27 Feb 2008, 8:52pm
Latest Climate News
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Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

by Michael Asher (Blog) - Feb, 26, 2008 [here]

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile — the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year’s time. For all four sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

World Temperatures according to the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction. Note the steep drop over the last year.Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn’t itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

Let’s hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans — and most of the crops and animals we depend on — prefer a temperature closer to 70.

Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

Update 2/27: Anthony Watts, who kindly provided the graphics herein, otherwise has no connection with the column. The views and comments are those of the author only.

27 Feb 2008, 7:28pm
Latest Fire News
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Update: Judge Molloy clears ag chief Rey in fire retardant case

By JOHN CRAMER of the Missoulian [here]

A federal judge in Missoula cleared Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey and the U.S. Forest Service of a contempt threat Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy also ruled that the agency has finally completed his order to review the environmental impact of aerial fire retardant.

But a watchdog group whose lawsuit prompted the showdown said it planned to take new legal action to challenge the Forest Service’s finding that fire retardant causes little harm to fish, plants and other aquatic creatures.

Rey and other Forest Service officials apologized to Molloy for the agency’s tardiness in completing its environmental review, but they maintained they had acted in good faith.

Molloy accepted the apology but said it was “shameful” that it took a threat of contempt to make the Forest Service follow the law.

27 Feb 2008, 12:54pm
Latest Fire News
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Fire chiefs want Forest Service to pay for failing to manage forests

Waldron says Ninemile did not help with Black Cat structure protection

by John Q. Murray, The Clark Fork Chronicle, Feb. 20, 2008 [here]

Scott Waldron of Frenchtown Fire slammed the U.S. Forest Service Friday in an appearance before the Montana legislature’s interim study committee on fire policy.

Waldron, in Helena speaking for the Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Montana County Fire Wardens Association, said the Forest Service should pay for the problems resulting from the agency’s lack of forest management, and alleged that the Forest Service refused to engage in structure protection during the 2007 Black Cat Fire.

In response to questioning from Sen. John Cobb (R-Augusta), Waldron said the people he fights fire with every day from the Ninemile Ranger District “couldn’t engage in and around those structures” during the Black Cat Fire.

That is a problem for two reasons, he said.

First, forest landowners are paying for fire protection on those lands. In the Frenchtown Fire district, those assessments to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) represent about $60,000 per year. Because the DNRC and the Forest Service share firefighting duties due to the checkerboard pattern of land ownership-the DNRC handles all public land east of Mill Creek, the Forest Service west of Mill Creek-Waldron said he felt the Forest Service had a responsibility to handle structure protection for those taxpayers.

The second issue is firefighter safety, Waldron said. You can’t have one agency pulling off and saying that it is not going to address structure protection. If the incident management team pulls its resources off the fire, the local fire departments will be going on, and that is not safe, he said.

Waldron said his understanding is that the Forest Service is fiscally challenged to fund its operations and has been forced to reduce its initial attack staff. The agency is now moving toward less initial attack on fires that are out of the way. Instead of creating a fire line around every single fire, they will let some burn. But some big fires will become uncontrollable when they get to communities, he said.

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27 Feb 2008, 12:24pm
Latest Forest News
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Blogger levels heated threat against Sierra Club

By MICHAEL JAMISON of the Missoulian [here]

Comment online To comment on this story, go to Western Montana 360.

KALISPELL - A string of red-hot wildfire seasons has claimed millions of Western forest acres and not a few homes and lives, and Mike Dubrasich reckons he’s figured out at least part of the solution for future summers:

“If you know a Sierra Club member, please feel free to set their home on fire.”

That’s the suggestion - “I’m suggesting it, but I’m not advocating it” - Dubrasich posted on his Web site last week.

“Personally,” said Bob Clark, “I thought that was a little over the top.”

Clark is a Sierra Club representative based out of Missoula, and he keeps a whole file of death threats in his office. Some have been forwarded to the FBI, some to the state attorney general, some to the Montana Human Rights Network.

He doesn’t place Dubrasich’s post in the “death threat category,” but it did catch his attention.

“You shouldn’t have to live in your community in fear of your neighbors,” Clark said. “We live in a civil society. There are other avenues besides burning someone’s house down.”

And on that, Dubrasich couldn’t agree more.

