Issue of Agricultural Economics on the World Food Crisis of 2007-08: http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/ae/food_crisis.htm

    This whole conversation started with someone using the simplistic explanation that biofuels were the cause of the 2008 food crisis which is not the case.

    Here is the origin of this mess:

    David A. Evans says:
    November 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Gail Combs says:
    November 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Is that the same Cargill that is one of the largest biofuel producers in Europe and pretty much joined at the hip to Koch Industries?
    DaveE.

  89. Gail Combs says:
    November 23, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    November 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

    ……Making unsubstantiated accusations such as those is totally unethical. You have no more knowledge of secret connections between Koch and Cargill than I have knowledge of your relationship with children…..

    _________________________________
    Willis I am ANSWERING a direct question from David Evan who is the one who brought up the Koch – Cargill connection not me (first I ever heard of it) and I am replying I DO NO KNOW and it is near impossible to find out because they are PRIVATE companies PERIOD.

    I don’t care if you are replying to a question, or questing off on your own. Making unsubstantiated accusations is not good, no matter what the conditions might be.

    There is nothing unethical about saying.
    1. They are private.
    2. Most information is off the radar.
    3. Someone told me about their interaction with Cargill which I was careful to point out is UNSUBSTANTIATED. I would not have even brought it up except in a reply to your accusations.

    If you believe that, then you must also believe that there is nothing unethical about saying that:

    1. You are private
    2. Most information about you is off the radar.
    3. Therefore, it is quite possible that you are a child molester.

    Still think it is not unethical to make these kinds of vague, unsubstantiated accusations? Man, from as hard as you are fighting this, I’m starting to think that you might actually be a child molester.

    Still think it is not unethical to make these kinds of vague, unsubstantiated statements? Sounds to me like you are defending your right to molest children.

    Still think it is not unethical to make these kinds of vague, unsubstantiated statements? Because I can go on with examples.

    Gail, I don’t care if you said three times that the accusations are UNSUBSTANTIATED, to use your capital letter terminology. If they are unsubstantiated, then DON’T REPEAT THEM. When you repeat them, you are being nothing but a common gossip and fishwife, and I suspect that you are much better than that.

    My advice?

    If you can’t cite it … don’t write it.

    w.

    PS—For those not following the story, no, I absolutely do not think that Gail is a child molester. I am trying to dramatize for her what it is to be the target of a nasty, unsubstantiated whispering campaign of the type that Gail is aiming at Cargill and Koch.

    PPS—I don’t know either Cargill or the Koch brothers, I’ve never had dealings with either one. They may be sinners or saints, I don’t know … I just don’t like uncited, unsubstantiated backhand allegations.

  90. Gail, let me add that I forgot to thank you for the links and the information on Cargill. They are interesting.

    You say:

    I checked the Center of Disease Control figure for the three years before WTO was ratified and giving 2 years for ramp up, for three years after. The food borne disease rate in the USA DOUBLED!

    I tried to find the CDC data you mention on foodborne illness, but I haven’t been able to find it. Do you have a source for your statement about the change in foodborne illness after passage of WTO? I can’t find any annual foodborne illness data at the CDC that goes back that far. Could you please provide a citation for that?

    You also say:

    Am I a whack job because of my dislike for Cargill? Why don’t you go read what Purdue University has to say about price fixing in the Ag market: http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/staff/connor/papers/index.asp

    I said nothing about you being a whack job. I said nothing about Cargill. So I’m in mystery about your statement. I do not think you are a “whack job” of any type for any reason. You appear to be as sane as I am … although in fairness that’s not a real high standard.

    Let me also say that I am no fan of either agribusiness giants or the WTO.

    My issue was with your backhanded implication that there was some unholy alliance between Cargill and the Koch brothers.

    All the best,

    w.

