Saturday, October 13, 2007
BBC NEWS BROADCAST DISPROVEN CLAIM ABOUT WARMING
Last night (Friday 12th Oct) on the BBC news a couple of minutes after 10 pm, while reporting on Al Gore's winning of the Nobel Prize the BBC used a line from his film that "nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the last 10 years". 2 months ago this was accepted as being unsupportable when the US accepted Stephen McIntyre's proof that figures, at least within the US which has the largest area with the most thorough records, purporting to prove this claim were wrong.
Mr Mcintyre proved that the 10 warmest years were in fact, in order
1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939
This Is clearly the most important fact to have emerged about the warming scare since, at least, Mr McIntyre proved the Hockey Stick of rapid warming to be based on false data & like that earlier news has been censored from BBC news reporting. Indeed since it disproves the central thesis of the warming scare - that significant indeed catastrophic warming is now taking place it can be argued that it is a more important news item than all the news stories published by the BBC on warming, taken together.
The BBC having substantial newsgathering resources cannot possibly be unaware of this latest finding now over 2 months old. Nonetheless such censorship is clearly a sin of omission.
More serious was the act last night of broadcasting the claim that 1998 was still recognised as being the warmest year without mentioning that it was untrue. Lying, unlike censorship, is a sin of commission.
The BBC have made some apologies recently for lying about the Blue Peter cat & the Queen. Lying about alleged global warming (now often rebranded as "climate change") is clearly many thousands of times more serious than, at least, the stuff about the cat.
In the circumstances I must demand that, on tonight's evening news you issue an equally prominent correction. What further action you take I will leave to your consciences. You might also consider making an apology for the rather silly claim on BBC news on the day of Gore's concert that "Al Gore is a climate scientist".
I await your prompt response, which, like this letter, I will be willing to put on my blog.
UPDATE Obviously the BBC have chosen not to correct their lie or indeed respond at all.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Meanwhile quite coincidentally our court has decided that his film has a number of not remotely truthful statements in it:
The decision by the government to distribute Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth has been the subject of a legal action ... the Court found that the film was misleading in 11 respects and that the Guidance Notes drafted by the Education Secretary’s advisers served only to exacerbate the political propaganda in the film.
The inaccuracies are:
The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
This internal memo from the BBC, published by CCNet, explains how the BBC is going to spin it
From Roger HarrabinI like the use of the word "debatable" to mean "clearly untrue". The suggestion that the BBC is anything other than a wholly corrupt state propaganda organisation deliberately spinning the facts is debatable - but the evidence absolutely shows that that is what it is.
BBC Environment Analyst
In any future reporting of Gore we should be careful not to suggest that
the High Court says Gore was wrong on climate.......
We might say something like: "Al Gore whose film was judged by the High
Court to have used some debatable science" or "Al Gore whose film was
judged in the High Court to be controversial in parts".
The key is to avoid suggesting that the judge disagreed with the main
climate change thesis.
As I was writing this the radio reported the court decision getting a soundbite from Greenpeace & not from the winner of the case.
Meanwhile, in a news item entirely censored by the BBC, ITV etc Stephen McIntyre, who disproved the Hockey stick graph has gone on to disprove the US figures purporting to show, as proof of at least some trend of warming, that 1998 was the warmest year for thousands of years up till then. It turns out that it was the warmest only for the last 64. While theoretically this doesn't affect figures outside the US in practice US records are far better kept over a wider area & longer period than anywhere else & it would not be credible to pretend the US alone was bucking the global trend.
Steve McIntyre, the Canadian statistician who helped to expose massive holes in Michael Mann's hockey stick methodology, looked into it. After some poking around, he began to suspect that the GISS data base had a year 2000 bug in one of their data adjustments.
One of the interesting aspects of these temperature data bases is that they do not just use the raw temperature measurements from each station. Both the NOAA (which maintains the USHCN stations) and the GISS apply many layers of adjustments, which I discussed here. One of the purposes of Watt's project is to help educate climate scientists that many of the adjustments they make to the data back in the office does not necessarily represent the true condition of the temperature stations. In particular, GISS adjustments imply instrument sitings are in more natural settings than they were in say 1905, an outrageous assumption on its face that is totally in conflict to the condition of the stations in Watt's data base. Basically, surface temperature measurements have a low signal to noise ratio, and climate scientists have been overly casual about how they try to tease out the signal.
Anyway, McIntyre suspected that one of these adjustments had a bug, and had had this bug for years. Unfortunately, it was hard to prove. Why? Well, that highlights one of the great travesties of climate science. Government scientists using taxpayer money to develop the GISS temperature data base at taxpayer expense refuse to publicly release their temperature adjustment algorithms or software (In much the same way Michael Mann refused to release the details for scrutiny of his methodology behind the hockey stick). Using the data, though, McIntyre made a compelling case that the GISS data base had systematic discontinuities that bore all the hallmarks of a software bug.