Dubrasich, of Lebanon, Ore., describes himself as a forester, a consultant and a blogger, among other things. His Web network - the Western Institute for Study of the Environment - includes 11 separate sites. Eight are what he calls “educational colloquia,” all about forests and fires and wildlife and paleobotany and rural culture. The others are a mix of news and commentary, clippings and first-person opinion pieces.

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26 Feb 2008, 10:04pm
Latest Forest News
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Compromise with environmentalists hurts forests

A Total Disregard for the Care of Our Forests

By LARRY MAHE, published in the Missoulian [here]

I remember that while growing up, the Bitterroot Valley was not filled with smoke month after month in the summer.

In those years logging was a strong industry in the Bitterroot, western Montana and Idaho. Now, because of environmental pressure, logging has all but stopped and the fires have begun.

The environmentalist agenda is not about holding loggers or the Forest Service to a higher standard. It is not about an exciting future of innovation, new machinery and technology, education and promoting a renewable resource into the future. It is certainly not about jobs, common sense or money going into our education system. Their agenda is about roadblocks and stopping all logging and forest management.

Some years ago I went on a “show-me trip” on a proposed timber sale. I was standing in a circle of Forest Service personnel and environmentalists. An environmentalist had listed elk habitat as one of the problem issues with this sale. I asked what damage we were doing by harvesting dead and dying mistletoe fir. He blurted out without thinking that he did not know because he was in a hurry the day he signed the appeal and had signed it without reading it.

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26 Feb 2008, 9:52pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Idaho ag hails wolf delisting

by Patricia R. McCoy, Capital Press [here]

The removal of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act is being hailed by Idaho agricultural interests.

“Wolves have been a major, major fundraiser for the environmentalists over the years. They hate to let it go. They want to keep the issue alive,” said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. “Idaho met the 10 breeding pair standard many, many years ago, and so did our neighboring states. Technically, this delisting could have come three or four years ago.”

Livestock producers recognize the wolf is back and here to stay, Boyd said.

“It’s time for us to start managing it on the state level,” he said. “Those wolves are about half tame right now. They’re not afraid of people. if we start hunting them, they’ll become a lot more elusive and wily.”

Boyd is lobbying for state legislation, Senate Bill 1374, which would officially recognize wolves as predators so producers who lose livestock or domestic animals to them can receive depredation compensation for such losses, he said.

S1374 passed the Idaho Senate by 31-0 with four absent or excused on Feb. 15. It is currently before the House Resources and Conservation Committee, where it will receive another hearing before either being sent to the House floor or held in committee. … [more]

26 Feb 2008, 9:36pm
Latest Climate News
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Climate orthodoxy perpetrates a hoax

by Gordon Fulks, published in the Oregonian [here]

Forcing out a scientist because he won’t go along with your favorite hoax hurts Oregon science and ultimately every citizen in this state.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s successful purge of George Taylor — Oregon’s former state climatologist and soon-to-be former director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University — has a clear message for scientists: agree with the governor or you too will disappear. Don’t hint that man-made global warming is the greatest scientific hoax of our time. It offends the governor.

Many, like Taylor, are unwilling to support political agendas at odds with good science but also are too polite to play the role of the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” They will quietly say, “Let’s look at the evidence concerning man-made global warming (more properly known as Anthropogenic Global Warming or AGW), because science is based entirely on evidence.”

As a meteorologist, Taylor would show that the warm-up we saw peak in the 1990s was very similar to the warm-up in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, before there was significant use of fossil fuels. He would also mention the sharp decline in global temperature this January, returning us close to where we were decades ago. Climate change is perfectly normal.

As a physicist, let me point out that our understanding of climate was not “settled more than a decade ago,” as global warming alarmists argue. Science is never settled, as Albert Einstein spectacularly demonstrated.

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25 Feb 2008, 7:07pm
Latest Climate News
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Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

by Lorne Gunter, National Post [here]

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January “was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.”

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its “lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back. … [more]

24 Feb 2008, 7:03pm
Latest Climate News
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Garbage in, garbage out: More bad warming data

Another temperature-monitor station riddled with problems, says meteorologist

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

WASHINGTON – A meteorologist performing a comprehensive study of temperature-monitoring stations that provide data about global warming says the official facility at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is riddled with problems that render it useless to scientists.

But the data collected there is being used nonetheless.

Anthony Watts concludes in his investigation that the station at O’Hare is affected by an urban heat effect that would make temperature readings inaccurate as an indicator of what is actually occurring regionally.