  91. Malaria was endemic across Siberia. How could that be due to heat? The cause was that people depended for water on open barrels, and left open troughs of water for their animals and did not have screens on their windows. The fact that malaria is now a tropical disease is only because that is where poverty has prevented its elimination.

  92. The link of DDT to bird eggs is dubious. The reason raptors became endangered was that when America had lots of farmers the raptors were viewed as predators of chickens, and shot whenever seen. Other people shot them for trophies.

  93. Willis Eschenbach said @ November 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I checked the Center of Disease Control figure for the three years before WTO was ratified and giving 2 years for ramp up, for three years after. The food borne disease rate in the USA DOUBLED!

    I tried to find the CDC data you mention on foodborne illness, but I haven’t been able to find it. Do you have a source for your statement about the change in foodborne illness after passage of WTO? I can’t find any annual foodborne illness data at the CDC that goes back that far. Could you please provide a citation for that?

    A report at CDC on food-borne disease rates is here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5714a2.htm

    Figure 2 indicates most monitored food-borne disease rates have declined after 1995.

  94. Willis Eschenbach says: @ November 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    ______________________

    …I tried to find the CDC data you mention on foodborne illness, but I haven’t been able to find it. Do you have a source for your statement about the change in foodborne illness after passage of WTO?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is another long story.

    I first ran across it about a decade ago on the Organic Consumers website. It vanished from there even though I had the link so I went directly to the CDC.

    The CDC says they went to an “enhanced surveillance system” this means the reports were not sent by snail mail, instead they were sent by e-mail and the CDC confirmed them. The CDC attributed the increase to this “enhanced reporting” although I can’t see how the data was sent has anything to do with the situation. The other factors are a change in how inspection is done: critique of HACCP This was introduced in 1996-1997 and hands on government inspection was stopped and reduced to inspecting paperwork not food. (Government testing labs were closed) Also see: Shielding the Giant: USDA’s “Don’t Look, Don’t Know” Policy for Beef Inspection

    The CDC says about the discontinuity

    Agencies use a standard form (CDC form 52.13, Investigation of a Foodborne Outbreak) to report FBDOs to CDC. In 1998, CDC increased communication with state, local, and territorial health departments to enhance surveillance for FBDOs, including formal confirmation procedures to finalize reports from each state each year. This led to a substantial increase in the number of reports, resulting in a surveillance discontinuity during 1997–1998.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5510.pdf

    Since 1973, CDC has maintained a collaborative surveillance program for collection and periodic reporting of data on the occurrence and causes of foodborne-disease outbreaks (FBDOs) in the United States….

    During 1998–2002, a total of 6,647 outbreaks of foodborne disease were reported (1,314 in 1998, 1,343 in 1999, 1,417 in 2000, 1,243 in 2001, and 1,330 in 2002). These outbreaks caused a reported 128,370 persons to become ill. Among 2,167 (33%) outbreaks for which the etiology was determined, bacterial pathogens caused the largest percentage of outbreaks (55%) and the largest percentage of cases (55%). Among bacterial pathogens, Salmonella serotype Enteritidis accounted for the largest number of outbreaks and outbreak-related cases; Listeria monocytogenes accounted for the majority of deaths of any pathogen. Viral pathogens, predominantly norovirus, caused 33% of outbreaks and 41% of cases; the proportion of outbreaks attributed to viral agents increased from 16% in 1998 to 42% in 2002. Chemical agents caused 10% of outbreaks and 2% of cases, and parasites caused 1% of outbreaks and 1% of cases.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5510.pdf

    There is also this: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/3/4/97-0409_article.htm

    I used the numbers given for bacteria, beef, pork, poultry, & seafood and totaled them.