Today, the GISS admitted that McIntyre was correct, and has started to republish its data with the bug fixed. And the numbers are changing a lot. Before today, GISS would have said 1998 was the hottest year on record (Mann, remember, said with up to 99% certainty it was the hottest year in 1000 years) and that 2006 was the second hottest. Well, no more. Here are the new rankings for the 10 hottest years in the US, starting with #1:
1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939
This actually came about over 2 months ago. Consider the amount of coverage the media give to retread stories where Madonna, Sir David King or others of similar eminence make a remark about warming, or some minor researcher claims some unverified new scare. It is clear that this, which destroys the entire thesis that unprecedented, let alone catastrophic, warming is even taking place is being deliberately censored.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
There has been legitimate criticism that NASA, which gets $16 billion (£8 billion) annually, has not been very effective at actually getting into space. By comparison the Russians spend about £800 million annually & are the only nation which currently has a capacity to continuously man the space station. NASA is regularly described as a jobs creation programme for bureaucrats & the southern states masquerading as a space programme. However compared to ESA they are a model of efficiency & success. ESA, combined with the nominally separate German & French space agencies, has a budget of £4.5 billion, half of NASA's & yet is still in the Sputnik era, not having yet managed, or even come close to, launching a single human into space. It is almost openly admitted that the only reason we contribute to the ESA gravy train is to ensure a significant share of the lucrative contracts it hands out - like most European projects it is more important that each nation get a share of the goodies than that it actually achieve anything.
If there is the constituency for more space spending, & the MP's support proves that there is, then the role of space advocates must be to ensure that it is actually spent on space & not co-opted to the EU gravy train. To allow such co-option would discredit any future spending on space in the public eye as it would be seen to achieve little or nothing.
Fortunately there is an alternative - the X-Prize.An X-Prize is a prize awarded for a specific technological achievement, with no strings attached but with no payment made until the goal is achieved. It is thus left up to private individuals & companies to to decide how & whether to compete, without government committees having to say whether sufficient investigation had been made to prove one project sufficiently superior to the previous government project to actually try it, This has been spectacularly successful in the case of Burt Rutan & Spaceship One, where a $10 million prize enabled the first private sub orbital launch, which in turn is being parlayed into Richard Branston's Virgin Galactic space tourism business. $10 million being 0.0006th of NASA's annual budget. Historically similar prizes funded Lindberg's first crossing of the Atlantic & John Harrison's development of a way of measuring longitude. Such prizes have a record of achieving spectacular results at orders of magnitude less cost than conventional projects organised by government bureaucracy - which may explain why government bureaucracies tend not to be keen on them. Another advantage such prizes have is that if they don't succeed they don't cost a single penny - unlike most government projects where failure means increased budgets.
Dr Jerry Pournelle, who has the experience to know, has gone on record to say that he could solve the space access problem with the following government X-Prizes:
"Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States:
The Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay to the first American owned company (if corporate at least 60% of the shares must be held by American citizens) the following sums for the following accomplishments. No monies shall be paid until the goals specified are accomplished and certified by suitable experts from the National Science Foundation or the National Academy of Science:
1. The sum of $2 billion to be paid for construction of 3 operational spacecraft which have achieved low earth orbit, returned to earth, and flown to orbit again three times in a period of three weeks.
2. The sum of $5 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a space station which has been continuously in orbit with at least 5 Americans aboard for a period of not less than three years and one day. The crew need not be the same persons for the entire time, but at no time shall the station be unoccupied.
3. The sum of $12 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a Lunar base in which no fewer than 31 Americans have continuously resided for a period of not less than four years and one day.
4. The sum of $10 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a solar power satellite system which delivers at least 800 megawatts of electric power to a receiving station or stations in the United States for a period of at least two years and one day.
5. The payments made shall be exempt from all US taxes.
That would do it. Not one cent to be paid until the goals are accomplished. Not a bit of risk, and if it can't be done for those sums, well, no harm done to the treasury.