“The community around O’Hare was much smaller during World War II, when the airport was built, than it is now,” says Watts. “The area had a significantly less-urban population and lacked the acres of concrete and asphalt that exist there today.”… [more]

24 Feb 2008, 5:32pm
Latest Fire News
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National Ban on Fire Retardant Threatened

Plenty of environmental groups, longtime critics of the Bush administration, would love to see high-level administration officials behind bars.

Now a small Eugene group is on the verge of putting one there, in a court case the group hopes will reshape the way the U.S. Forest Service fights wildfires across the West.

An irritated federal judge in Montana appears ready to go along with the request by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, based in Eugene, to hold the Bush administration official who oversees the Forest Service in contempt of court for disobeying his orders.

The judge, Donald Molloy of Missoula, has said that at a hearing Tuesday, he could either jail Mark Rey, the undersecretary of agriculture, place him under house arrest or suspend all use of fire retardant, the red slurry dropped to slow wildfires.

“What the judge is saying is, ‘I’ve had it with these guys,’ ” said Jim Furnish, a former deputy chief of the Forest Service who is following the case.

Few cases have pointed such severe consequences at so high a level in government.

Molloy is overseeing a dispute between the government and the Eugene group that goes where no lawsuit has gone before. It centers around the millions of gallons of fire retardant aerial bombers dump on blazes every year, and what the employee group argues — and Molloy agrees — is the government’s disregard for the environmental impact of chemicals in the retardant… [more]

23 Feb 2008, 2:15pm
Latest Fire News
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Fighting Fire With the Wrong Sector?

By Stephen Barr, Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2008

The Government Accountability Office faulted outsourcing projects at the Forest Service in a report released yesterday, prompting renewed calls for more scrutiny of the Bush administration’s effort to contract out federal jobs, a plan known as competitive sourcing.

The Forest Service does not have a realistic long-term plan for determining which agency jobs should be given to the private sector and does not have reliable data to back up claims of cost savings, the GAO said.

In addition, outsourcing substantial numbers of Forest Service jobs to the private sector could, over time, reduce the agency’s ability to fight fires in the wilderness and to respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina.

“Congress needs to take a long, hard look at the administration’s competitive sourcing agenda after such a damning report,” Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said. He released the report with Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who said the administration “played fast and free with the facts in providing a different picture than the reality.”… [more]

21 Feb 2008, 12:59pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Interior Department Removes Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves from Endangered Species List

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Release [here]

The gray wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountains is thriving and no longer requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett announced today. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will remove the species from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

“The wolf population in the Northern Rockies has far exceeded its recovery goal and continues to expand its size and range. States, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions can be proud of their roles in this remarkable conservation success story,” said Scarlett, noting that there are currently more than 1,500 wolves and at least 100 breeding pairs in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Service-approved state management plans will provide a secure future for the wolf population once Endangered Species Act protections are removed and the states assume full management of wolf populations within their borders. The northern Rocky Mountain DPS includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, as well as the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah… [more]

21 Feb 2008, 11:52am
Latest Climate News
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The Coming of a New Ice Age

BY GERALD E. MARSH, Winningreen LLC [here]

CHICAGO — Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day, the real danger facing humanity is not global warming, but more likely the coming of a new Ice Age.

What we live in now is known as an interglacial, a relatively brief period between long ice ages.  Unfortunately for us, most interglacial periods last only about ten thousand years, and that is how long it has been since the last Ice Age ended.

How much longer do we have before the ice begins to spread across the Earth’s surface?  Less than a hundred years or several hundred?  We simply don’t know.

Even if all the temperature increase over the last century is attributable to human activities, the rise has been relatively modest one of a little over one degree Fahrenheit — an increase well within natural variations over the last few thousand years.

While an enduring temperature rise of the same size over the next century would cause humanity to make some changes, it would undoubtedly be within our ability to adapt.

Entering a new ice age, however, would be catastrophic for the continuation of modern civilization.

One has only to look at maps showing the extent of the great ice sheets during the last Ice Age to understand what a return to ice age conditions would mean.  Much of Europe and North-America were covered by thick ice, thousands of feet thick in many areas and the world as a whole was much colder.