    Other information on the changes in food safety:
    Stanley Painter, Chairman of the National Food Inspection Unions, stated in his testimony at the congressional hearing on the Hallmark Dower Cows:

    …when we see violations of FSIS regulations and we are instructed not to write non-compliance reports… Sometimes even if we write non-compliance reports, some of the larger companies use their political muscle to get those overturned….Some of my members have been intimidated by agency management in the past when they came forward and tried to enforce agency regulations and policies….
    I will give you a personal example:

    In December 2004, I began to receive reports that the new SRM regulations were not being uniformly enforced. I wrote a letter to the Assistant FSIS Administrator for Field Operations at the time conveying to him what I had heard…I was paid a visit at my home in Alabama by an FSIS official dispatched from the Atlanta regional office to convince me to drop the issue. I told him that I would not. Then, the agency summoned me to come here to Washington, DC where agency officials subjected me to several hours of interrogation including wanting me to identify which of my members were blowing the whistle on the SRM removal violations. I refused to do so….I was then placed on disciplinary investigation status. The agency even contacted the USDA Office of Inspector General to explore criminal charges being filed against me…
    Both my union AFGE and the consumer group Public Citizen filed separate Freedom of Information Act requests in December 2004 for any non-compliance records in the FSIS data base that would support my allegations. It was not until August 2005 that over 1000 non-compliance reports – weighing some 16 pounds — were turned over to both AFGE and Public Citizen that proved that what my members were telling me was correct….
    http://domesticpolicy.oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1870 (sorry link is dead)

    From an e-mag I get: American Vegetable Grower

    Report Rips FDA Oversight Of Produce
    FDA’s efforts to combat foodborne illness are hampered by staffing shortages, infrequent inspections and lax enforcement at fresh produce processing plants, according to congressional investigators. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report also said only 1% of produce imported into the U.S. is inspected, and the practice of mixing produce from several sources makes tracing contamination challenging…The report said inspections at produce-processing facilities are rare, and when problems are discovered, FDA relies on the industry to correct them without oversight or follow-up. Between 2000 and 2007, FDA detected food safety problems at more than 40% of the 2,002 plants inspected, yet half of those plants were inspected only once. The plants with food safety problems received only warning letters from FDA, and even those ended in 2005…Salmonella Source Found
    The Salmonella strain associated with the lastest foodborne illness outbreak has been found, in irrigation water as well as in a sample from some serrano peppers at a Mexican farm. The farm is located in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. “The agency seized no fresh produce, sought no injunctions and prosecuted no firms” http://www.americanvegetablegrower.com/veggie_bytes/page.php?page=crops_markets#fdafouled

    An Article in the New York Times: “The Safety Gap” by Gardiner Harris

    I have a lot more data on the changes connected to WTO that increased food borne illness so the change in reporting seems to be covering up a multitude of sins. The goal was to get the public screaming for the Food Safety Modernization Act but that is another book. Untangling lobbying and politics is not as clean as science data.

  95. The Pompous Git says: @ November 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    ….A report at CDC on food-borne disease rates is here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5714a2.htm

    Figure 2 indicates most monitored food-borne disease rates have declined after 1995.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Now that is really interesting.
    In 1997 Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman stated “Today, America has the safest food in the world.” http://www.usda.gov/news/releases/1997/08/0284 Yet we in the USA have been inundated with food safety headlines screaming about unsafe food and the need for a updating the law for the past decade.

    These are the numbers I have from the report I looked at several years ago. I only looked at meat. (There maybe some copy errors)

    Number of reported foodborne-disease outbreaks

    YEAR…Bacteria…Beef…Pork…Poultry…Seafood…..TOTAL
    1993……..135………16…….3……….6………….31………….489
    1994……..148………22…….7………16…………47………….653
    1995……..155………14…….5……….9………….43………….628
    1996……..112………..7…….6………..9…………29…………..477
    1997……..105………..7…….7……….12…………37………….504
    1998……..258………26……29……….62………107…………1314
    1999……..217……….62…..26……….74………..92…………1343
    2000……..247……….43…..27………..61……….88………….1417
    2001……..235……….33……30……….73………108…………1243
    2002………227………44……26……….75………..93………….1330

    Do you think we are seeing the Urban Heat Island Effect in action? The supporting evidence below does not support a fall in foodborne disease incidents over the period in question. After HACCP was introduced I noticed PERDUE® chicken had pin feathers and even whole feathers as well as blood in the joints indicating a possible line speed increase. If the gov’t inspectors are no longer checking the actual carcasses for disease you can speed up the processing.