My suggestion is that Britain should set up an independent X-Prize Trust with a small board consisting of suitably qualified engineers, scientists & business people respected within their professions for ability & innovation (definitely not the retired civil servants, politicians & compliant judges, lacking a scientific qualification between them, who normally receive such appointments). This Trust should be funded with the £210 million presently given to ESA & matched by 3 times as much of new money, totalling £840 million - not a serious drain on a government budget of £552 billion but enough to exceed Russia. To ensure stability the government should also guarantee to increase the annual funding in line with GNP, including inflation with, for the first 3 years, 5% above that. Thereafter the rate of increase should be 2% above the increase in corporation tax paid by companies registering an interest in the prize, which I am confident not be less. This would mean a 10% annual rise in the funds given to the trust enabling it to rely on being able to disburse £13 billion within 10 years. This is almost exactly what Dr Pournelle has said would be enough to ensure cheap orbital flight for anybody, a permanent Moonbase & the start of a solar power satellite programme. NASA & certainly not ESA, are not going to provide such a future & though the Russians, Chinese & Japanese are spending their money more effectively they are still running monolithic government programmes. Britain certainly could achieve this - the time is long overdue - 50 years after the Wright Brothers first flew we had transatlantic jet travel & we could have made similar progress 50 years after Sputnik. all That is needed is for the space advocacy movement here to push hard enough for it.
(This was originally written for the 4th Oct anniversary of Sputnik)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
FORTH TUNNEL PRICE FAKERY
I have been sent a table which comes out as follows:
1 Cost of actually building the tunnel £1,023 million
2 Road Network £ 355 million
3 "Optimism Bias" £ 456 "
4 10% extra contingency fee £183 "
5 subtotal £2,018 "
6 Transport Scotland budget £100 "
7 VAT at 17.5% £353 "
8 more subtotal £2,471 "
9 allowance for 7.5% inflation £1,655 "
10 capital charges £545 "
11 Total £4,673 "
Neat. It proves that the civil service can make the figures jump through hoops to provide any answer they want.
Note that the actual cost of the tunnel is acknowledged to be 1 billion & the tunnel & roadbuilding come to only 29.5% of the total bill. This is, at least by comparison, relatively close to the figure of £250 suggested by Mr Roy Pedersen or the £500 million suggested by FTAG & various engineers on online discussions in the Scotsman. I have not been given more detailed figures of how the actual building is costed but if it has the same generous allowances for paperwork costs as these calculations I can well see that a more demanding calculation could come in at the lower independent figures.
Looking at these individually
(2) Why should building roads to the tunnel mouth cost this improbable figure? In fact I was given a more detailed breakdown of this & since almost all the expenditure on roads comes in the 2014-2017 period while most of the cost incurred on building the actual tunnel comes in 2011-2013 the 7.5% inflation indexing means that the road proportion is even higher. Iincluding this inflationary factor, the roads & TS budget come to half as much as the tunnel itself. This means that, all the other costs being expenses proportional to the building costs, building roads will have a total cost of £1600 million. Assuming that a bridge will also require roads leading up to it this means that a flat £1600 million will also apply to roads to it. Since the bridge is calculated at £2,500 million this means that the bridge plus all the extra factors will cost £1 billiion or the actual building of the bridge must come to a mere £295 million. Isn't Scottish engineering wonderful! This magnificent feat would only be possible, of course, if the civil servants were calculating the cost of a tunnel on exactly the same basis as the bridge - but of course we must assume that is what they are doing since anything else would be fraud.
(3) I am assured that "contingency costs called Optimism Bias" are "required by HM government Treasury Guidance" though I have not ben told whether the Treasury insists they be 1/3rd of the actual building ocsts or indeed whether they must be separate from the 10% contingency (4) more common in the industry - note that because the Bias increases costs by 1/3rd this in turn increases the contingency to 13% of the actual doing things cost.
(5) I am not sure that Transport Scotland's oversight of this scheme really justifies their £100 million budget.
(7) VAT is perfectly fair though since it is merely a bookkeeping exercise between government departments it would be reasonable to suggest that the Treasury forego part of it. No wealth is actually created or lost in charging VAT & it would be a pity if a government project were to be cancelled because the government cannot afford to pay the government their own extra taxes on it.
(9) The government are indexing all their costs on the assumption of a 7.5% inflation rate. They must know something we & the Treasury, don't.The Treasury says 2%. An interesting effect of this is that while the government are saying work will not start on this till 2011/12 if it were to start immediately we would save 3 years of 7.5% inflation(compounded to 24.2% or 19.5% of the final figure) - this would, in the government's theory, cut the cost of a tunnel by £910.
(10) I have no idea what "additional capital charges" are or why they should be introduced. or indeed why they should cost £545 million. The more detailed year by year breakdown shows that 2/3rd of this additional capital is only introduced from 2014 when most of the expense of the actual tunneling has been done.
These figures have all been officially calculated on "Quarter 4 2006" prices which suggests to me that it was all fixed up before the SNP, who came out for a tunnel during the election campaign, got there.