The last “little” Ice Age started as early as the 14th century when the Baltic Sea froze over followed by unseasonable cold, storms, and a rise in the level of the Caspian Sea.  That was followed by the extinction of the Norse settlements in Greenland and the loss of grain cultivation in Iceland.  Harvests were even severely reduced in Scandinavia   And this was a mere foreshadowing of the miseries to come.

By the mid-17th century, glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced, wiping out farms and entire villages. In England, the River Thames froze during the winter, and in 1780, New York Harbor froze.  Had this continued, history would have been very different.  Luckily, the decrease in solar activity that caused the Little Ice Age ended and the result was the continued flowering of modern civilization.

There were very few Ice Ages until about 2.75 million years ago when Earth’s climate entered an unusual period of instability.  Starting about a million years ago cycles of ice ages lasting about 100,000 years, separated by  relatively short interglacial perioods, like the one we are now living in became the rule.  Before the onset of the Ice Ages, and for most of the Earth’s history, it was far warmer than it is today.

Indeed, the Sun has been getting brighter over the whole history of the Earth and large land plants have flourished.  Both of these had the effect of dropping carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to the lowest level in Earth’s long history.

Five hundred million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations were over 13 times current levels; and not until about 20 million years ago did carbon dioxide levels dropped to a little less than twice what they are today.

It is possible that moderately increased carbon dioxide concentrations could extend the current interglacial period.  But we have not reached the level required yet, nor do we know the optimum level to reach.

So, rather than call for arbitrary limits on carbon dioxide emissions, perhaps the best thing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the climatology community in general could do is spend their efforts on determining the optimal range of carbon dioxide needed to extend the current interglacial period indefinitely.

NASA has predicted that the solar cycle peaking in 2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries and should cause a very significant cooling of Earth’s climate.  Will this be the trigger that initiates a new Ice Age?

We ought to carefully consider this possibility before we wipe out our current prosperity by spending trillions of dollars to combat a perceived global warming threat that may well prove to be only a will-o-the-wisp.

20 Feb 2008, 8:38pm
Latest Climate News
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Lunar Eclipse Right Now

The Moon is disappearing. About 80% gone. Supposed to be total in 15 minutes. Great view from here.

And it’s gone! Well, not gone. The Moon is dim and orange, like a Chinese lantern.

And she returns! in a glowing crescent, like a cradle of light in the sky.

Was there ever any doubt?

20 Feb 2008, 8:09pm
Latest Wildlife News
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How to Handle an Invasive Species? Eat It

By TARAS GRESCOE, NY Times [here]

LATE last year, a flotilla of fluorescent jellyfish covering 10 square miles of ocean was borne by the tide into a small bay on the Irish Sea. These mauve stingers, venomous glow-in-the-dark plankton native to the Mediterranean, slipped through the mesh of aquaculture nets, stinging the 120,000 fish in Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm to death.

Closer to home, the Asian carp, which has been working its way north from the Mississippi Delta since the 1990s, is now on the verge of reaching the Great Lakes. This voracious invader, which weighs up to 100 pounds and eats half its body weight in food in a day, has gained notoriety for vaulting over boats and breaking the arms and noses of recreational anglers. Having outcompeted all native species, it now represents 95 percent of the biomass of fish in the Illinois River and has been sighted within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. The only thing preventing this cold-water-loving species from infesting the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world, is an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal…

In the absence of any concrete action by the shipping industry, I would like to make a modest proposal. To save our oceans and lakes from their apparently inexorable slide back to the Archaean Eon — when all that was moving on the face of the waters was primitive cyanobacteria — it is high time we developed a taste for invasive species.

Diners in Asia, where sesame-oil-drenched jellyfish salad has long been considered a delicious, wholesome dish, are way ahead of us…

… Returning from a fact-finding mission to China, a professor from Japan’s National Fisheries University offered up 10 different recipes for preparing Nomura’s jellyfish. “Making them a popular food,” he told a Japanese newspaper, “is the best way to solve the problem.”…

For years now, fisheries scientists have been telling us that, for our own health and the health of the oceans, we need to start eating down the food chain — closer to the level of oysters than tuna. So, next time you’re in the mood for seafood, ask the chef to whip you up a jambalaya (or a fricassee, or a ragout) of rapa whelks and Chinese mitten crabs, or maybe consider blackening up an entirely new species.

Asian carp, Cajun-style, anyone?

Taras Grescoe is the author of the forthcoming “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.”

 
  
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