    What WTO did to USA and world food safety was get rid of quarantine and testing at borders.

    “Measures to trace animals…to provide assurances on…safety …have been incorporated into international standards… The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures…Aims to ensure THAT GOVERNMENTS DO NOT USE QUARANTINE AND FOOD SAFETY REQUIREMENTS as UNJUSTIFIED TRADE BARRIERS… It provides Member countries with a right to implement traceability as an SPS measure.”

    current link http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/sps_e/spsund_e.htm (wording may have changed the rest of the links are old)

    From International Organization OIE (Office International des Épizooties) we have:

    “It is urgent that scientists come forward with alternative methods of disease control that will not only avoid wastage of valuable animal proteins but that will also promote the international trade of animals and animal products by removing technically unjustified trade barriers caused by animal diseases”, http://www.oie.int/eng/press/en_040422.htm

    “Furthermore, it can help to eliminate unjustified trade barriers, since a sound traceability system provides trading partners with assurances on the safety of the products they import. Traceability techniques can provide additional guarantees as to the origin, type or organoleptic quality of food products.” http://www.oie.int/eng/edito/en_edito_apr08.htm

    This is the result:
    In 2008? the USA exported 700,000 tons of quality beef while importing 1,500,000 tons from countries with: Naegleria fowler, Encephalitis, vesicular stomatitis viruses, Leptospirosis, Trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), and foot and mouth disease. The US imports 2.5 million live cattle from Canada with BSE (now found in USA) and from Mexico with tuberculosis (now found in USA), brucellosis (now found in USA) cattle tick fever, (now found in USA) Trypanosoma cruz,, (now found in USA), Bluetongue (now found in USA), and Vesicular stomatitis.

    From the state of Texas Stategic Plan

    “..new disease challenges are emerging. Some are domestic diseases that are increasing in significance. Others are foreign diseases that may be imported as result of the exponential increases in international importations of animals and animal products. Our industries and our economy are threatened by diseases and pests that heretofore we only read about in disease text books…” http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/agency/TAHC_Strategic_Plan_2009-2013.pdf

    “USDA is moving toward supporting fewer labs nationwide, with the remaining labs serving as regional labs and supporting larger geographic areas..” http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/agency/TAHC_Strategic_Plan_2009-2013.pdf

    “..early 2002, when the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) organized a national identification task force to provide leadership for the preparation of the initial report, the National Identification Work Plan….The US Animal Identification Plan (USAIP) is needed to maintain the economic viability of American animal agriculture… This is essential to preserve the domestic and international marketability of our nation’s animals and animal products.” http://www.usaip.info/

    “Cattle crossing facilities on the U.S. side of the border are operated primarily by private firms… at Santa Teresa, NM, Chihuahuan [Mexican] cattle producers operate both sides of the cattle port-of-entry” http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/Agoutlook/june2001/AO282d.pdf

    “Free trade makes it easier for Mexico to sell us cattle,” Mr. Suppan said. “Mexico does not have in place the infrastructure to eradicate tuberculosis.”…Bovine tuberculosis is fast becoming an important reason that carcasses are being condemned as unsafe in American beef packing plants. The number of carcasses found infected is 15 times higher than in 1986. Dr. Billy Johnson, said about 80 percent of the condemned carcasses were traced back to animals raised in Mexico.” http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE5D91431F935A25752C1A965958260&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=all

  96. Oh, I should mention that I forwarded my graphs on the CDC numbers and the other information (plus links of course) to a group going after the USDA several years ago.

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