I believe these figures bear no real relationship at all to what a tunnel could actually cost. By comparison I have pointed out before that the Norwegians have been able to build tunnels at as little as £3.5 million a kilometre & that the Danes & Germans are colaborating on a 20 kilometre bridge costed at £3.7 - & take 12 years. If they are making the same assumption about inflation as our own government prices will have doubled by then meaning that the current cost of their proposed bridge would be £1.8 billion Perhaps the Danes & Germans, unlike the Scottish Office, don't expect 7.5% inflation.
What we should do, instead of having this fraudulent comparison is to throw an open competion for a fixed price contract for a crossing. Let the world's civil engineering companies make open bids, our government guarnateeing only to pay for land & government legal & regulatory costs & see what bids are made.
I have shown before how the cost of the original Forth Road Bridge was £15 million & how at real world inflation rates this would equate to £360 million today not the 8 times greater figure we see being foisted on us. Until such contracts are awarded openly & open to the world we are going to see such massive artificial increases continue.
My own highest estimate of a tunnel cost, based on the highest Norwegian priice of £11 million would be £11 million X 3 (assuming a 3 kilometre tunnel to achieve depth) X 2 (2 lanes) X 2 (assuming extra large motorway sized tunnels) X 2 (allowing high fixed start up costs buying equipment for this one project not currently available) x 121% (2% inflation over 10 years) = £319 million. If it was decided to use the same equipment to make a series of tunnels as per my Scottish Tunnels Project the last doubling would disappear. One suggestion that has been made is to convert Rosyth dockyard to manufacture sections for a tunnel laid across the seabed - obviously if this were done only for the Forth Tunnel all the costs would accrue to it whereas if it was used to create such tunnels to the Scottish Isles etc this cost would be spread very wildely. If the basic cost was £3.5 milliion, like the basic Norwegian price a Forth Tunnelt could cost as little as £26 million without start up costs.
I will be forwarding this article to interested parties. It may be that somebody in Transport Scotland or in Scottish politics or business will be able to dispute these figures or verify the government's ones - we shall see.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
This is a mere 2 years after expelling me on the grounds that I was a traditional economic liberal & also believed that the insane policy of pretending we could have large scale constant power from intermittent & small scale windmills was unwise. To quote myself (always a source of inspiration) speaking for nuclear power at Conference in 2001 to say that we could rely on windmills "would be & would in time be seen to be grossly irresponsible". The electorate are not fools & are, on most things, genuinely liberal minded & would have voted for them had they been genuinely progressive. Indeed it was for being closer to economic liberals, rather than for supporting independence, that the SNP won the last Scottish election.
This collapse is not merely or even primarily because Ming is useless but because the party has adopted lunatic policies & driven out genuinely liberal & progressive members.
I regret more than readers can realise that a party which my father devoted his political life to supporting has been taken over by eco-fascists totally opposed to liberal principles & destroyed by them. I do not think it is now possible to save the party & I would advise those MPs & MSPs who believe in something close to traditional liberalism to leave either individually to some other party or, better yet, collectively (as the Liberal Unionists did last century, as part of an electoral pact. Going down with a sinking ship can be an honourable choice but not if it is flying a false flag.
Monday, October 08, 2007
SPUTNIK ANNIVERSARY LETTER
Today (4th Oct) is the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, the first time human beings put anything into space orbit. 12 years later men walked on the Moon.
A comparison with aircraft, where 50 years after the first flight we had achieved twice the speed of sound & passenger jet airlines were in service, is instructive. Today NASA promises to be able to return to the Moon in 13 years, & has been promising this or more for 30 years. The problem is not so much a shortage of money but of how it is used. NASA with a budget of £8 billion has been described as a jobs creation programme for bureaucrats & the southern states which occasionally does some stuff in space. By comparison with Europe, whose combined budget is £5 billiion & has not yet allowed them to launch a human they look positively animated. Russia, on the other hand, with a budget of £650 million actually has a greater launch capacity than even the US. Britain's budget of £210 million, largely given to ESA, is aimed fairly openly not at going anywhere but at ensuring a share of ESA contracts.
The good news is that a $10 million "X-Prize" awarded for the first independent launch has virtually created Virgin Galactic & the space tourism industry - that is what NASA spends every 5 1/2 hours or Europe in 10. Experts have said that an X-Prize of only £1 billion would produce a shuttle capable of at least weekly launches. This is what Britain already spends on space every 5 years. By comparison with what we spend on wars or windmills this is chickenfed (& as for what we spend on farm subsidies)!. With even a little vision humanity could get back on that 50 year track that aircraft builders pioneered.
Various space budgets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency#Overall_budget
UK budget of £210 million http://www.bis-spaceflight.com/sitesia.aspx/page/1191/l/enWhat could be achieved by X-Prizes http://www.jerrypournelle.com/topics/gettospace.html